Please forgive the punctuation and or spelling in this post, I’m on a train and typing this on my blackberry so standards may slip!

So recently i have been reading quite a bit about street harassment of women, initially from the brilliant @awot_uk blogs but since then i have seen dozens of similar posts.  It is not something I have ever come across as a man and if I am honest I had never given it much thought.  However a couple of nights ago I was walking my dog in the city centre when I noticed a couple arguing.  Initially I didn’t pay much attention until the chap pushed the lady hard against a wall.  Immediately I walked across the street to intervene but before I had chance she had retaliated by punching him hard twice in the body. A moment later she’d pushed him and it was reasonably clear if there was to be a fight she was a fair bit bigger and likely to be winning it! At this point I thought discretion was likely to be the better part of valour and kept a distance. A minute or so later they went their separate ways and that was that. 

 

The following day I mentioned this to a couple of friends and both of them thought I was crazy for even thinking of intervening. What if he had a weapon? What if he had friends near by? Being honest neither of those things occurred to me, I’m a pretty big chap – 6’4′ and pretty large with it so I’ve rarely if ever been frightened walking about on my own. At the time I was walking my dog who’s 14 stone in weight although admittedly the softest animal in the world his size is intimidating and at no point was I worried for my own safety. If I saw any chap harassing, attacking or generally being abusive to any lady I’d like to think I would step in without a moments hesitation and just assumed most of my male friends would be the same, yet it seems that’s far from the truth. 

 

I’m not by any stretch claiming to be some kind of macho chap, or being holier than thou about this, far from it.  In my life I’ve only ever intervened once. Many years ago I saw two very young chaps shouting at a fairly young lady, clearly thinking this was a way of making themselves look manly while really only betraying their own immaturity and idiocy. I stepped in, told them they were making a fool of themselves and they should pick a fight with someone their own size and that was pretty much that.  

 

Perhaps its not always wise to intervene, there could well be a person with a weapon, you could well be set upon by a group of thugs? Maybe my friends were right? I just can’t help thinking though that if good people don’t stand up and be counted when you see something like that happening, whether its to a lady or another chap, that the problem will only get worse. The more we turn a blind eye, the more socially acceptable it appears and therefore people won’t learn that harassment or violence won’t be tolerated. When we as a society reject this and make sure that our streets are safe at night for a lady to walk down then perhaps we can reach a time when its ok for a chap to pay a lady a compliment without her feeling the need to reach for the pepper spray!

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