Women’s rising anger

Protester in Washington DC. Oct 2018.Photo taken by Justin Gellerson

This October sees the one year anniversary of when I would say I became truly political. When I started to take a vested interest in decisions being made that would greatly impact what is important to me.

Of course I was disappointed although not surprised by Brexit. Bewildered but then again not surprised by the presidency going to T****. But I was actually scared when the revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s bullying and alleged sexual assaults came out. It was upsetting to read and shocking to discover the extent of what had happened as well as how it had been covered up by so many people for such a long time.

Back in 2006 Tarana Burke first used the phrase Me Too to promote “empowerment through empathy” among women of color who have experienced sexual abuse, particularly within underprivileged communities. On 15th October 2017, however, it was popularised by Alyssa Milano who used it to help highlight sexual harassment women have endured. Collectively, women started to share their own assault stories with each other. What scared me the most was that these moments, regardless of their severity, were a part of our lives that we had accepted as simply ‘what happens to women’. Not all incidences had necessarily shaped our lives or even stayed with us years later. Some had to be dredged up from deep in our memories. But when we did recall them and finally talked about them, when we bared our war wounds, we realised we all had a tale to tell. It made us feel united

As the months went by there was a hopefulness in this mass global telling of our stories. It felt like, finally, there were opportunities for women to be heard. It looked like change was on the horizon. Powerful men, who for years had taken advantage of women in sexually inappropriate ways, were starting to topple. The Times Up movement was born and women in Hollywood were speaking out about the misogyny the industry perpetuates. Not only were women being listened to but sometimes, SHOCK HORROR, they were being believed.

Then the Kavanaugh case happened and all of a sudden we were back at square one with, what felt like, no say at all. I watched and read, with growing concern, the unfairness of this hearing. I saw Dr Christine Blasey Ford give a measured and almost timid account of sexual assault she had endured 36 years earlier. She knew that as a woman, when delivering her side of the story, she would not be able to show her frustration and anger for fear of being seen as aggressive, hysterical, unhinged. The man she accused of sexual assault however managed to spit out his dummy at the true indignation of the situation he had found himself in. Judge Brettt Kavanaugh’s questioning, and his opening statement, showed his anger almost bubbling out of him. He was unable to control his tears at the injustice of it all and when backed into a corner, from being questioned by Senator Amy Klobacher, he showed childish insolence.  The conversations around this case all said the same thing.

If he were a woman he would never have got away with that kind of behaviour.

The double standards on display, at such a high level, are mind boggling. As women, feminists, decent human beings wanting to see everyone treated equally are we currently just treading water? Have we progressed at all since October 2017?

Journalists tried for years to report about Harvey Weinstein’s bullying and sexual harassment. Only when he’d started to lose his power were they able to. Much to the delight of those who missed his comedy, Louis CK is back performing on the circuit after sexual misconduct allegations were made against him a mere 9 months earlier. The leader of the {supposed} free world publicly mocked a woman who bravely shared her sexual assault story. 

I am scared. I am scared at the injustice. I am scared at the ambivalence to it all and most importantly I am scared of the power those in charge have and what they are doing {or not doing} with it. I feel helpless but more importantly I sometimes feel hopeless and a loss of hope means nothing gets done and no one moves forward.

But….I am clinging onto the one piece of hope I have left and that is my voice. At my book club last week eight women got together and roared. Already riled up by the verdict of Judge Kavanaugh joining the Supreme court, as well as the breaking news of Seann Walsh’s alleged gas lighting of his long term girlfriend Rebecca Humphries, we roared and shouted, debated and discussed. Like Judge Kavanaugh showed us, during his hearing statement, fear often presents itself as anger and boy were we angry. We are angry. We have marched. We have worn black, listened to each others stories and have patiently waited for our voices to be heard.

No one seems to be listening.

If you thought we were angry before you’ve got another thing coming.

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