Women Were Asked To Imagine A World Where Men Had A Curfew
Women are always on guard, especially at night. When the sun sets and the world gets dark, it’s almost as if women give up their right to access public spaces in exchange for their own safety.
In a question that has now gone viral on Twitter, activist Danielle Muscato asks us to imagine a world where this wasn’t the case. What if women, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people could go out without fear at night?
“What would you do if all men had a 9pm curfew?” Muscato asks.
With more than 20,000 retweets (and counting), the responses present a reality where women effectively are always under threat by simply existing outdoors at night.
I would go outside or to a park at night. I love the nighttime outside when it’s so quiet, and there is a quiet contemplative beauty to the world, especially in the city. But is hard to enjoy it when I’m hypervigilant to possible threats (getting mugged/assaulted/kidnapped).
— CJ Spooky Jeff 💀 (@neutronsoup) September 26, 2018
First of all that’s absolute freedom!!! To do whatever I want. Walk around the city, return from work or party at any time without fear. Won’t be watching my back. I wish I had that kind of freedom. https://t.co/h92RP6CfCR
— Shabana (@shabanais) October 2, 2018
Thinking about this made me realize how un-free I am. The threat of violence because of my gender is something so normal I’ve stopped imagining different kinds of freedom. https://t.co/yfqTDgbkLZ
— Jherane (@Jherane_) September 26, 2018
While men on the thread have replied, their responses prove that gender privilege and oppression is not something easily visible, especially if you benefit from it. One tweet reads, “Immensely moving to find, taking a walk around the city is what most women said they would like to do. Society seriously needs to fix something, if this is what the situation is in the 21st century.”
The disparity between how men and women move around in public spaces was evident in another viral Tweet posted three days ago, asking men and women what they do to avoid assault.
Jackson Katz, a social researcher, asked men what they do on a daily basis to avoid being sexually assaulted. Then he asked women. pic.twitter.com/GjniLR4iIZ
— Jennifer Wright (@JenAshleyWright) September 30, 2018
We all know that women don’t feel safe out at night, and that there are various things we do to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. But the volume of responses, across the world, from women who have to navigate these spaces everyday and the mental exhaustion that they face — is chilling to see.
What these tweets are doing, is giving people across marginalized gender identities the space to tell their stories, to share their fears — and the space for men to recognize their own privilege.
In India, our response to the dangers that men pose, is often to police women’s bodies. They are told not to work too late, not to travel by public transport, not to walk around at night, not to be out too late. And if something does happen, it’s their own fault. But the way to keep women safe is not to keep them indoors.
We need more movements like Pinjra Tod, a women’s student group fighting against curfew timings and policing of girls in hostels, Girls at Dhabas, and Why Loiter, as much as we need more women speaking out about their experiences. Women need to be taking up space, not erasing themselves from the public sphere. And men need to get out of the way, and let them.