I rarely write blog posts about the news or politics any more. It’s not that I’ve stopped caring. I have found in recent months, with being ill, that I care too much, that I simply cannot get past the overwhelming tragedy of this fucked up world to write anything much that makes sense.
What I really feel, most of the time, is a huge, anguished howl inside me if I engage with the news for more than a few moments at a time. I feel like if I start writing/talking about it all, I just won’t be able to stop, there is so much that is wrong and ugly about the world my children are inheriting and it is painful, truly painful to think about it for too long.
Today though, I feel I must say something about this outpouring by women in light of the Weinstein and parliamentary news. I don’t think #metoo really covers it. I’ve written much of this before in various posts, but it bears repeating.
What I have to say is to men. I imagine few if any read this blog, but if I don’t write down how I feel, I will actually burst my stitches. If I lose readers, I don’t care. If you can’t cope with what I have to say, then please feel free to depart and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
I fucking know, not all men, ok? I’m not in the habit of sticking all men together as one amorphous mass and I shouldn’t need to clarify this every, single time this topic comes up.
Maybe you feel you have to say ‘not all men’ because it seems a lot of men are incapable of thinking about women as anything other than one gigantic female unit who are solely intent on ruining men’s lives, but as with most of this, that’s YOUR stuff to work out, so it would be really nice if you’d stop projecting, stop the faux outrage that I might think that you are a rapist/harrasser/abuser, and actually listen for a moment.
Unless you are a rapist, harasser or abuser, in which case I hope you fall down a well very soon. And no, I’m not sorry for feeling that, and I don’t care if it’s not ladylike. It’s very much past the time to be ladylike about this by about 200 years or so.
I do not need to justify to you why I or anyone else didn’t go to the police or report abuse, or report an employer or punch an attacker or fight back at the time. You only need to look at the figures from the Crown Prosecution Service on this to see why. You only need to look at the 3 women a week who die at the hands of husbands/brothers/fathers/partners to see why.
You do not get to grill me like a court room barrister to justify your attempts to make it ok that men cannot keep their hands, mouths or penises to themselves. The fact that even if you don’t physically abuse women, you think it’s perfectly ok to verbally harass them says enough about why women haven’t felt they could speak up.
I should not need to explain to you why it is not ok to shrug off a hand on a knee. Jo Brand said it all perfectly on this week’s Have I Got News For You? It’s never just a hand on a knee. It’s a hand on a knee, it’s a GP inappropriately ‘checking’ my breasts, it’s someone squeezing my arse at work, it’s someone feeling they have the right to caress my naked back because I dared to wear a halter top to a night club and being outraged when I asked them to stop, it’s a gang of men cat calling me in the middle of the day when I’m going to pick my son up from a birthday party, it’s a man I trust thinking it’s ok to try it on with me because I dared to be vulnerable in front of him because nothing says I want to fuck you more than a woman bursting into tears on a friend’s shoulder. It’s this and the hundreds of other indignities that women of all ages put up with all their lives. It’s constantly living on that knife edge all the time and becoming so used to it that it becomes second nature to deal with this. It should not be like this. It is NEVER just a hand on a knee. OK?
Just because we dealt with it in the past does not mean it’s ok. We dealt with it in the past because what else were we going to do? Life has to be lived. You have to get on a train to go to work or school, even if you know there’s a chance a man will think you really want to see his penis if you’re in a carriage alone with him. You have to earn money, even if you know that your boss is a lech and that you have to avoid his wandering hands so that you can eat and pay your gas bill. You have to have a social life, even though there is a chance that you will be groped or attacked if you go out, because the alternative is a domestic prison. You have to go to school, because it’s the law, so you deal with the wandering hands, the constant ‘banter’, the slagging off, the bra strap pinging, the dropped pencils. You deal, because what else can you do?
These are choices women have always had to make. It doesn’t mean it’s right or fair. It doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t stop. It doesn’t mean that it’s ok because we survive. Survival is not a prize.
I do not need to justify to you why I went out at night, or in the day, or went to school, or wore clothes, or what clothes I wore, or how I spoke, or what I drank. This is all deflection. This is all about men failing to take responsibility. How about understanding that you NEVER have the right to put your hands on a woman’s body just because YOU feel like it. You NEVER have the right to fuck a woman just because you want to and she has some available holes. You NEVER have the right to demand that a woman stay a prisoner in their own home so that YOU are not tempted to abuse her.
Are you genuinely that weak that you cannot figure out how to manage your own body and brain in a shared public space? If you are, why can you not accept that this is your fault, your responsibility, your problem? It’s not for women to look after themselves AND you.
It is time that the spotlight was on men. You. What are you doing to stop yourselves looking up schoolgirl’s skirts? What are you doing to stop yourself raping pensioners? What are you doing to stop yourself beating women black and blue because they ‘deserve it’? What are you doing to stop yourself verbally abusing a woman if she knocks you back in a nightclub because she doesn’t want to have a drink with you? What are you doing to stop yourself putting your hands all over a woman because you think you have rights over her body? What are you doing to stop yourself acting as if women are objects at your disposal rather than human beings in their own right with their own rights, needs and wants that might not intersect with yours?
I am absolutely sick and tired of men having to be asked when another sickening story breaks: ‘But men. Stop. Think. What if this were your wife or daughter?’ It’s utter, contemptible shit that the only way some men can stop themselves being dicks about this stuff is to suddenly make the connection that one day, some man might not realise that these women are some man’s property, because that’s what it’s saying really, isn’t it? These women are ‘YOUR’ women, and because they are ‘YOUR’ women they are suddenly real and valuable in a way that ‘women’ in general are not, but if you’re really imaginative and creative you might just be able to make the leap between ‘YOUR’ women and ‘women’ in general and understand that it isn’t ok to stick your dick in ‘women in general’ either.
I am absolutely sick and tired of men shouting ‘but does this mean I can’t ever ask another woman on a date?’ or ‘but how will I ever know if it is appropriate to touch a woman again?’ and ‘It’s p.c. gone mad.’ NO. It is not pc gone mad to think that you need to ask a woman if it is alright to stick your hands all over them. Let me ask you how many women of your acquaintance pinch your backside at the photocopier, put their hand on your knee and slide it that little bit higher, or grab any part of you during your working day, or while you’re on the bus minding your own business or at any other time when you would never dream that it is alright for someone to manhandle you? And the word ‘manhandle?’ It says it all.
Women are not asking you to become monks. Women are asking you to show the same respect for their minds and bodies you would show another man. I think the best rule of thumb I have seen recently is these words by a comedian whose name I cannot remember now, but he said (and I paraphrase): ‘Men. Do not do to any woman what you wouldn’t like another man to do to you in prison.’ That. Right there. That’s your rule.
This petulance? This outrage at women speaking out? This insistence on using the terms ‘hysteria’ and ‘witch hunt’ to denigrate the fact that women everywhere are coming together to try to put an end to this abuse, is shameful. It is shameful because it shows quite clearly that so many men think that women are basically spoiling their fun, that their games, their rights, their unspoken privilege to treat women as toys is coming to an end. It shows at bottom what many, many men still think of women, and that is almost as sickening as the physical abuse to me.
If you haven’t got anything useful to say on the subject may I suggest that you shut the fuck up and stop mansplaining, excusing and whining. I highly recommend, listening and accepting that maybe, just maybe, you have something to learn.