March 21st 2021

“My clothes feared nothing,” wrote the author George Sand, reflecting on masquerading as a man so she could freely explore the nineteenth-century city, “no one paid attention to me, and no one guessed at my disguise…I was no longer a lady, but I wasn’t a gentleman either.” It is staggering to think that in the twenty-first century women share similar concerns to Sand regarding their visibility on the street. The tragic death of Sarah Everard has prompted thousands of women to share their experiences of public harassment and has exposed deep social flaws that must be urgently addressed. Approaches to policing the streets need to be re-examined, but a significant emphasis must also be placed on respecting women. Wolf-whistling and cat-calling are acts that some men pass off as being ‘harmless’ but they are predatory in nature and create an immediate sense of unease, where the victim is fearful of what will happen next. They are of course unacceptable. However, I believe that all men must reassess their behaviour in public. This starts by discussing in depth what men can do to make women feel safer when walking. Particularly in deserted spaces or at night, all men are viewed as potential predators because of the past actions of other men. Men need to learn to be more aware of the threat that they pose and consciously mitigate it by giving women who are walking alone the required space and respect for them to feel comfortable. George Sand lived in a misogynistic society where women felt excluded from public life. In 2021, no woman should be denied the joys of walking because of fear. Things must change.

In the ten years since StepAway Magazine was first published, we have shared the work of many a great flâneuse, and numerous talented flâneurs to boot! It is a true joy to publish this tenth anniversary issue. Over the years we’ve published thirty-six issues, including two pamphlets celebrating the North East of England and Fitzrovia, and special editions examining voice hearing and the Covid-19 lockdown. We’ve collaborated with Durham University, the University of Westminster and Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts. We’ve also co-hosted an event at the Durham Book Festival. And we have made some great friends along the way.

Given the tumultuous time in which we are living, I am curious about what the next ten years will mean for StepAway and hope that our humble publication will reflect a world that is changing for the better. The tenth anniversary issue is a treat, featuring twenty-three writers, some who have featured regularly and others who are new to the magazine:  Tina Barry, Bob Beagrie, Lorraine Caputo, A C Clarke, Maria Castro Dominguez, Kitty Donnelly, Berni Dwan, Janet Hatherley, Julie Hogg, Jayant Kashyap, Tom Kelly, Hanja Kochansky, Marilyn Longstaff, Ilona Martonfi, Lisa McAree, Eva Michely, Ilse Pedler, Anne Peterson, Lesley Quayle, Rouchswalwe, Margarita Serafimova, Ross Walsh and Angela Wray.

Thank you for ten years of support. As always, I hope that you enjoy the read.

Darren Richard Carlaw