On the eve of International Women’s Day 2012 I was called a slag, a cunt and a whore. My crime? “banging on about womens rights n nhs what about us fathers oh yeah we dont matter” (sic) A timely reminder for why we need such a day in the first place. Of the 365 days of the year, today we can shout about the injustice billions of women face in their daily lives. The abuse 1 in 4 women will suffer. The 2 women a week that are murdered by their abusive partners. The never ending struggle to be recognised as equals, not above or beneath but standing together.
We’re not equal. We’re far from it. As a British woman of South Asian descent, I often hear how lucky I was to be born in the West. From people of the same background for sure, but white people point it out too. I don’t have to cover myself up (much), I have access to an education and my partner won’t chop off my the tip of my nose for getting the tea wrong. I should be grateful. Except I don’t feel it so much anymore. Our most feminist politicians (ever) are sending out a message that woman is a giggling schoolgirl, one to be jeered at and dismissed. She is incapable of taking control of her own body, her mental state is too fragile. They’ve put out a direct hit on women and their interests; cuts to the public sector resulting in job losses, withdrawing vital funds from women’s services. They have introduced a law which tells you whether you are involved with a perpetrator of domestic abuse but should you need to escape, you’ll have nowhere to go.
There are parts of the world in which men can have four wives. Somehow this is more repugnant than being with one wife but sleeping around. In some parts of the world they use rape to control ‘their’ women. In the UK, we just joke about doing it instead. The word slag is still commonly used. And slut, whore, bitch and cunt. And cougar and MILF. Women, they nag. They use their feminine wiles. They sleep around, they get you under the thumb. Sometimes, they even deserve a good slap.
Why does a man have to point out he would never hit a woman?
When 1 in 5 young men and 1 in 10 women think violence against women is acceptable, has the world really changed much at all?
Attitudes may have started to shift. Public displays of violence/abuse are not the norm so much. There has been a reduction in violence because we have had services like Refuge reminding the world it is not acceptable. So, some of it may have gone underground. Except it’s resurfacing now, from the top down. Emotional and mental abuse, toxic shaming, is thriving.
I haven’t felt as strongly about International Women’s Day as I do today. Learning that the UK did not even make the top ten for many of the awards in the Independent’s best and worst places to be a woman has a lot to do with it. And of course, the threatened closure of Refuge. I’m reminded of the judge who called an 11 year old girl “willing” at her rape trial.
I’m of the opinion the West is equally damaging to the physical and emotional well-being of woman.
Their methods may differ but their inherent need to own and control women is the same.
*Happy International Women’s Day*