male privilege

Anarchy in the UK

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What is anarchism and why was I so afraid initially to vocally identify as one? Perhaps it had something to do with the image I’d had constructed for me, angry Sex Pistols spitting into their microphones as they rasped menacingly about the queen (fair enough, actually), the same sex pistols I’d associated with racism cos punks were as scaring looking as the skinheads when you’re a brown girl trying to make sense of white subculture but are too afraid to ask just in case they do turn out to be a paki bashing neo Nazi.  There was Vyvyan from The Young Ones who frightened the life out of me as a small child (this was largely due to the metal in his face) and the response “there’d be anarchy” in every discussion regarding the breaking of rules painted a nightmare scenario where we’d all regress to a primitive state, raping and looting and bashing each other to death for larfs. Of course I would be afraid to say the words “I am an anarchist” when I did not want to be associated with such carnage and destruction (plus it also sounds a bit like antichrist).

Then I met some anarchists and they were thoroughly awesome people. I wondered where they’d been all my life as I reflected on all the people I’d made do with, accepted, despite their shades of bigotry because I’d felt there was no other choice and I was alone in my thoughts. Here was a bunch of people who just got it and didn’t need it spelling out. Anarchism is the antithesis of every social structure maintained by authority, disproportionately represented by white men. To call oneself an anarchist means to reject the ways of white men, and to challenge those perpetuating oppression whenever we personally witness it, affecting these changes wherever we have the power and influence to do so. I didn’t go to a posh university to learn all these fancy words and expressions; I was just born this way (in my rundown brown Muslim ghetto). Meeting others like me just helped bring everything in focus, and I was pleased to find they came in all colours, genders and beliefs.

To question the reason for everything is at the core of every true anarchist. Why do we do things in this way? Who benefits from it? Is it to any other person’s detriment, on purpose or inadvertently? How can we ensure justice? If these questions do not matter to you then how can you say you are an anarchist?

Anarchism isn’t about behaving like a dick or actively promoting self-interest cos you’re a libertarian who don’t-listen-to-no-one; it shouldn’t be done for the kudos or kicking back at the state cos you’re angry with your dad (although there is nothing wrong with that). Anarchism is taking a radical approach concerning all things and doing them differently. In this sense, most religions can be compared to anarchy (at the point of inception). A new way of being becomes possible, tired of the old (and often violent and oppressive) way of doing things, seeking to change things radically for the betterment of all, because you need to be inclusive if you’re going to spread that gospel far and wide. I believe Jesus was an anarchist, and Mohammed too. Feed the poor and stop raping/murdering your children are worthy (and radical) causes whichever millennium you’re from, and then, just like now, the people in power persecuted those seeking to end power and control by making a violent example of them.

We’ve all heard the ‘let’s fix class then we can entertain feminism’ orders. They come from primarily white men. There are some women socialists using the same tactic with regards to class and race but that’s another blog post. For anarchy to work, I’m sorry not sorry white men, you have to stfu. It’s not like you don’t already have your say right? White supremacy is a social construct as is patriarchy and when you refuse to shut up and listen you are doing both of these things. You’re simply maintaining the status quo and that as you’ve probably already guessed, is not anarchy. Me telling you to do this right now is not exerting power and control or authority over you but punching up at historical oppressors in a bid to be heard so you can stop being so abusive. I do not have any control over your opportunities but you certainly do mine.

The other huge difference between our arguments is the intention behind them. When I say “stop doing that” it’s because you’re hurting somebody. You bash back because you don’t like being told what to do, because you are entitled and used to getting your own way. When the context is so wildly different you cannot apply the same reasoning/survivor language we use to label us as hypocrites. The truly anarchist response to being called out, if you have the self-awareness to regulate your thoughts despite being bombarded by messages on how we must behave in a white cis heteronormative patriarchy is to reflect and think about why you’re being called out not hit back with abuse or dig a deeper hole with your defence. That is the sign of an anarchist, someone who appreciates their privileges and place in the world and seeks to redress the imbalance, however uncomfortable that might be.

