Mumsnet Logo
My feed
Premium

Please
or
to access all these features

Feminism: chat

Self Protection

38 replies

talkingdeadscot · 09/07/2021 10:29

Given that it looks like more and more spaces are going to become mixed sex by default (neutral gender) what, if anything, are people going to do to keep themselves as safe as they can?

When I was younger I used to take self defence classes and obviously all the usual being careful when I was out, not walking in certain areas etc. All the things men don't really have to think about.

Now I'm 59 with rubbish health and I have to think about my options. Do I continue to avoid situations and places that I've always avoided and add public toilets and changing rooms to that list? Or do I refuse to make myself completely invisible and find a way to minimise the risk by finding some sort of self defence I can still do?

I can't believe I'm even having to think like this but I've been through too many horrendous situations caused by men to bow down now, just when I thought I'd have some peace! Anyone else?

OP posts:
Report

ArabellaScott · 09/07/2021 19:30

Good questions, OP.

I wonder if women will start to used public spaces less.

Report

FindingMeno · 09/07/2021 19:34

I always think my best self defense is to not wear shoes I can't run in, and always be aware of my surroundings.
I believe you have to be very well practised to remember self defence in the moment.

Report

sourcreamnchives · 09/07/2021 19:43

This reply has been deleted

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

ArabellaScott · 09/07/2021 19:47

Hmm
Report

FindingMeno · 09/07/2021 19:47

I'm confused by your comment @sourcreamnchives

Report

BernardBlackMissesLangCleg · 09/07/2021 19:52

what a shame @sourcreamnchives message was deleted. It was an excellent example of misogyny

Report

PurgatoryOfPotholes · 09/07/2021 20:02

This kind of attitude from sourcream epitomises why murders of older women go uninvestigated, unrecorded and unreported.

extract

This, the first article in the campaign, focuses on women aged 60 and over, like Ruth Williams. While younger women are more likely to be killed by a partner or ex-partner, the census tells us, half of older female victims were killed by sons, grandsons and relatives; a smaller group of 78 were killed by friends, neighbours, strangers, burglars and tradespeople.Taxi driver Andrew Flood, 43, strangled Margaret Biddolph, 78, and Anne Leyland, 88, both his regular customers. The judge referred to Flood’s “unspeakably wicked crimes”. Unfortunately, they are more common than even the official statistics reveal.Until three years ago,women of Ruth Williams’s agewould not have been counted in theCrime Survey for England and Wales(CSEW). Then, it had a cap of 59 years, now it is 74, and is due to be raised next year, excluding institutions such as care homes and refuges; a hidden death toll.

According to a study by Dr Hannah Bows, one in four domestic homicides involve people over 60, the vast majority female – 25% of the total, the fastest-rising domestic homicide rate. One in six older people experience abuse every year. Yet, in a 2020 poll of the public, conducted by the charityHourglass(previously Action on Elder Abuse), shockingly, 30% didn’t view harmful behaviour towards older people, such as hitting, as abuse.

“If you are found at the bottom of the stairs at 40, the police are probably going to ask questions,” says Bows, one of the few researchers working in the area. “Deeply entrenched ageism means that if you are 80, it’s, ‘Well, she probably fell.’

Continues www.theguardian.com/society/2021/mar/07/end-femicide-278-dead-the-hidden-scandal-of-older-women-killed-by-men

Report

ArabellaScott · 09/07/2021 20:07

Such a heartbreaking and unbelievable study, Purgatory.

Report

FindingMeno · 09/07/2021 20:10

@PurgatoryOfPotholes that is so disturbing.
And of course women still get harassment in their 50's. I do, and its certainly not my experience that I've become invisible.

Report

Cloudninenine · 09/07/2021 20:12

I think it’s worth being realistic here. It is very rare for women to be attacked in public by men they don’t know. It does, of course, happen - but very rarely. Women are still most at risk from men they know, and particularly from current or ex partners. Overwhelmingly, perpetrators of crimes against women are known to their victims.

That is obviously not reassuring in a general sense. But it is hopefully reassuring in respect of your use of public spaces - you are still very unlikely to be attacked in them.

I also don’t think there is any realistic evidence that ‘gender neutral’ spaces are actually going to lead to increased attacks on women. Gender neutral bathrooms, for instance, have been a feature of many universities for well over a decade, with no corresponding rise in attacks on women in bathrooms.

