Until We Can Walk The Streets Without Fear It Will Always Be Different For Girls

Hey everyone It has become fashionable over recent years to knock the quality of Scottish journalism. This was particularly true during the referendum but on Thursday night whilst watching Scotland Tonight I had the privilege of watching one of the best pieces of investigative journalism I have seen in a very long time.

If I’m honest I wish the topic of the report wasn’t even an issue but it is and it needs to be highlighted. It is that’s for this reason I was proud of Peter Smith (he’s no relation honest) and the way he handled the issue of violence against women.
Our intrepid reporter went to a reclaim the night march. These marches take place every year to commemorate the 16 days of violence against women and Peter Smith attended one of these events to report first hand the experiences of those on the march and this was top quality no holes barred journalism as he reported the facts as spoken by those women on the demonstration. The justified anger was clear for all to see as the woman spoke clearly intelligently and passionately about the outrage that such marches are even necessary of Scotland in 2014.

As Smith stated in his report it’s over 40 years since these marches started and yet they are still happening today. This to me is a major indictment of Scotland’s attitudes towards women which though we may like to think otherwise have not moved on as much as they should have in a civilised society.
The world of the 1970’s was I am glad to say far removed from the world of post millenium Scotland/Britain. Sexism, was rife amongst men and encouraged as a manly attributes by fathers less enlightened than mine.
This was a time when racism and homophobia were commonplace and in the year that saw birth of Rollermania when I started secondary school on reaching my teens the idea of me living as the girl I wanted to be was openly laughed at especially in a macho city like Glasgow. Where real men worked in heavy industry and went to the game and got drunk before staggering home. Maybe I’m an idealist who believes we’ve walked further on the road to progress than we actually have, but the fact that we still need these marches would certainly suggest this to be the case.

In his report Peter Smith let the women have there voice and they said that violence against and harassment of women and girls is still very much a live issue. Many of those Smith spoke to said they felt vulnerable when out alone at night and had experienced some levels of violence and intimidation. This angered me but I regret to say it did not shock me. Even young women said how they and most of their friends had experienced sexist behaviour by men at the dancing where they would often be touched in inappropriate places without giving consent. This to me is an outrage and even as a transwoman I can identify with there feelings of fear more than some people may think.

Since deciding to transition full time as a woman I have had experienced first hand many sexist attitudes from men. Examples of this include being asked if my breasts are real, being told in graphic details what a man would like to do to me, being starred at, being pestered to accept a lift home by someone claiming to be a taxi driver and told I could pay them in the back seat, being told to stay out of a conversation on football and concentrate on baking and ballet, being judged on my appearance, having my bottom pinched, and being asked if I was up for it by which I think the inquisitor meant would I have sex with him.

Honestly, one look in the mirror should have told him the answer was no or to be slightly more brutal about it never in a million years. So anyone who thinks being a woman in today’s society is easy is not living in the real world. Attitudes it seems still need to be adjusted and some versions of modern man particularly on planet Glasgow has probably still got far too much in common with his caveman kin than he has with the more enlightened members of his own sex. It seems that when comes to Glasgow males Metrosexual man is an even more mythical creature than the Loch Ness Monster.

As if to prove this point Smith interviewed a selection of Glasgow men and told he had just attended a reclaim the night march on women’s safety. Whilst some of the men understood the fear that women have when walking the streets at night, others were less concerned and some even went as far as to take pride in the no mean city image which has given Glasgow an image of being a city of hard men and violent drunks. This is an image Glasgow has worked tirelessly to shed but it appears it hasn’t been as successful as our citizens and political leaders would like and the stains of the past are still scaring our city with prejudice and fear which should have been dealt with a very long time ago. It is my considered opinion that some men still carry far too much macho baggage and are often unaware of the dangers these stereotypical attitudes do to the city both at home and abroad.

It is with thanks to Peter Smith that more people will be aware of the hidden hurt faced by far too many Glasgow women and this is unacceptable in 21st Century Scotland. It is good to know that at a time when confidence in the press and media has never been lower that there are quality journalists who are not afraid to cover the issues that matter and highlight a problem which needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. This report was an excellent piece of thought provoking journalism intelligently and sensitively covered by someone determined to get to the heart of this issue and expose the hidden prejudices and outdated attitudes which still even in these enlightened times prevent women from maximising our full potential. After all, until we have reclaimed the public spaces of our cities town and villages and are able to walk the streets without fear of judgement, abuse, or attack then in the words of the Joe Jackson song from my late 70’s youth it always be different for girls.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

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