[Image taken from The Guardian]
Today is the first time in a few years I’ve felt driven to write something down to stop myself from spontaneously combusting with rage.
I feel a good place to start is to mark the significance of the week commencing the 8th of March 2021.
This week has been bookended by International Women’s Day and my Sister’s 16th Birthday on Monday, and Mother’s Day and my Nieces 10th birthday on Sunday.
In the middle of the week, we had the devastating news of Sarah Everard.
A story so tragic, and yet so unsurprising to so many women.
Last night, after a week of listening to other women’s stories I was made even more inconsolably angry.
Mourners, including The Duchess of Cambridge, gathered to lay flowers and stand quietly to mourn Sarah Everard and everything her death stands for.
Once Princess Kate was safely home and the sun went down, the police began dragging peaceful mourners away from the site and turned a peaceful vigil violent.
It was a sight which was all the more galling due to the recent cooperation between the police and drunk football fans who broke lockdown rules to celebrate some team winning some match.
No matter how passionately you feel about football, it pales in insignificance next to the murder of an innocent young woman.
These women were peacefully mourning one of their own who had been (allegedly) murdered in cold blood by a Met Police Officer and they then faced violence and aggression from… Met Police Officers.
All week, women have shared their stories of sexual harassment and intimidation at the hands of men.
I haven’t shared anything, not because nothing has ever happened to me, but because, well, actually I’m not sure why I haven’t.
I just don’t think that I can summarise effectively, all of the tiny little examples, which, if any of them had been a one-off, I’d probably think ‘Ah, yeah, that was unlucky’, but because there’s so many micro-aggressions over the years, it just can’t be coincidental, and I don’t know how to eloquently summarise it into 280 characters on twitter.
All week, I have had to tend to the bruised egos of men online, who have said “why are men getting trashed for this, why are women calling all men monsters, I’ve never done anything wrong to a woman!”.
All week, I have had to push down the question that kept bubbling to the surface of my mind which is, “why are these men more bothered about being criticised than the fact a woman is dead?”
I thought, naively that we might get a week.
One week where we can be like “hey, would it be possible to try and make the streets safer for people who aren’t men?”.
Everyone would come together to acknowledge the problem and the nation could mourn Sarah and work on ways we could shift, or at least step, away from the culture where men feel entitled to women’s bodies, smiles, or their time of day.
And yet, what I’m finding is, the people who normally scream the loudest about issues such as free speech being stunted when they’re kindly asked not to be racist in public, are the ones who are completely silent in the face of actual civil liberties being stripped away under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (look up the proposed protest changes, and weep).
I can’t write to my MP because he abhors the thought of even peaceful protests (despite all he harps on about freedom of speech), and will fall solidly in line with Priti Patel on this issue.
And so, I’m writing here, in order that I don’t combust.