#indyref discourse highlighted sexism

0a703be0deeedd11b4dcfb327002c4d5I was delighted, and genuinely surprised, to be announced the winner of the inaugural Write to End Violence Against Women Awards in 2013.

Since then, Scotland has witnessed a dramatic shift in its political landscape, including some devastating critiques of mainstream media. Civic Scotland dusted off its ideas and flexed its debating muscles as the referendum campaign warmed up and new voices began to emerge.

Among those who “dared to dream” another “Scotland was possible” were women ready to challenge a macho culture once described as “cold and hostile to women’s lives and values”. Bloggers, freelance journalists, writers, artists and commentators created a new estate of citizen journalism.

The bandwidth broadened, women’s space for debate and critique opened up and all of a sudden it was open season on Scotland’s gender architecture. What the referendum started stubbornly refused to go away and the momentum has not diminished one jot.

Groups such as Women for Independence offer online and village hall platforms for women’s concerns and safe places to discuss them. What most Scottish women have known for years is now part of the national conversation: women are still not equal, get paid less than men, do most of the caring and have less political power than men. There is now growing public concern that children are growing up in a culture full of inequality, everyday sexism and violence against women.

The scandal of these forms of violence has now entered public debate, is has placed new demands on the media to bring their news values into the 21st century. The Write to End Violence Against Women Awards caught the zeitgeist in 2013 with demands the media raise the bar in coverage of violence against women. Now in 2015 there is a growing public appetite for debate on these issues and the old dismissals no longer wash.

People are joining the dots between women’s persistent inequality and the many forms of violence against women such as domestic abuse, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, prostitution and pornography. The prevalence of these crimes is a national scandal with no place in modern Scotland.

And despite the repealing of laws in the 20th century that enshrined women’s subordination, their legacy is a popular culture which continues to demean women, treat them as sex objects, in ways which subliminally reinforce women’s second-class status.

The good news is that some surprising heavy hitters are joining the fight-back. Media campaign, #WeCanStopIt, launched last week saw Rape Crisis Scotland and Police Scotland joining forces to get the message out over rape. #EndProstitutionNow, a campaigning coalition which aims to do what it says on the tin, is fronted by an on-message Glasgow councillor.

Gender is on the national agenda and violence against women is emerging from behind those closed doors to where it should be – right up front in the public eye.

Anni Donaldson is a violence against women researcher. Follow the rest of Anni’s great blog here.

Comments (7)

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  1. leavergirl says:

    You go Anni!
    How about a link to Anni’s essay and those after?

  2. willie says:

    Ending all violence and not just to women is what we should be aiming for.

  3. RYorke says:

    Police Scotland? Are you joking? They were exemplary when I suffered domestic abuse but for disability crime, threats, abuse and being more unsafe than for the domestic abuse they lied to me, laughed, harassed me and entirely dismissed my complaints.

  4. Will says:

    Willie, I agree violence is dished out by anybody and everybody in most cases it’s drink related, that’s why when I found the scary man standing on top of an irn bru crate screaming at auld women was a teetotaler and at the same time encouraging doughnuts to be able to get fueled up on electric soup at football matches to be a tad contradictory. Its no excuse but the idea of some doughnut watching a football match plying himself with electric soup and his team getting beat then going home and in some cases giving their wife a pasting is likely to have increased.

    Two things I would do to promote health and well being in Scotland one is promote in schools the safe use and dangers of alcohol, also increase the availability of non alcoholic drinks in pubs tea coffe etc. Ban at an early age the frying pan culture and I am not talking about its use as a weapon of violence I am thinking more along the lines of it in a cooking sense how many people are boxed at an early age due to the over indulgent use of the frying pan, schools should give lessons in what they used to call home economics or cookery lessons, it is reported that the mortality rate in an area called Calton in the east end of Glasgow is higher than that of the Gaza Strip.

  5. Jean Thomson says:

    Men’s violence toward women is usually imulsive and personal. It should not be compared to the horrible destructive bombing of Gaza by a nation planning the elimination of the Arabs in the way Jews were targetted by Hitler’s Germany.

  6. Ninfa Dugue says:

    Only a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding style .

  7. Douglas says:

    All power to you Anni Donaldson.

    Question: I have a girl friend whose partner has hit her twice. He was taken to court but she intervened to see the charges dropped.How do you convince an intelligent woman she should leave a very unintelligent man?

    Another thing: this summer, a guy hit me with a bottle in a bar in Madrid. I hadn’t exchanged a word with him, I had been talking to his ex, a very intelligent woman – apparently.

    It sounds worse than it was…I managed to dodge him, he grazed my head with the bottle…but I was sitting, and if he had hit me properly, he could have killed me. He ran out of the bar and she ran out after him…

    I got the gen on the guy a few weeks later. He is a journalist who works for a newspaper. He has a coke problem. She has reported him to the police three times for physical abuse.

    Same question again Anni in a different way: how do you convince an intelligent woman that she shouldn’t be running after a bottle wielding psychopath?

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