So after the recent tragic murder of Sarah Everard, certain conversations about gender equality came up more frequently, and there is at least a consensus amongst virtually everyone that what happened was abhorrent. But when discussing more generally about the education of men on issues such as these, there remains significant division.

Let’s pretend that you’re in the middle of a conversation about feminist issues. So if a woman-or indeed, just a feminist-brings up a point about men needing to be educated, and to take responsibility, you may think the worse thing they could respond with is to deny this completely and refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem, and honestly you'd probably be right. But this is by no means the only harmful thing that you could say in response. How many times have you heard someone say “sure, but not all men do this….” 

I’m not calling you a sexist for saying that, but I’m saying you’re wrong. Why should you feel the need to defend yourself in a conversation about some men, when no words have been targeted at you? Why should you feel the need to point out that not all men are guilty of sexually harassing someone, when the problem lies in the fact that it’s happening at all? Why, if you aren't guilty of anything, should you feel the need to point out that you are not the one that is guilty? That's a fact that the speaker in this conversation is already going to be aware of. Unless you’ve heard someone accuse “all men” of being guilty of something like this, there’s no reason to ‘defend’ yourself. 

Which leads me to the next point. Maybe it wouldn’t be nice, to hear blame being pointed at you, in the unlikely event that it would be, although that's never actually something that I've personally experienced, and I find it unlikely that I will. But honestly? I think that’s the worst thing that would ever happen to me, as a man, for being the gender that I am. Think about all the things, the worse things, that happen to women, because of the gender that they are. I can walk on Clapham Common without fear. 

Instead of thinking of how unlucky you are to hear of the horrific things that some men cause, it's really important to be aware that women are not so lucky as to be able to be out in public, around men, and not feel as if they are in danger. To anyone thinking that's an exaggeration, there's a statistic circulating the internet that my form tutor read out to us the other week: "97% of women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed” (according to the UN Women UK survey). That should say something about privelige to you. We, as men, do not need to be concerned about protecting our privelige, we need to encourage discussion about how to help change things so there isn’t any.

So, in conclusion, in that scenario I mentioned above, for a man, don't treat a woman in that scenario in a patronizing way. And don't treat them (if they have experienced any form of sexual harassment) like a victim, either, because that will not help. Instead, encourage rather than discourage conversations about the rights of women, try and engage, and show some empathy for your female peers. This is a message not calling out people for being sexist, but an appeal for men to make a change, however small-scale it may be, to make a difference.