Respect, support and action: understanding women

July 9, 2024

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio at Pexels

Luca Hernandez explores the importance of supporting women with empathy, solidarity and initiative

The experience of low privilege, low class and low self-esteem often fuels modern-day misogyny. When guys feel pushed aside or undervalued by society, they often develop resentment and anger. This frustration can manifest as hostility towards women, blaming them for their own perceived lack of power or status. This toxic mindset is made worse when gender stereotypes and inequality are reinforced.

According to a recent report by End Violence Against Women, a shocking one in four girls in mixed schools have experienced unwanted sexual touching in school. This finding reveals just how common gender-based violence is, and highlights why many young women feel unsafe.

Having an older sister has helped me see that women have a tough time doing things I take for granted, like walking down the street or travelling on public transport. There have been times when my sister has felt uneasy and threatened by men while coming home at night, and I’ve had to meet her at our closest train station. The first time she asked me to come and collect her, I was shocked that even though she’s a grown adult, she feels so unsafe walking alone at night. I’ve since spoken to my girlfriends about this, and they all feel the same way.

Working with Exposure has got me thinking deeply about the issues that women and girls face, and I’ve learned about the Reclaim These Streets (RTS) movement.

This has helped me understand more about women’s safety. RTS is a social justice organisation that started in the UK. Their guiding principle is, “We aim to use legislation, education and community action to ensure no woman has to be asked to ‘Text me when you get home’ again’.” They raise funds for ROSA, a feminist organisation, policing women’s concerns, online harassment, neighbourhood safety and the right to protest in public spaces.

White Ribbon UK is an organisation that educates men on taking responsibility for their actions

I’ve also discovered White Ribbon UK, an organisation that educates men on taking responsibility for their actions, promoting equality and respect, and condemning harassing, sexist and violent behaviour in others.

True friendship means respecting boundaries and understanding that ‘no’ always means ‘no’. It’s about being there for your female friends and supporting their autonomy and choices. In any relationship, this respect is the foundation of trust and mutual understanding.

A big part of supporting our friends is being an active listener. By recognising the unique challenges women face, we can become better allies and advocates. We have the power to lead by example in our platonic friendships. Showing respect, empathy and responsibility in our interactions with women sets a standard for others to follow.

Additionally, early education about sexual harassment and women’s safety can help raise awareness. Schools and communities should integrate discussions on consent, respect and equality into their programmes. Creating safe spaces for open discussions and encouraging young people to listen to and understand the experiences of their peers can encourage a culture of mutual respect and support.

Ending violence against women and girls starts when we #changethestory, as emphasised by White Ribbon UK. By understanding and addressing these issues, we can work towards creating a safer environment for everyone.

Luca is currently studying Creative Media at Barnet Southgate College. He loves to create beats and his favourite artist is American rapper, Tyler the Creator. Luca loves film and his best film of all time is Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained.

Other work

Donate via PayPal

Exposure is an award-winning youth communications charity giving young people in north London a voice.

Please support us to continue our work. Thank you.