The Real Issue With Baroness Jones Suggesting a 6pm Curfew for Men

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb addressing the House of Lords

On Wednesday evening, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb suggested that at the “next opportunity” an amendment be made to any appropriate bill to include a 6pm curfew solely for men. And men seemed to be a touch upset by this.

And rightly so, right? Well. Many on social media were quick to point out that this is how women feel every day. Women are often being told to not to go out alone or when it’s too dark, making women feel as though there is an informal curfew on their evening activities. And this is something that has been felt pretty much forever by women. The outrage by men over the suggestion of this 6pm curfew merely mimics the internal anguish women have had to live with since, well, the dawn of man.

I would argue that at the next opportunity for any bill that’s appropriate I might actually put in an amendment to create a curfew for men on the streets after 6pm, which I feel would make women a lot safer and discrimination of all kinds would be lessened.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

The septuagenarian’s suggestion of a male-only curfew came during a debate on Wednesday evening on the Domestic Abuse Bill in the House of Lords.

The debate came as human remains thought to be those of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old women from south London who disappeared on March 3, were found in woodland near Ashford, Kent on the same day. The remains have since been confirmed to be that of Sarah Everard. No cause of death has yet to be released.

Met Police constable Wayne Couzens, 48, has been arrested and is charged with kidnapping and murdering Sarah Everard, with his first appearance in Westminster Magistrates’ Court having occurred on Saturday morning.

The discovery of Miss Everard’s remains has sparked conversations over the safety of women from male violence once again. On Wednesday and Thursday social media were awash with women sharing their stories of harassment and terrifying near-misses with potential abusers. Women came out from all over the world in an attempt to educate men in what it means to be a woman simply walking home. From texting loved ones where they are almost minutely to holding keys in their fists; from only walking down well lit streets to installing apps on their phones which constantly monitor them for panicked screams. Women flooded social media with their day-to-day preparations in case they are violently attacked by men. Many women highlighted that these preparations don’t just cover attempts to prevent male violence, but to also make it easier to find them when it happens.

This is not to say that all men are monsters, but women understand that some men are capable of rape, sexual assault and violence.

BARONESS JONES OF MOULSECOOMB

Of course men, in their usual defensive and obtusely ignorant fashion, rebutted with the hashtag #notallmen which began to trend on Twitter. Women were quick to respond — in an effort to further educate these men — that of course they know it’s not all men, but they can’t tell which men it is and therefore must be vigilant and suspicious of all men. The Baroness herself echoed these sentiments on Friday when she said, “This is not to say that all men are monsters, but women understand that some men are capable of rape, sexual assault and violence”. However, this seems to be a concept some continued to struggle with. And thus, women everywhere let out a sigh of exasperation as conversations ran in circles with some men. That being said, a conversation was happening.

This is all changed, however, after the media began reporting on the curfew suggested by Baroness Jones. And this is where the real issue around the suggestion of a 6pm curfew just for men begins to appear.

The conversations around women’s safety started to become drowned out. The stories, the empathy, the attempt at educating the male masses, it all suddenly ground to a halt. The conversation completely flipped to male outrage at this curfew suggestion. The very serious, and very necessary, conversation around female safety from male violence was completely derailed by this one outlandish motion in a House most Brits, let alone the world, barely take notice of.

And so, what could have been days, weeks, months of potential coming together in solidarity ended abruptly in a gender war between women who just want to feel safe for one moment of their lives and men who were suddenly afraid of missing out on their prime pub time. And the worst part of it all is that men — technically — had a valid point. The suggestion inside the House of Lords of such an extreme measure was inappropriate and discriminatory. It was difficult for the online masses to shoo this conversation away due to its basic validity.

Nobody makes a fuss when the police suggest women stay at home, but when I suggest it, men are up in arms … men don’t understand the pressure women are under.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

The Green Party Baroness’ curfew suggestion was, of course, absurd. No one of consequence has really taken it seriously and even the British media seems to have moved quickly on from it. Discriminating against all men for the actions of some men is obviously excessive, unlawful, and unacceptable. It was never going to move past a suggestion, and Baroness Jones has said herself that it was “not an entirely serious suggestion”. Of the curfew, Baroness Jones said, “Nobody makes a fuss when the police suggest women stay at home, but when I suggest it, men are up in arms” She further stated that, “Men don’t understand the pressure women are under”. Jones later remarked, “If this has sparked intense scrutiny, I’m really happy”.

