Paint it Purple

This post was originally written for the Paint it Purple blog carnival (run by the fabulous Pixel Project), but I was too late to enter.

I'm fortunate enough never to have had someone beat, hurt or rape me for being a woman; others I know have not been so lucky. From being struck in the ribs to being touched by guys who can't keep it in their pants, all the way up to rape, I haven't seen it all but I know I've seen too much for me to keep my mouth shut. What's just as bad is that these girls and women have their experiences played down; either society trivialises and outright lies about what happened to them (they say that she "wanted" to be sexually harassed or that she willingly slept with her rapist) or the women themselves try to rationalise what has happened to them, absolving the abuser of all blame or blaming themselves. I know this is anecdotal evidence, but it's all I have and it's what has made the biggest impact on me.

Though I was lucky enough to avoid physical violence, I wasn't spared the verbal harassment that I'm sure affects many women. From being called a slut when a guy decided he didn't have enough decency and self-control not to make sexual moves on me (incidentally, when I tried to tell a friend about it she called him a "joker" and said it wasn't serious - because it's really so funny and trivial when a guy decides he can put his hands wherever he pleases) to general misogynist remarks to people openly talking about raping and killing me, again - I haven't seen it all, but I've seen enough to know no woman should live this way.

I'd like to take a moment to talk about what it's like to have those sorts of words rained down upon you every day - and I'd like to think I'm not dramatising this too much. When people say I deserve to be beaten black and blue for being a woman with opinions (and they have threatened to beat me if I didn't shut up), it's terrifying. It feels like all your rights are being taken away from you at once, that you're no longer a person - and yet you know you should be. It's like the autonomy you had from birth is being taken away from you and there's nothing you can do about it.

Of course, it's designed to intimidate. It's designed to get women to shut up and be submissive - and I hate that attitude in all its forms. If being threatened is bad enough, the actual physical violence must be a thousand, no a million times worse.

I hate VAW and I rally all my strength to stand against it, because I hate women being hurt just because they're women. I hate the attitude that leads to VAW - that women are somehow lesser, that they must be controlled and hurt to keep them obedient. I hate the wilful destruction of a woman's body and psyche because a man cannot bear to see her be strong and independent.

At this point I must put a massive, massive disclaimer. I'm a white, upper-middle-class cis female and I am privileged in ways that I will probably never fully understand. I know how lucky I am and I know that what I've experienced is just a fraction of what others have gone through. Hell, it might even be normal.

And you know what? I don't care. I don't give a shit. I fight with the white, the black, the cis, the trans, the rich, the poor, the able, the disabled and everyone in between or who I've left off because - and I know the privilege I've got makes this very easy for me to say - no matter how different we are, we are all women and we all share the same problem. I fight with those who are even luckier than I am and I fight with those who have gone through things which would kill me because no-one should live in a world where VAW is even an option. I fight against the normality of the verbal and physical abuse of women because normality has no bearing on what is good. It used to be normal for women to marry in their teens, have no control over their fertility, be the property of men, and be unable to vote or own property among other things. A depressing amount of that still holds true in too many countries - but does any of that make it good? No, not in the slightest. And I don't care about the normality or acceptability of VAW; it is wrong and I won't hesitate to fight it.