Up Front by Emma Hart


The Song of Angry Women

It's been a rough couple of weeks to be a woman. If the last couple of weeks were a person, it would cat-call a thirteen year old, punch her in the face, get her drunk and rape her at a party, then claim it was about ethics in gaming journalism. Then when she went to the police they'd point out they couldn't un-rape her, ask her what she was wearing, call her a coward, and then sanctimoniously bleat about how no-one respected her. 

I have fucking had it. 

Emma, you say, you seem angry. Of course I do. At this point you're either furious, exhausted, or you've raised Not Giving a Shit to the same level as my cat. The only light in this dark is the kind you get by setting everything on fire. 

It's just possible you haven't heard about GamerGate. If so, well done. That's its own reward. You could read this. Or I guess you could just take my word for it that they're the least successful activist movement in the history of everything ever, geeks whom Joss Whedon and Wil Wheaton think are basically a bunch of shitweasels. 

It's more possible, given all of you are less into BDSM and Canada than I am, that you've not heard about Jian Ghomeshi. He initially claimed that he was being discriminated against by his employer because of stories of his consensual BDSM encounters being maliciously spread by a spurned ex-lover. And this would be concerning, because people do suffer real and terrible consequences from being outed as BDSM practitioners, particularly male Doms. As more and more stories emerge of him being a Grade A Creeper, it seems that actually he is someone who feels okay using BDSM as a cover for sexually assaulting women, or as it's more commonly called, a "massive shitweasel". 

And then there are those Auckland shitweasels who've just got clean away with publicly admitting to serial rape. Everything else is really just the icing on this shit cupcake. Men lie, women tell the truth, everything stays the same, pass the fucking petrol. 

This is the paragraph that would normally be the Turn. This is where I'd start talking about positive things we can all do to make things better, and how we can all support each other. Let's be constructive. Well. I have some ideas. 

The abuse of women, in all its forms, is a serious health issue. It's a genuine threat to our society. It causes New Zealanders to alter their daily lives out of fear. Women's Refuge estimates the cost of domestic violence at up to $8 billion a year. 

There is no Five Eyes country where violence against women doesn't kill more people than terrorism does. So okay. Read our emails, track us, carry out warrantless surveillance, but do it so you can catch people threatening women. Imagine if you were walking down the street, someone yelled "Show us your tits! Hey babe, where you going? Give us a smile!" and a black van pulled over and they were thrown in the back of it and driven away. Imagine if, when you got abusive emails and threatening texts, when you read the comments on any Kiwiblog post featuring a picture of a woman, you could think, "Well, at least you're on a fucking watch-list now, shitweasel." 

There is, of course, an argument you hear, because an argument being completely fucking ridiculous doesn't stop people making it, that men who cat-call women on the street are "just being friendly". Sure they are. And picking them up in a black van is clearly over-kill. No. They should just have to spend the next day "just being friendly" to men. Tell male strangers to smile. That happens all the time, right? 

Also, there are some men who should have to wear a special collar containing an airbag-like device that inflates and entirely encases their head if they say something like, "Jeez, you women are uptight, can't you take a joke?" And it won't deflate until they apologise for being a misogynist shitweasel, and wash all the damn teaspoons in the office sink. 

There are many reasons that New Zealand women got the right to vote thirty years earlier than their English counterparts. One of those reasons is that New Zealand men in positions of power and privilege said, "I say, you know what? You ladies have a point. This is, indeed, fucking bullshit. Let's fix it." 

It'd be kind of nice if those men would step up again today. This is fucking bullshit. Let's fix it.

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