In the aftermath of Sarah Everard’s death and her mum’s heartbreaking words, Boris Johnson’s verdict on misogyny is unforgivable and makes Polly Hudson glad she doesn’t have a daughter
It sounds like the punchline to the least funny joke ever told, but Boris Johnson doesn’t think misogyny is a hate crime.
He’s refused to categorise it as such, to give a clear sign to women that, despite what we think, feel, and experience, we DO matter.
He believes that, “if you simply widen the scope of what you ask the police to do, you’ll just increase the problem”.
Not taking violence against women seriously enough would be a horrendous move at any time, but in the aftermath of Sarah Everard ’s death, it’s unforgivable.
I can’t get her mum’s victim impact statement out of my head. Pulsating with palpable agony, it painted a vivid picture of losing a child in the worst way imaginable. I doubt anyone who read it will ever forget it, or – even if the memory of the exact words eventually fade – how it made them feel.
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“He treated my daughter as if she was nothing and disposed of her as if she was rubbish,” Susan Everard wrote about her precious little girl. Despite Sarah’s death, and Sabina Nessa ’s, and the 80 women who were killed by men in between, and all the women before them, nothing is being done. Those in power are spouting platitudes, but no real action is being taken. In 2019 two people died as a result of terrorism, while 241 women were murdered by men, but there is no Counter Femicide Unit.
As much as I hate to admit it, I’m currently feeling very glad that I don’t have a daughter.
Because what are you meant to tell your her? How do you play it? Do you dismay her, destroy her, with the awful truth from the off, so she has realistic expectations?
Or do you pretend she’ll be treated the same way as the boys she grows up alongside? Act like she won’t be belittled, objectified, chased, discounted, talked over, disrespected, laughed at, attacked – raped, killed even?
My neighbour’s daughter started walking home from our local primary on her own last spring, in preparation for the big move to secondary school. I happened to see her trotting past proudly one day, clearly revelling in being so grown up.
Before the week was out, some bloke had shouted at her from a car, leered at her, beeped his horn aggressively. Now she’s scared to walk anywhere alone.
She was allowed three whole days of feeling empowered, independent, in control, before a man robbed her of it with a few careless words. Innocence shattered by age 11. Worst of all? Maybe it’s a good thing.
Now she’s in no doubt what she’s up against. Perhaps it’s our duty to arm every young girl with the cold, hard reality of the situation, so their spirits aren’t entirely broken by learning it the hard way, ad nauseam.
The truth is women can play men at their own games, beat them at their own jobs, know more than them, earn more than them, outsmart them, be every bit as capable, intelligent, resilient, funny, qualified… None of that matters.
They are physically stronger. They can kill us if they want to. Simple as that. Women are screaming for help at the moment. We have been for a long time.
Why isn’t anyone listening, Prime Minister?