Image Credit: Tim Dennell
Content Warning: Sexual Harassment
This Weekly Nouse marks the last edition of the term, and potentially the last online edition for the year. That last sentence was hard to type with my fingers so tightly crossed.
Yes, with any luck we may be saying goodbye to TWN, a format that has served us so well this past year, and be making the long-awaited return to our much loved lake-side office.
We began this Spring term with a redesign of TWN, courtesy of our Technical Director James. This allowed Muse to fly the nest of our parent publication Nouse and set up base downstairs, with our own distinct section and quasi ‘cover’ that Emily and I have had the joy/ headache of designing each week.
TWN and Muse in general only comes into being thanks to its dedicated team of section editors and contributors, who barely finish one week’s edition before they are back on another Zoom call pitching ideas again.
It isn't always easy, but the beauty of producing Nouse and Muse is that it is a constant. As our original move to TWN format at the beginning of the pandemic showed, the world can change but Nouse does not stop. That is a gift, but it does not mean that some weeks are not harder than others, with this week in particular being more difficult than most.
Walking home. It sounds so easy.
There is nothing new for me to write here about gendered violence like Sarah Everard suffered. There is no novel perspective, no fresh angle. Women die at the hands of men. It happened this week and it happens every week across the world.
97 percent of women aged between 18 and 24 in the UK have experienced some form of sexual harassment, and 80 percent of women of all ages have been sexually harassed in a public space. Some will not survive it. Some will never make it home. But all will be detrimentally impacted in a significant and lasting way.
Whilst working to put together this last edition of TWN, I have spent much of the week feeling angry. So unbelievably angry, as have many people I know.
I am angry about the policing of vigils. Women tried to go out and reclaim the streets, but were told to stay at home and left to reclaim a Zoom call instead. The police advised that vigils would be considered an illegal gathering under Covid restrictions and yet there appeared to be very little concern for spreading the virus as police were seen with their knees pressed into women’s backs, pulling their hands back into handcuffs.
As the police broke up crowds gathered at the Clapham Common vigil on 13 March, they forcibly arrested four attendees for breaching the Coronavirus Act 2020, trampling the flowers laid in respect as they did so.
I am angry that our social media feeds have now turned into make-shift classrooms to teach grown men how to not threaten women. Or, perhaps I'm angry that these lessons are needed in the first place. There is something soul destroying about looking at easy-to-read infographics designed to share tips with men about how not to intimate women, as though it is difficult.
But, mostly I am angry that the discussion about the normalisation of gender-based violence in our society this past week, seems to have created an atmosphere where we are expected to be grateful for any men who are not out threatening women on the streets.
‘Not all men’; the phrase toted by those who want some special recognition for managing to leave their house and not commit a crime. Violence and intimidation have become so routine that we have a society where some men want a pat on the back for having the most basic respect for other people.
This is the bare minimum. To not harass and harm others is no great achievement, there are no prizes for it, they deserve no congratulations.
This is an issue of entitlement. It is about seeing something and assuming it is yours. Our streets do not belong to men, nor do our bodies, our minds or our lives. Something must change and it must change now.