Imagine being a woman (for 52% of the planet that’s easily done) and starting this week with International Woman’s Day and ending it in raging anger at how women are sidelined all the time if they’re not being stalked and murdered/raped, or have to live with an abusive partner or member of the family? Imagine then seeing some men online say ‘ah, but not all men’ as is that’s a deflection from the fact that as men, we all play a part in this mess regardless of how small that may have been. Then imagine endless abuse, rape and death threats coming from not just right wing headcases, but supposed ‘woke’ people who Tweet about ‘being kind’ and you’re living a life which as a man I can only imagine.
Then there’s the murder of Sarah Everard. A case where the main suspect is a police officer. How can women feel safe when someone who is part of the intitution supposed to protect them may well see them as ‘opportunities’ as the victim was described several times on the news this week.
I’m a man. I’ve walked though some incredibly dodgy areas walking home in the past in big cities like Glasgow, Bristol and London. I’ve been mugged three times. First time I broke a knuckle punching one, the second I was drunk and stupidly fought them off. Last time was when I was no longer fit and healthy, so ended up losing a phone because I was vulnerable, which means I get a fraction of what it must be like to be woman and do things like avoid crowds, or certain pubs, or text mates to tell them I’ve got home safe. I have no idea what it must be like to learn or do these thing from an early age but then again nobody has ever discriminated towards me because of my sex. Yet I think of girlfriends who weepily told me about being abused and raped, often by ex partners or members of their family, so why didn’t it dawn on me then?
Yet I read endless stories like these, and think what could I have done to make someone else’s life at that time better? Even when I wasn’t disabled I used to dither when I walked as I’d always be taking in the architecture of buildings, but how many times was I walking behind a woman doing this? I can think offhand of dozens of times. I should have known better, same as times in London’s labyrithine underground system where I’ve heard screams and wondered ‘is that someone mucking about or is that someone in distress?’ while doing the sum total of fuck all. But this is the problem, men aren’t educated enough and there’s also a point where men just don’t care. They like abusing women, even to the point where it gives them a sexual thrill in addition to abusing their power.
Which brings me to this week. Monday was International Women’s Day. Loads of men decied to ask why there’s no International Men’s Day (there is one in November), then in the Commons the MP Jess Phillips read out the name of every woman killed by a man in 2020. It took over four minutes. The point she makes is that society has accepted this as just one of those things. Later on in the week the Scottish parliament voted through a hate crime bill which excudes women with some MSP’s displaying the sort of misogyny that shows why we need to protect sex on a hate crime bill. With women being dehumanised with words like ‘Karen’, ‘Terf’, ‘Femnazi’ or anything that reduces women to a figure to be hated and abused online and in real life, theres no wonder women in Scotland despair about the decision
It becomes easier to Other and abuse someone if you don’t see them as a person, or even human, and right now I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a period of sheer outright hatred against women openly being thrown around by people across the political and social spectrums. So we end up with women like Sarah Everard murdered just because she was a woman who was seen by a killer who saw an ‘opportunity’, not a person, but an opportunity. The pornofication of culture has reduced women to ‘opportunities’ and a variety of body parts. The somewhat naive porn we’d find in Tesco’s bags under a bush in the park are long gone to be replaced by something dehumanising and violent. Yet women can’t protest that without being assaulted themselves. Femicide is a problem all over the world and it seems to be accepted, but only because governments and other institutions can’t really be bothered which means after this outrage over the murder of Sarah Everard or the hate crime bill, or women being assaulted on the street, or just being abused while picking up their kids passes, women will again be sidelined. Til the next time.
But there shouldn’t be a next time. It is down to us men to seriously look into what we do and have done, accept our failings and do better while listening to women and let them centre their story told their way without piping up ‘not all men’ or something awful like that. We need to be better because the way things are going the future for women is not one which looks good, and it won’t change unless we do.