Women Are Not The Problem

In a week that marked International Women’s Day being female has never felt more of a struggle.

It began with one of Britain’s loudest voices setting the tone when he expressed disbelief at Meghan Markle’s claim she didn’t want to be alive anymore. Why Piers Morgan felt qualified to diagnose someone’s mental state from their perceived public persona remains to be seen but, a little over a year on from Caroline Flack’s death, it threw serious shade at the Be Kind movement. If Prince Harry had expressed the same emotions would they have been discounted so flippantly? Unlikely.

The mood grew darker and more sombre with the news that a Met police officer was being questioned in relation to the missing 33 year-old, Sarah Everard who disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house in South London.

Sarah did everything that we as women are taught we are ‘supposed’ to do – she took a popular well-used route, she didn’t leave too late at night, she wore brightly coloured clothing and sensible shoes, she phoned her boyfriend – so the news that human remains had been found sent chills through the bones of every woman following the case.

While social media exploded with sympathy for Sarah it also opened up a conversation about the lengths and efforts women go to in an attempt to keep themselves safe. In response the hashtag ‘notallmen’ quickly began trending, suggesting that, rather than acknowledge these as legitimate concerns, there were a number of men who would prefer to flip the narrative and instead of being outraged at those that were part of the problem would rather highlight the fact that they weren’t. Unnecessary yes, and yet another example of certain men feeling the need to put their perceptions and beliefs over a woman’s feelings and experiences.

The fear of physical violence isn’t the only threat we face. As women we also have serious concerns over being judged and the sense that whatever happens it was somehow our own fault. There’s a sense that we’re dammed if we do and dammed if we don’t.

As little girls growing up we’re told we can be anything we want but we’re not told that there’s a catch and it’s that some men won’t like it if we don’t fit into their moulds or ideals. 

Speaking as part of an International Women’s Day debate in the House of Commons Labour MP Jess Phillips said there should not be a message to women “where we’re told what to do or what we have to do.” 

In essence, women are not the problem, angry men are and we don’t know what triggers you.

We’ve all been victim to or witnessed men who resort to personal insults and nasty slurs when faced with rejection or things not going their way. Indeed Mr Morgan left the set of Good Morning Britain when colleague Alex Beresford pointed out the Duchess of Sussex had previously cut him off and ended their friendship. 

As little girls growing up we’re told we can be anything we want but we’re not told that there’s a catch and it’s that some men won’t like it if we don’t fit into their moulds or ideals. 

The same men who are happy to drool over an attractive woman will then object to another posing provocatively or behaving in a way that doesn’t fit with their views. They will watch porn for their own gratification and then slut shame women for daring to look or act a certain way.

There are many men who couldn’t look a woman in the eye on the street but wouldn’t hesitate to troll and fire insults from behind their screens.

It beggars belief that laws on revenge porn and stalking are something that have had to be fought and campaigned for (and still have a long way to go) but that’s the reality.

In much the same way pay gaps and inequalities need to be addressed so to do attitudes. All too frequently the term ‘feminist’ is used as an insult but championing women does not mean hating men and should not be met with resistance, fear or anger.

While parents are telling their daughters they can be anything they want to be they might also want to remind their sons of this fact, as the notion that women need to fit into certain categories needs to be dispelled, and quickly. 

We’re not asking for approval, we’re asking for support. Not as fathers of daughters, husbands of wives or brothers of sisters but as decent human beings and equals. It’s simple – don’t seek to deliberately hurt us with your words or actions. Don’t use your positions of power, your louder voices or your keyboards to disparage and disgrace. Accept us for who we are rather than disliking us when we’re not who you think we should be.

And no, it’s not all men but if you get angry at women expressing themselves, their fears and their frustrations then you’re part of the problem. Be outraged at those who have wronged us rather than defensive about the fact that it wasn’t you.

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