And it is men, unfortunately. Not many laughs here this week chums. For those that didn’t know, I live in Plymouth and last week the city suffered a mass shooting when someone I am not going to name, killed his mother then walked into the street and continued to shoot, killing four more people – including a three year old child and then himself.
Plymouth is a city but it is quite interconnected. Many of us know people who have connections to that area of the City. My son works in that area and he rang to assure me that he was ok but there was certainly plenty of panic and fear.
We said prayers for the city this morning in church and I found it weirdly reassuring that the minister said, he hadn’t really known what to say to those that he had spoken to who were either witnesses or involved in the aftermath. Lord, never let us just be full of formulas and off pat sayings that “heal” everything. To really weep with those who weep means sharing the feelings of hopelessness and injustice and I think that is important. On earth, Jesus, never downplayed heartbreak, always aligned himself with the brokenhearted and despite always being aware of just what people are capable of, never allowed anyone to give up hope.
I am sad for my adopted city but I am mad as well and, I am going to say why, so, if you think it is neither the time nor the place and you wish to leave, please feel free to do so. You are probably right but who is going to stop me? .
When the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall was asked if the shootings were terror related – he replied that he didn’t think so – they just seemed to be a domestic that had spilled over into the street. I beg to differ. I have a lot of time for Devon’s Top Cop. He seems quite normal and I quite enjoyed the way he slapped down London journalists who more or less asked if Plymouth had the man/fire power to deal with this sort of thing. (Plymouth is costal, serene and beautiful. It is also a nuclear, military city and there are plenty of provisions for what to do in case of attacks.) But, he needs to get with the beat. Hate crimes against women are increasing all the time. And, even more worryingly, they are now carried out by people who have been radicalised online. I am being deliberately careful with the language I use here but I think this kind of language is appropriate.
People like the Plymouth shooter, who are full of self-pity and entitlement and who blame everyone else for their failings can go online and find groups that tell then that the reason they are struggling is not because they can’t be bothered to have a wash and think about someone else for a change – no, it is the fault of women. Women are the reason that these lives are so terrible. Women who don’t want to sleep with them, women who have no intention of cooling their fevered brow and women who should put down their own issues and struggles and be who they were meant to be i.e. someone to serve a man. And, when a woman doesn’t fit the bill? Well she deserves everything she gets and, by refusing to behave, she is also responsible for anyone else caught up in the crossfire.
On a larger scale, today we are watching from a distance as Afghan women wonder what the future holds. Stories about daughters being taken to become fighter brides are already emerging. Women’s education will fall by the wayside – these are men who would shoot a girl in the head to try and stop her going to school – so we have no reason to expect anything else. We probably don’t know the half of the horrors that are taking place. Those in Afghanistan who, mistakenly thought the West was there to permanently support them as they moved to a more democratic outlook are certainly paying the price now.
It has been a sad few days and it will get sadder for those who are affected by the events of this week. Those of us married to men who honour us often owe this to their parents who taught them that woman are equal and worth something in their own right. Those of us blessed to be with these men and, therefore hopefully, teaching their own sons the same principles, don’t really get to keep quiet and keep our heads under the parapet while other women suffer.
It is our place to call other women on. To encourage them in their hopes and dreams. To make sure that they know that they are people with a value outside of their attachment to a man and to call out this self pitying nonsense and misogyny for what it is. And what it is, is a hate crime.