What are we supposed to feel
When the very hands charged with keeping us safe
Are the ones that snatch us from the streets
Abuse our bodies
Squeeze the life from our limbs?
How are we expected to act
When every action turns the finger of blame against us
And every inaction does the same,
Whilst the true perpetrators wander on their merry way
To repeat and repeat and repeat their crimes
Until the worst happens…again?
What will it take for you to listen to the voices
That have been raised and silenced for years
Calling out the lie of ‘one bad apple’
Begging you to see the orchard is rotten from the root?
So, what now?
Because enough is enough.
There is no peace to be kept whilst power wages war against us.
And if you won’t dig out the rot,
Turn the earth and start anew,
We will burn this copse to the ground ourselves.
I am sick in heart, soul and stomach after the revelations of Wayne Couzens’ trial this week. His actions constitute the grossest betrayal of trust and abuse of power. And despite the horror of all he has confessed to, we are bombarded once again with endless lists of the things women should be doing to protect themselves. Don’t go out alone. Don’t go out at night. Don’t drink too much. Don’t wear this or that. Wave down a bus. Challenge a police officer trying to arrest you…?!
The proposed ‘solutions’ to the terrible crimes currently on the public eye are just as ridiculous. More street lighting. Under cover police in bars. handing out rape whistles. ‘Solutions’ aimed at protecting women rather than dealing with the root of the problem: misogynistic violence perpetrated by men. What are we doing to PREVENT the violence happening in the first place?! Where are the education programmes in schools? The community services offering support and early intervention? Where is the focus on shifting our culture away from damaging patriarchal norms that teach little boys that they’re not allowed to cry and must be big a strong (and eventually aggressive) and that teach little girls they must be quiet and subservient and that if a boy is mean it means he likes them? Where is the change in our school curriculums that places equal importance and value on the works of women? Where oh where is the common fucking sense?!
Aside from the absurd advice and the useless ‘solutions’ are the cries of ‘not all men’ and ‘one bad apple’. We know. We KNOW it isn’t all men but HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHICH MEN IT IS?! Because even when we do everything we’re told we should to keep ourselves safe (which we shouldn’t have to do anyway) and even when we put our trust in those we are taught are trustworthy, we end up victims of this violence. And as for ‘one bad apple’ this is patently untrue, when more than HALF of met police officers found guilty of sexual misconduct are allowed to remain in post! That is not one bad apple. That’s a whole blighted orchard.
And, of course, beyond the horrific, disturbing discourse arising from this one case, we have others that go notably overlooked and under reported. Sabina Nessa. Bibaa Henry. Nicole Smallman. The silence and disproportionate lack of outrage in such cases speaks volumes. Misogyny and white supremacy both poison our society and our institutions, from the police to healthcare, education to the judiciary. It is costing lives and limiting our society in ways we can’t even comprehend.
We have to imagine better. We have to create better. We have to DEMAND better. For ourselves and our children and for every generation that follows us. It is high time we dismantle these dangerous systems that inform every part of our society and reimagine the world with equality and compassion at its heart.