Being an anarchist means having the humility to recognise the impact one’s own existence has on others. In a world where we ask people what job they do in order to ascertain their social standing and bank balance before we know anything else about them, we are an anomaly. It makes perfect sense to an anarchist to be preoccupied with the often murderous actions of governments and their followers, and usually for monetary reasons. It is more shocking that most individuals are not bothered. People are more inclined to follow a world sporting event religiously than protest the hundreds of children murdered to make way for it. I am an anarchist because I object to this way of thinking and being. In the pursuit for self-gratification we have allowed for atrocity. We’re convinced it’s not our problem.

If you are not an anarchist (or a true anarchist), you are complicit. To be an anarchist is to be without rulers, not rules (the rulers have created this cruel uncaring world for personal gain). When the rules include treating all living creatures with respect and always questioning your prejudices, you have to question the sort of anarchist who would object to that.

Being a dick is the norm; a true anarchist would know this.

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Blue Valentine

Surviving in a patriarchy is a daily struggle, which is why I’m instantly suspicious of anyone who thrives in this kind of environment. The people at the top are the ones to watch; success is not something that comes with complete honesty and integrity in capitalism. It infects every little corner of the society we find ourselves in, permeating every creed and culture so that somehow, wherever you are (in most parts of the modern world), women are considered inferior and incomplete without men to shield them from other men (70% of the entire world’s population of women in fact). We literally cannot escape the monster; it’s in our beds whilst we sleep at night. It’s in the workplace, the gym, outside your front door. It’s in our homes on our TVs and not just in the films with explicit content notes at the start but out of the mouths of our British darlings; the ‘comedians’ and soap ‘stars’ with their freedom to speech that actually physically harms the vulnerable; this little island is heaving with perpetrators of violence against women and girls.

I am so wound up by the film I just watched I started blogging before it ended. I wanted the disgust and fear to feel fresh when I pinpointed why my reaction felt so visceral. Firstly, I have established it is not cos I’m a man hating shrew, I quite love a few of them actually, it’s you other pricks I cannot abide and it’s all your own fault cos patriarchy.

With that out of the way, I want to get the WTF? lessons in structural patriarchal oppression off MY chest. The film Blue Valentine starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling centres on the relationship of a “contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods” – IMDB. Now I don’t know what other people saw but I saw patriarchy ignore a woman’s bodily autonomy repeatedly until she caved. I have spoken to countless women who have done this, me included. To feel so battered and exhausted by the onslaught of unwanted sexual attention, you step outside of yourself and give in. At no point did Williams’ character ask for her space to be invaded but then neither do most targets of patriarchal entitlement, we’re just conditioned to believe it is something we should expect and tolerate.

I wanted to scream/punch the TV because of the way the film attempted to sweeten their ill-fated tale with flashbacks to their miserable beginnings. They were trying to depict the heady romance that brought them together and how it started in earnest but y’know relationships break down because people stop needing each other. Except that’s not what happened. I wanted to see what other people thought about so I googled (much easier than asking people I find…)

I found this piece and decided not to look any further. For the record, we cannot change the common dysfunctions we find in relationships if we refuse to acknowledge first the role patriarchy plays. The phrase ‘common couple violence’ describes a situation where people are equally to blame for escalations of violence and aggressive behaviour, incidents rarely result in serious injury or the other person fights back. This, in contrast to ‘patriarchal terrorism’; which, to be honest, is my understanding of all domestic abuse not just the ones where the survivor looks like a victim. It’s possibly telling that the person to coin this phrase is a man. There is also the fact that Wikipedia presents a criticism of his idea suggesting that he was accused of reporting bias but who knows, maybe an angrier feminist got there before me.

