16 Days

16-days-of-activism-logo300As part of the 16 Days of Activism for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Bella made space for Angus McFaddyen to write this. We offer a space for anyone to speak out on issues of violence against women.

At what point do you speak?

The question has been nagging away at me as the daily drip of news about male violence and abuse becomes a torrent. I feel awkward and inarticulate but as a father of two sons I want to try and say something, even though I have nothing coherent to offer other than sadness.

Here’s five stories that collided to spur me into action, if writing for a blog constitutes ‘action’ at all?

1. Yesterday I read in the Daily Record the reports of Grand Theft Auto switching to a first person perspective – and viewing the clip of the gameplay where a user pays a prostitute for sex before punching her to the ground, leaving her unconscious. It’s also possible to kill the prostitute. It was not so much just the story itself as the comments on the news piece which were shocking. Read it here, and watch it and weep.

The consciousness involved in the ‘game players’ in making this switch, the visceral aggressiveness of the male respondents to the story and the normalisation of this culture is terrifying. As Kirk Hamilton puts it (‘Yes you should read the new GTA V’ :

“You’ve been able to hire sex workers and kill them to take their money since Grand Theft Auto III launched in 2001, but the sex was always in third-person mode and from a relatively distant camera angle. BO-RING. In first person mode, you get to look right into her smudged-makeup-rimmed eyes and hear her say hot, sexy things like “I wanna swallow all of your cum” , “Oh baby I’m cumming for you, you’re the man”, “my clit is throbbing for you right now”, and “Oh yeah, you like me being your nasty little slut.” So realistic!”

2. The unfolding Ched Evans story and the vitriol from fans against anyone criticising the club or the player marking a truly warped world view was astonishing. Evans was released last month after serving half of a five-year sentence for the rape a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in 2011. While the response from Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill – she stated that she wanted her name removed from one of the Bramall Lane stands should he play for the club again – and from the likes of Dave Berry and Sheffield businesswoman Lindsay Graham, who have all resigned as patrons of the club since Evans was invited to return to training, and Paul Heaton who has also resigned as a club patron was heartening, the institutional response, that of the FA and the sentencing policy is as shocking as the neanderthal viciously misogynist fan response.

3. Admittedly in a different league, but the lurid re-telling of the World’s End Pub murders was deeply disturbing. It’s a trope that the media fall into all too often, that the reporting of sex crimes itself becomes part of a narrative of feint titillation.The news that Angus Sinclair’s wife helped detectives bring her husband to justice added a poignancy to the story that has stained Scotland for decades.

4 / 5/ 6 / 7 who cares … after Pistorius, Dapper Laughs now Bill Cosby now Julian Blanc – the deluge of hate is here. It has become a surround-sound of fear and violence. It’s everyday, it’s institutional, it’s societal, it’s cultural.

Is it just me that is more and more conscious of this? Am I alone in thinking this has just gone insane?

As Sarah Ditum wrote of Blanc:

“In the UK every year, approximately 85,000 women are raped and 400,000 are sexually assaulted. As few as one in 100 of these crimes may result in a conviction for the rapist. In this context of systemic sexual violence against women, Blanc’s seminars are essentially recruiting rallies for perpetrators. In with all the pseudoscientific flannel about “game” and “zones” and “vibing”, the only reliable principles a follower can learn from Blanc are those of coercion. That’s why it made sense for him to post a picture of the Duluth model (a chart describing different forms of intimate partner abuse) with the caption “may as well be a checklist #howtomakeherstay”.

Rape, we’re told is now more common than robbery in Scotland following a giant increase in reported cases. Figures show there were 1,690 rapes between April 2013 and March this year – a 23 per cent rise on the previous year. Sexual crime also increased by 11.8 per cent over the period, which was Police Scotland’s first full year of operation.

I don’t know where to begin on this conversation and responding to this. I feel stupidly inarticulate. Part of the problem seems to be that the debate has been being had amongst women about male violence, and that has got to change dramatically.

I know these aren’t isolated cases. I know that everyday abuse is the real issue, not ‘celebratory’ cases, I’m simply using these to be open about my own journey of awakening.

I just feel dispirited at a profound level by the language and behaviour of other men.

