‘But they look so well.’
I hear this often. Along with, ‘you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with them,’ and ‘they seem fine.’
And I smile and nod and say, yes, we really are very lucky. And most of the time I mean it. My sons are lucky to have such a normal life, but a little part of me wants to scream and shout and stamp my feet at the lack of understanding. Yes, my children go to school most days. Yes, they are well most of the time. Yes, they do look perfectly healthy. But they are not. And a hell of a lot of hard work goes in to keeping them ‘well.’
You know when you have a cold? And you have mucus in your chest and throat and blocking up your nose and ears? You know how crap and exhausted that makes you feel? Well, my children live like that everyday. Except they do not have a cold, they have a condition called Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia. It is a rare, life changing and potentially life threatening condition that has already resulted in my middle child losing two thirds of his right lung. But if you read my blog then you’ll know this, I’ve written about it all before, more than once..
But what you don’t know is that it’s taken me a long time to come to terms with their diagnosis. And that at times that process has affected my relationships. I’m not entirely sure if this is down to me, or the people I know. You see, I know no one in the same situation as me and it is so hard to get people who are not going through it to understand. Most of the time it’s fine and when I’m ok it’s all ok. But then, someone may say something insignificant and it’ll affect me. Our fears as parents are all relative, I know that, but maybe, just maybe, I deserve a bit of extra empathy, maybe, or understanding, some kindness. But then I know it’s hard to put yourself in my position. No one wants to imagine their children unwell.
Over the first few months after their diagnosis I know I was at times perceived to be a moody, grumpy person and it became somewhat true. For, if you’re perceived as something, it’s damn hard to fight against it, right? And I’m sure if my friends read this they’d say I was being most unfair – they’d shout that they did, and still do their best to support me. But, in all honesty, I’m not sure many of them really did. And it’s not only their fault, I know this. It’s also because I don’t tell them how difficult it’s been. Or how isolated I felt. Or how anxious I still am. I feel like I’m constantly having to remind people how hard it all is and then I imagine them rolling their eyes and saying I’m blowing it out of all proportion, because, and I quote, ‘they look so well.’
But not every disability is visible. Not every child running into the playground is well.
I’ve learnt to be more honest. And I’ve learnt to ask for support when I need it. But most importantly of all I’ve learnt from the boys to live every moment with utter joy and to just get on with it!
Edit: since writing this post for The Huffington Post I’m actually a lot better!! Some days it’s hard to come to terms with and looking after the boys and keeping them well is all consuming, but a life changing diagnosis is like a bereavement of sorts. It’s always there, but you get used to living with it and you learn to laugh again.
Four weeks ago we got a puppy, and one of the biggest pieces of advice I have received ever since is how important it is for me to socialise my dog. Everyone who knows anything about dogs has said that it is vital to introduce him to as many different people as possible. Men with beards, women with glasses, hats and thick coats…boys in dresses.
Yep, you heard.
And yet if the interview I just watched on the TV is anything to go by, some people don’t think even socialising their children is important. In fact, they think that introducing their child to a boy who wears a dress to school is dangerous.
Are you kidding me?
This couple believe that sending a boy to school in a dress damages the other children in the school through a mix of confusion and horror. They think that a boy in a dress is so damning to their children’s upbringing that they have decided to home school their children and are taking the school to a tribunal to force the transgender boy to wear trousers. They think he is unwell and needs medical attention. That what he is doing isn’t fair because he is challenging views on gender and forcing other children to come into contact with something unnatural.
And I think they can fuck right off.
We live in a world full to bursting with diversity and to deny any child experience of that is dangerous in my opinion. How about teaching children to accept everyone? And that there are no rules about clothing and gender? That the world could be full of empathetic and supportive human beings if only we taught children right from the beginning to empathise with others. Not teach them instead to be close-minded and run away from anything they don’t fully understand.
To criticise the child or the parent for allowing him to wear a dress to school smacks of fear. You are not giving that child any credit. You are not allowing them to be themselves. To trust their instincts. To accept who they are. To accept others. Why not use it as an opportunity to teach your children to accept everyone?
We are talking about children. Children who are all special and unique. Why not embrace that? What are you teaching your children by removing them from this school? From isolating them away and making their decisions for them and controlling their experiences? You are doing them no favours. You are merely excelling in inciting close-minded thinking.
Stop saying how it’s going to affect all of the other children in the school. It’s not going to affect them in a negative way if a boy comes to school in a dress. What are you scared of? That your son may come home and put a dress on? Would that really be so bad?
