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Women and male violence

Written By: - Date published: 6:10 am, March 15th, 2021 - 37 comments
Categories: feminism, violence against women - Tags:

Sarah Everard was a 33 year old UK woman who went missing while walking home in early March. Her body was found last week, and a London policeman has been charged with her murder. While abductions and murder of women is relatively rare in places like the UK (not so much in other parts of the world), Everard’s death has been a touchpaper that has ignited the ever present anger in women at having to live in a world that is fundamentally unsafe for them simply on the basis of their sex.

That men seem largely unaware of the daily reality for women, or largely unconcerned, is part of the fuel for the anger. In case it’s not clear, it’s not that women generally believe we will be murdered, it’s that the widespread violence against women in society on many levels keeps us in a state of apprehension that directly affects how we behave and how we live our lives. For some women it’s direct, for some women it’s background, but the ground we live on is a society that sanctions violence against us.

Women organised a vigil for Sarah Everard this weekend, and were denied permission by the police on covid grounds. Women went anyway. The vigil turned into a showcase of the dynamics of male violence, with men protestors centering themselves, and the police overreacting to the vigil and taking direct, violent action against the women.

@_ChloeGreen_ 9:22 am · 14 Mar 2021

Just left #ReclaimTheseStreets vigil. I went to connect with women in our shared grief but it was ruined by men’s behaviour — the man who occupied stage with megaphone who wouldn’t leave, photographers + cameramen inches away, refusing to stop and chatting through minute silence.

At an event to honour murdered women and stand against male harassment and violence, men *still* managed to centre themselves, ignore our demands for space and boundaries, and ogle us as we cried and laid flowers. Staggered by the arrogance and disrespect. Just fucking grim.

There’s a lot to understand here, including the underlying dynamic of a white woman’s death getting so much attention when the deaths of women of colour often remain ignored. The background tensions of a year of the pandemic where women are losing ground across society in terms of employment/income and increased violence from men, are fusing into the increasing stressors of a world on the brink of multiple crises. There’s always a thin veneer between the gains we have made in the past and the largely unresolved male violence that some men do and most men won’t stop. Women know what’s coming and we know what will happen to us, is already happening to us.

Liberal feminism, for all the reprieves it gives us, won’t save us, and neither will male dominated left wing politics. If you’re pissed, or scared, or both, please find other women to talk to and organise with. Women hold many solutions to what is happening in the world, and we’re at our best when we come together, talk about women’s business, and then find the ways to power that enable us to act in the world.

Mod note: comments open to women only under this post. If you don’t understand why, reread the post. If you still don’t understand, then sit this one out and listen.

37 comments on “Women and male violence ”

  1. weka 1

    Mod note: comments open to women only under this post. If you don’t understand why, reread the post. If you still don’t understand, then sit this one out and listen.

  2. Visubversa 2

    Every 3 days a woman is killed in Britain. Usually in her own home and by an intimate partner. No candles or vigils for them. 40 years ago women were protesting the inaction of Police over violent crimes by men against women. Here we are again. The problem is – as it always has been – male violence. It needs to be named so it can be addressed.

    • weka 2.1

      I agree. There's been some movement in the UK around getting MSM reporting to focus on and use the language of naming male violence (rather women was victims or contributors to their own abuse), small gains. Something else bigger needs to happen.

  3. Lucy 3

    It doesn't matter what we say – how many vigils we have. Stopped going to protests when i realised if it was a rally against male violence – white men took centre stage, if it was a rally for people of colour – white men took centre stage, if it was a student rally for equality – white men took centre stage. It's as if white men think theirs is the only voice worth hearing – except when you're in the office and the off colour jokes happen or a women is harrassed by your boss, or you're on the street and call for help – watch how fast women run and how reluctant men are to get involved in "a domestic", or a child is threatened by a parent – men never involve themselves in parenting issues!

  4. Sabine 4

    my father used to play a game with us kids with match sticks.

    short looses, long pays.

    And that is the life of women.

    Shortchanged all our lives, women the biggest minority of them all. But i guess if she would have worn sneakers she could have outrun the cop who killed her. Right, cause that is what the coppers told the women of England after her abduction.

    • weka 4.1

      running shoes and street lights vs an interim curfew for men (until they sort themselves out). Because it's not just the women that get murdered and raped, it's all the women that have to even think about this each time they walk home at night on their own. Why is that even acceptable?

