#safetytips on TikTok is a supportive space where women share and validate each other’s experiences of assault, harassment, rape, abuse and kidnapping, which are often ordeals that go unpunished and met with disbelief.
Women recommend products for protection to each other, provide alerts for specific areas that are seeing spikes in violence and warn other users about the details of their traumatic experiences in the hopes that the same doesn’t happen to them. The format of Tiktok means that this potentially life-saving information is condensed into one-minute videos, most of which are captioned for accessibility.
However, going through this hashtag and watching these videos no matter how useful faces us with a terrifying reality. The hashtag has 239.9 million views, while the thousands upon thousands of TikToks under it reflect the scale and frequency at which women are being threatened or attacked.
It is hard to ignore that these videos are made by the women who lived to tell the tale as so many do not. These women, and in a lot of cases young girls, are speaking out from all over the world about how unsafe they are. It is not an exaggeration to call this violence a global epidemic.
If you were to take the road most travelled and burden the victim with behaviours women should follow to stay safe, it would leave much to be desired. Women would have to say goodbye to living alone, going outside alone, going outside without a male companion, going outside without some form of protection, e.g. a rape alarm or pepper spray – and the repressive the list goes on.
#safetytips and its one-minute videos should be mandatory watching for any cisgender man to understand this reality, particularly the ‘not all men’ brigade. One Tiktok by @baddingtonbear debunks this argument by using a Russian roulette analogy, explaining that while not all the bullet cases are loaded, one is. Therefore, ‘not all men are bad, but there’s always going to be that one man that is. So women need to be wary of all men to protect themselves’. It is videos like this and Tiktok’s popularity as a social media platform that can change the entrenched misogynistic mindsets of some.
As part of the #ChooseToChallenge theme of this International Women’s Day, the hope is that any and all violence perpetrated against women globally will be challenged and eradicated by those who have the power to do so.