Let me explain something to the many men presenting their own truths about matters that affect people affected by patriarchal entitlement. We didn’t ask to be born only to witness our mothers being physically and sexually assaulted. We’re so used to seeing men strutting around, their chests puffed up all pigeon like, invading the space of the person we love most in the world, despite our very early protestations before we were even able to verbalise. When we cried, he just ignored us. After a while we stopped crying because we realised it made no difference. Some of us will have learnt to tune out our surroundings and ingratiate ourselves with the man whose hand felt like a frying pan on impact. Best not to say anything, better to pretend it didn’t affect you, maybe this is normal life, who knows? This is what happens to some victims of child abuse; they internalise the toxic relationship as being something that is within the boundaries of ‘normal’ because of how it is widely accepted in society.

I cannot watch a single film from my childhood without critiquing the impact of the messages I was being fed about my role as a female. Everything revolved (and in many cases, still does) around relationships; this belief that there is a princess out there for every man, someone to cherish and obey them. It’s not something that is restricted to any John Hughes/Mickey Rourke movie of my childhood. Gosling’s character makes a remark about how men marry for love whereas women just settle for someone with a good job. In the context of the film he snaps her up when she is most vulnerable. She’s absolutely terrified; when she finds out she is pregnant, possibly by another guy, that he’ll react angrily so she doesn’t immediately tell him. He then threatens to jump off a bridge (as you do if you’re a menacing, manipulative privileged male). Threatened with the possibility she would be responsible for his death because she didn’t jump to his command she blurts out her news. He reacts in the way no male should ever react to a pregnant person; he shouts her and demands a decision about what she is going to do. Not in a supportive way, just belligerent he was not having his needs met. In fact, this was the whole premise for their relationship. He repeatedly makes advances on her and she is not exactly coquettish in her repeated rejection of him yet senior practitioners of human psychology, the people we turn to when we want to behave ‘normally’ are telling us that guilt and innocence shift depending on which person’s perspective you look at it from. It is no wonder we allow patriarchal abuse in societies and in many cases actively encourage men to assert their dominance when we have the attitude that sometimes, women are just asking for it. Williams’ character opts for an abortion but just as the speculum is inserted, she changes her mind.

On hearing this news, Gosling’s character scoops her up, obviously thrilled that he finally has his own little family. Now, contrast the two ways in which he reacted to being told what her intentions were. When she didn’t respond he became aggressive; men don’t have the best reputation for handling sensitively the subject of them potentially inseminating anyone or the fact that it might not be theirs (cos human beings are property like that) and she hurried away, afraid at what he might do. After the trip to the abortion clinic he sweeps her off her feet and then carries her in his lap on the train home. SHE apologises to him for getting pregnant, telling him it isn’t his fault. I think you’ll find it probably was though.  It is possible that he was attracted to how vulnerable she suddenly was and knew she wouldn’t leave him; a tactic often used by emotional abusers, pregnancy creates an immense amount of dependency. Or perhaps she behaved in the way she did because she is accustomed to men turning when they don’t get the answer they want, like her father for example, smashing his plate of food on the table because it wasn’t prepared to his exacting standards. Even her grandmother advises her on matters of love, stating she was never really that in love with her grandfather indicating a sense of duty to explain why she stayed in the relationship.

Williams’ character has been socialised into believing that what HE wants, goes. She looks almost afraid in her early run ins with the future father of her child. Alan Ravitz MD argues that Williams’ knew what kind of character she was getting involved with because she was aware of his personality from the very start. He suggests that she chose to be with him because of how he fulfilled her needs at the time; “pregnant with an abusive father and passive mother”. Historic victims of child abuse, even the ones who weren’t being directly abused themselves but witness their mothers suffering it hear warning bells regarding abusive partners, like most people, but their brains do not interpret them as a negative thing. The need for stability and love mutes the voice flagging up any concerns. For them it’s so familiar in how it reminds them of their childhood for example that many don’t even question inappropriate behaviour until it is pointed out to them (even as a domestic abuse worker, I was unaware of the fact I was still experiencing abuse in my own life). The psych also suggests that the relationship perhaps soured when she no longer had any use for him completely disregarding the fact that Williams’ character is holding down a full time job yet still doing all of the ‘women’s work’ too. The scene where Gosling spoons cereal onto the table to encourage their little girl to eat at least the raisins; Williams comes across as rigid and without a sense of fun when she insists the girl use a spoon. Is she being a killjoy or is this a nod to the fact that she has to clean it up (which she explicitly states)? Also, when fathers give their children the impression that fun is there to be had but mum won’t allow it, this pits a child against their mother creating a special relationship for the feckless father and his child where they can be mad at mum instead of ever examining their own behaviour. The little girl pleads with her mother with the logic that dad says it’s ok.

