Got an opinion?

A brain?

And a vagina?

Stop right there.

You’re already screwed.

If you think we’ve come a long way since the Suffragettes died for our rights, think again. Those rights have been eroded over the pandemic as women were once more forced back into doing the lion’s share of the caring, schooling, domestic stuff at home, never mind the jobs they still had to hold down and the businesses they needed to run.

Everywhere you look, the gammon have gained ground, whether that’s wagging their fingers at us from a political platform or gaslighting us in the boardrooms, courtrooms and even bedrooms where none of us are safe. Online and off, virtual and all too otherwise, misogyny is on the rise as those angry men seek to put us in our place.

That place is, of course, some way lower than theirs, preferably a position that renders us powerless while they get their way. Not all men, of course. Just far too many of them.

The inadequate ones.

The bully who knows deep down that he’s a sorry excuse for a human being but carries on crushing anyone in his path because he can.

The abuser who knows the same but gets off on the terror he inflicts.

The sandal-wearing spiritual sob-story who preaches feminism even as he behaves like Machiavelli’s long-lost twin, fucking a woman twice over as he twists her mind as well as her body…

They hate us.

And like anyone who irrationally hates another human being because they’re a different sex or colour or race, it’s because we scare the shit out of them.

That ducking stool they used a few centuries back?

It’s still here. Only now it’s disguised as a tabloid headline, a social media post, a traumatic divorce in which he somehow emerges triumphant. Possibly even a vicious lawsuit based on a tissue of lies (ask me about that one).

Of course, I now feel obliged to repeat the usual caveats about ‘not all men.’  We know that. There are possibly as many men out there who do not subscribe to the patriarchy as there are women oppressed by it. But, as Dr Jessica Taylor says in her excellent Why Women Are Blamed For Everything:

“As this book demonstrates, misogyny is a thread which continues throughout the social issue of victim blaming of women and girls.”

Yep. Even when we’re the victims, it’s still our fault.

I saw that for myself as I trawled through the evidence and data for my crime dictionary. Women throughout the centuries have been cast as harlots (Mata Hari, anyone?), black-hearted murderesses (cf Ruth Ellis et al) and sirens luring men to their doom (I give you Christine Keeler) rather than the bona fide heroines or targets of male abuse they actually were.

So what’s the answer? I’m not sure there is one. While rich, white men rule the world and their overt misogyny as well as corruption is permitted, the fight is so uneven as to be unwinnable.

As I write this, one of those rich, white men is trying to evict my daughter and I from the home I have owned for twenty years for the crime of not just turning down his overtures but refusing to lie over the damage he did to my property so he could sell his without issue.

In the process, he has dragged my name through as much mud as he could find in his own particular trough of lies. Other men have wagged their fingers at me asking why I didn’t fight back. Hard when you’re busy saving your child’s life but there we go…

We’re back to the fact that the expectation of nurture and nursing almost always falls on a woman, as it has done throughout the pandemic. Interesting to note that it was those countries who had women leaders with just those qualities who did best in combatting Covid-19.

Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t have chosen to do anything different. I would rather save my child’s life than succumb to a narcissistic monster who has a chasm of hatred where his soul should be.

But we shouldn’t have to choose. We should be supported in all our roles. More than that, we should feel free to have a brain, an opinion, a vagina and anything else we want to bring to the party without fear that, in doing so, we risk offending a man who will do everything he can to destroy the lot.