  5. Anne 5

    … it’s not that women generally believe we will be murdered, it’s that the widespread violence against women in society on many levels keeps us in a state of apprehension that directly affects how we behave and how we live our lives.

    Absolutely! And some of us had to endure the consequences for many years afterwards.

    The desire to hurt a woman , be it physically, psychologically or by way of destroying their reputation – or all three – is often far more about power, the need to dominate an individual, group or society as a whole, and what is perceived as a threat to their individual or collective ambitions.

    It is particularly prevalent in the world of politics.

    In my case it was covert breaking and entering… hoaxes, set ups and other activities of an illegal nature. It was an extreme response, and it happened many years ago at a time when Cold War paranoia was rampant throughout society.

    A woman who was strong enough to stand up and talk about her beliefs – no matter how moderate they would be considered today – was always a prime target for persecution. A good example was Marilyn Waring who had to run the gauntlet of a vindictive Prime Minister who was, of course, afraid of her.

    Not a lot has really changed.

  6. Rosemary McDonald 6

    There’s always a thin veneer between the gains we have made in the past and the largely unresolved male violence that some men do and most men won’t stop. Women know what’s coming and we know what will happen to us, is already happening to us.

    Thanks for posting this Weka. I too watched in horror as tone deaf and blind cops dragged away handcuffed mourning women mourning a woman murdered by a cop.

    You really couldn't make this shit up….until the last few years anyway.

    Also, yesterday, I was reading how there has been a commitment made to ensure that the mothballed gender self-ID law gets passed this year.

    Yippee. Now men who identify as women will have the right to simply call themselves women and access women's spaces if that is how they feel at this or that particular time.

    "Woman" as a class of person based on biological sex…which is, despite protestations to the contrary, an actual thing for the vast majority of mammals…will cease to exist.

    I think we all should think about that for a moment or two. The potential ramifications of this bill are profound.

    (On the upside…I was cheering on Jackie Edmond this morning as she spoke about improving access for abortion services. She kept using the words "woman" and "women"…almost an act of outright defiance in these strange and troubling times.)

    • Dawn Trenberth 6.1

      Yes I have real concerns about this bill. There are protected spaces for women such as womens sports womens refuges shelters womens toilets because of male violence. This legislation will set us back many years. We need to fight gender stereotypes. A woman should be able to do things reserved for males be a "tom boy" or whatever and a man should be able to wear dresses and high heels. Then no need to change genders.

  7. Matiri 7

    I grew up just south of London and moved to New Zealand when I was in my late 30s. My mother grew up in Tulse Hill and I still have family in Clapham, Brixton, Tulse Hill so I know this area very well. I never felt quite safe walking on my own in the UK, night or day, and would always take the longer safer route, keep looking over my shoulder etc. I have never felt this way in New Zealand and I am 60 now.

    It is horrifying what has happened in London, but they are still in complete lockdown and laws have just been passed requiring the police to enforce the rules. It seems to me that the protesters were breaking the rules and the police were just doing their job but the optics are absolutely terrible. Also the poor girl that was murdered probably should not have been out visiting during lock down. But to be murdered by a police man, the very person you should be able to trust….

    • weka 7.1

      the problem there is that the police have been allowing other protests and rallies.

    • Sabine 7.2

      Also the poor girl that was murdered probably should not have been out visiting during lock down

      And we have so internalised to being the reason of our demise, that even here we almost subconsiously again put the onus on the women for a. not being out there visiting _during lockdown, or at night, at this time a day, dressed the way she was, etc etc

      But to be murdered by a police man, the very person you should be able to trust

      most of the women/persons who get murdered get murdered by people they know or trusts such as a police man

      and that is inherently the problem, the victim blaming, all the while not admitting that no one knows how a murderer or abuser looks like until they meet them.

      short you lose, long you pay

    • Brigid 7.3

      If she shouldn't have been out visiting during lockdown, it was to prevent the transmission of covid either from or to her.

      Not to save her from being murdered.

  8. Mika 8

    Thank you for posting this Weka. We seem to have entered an era where it is fashionable in progressive circles to deny the reality of women's struggle for liberation, rebranding feminism as a quest for equality for "all genders".

    We are losing the language we need to describe ourselves as a sex class. I particularly dislike the dewomanising of language relating to pregnancy, motherhood and reproduction.