Dads, by all means get stuck in with the child rearing and be as silly as you like but think about the poor mug who has to clean up after you. What about her? Is anyone really that surprised when a relationship breaks down for seemingly no good reason, except for the fact that we live in a patriarchy? How many times is Williams’ character approached with sexual intentions when all she wants is to have a drink or get some sleep? How many times is she touched without her express consent? He doesn’t cuddle her; he gropes her at every opportunity, pulling at her flesh, kneading her breasts. She is slimed on at the supermarket, when she’s visiting her grandmother in an old people’s home, on her own front porch. She gets her child and herself ready for work. She is the one to cook the food and put it on the table. In practically every scene she is buzzing around the room, tidying, organising, planning. She isn’t comfortable with any of the attention she receives from any of the men in the entire film but do they care? No, they just put her down for being so ungrateful.

Like, she should be grateful he gets jealous of the thought of her with other men. It is her duty to assuage him with reassurances that other men do nothing for her even though she is frightened whilst she does this. He demonstrates has no regard for her professional working life when, after she repeatedly tells him that she cannot go have sex with him in a sleazy motel because she is on call (as a nurse at a hospital) he goes against her wishes and books it anyway. HE made the decision he was going to use her body, it didn’t matter that she might be needed in an emergency or that she was tired, they did what HE wanted to do. Alan Ravitz MD downplays this patriarchal control by labelling it ‘pathological romance’ instead. There’s nothing romantic about men wanting to take at will and asserting their right to this at every opportunity, in fact, that’s called harassment, it is male privilege and entitlement.

Williams’ character separates from her husband because she suddenly becomes aware of the influence her father abusing her mother had had on her as a little girl. She won’t speak to her father in the closing scenes where the couple go their separate ways. Her dad asks her what is happening and she specifically says she won’t be discussing it with him emphasising she means him in particular. Here is a grown woman who is suddenly furious with her father for shaping her into the woman another man could take advantage of. In that moment she grows as a person. How could a senior psychiatrist miss something as glaringly obvious as this? Simple really; he IS the patriarchy. It is men like him who control the moral compass. How else do you think we got into this mess in the first place? Men have been tripping over themselves to depict women as deranged, hysterical, out of control for simply asserting their rights to autonomy. Of course they wouldn’t want you to think like this, it would mean having to fend for themselves, making their own goddamn sandwiches, having a cry wank instead of raping you.

Patriarchy is protected by the law (check out rape statistics), by healthcare professionals (as we have discussed) and perpetuated by the ways in which we view unacceptable behaviours on the part of men, choosing to reward them for it (see all the rich and famous exonerated by the law, cherished by their fans). This won’t change until we call patriarchal oppression when we see it. There are some very basic links missing to achieving equality.

Call out culture may have been ridiculed by patriarchy but we always knew it would, it makes taking advantage of the vulnerable a lot more difficult.

Britain’s Bitter Culture of Rape and Violence

A close friend of mine packed her life up and relocated to Norway recently. She has Norwegian roots but the reason for making the move was one borne from fear of things to come, here, at home in the UK. Tory Britain was one of the contributing factors but it wasn’t the motive. She moved because her 5 year old daughter was slut shamed for wearing a vest during PE. Little one looks like most five year olds, a round-faced baby with an impressive vocabulary but this seemed to have escaped the attention of the teaching assistant at her school in the London Borough of Lambeth who decided, for whatever reason, she would make a 5 year old child cry for exposing her shoulders. Little one didn’t know why she was crying, she just knew she’d been accused of doing something wrong. I hoped she was upset because she could not understand and not because she had internalised the feelings of shame as something she was guilty of, that her body is disgusting or she is asking for it, whatever ‘it’ is. When the school were challenged about this they denied it had ever happened. This was the last in a chain of events that prompted my friend to withdraw her little girl for her own safety. She wept at the time that it was only another 6 years before her baby would be openly harassed on the streets, remembering how it was for herself aged 11. I remember that time too.

