By Jen MacLennan
Jen has been volunteering to help Ukrainian refugees at the Ukraine/Poland border; she drove there from London a couple of days ago.
March 8th 2022
So, International Women’s Day, here we are again. I refuse to say “Happy Women’s Day” that’s a commoditised form of Pollyanna trite. Maybe once we’ve erased misogyny and have full equal rights and agency, can we start saying Happy Women’s Day.
It should be, “I stand in Solidarity with women everywhere” light a candle instead, hold a solemn vigil for all the victims of rabid femicide, from Mexico to India to The Highway of Tears in Canada. Think about them, think about yourself. Your own intimate behaviour. The women of Ukraine today. Fleeing rabid, psychotic genocidal war with children, pets, elderly whilst completely beside themselves in fresh unimaginable trauma. The high risk of being trafficked now. They didn’t start this war. Syrian women didn’t start that war, Balkan women, nor did most women everywhere there has been war. That’s a man’s game of annihilation.
Or we can say “Happy IWD” when the day comes when two beautiful sisters can go to a park at midnight and dance under the stars, enjoying the beauty of it and *not* get murdered by men just for celebrating their own joy. Sabina Nesse, Sarah Everard tortured, raped, murdered in my Borough walking home in the early evening.
Just being able to walk home through a park from a night with a friend and not be worried about being hit from behind and murdered by a man. That’s not happened yet.
I watched the French movie Slalom the other night( 2021). It was absolutely brilliant. A disturbing slow burn that was terrifyingly relatable. It brings back, no doubt floods of memories of similar awkward and horrible situations we didn’t realise as **under age teenagers** ( or ‘jail bait’ we’d proudly exclaim in fake toughness to mitigate our violations ) were so bloody awful until years later after the effects of deep,primal and extremely sharp grooming had suddenly dropped like a lead ball revelation of what actually happens when a much older adult, with very direct power over your situation, in a make or break way, used you horrifically and discarded once they raped/ took what they wanted with violence ,zero care or regard.
And for years you would defend the actions as a complicated form of love. Because to think it wasn’t love was just too awful, too much of an insult, a defamation that would make **you look stupid not to see it** so you protect the perpetrator to protect your own sense of fragile and developing self worth. It really is Stockholm syndrome. You’re so young that being treated badly or violently was just normal, a sign of deep complicated passion. A gift of attention, good or bad. No wonder it takes years and years, plus mass support to come forward with your story or to seek justice. This is what people don’t understand why women don’t report sexual assault immediately. Especially very young teenagers or children.
Anyhow with International women’s Day, a lot of us get flooded with memories of abuse, of being controlled, coerced, terrified, stalked, patronised, doubted , of having agency removed, of having people constantly re define your experience on their terms or shut out your expertise by speaking over you.The non stop scrutiny of looks, age etc is very wearing.
Then seal clapping when you are backed off, forced into submission, surgically altered and dieted down to nothing to placate and please, to become that” trout pout positive vibes only” only fans or Instagram influencer.Most often as a dehumanising push factor just to survive in late stage capitalism that’s about cut throat competition, disposal, creating new products constantly by discarding the old. Manufactured social Darwinism. Especially for women. Men appreciate with age, paunch, and the status increase that comes with it. Women are faced with the inverse of that. Never mind the toxic mind numbing psyche damaging misogynistic and entitled effect porn has on men.
It’s brain numbing the non stop comments on your age, marital status, motherhood status, weight status. It’s grotesque and disgusting. What about character and IQ?
Rarely is a women’s character and intellect, talent celebrated without an attempt to sexualise her. If she doesn’t fit that idealised unattainable, then she is often discarded. How often do we do this with men of important standing? Focus on their age, weight, dress,parental status level of assertion, whilst they are rattling on about some theory?
Anything to force women to show they are grateful, hushed up ,feminine passive,receiving ‘good girl’ or all nurturing self sacrificing mother,lover. Bathed in hollow equal rights or Suffragettes platitudes , quotes, chucked out by men as if that’s enough. One day of hollow platitudes, no intimate behaviour change.
Not many women choose self sacrifice. It happens due to the other halves failing to hold up their end of the bargain of equality. Sacrifice is most often forced,not a choice. Don’t celebrate this. It’s unfortunate,not wanted.