When I was a primary school teacher I often saw bullying and its effect. Bullying that stemmed from lack of understanding of something, or someone different. Singling out a child who is clearly already facing confusion and opposition for his choices is beyond unkind. And as parents if we don’t teach our children to be more open minded, understanding, empathetic and more accepting then we are failing future generations.
I applaud the parents of the boy in the dress and his school. They are truly child focussed and letting the child lead them. They are not enforcing gender constraints or out-dated rules on anyone and that should be celebrated. Childhood is magical. There should be no judgement. No rules. If a girl likes pink and princesses, then that’s ok, just like it would be if super heroes were her favourite toys. If a boy chooses to play with cars then there’s nothing wrong with that either nor is there if he pushes a pram around his house.
And if one incredibly brave child wants to wear a dress to school then bring it on!
The world is changing and evolving and it is time we all went with it instead of judging and criticising.
Right, I’m off to find a beautiful mix of different humans to help socialize my puppy. He doesn’t care what you wear.
Sibling rivalry: competition between siblings especially for the attention, affection, and approval of their parents.
My two youngest are currently on top of one of those rope-climbing contraptions in our local park. The ones that look like a gigantic triangle tangle of wires designed specifically to alarm parents when their children are at the peak waving manically, whilst not holding on. One of mine is halfway up, and the other (the eldest of the two) is at the top, coaching his younger brother on how to climb and reach his dizzying height. This is a good day, a day where they are friends, a team working together and supporting and encouraging each other.
It’s not always this way.
Especially when you add my teenage daughter into the mix.
Don’t get me wrong, my children are very pleased to have siblings, but sometimes I think they’d rather not have them around all of the time. Rivalry between people who share blood is inevitable. Even the most placid of personalities can be riled by those closest to them and as a parent it can be frustrating and upsetting to watch.
I have two ways of dealing with the disagreements, which mainly occur when my children are tired and drained of any kind of resolve. If my they are physically fighting, which thankfully is not a regular occurrence, then I tend to dive in and resolve the situation, no-one needs to get hurt because they both want to play with the same toy, and anger should never be allowed to erupt and be directed at another just because they’re doing something you don’t like or can’t control. However, if it is a verbal disagreement then I often stand back and wait, for it’s these very encounters where children begin to learn to manage conflict. To understand empathy. To fight their corner. To adapt to situations and manage shit beyond their control.
Imagine we were all thrown together in close contact with people we didn’t chose to be with, made to get along with, share bedrooms with, spend more time with than anyone else. A mix of people with different needs, wants, personalities, and beliefs. People who are competing with you for attention and affection. We only have to watch Big Brother to know how those situations work out. Conflict and rivalry seeps in from day one. Siblings are the starting blocks for dealing with a world where everyone is different. For understanding things from another perspective. For learning about compromise.
Whilst also learning quite rightly that the world does not revolve around you.
My children know this, even more so because of the boys’ medical needs, and I am in awe of the way my teenage daughter is accepting of the situation. And also how beautifully supportive the boys are of each other; they hold hands during blood tests whilst telling the other one that it’s ok, it won’t hurt for long. I’m lucky that something so horrible has brought out the best in my children and dampened their rivalry somewhat. My brother and I were not the same as youngsters. Best of friends now, we fought endlessly as children and exhausted our mother because of it. And the stuff we fought over all seems so petty now. What to watch on the TV. Toys. Winning Monopoly. Again it was illness that changed it all. First my brother contracting a bone abscess and being in hospital over Christmas when he was eleven, and then our father passing away when we were in our early twenties. Landing on Mayfair and going bankrupt was insignificant after that. My brother says he didn’t know how much I loved or even liked him until he went away travelling for six months when he was eighteen and I balled like a baby when saying goodbye. Something he doesn’t let me forget.
Sadly not all rivalries can be contained to childhood. It’s sad when families fall out and siblings no longer speak, but you can’t force people to like each other even if they are related. You can, however, force them not be to vile to each other, but often in these cases things have gone too far, resulting in estranged families who no longer speak.
And, of course, not all children have siblings. In my novel, currently on its fifth and hopefully final draft, three only children seek to fill the space their unborn siblings have left. And that doesn’t end well. Not that I’m saying being an only child is a negative thing, not having siblings doesn’t automatically put you at a disadvantage in life, of course. Being an only child, or a sibling of one, or to many all has pros and cons. And I haven’t even touched on the horror of losing a sibling in childhood, that deserves a blog post all of it’s own. So does writing about half brothers and sisters and the many wonders of blended families, like mine.