    By OECD standards, New Zealand has appalling rates of male violence against women and girls, and yet woman centric language is being purged from our lexicon. How can we fight for our rights if we cannot name ourselves and our bodies?

    • weka 8.1

      I am very concerned about this too, and the fact that it is happening without wide consultation with women.

      • Sabine 8.1.1

        Women get yelled at for not doing it right from either side. Consultation with women? Good grief, what would the world come too. /s

    • Sabine 8.2

      Maybe this is were we as women need to actually say stop! I am a women. I have no issue with this identification.

      is it given away or is it rather taken away? And if it is not good for women how can it be good for anyone else?

  9. Mika 9

    On the other hand I have been really heartened by the resurgance of radical, socialist and Marxist feminism in recent years, especially from our UK sisters.

    There are some great articles on this UK Marxist feminist blog, which I heartily recommend.


  10. Siobhan 10

    Grace Millane and Sarah Everard. Both victims of unspeakable male on female crime. Both tragedies.

    Both garnered world wide media attention and both had vigils attended by noteworthy persons…but it has to be said…not representative of the majority of victims of Male on Female crime.

    Not that its easy to find out the actual figures ..unbelievably "police recorded ethnicity in only a fifth of cases."*

    I fear that by making Grace and Sarah the focus of world wide media we will end up with another #metoo movement…a movement that fades away as it fails to "trickle down".

    To be honest the only time I recal reading (in the international media) about victims who are working class or (for want of a better term) Ethnic…is when they are the victims of a serial killer.


    As the mother of boys, and as someone who has had male friends both murdered and violently assaulted, I also wonder at the lack of sympathetic media coverage all victims get. Seeing as we are talking about a UK crime, we must remember in England and Wales there were 429 male and 241 female murder victims in 2018-19. (Interestingly NZ figures seem more even..it would be interesting to know why..is it that we have more male on female violence or less random gang/knife street violence)


    • Sabine 10.1

      But the question is not so much who gets killed rather then who does the killing. And i think we can agree that the majority of killing is done by men. The majority of killing in uniform – again men, but more and more including women (think soldiers, coppers), the majority of telling women how to prevent their killings is also coming from men.

      And as the images posted by Weka show, that protests/marches/celebrations by men were not met with the same violence by the police force then the vigil for another dead women by women. And i think that is really the issue that we – society – are seemingly having a hard time discussing. The violence by men to keep society in check.

    • weka 10.2

      the point is to focus on men as the majority of perpetrators of violent crime. Name that. The line about more men get murdered than women shifts the focus to the victim and away from male violence. So sure, talk about male violence against men too, but don't forget that male violence against women is quite specific to women and that society is largely in denial of it.

      • Siobhan 10.2.1

        Well, I can agree on that point.

        I'm not sure what you mean by 'Name That'. I think I called it 'Male on Female'.

        If you need a different name…The World Health Organisation call it Violence Against Women. Which I guess is not what you are talking about…Male Brutality seems pretty good.

        And if we are talking about dealing with, confronting or re educating the perpetrators ie Men…it makes no sense to exclude those very same men from the conversation…

        • weka

          Male brutality certainly sharpens the mind. Yes, I think the naming is about pointing directly to male violence and the urgent need for cultural and social change on that. VAWG is an important naming too. Parallel understandings and actions.

          I don't think men are excluded from the conversation (there's some discussion in OM for instance). It's useful to have spaces where women don't have to deal with male patterns of behaviour all the time, including online spaces. There's a whole set of complex dynamics in why that is, but on TS at least, it's clear that the macho politics dominant here puts women off (writing and commenting). Simply including men can have negative consequences.

          • Mika

            It's useful to have spaces where women don't have to deal with male patterns of behaviour all the time, including online spaces.

            Hear, hear, Weka. It's the age old difference between separatism and segregation. Separatism is when the oppressed class (eg women, Maori, black, disabled, gay & lesbian) organise their own spaces to gather away from their oppressors. Segregation is when the oppressor excludes the oppressed from spaces, such as in apartheid South Africa.

            I see many otherwise progressive people misunderstand the purpose of single-sex women's spaces and fora and describe them as segregation.

            • weka

              thanks for those definitions, I will definitely use that.

              People are afraid of separatism I think, some people want us to all be the same (eg the people that believe equality is when you pretend you can't see someone's ethnicity). So many positives to segregated spaces, not just about avoiding the negatives.

