Recent events have revealed how rampant misogyny is in our lives today. The curtain has been lifted. To make sure things change we need men.
Following the recent verdict from the Belfast trial reactions seem to have been ones of anger and grief. But as women found their voices, men began to mock them. Rape jokes, rape apologists, rampant misogyny, a rugby ball having an award for the “most likely to pull a Paddy Jackson” – it has all come swirling back to one thing. A society that is steeped in rape culture.
I feel sick, my friend was at a rugby ball the other night and there was an awards ceremony. One award was 'most likely to pull a paddy jackson', a number of girls walked out #IBelieveHer
— rachel (@racheleustace) April 1, 2018
This case has highlighted the heartbreaking realities of the world we live in. A society that puts the blame squarely on the victim. A system that re-tramautises people. And a male populace who are quick to lash out with insults, threats of physical /sexual violence.
These are the things men have said to me tonight because I dared to say #SueMePaddy.
These responses kind of speak for themselves, don't they? pic.twitter.com/k0fpal59cO
— Aoife (@flyingteacosy) March 31, 2018
Now, there are obviously many men who are actively campaigning and working for change. But lots aren’t. Recent conversations with men in my life have also been revealing. It’s clear there are a couple of camps. First there are those aforementioned, but then there are those who see themselves as feminists but sadly often aren’t stepping up the plate. And while I was heartened to see two posts from men calling upon others to do more. A scan through the responses show that the majority come from women.
The final group, is the silent majority. They may also hold feminist views, or sympathise with the victim, or be seething with society, or perhaps even side with the defendants. But you’d never know it. They continue with life as normal. Posting memes, making jokes, tagging friends. All seemingly oblivious to the rage that this case has unleashed. Cheerfully going about life as if nothing is happening. But something is happening. The ground is shifting under all of our feet. Whether you agree with the verdict of the case, or #IBelieveHer or #SueMePaddy or not. How can you stay silent when the women in your life are crying for help. Screaming to be heard. How can you stay silent when your peers threaten sexual violence as a response to anger around a rape trial?
Well, this is chilling. Someone just sent me a DM on Instagram about an experience they had last night… pic.twitter.com/E7A7FcGC0o
— Louise O' Neill (@oneilllo) April 2, 2018
Similarly in the fight for reproductive rights – it seems when it comes to talking about sexual violence men fall short. My timeline is filled with stories from women, but the men have stayed quiet. Oftentimes not even pausing for long enough to give a “like” to a heartfelt story of grief and pain. They simply scroll on. I can only hope that they at least paused for a moment. Why is this? Are men so uncomfortable about talking about such things they won’t publicly support their own families? Perhaps they’re afraid of being called out by their peers. That by standing up for women they’ll somehow lose social currency with their peers. But if you’re trying to curry favour by throwing around slurs or defending those that do, then you need to take a good hard look at yourself.
I’m balling . WONDER Y RAPE IS NOT REPORTED pic.twitter.com/e29xk5QLeQ
— yollm (@avacadandtoastt) March 28, 2018
It is clear that there are many men out there who are listening, and who are working to change things. But to those who aren’t now is the time for you to do something. You know women who have been assaulted or faced some level of sexist abuse – be it verbal or physical. You know men who have used similar language. Right now is about listening and learning. It’s about acknowledging that not enough is being done to tackle misogyny and how we can change that. This not a case of reprimanding people. While your friends, sisters, and colleagues are taking to the streets your silence is deafening. It is crushing. More than that, it is exhausting.
None of us are saints. We’ve all said and done things that have harmed others. Used words that are misogynistic, racist, homophobic, transphobic etc. And I’m not naive enough to think that will somehow disappear. But to the men in our lives, we need you to do more. If we are to actually make the changes that many of us want to see then men are going to have to step up. It’s time that “lad culture” and “banter” was called out by other men. Misogyny is deeply ingrained in society, and we understand how difficult it is to tackle it. There’s always the fear that you will become the butt of the joke. But a simple “cop on” when you see something you disagree with will help change things. The Belfast case cast a spotlight on the tip of the iceberg, we all have to work to make sure that it wasn’t for nothing.
If you’ve been the victim of an assault you can get in touch with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre on their national 24-hour helpline 1800 77 8888 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find more information on what to do in the aftermath of an assault here (UK) or here (USA).