I don’t know where to start in changing this other than to raise my sons with respect and joy and to listen to others who have been immersed in this debate for years. I don’t want to be be silent any longer about the culture of abuse that surrounds us all.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign that starts on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on 10 December, Human Rights Day. The campaign hopes to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international level.

Comments (14)

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  1. Catherine Gilchrist says:

    I agrre. We have to educate men.

  2. sam mccomb says:

    What is the effect on young children of drugs and alcohol misuse and violence? The Adverse Childhood Events (ACE) Study is an American study looking at the relationship between adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, witnessing domestic violence, serious household dysfunction and certain health and social outcomes. Children who experienced four or more adversities of these kinds in their lives were seven and a half times more likely to become alcoholic than children who had not experience of these adversities. Boys who experience physical abuse in early life are eight times more likely as teenagers to beat up their girlfriends and three and a half times more likely to carry weapons. Girls who experience five or more adversities are almost twice as likely to become pregnant teenagers. Seven or eight adversities would lead to three and a half times increased risk of having a heart attack by a specific age. What happens to you in very early life predicts your chances of experiencing these psychosocial problems. It also predicts your risk of having a heart attack.


  3. Julie Smitn says:

    Thanks for writing this Angus. As a knackered old feminist from the 2nd wave of feminism I have had many chats recently with my sisters in arms about how we can’t keep doing the struggle. We can’t stop men raping us, we can’t stop men seeing us as ‘other’, as less than fully rounded human beings. We can’t change a world in which men can not only commit acts of emotional, psychological, mental, sexual and physical abuse against us but do so with impunity. There will be no justice.Seems mad that in this day and age we actually have to tell people that committing acts of gender based violence is not acceptable. I don’t know how we got here, and could weep with anger and despair when thinking back on campaigning as a young angry woman in the 1980s and what I thought society would be and what it actually is.
    Women need to get together to affirm our sense of selves as agents in our own lives and to realise our collective power to argue for nor simply equality, but women’s liberation. In striving for which brings about debate and discussion about how all of us need to be liberated to enjoy a life free from oppression. We still need space for ourselves. How men begin to take these issues on, to find ways of discussing them and taking action – well, hopefully ways will be found. Does the White Ribbon movement offer a way of approaching the issue? I don’t know. Different paths will be walked.
    I found this article by Tom Meagher, whose wife was murdered, to be particularly insightful and maybe the start of a process of bringing issues into the open for men.

  4. This is abominable and should never hav been created, the level and frequency of male violence against women is horrendous and to see this as if it is some kind of game is excreable.Violence against males is nothing in comparison and yet I was never helped by either churches I was a member of or the Police to whom several incidents were reported and photographic evidence of bruising etc.The whole way of reporting sexual violence and the prosecution and pursuing those responsible etc etc etc needs to be totally revised

  5. Andrea Beavon says:

    Thank you Angus for your honest reflection on the i articulation you feel, but have heart, there is a simple way forward in that you must never condone any sexist, mysoginiistic comments in your every day world, you must promote women as equals and take a stand against men who don’t. I know this holds you perhaps in the contempt of some of your peers, but remember “evil things happen when good men do nothing” am very proud to see a native Scot honestly reflect as a man, and there will be many like you!

  6. MoJo says:

    well said sir for speaking out – with a dad like you ‘ walking the talk’ your boys will grow up to be a credit to you, so have no fear….. it is parents like you that will make all the difference to the next generation…..

  7. Pat McClay says:

    Thank you Angus.

  8. Jacqueline Gallacher says:

    Stopping Julien Blanc coming to the UK was a good start, I totally agree with you on the reporting of the World End murders, I have accidently heard too many of the gorey details of what they were subjected too. I don’t understand why they have to go into so much detail. There is a great group of professionals got together they are called Medics against Violence, Dentists, Doctors, police, social workers, Vets, aye Vets, animals are usually abused in an abusive household and it can be a sign that the Women and possibly the children are being abused too. http://www.medicsagainstviolence.co.uk They do talks to other professionals to advise on the signs of abuse/violence and how to deal with it.

  9. Thank you for speaking out like this: we need EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US TO SPEAK OUT in the same way, and to allow women who are demeaned, manipulated, violated, to know that they are HEARD. It’s not rocket science, but it DOES demand a radical shift in focus, collectively and intelligently.