    • maggieinnz 10.3

      Thank you for this comment. Both your key points are very well made and relevant here. I don't ever remember a vigil or public protest for victims who also happened to be sex workers or homeless. People of colour who are murdered are seldom held up as victims worthy of outrage. And what of our sons, our brothers?

      I truly believe that until we address violence without framing it in terms of gender we can't hope for a resolution.

    • Lucy 10.4

      Both not women of colour. Wonder if we will have vigils for the 8 women of Atlanta? Did we have vigils for the women killed by the Yorkshire Ripper? We do have an issue when vigils and outpourings of grief are mostly for young, pretty white women as if their murders are more important than the rest of the population. The grief seems to be another male driven thing – when a pretty girl is removed from the dating pool. I know it is not be it does appear that way – if we once had this grief for a woman who was not photogenic I might start believing that stranger grief is not based on looks but is based on a deeper anger about how women are treated.

  11. vto 11

    sorry, just seen the women-only allowed sign

  12. Foreign Waka 12

    There are many issues involved, be it male posturing or the notion that women are like cattle, owned and "protected" by those who with such ease would hit, bash to an inch to their lives, throw acid, maim and murder their "possession". Because no one else can have it, no one else can exercise power. This need for absolute power and domination comes from the glorification of owning land/cattle/buildings/money….and women. This male dominated world with the hunger for it and the illusion of ownership is a means of buying what is at the same time despised in the male dominated world: intimacy and emotion. As long as we want to amass more and more material things this will not change. May I add many women want their men to be top dog so that "their" future is secured. As a human race we truly have a long way to go.

    • Sabine 12.1

      so as long as the wellbeing for many women depend on the male providing women will want a 'top dog' and if it kills them. Cause that is their survival strategy and has been for the longest of time.

      Now look at NZ, women having a higher unemployment % but its not talked about, women losing their jobs faster with nothing to replace it and its not being talked about, women losting
      their benefits if they have a partner, women not even getting unemployment if they have a partner that stills earn a wage etc etc etc, all this is gendered violence by decree and lawfully so and not anyone in power is going to do anything more then paying lipservice. . Women being the poorest – only slightly above the poverty that is suffered b y kids, and our female leader can not see a single reason to increase benefits for these people. We talk a good deal about child poverty, all the while pretending that mothers are not the ones being poor. It is not forcibly men who consider women and children chattel, it is still our laws, our benefit system, our politics that choose women not because they are the best, but because the man can't win, that still refuses to elevate women to more then just the mamal humanity needs to reproduce.

      And i don't think we can just excuse the violence with 'hunter/top dog' theories. Some just like to kill. Some just like to maim. And generally those that do, do so often, unobstructed because all the women who complain about violence usually are neither listened too, or if someone pretends to listen they get told that if they just wear sneakers they could outrun the cop that will kill them. And stealing a car or growing a weed will get you longer prison terms then raping/killing/maiming a women or a child.

      A poster here once asked me if i think all men are rapists/murderers/violent, to which i answered that i don't think so. I believe the vast majority of men are not dangerous, but a good 5 – 10 % are, and becuase no one ever believes women – unless they identify them by their dental records – they can rape, kill, violate with impunity.

      I wonder how many women this particular cop has harmed over the years.

      • Foreign Waka 12.1.1

        In most cases the perpetrator has some sort of relationship or acquaintance with the victim. Add alcohol and psycho drugs, religious zealously etc. and the result is very very volatile.

        What is not talked about is the psychological effect of war and violence in a related setting. Not everybody reacts the same but many are grapple with some form of neurosis.

        Any person has a good core until…..hate is being thought in one form or another.


        • Sabine

          The killer in this case could have pulled the cop card. And if you can't trust a cop whom can you trust?

          And i am not going to find any excuses today that would minimize the deed.

          • Foreign waka

            All in all – not just a cop but maybe a boss, relative, even a parent if you look i.e. at honour killings. In most cases violence against women are perpetrated by someone they know and maybe even trust.

  13. weka 13

    Reminder: comments open to women only under this post. If you don’t understand why, reread the post. If you still don’t understand, then sit this one out and listen.

  14. RP Mcmurphy 14

    our society breeds inequality all over and the weak will always persecute the strong. every year our universities pour out anthropology graduates who never seem to get jobs analysing what is wrong with our society but in the meantime the same old crap gets turned over and over with no resolution and resentment and anger the only result.

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