This post is something of a diversion from my usual topics, and also something of a rant. The usual warnings for language and possible triggers apply.
It is also a topic that I have only been silent on because I could not find the words. I’ve been trying for most of a year, and I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Transcendancing for reviewing a first draft that bears very little resemblance to this one.
For most of the last year I have been watching a seemingly endless tide of fucktardery directed at women on the internet and elsewhere. Examples that I’ve been watching include:
- The Republican Party’s war on women in all its varied forms (too many to link to);
- The sexual harassment scandals in the skeptic and sf communities (too many to link to);
- Other explosions of bile on the internet that I have previously failed to understand;
- The utter cluelessness in the responses to John Scalzi pointing out that, in western society at least, straight white males play the game of life on the lowest difficulty setting; and
- The recent incident in Australia of a woman being kidnapped from a woman’s shelter in Darwin (thankfully she was unharmed, well physically at least).
There are many more incidents that have come up over the last year; these are just the ones I’m rattling off the top of my head.
That scares me.
Why do I care? Why has this made me so angry?
The last incident I mentioned is the one that triggered me to finally write this post.
We never saw the residents. They hid from us the entire time. These women were afraid of us, and the harsh truth that I had to face that day was that they had good reason to be afraid.
It didn’t matter that I was short, fat, and (in my opinion at least) mostly harmless. They were afraid, and needed to be afraid for their own sake, and for the sake of the children they had with them.
Before I get back to how this changed my thinking let me clearly state this: it is a hard thing to leave a home, even (especially?) an abusive home. In the face of societal and personal pressures it takes a lot of courage to do this.
I believe that those women who seek these sorts of refuges are, in a bitter irony, deeply brave for doing so .
In terms of my own thinking this would have been the first time I had to confront the extent to which the world is a different, and darker, place for women as opposed to men.
This was the start of my awareness, and it is the source of my anger at the current series of events that seems to be everywhere on the internet this year.
What have I learnt since?
When I visited that women’s refuge didn’t have the words like rape culture to provide a framework, nor would I have been aware of the concept of privilege .
Since then I’ve been groping clumsily towards a better view. It is a work in progress but best summed up by a bumper sticker I saw once:
Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.
Call me a bumper sticker feminist.
Women are people .
What can I do about this? What can’t I do?
If there isn’t a willingness to listen, to learn, to visit a women’s refuge and be humbled by the fear, then there isn’t really a lot I can do to convince anyone else to let go of misogyny and hate.
What I can do is control my actions, and maintain this blog as a reasonably safe space for all people to visit and comment in.
In real life I will try to listen to what all people have to say, to treat all people with the respect that their abilities and accomplishments deserve.
Here on Pirates of the Burley Griffin I will moderate comments to ensure an acceptable level of decency, respect and courtesy to all. Note that by “acceptable” I mean acceptable to me.
I am a bumper sticker feminist, don’t bother showing up here unless you are too.
 I think that this quote comes from To Ride Pegasus.