The storm erupted after our glorious leader and sometime beer-pong-playing friend of the minorities John Key said that he thought the speech was "silly" and then trotted out the three words guaranteed to raise the hatred levels of DV/VAW campaigners everywhere, "Not all men..." and thus the firestorm was sparked.
I'm not going to report on the firestorm, we're still dousing the last few embers and surveying the wreckage but instead explain why I personally felt it worth my Friday evening to argue, be insulted and end up an emotional wreck when what I should have been doing is drinking lemon lime and bitters at a party up in town.
As someone who has experienced both abuse as a child and partner violence as an adult, this matters to me on a very deep level. It matters to have a man who is in power recognise the part all men play in making a hostile environment for women. I am around 90kg, I lift weights for fun and I can outrun most people but I still have to tell myself to keep calm, fists bunched in pockets, when I walk to my car late at night through underlit streets. I am a 31 year old jeans-wearing scruff but I still have to put up with strange men assessing my fuckability, rapeability, molestability if I dare to go out on my own in some places. Online, my appearance is picked apart and insulted when discussing topics lightyears away from how I wear my hair. I have the most beautiful, wonderful men in my life as friends but I have listened to them talk about women in the most derogatory terms and it creates a knot of fear and distrust in my stomach because how do I speak out to my friends and tell them how they hurt me? Do they use that language to describe me when I'm not there?
|Just sayin' John.|
Every man who wants to defend the stance of "Not all men" needs to first reflect on the part he plays in this culture. When your mates down the pub are loudly making jokes about rape, are you silent? Do you join in with the laughing? Unless you are actively calling them out on their behaviour, then you're part of the problem. Be mindful of yourself and how you are viewed by women. Be the one to cross the road, press for your floor in the lift first, take up less space on the bus. Until every man makes the effort to make this country a place where women can walk to the shops after dark without fear, then we will continue to see you all as a potential threat until proven otherwise.
That is why so many women on Friday stood up and applauded that speech. That is why so many women argued to the point of exhaustion against men who assume that just because they don't actively beat up their partner that this issue does not concern them. We argued and we shared despite the pain and the frustration because tomorrow, the men playing devil's advocate and arguing that they never hurt anyone will wake up as normal, whereas we women will wake up in a world where we still feel the need to walk to our cars with our keys gripped between our fingers.
If you truly are one of those good men, then you should not have found Cunliffe's words a threat to your selfdom. The fact so many of you did spoke volumes to those of us who were listening.You want us to believe that #notallmen? Here is your chance to prove it to us.
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