From the Kavanaugh hearings to Philip Green shutting down a feminist pop-up, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by injustice, says Lucy Mangan. But we must keep pushing for change.
As someone in the business of writing, I know what a column is supposed to be. A certain number of words on a topic, one argument followed through a few twists and turns (seasoned with a couple of jokes, if that’s your thing), and a concluding paragraph delivered. But it’s been a hard few weeks.
The Kavanaugh hearing and then confirmation (my fingers weaken with fury as I type this) was almost too much to process by itself. And of course, it is not by itself. It is simply the biggest turd floating on a rising tide of sh*t, comprising things like Philip Green shutting down a pop-up in Topshop for a book about feminism which is aimed at the teenage girls he depends on to make his living; Rebecca Humphries’ letter recounting her partner Seann Walsh’s “controlling” and “hurtful” behaviour towards her; student Melissa Gentz being threatened with legal action by her boyfriend’s family for Instagramming pictures and audio of her apparently being beaten up by him. It increasingly feels like it’s going to engulf us all.
My mind is full of hot, painful, scattered thoughts united only by their subject matter: the scale of the injustice that has been, is being and seems set to continue to be done to women. I sit on the sofa and wonder why we are expected to endure countless rape scenes and shots of broken, brutalised female bodies in all forms of ‘entertainment’, made by people who insist it’s necessary for ‘authenticity’. But when we come forward in private or public to state what happened to us in real life, we are dismissed, mocked or reckoned to be lying.
I drink my coffee and the caffeine only fuels the chattering of my mind. Why would a woman who just wanted to ‘ruin’ a man make up a story as capable of multiple interpretations as Christine Blasey Ford’s story? I lie awake at night and I think about my little boy, all little boys, learning that you can be appointed to the very highest positions in the land whatever credible accusations (or, in the pussy-grabbing US president’s case, audio evidence) accumulate in your wake. I think about how Brett Kavanaugh has started his new job even before Dr Blasey Ford – still in receipt of a torrent of death threats – has been able to return home safely, and about little girls learning that coming forward about a sexual assault can lead to violations that are almost worse.
I think most of all about how the truest thing ever said about the Supreme Court Justice’s non-trial was by his schoolmate: “Brett wanted to be the guy who got the girls and he wasn’t the guy who got the girls.” I think about how much of our world is shaped by men like these. They have a name now (incels) but they, their rage and their appetite for vengeance have been around forever.
I think all this and I try to sift through it for the grains of hope and possibility that remain. Taylor Swift breaking her notorious silence and coming out against Trump to mobilise her potential army of young voters. The men who were demonstrating outside the Senate and those who publicly acknowledged and renounced their place in and their prior acceptance of rape culture.
Above all, there is the hope that when big, terrible things happen, an equal and opposite force is produced. The more overt and blatant an injustice becomes, the easier it is to point to it and say, “This will not stand.”
We will get there. Gather your force. And we will get there.
Images: Getty Images