Not All Men – A Creative Response

Words: Faith Thurnwald & Saskia Anderson
Artwork: Issy Snowdon & Lara De Koster
Not be all men rape, but all women are afraid. The unfortunate truth is that every single one of my friends has had an experience, where we felt –at the very least – uncomfortable, but more often than not unsafe. I can’t walk home alone, but I can’t take a taxi either, if I get an uber at least I’ll have a record of who drove me home, but that does not ensure my well being. A ‘friend’ can walk me home, but how well do you ever know anyone? Taxi drivers expecting payment in sexual favors, and men believing they have a right to fuck you because they got you home ‘safe’, are common occurrences and become brushed off as the norm, because somehow its my fault for ending up alone. Stupid girl. I am polite to men that hit on me, because is he just a bit drunk and friendly or will he hurt me if I’m rude? We live in a constant paradox wherein our safety is in constant threat. It is not all men, but it is all women, and it shouldn’t need to be your mother, sister or lover for you to give a shit.
Two creative responses to the constant threat of sexual assault: A poem by Saskia Anderson ‘Asking For It’ and a fictional speech by Faith Thurnwald following the rape and murder of Sarah Everard titled ‘We Are Angry’.


You’re sitting on your bed, all alone

Its Saturday morning; the beginning of your weekend

but you think you’ll stay in.

In fact, you’ve been staying in most days now.

Lying warm under your covers



You can remember who you used to be

so vibrant and full of life.

Jumping at any chance to be with people.

Always laughing, always talking.

Believing in the kindness of strangers

and living in a sheltered world.

But that person is gone now.

And she’s been replaced with a lifeless being

a shell of a person

destroyed by her own weakness.

Always numb

floating without sense of the world around

or perhaps too much sense.

Living in baggy clothes

smoking cigarettes.

Watching her frame shrink

becoming more and more in danger

of it’s own fragility.

You can’t remember the last time you were truly awake.

You can only remember feeling tired

and lost.

Filled with hazy, inexplicable memories of each day that passed.

You don’t do much these days

because being asleep is so much better

than being awake.

Even with the nightmares.

You don’t want to recall anything.

You don’t want to feel what you felt before.

You don’t want to remember what happened.

You spent so much time erasing it from you’re memory

but it’s still there.

It’s underneath the emptiness

It’s in your dreams.

Chasing you.

Forcing you to remember

what was said,

what was done

two months ago at your best friend’s nineteenth birthday.

You can remember it all.

The way the air smelt

the way the walls spun.

The way your feet wouldn’t go where you wanted them to

when you tried to run.

You weren’t strong enough

You never thought you’d need to be.

Tears streamed down your face.


He spat at you.

You heard people laughing

at you.

You did nothing but lie there

too afraid to speak.

But when you finally did break your silence

there was no relief from the pain.

The police officers

patted you on the back

and pressured you to drop the charges.

Silently implying;

‘You’re overreacting’.

Written beneath your statement;

‘Had been drinking. Was wearing revealing attire.’

It’s all your fault.

The look on their faces

You’re so foolish’.

Their reaction to your tears

You should have known’.

You’re father’s first reaction;

‘Were you teasing him?’

The whispers on the street;

‘She was wearing a short dress’

The rumors from your college

‘I heard she was blind drunk’

The talking of your friends

‘She was wandering alone’

The way you didn’t think first

It’s all your fault.

They said you were asking for it

It’s all your fault.

He couldn’t help himself

it’s all your fault.

Condemned for being weak.

For being stupid.

And now you’re disgusted by the person

they made you believe you were.

You can’t respect yourself

because nobody else ever did.

Once you believed in the kindness of strangers.

But you never lived in a sheltered world.

You only lived in oblivion

of what could happen at any moment.

The world didn’t change

only you did.

They’d always been leering at you

as you walked to get milk at night.

Undressing you with their eyes

stealing your innocence.

They’d always been there

just around the corner.

You’d just never realized.

And these days you only wished that you could find peace

in ignorance again.

But you can’t.

Your world had collapsed in on itself

leaving you detached from mankind itself;

alone and misunderstood.

You couldn’t turn back time.

You couldn’t reverse the damage.

Because you had been raped.

And it was all your fault.


We are here today because we are angry, and for good reason. So keep that anger and hold it close in the battles to come. I would rather be the angry feminist than the complicit ‘cool girl’. I would rather live in a world, where the people who are sworn  to protect us, are not the ones who inflict such putrid pain and violence. I would rather live in a world where I can walk home without navigating the streetlights like a moth to a flame. But this is not our reality, and that is why we are out today, on the streets of London under threat of a pandemic and in the uncomfortable cold, because this cannot wait. We are out today for Sarah Everard, Brittany Higgins, Grace Tame and countless unnamed victims. Sarah was walking the short distance home, under bright streetlights when she was raped, killed and cut up. Brittany Higgins was unconscious at her place of work in the Parliament House of Australia, when she woke up to her co-worker raping her, just doors from the Prime Minister’s office. Grace Tame was groomed and repeatedly raped by her high school teacher.

When we hear these crimes we become distraught with disgust, and we assume the perpetrator is a depraved and perverted man, hiding in the shadows. This assumption is wrong, and it is dangerous. For these men are not hiding. They are not cowering in the shadows. They are men of privilege and power; they are officers of the law, teachers, and attorney generals. They are men who we entrust with the legislation and enforcement of national law and when they are done with us we end up dead and they go home to their wives.

We are here today because we are angry, and for good reason. We were arrested when we protested the malicious murder of Sarah Everard. The very men who broke Donuts with her killer, pinned us down and cuffed us. With which followed, to add salt to an already seeping wound, a global outcry of ‘not all men’. Whenever we rise up a counterattack of ‘meninism’ or ‘not all men’, seeks to dissuade our voice. There is a war between genders, anger is our Battalion and our weapon of choice is our voice; for we are done hiding in the Barracks. If we are to learn anything from the events that brought me to speak out today, it is that we are not equal.  For this war has been raging since Eve was created from Adam’s spare rib and women have been the embodiment of original sin, reaching for the apple ever since.  We are still crawling; elbow deep in the mud of violent misogyny. We are still bruised and bleeding from a partner’s love. We are still sweating with the weight of the glass ceiling upon our backs. We are still in the dirt, digging for justice. We are still wading through lurking leers, which follow us like footsteps.

We are here today because every woman I know has a story. Every woman has been made to feel uncomfortable, but more often than not; unsafe. We are not equal until taxi drivers stop asking for payment in the form of sexual favors. We are not equal until we don’t feel the need to clutch our keys. We are not equal until we can put our drink down in a nightclub. We are not equal until the dialogue is not ‘what was she wearing’ but ‘why did he rape her’. We are not equal until the statistics of rape change from one in five women – look around you, who here today will be next? This is our reality and how many more women need to die before it changes?

We are here today because of what happened to Sarah Everard, Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame. For we are not moving forwards but backwards. Every step feminism takes, violent misogyny pulls us back. Before I make the decision to walk home, I will now think of Sarah. Before I make the decision to enter politics, I will now think of Brittany. Before I trust my relationship with a male mentor, I will now think of Grace. We are here today for these women, and countless others, on the streets of London, in the cold – so keep that anger and hold it close, because it is the only thing that will keep you warm in the war to come.