It’s been a while since I was last writing here, but I always promised that this blog would be an open expression of thoughts that wouldn’t be time-sensitive, and hopefully my daughter can read this one day and confidently say that life has changed considerably. Life tells me otherwise, and here I explain why.
The inspiration for this post was related to my concern surrounding bullying and racism claims involving Meghan Markle, as well as the tragic events surrounding Sarah Everard’s death by a male figure of authority. Whilst reading this, keep in mind that just last week we celebrated International Women’s Day, and in February, some countries across the pond celebrate Black History Month too. Events where the world praises the advancements in equality – ironic eh.
You may be asking ‘why on earth does Aaron feel that it is appropriate to link these seemingly unrelated events together, and to talk about women’s rights?’, but I had a lengthy discussion with my partner last night where we concluded that events surrounding Sarah Everard’s death will result in exactly the same results as events such as Meghan Markle’s claim of racism – absolutely nothing.
I am not a manly man, and perhaps people will call me sensitive, but Sarah Everard’s death made me think about the way women are perceived in more detail than usual, particularly due to my own environment. The other three management members of the practice we run are all women, and I am outnumbered in my house by women. Even as the male there are certain circumstances in these environments that I have to think more about than I should do, in the same way that Stacey finds herself involved in matters relating to racism because she is associated with me.
Let me just say that I don’t want this to be about me, this is about the following:
- Justifying a racism claim as a personal matter because an individual is not perceived as a perfect individual..is wrong.
- For The Royal Family to decide that they are not racist without empathy and consideration when they are not within the minority community..is wrong.
- Having to explicitly highlight that my female colleagues are significant within a meeting for one reason or another, or having to divert attention back to them because the audience ask me first..is wrong.
- Researching taxi firms with car trackers and staying up until Stacey is back in our bed safe, because she broke her wrist last year on a Sunday night and needed a way home from the hospital at 2:30am, whilst I was looking after our 1 year old at home..is wrong.
- Arranging with your male friends to ‘do one-way each’ so that your partners don’t have to be the first or last in any situation after dark..is wrong.
But remember, as a person of colour or a woman, you will be told that this country isn’t racist, and that this country is safe. That is also wrong.
I read online that people fear being called racist or sexist more than racism or sexism itself, and this is so true.
Let’s start with events within The Royal Family and Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. A bullying investigation was launched by the establishment less than a week before the interview was aired due to claims that Meghan had caused difficulties in her working role. Fast forward to the interview, and a claim of racism was made where individuals asked what colour Meghan and Harry’s baby would be.
Let me be clear, Meghan may have been a bully and she should be investigated, and the question about colour may have been a ‘joke’, however, we can’t pick and choose which negative circumstances we wish to investigate because it fits the narrative. If Meghan is found to be a bullying victim of racism, fine, but let’s establish this the proper way and treat both accusations fairly. Equally, we shouldn’t be devoting our whole lives to The Royal Family or be thoroughly against them. Each action needs to be taken objectively, either positive or negative. We find this in everything these days, and I believe the internet is to blame, whether it’s COVID-19, Brexit, a particular party in Government, or anything.
Unconscious bias comes in to play in this situation due to Meghan’s character. She is perceived as an international person of colour who swept Harry off his feet, took charge, and then claimed racism at the final moment after Harry had left the country. We can all take views on whether we do or don’t agree that this is true, but this doesn’t lessen the seriousness of an individual that is meant to represent the country questioning the darkness of an unborn child’s skin.
In regards to Sarah Everard, she was walking home. That’s all I have to say on the matter. She was literally walking home, but she was a women walking home.
Why does society associate an individual’s character in unrelated contexts as an excuse to lessen the importance of other issues?
In both circumstances, I have heard justification after justification about why this is their problem, not the perpetrator, and they’re always from those outside of the minority community.
Meghan is just an awful character, she has serious issues.
Why would Sarah walk around after dark. I think she was wearing tight gym clothes too.
Yes, but I don’t like the way that the EU have set up regulations to dictate the shape of bananas that can be sold in this country. I’m sick of it.
Do you see the links? Does this sound familiar?
Meghan may have been a bully at work, fine, but treat allegations of her being a victim of racism in exactly the same way. Equally, Sarah could’ve been in a different environment, however, the environment that she was in should be ok for everyone. Both women have been targeted by society through no choice of their own in situations where they both should’ve felt safe. The viewpoints in this regard may be in the minority, but they are the loudest, and this is the problem.
