Women are, rightly so, rising up against a number of different issues that they have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Issues that, in 2021, shouldn’t be issues. We’re supposed to know better than that. We’re supposed to be a more civilised society than in times of yore. By which I mean ten, twenty or, hell, even five years ago.
We’re supposed to understand things. We’re supposed to understand the needs of others. We’re supposed to be compassionate.
We’re absolutely fucking that up in all directions.
When George Floyd was killed, the Black Lives Matter movement came to the fore. It wasn’t born of that instant. It had existed before that time. But George Floyd was a catalyst, of sorts, that brought the movement to the forefront of people’s consciousness. There were marches. There were protests. There was a blackout on social media. There was a hashtag. A simple hashtag. Black Lives Matter. That was it. Three words.
It wasn’t long, of course, before All Lives Matter came to the fore. A cry of pain and anguish from, let’s face it, disgruntled white folks who weren’t happy that a light was being shone on the world of hurt and abuse doled out towards people of colour by, let’s face it, white folks. Then Blue Lives Matter was an offshoot of that, in which All Lives Still Mattered, but with the need to single out the lives of the, let’s face it, white police officers who were, let’s face it, responsible for many, many of the instances of hurt, abuse and death.
“Yes,” they would say, emboldened by their keyboard before them, “black lives do matter. But all lives matter more.” And then something about not being racist. But then also being racist.
And all that because, at the heart of it all, people of colour had the gall to say that they should be treated fairly.
And so the world continued turning. And the world we’re in spun into a situation where white people stormed a US government building with the intention of doing harm at the bidding of their orange leader with little to no consequence. A world in which one of those white people was arrested and went on hunger strike because he wasn’t allowed to eat organic food. A world in which that same white person was moved to a different prison so he could eat organic. If that crowd had been made of people of colour, there wouldn’t even be anyone left alive to complain that their omelettes came from battery chickens.
It’s a fucked up world.
And this week it fucked up more. This week a woman walked home from her friend’s house. She didn’t make it. She vanished. Kidnapped. Vanished without a trace. She phoned her partner. She talked. She walked. She disappeared into the ether. And in this case, the ether was – should I say allegedly here and cover my arse legally? Nah fuck it – the ether was a policeman. A person who is sworn to uphold the law. Who, it is believed by some, used his police credentials to lure a woman off the street. To make her vanish.
She has, of course, since been found dead. Kidnap. Murder. And some added level of indecent exposure in there as well, by all accounts.
And, oddly enough, women are a bit pissed off by this. For a number of reasons. The victim blaming started mere moments after the story broke. Why was she walking home on her own at that time of night. But then, why wouldn’t she? Why shouldn’t she? If the same had happened to a man, no-one would have asked why he was walking home on his own. It wouldn’t even come up as a point of contention. Me man. Me walk in dark.
It’s funny, because we – as men – instinctively tell women to be careful in certain locations. If Carole’s going out for a run I know she’s not going to run along the canal, say, at certain times because it’s – for want of a better word – rapey. We all do it. And you can piss and moan and argue about it as much as you want. But we do. We all don’t like female people we care about doing things on their own in places that we – as men – consider to be unsafe.
But, and this is the fucking kicker, if something were to happen the attention moves not to “how did this happen and how can we stop it happening again” to “well, you must have been doing something to encourage that to happen.” Quite often, particularly in instances following nights out, it’s the outfit’s fault. Or the girl’s decision to wear that outfit. It’s not the fault of the man who couldn’t understand that someone wanting to look nice or pretty or beautiful is not a secret code for “please forcibly penetrate me against my will.”
And so, understandably, women have taken a stand and said enough is enough. There are so many messages across all sorts of social media – lists of things which women do to feel safe, the “risk assessements” they make on a day-to-day basis without even realising it just to make it to the end of the day the same way they started, accounts of assault, and questions asked of us – the men – to make us realise that we could do more.
And so, emboldened by the keyboards, the hashtag Not All Men has risen.
Not All Men was trending higher on Twitter than the name of the woman – Sarah Everard – who was snatched and murdered by a policeman, by someone who should have been a protector.
As you can probably guess, Not All Men was a whimper in the darkness that not all men are rapists and killers. There were also attached to this, some really good knee jerk reactions about how sometimes killers, rapists and abusers are women. Because nothing makes a point better than the “I know you are, but what am I?” defence last seen in the country’s playgrounds.
Men are outraged that we are being singled out by the women as being the bad ‘uns. I would hope there isn’t, but I’m sure at least one outraged person will have said something about “even knowing some women” themselves. Such is the way of all good internet comments. And yes, it is Not All Men. But, as I have seen many a person point out, you have no way of knowing which men it is.
Take, for example, our murderous policeman. The news, as it is prone to do in situations like this, will seek out a neighbour, friend or relative and ask them if they had any inkling that this man within their midst was a killer, kidnapper or partial to a bit of unbidden nudity. They always say that it couldn’t possibly be true. That the person they know is kind and loving and friendly. No-one ever says, “you know what, yes, he’s an absolute cunt.”
And that is people who know the person who has done the thing. It’s usually a relative. They’re always shocked. So if they don’t know, how is a woman supposed to know whether to feel safe or not in an interaction which may last mere moments before they are, for no reason whatsoever other than saying “no, I’m not interested”, for example, punched in the face.
So it’s Not All Men. But it’s also All Men. We’re not all monsters. But monsters do walk amongst us.
We are responsible, but we have not been responsible enough.
Yes, All Men.