It is a sad reality that women do feel they have to take precautionary measures in public, but I think you can be reassured that we aren’t on the brink of some abyss in which women are more likely to be attacked in public spaces.

Report

PurgatoryOfPotholes · 09/07/2021 20:18

Firstly, Cloudninenine www.thetimes.co.uk/article/unisex-changing-rooms-put-women-in-danger-8lwbp8kgk

Secondly, have you thought about many attacks are avoided because women are limiting their lives in response?

Take this, for example.

For the past 8 months my college has been allowing men to just use the women's shower whenever they feel like it, which forces me to wait until almost 1.30-2.00am to avoid them, or use my friend's private room almost on the other end of campus. Most of the time the men aren't even using the restroom, they are just in there "hanging out what's the big deal I'm gender neutral I swear". I've repeatedly complained to community living and title IX but all that happened is I was required to meet with the equal opportunity advisor about how I should be more inclusive. I can't do it anymore and I'm actively pursuing how to live off campus next year as a sophmore, but I'm afraid I won't be able to.For the past 8 months my college has been allowing men to just use the women's shower whenever they feel like it, which forces me to wait until almost 1.30-2.00am to avoid them, or use my friend's private room almost on the other end of campus. Most of the time the men aren't even using the restroom, they are just in there "hanging out what's the big deal I'm gender neutral I swear". I've repeatedly complained to community living and title IX but all that happened is I was required to meet with the equal opportunity advisor about how I should be more inclusive. I can't do it anymore and I'm actively pursuing how to live off campus next year as a sophmore, but I'm afraid I won't be able to.

www.noconflicttheysaid.org/post/men-in-the-women-s-showers-on-campus

Report

PurgatoryOfPotholes · 09/07/2021 20:29

This is an incident that came about because mixed sex changing area allowed a predator the opportunity.

extract

A Peeping Tom left a 15-year-old swimmer terrified of getting changed when he used a mobile phone to film her over the top of a cubicle.

Edward Smith locked himself in a neighbouring cubiclein the mixed gender changing areaas a group of swimmers aged ten to 17 were ending a training session.

He waited for the swimmers to get out and then held his hand up to take photos of the naked girl, who screamed in horror when she spotted his phone.

Smith fled the changing room at the Exe Valley Leisure Centre in Tiverton but police released a grainy CCTV image which led to the 40-year-old farmer being identified and arrested.

Analysts then found images on his phone and computer which proved he had done the same thing at the same swimming pool twice before.

A victim impact statement from the 15-year-old girl said that swimming used to be her ‘happy place’ butshe is now so scared that she insists on having friends in both neighbouring cubicles whenever she changes.

//www.northdevongazette.co.uk/news/peeping-tom-left-girl-swimmer-scared-changing-room-7988374

Report

picklemewalnuts · 09/07/2021 20:32

That's so sad.

I'm intending to be more alert to crimes involving stealthy camera type stuff. More aware of who is around me, in changing rooms. It's a shame, as it makes it all more stressful and I will probably go less.

I recently got some misogynistic abuse from a car driving past. I'm 52.


What other crimes are left out of the statistics, @PurgatoryOfPotholes? what other data is routinely ignored? Are there other groups, or is it just older women?

Report

FemaleAndLearning · 09/07/2021 20:36

I think we need to call gender neutral spaces what they are - mixed sex. Call it out every time you hear it. I've not given up yet OP. Things are depressing but we have to keep up the fight.

Report

Whatinthelord · 09/07/2021 20:50

After an incident with my neighbour over recently been trying to think or things I can use for self protection.

Over winter I carried a heavy metal torch when going for a walk. It did strike me that it could also be used against me if someone took it from me in a scuffle.

I do a martial art worn elements of self defence. I don’t feel it would be effective though.

Report

talkingdeadscot · 09/07/2021 21:05

I don't necessarily think I'm going to get harassed but I do think that being as strong and fit as you can gives you a confidence that is reflected in the way you move.

I'm also not saying that every woman is a victim. At the same time, there is a reality to the way things are going. Do we make our lives smaller than they already are in order to mitigate any possible problems or do we make ourselves as confident as possible in whatever way we can?

