With an estimated 85 percent of women reporting having experienced some form of unwanted sexual attention by the time they reach age 18, almost every woman will know how it feels to be catcalled, wolf-whistled or even followed by a stranger. Whether it happens while walking down the street or in a club, sometimes even the feistiest and most confident of women can find themselves feeling uncomfortable.
Case in point, this journalist’s experience during the World Cup in Russia in 2018 – quite frankly, he’s lucky he didn’t get hit.
Would you have hit this man?
But if the ’90s taught us anything, it’s that there’s no force stronger than girl power. When Scary, Sporty, Posh, Baby, and Ginger got together, you knew that there was going to be no stopping them – as long as they had each other, everything was going to be fine. Just look at what happened when Geri left (which I’m totally not still bitter about, by the way).
Despite the best efforts of a whole host of ’00s films to propagate the myth that all girls must inherently hate each other (looking at you, Mean Girls), I’d say we’ve taken the message to heart fairly well. I mean, how great are the girls’ toilets on a night out? Yet nowhere is this got-your-back-girl spirit more apparent than in the ways that women look out for each other when they’re out in public.
Now, women have been taking to social media to share the ways in which other women have come to their rescue in sticky situations – and some of them will restore your faith in humanity.
Trust me, they’re even better than that time Adele broke her Grammy for Bey.
The exchange started when a Tumblr user named Natnovna shared her own story about a woman who had come to her rescue when she was just 14 years old and being harassed by a group of older guys in a mall: “I said, ‘I’m only 14,’ and almost in unison they said, ‘We don’t care,’ I was so f****** scared. I didn’t know what to do, and they kept talking about how I looked and how my body looked and what they would do”, she recounted, adding that she was on the verge of tears and alone.
Seeing her predicament, a female maintenance worker stepped in to help her, challenging them and threatening to press her panic button. She then escorted the teenager to a place of safety and waited with her until her mother arrived.
Touching on the huge impact that the incident had on her, Natnovna said: “That was the moment I realized women were the most important beings on this planet and we have to protect each other because nobody else is going to”. She added: “She didn’t even know me, we couldn’t even communicate that well because of the language barrier, she could have lost her job for waiting with me in the parking lot, but she looked out for me when she didn’t have to. She had nothing to gain from it. I’m 21 now, and I tell everyone this story even though it happened seven years ago. What she did that night helped me form and shape a lot of my beliefs early on.”
Or to put it more succinctly as Stele3 does: “GIRL CODE. F*****’ GIRL CODE. LEAVE NO GIRL BEHIND. EVER.”
Her story then prompted others to share their own experiences, with one girl telling of the gratitude she felt when three girls warned her that a group of guys had been watching her: “Those guys behind us were talking about following you. We can walk with you”, they told her. She went on: “I have MMA training but have never in my life had been offered the protection and sanction of my own gender. This is so important”.
Another woman keen to share her story was a user posting under the name ActualGinnyWeasley, who spoke of the time that a man made her and another woman – who she did not know – feel uncomfortable while shopping a grocery store: “We loaded up our groceries into our cars as fast as possible and I had way more bags than her so she got done faster than me.”
She went on to explain that while she was afraid the woman would leave, she actually did quite the opposite: “I noticed she sat in her car, watching me and making sure nobody came near. She waited not until all my groceries were loaded, or until my cart was put away, or until I got into my car. No, she didn’t drive away until I drove away.”
It goes without saying that in an ideal world, women wouldn’t have to stick together to avoid being made to feel uncomfortable in public. But as it stands, it’s pretty clear that that’s not the case, so in the meantime let’s have a little praise for women are willing to go out of their way to keep each other safe. Heroes.