I'm obviously just getting the details of this murder of Ashling Murphy that happened in Tullamore yesterday, so this will be riddled with grammatical errors and might come across as almost stream-of-conscience but you'll get the idea regardless. Now, to all the our female and female-identifying readers - I really hope you are all doing ok. This is truly awful and my heart is with Ashling's family and friends right now.
This post is mostly directed towards our male readership.
There will be a lot of "not all men" going on in the media over the coming days and weeks. I just want you to know that women know not all men attack women and we do not need to be reminded of that. What we are saying is TOO MANY WOMEN.
I love you all of you but right now you really need to sit down and listen to women. We don't need advice on how to stay safe, we need candid conversations about male violence. We need you to start stepping up to the plate. That doesn't necessarily mean being a knight in shining (or dented) armor. That means taking a moment to review how you view and treat women.
Do you call out hostility towards women when you see it? Hostility can come in different forms - sometimes it's aggressive, sometimes it's passive aggressive, sometimes it's calling a woman a slut or slag or even a prude. Sometimes taking a stand for women is crossing the street at night if there is a woman walking by herself and she starts to speed up - so she knows you're not a threat. Sometimes it's just listening. Sometimes it's self reflection. Do you know deep down that women owe you nothing? That it doesn't matter how nice or friendly you are - in certain circumstances you can still be a threat? Women react this way because we have been trained to - we've been trained to "stay safe" so you don't get to act outraged when a woman's instinct to "stay safe" kicks in and your feelings get hurt. It isn't about you.
When women curse your gender for the violence that it commits - this isn't a reflection on YOU as an individual - this is a reflection on male violence. And like always a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.
So instead of going on the defensive about how women are reacting to this violence - and before you start shouting NOT ALL MEN - how about talking candidly with the men and women in your life about how male violences affects everyone? How about realising that 80.5% of suspected offenders of physical assaults were males*? That isn't a stat on violence against women - that is a stat on violence in general.
Like I said - I love you - you are family and sometimes being family means having frank and honest discussions. Sometimes it's hearing what you don't want to hear, it's sometimes acknowledging toxic masculinity has prevailed in society and that it is something that we are all a part of (this is something I am taking note of even in myself). Sometimes it's trusting women to know how to talk about violence that is perpetrated against us.
Put yourself in our shoes:
Don't walk home alone, don't walk at night, don't leave your drink unattended, don't sit in the front of a taxi or uber, pretend to be on the phone, laugh off a hurtful or gross comment, put your keys between your fingers, cover your ponytail, walk in well lit areas, don't be overly friendly in case he gets the wrong idea, don't wear this, don't wear that, don't speak up when cat called - you don't know if he's crazy, don't sit in an empty train car, listen to only one headphone, ask to speak with Angela so your bartender knows you need help...
There are probably a hundred more but frankly I'm too exhausted to go on, and you know what - you are intelligent men - I trust you to get the picture.
Have those hard conversation. Be allies even when it isn't in a media spotlight and support charities and groups who help victims of violence.
Obviously we want to highlight some services you can give your support to*:
ADAPT Domestic Abuse Services is a voluntary organisation which was set up in 1974 to provide a wide range of supports to women survivors of domestic abuse and their children across Limerick City and County.
Clare Haven is a voluntary organisation committed to promoting the rights of women and children to live and grow in a peaceful non-violent home environment.
Cope Galway provide essential support services for people who are homeless, women and children experiencing domestic abuse and older people.
Women's Aid s a leading national organisation that has been working to stop domestic violence in Ireland since 1974.
The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973.
*There is also google - so do some research yourself - women can only hold your hand so much.