advice, domestic violence, feminism, feminist, GBV, gender, misogyny, personal, postfeminism, rape, sexism, strenght, Uncategorized, violence, Violence Against Women, women

#WhenIWas

Laura Bates’ phenomenal and eye-opening Everyday Sexism Project first hit the web in 2012 as a new kind of digital-based consciousness raising project, where women were actively encouraged to discuss and analyze their own experiences with sexism and misogyny.

 

Starting the website, Bates’ original hope was to acquire at least 100 stories but quickly became an international forum for women’s rights, their experiences of oppression and violence and the institutions and practices which hindered them.. Bates’ project, at its inception, was a basic website which quickly developed multiple language forums, 140 character replies on Twitter, and culminated in a paperback in 2014. Bates’ project has even been actively utilized by governments, politicians and policy-makers to improve the conditions of sexism and misogyny prevalent still in our society.

Everyday-sexism

Today, Bates is proving her project remains as relevant as ever with the trending hashtag #WhenIWas.

This new take on the Everyday Sexism Project actively requires women to look back on their own his(her)story, review their experiences, and question the lessons learned during their formative years and beyond. Like the Consciousness Raising sessions of our feminism forebearers, Bates’ new campaign motivates women to openly and unabashedly declare their wounds, their humiliations, their anger at the patriarchal imperatives encroached upon them; and the women are taking this up with reckless abandonment.

What’s more, many of the tweets currently dominating this hashtag honestly and courageously admit to experiences of emotional and sexual abuse, rape, and gender-based violence. At a time when the threat of rape and domestic abuse is of critical importance – specifically owing to the worryingly small rate of reporting to police and shortage of support services – this hashtag couldn’t be more timely or relevant.

For many of the women utilizing the #WhenIWas trend, this experiences are months, years, perhaps decades old – or, perhaps they are merely weeks, days, or hours old -, regardless, they are the truths which women have struggled with for years. They are the small humiliations of a neighbour staring at your legs which left you fearful – the threat of the figure following you down the road one night – the memory of hands touching you without consent – the loud voice declaring your sexual proclivity to the street – the feeling of complete and utter loneliness and inequity.

So, I implore all of you today and in the near future -if you don’t feel the desire to submit your own #WhenIWas confession – like, reblog, retweet and applaud the survivors and show them that loneliness and inequity are slowly (but, I hope, surely) becoming things of the past that we can one day include in the #WhenIWas trend.

 

Advertisements
attack, feminism, feminist, GBV, gender, misogyny, race, racism, rape, sexism, Uncategorized, violence, Violence Against Women, women

A New Year’s To Remember in Cologne, Germany

It’s more than a little shocking – moreover it’s absolutely appalling and disgusting – that in our ever shrinking world (where we can contact the other side of the world via word, photograph or video within seconds) that the news of MASS SCALE SEXUAL ASSAULTS ON WOMEN only begins to gain attention after a week of silence.

The New Year went off with more than bang when mobs of men in city Cologne, Hamburg, and Stuttgart in Germany turned violent and angry. Reports reveal that fireworks were thrown into crowds and the police claimed to have felt notably intimidated by the angry crowds. The final results were worse, with over 100 women assaulted  by the mob: many reported being groped and verbally insulted, some where even raped by men in the crowd.

Little has been done in the way of appeasing or supporting these women’s fight for justice – news is only now breaking of the mass scale of the assaults and the horrid nature of what seems an almost systemic attack on women in these cities. Cologne’s Mayor Henriette Reker has disappointed the public, with her response seemingly admonishing the women for being out in the first place – she has advised women to travel in group and keep an arms length between themselves and men, she has even promised to publish a set of guidelines, her “code of conduct”,  advising and preparing women, how kind of her. Furthermore, the Cologne Police Chief has been removed from his post following weak responses, both during and after the events (no one has yet been arrested despite the public and mass nature of the assaults) and after allegations that the scale and nature of the event was being covered up within the police force.

The nature of these attacks rest on the crux of a very volatile social issue currently shaking Europe: that of Syrian refugees and the immigrant crisis. Germany, crucially, has been both applauded and criticised for welcoming scores of Syrian migrants into the country and it is these people who are largely being held accountable for these attacks.

