By GRETEL KILLEEN
Some days you notice lots of three legged dogs, some days you notice lots of men walking babies and some days, at the complete other end of the spectrum, you notice acts of hate and violence.
It took a couple of days actually. First I heard of a Chinese woman seeking justice against the men who raped her daughter, and the woman was sent instead to a labour camp.
Then I heard of families in India, telling their widowed elderly mothers they were taking them on a pilgrimage and instead abandoning them penniless hundreds of miles from home. I heard of an American teenager taking her own life after being sexually assaulted and photographed while drunk and the humiliating photos distributed in her school.
And I heard of Caroline Criado-Perez, a woman in England, bombarded with 50 violent and sexual tweet threats an hour over a twenty four hour period. Her crime? Persuading the Bank of England to put a female face on the new £5 note.
I’m not unfamiliar with violence and hate against women. I’ve seen women in Bangladesh profoundly disfigured due to the throwing of acid by a jilted suitor. I’ve seen women in Iraq whose lives were considered to be less valuable than the family’s livestock, I’ve been to Zambia where sex with a female virgin has been considered to be a cure for AIDS. But this hatred doesn’t just exist in ‘other places’ and the bombardment of vicious tweets received by Criado-Pereez is a reminder that this hatred can exist in our western culture too.
I want to soften this column for you. I want to tell you that it’s not a feminist rant. I don’t want to put you off by appearing to be on any high horse, because the fact of the matter is I don’t have any answers, I only have questions.
I am asking where does this hate come from? All men clearly do not feel this way. But some do, so how can these men, who are sons of women, wish such ill and misfortune upon women? Why are they so angry?
Many Australian females in the public eye have received such tweets, emails, Facebook messages and even phone calls, threatening to rape and or kill us, to maim or mutilate us. I know when it has happened to me I’ve been expected to cop it, to take it in my stride, to accept that this is one of the prices one pays for being in the public eye. But I can tell you it is not easy.
And while you know, or at least hope, that none of these threats will ever come to fruition, you cannot help but wonder who sent them. Was it that person over there, or that person over there, or that one or that one or that one?