    We will change this, slowly.

    1. cricket7642 says:

      ps I totally agree with you Clare!

  10. cricket7642 says:

    Yes, thank you Angus for writing this, for acknowledging how overwhelming it feels to realise how pervasive and normalised misogyny is. It is overwhelming for women too, when we realise that what we have accepted as normal is in fact deeply oppressive and deeply harmful to the wellbeing of both sexes. It can be as serious and scary as physical and emotional violence and sexual assault, or as invisible as speaking on behalf of a women as though the male perspective is the universal and default position. (That’s invisible for a reason.)

    How do we begin to address this, you ask? We begin by seeing it, and by naming it, and by speaking about it. Yes that is profoundly uncomfortable, even painful: for men, to hear it and recognise it, and for women, to take the backlash of rebuttal and denial and resentment and even threats when they awaken that discomfort.

    And it may not seem like doing much, to just write a blog – I disagree: every single time someone describes what they are thinking and feeling, they provide evidence for how our society is functioning. Every time a woman speaks her true perspective and opinion, this adds a drop to the collective ocean of witness; every time a man recognises the scale of the problem and the harm it does, this adds a drop to the collective ocean of witness. Social change only happens when we change our understanding and expectations, and that only happens when we share information with one another. The more we open up the topic of misogyny and sexism, the more we acknowledge the pain that already exists because of it, and the more we are able to change, grow, heal, mend, create a better and healthier society for all of us, men and women both.

    When Bella calls for autonomy, independence and self-determination, surely this must mean for everybody? Otherwise why bother? Why bother demanding a socially just Scotland if you keep one hand hidden behind your back?

    Again, thank you for writing the blog piece.

    1. Beautifully put, cricket7642

    2. bellacaledonia says:

      Thanks cricket7642 – I can’t speak for Angus – but absolutely when we speak of ‘autonomy, independence and self-determination’ we mean in all terms for all people (now). That’s why we brought Margie Orford and Caroline Criado-Perez to speak, hosted Jamie Heckert and so on

  11. Andrea says:

    Good read, frustratingly pervasive attitude. But we should remember that it is all about power and influence.

    How can we ‘get real’ about the issues when politicians can lie and cheat with seeming impunity?

    The male dominated judiciary have to accept a large degree of responsibility for the weird value systems that prevail – and why so many children and women live in constant threat – until they are killed.

    If defendants are allowed to present good character witnesses (pistorious)- then it should be wide open for the prosecutors to show prior criminality or other complaints. (A previous girlfriend’s testimony was disallowed as ‘prejudicial’)

    If previous conduct is prejudicial to their case – then tough luck: that is their responsibility to prove their good character.

    Other victims would then be encouraged to speak out. (such as those violated by savile, harris and co …

    I get sick of hearing of ‘Sports’ people – latter day heroes – getting off lightly for their drug use or predatory behaviour against admiring female fans. – Reported rapes goes largely un prosecuted or barely punished and the victim who dares to report it gets character assassinated with not a care that their rights are being violated again by the established system.

    There is seemingly no civil recourse for victims against defense lawyers who have evidence that their client is guilty – but are not required to hand over that evidence. In any other scenario that would be considered perverting justice.

    That the UK ( Scotland in particular) has a poor record of appointing female judges in this day and age – means that waiting almost 40 years for justice (as in the World’s End pub murders) – is no justice at all.

    How can the law hope to reflect societal values when its own house it not in balance?


    Nothing will change until the ‘rules’ are rewritten to firstly protect – then uphold the rights of victims.

    Whether the victims are male or female.

    Julie mentioned the Jill Meagher case from Australia – there are many others in recent times. The most heartbreaking being the children. Victims of their parents acrimonious broken relationships, and rage.

    Darcy Freeman aged 4 – thrown 60 metres over a bridge by her father.


    Luke Batty – murdered at a public cricket park by his father.


    The Farquharson boys http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/why-did-robert-farquharson-take-an-evil-turn-on-that-country-road/story-e6frg8h6-1227024398116

    it is very hard to be anything but depressed when you have lived with this inequality for long enough…

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