Edinburgh group collects stories of violence against women for magazine

// 8 January 2009

The folks behind Edinburgh Reclaim the Night are putting together a magazine aimed at raising awareness of violence against women in the city.

Rachel from RTN Edinburgh writes on Facebook:

There are big statistics out there, saying things like one in four women experience rape or attempted rape in their lifetime, saying that almost no rapes result in conviction, that domestic violence rapes are sky high, that street harassment is a terrible problem. But these statistics don’t really seem to sink in, they’re such impossibly large numbers, it often doesn’t seem personal enough to be real.

However, for those of use who are that one in four, or who have been in or currently are in an abuse relationship, or simply live and walk in fear of violence, the statistics are all too personal. On International Women’s Day (March 8th) women and supportive men will be marching through Edinburgh to show our anger at a culture which would rather allow women to live in constant fear of violence than try to abolish violence against women. To go alongside this, we want to provide a forum where women who have experienced all forms of violence against women can have their voices heard (including rape, sexual abuse, domestic violence including emotional and psychological abuse, street harassment, female genital mutilation, and those who have experiences of living in the fear that violence might happen, even if just when walking the streets at night).

If you’re interested in this idea, then we’d love to put your story into a magazine we want to create and distribute in Edinburgh, to make it clear that violence against women is a problem in our city and needs to change. This is not a pressure, we want to provide a forum for those who want to tell their stories, if you don’t want to or don’t feel ready to then don’t. It’s your choice.

Feel free to send us your story in whatever language you feel most comfortable writing. (Although we won’t have the funds for video, so BSL isn’t possible.)

You can email us your story at rtnedinburgh08@googlemail.com

Alternatively, if you don’t have internet or want to be more anonymous you can write to:

Reclaim the Night Edinburgh

124 Fernieside Crescent

Edinburgh

EH17 7DH

(Urdu and Polish translations of the full explanation of the magazine’s aims, and the call for stories, can also be found on the Facebook group

Comments From You

Rachel // Posted 8 January 2009 at 1:10 pm

Good gracious that was fast! For non-facebookers, you can also find us at reclaimthenightedinburgh.wordpress.com

Rachael // Posted 8 January 2009 at 2:28 pm

Though this is a great idea – the more stats we have on violence against women the better – I believe there is still a problem with men’s entitlement to women’s bodies that is at the core.

Much personal sexual interaction between men and women can border on violent. Sounds controversial? Let me explain.

I have had many generally nice and caring boyfriends and lovers. But there is a definate theme running through the male subconcious of sexual entitelment which has now virtually brought me to the conclusion that I would rather be alone – how sad.

I had a very sexual relationship with an ex. I am a very sexual woman. On one occasion though, I did not want sex. He then said…”perhaps I should…no, you would kill me”!! In other words he meant (and confirmed by him later) – rape me (though of course – he put it, “do it anyway”).

Another example. This time, a lover. He got on top of me and tried to kiss me – “warm me up”. I had to say no three times before he stopped. After, we discussed it. He said “Well, you know – sometimes a woman says no but you carry on touching her until she kind of lets you carry on”!!! I replied that I would NEVER try to carry on if a man said no..and that is the difference.

Now – I am not suggesting that in either of these examples, I was raped. However – these and similar comments have come from many other of my sexual partners (men because I am heterosexual) and show a real need to get to the nub of this issue.

This is that men feel totally over-entitled to women’s bodies sexually and that if – in ANY circumstance – we withold them, they feel entitled to take what they are “owed”.

I am not going to say that “all men are rapists” – but this sense of entitlemt does show that this is not just a few messed-up individuals (as some have suggested – even on this site). That it is a cultural and society-wide problem that needs addressing at it’s roots – our socialization of our children.

Initiatives to prevent rape are amazing – and having worked in these areas, I would never critsize the stellar work done. But it is the beginnings of male-entitlement that we must tackle – not just the end results.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 8 January 2009 at 4:13 pm

Quite agree we must go to the root of the problem and that is the increasing widespread belief that being male entitles them to have unlimited sexual access to female partners/female dates/female acquaintances/female work colleagues/females walking out in public etc. etc. It is called the male sexual script and it is this which needs to be challenged.

Rape is never rape when the man says ‘but I thought you didn’t mean it when you said no.’ Or, ‘I thought I knew exactly what you wanted even though you didn’t say.’ It is not a case of miscommunication or some individual men being deviant rather it is the normalisation and acceptance that men are entitled to take what is presumed to be theirs by right – sexual access to any woman’s or girl’s body.

Men and boys do not own women’s and girls’ sexualities or their bodies but this simple fact is still ignored and instead we have claims ‘but she didn’t state clearly enough her intentions,’ or ‘it was just a miscommunication problem.’ All excuses used to minimalise and excuse men’s sexual assault and rape of women and girls.

Would men and boys passively accept and condone another man’s or boy’s right to steal their money, property, clothing or even to attempt to sexually assault them? Of course not because men unlike women have been accorded male sexual ownership and autonomy of their bodies. So, why cannot so many men and boys not accept and understand that women’s and girls’ bodies do not belong to males but to the female individual.

One answer is because acknowledging how male sexual entitlement operates means seeing how male power and entitlement operates both on a societal and individual level. Now that is a huge challenge but it can be done if we refuse to condone and accept men’s and boys’ unlimited right of sexual access to women and girls. Put the focus where it belongs with male responsibility and accountability for their sexual behaviour and actions.

Rachael // Posted 9 January 2009 at 2:20 pm

Jennifer Drew: Thanks! You put it better than I did!

I am sooo tired of men believing they have an absolute right to my body! And you are spot-on that acknowledging their entitlement means acknowledging the overall hold patriarchy has on society.

When I look back…I can can honestly not recall less than two of my partners/lovers whom has not had some sense of sexual entitlement over me.

And even worse – once I began to name it (and I think the male sexual script is apt.) I suddenly became “angry” or “demanding” in expecting better.

Women are steeped in male sexual entitlement – other women have made excuses for my lovers when I have verbalized my anger to them – but I guess we are all victims of the patriarchial propaganga! And I also realize that acknowledging my anger would mean that they too, would have to acknowledge their own.

Lisa May // Posted 13 January 2009 at 4:16 am

I agree with all the strongly felt statements here but haven’t we feminists been trying to improve things for women for decades and generations nad eons? Will we ever really get anywhere? Or is it one step forward, two steps backwards?

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