Edinburgh's independent student newspaper

Why do girls always have to make the first move?

The picture is of 4 people's backs, they wear colourful coats in pink,orange, pink and purple as they have their arms around each others' backs.
Sunday 7th November 15.48

Instagram stories right now are filled with people sharing posts about the boycott, stories surrounding the spikings, precaution measures, and resource lists. The most common Instagram account circulating is @girlsnightinedinburgh, who have engineered the boycott on the 28th. This group is founded and created by a group of girls, with one of their most popular posts addressing what we want nightclubs to do in order for us to feel safer. The post includes responses from men, women, and non-binary people. They also have a post addressed “Dear nightclubs in Edinburgh", calling out nightclubs with a detailed list of action points: thorough security checks, use of code words, lids for drinks, staff training, and CCTV surveillance, to name a few. As I was reading the flurry of posts on my feed, the first thought that popped into my head was, “would any of this have happened if girls and female-presenting people didn’t make the first move?”

Yes, I say “make the first move” and I say it ironically. In our society, men and those presenting as male are always prided on “making the first move” in this self-entitled and unsettling predatory sense. Of course, when other gender/s “make the first move” the social implications do a 180. Suddenly, it is seen as “desperation” on their part. Well, now we have made the first move. The first move to look out for our safety, for making sure the bare minimum is exercised, for “educating” the authorities and it is far from the first time that we have had to bear this responsibility.

As a young woman, I have felt like my safety has always been in my own hands and it is exhausting. When you are told things like “don’t wear that” or “always go to the toilet in a group (but don’t take all the girls with you, make sure some of you stay behind as scouts)” or you witness your friend leave the house with trousers on over a mini-skirt and she takes off the trousers in the club but puts them back on when we’re making our way home from the club; you realise that the problem is so much bigger than you. It is terrifying.

But what is worse is that this very default social practice condones victim blaming. So we now not only bear the burden of victim blaming but we are also the first ones approached in anticipation of proposing proactive change; what the fuck? I am so sick of the ideology that the solution to “women’s issues” can only be implemented by, and is the responsibility of female-presenting people. When the patriarchy fails to protect a whole gender group, it is everyone under the patriarchy’s responsibility to pick up the pieces.

“Oh, but men get spiked too, you know." Yes they do, and yes I know! The fact that that statement is an argument and a response to a devastating and emotionally traumatic series of experiences goes to show that we have failed to see the bigger picture. The big picture being a ripple of sexual entitlement and violence. The patriarchy time and time again fails to protect those identifying as male too. Shocker!

Girls will continue to fight for girls and that is just how it is. We will fight relentlessly. But what we are sick and tired of having to go through is carrying the burden that comes with the expectation that our safety is solely our battle and liability. It is asking us to pry open society’s eyes and hold them open with clothespins like the animators of Tom and Jerry did – just as ridiculous!

Image: Vonecia Carswell via Unsplash