Jess Phillips, saying what she thinks, how dare she. On Question Time on Thursday evening the MP for Birmingham Yardley remarked that the UK was in no position to talk when it comes to the abuse and harassment of women by men, citing the stubborn statistic that two women are killed each week by their male partners, and that women are routinely baited and heckled at night. People were upset by this. Twitter is horrified and appalled, as per. Hmmm. I’m guessing those having a fit of the vapours at Phillips’comments aren’t females who walk through our towns and cities of a night on their own.
The truth is, Jess Phillips’ observations don’t even go near the reality.
On the way home from the gym in the last fortnight alone, I’ve been barked at by a group of men smoking outside a pub – yes, actual adult males, making woofing noises, like dogs; young lads on bikes bellowed “shitty arse! shitty arse!” across the street (my bottom was perfectly clean, I’ll have you know). One man made a pervy comment then when I ignored him he started following, shouting his proposal louder just in case I hadn’t heard him the first time.
All this happens in the street, in the dark. And before anyone suggests amendments to my own behaviour, I don’t drive and I’m not sure why I should require a male escort to walk the ten minutes to my house. This isn’t the Victorian era, you know. Men, if you’re walking down a deserted road and there’s a woman ahead of you on her own, have the good manners to cross the bloody road instead of shadowing her footsteps. If you’re driving past a lone woman, don’t honk your horn at her or slow down beside her, just because you can. Common sense, all this; or so you’d think.
And it’s not just outdoors. In a venue in Liverpool city centre in December, the security guys on the door were loudly judging all the women customers A to F as we walked to the toilets (I’m a C minus, apparently. Must do better.). Twelve months earlier, watching the same artist at a different venue, a man in front of us was watching a pornographic film on his phone, holding it up so myself and other women behind him could get a good view. And by the way – no, I’m not going to stop seeing the artist in question, it’s not his fault other people are dicks. I’ve got a ticket for his next show in March, so I look forward to reporting back on that. Third time lucky, ay?
So yeah, all told, I think Philips might have a point. A starting point, that is.