Tag Archives: Sexism

Men – it’s time to get angry

You’ve probably all seen and heard the recording of Donald Trump talking a few years ago. In it he talks about he feels entitled to grab women and sexually assault them because he was what… famous? Rich? Or just a man?

I’m assuming that it was inspired by the Trump news, but a woman on Twitter then decided to ask women for their stories, she tweeted this:

If you haven’t already go and view the responses to this tweet. Thousands and thousands of women recounting truly horrible stories. Gird yourself, but do read it.

But note one important thing – the original request was for stories of women’s ‘first’ assault. Not only, not if they ever have been assaulted. No. It asked for their first assault. Already implicit in that is that nearly all women will have been assaulted and that it will have happened multiple times.

This is horrific.

It obviously doesn’t need me to say that it is wrong, but I’m going to say it anyway. THIS IS WRONG.

It’s time for men to stand up and do something about this. If you’re a right thinking man you have probably heard the expression “every man is a potential rapist” and been appalled by it. How can they think of me like that? Well if you see all these stories and understand the fear of assault that many women live in, so any man – every man – can look like a potential assailant. By allowing this sort of behaviour to continue, or to be explained away as ‘boasting’ we are not only putting all women under threat, but we are also reducing men to potential rapists.

So, what can we do about it? Well, I think there are three key things:

  1. Stop
  2. Step in
  3. Support

Stop
Obviously the first this is to stop behaving like this. You may not think of yourself as attacker, but analyse your behaviour and amend it if need be. It is ok to find women attractive if that is your sexual persuasion, it is not ok to feel entitled to act upon that or expect any response to your attraction. Keep your hands, but also your eyes and comments, to yourself.

Step in
Don’t allow this to happen to women in your presence. We don’t have to be offended about this in relation to our daughters, wives, sisters, mothers, granddaughters etc. We can just be offended by this because it is wrong. So let’s not let others get away with it. Call it out in real life and on social media. In real life it can be harder and it can be hard to step in without looking like another potential attacker, but it seems that the current advice – for verbal attacks at least – is to step between people and provide cover. If it’s not aggressive then sit next to the person being attacked and chat about something else, or just stand in front of the abuser to shield the victim.

Support
Listen – and hear – the stories woman tell. Believe them. Don’t belittle them. And DO NOT put it down to just ‘boasting’ by men, or boys being boys.

UPDATE

It has been suggested to me by some people that know this subject a lot better than I do that I add an extra step into the process, it is:

Step Up

This is a more general attitude shift. Don’t wait to see abuse before you step in (although still safely do that if you do see it), instead try to prevent abuse in the first place.

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Stop sexist trolling

I read this post last week, it’s by Helen Lewis on the New Statesman blog. In it Helen gets some quite horrifying stories from other female bloggers about the sexist comments and trolling they get – and many are deeply, deeply offensive.

As a male blogger, with very few readers, writing mainly about swimming I don’t tend to get much trolling, especially not sexist trolling. So I can’t really comment about how it must feel to get these kind comments, but I can comment about how it feels to read that there are people (almost exclusively men) making them.

It’s wrong, pathetic, cowardly, weak, childish and it damages us all.

Firstly, it reduces open, sensible debate on the internet. One of the best features of the web is that gives anyone a voice. Anyone (with a computer and internet connection) can set up a blog and speak their mind. This is good. This increases our knowledge, our awareness of other people and their views, feelings and outlook and in an ideal world would allow us all to better understand each other and maybe even live together better. But if women are made too scared to comment then we limit half of that and that weakens us all.

Secondly, it makes men look like dicks.

The article asks the women interviewed if they think that anything can be done – and they nearly all seem to shrug and say “not really.” But why not? This kind of abuse would be illegal (I hope) if it was said in a pub, or on the street, so why is it not illegal when said on the internet? I suspect that any woman that is abused to this extent on her blog is unlikely to want to file criminal charges, but does she have to? Why can’t we? Why can I not be offended by this and contact the police? Or if it’s not a criminal law that is broken why can’t we take a civil action?

If Stephen Fry was offering money to help out the Robin Hood Airport “bomber“, then why does he not help here? Or even better, why don’t we set up a Kickstarter campaign?

Actually, why don’t we? I’d happily start one if any lawyer can get in touch to let me know whether we’d have a case and what we’d need to do (in terms of actual money raised).

So, if you know any lawyers, please pass this on to them. And if you are a lawyer, please get in touch in the comments below.

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