The culture is still rarely focusing on the bad perpetrator archetype. The female victim is still seen as the culpable temptress and villain. That damn mini skirt caused the rape right? Cause men have zero self control?. Are They such primitive animals?
Quite patronising to men to be demeaned to animals with zero control over say over an 11 year old wearing a mini skirt in a mall fashion show because when they see that their outrage flies on her,the child, for trying to sexually tempt them, to make them ‘ lose control’ . As we saw in Pakistan recently with men’s raging sexualised comments on a child’s age appropriate attire.
You get told male perpetrators are tormented,but great, mean well, have a complicated relationship with love from a bad childhood ,stuffy culture, religion, they are confused poor souls that deserve compassion, pity…not the victims. If you’re a victim, the onus is on you to have not been so ‘ stupid and trusting in the first place’, to just “ chill out” or blamed by simply breathing and being female, trusting, believing, in the wrong place wrong time . Your fault by stimulating the predators weakness the predators had no ‘control over’ by simply being female in their presence.
I’m speaking of vulnerable, underage children/ young teens and many very trusting, open adult women. Many adult women are empathic to a fault, but end up often exploited and violated through their deep care ,compassion for sad or tough stories and being ever bright sided. The good things come with great sacrifice, diamonds in the rough ,mother nurturer caretaker bias hammered into them. They end up violated most often as they are seen not as wonderful caring humans, but dumb chumps to “ allow a predator” into their lives. Except the whole surrounding culture supports the “poor, misunderstood” predator who just “needs love”.
Definitely not crediting the perpetrator as being shrewd, vile, sociopathic and excellent in the predation, grooming and discard.
Especially if they have bought the community through ‘ good deeds’ or cash , splashy handouts. Like Jimmy Saville. He could buy his impunity then. Most male predators do. They become community leaders or ingratiate themselves in the right places to create allies that will always back them up to keep the money or influence taps going.
Genuine victims are punished from all sides if trying to seek justice. Many can’t deal with the re traumatisation that happens with that. So they try to forget about it and move on. There is this gross push to forgive perpetrators instead, even when they haven’t deeply apologised. Another form of social invalidation of justice seeking via stupid platitudes.
Instead all of it gets internalised and manifests in chronic illness disproportionately affecting women. Something cracks.
Another nightmare for women is those refusing to hear you when you speak or create impressive deeply intellectual bodies of academic or creative work.
How many women philosophers or PhDs get credited as being the authors of great social movements or of important educational discourse? Where are the female philosophers? Name one off the top of your head you studied in school? Name one that wasn’t attached by notoriety by talking about sex? De Beauvoir, Hite.
Most women know when explaining or describing something intellectually robust and important often in one to one conversations with many men, as in a private meeting, there is an inevitable snigger, a bored sigh , a cut off point,75% of the time a demand to see your privates, or a physical lurch towards sex. It happens ,embarrassingly, way way way too often. Men invite women out on the auspices of important discussion, but have actual zero interest or intention in the discussion. They feign interest. They just want sex. It’s really so discouraging and disparaging.
Stop speaking and just put out. They won’t admit to lying to get into your pants. Engaging by deceit.
Or women become invisible or mocked on physical characteristics if they hold their own and demand peer respect.The age of sudden transformation into the crone. Undesirable, un interesting if you don’t fit or can’t be moulded into a sort of sexualised fantasy.
Often women put out solely to stop the whining and pressure of the males, only to try to win their initial attention back. To re engage them intellectually or emotionally as the ‘just reward’ for putting out. It’s often totally unpleasant and degrading for women.
Some may be lucky enough to have avoided this. Many men have been victims in the same way, but an extremely significant minority compared to women, globally.
Men can be allies by shutting up and listening. Listening. Not trying to fix or minimise or bright side a woman’s story or cheerlead the suffragettes. Just listen, nod, feel. That’s it. Change your behaviour from trying to undermine ,coerce or define hers. If you constantly brag about being a card carrying loud dominant super ally to shut out uncomfortable truths, that’s a dead give away you’re an asshole. Better to be honest.
Make sure she has agency and is not putting out unenjoyably to get her emotional and intellectual needs met. Make sure a women’s needs are met emotionally and intellectually first, and feels safe and genuine desire coming from her first, before you lurch onto her.