Earlier in March 2021, a 33-year-old woman in the London UK area was walking home at night when she was kidnapped and murdered. The body of Sarah Everard was found about a week later dumped in a builders bag, mutilated enough that she had to be identified using dental records.
The murder caused great anger in both the public and the media in the UK. One cause of the anger was that a police officer was charged with the murder of Everard, raising a sense of betrayal and vulnerability, that the very agents of safety in society (police officers) had become the predator. A second cause of anger was the initial reaction of authority figures that women should not be walking the streets alone, which quite rightly inflamed the anger of women about a limitation on their rights based upon gender. The situation was further inflamed when a protest by women about the issues around the murder resulted in police action to enforce covid restrictions; leading to emotionally well timed photo opportunities showing police officers holding down and restraining women, reinforcing the two initial causes of the anger around the murder. The police officers suffered unreasonable criticisms by politicians for doing the job of enforcing covid lockdown laws that the same politicians told them to enforce.
When one takes an objective step back from the emotional turmoil that the murder of Everard has caused, what then is it that society is demanding? And, are these demands possible to meet? Two themes that I observe is a demand of the rights of women to walk the streets of the UK unmolested, and a demand that something must be done about violent men. There has to be a realism here that some demands can and will never be met.
The reality is that the streets of the UK are unsafe for everyone, not just women. As a male, I have suffered attacks on the streets, and have been chased a number of times by either individuals or gangs of people in unprovoked attacks. During the pre-lockdown era I often read in the local media of unprovoked attacks on males late at night or the early hours of the morning, leading to deaths and serious injuries. I am dealing with the case of a little boy who was kidnapped on his way home from school by an organised group of male and female religious fanatics. It is unrealistic to ask for the streets to be safe just for women, since the attacks and kidnappings impact all genders and ages; and the police are on the frontline to make this happen.
Everyone has a right to feel safe from kidnap and murder on the UK streets. To be objective, it is a rare situation that an individual is kidnapped and murdered in the UK, especially of women and children. Alas, there is not much difference between the level of violence today as it was in the newspaper reports that I have read in the Victorian era in the UK. In my local area a police officer was involved in the rape of a woman in the 1800’s but escaped conviction after being forced to resign. The levels of violence in the Victorian era of men on women on the streets was no different in level to the modern era, despite the population being less than half of that of today. This reality that nothing changes despite a hundred years when it comes to street attacks presents the grim fact that the streets will always be unsafe for everyone, of all genders and ages, and people will have to adapt to that situation. There is no magic pill to change this reality.
Another significant issue that everyone miss over the Everard murder is that sexual and physical violence often happens between people who know each other: it is often in the home; and the victim and perpetrator can be any gender. As a child, I was witness to domestic violence by the male on me and on the females. My former male boss was a victim of domestic violence by a female upon him; and I was personally aware of another male associate who was also victim of domestic violence by a female on them. The cases of the Hampstead Satanic Ritual Abuse hoax and the Wilfred Wong case involves perpetrators abusing children from both genders, with some females heavily involved in abusive activities such as Angela Power Disney and Ella Draper. There is still a long way to go when addressing domestic violence in the home by both genders, and, which seems to be failing to address the needs of children in those situations.
What happened to Everard was a terrible thing, but an objective look at how things are in UK society compared to other nations helps keep things in perspective to avoid getting into the emotional state that UK society currently feels over the murder. Brazil in one year suffered 50,000 murders; Brazil has a serious problem with drugs, corruption and the murder rate. In some nations of Africa, whole schools of children face kidnap, and villages face massacre by roaming gangs and bandits. In Iran and Saudi Arabia, women have limited rights. In India, there is an ongoing problem that both women and children continue to suffer sexual attacks without justice.
One can not miss the fact that gender rights has advanced at an impressive rate. When I was a child, soccer and skateboarding was a male-only interest. Now, it is common that girls play soccer and do skateboarding. It is no longer rare to see boys wearing pink, or using makeup. The concept of gender has faded into a spectrum of definitions and fluidity amongst younger generations. An individual is no longer obliged to fit into a gender stereotype or definition. Female teens such as Greta Thunberg can stand up and speak about something they are passionate about, and the world listens. Younger generations come to the table without any baggage when it comes to gender; if they want to do something, they will do it. If there is any issues about gender rights, it is with the older generations, and the younger generations shows that such issues are not as concrete and a problem as people think. Violence is as much a reality of life for younger generations in schools, by and against all genders, as it is on the street; there is no magic pill to deal with that.
Coming out of the existential crisis triggered by the murder of Everard is an unrealistic demand to turn the male into something they are not. Visiting YouTube videos about the experiences of parents and teachers with children, such as Supernanny, shows what happens when a child feels invalidated, which includes any attempt to suppress or change what they naturally are. It is a natural thing for males to express bravado, to enter into actions of risk of injury and death in displays of skill and strength. Males do not process feelings as easily as females, thus, if invalidated or abused, they can get angry, and do get violent far more often than females. A male who is sexually abused can fall apart quickly into self-harming, drug abuse, crime and mental illness. There are no positive outcomes if people go down the road of invalidating, abusing or trying to change the male into something they are not.
I have no answers to the violence that impacts UK society at all levels, only to say that one has to be realistic, that there are no magic pills, and the issues impact all genders. It is hoped that there will be justice done for the murder of Everard, even though she can never be brought back to life. If there is one ray of hope, it is the younger generations, for when it comes to gender, whatever issues the older generations experience, the younger ones won’t experience or tolerate it.