I used to be so scared of men, I had reasons; a violent father, being raped in my teens, a series of violent and abusive relationships and a system so dismissive of women that we still can’t get paid equally.
So I had good 'excuses' to fear and be angry at men.
But then I made a little one, pretty much all by myself. :)
I had a choice to either learn to deal with my fears and grow, or sit with constant fear and hate.
I wanted to raise a beautiful healthy man.
So I decided to try and learn 'men'.
I sat with men weeping in abject grief over the loss of love, I sat with men uncomfortable in their own sinewed skins, I sat with men and listened of how they had been sexually assaulted, I sat with men and listened at their hopelessness now their children had been taken from them.
I sat and I listened and I learned.
I learned how beautiful and profound and complex men were.
I learned not to always be scared of their grief.
I learned how confused they felt over their loss of so-called ‘masculine’ identity.
I learned that men had a great and incredible capacity of love.
I learned that these great hulks of flesh and bone were as scared of me as I was them. (mostly)
These men became my real heroes. They didn’t have answers or even know how to fix it. They just told me their stories.
And I was lucky I was open enough to hear them.
A few weeks ago, I received this email from my website traffic, from a man who is yet to be held accountable.
‘Hey you little big mouthed slag I egged your car. Did you like it? I know where you live too. Wanna be raped? Fucken coming for you bitch.
Guess what? I'm not from Queensland. My mates aren't either.’
I am not exactly sure why I was targeted but I’m sure it’s something to do with my persistent public campaign to raise awareness of violence against women and my advocacy for feminism online or maybe it was just a really messy broken man-child angry for reasons unknown.
I want to tell you how I shrugged it off and laughed and how I didn’t give a shit, but I didn’t.
My legs felt hollow and my heart was pounding as I read it.
It really affected me and I’m so mad that it did. I didn’t want to give this man the satisfaction of knowing I was scared.
However the truth is, it did.
That one email triggered all the fear I have felt from all the abuse that I have experienced from the past, that really fucked me around for years.
The same abuse that fucked with my relationships because in my fear and anger, I shut down.
You see abusive men actually hurt everyone, from the person to they abuse to their victims families, future relationships and ultimately themselves.
Many men in my past had a hard time understanding why I’d get as upset, or why I would shake in anger or why I couldn’t trust them or why I'd hide under beds when I was distressed.
They had a hard time understanding why casual rape jokes weren’t funny nor why calling women sluts made me freeze inside.
These men had a hard time understanding the fear of being unsafe outside, of feeling sick to the stomach when drunk men started being rowdy, nor even of being scared of football players.
In time and with help from friends, counselling services and talking to kind, understanding men about this, I grew stronger and I connected with men who tried a lot harder to understand or simply just did. I have made beautiful solid friendships with these beautiful solid men.
Then from out of nowhere, a man was threatening to hurt me again.
Why? Because I stood up and I made myself stand out.
I know my so called ‘gender’ roll is to be mild and meek but that never helped me and in fact this silence keeps women in danger.
So I, in a loud and clear voice, am going to keep talking about this till it changes and I need your help.
I need you to talk about male violence against women openly and not be silent.
I need you to support women who have been assaulted by donating to organisations that protect and shelter women.
I need you to please, please educate you children to stand up for themselves and each other.
And I need you to not blame women.
This is my call to action to all the men I know, whether you call yourself a feminist or a equalist, whether you are young or old, whether a women has ever hurt you or left you.
*I call you to answer this man and tell him how you feel about what he wrote.
I honestly don’t want you to threaten him because the cycle of violence then just continues but please just let him know, how his words towards me, affected you.
The thing is, I am not going to give you his email address but it is likely he will read this so just leave a comment.
I do not want to feed his hate but I want to give all of you a chance to reply because I know that this man doesn’t get to win or get the last word.
I’d like you to simply address it…..
‘To Shaun, who threatened my friend with rape and violence…’
*or alternatively if you don't know me personally
'To Shaun, who threatens with rape and violence...' or however you'd like to address it. :)
You see, this man doesn’t speak for you and I ask you, my friends, to speak for the real men.
I am going to use your words as for an art work to juxtapose against the threats women like me receive daily.
I take your hate and I create.
Of course women are welcome to respond. The reason I asked men is that I wanted to offer men the space to respond to these threats, as men are the ones getting the bad publicity.
When I wrote this I only expected that a few of my male friends would respond, I have been overwhelmed with the support from men who I don't know, I have received support from around the world. I feel such an incredible sense of strength and unity every time I read a comment below and so have many other women. Thank you for raising your voices. x
Image by Bianca van Baast