This is the thing that I wrote for the One Billion Rising. I have been told it’s quite punchy, so with that in mind, apologies in advance if I tweak a raw nerve.

“We are told that men are violent. We are told that Strangers abduct and rape little girls and women. We are told that real men don’t hit women. We are told that men are the heroes to women’s princesses. These things are not true. Men are capable of non-violence. It is rarely strangers that hit and rape women, it is usually people they know very well, fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, even grandparents, sometimes sons. Men are people, ordinary people, just like women.

Men make mistakes. They lose their tempers and they shout. Some men hit out in anger. Some men like to feel powerful by bullying someone weaker than them. A smaller amount still like to grope, molest and rape women in order to feel powerful. And all the time this happens behind closed doors, we tell ourselves that although men are violent, they never hit women. They don’t rape girls and women, strangers do. Women know who hurt women. And they are rarely believed. Everyone is a stranger till you have met them.

I want men to think of a time, when they where touched when they didn’t want to be. Remember what it feels like to shrug that person off, the anger, the pain perhaps, the claustrophobia, the upset all rolled into that shrug, that says “Take your hands off me, NOW”. I want you to imagine that a shrug is not enough to make someone stop touching you. I want you to imagine, you are powerless to stop someone from touching you and I want you to imagine having to endure that, for prolonged periods, with out anyone coming to help you. I want you to imagine that someone is touching you in your most private place, in your most vulnerable moments and you know that you can not shrug them off.

This is what some women experience, some on a daily basis. And the people who do the harm are not strangers, they are loved ones. The Heroes that are supposed to come and rescue women are deaf to their cries. The men who could stop the hurting are silent. Because they are telling themselves the lies: strangers hurt women and children and real men do not hit women. They might also be thinking that what happens in another man’s kingdom is none of his business. But these lies hurt us all.

If you think hurting women is criminal, then you have to say so. You have to be the Hero or Heroine and say to men who hurt women, “NO MORE”. If you see a man call a woman a name, say “Please don’t”. If you see a man grab a woman, say “Please don’t”. If you hear a man brag about groping a woman, don’t laugh, say “Please don’t”. You have the power to stop men from hurting women. These women are your friends, lovers, sisters, aunts, grandma’s and sometimes daughters. These women deserve to be able to shrug someone off, with out further threats of violence. If you believe that women should be able to say “Please don’t” and be heard, then step up and say “NO MORE”.”

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