Thursday, 24 November 2016

A Black Friday for Women

It's Black Friday. But while shops are full of bargain hunters and the introverts amongst us clog the online airwaves, the rest of the world are marking a day far more important than a good price for the latest X box.

Today, 25th November, is the UN's Elimination of Violence Against Women day.

It might come as a shock but the UN website tells us that across the globe, 1 in 3 women experience some form of violence in their lifetime. 

A recent report I read told me that 1 in 5 men in Cambodia admit to having raped a woman. (Cambodia Daily newspaper)

More than 700 million women alive today were married as children. Girls under the age of 18 who marry are far more likely to suffer violence from their husbands. (UN website)

30% of women in Bangladesh report that their first sexual experience was forced. (WHO)

As I read these statistics a few weeks ago for another piece I was writing, I put my head down in front of my laptop and wept. I wept for the women and girls who know no different. I wept at the injustice and I cried tears for the girls who have nobody else to weep for them. And these girls have haunted me ever since. 

These numbers not only alarm me, they make me angry. I find it difficult to understand how women and girls can still be treated as property to buy (not unlike the X boxes and televisions fought over today). I can't bear living in a world that causes so much pain.  Every time I read another statistic, I think of another girl facing yet more violence and injustice and I feel her fear, her pain and her helplessness.

I want to scoop all these women and girls up and give them the life they deserve. A life in which they are honoured, respected, cherished and loved. A life that offers them opportunities of education and careers. A life where they can be who they were made to be without simply having to survive the dangers around them. And, in my small
Worcestershire town, I feel helpless too.

Until I realise I am raising three young men who are world changers.

I'm not a mum of girls. I can't teach my daughters to fight for equality and justice for themselves.  But I can teach my sons.

As a mum of boys, I can teach them to treasure women and treat them with respect. 

I can teach my boys to honour the women and girls around them - giving them dignity and equal status.

I can't teach my daughters how to protect themselves, but I can teach my sons how to protect women. I can teach them to stand up for women when friends are making sexist, uncouth jokes. I can teach them to step in when they see a woman facing violence. 

I can teach them that women are more than their bodies. I can teach them to listen to women's ideas instead of guessing their bra sizes.

I can teach my boys that when we love someone, we don't hurt them. 

I can teach these young men, who will grow up to be husbands and fathers (I hope..) that sex isn't a weapon or a form of control.

I can teach them that, unlike the Black Friday deals of today which will be rubbish by next Christmas, women are to be loved and cherished for life and not simply thrown away when a newer model comes along. 

And so, I realise that there is so much I can do in my small world to eliminate violence for women. 

I'm determined because the consequences if I don't are too far reaching. My young men are reformers in a broken world and my job as their mum is to train them to be those who bring change. 

Black Friday will come and go. Violence against women is a reality every day for millions. And I'm committed to seeing this change. 

1 comment:

Lynn Oliver said...

I know in some countries the use of power in men is accepted. Their world is more violent and the use of force around them is still much accepted in those countries. However in more developed countries we are dealing with a different kind of violence against women.
I feel this growing violence is not one of accepted practice but more a retaliation to much anger insecurity and yes more layers of psychological suffering creating a kind of catharsis of violence from Males. For this we need to understand that Males "are not inherently violent". The idea of simple testosterone at work along with some believed natural proclivity to violence is not true.
This is how it works. Society still much believes boys should be tough. They give boys more aggressive treatment as early as one year of age. Using correct definition of average stress our minds are working on much more than just some situations. I feel average stress is maintained as many layers of past present future experiences problems circumstances along with many weights and values we develop over time from a young age. I feel the belief boys should be strong even with loving parents will be at risk of teachers students others who accept the belief boys should be strong and will give boys more aggressive treatment and less support (another part of boys should strong feeling too much support is coddling boys). This is something we need to understand and create values in our Male children to love peaceful stable lives and see the force used toward them (often) and modeled as not good for mental emotional health. I am afraid in our world even the best parents still want their boys to be tough and will not be able to prevent the accumulation of layers of anger fear preparation for defense along with values related to force to be instilled from their encounters with aggressive others who will be more aggressive toward them. This does not make Males violent but we need to understand how the more correct view of average stress works. As boys they will meet aggressive treatment from others. This is now creating much higher layers of average stress in Males today. Try to see an upright rectangle representing our full mental energy for thinking learning and motivation to learn. Now place from the bottom up many narrowly spaced horizontal lines to represent many “maintained layers of mental work” all of us develop over time from our many experiences fears preparations for defense etc. along with many (some perhaps faulty) weights and values we may develop which act as magnets for more layers of maintained layers of mental conflicts later. The leftover space shows our leftover mental energy for thinking learning and motivation to learn or mental reward for mental work expended. Now to understand where the violence comes in boys are not violent but when we see the upright rectangle more fully we can see where such violence will likely come from. Now go back to the upright rectangle. The length of that free space shows our length of reflection time or think time. As those layers increase toward the top of the upright rectangle they create both psychological suffering and a much shorter reflection time. This then limits the use of mental knowledge skills and better judgement. This also makes preparation for defense and a need for a catharsis of pent up higher average stress from those many layers. While this can create violence it is not uncommon for such higher average layers and a sudden situational stress or conflict to create an irrational possibly violent reaction from a saturation of mental layers or no reflection time. This is where we get many irrational forms of violence in boys and men. The lower the socioeconomic bracket and more time in those brackets the much more modeling and aggressive treatment is used on those Male children later men.