Get active

// 6 August 2008

Irrespective of the topic I would encourage people to take this piece at Feministe to heart.

Remember: the personal is political.

The more we speak up about our experiences, the more people we find who have gone through the same thing, and the more we can learn from each other, and discover exactly how common some of those experiences are — and thus, understand that those experiences are not our own personal failures, but the result of a society-wide approach to the issues we face.

And the more we speak up, the more other people, who don’t share those experiences, hear. The more information they have, straight from the people affected, rather than the (very limited) mainstream conversation that tends to exclude those people de facto. And thus the better understanding we can all form about these issues.

You are not obligated to speak. You can share exactly as much as you are comfortable sharing. But to those people who feel relief upon meeting another person who understands all of those “private” things that weren’t “relevant” to the conversation before: Speak up. I want to hear you. Start a blog. Comment on other people’s blogs. Make no secret of your day to day, minute-to-minute experiences, even when speaking with people in “real life.”

Not least because this is what men do to women

A woman pushed on to rail tracks by two men she told to stop smoking has said she felt “really lucky” to be alive. Linda Buchanan landed inches away from the 750-volt live third rail at Farningham Road station in Kent and suffered a broken wrist….it appeared she had spoken to the two men about smoking earlier in the week.

Comments From You

chem_fem // Posted 6 August 2008 at 6:59 pm

did you see the front cover of the metro a few days ago too?

Jack Mcgregor // Posted 6 August 2008 at 11:21 pm

“Not least because this is what men do to women”

I must say that that statement is really harsh. Would you say ‘this is what black men do to white people’ if the men were black and the women were white?

Men are obviously more violent that women but this crime was certainly not gendered. In fact a man is more likely to be attacked for trying tell off younger men in public

Sam // Posted 7 August 2008 at 9:13 am

I think it is a little misleading to just say, “this is what men do to women”. Men are almost five times as likely as women to be victims of violent crime *by a stranger* (source:

I have to admit that, aside from unreported incidents, there is another massive problem with this data: judging from the Home Office website (, it does not appear that sexual assault is considered violent crime.

Nonetheless, it still does not seem fair to just say, “this is what men do to women” when the crime linked to is the type of crime which is considerably more likely to be carried out against men.

Anna // Posted 7 August 2008 at 10:17 am

I don’t know if this is the place for it – but I’m guessing it’s as good as any, I just wanted to flag up this on the subject of what men do to women;

It’s part of his job to examine women who claim they’ve been raped.

Safety leaflets and posters are being

He said: “All through the night we work with drunk people and most of them are British.

“Drink kills people, rapes people and destroys the face of England in Greece.

“We don’t like rape and we don’t like our tourists to be raped.”

Drink doesn’t rape people, men rape women.

The poor women who have to have this ass as their examiner after they’ve been raped.. jesus wept.

Vincenzo // Posted 7 August 2008 at 10:19 am

“…this is what men do to women….” – that’s really offensive. You can’t criminalise a whole gender like that and not simply perpetuate gender-centric generalisations – and isn’t that what we’re trying to get away from?

It is not just speaking out that is important, but calling to account those who speak irresponsibly. You should clarify your remark.

Shev // Posted 7 August 2008 at 10:34 am

I think it would be a lot more appropriate to link to the recent killing of Kellie Telesford -> . THAT is what men do to women. This young woman was killed *because she was a woman* and because she committed the sin of not having the genitals that her attacker believed he had a right to access. It probably would have happened if she had had those genitals, and not *allowed* access. In fact, her attacker claims not to have known that she had male parts – as if that were any defence!

This is what happens to women all the time (twice a week, in fact). The case you mention is appalling, of course, but to me (and I speak as a veteran patriarchy-blamer), not all that obviously gendered.

Liz // Posted 7 August 2008 at 10:55 am

Agree with the previous posters – I think the above is a really bad example of ‘what men do to women’. It’s simply an example of what people do to people.

Maia // Posted 7 August 2008 at 11:00 am

Oh Louise, you’ve told the truth and offended menz already! “Men are obviously more violent than women (no, REALLY?!), but this crime was certainly not gendered”.

Not gendered? Okay then, I suppose those two losers would have a pushed a six foot plus, bodybuilt boxer on to the line if he’d told them to stop smoking…? Somehow I do not think so.

Zenobia // Posted 7 August 2008 at 3:58 pm

It’s also unfair to quote someone who was talking about her disability, or more specifically how isolating it can be to have a disability when you believe that people won’t listen to you, and use it to support something totally different which she may or may not agree with. It might not matter to you what the author of the piece was talking about, but it matters to her – in essence, you’re saying ‘yes, great, the disability part isn’t important, what matters is this other thing I want to say.’

