Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.
On the day to end violence against women, let's hear from a man for once: Mochama
At these moments when it feels like a cultural change is afoot, men are often conspicuously silent, writes Vicky Mochama.
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I have donated my column tomorrow to let a man speak. This coming Saturday is the International Day for Ending Violence Against Women.
Because I often write about gender issues, my editor naturally asked if I wanted to write about it.
I do not. Not this time.
I am tired of thinking about it. It — that terror that visits women all over the world — is always on my mind.
Sometimes when I walk home in the evenings, I put my headphones in my ears but do not play music. If I'm going to be attacked, I want to hear it but if I don't look busy, I will be stopped. Sometimes, I use the lights of the city streetlamps to track the shadows behind me. If I'm going to be attacked, I want a head start. Sometimes, I scan the street in all directions before turning into my house. Then I dash up the stairs, open the door and lock it as swiftly as possible. If I'm going to be attacked, it won't be because I wasn't prepared.
For every scenario, I have a contingency plan. Not that my plans will spare me. I have been (mostly) fortunate, though millions of women have not been and will not be. Avoiding violence, and preparing to talk about how we weren't to blame, is the background noise of our lives. And that's not fair.
Preventing violence against women has always been the work of women when, by and large, the perpetrators of violence against women have been men. Yet at these moments when it feels like a cultural change is afoot, men are often conspicuously silent.
Perhaps because it implicates all of them. Supposedly good men have turned away from a rumour about a fellow man because that's not the person they know.
Perhaps because they too have crossed a boundary before, or allowed one to be crossed. Maybe their buddy took home a woman who was shaky on her feet.
Perhaps because they thought the joke was funny. Women do be like that, right?
In my experience, women tell other women the rumours just in case, women talk to the drunk girl and do what it takes to get her home safe, and women didn't think the joke was funny. Though we're not innoculated against the patriarchy, women have been doing the work of ending violence against women. We call each other out and we check in with each other. It is not perfect, but at least we have the practice. I'm not so sure about men.
The culture that allowed Harvey Weinstein, Jian Ghomeshi, R. Kelly, football player Aaron Hernandez and so many unnamed un-famous ones to prosper is men's culture. And I'd like to hear how that is going to change.