March 14, 2021
From Alternative Bristol (UK)

We are faced with two pressing issues; one is caused by a government attempting to turn the ‘culture war’ into law via the crime and policing bill. The other, sadly one that has been with us for a long, long time already and yet one we still have a long, long way to go to resolve; male violence against women.

(Note: We’re going to talk about ‘male’ and ‘men’ as generic terms; if, with events of recent days and the gravity of the situation, your response is that you want to police terminology proclaiming loudly that ‘it’s not all men‘ and ‘men can be the victims of violence too’ then you might want to read this and if you still think the same; re-examine your life choices because you’re now part of the problem and not any solutions.)

On the first issue; the shameful, but not unexpected, violent policing of a peaceful vigil for a murdered woman shows how a state, structured to serve the interests of the powerful, will react to even the most benign of political actions. Against the backdrop of cops violently assaulting women, there to highlight the violent murder of a woman, the government wants to give those same cops MORE power to crush dissent:

Demonstrations are not just any kind of free speech. They are the free speech of the unheard. They are the last medium of communication and influence available to people who are frozen out of the formal political system, either in the media or in parliament. And those are the people Patel is trying to silence.

It is vital that this crime and policing bill is stopped – and because of the crappy way our political system is structured; we need to let MPs know of the public anger. To do this – you can use this site to find and write to your MP. It takes moments, and we all need to bury them in an avalanche of objections.

Why does this matter in the light of male violence against women; this is a government that cares more about statues standing upright than it does women being abused:

On to the second issue; this is a long, long, long-standing issue. This event, for example from over a decade ago in Bristol. Or this bit of victim-blaming of a woman for being annoying enough to go and get all murdered like, from 1927. The list goes on back into history and cuts across society;

What men, with their victim-blaming warnings and police officers with their safety campaigns, never seem to realise is that women do all of this anyway. We take the detour. We leave places early. We pay for cabs we can’t afford. We text each other to say we’re home. We already live under an unofficial curfew. Women have been living in a form of lockdown for a long time.

Women already do everything ‘right’ – and it doesn’t save us. We get cabs because cabs are safe – until the cab driver is a rapist. John Worboys was able to rape up to 100 women. Police didn’t believe the first woman who reported it or the second.

We agree that this needs to be a moment where we all say, ‘enough’ and start to change things;

It feels like a moment not unlike last summer, when the killing of George Floyd sparked protests around the world. Male violence against women and girls cuts across race and class – but we cannot and must not ignore that murders of black, marginalised and working-class women rarely get the media attention we are seeing in this case. Most murders of women are so common, so pedestrian, that they barely register a media ripple.

The rage we are seeing now is not a ripple and it is not confined to one demographic. This rage could be a tsunami.

As such, seeing the peaceful vigil here in Bristol, one that was ‘allowed’ to be and so was an honest expression of those in attendance, in contract to those in London and Liverpool where the cops turned them violent;

The problem of male violence against women is endemic and structural. Much like racism, resolving it is going to be hard, ongoing and long-term work that is a mix of the personal, the political and is societal.

That work starts with stopping the government criminalizing protest and moves onwards from there, listening to the voices of those subject to personal and structural violence for little more than their gender, skin colour or sexual orientation.

 (Main image credit, here)

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