When 25% of women are affected by these kinds of violence – one in four – that’s something epidemic and endemic, and if the best thing someone can do is complain about some empathetic wording, their priorities are in the wrong damn place. That was a good response by Labour; it was hard won and completely ignored by despicably irresponsible press.
Firstly, MEN, TELL YOUR PEOPLE, because they’re not listening to us. Aggressors don’t listen to ‘victims’ because they’re already decided our voices don’t matter. This means it’s your job to support a social change, so instead of needlessly complaining get it together already! Better still support the policy change instead of saying his wording begs a failure in the polls. You’re saying that because Cunliffe decided to do something to actually help the problem he deserves to fail. That means you are so sensitive to your own personal offence you’re standing in the way of an actual real solution, and that is the exact attitude that causes this problem – something trivial to you is more important than something major to someone else.
Don’t support the continuation of the problem. Vote to support the changes we desperately need. Don’t just laugh along with misogyny like you have been for years and don’t just ignore it to be polite or cool, because all of those attitudes – but particularly treating us like chattels (objects and body parts rather than people) – are what leads to violence, and if you’ve ever been aggressive, get some help with your entitlement and lack of control. With stats like that it’s no shock that a good deal of the men I know have perpetuated (or ignored) this sort of thing and despite what they think every woman around them knows about it. I know for a fact a good deal of voices – even those who have come out in support of Cunliffe – have harmed women. So it’s time for some honesty, and I am grateful for their progressive response. Yes it is your problem and yes, ALL MEN need to be working toward a greater social solution and yes ALL MEN should take ownership of that, because a community-based issue requires a community response; that means everyone on board.
It may further interest you to know that a good proportion of outspoken feminist allies I know have personally been responsible for this kind of crummy behaviour in the past. I know their histories and someone out there knows yours, but the person who knows your history most of all is you. I love a great many men and my message is hard hitting but it is not about judgement, it’s about recognising problematic behaviour, understanding why it is wrong, then working to correct it.
If people knew how many times I’d been sexually assaulted, shoved, demeaned, experienced sexism and been raped just due to going about my everyday life – loving, working, socialising, and walking along a street during the daytime – they’d be horrified. I may tell that story when I’m ready one day. But when people say “Oh men experience that too!” they are incorrect. Men do not experience anything like a huge minority of women. What we deal with is a specific type of intense bombardment; we get attacked worse, we get killed more frequently and we get raped more.
And every time anyone complains about Cunliffe’s choice of words, all I can think of is this, all the work, all the people standing up, every person who signed that petition, every survivor, every victim and every person who depends on this policy being PASSED. While they quibble about words other people’s entire lives depend on policy changes like this. So do I think Cunliffe deserves to get in? You know what? I hate politics and politicking but for goodness sake put your passion in the right place and support the policy. If you vote, vote him in.
Guys tell your peeps and please stop nit-picking about an apology that shows respect and comes from the heart. Because when you reveal your priorities to be more focused on personal offense than a problem of this scale, you are being part of the problem.