There are many angles and things I’ve not touched on here, I know this.
In this post I wanted to focus on rivalry between siblings and how the inevitable fall outs can help teach children important life skills. There isn’t enough tolerance around at the moment, or empathy. The world is a very different place to the one I grew up in and children and teenagers face more challenges than ever before. And I do wonder if parenting now has affected this. Helicopter parenting, tiger mums, over protective adults who strive so hard for their children to be happy that they won’t even let them have an argument with their siblings and resolve it independent of adult intervention.
Yes childhood should be filled with love and laughter and play, but it’s when the foundations for life as an adult are laid down ready to be built upon.
And a healthy dose of sibling rivalry can help do just that.
This post was inspired by the new novel, Blood Sisters, by author, journalist and Sunday Times Bestseller, Jane Corry. Blood Sisters is out 29th June, pre order here now.
Tonight I am sitting on a panel for an event hosted by the Female Empowerment Network. We will be discussing whether women can have it all and stay sane, a hot topic for Mental Health Awareness Week. It seemed the perfect excuse to re-publish this letter, which originally appeared in Bristol Woman magazine…
Thank you for not judging me. But for listening, and nodding without telling me I was being silly. You never tried to fix me. You never tried to change me. You knew I was ill and you knew I’d get better. Even when I doubted I even wanted to.
Thank you for not abandoning me. For sticking by me even though I wasn’t very nice to be around, or easy to communicate with. For spending time with me when I couldn’t be alone. And for leaving me in peace when I needed the isolation.
Thank you for accommodating my paranoia without making me feel paranoid. You made the impossible seem possible and made me feel safe. You allowed me time to process decisions and events and protected me when I was unable to think clearly enough to do even the simplest of things.
Thank you for feeding me. And for making sure my children were fed when I was trapped on the sofa unable to move for fear of waking the baby. For the take away meals and cups of tea. For the juice and the dark chocolate.
Thank you for understanding why you couldn’t hold the baby. Or that you had to hold the baby when I couldn’t anymore. For getting why I cancelled plans and hid away. For still phoning even when I wouldn’t answer the phone or return your texts.
Thank you for calming me down when I couldn’t breathe. For never telling me I needed to pull myself together or that I was crazy. For staying strong when I was weak. For being patient.
Thank you for coming with me to the doctors and talking to them honestly about how I was behaving. For not showing your fear. For looking after me. For loving me.
Thank you for still being my friend, my mum, my husband, my family.
Thank you for giving me hope.
Love, me x
Yes homework should be banned. I have said it before and I’ll say it again – children need to be allowed to be children. The school day is jam packed enough with academic and educational lessons, and in my opinion that is where it needs to stay.
Homework is a complete and utter waste of time. It helps no one, least of all the children and I can say this with absolute confidence having been a primary school teacher and assessment leader who has monitored the impact of homework on children’s learning and their knowledge retention. Homework is often fought against by the children and then it creates tension, which leads to huge battles that only serve to make exhausted and tired children feel even worse about themselves and their learning.
Children are naturally inquisitive and motivated. They just are. But the pressure piled on by the government and schools with regards to their education stamp this out of them bit by bit, until they no longer want to learn and are no longer enthusiastic about school.
Home should be the place where children are allowed to relax, play, and be taught age appropriate skills that serve a purpose in their lives. Swimming, bike riding, cooking to name a few. They do not need to sit down at the dinner table and spend the precious few hours after school with their parents struggling with yet more work.
Homework takes away quality family time. There is no time to go to the park after school, or go swimming or bowling or do anything, because the school day does not stop at half past three anymore. And on top of that, many parents often feel inadequate because they don’t understand homework set and cannot help their children. How great is that, setting something that makes the entire family feel like a piece of crap.
I wish now, just like I have wished for the last few years, that people would realise that children are not work horses good for nothing but doing academic work until they leave school and then have to go out into the real world. They don’t deserve to have their childhood sucked away from them by people who truly believe that bringing a horse to water will make them drink. Throwing extra work down children’s mouths will not turn them all into geniuses. Ask a fish to climb a tree and it will fail, yet breathe underwater and it will excel. What about those children who are destined to be creative? Those who could be inspirational artists or award winning designers? What about those who will excel in the West End or inspire the next generation somehow? How does homework help them?
Being academic is not for everyone. And making parents force their children to consolidate the learning they have done at school is unfair. That is not a parents’ job. As parents yes, of course, we want to and can encourage and support our children through their time at school, but we do not need to become their second teacher. We are their parents. Their carers. The people responsible for helping them grow into independent and confident adults who are not afraid to chase their dreams.
