Today marks the beginning of the UN Women programme's #16days to end violence against women and girls. You know where I stand on this. You know I am 1 in 3. You know because I have posted about it over and over again in the 6 years of this blog and the previous 4 blogging elsewhere. But do you know why my speaking out doesn't matter? Because I am 1 in 3. Because whatever happened to me changed how you listen to me. Because unless men stand up for women other men don't hear it.
I've learned the depth of that last truth in the last few months. After spending years living with men who suffer from deeply-denied chronic low-grade misogyny, I've suddenly had the experience of being spoken up for. It's sad, really. Most men I know are not creeps or jerks. And yet most men I know speak of women as if we are only bodies. No no, don't go yelling "not all men" at me - most men, some of the time.
Of course the slightly better ones are pretty good at keeping it hidden. Even someone as vile as Donald Trump wouldn't have talked about "grabbing pussy" if he knew the microphone was on. No, most "decent" men keep those thoughts behind closed doors. The vehemence of the reaction to Trump's outing last month seemed so out of proportion to me, until I realised how in denial most "decent people" are about these things. A very "decent" man who supposedly loved me and supposedly respects women not that long ago said "I'd be such a manwhore if pussy wasn't so hard to get." So please don't tell me Trump is an outlier. He's not. And that's the real problem. It's easy to point fingers at someone reprehensible. It's harder to call out a guy who's "not that bad."
Let's get real. Someone (in fact, many someones) is perpetrating this violence. The 1 in 3 stat isn't pulled out of thin air. And I'm tired of it. I am even more tired of it since I've experienced the opposite.
I recently posted on Facebook about my experience of being with someone who thinks I am worth more than my body:
. . . I've only recently experienced what it means to have a man call another man out on his inane remarks about me and it's hard to find words for what it meant to me.
I've never thought of myself as someone who needs protecting, but a man who treats me as less than human isn't going to listen much to my protest of his treatment. A sexist douche will only listen to another man. The impact of that support for me was feeling safe, valued and seen. The impact on the jerk was, it seemed, actually realising he was a jerk. And my hero? Well, he seemed to think that was just common decency. It's not. It's not common at all. But maybe it will become so.
It's really great, for me. I have a fallen for a unicorn - a man who values me beyond what I can do for him or what pleasure I can give him. It's quite lovely being us. But how does that change the world? How does that stop someone else from becoming part of the 1 in 3? And why does it feel like it's the same small group of us raising our voiced while the stat remains unchanged?
I ... I'm stymied. Why do we have to keep having this conversation? Why does the UN have to raise money to protect women and girls? Why should it be a relief to me to have sons instead of daughters because I think sons will be safer (they haven't been, but ... I thought they might be)?
I have no more words. Click this infographic from UN Women if you want to know more. And then, before I break into tears or cursing, and for the sake of all that is good in the world please DO SOMETHING!