Iona Murfitt discusses the negative effects of activism trends regarding women’s rights.
Women are murdered and violated every day - we see it in the news, hear it from our friends and scroll past it on our social media feeds. It doesn’t matter where you are, or how old you are: identifying as a woman is enough to put your life at significant risk. Is social media helping to protect women, or is it desensitising us to the violence?
Women already take precautions: we wear modest clothing, we don’t go out late at night, we keep our distance from men so that they don’t “get the wrong message”. We do everything right, because we’re the ones carrying the weight of being a woman - society considers it our own responsibility to make sure we don’t get raped. Or lured by a police officer like Sarah Everard. Or killed and buried away somewhere like Gabby Petito.
As statistics show, 43% of the women who are murdered by their partners had been strangled by them at some point in the past year. Even if a woman is not killed by her partner, many women are stuck in emotionally, physically and sexually abusive relationships due to a lack of societal support. Each woman is left to fight her own battles.
However, with the increasing spread of social media, victims and their families could hope for a brighter future for a new generation. Considering how every piece of news can find a forum, women everywhere - such as those on our campus - should feel safe. Rape and domestic abuse should be matters of the past, with young men growing up to respect and stand up for women in vulnerable situations, prepared to do anything to stop mistreatment of women from taking place.
And things look hopeful. Be it Sarah or Gabby, news about female violence has become widespread. Their faces have been seen in every Facebook and Instagram story, re-shared thousands of times. There have been protests, with hundreds of candles lit for vigils. But when the candles die out, people move on, and one name is replaced with another. A forgotten social trend.
The issue is, we have gotten so used to seeing a new face and a new story so frequently that we become numbed by our hopelessness. We react and demand justice, but subconsciously accept that women have done everything in their power to protect themselves. Our society cannot be depended on for change, so we as women have to accept that our safety will always be in jeopardy.
With the recent surge of women allegedly getting spiked by injections in clubs, it’s clear that the risks that women face are becoming unavoidable and perpetrators are becoming braver. In order to make Glasgow safer for women, laws and policies need to be changed to hold perpetrator’s accountable. We need to show that we will continue protesting until the government serves our needs, helping to prevent more women from becoming victims. This cannot simply be done by reposting something on instagram.
A different mindset is needed. Endangering women is not acceptable. This can only be established through education and by emphasising the consequences of rape and abuse “jokes”. While these are often said without malice, allowing such “humour” normalises violence against women. Being an advocate against domestic violence merely online is not enough, it needs to translate into everyday conversations too.
Women are going to continue being killed until this change comes about, and it’s important that we not allow each death to be a mere two-week trend. These women deserve more than to be forgotten. Until our society supports us, we need to continue fighting to end misogyny, choosing to not accept the troubles that we have to face on a daily basis, be it a cat-call on the road or being strangled by a man we loved.
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