My age and my health have to be taken into account but I don't see why, when I've finally finished bringing up my family, looked after my mother and recovered from serious health problems I should accept my freedom as smaller than it needed to be because I'm concerned about men (again).

OP posts:
Report

PurgatoryOfPotholes · 09/07/2021 22:02

@picklemewalnuts

That's so sad.

I'm intending to be more alert to crimes involving stealthy camera type stuff. More aware of who is around me, in changing rooms. It's a shame, as it makes it all more stressful and I will probably go less.

I recently got some misogynistic abuse from a car driving past. I'm 52.

What other crimes are left out of the statistics, *@PurgatoryOfPotholes*? what other data is routinely ignored? Are there other groups, or is it just older women?

Well hate crimes in general against women.

If a driver winds down his window to yell abuse and derogatory transphobic slurs at a transwoman walking to the supermarket, that's a transphobic hate crime.

If the same man winds down his window again to yell abuse and derogatory misogynist slurs at a woman walking to the same supermarket, that's... not a hate crime.

Can you imagine how the police would react if I did call them to report such a thing?
Report

picklemewalnuts · 09/07/2021 22:11

It certainly never crossed my mind to report it to the police. I just explained it to my husband, as he was looking a bit confused.

Report

FemaleAndLearning · 09/07/2021 22:26

Is it me or does this post just sound like women have given up? Very depressing.

Talking about weapons being used on yourself I think something like a third of young people killed in knife crime were killed by their own knife.

Fighting to maintain our right to single sex spaces is the only way forward. There are enough areas of safety concern in women's lives without those being taken away.

Report

Leafstamp · 09/07/2021 22:29

This is a bit random but does anyone else remember being told to shout “Fire” instead of “Help” if they were in trouble as supposedly people are more likely to respond?

Report

Gibbonsgibbonsgibbons · 09/07/2021 22:35

I would feel safer in actually mixed sex & designed to be so places than in women + any man who says they feel girly that day places.
In a designed to be mixed sex place there will be decent men & women & a few bastards, in the women + girly place there will be decent women, decent I feel girly men & ALL the bastards.

I'm going to keep pushing for single sex spaces because I'm really angry that my daughters are going to have fewer safe spaces than I did.

Report

Gibbonsgibbonsgibbons · 09/07/2021 22:36

Leafstamp yes! No one will come if you shout rape because people do it as a joke (Hmm) but if you shout fire people will come & help.

Report

talkingdeadscot · 09/07/2021 23:06

@FemaleAndLearning

Is it me or does this post just sound like women have given up? Very depressing.

Talking about weapons being used on yourself I think something like a third of young people killed in knife crime were killed by their own knife.

Fighting to maintain our right to single sex spaces is the only way forward. There are enough areas of safety concern in women's lives without those being taken away.

I haven't given up and never will. But, as well as the fight to keep single sex spaces we also have to live our lives. What do you suggest we do? I'm open to suggestions.
OP posts:
Report

Binglebong · 09/07/2021 23:24

I'm planning to get a travel sized deodorant to use as pepper stray. Or for if I get smelly.

Report

FemaleAndLearning · 09/07/2021 23:30

Are you currently in a situation where you have to use mixed sex or are you thinking of the future?

I'm glad you have not given up, I go in cycles but mainly just want to use my anger to protect my young daughters.

I have recently started a subscription to Sex Matters
sex-matters.org/
I've done quite a bit with my two schools on ensuring sex is in their policies and been involved with consultations on the relationships and sex education resources, done some grassroots stuff with Safe Schools Alliance and I'm currently taking part in the Sexism in Schools English reading list survey so they can analyse how many female novelists schools are using. endsexisminschools.wordpress.com/
I try and raise awareness amongst my friends, but that is tricky as I only have a few friends. My sister and niece aren't interested in my views and I wouldn't even try to discuss with my mum. My 13 year old daughter is fab but I have to be careful not to overwhelm her.

I'm nearing 50, overweight and have inflammation issues so I do worry about stranger danger when out walking. I formulated a plan the last time to smear the dog poo I was carrying into a predators eyes and nose then try and run off! But it sounds more like fantasy and then I got cross that I gave to think up these ridiculous plans.

Report
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?