When will this obsession with academia being the sole focus for all children end? When will education teach them skills they could not survive without at adults? Allow for individuality? Allow for creativity?
When will children be allowed to be just that…children? Without a fear of failure. Without pressure. Without stress.
Children are the most magical and wonderful human beings on this planet and they are the only things that can offer hope and inspire change. And change is what we desperately need because the current state of the world is one that is going to require resilience, empathy and compassion in bucket loads.
Take your child to the park. Show them the world if you can. Open their eyes.
And throw the damn homework in the bin.
Diet: a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons. “I’m going on a diet”
synonyms: dietary regime, dietary regimen, dietary programme, restricted diet, crash diet
I bet I can guess how the majority of your conversations are going this January.
Let me see….
Someone is doing dry January. Someone else has joined weightwatchers. Another friend has given up sugar and a different one is rebelling against it all and scoffing everyone’s left over Christmas chocolate.
Am I right?
And yes, all of these things are well and good, and being healthy should be encouraged, but I am becoming increasingly annoyed by the fact that most people are doing these things because they feel pressured to lose weight. Because they have been conditioned for years and years to believe that if they are not slim then they are not healthy or attractive or good enough. The diet industry and advertising work hard to make us monitor every morsel and scrap of food we put in our mouths and then feel guilty and like failures when we do not achieve ‘slim’ status.
And I for one have HAD ENOUGH.
For starters being slim does not equal being healthy. Many diets encourage you to rob your body of vital nutrients, which then, along with having a 95% failure rate anyway, damage your body even further, and make it highly likely that your metabolism will be permanently screwed and you’ll end up gaining weight in the long term.
And anyway, who decided skinny was the ultimate make of body in the first place?
When I meet with my girlfriends the majority of the conversations we have focus on our bodies, and our self-loathing of them. Someone is always trying to ‘be good.’ Someone else is also always complaining about how fat they feel. No one is ever happy.
But also no one ever seems to address their health, mental or physical, with the same level of importance. When we greet each other we say, ‘Oh you look well,’ or ‘have you lost weight?’ Never ‘Oh you look happy today!’ or ‘have you been inspirational lately?’ We always focus on what we look like on the outside and it is ALL wrong. And it is also an unhealthy way to behave as it perpetuates the belief that unless we are skinny we are not attractive, are lazy and greedy and not good enough.
But we are all good enough. Our bodies are the most magical and amazing things no matter what shape or size we are. OK, yes, being morbidly obese isn’t great and in that case a sensible plan of eating and exercise is without doubt what is needed, but most of the people I know who feel like a fat piece of crap are way below the average size of a woman. And yes, I know it’s also ‘all relative’ and about how that person feels about themselves personally, but again, I reiterate, who the hell decided skinny was the goal we should all strive for? When did curves become a bad thing? Who decided curves needed to be photoshopped out of existence in magazines and posters?
If you are doing dry January or are giving up refined sugar then I applaud you, but please do it for your health, and don’t for one minute think you’ll be happier if and when you are skinny. It doesn’t work like that. We’ve been conditioned to believe it does and that skinny = perfection, but I want to challenge that. Body image at the moment is messed up and we are raising a generation of girls who are becoming anxious about their weight as young as seven.
Stop focusing on weight and focus on health. On feeling energised. On enjoying life for it is often too painfully short.
You’re all blooming gorgeous – believe it!!!
This post also appeared on The Huffington Post – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/../../jen-faulkner/since-when-did-skinny-equ_b_14101574.html
Overeaction: To react with unnecessary or inappropriate force, emotional display, or violence.
There was a gif on social media last week that had a man laughing with the words, ‘for every male reaction there is a female overreaction.’ And yes, yes unsurprisingly this angered me. It was a man rolling his eyes at all women and branding us drama queens and emotional wrecks who flip at the smallest of things. And maybe in some way I proved him right by feeling annoyed by it, but the main thing I thought was, has nothing changed? Are women still viewed as these highly strung and hugely emotive, sensitive little souls?
And then I went to Blogfest16 and was proved very wrong. Women are not meek, they are not mild and as Shappi Khorsandi said, they ‘are running the world.’ There were amazingly engaging panels filled with inspirational women talking about issues in a measured and thought provoking way. The panel sessions discussed female presence on line, looked at campaigns strong women have led and are leading and talked about finding your voice when others want to silence you. And yes, by ‘others’ the speakers often meant men, because in their experience it always was white men who were trying to silence them. White men who send threatening tweets and attempt to make these women disappear through fear, by sending vile tweets or leaving hideous comments often attacking the women and their children. Miranda Sawyer described them as drunk men in a pub who should be left well alone, and I agree.
