⚠️ Content warning: this article speaks about suicide, and male violence against women and girls (MVAWG), including sexual assault and domestic abuse. It also contains links to research on male supr emacy which references known ‘actors’ in this arena.
I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been touched by loss. I say that confidently because I’ve been working with the bereaved as a qualified counsellor for about 20 years. But, as I explain in my book, loss extends beyond someone dying. Grief doesn’t just belong to death.
It can show up as redundancy.
A relationship breakdown.
A child leaving home for university.
We might think of these as ‘little L’ losses because, to some, they might seem insignificant. That’s one reason we’re often met with unhelpful clichés – like “there’s people worse off than you” – when things really do feel just awful. (‘Big L’ losses are the ones most people recognise, like death, but society only lets us mourn those for a short time, before it somewhat disgracefully shames us into thinking we should be ‘over it’. More on that in the book too). In short, it takes its toll.
As a result, we push our losses away (in reality, it’s more like we push them down), and hope they never reach the surface of our awareness again. The cumulative effect of loss after loss can cause us to feel overwhelmed, without ever really being in touch with the storyline that explains why we feel like we do. And so there we are, awake in the middle of the night, caught up in our thoughts which take us, as I call it, down the plughole. And it’s dark down there.
The good news is, when the time is right, we can find ways to get our sparkle back. Not that we ‘move on’, we just find our way forward at a pace that’s healthy and right for us.
So what does this have to do with misogyny? I’ll be the first to admit it’s quite the tangent. Why would a woman who has spent two decades of her life supporting grieving people use her Twitter account to raise awareness of what seems to be a topic so grossly misunderstood.
Because, it’s all connected. I spent time training with the National Homicide Service so that I could effectively help people bereaved by murder; I know many grieving families whose loved one has died as a result of male violence. I’ve supported people at coroner’s court, that knows all too well how men die by suicide because of the pressures from a ‘Man Box‘ that says “be more and feel less”. Misogyny kills.
In my book, I also briefly describe my own experience of being subjected to male-perpetrated domestic abuse. I don’t go in to detail, for lots of reasons, but suffice it to say it had a significant impact on me.
As a result of my experiences and over the course of many years since, I became accredited to support victims of crime, and continue to speak with those subjected to and bereaved by male violence today, all on a voluntary basis. I have spoken with several policing leads on the subject, and looked at ways to create change that lasts, with the view that this all needs to be high on the agenda, long before the tragic events of ‘high profile cases’ that caught everyone’s attention in 2021.
That’s not to say that men aren’t victims too – they are – or that women don’t show violent behaviour (they can and some do). But, as I explain in this blog, I think we need to talk about women’s safety and male violence.
I use my Twitter account to raise awareness of misogyny and how it’s rooted in a dangerous ideology that seeks to legitimise male supr emacy. Because it’s everywhere. As my very long thread explains, it even shows up in policy and, of course, drives male perpetrated sexual violence and domestic abuse. Even women can show internalised misogyny when they punch down on other women to get ahead with men at work (I talk about misandry in the thread as well). And when some men think other men don’t ‘conform’ to what it means to “be a man”, they harm each other too.
Vivek Shraya explains misogyny with these examples:
The disdain for women and femininity is insidious, infecting even those of us who profess to love women, and it takes many forms… Using “sensitive” as a pejorative and a mechanism of restraint [..] is a form of misogyny…Men’s assumptions that they are entitled to touch others’ bodies without consent and the dismissals of my boundaries were misogyny.Vivek Shraya, I’m Afraid of Men
So in summary, I “keep on” about misogyny because it matters and I offer particularly a Call to Men (the thread explains why). Addressing it is important for everyone; to help reduce the number of bereaved families that may have to navigate an already creaking criminal justice system, and the volume of people subjected to rape and sexual assault; that has to be important.
If we can tackle misogyny and the ideology behind it as the root cause of male perpetrated violence, we will create a more enlightened society; one that creates a safer world for us all.
© Copyright Delphi Ellis 2022
Answers in the Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal is available to purchase on Amazon. The book primarily joins the dots between sleep, dreams and our mental health, particularly how grief shows up even when no one has died. It discusses briefly my own experience of being subjected to male violence, but not the topic of misogyny in itself. (That may be for another book…)