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Katie Toms continues the theme of how to respond to viral emails urging women to be careful and stop themselves being raped/sexually assaulted, sharing with us the email she now sends in reply. Katie writes about music, books, art and gender among other things, for various publications including The Observer, where she worked for two years

To the man who started this viral email:

If this was a real story how come when I do a search on the media database I subscribe to, which has access to all publications written in the English language over the past 30 years – local newspapers, national newspapers etc, there is no record of this incident?

Please don’t send out anymore emails along these lines. Women have enough childcare issues, equal pay issues and a ton of other crap to deal with without your input thank you. We don’t need your help to feel further oppressed than we already are. It is enough that we are made to feel unsafe after dark on the streets and frightened about getting into taxis on our own without more of this kind of scare-mongering. I for one won’t be made to feel powerless and helpless by emails like this and I won’t be modifying my behaviour one iota.

However please do feel free to send round robin emails calling for men to do something about male violence against women.

The reality is that most violence against women occurs in the home and is carried out by a partner or ex-partner:

1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.

Two women a week are killed by partners or ex-partners.

It seems like every day there is another example of a man who killed his wife and children and then killed himself, excused in the media and elsewhere as a result of job losses, economic crises etc.

No-one calls this a gender war, but that is what it is.

In contrast the amount of female on male murders is slight, but always celebrated and hyped, and women will typically receive harsher sentences than men for the same crime. (See http://www.justiceforwomen.org.uk/ for more info.)

Most women know their rapist, yet less than 6% of the small amount of rapes reported in the UK result in a conviction.

Not all men are rapists and murderers, but you don’t have to be a male perpetrator of male violence to do something about it, just as I don’t have to be a female sufferer of male violence to do something about it.

Men need to start calling their gender to account and educating their sons, brothers, fathers and male friends.

I know a handful of men who are actively taking a stand against male violence against women. (See http://www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/)

There should be many, many more.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops.

Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

Maya Angelou