But I also agree that not all men are like this, and that sadly the many who are ruin it for the good ones. But yesterday the good ones joined in. They criticised a phenomenal event for not acknowledging them. They were upset by the ‘man bashing,’ and whilst I concur that bringing men down is never a way to thrust women up, the attacks weren’t personal. They were in context, they were real. Damn right Jess Phillips MP should get cross when asked if her husband is going to ‘babysit’ their children. And hell yes Sara Khan should bash the men who threatened to gang rape her in every orifice.
Mumsnet’s tagline is ‘parenting for parents’ and I know, I KNOW that means everyone – for there are many different people who come under that umbrella – but the event was headlined by big female names and many of the sessions were clearly focussed on women and were obviously going to have a strong feminist vibe. And if you were a man and you attended those sessions then I am not sure what else you expected. And it makes me angry that in an environment that should have been a safe space for women to come together and support each other and scream loud and clear about inequality (many of us technically working for free now until 2017 thanks to the delightful gender pay gap) and for me that was tarnished by the men who felt they weren’t acknowledged or catered for.
The friend I went with is running a blog for her business. She is not a mummy blogger and she knew full well that in some of the sessions she would have to work hard to take what she was listening to and adapt it for her purpose. She expected it to be pro female and strongly feminist, trusted the strong line up, and wasn’t disappointed.
Why couldn’t the male attendees do the same? Of course Mumsnet are going to target the majority of the audience and they do not need the men there, or indeed at home in their own little filter bubble, criticising the event for not meeting their expectations.
Every day women are made to feel vulnerable and repressed and out of place in their lives or not good enough. Women have jobs purely because companies need to tick a box and employ a certain number of females. Mothers are made to feel inadequate for staying at home and raising children. They are over looked for jobs they could be awesome at if there’s a man interviewing next to them. If they judge critically they are seen as moaners, if they are unhappy they will be criticised for saying so.
Sara Khan rightly said that there is ‘nothing more dangerous than a female with an opinion,’ and last night on Twitter she was proved right after I attempted to point out the hypocrisy of a tweet only to then be called a hypocrite myself, with my point being completely twisted and misinterpreted. I was not belittling daddy bloggers. I was not turning everyday sexism around and being sexist. I was not saying men were not welcome at Blogfest. I was trying to point out how this is how women feel ALL the bloody time and get shot down for fighting against it. That isn’t hypocritical. That is the exact opposite. Why the hell we can’t have an event for women about women without having a man complaining about it and trying to turn it into something it isn’t destined to be is enraging. We do not need men taking over everything. I think women would like to keep certain things just for themselves. And damn right they should to.
Blogfest16 for me was diverse, thought provoking and inspiring and I think women are even more wonderful now than I did this time yesterday.
And that is what I am going to hold on to. And I know I am not overreacting when I say that women, we really can rule the world.
Change: an act or process through which something becomes different.
As a writer you’re always looking for a story. Something that fires you up and compels you to write.
And then, every now and again, something happens that makes you speechless and you sit down to a blank page and don’t know where to start.
That happened to me today, in the wake of Donald Trump becoming the President of the United States. The most powerful man alive. Voted in by the merest of margins.
I knew it was a perfect opportunity to blog. To say something profound, and have people go ‘hell yes, this!’ but then I thought…what is the point?
What the fuck is the actual point?
Both Great Britain and America are inhabited by a generation, or indeed several generations, of unhappy people. People who feel they are being failed by those previously elected to run their countries. People who feel they are owed something. Anything. And are prepared to divide their nation and incite hatred in order to do so.
And it sets a precedent. The UK voted for Brexit. The USA voted for Trump. But what next? Many other powerful countries have their elections next year and the insurgents of those countries are gaining confidence in the fact that they may very well be successful.
And all for what?
All for change. Unhappiness is a powerful emotion and one that can and has forced the world to become unrecognizable this year and potentially begun a huge historical momentum for change. People are so unhappy, so hideously full of hatred for their leaders and their lives, that they are putting their faith in dangerous men. Men who – according to the press and many recent reports – are racist, homophobic, misogynistic and vile. These men do not fill me with confidence. They do not make me believe they are going to change the world for the better. They are divisive and unpredictable.
