When a man rejects a woman’s advances, she may feel humiliated. He may feel awkward, embarrassed, or even guilty. Most likely, she will cope by crying to a friend or eating too much ice cream. She might go out dancing to blow off some steam. However she decides to work through her feelings, the burden of her grief is almost sure to remain her own.
When a woman rejects a man, however, the stakes can be much higher. Many men do deal with rejection gracefully. However, nearly every woman has had an encounter with one who did not. A woman who rejects a man risks being insulted or publicly shamed. She risks being harassed. In extreme – but sadly not rare – cases, she may be stalked, raped, or even murdered. As women, we are taught to let men down gently, even if doing so requires us to lie. Unfortunately, it isn’t always safe to exercise our right to “just say no.”
This is why the poster above is so groundbreaking.
“Are you on a date that isn’t working out?” It reads. “Is your Tinder or POF [Plenty of Fish] date not who they said they were on their profile? Do you feel like you’re not in a safe situation? Does it all feel a bit weird? If you go to the bar and ask for ‘Angela.’ The bar staff will know you need help getting out of your situation and will call you a taxi or help you out discreetly—without too much fuss.”
Posted in a women’s bathroom in England, this photograph has been shared on Twitter almost 30,000 times. It urges women who feel unsafe rejecting their date to approach the bar and ask for Angela – a name that, not coincidentally, means “angel”. It promises discretion, third-party involvement, and a safe way out of the situation. These are all things that a woman needs to be sure of when trying to escape a date that she fears might turn dangerous.
As Hayley Child, substance misuse and sexual violence and abuse strategy coordinator for Lincolnshire County Council, told the Independent, “The ‘Ask for Angela’ posters are part of our wider #NoMore campaign which aims to promote a culture change in relation to sexual violence and abuse, promote services in Lincolnshire, and empower victims to make a decision on whether to report incidents.”
Of course, this is a relatively small step in tackling a much larger issue. Child touched on the fact that a wider cultural shift is necessary in solving the problem of sexual violence. However, if even one woman is able to safely get help due to this campaign, it has surely had a positive impact on our world. Let’s hope this thing spreads like wildfire.