Today is International Women’s Day and I find myself feeling subdued.
Perhaps it should be a day of celebration, to recognise the achievements of the great women who have gone before us and those who are in this world today. Instead, I just feel heavy.
Heavy from the constant weight of being a woman in a man’s world.
Improvements are being made and things are changing, I won’t deny that.. but I am under no illusions. Women and men are not equals in this world.
Today, I hoped to feel empowered by other women. Those who stand up and speak for us. Those who work tirelessly to bring about change for us.
I hoped to find my own strength, to perhaps even celebrate the steps made in my own journey.
Instead, I feel resentful. Instead, I feel beaten down. Again.
Because I am reminded that while I want to help change this world, I cannot. All my strength is used up trying to heal from what men did to me.
Trigger Warning here
This morning I woke from a PTSD dream. In this dream my abuser found me sleeping on my front. He climbed on top of me and I woke to find I could not move. This man holding me down, was so much bigger and so very much stronger than me. My months of grooming, stopped me from crying out in fear, or pain as he did what he wanted to me. This was not just a dream, this was once my reality.
It is not a feeling I can shake easily this morning. I remember that helplessness and more over, I remember his utter power. I cannot help but feel that no matter how strong I feel, I will always be at the mercy of men. If they choose to hurt me, what chance do I have?
Yesterday, my husband and I were being playful in bed. When I shoved my husband in jest, he didn’t move an inch, as he shoved me back, he then had to grab me quickly, before I fell off the bed. Men are so much stronger than me. How can I ever fight back?
This morning, I am reminded what it was like to be utterly powerless. Right now, it seems to me that men will always have the upper edge.
It’s not just my own experiences that have me feeling sort of flat this morning. Just look around the world. The recent news story and documentary covering the gang rape of Jyoti Singh in Dehli. And while that is absolutely abhorrent and the attitudes by some (and I fear many) men there, utterly shocking, it is not limited to India. A “well it happens over there, thank goodness we live in a civilised society” sort of response is not acceptable. Male violence is happening all over the world. In your part of the world, your country, your town, your street. Everywhere.
Look in the UK, at the more high profile cases such as the Jimmy Saville abuse, or perhaps the Rotherham or Rochdale trafficking. Look harder and you see how the media is getting it so wrong too. Reporting rape as sex. Using terms such as “young girls sold for sex”. How on earth can we end this violence, when we are still calling it sex?
In the USA, on campus rapes particularly, have been making news lately. Where preserving reputation and the lives of boys and men come higher on the agenda than justice and care for the victims, who of course, are largely women.
What about the kidnapping of nearly 300 girls in Nigera? Again, men. Men forcing. Men controlling. Men exerting their power over women and girls.
How is this equality? How is this anywhere near achieving equality?
Women and girls are dying everyday, because we are still regarded as inferior.
Even well known charities are getting it wrong. This poster by the Salvation Army South Africa on Domestic Violence- a sexualised picture of a bruised women. I’m sorry, but where do I start with this? What on earth are we learning from this? Where is the awareness, where is the advice here?
The right noises are being made and I suppose for that I should be grateful? Except I am not. We are still getting it wrong. Men still rule this world. It is largely men in the UK government for example. White, rich men, making decisions about issues that they cannot possibly understand.
I cannot see the end to male violence. I cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel at all here and that is why today, on International Women’s day, my heart is heavier than ever.