I’d decided not to blog about this as it seemed too huge a subject to tackle, but then yesterday I saw that Donald Trump has apologised to Brett Kavanaugh, on behalf of the nation, for the pain and suffering he’s been through. The Brett Kavanaugh who has just been sworn in as a Supreme Court Judge. And then today, a man in a white van called me a slag and a man outside a cafe asked me to get my tits out, and I remembered how bored I am of all this shit.
So back to Kavanaugh. Bless his little privileged socks. He’s graciously said that he’s not bitter and hey, he’s even hired some women as clerks. Actual women, working for him, and he hasn’t even assaulted one of them, see? He can be around women, his own mother was a woman, all those assault rumours are obviously nonsense.
I will just say that we’re all talking about this as though he’s been cleared in a court of law, he hasn’t, it wasn’t a criminal trial, just an investigation.
But I keep hearing what a horrible time men are having now. Those poor men, they just don’t know how to be around women any more. The rules have changed and all the #metoo nonsense has made women, especially those feminist types, really touchy. Some men daren’t even approach a woman any more, imagine that! How on earth are we going to remember to smile without some man reminding us to? We’re all doomed.
When you can’t even compliment a woman on her legs and brush away a bit of dirt from her top, what is the world coming to?
By the way, my own bit of personal advice for any man having this dilemma, is to just make sure you don’t assault anyone, but what do I know?
But the underlying theme of all this is the suggestion that women are just trying to catch men out, it’s all a trap. Because women have nothing better to do than accuse innocent men of assault, because that always goes so well, doesn’t it? We all saw how Christine Blasey Ford was listened to and treated with respect. We’ve all seen how young women are portrayed so well when they accuse men in positions of power of assault, why wouldn’t we want a bit of that ourselves? Isn’t it the women who always come out on top?
(Meanwhile, Christine Blasey Ford hasn’t been able to move back into her house because of the death threats. But Trump isn’t apologising to her, and why would he? His own past is littered with accusations of sexual misconduct. Personally, I would say that the day you are praised by Donald Trump as an upstanding citizen is the day you really need to have a good, long think about your life, but again, what do I know?)
The worrying message we’re giving out this week is that even if you do assault someone it doesn’t matter (and hey, it’s easily done, who hasn’t accidentally pinned a young woman to a bed and groped her without realising? Boys will be boys, especially boys with alcohol inside them.) And it doesn’t matter because society has your back.
Whatever you do, chances are she won’t be believed anyway, and there will be so much noise, so much male outrage and indignation that she won’t really be heard. Men will stand together and protest because one day this might be them. And once men start to close ranks, women don’t stand a chance because despite all the talk of equality, what it comes down to is centuries of male dominance and they can switch that back on in a second.
You can tell from the way it’s reported; the language used, talk of women as animals, reference to them being ‘handled’. It’s so subtle, so ingrained in our society that we don’t even notice, we just take it in without realising.
In the Kavanaugh case we had an intelligent, professional woman stay calm in the face of an outburst from what looked like an overgrown toddler, yet women are still described as being over-emotional, and over-emotional is the one thing you must never be as a woman. Keep it in, control your emotions you weakling, emotions are bad. If you are going to have them, make sure they’re the sexy kind that men can deal with. It is a weakness and should never be used as an excuse because then you’d be letting womanhood down.
Yet intelligent, professional men can claim to be so taken over by the urges triggered by a woman’s outfit/attractiveness/lack of sobriety that it can be used in their defence. Emotions are like alcohol in cases like these, for men it’s an excuse, for women it’s one of the reasons they were attacked. What did they expect to happen?? We all know what happens to drunk women.
But this message is going out all the time and it’s fine, isn’t it? Because we know that it’s not all men, so it’s all under control. Except that while it’s not all men, it’s certainly enough men that we still automatically make sure we are always on the alert when out at night, always scanning our surroundings for somewhere to run to for help/to hide/for places a potential attacker might be waiting. We walk along with our keys in our hands, not looking at our phones and not wearing headphones because that’s how we’ve learnt to be. It’s how I teach my daughters to be, without even thinking about it. Social media recently has been full of posts comparing the things women do to protect themselves from attack, compared to the things men do. But is all this really a surprise?
There’s a great post going around at the minute in which a man uses the analogy of a man being kicked in the balls to try to explain to other men why women are so angry. Try and find it if you can, it’s good, but it also annoys me. Why should it take a man explaining it to other men to make men take us seriously? It should bloody well be enough that we’re telling you this. The very fact that it has to be explained in terms a man can understand is all part of the problem, and again gives off the idea that men’s voices are more important. We are telling you these things are happening, that should be enough.
Until we sort this out, these things will keep on happening. This week a report has come out that says one third of British girls have been sexually harassed while wearing school uniform. From the age of 12. Think about that for a minute. 12. In a school uniform. I can tell you that having things shouted at you as a 46 year old woman is really unsettling and can change how you feel about yourself in a second, so imagine having to deal with that when you’re 12. And yet young girls are told that they should be flattered, or that it’s just part of growing up. I can tell you now, being leered at is never about attractiveness, it’s about entitlement and an almost subconscious assumption of power.
We need to think about the message we’re giving out to our children, because when I was young I really thought that by the time I had daughters things would have changed, but if anything, they’re getting worse. Because when you have one of the most powerful men in the world step up and publicly belittle a woman and her experiences, without anybody making a fuss, that’s another blatant step towards a future we really don’t want.