A comedian I like (Robert Newman in case you were wondering) said that how we treat World War II is indicitave of how we treat all war. Each one has to be believed to be a single catastrophic event, unconnected to that which went before or came after. Otherwise we might notice that we have been waging almost constant war for centuries (I’m paraphrasing. And this will make sense in a minute).
I came to a realisation last night. I don’t trust men. An individual man I can trust. I am married to one, most of my best friends are men. I trust them. But men, collectively, as a sex, as a group? No, I don’t trust them. I get twitchy if there is a man I don’t know behind me in the streets for more than a few minutes. And it’s not because of the ‘big things’: the rape, the abuse, the murder (tho I have seen plenty of these up close and personal, as well as in the news). No, it’s the little things. The constant little things. The street harassment. The guy that grabbed me in a pub. And the other one. And the other one. The sexist ‘jokes’. The dehumanising comments. All of it builds to a background noise of ‘men are a threat’.
And then I thought, why? Why is it the little things and not the big things that built up. It’s because we are taught treat male violence against women the same way we treat war. Each is a discrete event, unconnected to that which went before, or came after. All designed to stop us noticing that, on paper at least, men have been fighting a war against us continuously for ever. We have the casualty figures to prove it. Figures that show that women are more at risk from the men in their lives (and the men they don’t know) than almost anything else.
So yeah. I don’t trust men. And it’s not just the little things anymore. I see the pattern. I see the victims. I see the war.