The facts and as we know them are as follows and are updated with some common sense knowledge:

  1. Mobs of men (over 1000 in Cologne) are reported to have sexually assaulted a number of women on New Years Eve 2016.
  2. These men are reported to have been of Arab and African descent – just to be clear, this is what is being stated in many newspapers at the moment, if the crowd is as large as stated (over 1000 men) not all could be so clearly identified, some may have been white, Asian, Mexican, or even – shockingly – German.
  3. No arrests have yet been made.
  4. No political, ethnic, social or racial group has taken responsibility for the attacks.
  5. Several reports are stating that Syrian men were boasting of their new reputations in Germany to police – this, obviously, does not necessarily mean these men were actually Syrian.

Finally and most crucially:

What is going to come across most as this event gains more media attention is the racial crux. What the media and subsequently the people will discuss and condemn will be the Syrian men who commited this act. This is not a racial issue; this is an act of gender based violence. This is an act of misogyny in its most volatile form. This is the physical form of sexism at its most extreme.

The problem with what happened in Cologne was little to do with race and everything to do with gender; the perpetrators of this crime were men. In over 95 per cent of cases regarding rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment and intimidation, the perpetrators are men.

Rebecca Solnit, in her illuminating essay “The Longest War” states:

We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this Earth, though it’s almost never treated as a civil rights or human right’s issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern. Violence doesn’t have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender.  (http://www.commondreams.org/views/2013/01/24/longest-war-one-against-women)

 

That gender is, unfortunately, male. Solnit apologetically continues by stating that of course not all men are violent (thank God); but violence is often perpetrated by men.

That is why what needs to be focused on following these large scale events is not the Syrian or migrant elements of the attacks – of course, should any Syrian men be found responsible and guilty of these crimes they should rightly be punished – but should concentrate on the fact that of the 1000 people committing these attacks there is one definite determining factor which binds them: they are all men.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

We all know what New Years Eve is about. We all know why we join with our loved ones and celebrate – boisterously, sanguinely, or quietly. We do it to ring in a not only a New Year, but a new opportunity, another 12 months. We do so with optimism and hope and sometimes alcohol.

We have insurmountable expectations for the year to come; but for the women of Cologne this was not the expectation. None of those women expected or deserved this to happen.

 

 

advice, domestic violence, feminism, feminist, GBV, misogyny, sexism, shooting, Uncategorized, violence

Why #HerNameWasReeva is Important

Today marks a day of justice for Reeva Steenkamp. Murdered by her now infamous partner and former Olympian Oscar Pistorius in 2013, she and her family can finally attempt to find some sort of peace.

Pistorius was infamously charged with manslaughter, despite having fired four rounds into a locked bathroom door; he claimed to believe an intruder was in the room. Regardless, and as the judge rightly concluded, the intent could not have been different. Four rounds into a small, locked space.  Reeva Steenkamp had little chance.

After being released and confined in his home following only a year of his then five year sentence, Pistorius has finally been sentenced to murder by the South African Court of Appeal’s Judge Leach.

Judge Leach argued:

As a matter of common sense at the time the fatal shots were fired, the possibility of the death of the person behind the door was clearly an obvious result. And in firing not one but four shots, such a result became even more likely.

Judge Leach stated that the identity of the person behind the door was irrelevant to Pistorius’ guilt for the crime.

But the person behind the door was Reeva Steenkamp and on Twitter the hashtag #HerNameWasReeva is once again making the rounds. But what is trending is #OscarPistorius. Many times over the past two years I have heard people debate his guilt or innocence, argue the case, know his name without pause or thought. Many people do not even know his victims first name.

Today, we need to honour Reeva Steenkamp. Today, her name should be trending. Her story should be heard. Her memory honoured.

As is the case with all gender based violence, domestic violence, all abuse: the victim often goes forgotten. It is a pattern in our society to let the victim become silent.

By speaking her name we challenge that silence. We challenge the institutions and patterns which encourage and permit the continuation of gender based violence and abuse.

Today #ReevaIsHerName and tomorrow it will be another woman’s name.

Do not forget the victims.