To The Men

I wrote this piece earlier today after reading this article. The article states that 1 in 3 women in the EU will be abused by a man they thought loved them; their partner. Yet the article managed to mention women a lot of times, yet did not mention the men who abused them. The invisibility of the men in this piece is not an isolated incident, regularly articles about abuse of women refuses to mention the men who abused them. It’s almost as if violence against women is a perpetrator-less. And yet it is not.

 

After reading this article I then went to the gym where I watched Robin Thicke singing about the Blurred Lines between sex and rape and how he wants to give a woman “something big enough to tear her ass in two”. Except the song was silenced, so all that you could see was a music video where fully clothed men gesture at almost naked women who appear to be wrapped in cling-film. Nobody batted an eyelid. Nobody switched it off. I nearly wept right there on the cross-trainer.

 

Then the next two music videos were of male performers “featuring” female performers. How apt! This is the lie the world tells women. That we are features of men’s lives. Not people, not human beings in our own right.

 

And through my headphones I heard music that praised Jesus and declared that we are free because of His sacrifice and I looked at the screen and considered how many women, the world over, are not yet free. And I almost wept on the cross trainer, instead taking my rising anger out on the machine, getting faster and faster, to the point I almost fell off.

 

I arrived home dripping with sweat and wept hysterically on Mr GLW. This is such a terrible world. And I wrote the words below. Mr GLW advised me not to publish them. He said I would appear as a man-hating, angry, feminist if I did. But I needed to. Because this is how it felt to be a woman for me this morning.

 

And if you read my words and you feel more offended by what I have written than by the fact that 1 in 3 women is abused by a man, or that a man rapes a woman every 9 minutes somewhere in the UK, or that 140 million girls and women are living with having had their genitals mutilated, or that a man rapes a woman in South Africa every 36 seconds, then you need to consider your priorities.

 

If you read my words and feel I am alienating men, or being harsh, we are in the midst of a genocide, a war against women, and yet the media want us to believe this is about isolated incidents. It is not. Men abuse women because they believe they own them, and are entitled to do whatever they want to them. This is across the entire globe. No woman, in any community across the world is safe from male violence.

 

I am married to a man and I have a son and so I know there are good men out there. But until we begin to see this as a war against women, and about global gender relations, we will never see systemic change.

 

The hearts of my sisters and I break. And the world-at-large remains silent.

 

To the men

Your kind are raping my sisters

Your kind are killing our mothers

Your kind are reducing my value

Every single day.

 

And yet, as you hear my words,

You do not feel enraged at your brothers,

At your fathers, at your friends.

 

You feel enraged with me,

For giving men a bad name.

 

I do not hate you

I do not know you

But I cannot trust you

Because your brothers are raping my sisters

And the rapists, murderers, torturers

Cannot be identified in anyway

Don’t take up this with me, take it up with your kind

 

My rights are not women’s rights

My cause is not niche

My sisters are they who brought you into the world

While them who birthed all the people of the earth

Are not human.

Then none are human

 

The screens show mutilated women

Parts, not making up a whole

And your kind have convinced some of my sisters

That to sign up to this mutilation

Is the route to power

 

In the church

My sisters are sacrificed daily on the altar of unity

In the media

My sisters are altered daily in the hope of being found worthy

In the home

My sisters are more unsafe than in a dark alley

In the state

My sisters’ voices are silenced

 

When my sisters are laying in the gutter

Broken, chained, discarded

Who lifts them from the gutter?

Who breaks their chains?

Who walks them to freedom?

Not your kind, but the mothers, the sisters, the women.

Yet my words make you angry with me

And not with your kind.

 

I want to call you brothers

To bridge the enormous chasm

That stands between our peoples

The sisters and the brothers

 

So listen to my words

Said by a broken hearted woman

Hold your brothers to account

And help us end this war on women

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15 Million Merits: An Apology

In our celebrity culture and fluffy lack of depth, it’s unlikely that any TV programme will provide a life changing or even soul touching experience; and yet last night that is exactly what happened for me as I watched “15 Million Merits”.  It is part of a Channel 4 series written by Charlie Brooker called Black Mirror.  The series is described by Channel 4 as a “suspenseful, satirical three-part mini-series that taps into collective unease about our modern world.”

 

Shown after the X Factor final, this week’s 15 Million Merits presented a futuristic world in which we pedal on electric bikes all day to earn merits to buy apps for the electronic versions of ourselves called doppelgangers.  Overweight people are cleaners who wear bright yellow clothing and are insulted and looked down upon by the cyclists.

 

In this world, people have to watch TV constantly and not watching adverts incurs a penalty of losing precious merits.  Hardcore pornography is regularly shown and to not watch this also incurs a penalty.

 

Every person lives to watch the latest version of the X Factor and it costs 15 million merits to enter.  Bing, the main character so loves the voice of Abi, the other main character, that he gifts her 15 million merits to enter the show.

 

As she arrives to star on the show she is required to drink a carton of “compliance” before making it onto the stage.  Before she is able to sing, Judge Wraith (the owner of the hardcore porno channel) challenges Abi to show everyone her breasts.  She refuses and after being degraded and put down further she is then allowed to sing.

 

She sings well and the Simon Cowell-esque judge says she has an amazing voice and yet the only thing he can really think she would be good for is appearing on Judge Wraith’s pornography channel.  As the audience yells and whoops, “Simon Cowell” emotionally blackmails her and she looks horrified,  Under tremendous pressure and the effects of the Compliance drink,  she accepts the “kind offer” to make it out of pedalling and into a new life as a porn star.

 

As you can imagine I watched this programme with gradually unfolding horror; increased as I had recently read the horrific accounts of those who have “worked” in the hardcore porn industry on Shelly Lubben’s website.

 

I am ashamed to admit every year I have been sucked into the X Factor machine, watching and laughing and voting along with many in the UK.  I would feel uncomfortable as they mocked the less talented, but not enough to turn the TV off, not enough to take a stand.  I would see the articles and music videos of the female competitors, gradually making it to soft pornography and feel sad for them, but still thinking, “well…they did make that choice, it’s the price of fame…”

 

As I watched 15 Million Merits yesterday, I felt ashamed and guilty, I have contributed to the degradation and pornographication of the competitors, I have become part of the machine which abuses, degrades and humiliates beautiful and precious human lives for the furtherance of entertainment.  I am part of the problem.

 

Yes me!  The person who works so hard to end violence against women, whose heart breaks every time I hear yet another story of the abuse a woman has suffered, the devaluing the have experienced at the hands of men.  And for that I am truly sorry, to every person who has in some way been damaged by the X Factor machine and its partners in crime (and I truly do mean *crime*).  I promise with all that I am, I will never again watch those shows again, I will never laugh along at the humiliating bits or smirk inside at the uncomfortable bits.  I will speak out against this machine that degrades and destroys and I will be part of it no longer.