Words Matter

8th December 2022

There’s always some feminist in the news moaning about something isn’t there?
Boy clothes having slogans like “little mischief maker” on whilst girls say “little princess” or some comedian making a sexist joke. It seems we’re not even allowed to like a good old fashioned Les Dawson Mother-in-law joke these days eh?

But words matter. We know, I promise you we know, that every bloke who engages in pub banter isn’t a rapist, we know that words don’t always lead to actions, that enjoying Iron Maiden singing Bring your Daughters to the Slaughter doesn’t mean you’re going to go and murder women. We know that.

But whilst most men who make sexist jokes wouldn’t even dream of hurting women, you can bet your life that every man who has hurt women has made sexist jokes. The men who choose to behave in abusive ways are emboldened by sexist attitudes from other men, you may not mean it as anything other than a silly joke, but for the misogynist it’s validation.

In the week after Boris Johnson made his “letterbox” comments about women who wear the hijab, anti-Islamic hate crime rose by 375%

Words Matter

Whenever Donald Trump tweeted something anti-Islamic during his presidency there was a spike in Hate Crimes.

Words Matter

Wayne Couzens who murdered Sarah Everard was part of a whatsapp group sharing jokes about raping women.

Words Matter.

Men who abuse look to your banter, to “pussy grabbing” presidents and slut shaming comedians and violence glorifying rap stars and sexualising magazine articles. They look to aspects of our culture that communicate in the smallest, most insignificant ways that women “deserve what they get” or that men are “entitled” to “use and abuse women.” These “micro-agressions” seem like nothing, but they form part of a bigger picture and contribute to a culture where 97% of women aged 18-25 have been sexually harassed, one in four women have been raped or sexually assaulted yet 99% of rapes reported to the police go unprosecuted.

It’s so easy to change this culture to one where women are respected. All you have to do is treat women with respect- even when we’re not there. Speak respectfully about women and call out guys who don’t. I know, it sounds scary to challenge other men, but it doesn’t have to be; it can be as simple as just not laughing when they make that sexist joke; there’s nothing like a joke falling completely flat to make you re-consider telling it again. Or maybe a simple “leave it out” or “leave her alone.” Honestly it makes a difference.

Press Red is an organisation based in Manchester who run an active bystander programme. Endorsed by Public Health England in partnership with the University of Exeter. If you want to learn all the ways you can make a difference to violence against women, why not get a bunch of men and women from your church together and sign up for it?

16days #16daysofactivism #orangetheworld