Donald Trump may have had his own agenda and reasons for wanting to become President of the United States if America, but now has a lot to prove, not only to both his supporters and challengers, but to the rest of the world and I imagine everyone is sitting slightly more upright and on the edge of their seats than they were yesterday. They are nervously waiting to see what happens next. Wondering where we go from here.
And one thing I do think we need to look at during this turbulent time is the media and its role in perpetuating both dissatisfaction and fear amongst the many people who voted for these changes. Slowly drip feeding lies and propaganda and inciting hatred and feeding on fear. The fact that Brexit and Trump have won show how messed up this world is and that people honestly think that these outcomes were their only option.
The problem is deep rooted. People feel owed. We have become a world where hard work and respect have vanished and bullying and scaremongering are the norm.
And things do need to change.
And I can say with absolute certainty that Brexit and Trump are not the right catalysts for the sort of change that is needed.
But right now, I don’t know what is.
Having just joined in a #soulfulPR webinar about writing opinion pieces, I thought I’d republish this piece from my Bristol Woman column. Seeing as I’ve been learning about how to be like Marmite and all…
Recently many things have happened in the world, which make me doubt you contain any good at all. And that’s a great shame because your power has the ability to resolve conflicts and create a united world. If only people knew how to handle you.
You work best on the ignorant, on those that feel they are entitled to you because of your content, and that it can be adapted to prove the point they so strongly feel needs to be heard. Do you feel empowered by this? Or when someone turns you in to a belief so strong that it makes them end friendships, disown family members, or even kill?
You make people vulnerable because they often believe you without having all of the facts. And then, when people link you with politics or religion without evidence or having done any real, solid research, you become even more dangerous. But then you enjoy that. Gain strength by feeding people and making them seek out others who think the same, until they form an army of poorly informed, angry and disillusioned people.
These are people who accept the dark side of you because they have mothers, fathers or friends who think in the same way. Or worse…because they are so disillusioned and feeling misplaced that they feel comforted by holding onto you tight. They are enlightened; they have found people who think the same way. They are then led to believe that you are he only way forward, the truth, their destiny. Judgments are made. Groups of people are tarred with the same brush. They then feel they are entitled to you and must voice damaging words in order to reach out to other broken souls.
If only you came with a manual or instruction booklet. Then people would know how to use you correctly. They’d find the evidence and facts needed in order to form you properly. Some people believe everything they read or hear and then try and convince others to think the same.
You could hold so much power and have the ability to change the world for the better, if only people invested in you more and took you seriously.
No one is entitled to you. But then, that’s just my opinion, right?
Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.
The first time I became aware of what it meant to be female I was eleven and in a swimming pool in Exeter. A group of older boys kept leering at me and making lewd comments and it took me a while to realise it was because of how I looked. That they were viewing me sexually. I remember clearly the utter feeling of fear I felt at that moment. And how I wanted the water to swallow my swimsuit clad, pre-pubescent body up.
And now I have a teenage daughter myself.
We talk, often, about consent. About being objectified and sexualised at such a young age. She naively believes, as many ‘invincible’ teens do, that if someone tried to attack her all she would have to do is kick them in the balls and scream. Even though I have told her again and again about how men are, more often than not, physically stronger, and how if someone wanted to rape her she could fight and fight, but ultimately they’d probably succeed.
The thought terrifies me. She knows to go around in packs. She knows to be home before it’s dark unless she is being picked up and to always, always let me now where she is and who she is with. But none of that matters of someone out there decides her body is theirs for the taking.
And then what? As the Ched Evans case horrifically highlights, even if justice is done, and then undone, her life is ruined forever. Her previous sexual choices may be thrown in her face as evidence. She might receive tweets saying she ‘deserves to be killed and abused’ for daring to speak up and speak out.
We teach girls all the time about how to stay safe. About how their actions may cause reactions. What they wear. What they drink. Where they go. Who they fuck.
But shouldn’t we be focussing on the men more? Yes, you heard that right. Who is leading by example and teaching men to respect women? To not be rapists? That no, or silence, means no?
The response on Twitter to the Ched Evans case highlighted the unbelievably vile opinions men have of women and of a young female who didn’t even shout rape, but merely said she couldn’t remember. Men who may have wives and daughters of their own. Or, God forbid, sons. The tweets were repulsive and frightening and made me feel like that eleven year old girl in the swimming pool all over again.
Yesterday’s ruling and response highlighted that nothing changes. Women are still frightened. And men, although not all, are very much still to be feared.