By M.R. Abraham:
Have you moved your handbag to the front of your body when you’re walking down the street?
Do you fix a scowl on your face in hopes men will leave you alone?
Do you look outside, see it’s dark and wonder if it’s still safe to make a quick trip to the supermarket?
In these and countless other ways, you change the way you walk in public spaces.
Because of fear. Fear of street harassment. Fear of sexual violence.
Over time, the fear conditions you to make these little changes and soon you may even forget how much they infringe on your right to walk freely.
In this video, Jasmeen Patheja narrates a “Step-By-Step Guide To Unapologetic Walking”, a reminder of all the ways that girls and women change the way they walk in public spaces.
Patheja is the founder of Blank Noise, a collective driven by “Action Heroes”, women — and some men – committed to eradicating sexual and gender-based violence.
Action Heroes actively question fear by doing activities to unlearn the countless warnings that condition behaviour since childhood. That could include sleeping by herself in a park or walking alone in the late hours.
The warnings place the onus of safety and violence prevention squarely on women’s bodies. But ensuring safety for men and women is not only her responsibility.
“Each and every person has the ability and power to influence a safe space,” Patheja says. “You can be an Action Hero too. Whether you know it or not, you have the ability to do so. What’s the smallest thing you can do to build a safe space? What can you do as a man, what can you do as a father, what can you do as a brother, what can you do as a taxi driver?”