And Sam is right.

Kath // Posted 7 August 2008 at 5:58 pm

Sorry Zenobia, don’t agree with you there. I think it’s fine to use someone’s words when they’re talking about speaking out on one issue and say let’s apply this to other issues too. We can all be inspired by activists in areas different to our own. Also I think it’s fair to assume that the author at Feministe would not disagree with people speaking up on feminist issues.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 7 August 2008 at 8:38 pm

It is common practice to say for example ‘this is what men do to women’ and for it not to mean all men do this to all women. Needless-to-say, frequently the media uses the generic term women when an article refers to something negative about women. But there does not appear to be an outcry of ‘you can’t say that because it is not all women.’ Odd then double standards apply wherein the generic term ‘men’ must not be used but it is acceptable for the generic term ‘women’ to be used, particularly when predominantly articles about women and their supposed inate traits are always negative.

Back to the main part of the article – yes the personal is political, which is why it is essential for women to speak to other women about their experiences. I have no doubt those two men who deliberately attempted to murder the woman by pushing her on a live rail track would have hesitated if it had been a man who had challenged them. But a woman challenging these men – what is the world coming to – don’t women know men are never, ever ordered to cease doing something.

polly styrene // Posted 8 August 2008 at 11:32 am

I think Jack has got a point actually. Though the men may have hesitated if confronted with a man built like the proverbial brick outhouse, there are plenty of cases where men HAVE been attacked in situations like this. And killed – like the murder of Gary Newlove who confronted a gang who were vandalising his wife’s car.

The two men in the incident above may not have attacked a man, as obviously a woman is physically weaker and easier to attack, but we can’t say for sure that the attack was ‘gendered’ from the reports I read. Yes, it is true that violent crime is overwhelmingly committed by men, but a lot of the victims are male. Reported crime statistics (which obviously don’t reflect the true picture, since most violence against women is unreported) actually show that the group who report most violent crime is men aged 16-25 however.

Louise Livesey // Posted 8 August 2008 at 12:27 pm

Sorry to round up several responses here…

Jack – no I wouldn’t have focused on race unless race was an issue. But if two white men had thrown a black man on the train tracks yes I think race would have been an issue, just as here I do think gender is an issue. Men hold male privilege and in each and every situation in which a woman is abused by a man that privilege is part of why it happens.

Sam – yes men are more likely to the victims of violent crime but violent crime is defined in certain ways (as you flag up – sexual crimes are apparently not violent according to the BCS and the Police) and we know that many violent crimes against women are those most widely under-reported (like domestic violence, rape and sexual assault).

Anna – thanks for raising that, and yes it’s absolutely the place!

Vincenzo – for me (and I only speak personally) I’d love to see gender disposed of but until we do I will continue to point out that men are overwhelmingly privileged and women are oppressed by our gender system. I am not going to ignore the benefits men have under the current gender system.

Shev – I did flag the Kellie Telesford trial and the appalling comments by the defence barrister already here but completely get it may have gotten lost in the morass of a long post!

Maia, Kath and Jennifer Drew – thanks and yes.

Zenobia – I speak as a woman with a disability and think if my activism in whatever field prompts someone else to get active in whatever area that’s fantastic. The problem we have is not enough people get active rather than saying a post on disability should only prompt action on disability. I made no claim that amandaw would support me or not, I put ideas together that express my ideas.

Leigh // Posted 8 August 2008 at 1:37 pm

Sorry Louise, but I too have to join the chorus of condemnation for your use of “this is what men do to women”. It is what some men do to women. Other men work hard to give up their privilege and support others in doing so. Your statement implied that men can never change and their default treatment of women is abusive.

Zenobia // Posted 8 August 2008 at 2:14 pm

Also I think it’s fair to assume that the author at Feministe would not disagree with people speaking up on feminist issues.

Ha! I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Although in this case, I guess it’s fair enough.

Rachael // Posted 9 August 2008 at 12:53 pm

Sorry but I think Louise is spot-on. It was a totally gendered crime. Those men did that because they knew that the woman was much less likely to fight them off. They did it because they (and most of society) still see women as disposable.

In their minds, they would be less likely to have done that in broad daylight to another man because he was more likely to pose a physical threat back to them.

Yes – we are absolutely trying to get away from assumptions about gender here – but we still live in a highly gender-biased society….and we need to discuss these biases openly rather than hiding.

BigBan // Posted 16 August 2008 at 4:48 am

Oh, Thanks! Really funny. Greets.

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