I was just trying to highlight that when police victim-blame by telling women to stay home, we don’t react, we just think it’s normal. When I suggest it about men, everyone’s up in arms. What’s the difference? The difference is that there’s misogyny out there. We need to fix it.

BARONESS JONES OF MOULSECOOMB

Baroness Jenny Jones has stated that she was trying to raise awareness of the victim-blaming culture in the U.K. She said that, “When police victim-blame by telling women to stay home, we don’t react, we just think it’s normal”, but when she suggests it of men “everyone’s up in arms”, and that the difference is “that there’s misogyny out there. We need to fix it”.

The Baroness seems to have intended to simply make a statement, and have men — for one brief moment — understand how it feels for women every day. How unfair it all feels. How it feels to have to constantly move for the world. For one moment, men felt some modicum of how it feels for the world to revolve around someone else for a change. And men did not appreciate it.

Unfortunately, this brief lesson was not well learned, as the extremity of the suggestion and the ensuing outrage has deafened the conversation entirely. It has overshadowed almost every other aspect of this sexual harassment crisis the U.K. continues to be in, and of which not much is being done about. The Baroness certainly made an impact but it wasn’t quite the impact she had likely intended, and instead she may have unintentionally damaged and set back the conversation around male violence against women even further.

This is a human rights crisis. It’s just not enough for us to keep saying ‘this is too difficult a problem for us to solve’ — it needs addressing now.

Claire Barnett, executive director of UN Women UK

This is, of course, a shame. Especially since the Baroness herself made some excellent points on Wednesday, which have also been overshadowed by her curfew kerfuffle. The Life Peer cited a UN Women UK study released this month which found that a shocking 97 per cent — almost all — of women aged 18-24 had been sexually harassed in their life. Also shocking was that 96 per cent of these women did not report the incident because they believed it would not change anything. It was reported that 80 per cent of all women had been sexually harassed in a public space.

Of the study, Claire Barnett, executive director of UN Women UK said, “This is a human rights crisis. It’s just not enough for us to keep saying ‘this is too difficult a problem for us to solve’ — it needs addressing now”.

We need to deal with the entire failure of the police and criminal justice system in dealing with rape – a one per cent success rate for any other crime would have been dealt with years ago. Above all we need to make misogyny a hate crime and start to change the culture that seeks to keep women ‘in their place’ with abuse and intimidation.

BARONESS JONES OF MOULSECOOMB

The Baroness continued on Wednesday to state that “We need to deal with the entire failure of the police and criminal justice system in dealing with rape”, citing that “a one per cent success rate for any other crime would have been dealt with years ago”. She suggested that “we need to make misogyny a hate crime” and that we need to start to change the culture in the U.K. “that seeks to keep women ‘in their place’ with abuse and intimidation”.

Since my comments about a curfew for men to keep women safe, I’ve had a deluge of misogynistic emails and tweets. Which rather proves my point about the problem being with men…

BARONESS JONES OF MOULSECOOMB via Twitter

Since her suggestion to the House of Lords, Baroness Jones has tweeted that she has had a “deluge” of misogynistic responses to her curfew remarks. Which she claims “rather proves my point about the problem being with men”.

Baroness Jones made some excellent and poignant points about the extreme level of sexual harassment and violence against women by men on Wednesday. The Peer spoke well and made clear that not enough is being done to keep women safe outside of imparting an informal curfew upon them. She highlighted how unacceptable and hypocritical this is, and how it cannot continue. Unfortunately, her not-so-serious suggestion of a curfew just for men, made to highlight hypocrisy and to provoke thought and empathy, has overshadowed all of these excellent and valid points. In the media much of her statements have been buried, simplified, or just not included at all. And this is the real issue with suggesting such an extreme measure like a curfew just for one demographic, it completely drowns out all other relevant and important conversations.

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