Can you recall the first time a boy called you a slag? I was still very much a virgin. I was used to that word already; it was commonly thrown about when referring to women; in my home, on the television, in the street. It meant they thought you slept around, that you were easy, loose, diseased. This, before I’d even kissed a boy. I can remember my grandfather spitting at the TV and accusing Princess Diana of being one, despite the fact she’d been cheated on for the duration of her marriage. It wasn’t Prince Charles who was accused of being an adulterer, there was no scarlet letter for him, no, long-suffering Diana was the nymph to blame for the Royal family’s bad image. It is easy to slander a woman in this way when as a society we do not trust them. It is easier to blame a woman for having breasts, for wearing makeup, a short dress than it is to admit that men violate because they desire not us, but control. Patriarchy controls even the most privileged women of all; we cannot be so surprised when it affects the rest of us in this way.

Why don’t we trust women? Why is it our word against theirs? Watching the film Lolita, it was stomach churning to witness paedophilia through the eyes of a perpetrator. The rapist reads sexual messages in every one of her actions. As a teenager I was frequently told that I was too nice and I ought to watch it as I might be giving people the wrong impression. I was admonished for being too tactile by my male friends. I internalised this. So much so that when I once woke to find one of these friends attempting ‘non-consensual sex’ with me as I lay inebriated, I believed it was my fault for sharing a bed with him. Men are so used to reading everything as a come on, because they are entitled to feel this way through male privilege, we blame ourselves for being too tempting. We are taught this from a very early age; we are not autonomous.

As children, we won’t get the same rights to express ourselves as our brothers do. This is not something exclusive to only some non-white cultures; the same is true in the West. When boys fight, when they leave a mess, they are being unruly and boisterous and we love them for it. We make excuses for them when they develop at a slower than little girls, from whom we expect so much more. We dress our daughters up in little frocks and put things in their hair. Anyone who has ever made a trip to a children’s clothes store will see aisle upon aisle of pink frilly stuff with which to adorn our girl children. We objectify them from the very start. We coo at little girls and throw boys up in the air. We train girls to be conscious of their looks. When they misbehave we respond with disbelief and the punishment is more severe.  We don’t react in the same way to boys. It doesn’t matter if we do, they may behave in a certain way at home but then we have to let them go; exposing them to secondary socialisation in a rape culture where pop culture presents men as strong, courageous and intelligent, the world is his oyster, there for the taking and women as submissive, in supporting roles (manic pixie dream girl, mother, whore, virgin). I’ve listened to mums cry that they fear having to raise boys because of the way they are swept away in the pervasive narrative, that they are not born ours, patriarchy claims them. Of course, how could they possibly resist when conforming has so many rewards? The admiration of peers for being a stud, the kudos of being the alpha male, it is no wonder they respond to this conditioning because the alternative is being thought of as a wuss, a girl, and isn’t that a disgusting thing?

