It’s a bit of an understatement to say that the news has been hard to handle recently. From the deaths of Sarah Everard and Wenjing Xu to the revelations about the abuse and indignity suffered by Meghen Markel, it made the existence of International Women’s Day feel even more pertinent. As if that weren’t bad enough, the handling of the vigil by the police and their disrespect at the murder scene only increased the sense of anger, fear and frustration felt by women all over the world. It made me feel far removed from my home, from my friends, and it made me feel helpless. What can I do in the face of this problem that is so deeply entrenched in society?
I’ve noticed that my stories swirl around these themes. A lesbian whose mother is ashamed of her, a woman struggling with ageing and the decision to have children, how we should challenge assumptions about appearance and value. Abuse, miscarriage, loneliness, isolation, these are all things that my stories and articles have revolved around.
Sometimes I wonder why my stories are so dark. Why can’t I write something cheery for a change? But I think that, for me, writing isn’t just about telling stories. It’s also about amplifying voices and issues that are often ignored and sidelined. Sometimes about working through difficult things I’ve experienced myself.
But it doesn’t feel like enough. Every year I vow to be a better activist, to do more than vent my frustrations at my friends or at the screen in front of me when I write. So I’m writing this blog in the hope that it will help me be more accountable, more visible in my quest to help bring about positive change.
I’ve signed up to one thing. The wonderful Lulu Allison has been doing ‘Haturday‘ for an entire year since lockdown started. She’s been raising money for RISE, a charity that supports those who are fleeing domestic abuse. After researching the topic for her book Twice the Speed of Dark she decided she wanted to support and raise awareness for the real victims of this abuse. You can support her campaign here.
I’m also telling you about this because I’d like you to help. It’s estimated that, thanks to lockdown exacerbating domestic violence, some 150 women have already died this year at the hands of their abusers. To raise awareness of this awful statistic, she’s making a hat with 150 separate elements. And she needs our help. I’ve pledged to contribute something to the piece that will share my horror at this tragic loss of life and the continued failure by government and society to do much about it. Please help out. She needs 150 items to make into one hat to highlight the tragedies happening weekly in our homes.
I’m going to resume listening to all the feminist podcasts I said I didn’t have time for, and actually go to the sites they mention, actually share and contribute to the causes that I know make a difference, have already made a difference. People far more driven and committed than me are doing more than writing stories and at least I can help them do that.
One final pledge is that I will write a blog in September, cataloging all the wonderful organisations I’ve come across and sharing them with you. It’s not much, certainly not in the face of what others do, but it’s something.
Look out on social media for my shares as I’ll be looking out for ways you can support these issues too.
It shouldn’t have to be said but stay safe on the streets and look after each other.
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