6266501949_84c2faabe1_bFinger hovering over the ‘send’ button, I can’t count the number of times I have been almost confident enough to offer an article for publication. At that moment, the piece stands on a cliff edge, waiting to be prodded gently into the ‘real’ world to be shared, interpreted and criticised on a bumpy nosedive into the abyss of online commentary. I hesitate, not because I lack confidence in my own capacities, but because the consequences of opining loom large in my mind.

The past few weeks have seen more than a stramash in the womenosphere of Planet Scotland.

The #GlasgowEffect saw a female artist lose days of sleep because of the abusive language on her Facebook page, while a regional newspaper published a picture of her home with no thoughts to her safety. A high profile twitter spat between J.K. Rowling and Natalie McGarry MP have seen both the object of twitter vilification. Scotland’s ever-shrinking mainstream media lost respect in sacking Angela Haggerty at the behest of the Rangers’ board—ironically less than a week after her article detailing the systematic misogyny and abuse she continues to receive from Rangers supporters as a result of her journalism. And in the latest instalment of why being a woman with a profile needs a health and safety protocol, anti-feminist supporters of Roosh V were encouraged to document details of women vocally opposing their network, in order to ‘exact furious retribution’ after an uproar about the ‘gathering’ of his supporters in Glasgow and Edinburgh this weekend.

For many women, publishing their work is a radical act. Barely a week goes by without a story about the alienation of women in media, whether in the reification of their role in society as sex objects who are only important insofar as the label or makeup they wear, or in more extreme cases of sexual harassment online. If we are to take equality seriously, our response needs to take account of the implicit and explicit mechanisms of this inequality.

For many women, publishing their work is a radical act. Barely a week goes by without a story about the alienation of women in media, whether in the reification of their role in society as sex objects who are only important insofar as the label or makeup they wear, or in more extreme cases of sexual harassment online. If we are to take equality seriously, our response needs to take account of the implicit and explicit mechanisms of this inequality.

I am immensely proud of every woman and man who has rebuked the ideology of Roosh V this week. However, I fear that in congratulating ourselves, we risk losing the opportunity to widen the net of discussion on the reality of everyday sexism in Scotland. While contentious figures like Roosh V can cause an isolated bubble of populist furore, it doesn’t take very long for old habits to return. Just as a brief example, on one public Facebook page which declared it was ‘never prouder’ to be Glaswegian after Roosh V’s tweet about vehement opposition to him in Glasgow, it only takes a few scrolls down to see previous posts which belittle and objectify women. Rape is easy to oppose, but what about body shaming?

This is not indeed to shame the admin of this page, since they too are victim and audience to the infrastructure of inequality hard-wired into our system, but instead to recognise the gulf between the silos of self-identified feminists and the everyday experience of sexism which many are numb to. Sexism is insidious; the capacity to discern it is itself a privilege. All too often, possible allies are locked out of the discussion because they don’t have the ‘appropriate’ vocabulary to bestow authority on their contribution.

This isn’t helped by the popular expression of feminism as isolated crusades against a series of male antagonists. Daniel O’ReillyChed Evans, Julien Blanc, Tim Hunt—names whose banality conceal the heated and impassioned debate these personalities have initiated. In such circumstances, feminism gains recognition as people connect over the spectrum of stupidities uttered by these men, while simultaneously, the singular determination to crucify them leaves those who empathise with the men defensive.

Though some may bemoan the advertising the protests will afford Roosh V, perhaps inadvertently pushing more troubled men towards his ideology thusly, I believe he’s also unwittingly handed feminists in Scotland an incredible opportunity—if we have the confidence and empathy to grasp it. This awareness raising campaign could be the gateway drug many need to connect a rape-apologist ideology with the everyday experiences of sexist subjugation. And while my patience for hand-holding men through the rationalisation of feminism wears thinner by the day, I want to match the fire in my belly with the radical strength of empathy and care.

Without the tools to perceive and translate structural inequality and its consequences, ‘get back in the kitchen’ jokes and ‘stand against Roosh V’ events will continue to coexist in the same warped timeline. What if we took this opportunity not to police one another, as we too often do, but to encourage more people to extend their passionate support of this protest to, for example, opposing the monstering and misogyny which stymies female voices? Thanks to Daryush Valizadeh, activists this week have propelled feminism into the timelines, feeds, and news pages of citizens across Scotland. The challenge is now in keeping it there.

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