Patriarchy hates femininity. It hates our ability to create life. It can’t do the same so it controls it, claims ownership. I can’t be the only one who feels disgust at the role of the father who plays gatekeeper to his daughter’s vagina; the one who vets boys for suitability, the one who loses face if his baby girl becomes pregnant as a teenager. Where is her autonomy? Why aren’t mothers as fussed about it as fathers? Mums probably do get in on this sort of parenting but I bet it’s largely down to what the father thinks “wait till your dad gets home”. Perpetrators frequently seek out women who do not have a father figure in their lives. They have no one to prove their worthiness to, they can control these women as they see fit. What does it say about us as a species that we are only safe if we have a man to protect us? If not our fathers, then our spouses? Why do some countries have rules around chaperones? Simple, men make the rules, they know what it is to rape but they don’t want you to rape ‘theirs’. It is where the concept of hijab comes from; if you can’t see the ‘goods’, then they can’t be spoiled. It is the origins of female genital mutilation too; if the vagina is not open “like a gaping sleeve” then they cannot gain entry. We know this is nonsense because rapists don’t care what you or your vagina look like, they only care about raping you cos control. Still, it helps them to exercise their patriarchal control in other ways. Males cause war, war means rape, impregnating the women by force so they can conquer and claim property and patriarchy loves war but it doesn’t want you to take what is not yours, especially if you’re not the right colour. The practices against women on both sides of the planet are a response to the fear and paranoia men have for each other. Women are a commodity, vessels for furthering the bloodline of people that were born on the same patch of soil as them. Pathetic, really.

When rape is used to control and shatter the lives of the people it affects (of all genders, ages, etc.) how can anyone claim that it is humorous and the problem lies with the victim/survivor traumatised by the ‘joke’? Are men that entitled they can elevate their need for ‘dark humour’ over the suffering experienced by real people in real time? People who are probably suicidal. When you challenge these pricks, they dismiss you as man hating feminist who is always trying to change people. As a woman and an aunt, a sister, a daughter and maybe a mother someday, I will never stop trying to change this rape culture we are in. My nephews are too precious to send out in a world where they will either become victims or perpetrators themselves. I do not want our boys or girls to face the consequences of living in a patriarchy they have absolutely no control over. I do not want them to cut themselves, self-medicate (like I did) because a few fuckhead ‘comedians’ think their pain is funny. I want them to step out into the world empowered; with a sense of autonomy and consent. I want them to recognise the apologists (perps by any other name) who are so forceful in their defence because they possibly exert some of these behaviours behind closed doors.

From the Yewtree operation, the insufficient sentencing, ‘rogue’ sexual offences officers at Sapphire to the music we listen to and the comedians we worship; as survivors, we are under constant attack. I cannot be the only one sometimes afraid to leave the house on my own.

There are no grey areas with rape. You can’t be a gentle non-abusive human being and find sexual violence funny. There are only those who are for it and those who oppose. Let this inform your interactions and act accordingly.

*Clothes, looks, booze, nightlife, the number of sexual partners you’ve had, mental illness, shoddy housekeeping, “didn’t make the sandwich”, the company you keep, your sexual orientation, the natural state of your vagina, the hair on your head, the size of your breasts, your bank balance do not cause rape. Rapists do. Also, minors cannot consent and therefore can never be a ‘willing’ party. The only way we can end rape is to end misogynistic perceptions of entitlement. We know Britain has a huge problem there.

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He Said (TW)

HE accused my 16 year old virginal mother of maliciously impregnating herself.

HE demanded she abort but changed his mind on hearing two heartbeats instead of one.

HE read the Azaan into my ears and shaved the baby bird down on my head.

HE said to speak against my elders meant I was evil and a slap on my 3 year old face would rectify this.

HE said I couldn’t wear shorts cos my five year old legs were too tempting.

HE said I could not play sport cos the shape of my vulva was on display.

HE said a bike would damage my virginity.

HE said to speak to boys was confirmation I was a slag

HE said I mustn’t speak to the white kids cos then I was just as bad as them.

HE said I must learn this alien language and chant with perfect enunciation and THEN God would love me.

HE said if I refused I would burn in Hell’s eternal fires.

HE said the angels on my shoulders would weigh my heart against my deeds and then I would be judged.

HE said I was mother’s daughter which of course was proof that I was a slag.

HE said that I purposely lost the £5 I was supposed to give to the mosque.

HE watched in delight as my family slapped me in front of him.

HE said I was the best in my Arabic class. Maybe that’s why HE would slap me across my developing chest. Maybe that’s why HE would run his hand along the length of my thigh.

HE said I wasn’t the pretty twin but more academic instead. My puppy fat was confirmation of this.

