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« Responses to John Piper's 'masculine Christianity' | Main | Sophia gatherings - Sheffield, Bourne, London and Oxford - come and join us! »

February 07, 2012


Sally Hitchiner

I've occasionally been in situations that I think could have resulted in violence in my work with people who have attended our soup kitchen in the Cafe Church service I lead and on the night of the riots in Ealing when I went out to walk around my parish. I have to say the combination of being short and female AND wearing a dog collar that says I'm not part of any police or local government authority has meant that I think I'm less likely to be hit by a drunk potentially violent man than most men are. Even when people are drunk they seem less likely to confront me and others are more likely to leap to my aid if needed (especially if I know them already). Having said all that - there are a lot of situations that I would back off from and I think it's still quite a high risk whatever gender you are and whatever you wear.

I think I probably would confront a man who was being violent to a woman in public if I was wearing my dog collar partly because I feel like I have a duty to when I'm identifiable as a christian, but I'd probably just call the police from a safe distance if I was in plain clothes... is that a terrible admission?!

Sally Hitchiner

It's also interesting that the experience of many who were out on the night of the riots across london was that the most effective question at stopping young people who were rioting was "What would your mother think?"

I think women are more powerful than we think in those circumstances...

Jenny Baker

Thanks for your comments Sally - really helpful and I don't think that's a terrible admission at all. I think we need to exercise wisdom in how we respond. I'm just aware that I would probably be too afraid to confront someone in that situation - but that might be letting an unfounded fear get the better of me. I think you're right that in some contexts the presence of a woman might defuse the situation

Nick Shepherd

I had to do a similar thing the other week. A woman selling the Big Issue was attacked by a man shouting racist abuse. A crowd of people standing a it perplexed (men and women). I intervened - put myself between him and her and got him to move away. I didn't call the police - the woman didn't want me too. That's from a bloke who used to run a toddler group as a stay at home dad!


Thanks for standing in the gap Nick and for sharing your story. Proof that you don't have to be built like a cage fighter to stand up to bullies!

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