HeraldScotland:

A man met a woman in a bar, she never enjoyed that experience and she never wanted to see him again, so instead of this middle-aged married man accepting this explanation, he embarked on a two-year tirade of hounding, demeaning and disparaging her in public. Then when he was confronted about his behaviour, he walked out of his highly paid job. So much has already been said about Piers Morgan.

Watching him on his anchor slot in the morning verbally attacking a woman who spoke out about her mental health and suicidal thoughts, was becoming increasingly uncomfortable for many people. Piers said that the Royal Couple should take criticism in the media storm as they bought into that with their place in society, yet 30 seconds of ripping from a man who is an expert in actual storms made Piers run out of the studio with a petted lip (as we say in Scotland). There has been multiple complaints about him denying a woman’s experience of suicide, who would have thought that was something people did in the wake of #BEkind.

This week has seen a huge outpouring of women speaking about unwanted, creepy and downright harassment from men, and unfortunately Piers’s icky behaviour started to show some awful parallels. Women have been under siege for years from men just for having the audacity to be outside, wearing shoes and going about their business.

I personally have at least 30 stories of fighting off men on buses, in pubs, in the street and just in general and I didn’t think I was a victim, I genuinely thought that was normal. That shouldn’t be normal.

When my daughter Ashley was a teenager, I remember warning her never to fall asleep at a party, never walk alone at night with headphones in and no matter where she was, to call her dad to get her home rather than hang about in the dark waiting for a cab.

HeraldScotland:

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I know that parents of teenage boys can say “We said that too, as boys get attacked as well” and yes, they do, usually by men who aren’t following my daughter through the underpass. I have never heard of young men terrified to eat lunch in the leafy square outside their office in case a rogue woman walks past and flashes her fanny at them as they eat a cheese sandwich.  

I don’t know any men who go running in the city parks and are on high alert for the woman who jumps out and grabs their body and tries to pull them into the bushes. I know many women who have to alter their running pace when they see a lone man standing at the trees on a long empty path in the park.

Women plan their run at certain times of day when its busy enough to have witnesses and no amount of people dog whistling on twitter #NOTALLMEN will make her feel safer. We know it’s not all men, we know good men and we keep having to say in interviews “We know good men” yet women are being attacked, raped and killed by the ones who aren’t good men and we have to stand by and hope it doesn’t happen to us or our sisters and hope the bad men stop.

That really isn’t an easy solution, we have to have men in the conversation, men need to speak out amongst their peers to help move things forward.

Blaming women for moaning about bad men is a toxic trope and used so many times and presented as misandry, it shuts women down from speaking out. When in fact you just have to ask a male and a female in your workplace/family/friends’ group “have you ever been sexually harassed on public transport?” I can say with almost certainty that the females will have at least ONE story and many men wont. That’s not blaming all men.

We know that many men have stepped in and saved many women from a creep at a party, or on a bus or in the park and that’s brilliant and we need our ally’s but that narrative shouldn’t be bigger than “why can’t women go running at 11pm?”

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Thirty-nine years ago, this month, my mum went for a walk with her then boyfriend Peter. He had been previously arrested for attacking her and been in prison for violence towards women. My mum was completely coercively controlled by this man, she felt she had no way out of escaping him. He literally terrified her and would stare out of his window across the street to hers.

She tried to get help, he told everyone she was mentally unstable. I intervened and tried to assist her escape by hiding her in my flat and telling Peter I hadn’t seen her, he sat outside my close for ten hours and my young husband even threatened him. We tried everything, but mum felt she was becoming a burden to us all and went back with him. This is exactly what he wanted.

She went missing for three days over that weekend Thatcher declared we were sending troops to fight the Argentinians, and as the daffodils burst through the banks of the River Clyde that beautiful spring of 1982, my mum’s dead body floated in the dark reeds and undergrowth. 

Peter never got charged, he told the police that mum threw herself in and he carefully explained it’s not against the law for him to witness that and not report it.

The police came to my old tenement in the Calton, leaned against the storm doors and said “We can’t charge him Janey, Peter explained that she was probably drunk or mentally unstable”. I stared at them both and just shook my head.

 I shut the door on the them and at 21 years old I knew that as a woman I would never be safe and men can kill women and nobody cares.