- Would you allow your friend on your football team to be called a monkey in the pub debrief because they missed a goal?
- Would you be happy if your partner’s allegations of rape were dismissed because she spoke positively towards the guy in the club when they were both standing at the bar?
You would rightly want justice, but because people don’t personally know Meghan or Sarah, and because they’re not necessarily people of colour or women either, it’s easier to justify that these issues aren’t as bad as they are made out to be using unrelated excuses.
Protests During COVID-19
We saw protests for Black Lives Matter, and we saw vigils held for Sarah Everard, to highlight key issues within society that we as a nation don’t seem to want to address.
Why does everyone up and down the country claim that breaking COVID-19 regulations justifies the force of power shown by those outside of the cause? I don’t hold alternative viewpoints on COVID-19, as I am a full supporter of the lockdown restrictions until vaccination can take place, but we need to have some compassion too.
I say this to address that in the picture below, we have a woman feeling the unjustified force of male figures of authority, where the woman was protesting at the fact that another woman has felt the unjustified force of a male figure of authority.
The excuses for this are COVID-19 regulations. Those that have the ability to stop it say that a full investigation will take place, and didn’t actually stop it.
When people use excuses such as those in the scenario above, my go-to response to such a ridiculous prompt is just as petty, and it has to be because it’s the only way of getting through. It doesn’t even touch on the fact that she shouldn’t have been killed, because the premise is around COVID-19 restrictions. With people like this, my reactive response is ‘well didn’t the police officer that murdered Sarah think of social distancing rules, and was his walk essential?’. How stupid does that sound, but this is the level that you have to go to with people with this mindset. They are so engrossed in justifications that relate directly to their world of the view, that on the surface are based on fact, but are used to disadvantage another fact that they don’t agree with.
Ever tried arguing with a conspiracy theorist? Don’t bother, it’s a waste of time and it’ll result in the same thing.
Equity, not Equality
Finally, throughout all of these events, when loud voices are heard within the minority communities, they do not mean that these people want to be treated favourably. They want a proportional amount of effort to ensure that they have a fair opportunity.
When women say ‘it is all men’, women mean that men (especially those in power) need to do more to ensure that women see the same fairness as men do through society, and they absolutely do not mean that all men are murderers. I think you can only understand that when you’re a part of another minority, and unfortunately this is how ‘All Lives Matter’ became a negative response to ‘Black Lives Matter’ instead of a debate about fairness or equal opportunity across the whole world regardless of which cards you were dealt.
Women are asking for the typical man to consider how a woman may be dealing with an upcoming situation, or a situation that the man is not currently involved in so that they can help mitigate the risk.
Even being a part of an existing minority, I didn’t quite realise the level of anxiety women can face on a simple walk home. This morning on my walk home from the shop a young woman was heading towards me, and I needed to cross the road directly towards her and go past her on the same side of the road to get to the path towards my house.
For the first time ever I consciously took another longer path home that got me out of her sight without going anywhere near her, and I was gone by the time that she needed to walk in the same area. I don’t personally feel that I am a threat, and I didn’t gain anything from this, but after speaking with Stacey in more detail, I now feel that I now understand a little.
I will try to consider situations like these more often in the future, and please keep these conversations going for us men to reflect on where we may have never previously realised!
The End of Lockdown. Yay?
Personally, I am not looking forward to the end of lockdown. I miss family and my mental health has been fragile at times, but our bubble is the only place that truly feels safe.
When we open back up, there will be pubs that I still won’t go into, roads that Stacey wouldn’t walk down, and additional effort/research taken to prove my identity or to allow Stacey to feel safe in a situation she can’t avoid late at night, before she has even left the house.
Hopefully my 3 year old daughter, of colour, will read this in shock and horror, with upset that things were so bad for minorities in the past, but more realistically, I fear that she will sigh and say that nothing has changed.
I am a man writing this blog post from the perspective of how I understand the current situation with my own difficulties as a person in a minority community, seeing similar trends in seemingly unrelated contexts.
To all women, I am sorry that you’re having to deal with this. If you read this and believe that I am wrong in any way, please reach out and help me understand so that I can update the blog post, change my ways, and explain why I was wrong to help others too.