#NotAllMen: In conversation with Lucia Akard and Samantha Katz Seal

Research output: Contribution to JournalComment/Debate


It was a mild enough evening in London on 3 March 2021 that thirty-three year old Sarah Everard could leave a friend’s house in Clapham wearing a green rain jacket rather than a heavy winter coat. That jacket was caught on CCTV at 9:30pm as Sarah walked the two miles home to Brixton, and that footage was released to the public by the Metropolitan Police four days later to aid ongoing enquiries into her disappearance. The internet responded with thoughts and prayers, and also the inevitable questions about why a woman would walk home alone at night, as if it is criminally reckless for a grown woman to take a walk on an early spring night in a part of a city she knew well. Sarah’s route took her across Clapham Common; perhaps along its well-lit footpaths she saw daffodils opening, and took pleasure in them. Perhaps there were daffodils in bloom in the woodlands in Kent where on the night of 10 March her body was found.

I read Lucia Akard and Samantha Katz Seal’s accounts of medieval women whose consent was devalued and skirted around, where men performed their feelings about those women without including them in the conversation, and I felt a helpless sort of despair that in many ways so little has changed between 1386 and 1424 and the present day. On twitter, women responded to criticisms of Everard’s actions by recounting the many times they had been harassed in public – in broad daylight, at night, on the street, in train stations, when they were thirteen and thirty and sixty – and begged men to put an end to the fear they felt. Men responded with performative surprise that so many women they knew had these experiences, and some added that though they were sorry women went through this, they should know that #notallmen were like this. Some women, too, backed them up. Lots of men, they said, were good husbands and fathers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in the Age of Chaucer
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Aug 2022


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