Late-night walk sparks mayor's 'really important' question
WHEN Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith took to Facebook today, he was ready to raise an important issue with his community.
This is what he wrote:
This post doesn't have any fancy pictures or dramatic news, but it is really important, so I hope it gets some attention.
In the last two nights I have had busy days and haven't been able to go for my daily walk till late at night. On both these nights I have encountered a woman walking in the opposite direction past me and was really moved by how difficult it must be to trust that the man walking towards you is not going to do something horrible.
I know this will seem like a stupid statement to some, and it would have to me in the past. Why would this person I have never met, be afraid of me, someone who has never done anything to hurt someone else. But the fact is that many women have faced abuse at the hands of men. Horrible acts of oppression and aggression that colour the way women feel when alone or in vulnerable situations.
My brain was working through the ways I could let this woman know I was not a threat as she walked towards me. But how do I do that? I would honestly like to hear from women about their thoughts on this. What should I do when walking towards a woman on a dark street late at night?
To me it highlighted many of the things I have tried to take on board over these past few years about understanding what motivates others. Cultural awareness training is about understanding how others feel in a given situation and what you can do to make them feel more comfortable and included. This is always a good thing as it allows us to connect and grow. But it takes time and patience.
So what I would like to say to other men is that you need to remember, while your brain is saying I'm not a threat, the woman across from you does not know that. The cumulative hurt that sits within most women who have generally been the target of abuse for millennia, wont be overcome in a moment, or even a generation.
As a husband, father and friend of so many amazing women, we "men" must take every opportunity to make sure our actions lead us in a better direction. A future where women one day will not feel that men are a threat. We need to speak up and tell other men that it is not okay. No level of physical, emotional or mental abuse towards women is acceptable.
Thank you for reading this. I hope it means as much to you as it does to me.
- Share your thoughts with Cr Smith via his Facebook page.