We were up late last night putting the finishing touches to our most recent book. Last minute changes to the cover had to be made due to the PDF not quite producing the tonal nuance of part of the back cover design. Important stuff, because after all, we often judge a book by its cover…

We’ve got over twenty stories in this anthology, and in the aftermath of the Trump election, it seems like no better time than to publish something with a focus purely on women. Their voice. Their experience. Their strength. We’ve included women from India, Australia, and America, as well as many home grown talents. There’s even a couple of Bold Strokes authors in there. Some of the stories are frivolous, others are quite literally, deadly serious. But there’s a story that isn’t in there. It’s one I wanted. I wanted it so bad that I didn’t take an initial “Thanks, but no,” for an answer. It was a long, long Facebook post, and it was powerful. It said something. Something extra. It spoke of the fear a lot of women carry daily. Innocently going into a roadside cafe to pick up food for the family, lost in a smart phone, and thinking ten steps ahead. Not taking into account the surroundings until it might be too late. There are just men in this place. Aggressive, feral, and predatory men.

The irony of my refusal to take “no” for an answer was pointed out to me, and it got me thinking about women’s behaviour to other women in general. I have a foul mouth. I love cursing for the emphasis it can give to words, sentences, feelings. One of my absolute road rage favourites is “cock sucker.” I don’t have to see the offending person or perceive their gender before the words spit from my mouth faster than…well, a very fast thing. But I started to think about the etymology of this. I’m using something that people have done to those equipped with dicks since time began, as an insult. But more than that, it’s an action generally associated with women (or gay men). By using the term “cock sucker,” I’m belittling women and making something perfectly pleasant (I imagine 😈) into something bad. Where else am I doing this? How else am I holding back the progress of my own “kind?” Where else am I behaving just as badly, whisper it, as a man? 

As a lover of women, of all shapes, sizes, and leanings, it seems I’ve been just as guilty as man for judging a woman from her looks; for lustfully appreciating her external attributes before I even learned her name; for thinking that my advances would be welcome. 

Before you lambast me and proclaim your innocence, I’m not saying lesbians are as bad as man (or indeed that all men are predators). I’m just saying that have been. I’ve been guilty of judging a book by its cover. And if we’re battling the same things as women together, surely I shouldn’t be committing those same “crimes?” And how can we hope to change man and their behaviour if we’re doing similar things, albeit on a smaller but perhaps more insidious scale? 

So I’ve made some early New Year’s Resolutions:

No more gender specific swearing. 

Be more sensitive because I can’t begin to know what someone else’s life is like (especially true of Facebook “friends”).

Help, support, and mentor other women wherever possible. 

Because women do have power. Like the featured image, we can break from the barb wire and fly. And together, we can be even stronger.