HE said I was an ‘earthquake’ a ‘bulldozer’ and ‘the Himalayas’ when my body went through the first change.

HE said I was hairy and ugly and a bit mannish with my deep husky voice.

HE said I would burn in Hell-fire for wearing my fashionable cross.

HE said someone ought to teach me a lesson for eating the wrong kind of meat.

HE gave me a glare when I ordered my alcopop and the look that said he’d see me later when I questioned the pint in his hand.

HE responded he ‘didn’t remember’ when I said I would make him pay for what he had done to me.

HE blamed it all on my fantastical teenage head.

HE laughed as he fought us children off and away from our mother.

HE thought it was funny when we sprang to her defence.

HE said I would burn in hell when I challenged God and spat that he really didn’t exist.

HE said he’d have to teach me a lesson, I said “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough”.

HE yelped in pain when I bit him on the nose and it hurt when the punches rained down but inside I was smiling because I had finally hurt HIM. HE was getting weaker.

Or I was getting stronger.

HE tried to knock down the door to my safe place and I called the police on him instead. HE was told to leave or HE would be going to jail so HE did but HE never let me forget this.

HE tried to kiss me when I was just 15. HE told me no one would believe me if I ever told the truth.

HE said he’d heard I was a slag so HE thought HE’d give it a go.

HE found me with some of my innocence intact and proceeded to chip away at what was left.

HE would cry and beg forgiveness for attempting to penetrate me without my consent.

HE used me, pushed me around, and turned all my friends against me.

HE told me I wasn’t pretty enough to be his main girl. HE said it was my own entire fault.

HE said his mother was a ‘vessel’.

HE would ‘share’ me one day with his friend. HE didn’t even deny it when I said that it was rape.

HE knew I was broken and that’s the only reason HE made any impact at all. If I saw HIM now, I would laugh in his face.

HE would promise the world but never deliver.

HE would tell me I was the prettiest girl in the room but at home he’d treat me like shit.

HE said I was mediocre and I’d never be anything but a girl from The Rock.

HE said work was more important, his friends were too and I would just have to like it or lump it.

HE said I was a slag, a whore and all the other things too.

HE said I was only good for a shag.

HE said my illness was all in my head. The mind being a powerful tool.

HE said he wouldn’t pander to me any more (there was pandering?)

HE would let his friends intimidate me.

HE didn’t bat an eyelid when some of them rubbed up against me, at full mast.

HE said I was lying when I disclosed advances from one of his other freak friends.

HE made me feel unsafe and uncared for.

HE denies it to this day. (There’s a pattern emerging here)

HE said he loved me but that wasn’t enough. HE said God’s love meant more.

HE said I was alright now I was on the ‘white side’.

HE said now he’d tried Asian, he’d never go back.

HE said he was only joking when he called me a slag and would apologise every time he’d say it but this wouldn’t stop him from saying it again.

HE tried to force me to do a job he thought would be good for me. A nursery nurse to his SAC.

HE said I was silly for thinking I was a feminist because I didn’t hate men.

HE said for us to be together, I’d have to follow him wherever his career took him.

HE didn’t like it when I said no.

HE would snarl and shout and make me feel small.

HE would scan my entire body for rogue solitary hairs and grimace as if they were the most disgusting thing he’d ever seen.

HE kept company with people who thought of me as nothing more than a Paki.

HE didn’t like being challenged. One day HE simply refused to pick up the phone.

I sold the diamond ring HE gave me.

HE said I wasn’t in any physical pain, despite the two operations I’d had on my back.

HE said I should think before I speak, my life’s woes were none of his business. HE just didn’t want to know.

HE said he understood my request for an open relationship but then changed his mind.

HE was either my lover exclusively or a therapist shagging some random girl.

HE has been standing over my shoulder, breathing down my neck before I was even born.

HE defines my role, my character, my options and my path.

HE’s not allowed into my life anymore but still, he lingers.

HE’s on my TV, on my street, in my dreams.

HE is always the same; it doesn’t matter what colour he is or how tall he might be.

HE is patriarchy and HE oppresses me.