The last post that I wrote was about people being outraged at the thought of women possibly going and having sex with anyone that wasn’t from these green and pleasant lands. There had been outrage at the thought of a couple, a British volunteer and a Syrian guest, living happily ever after or happy even just for a little bit. There was no outrage at children being raped but apparently sex and happiness for us English roses is not on. I will come back to this…
This last week has seen the dismantling of the Calais camp and the press have descended upon this with hand rubbing glee. It is important that events are portrayed in the media, this cannot be denied, but you’d like to hope that a certain level of decency and responsibility comes with that but we have all come to shrug our shoulders and say ‘Ah well, that’s the press for you’ when they incite hatred and write complete bollocks. Time for a big up for the Mirror, Guardian and Times who have been supportive and tried to tell the truth as we know it. May The Sun burn in hell…
The power of the press, and the media in general, can also come into its own as a force for good as this week has shown. As various authorities ploughed forth with taking apart the camp and scattering 10,000 people to the winds and four corners of France or the world, children were left. Neither the French nor the UK authorities were doing what needed to be done to ensure the safety and well being of these children, and this meant even the very basics like food and water. Come into force, the mighty people that know how to do videos and stuff and a whole heap of people who give a shit and shouting from the rooftops for something to be done about this.
I put up a post on facebook asking if people could join the shouting by tweeting and emailing and phoning and doing whatever they could, or wanted to do, to let the powers that be know that we do not find it acceptable to leave 1500 unaccompanied children to their fate without protection and safety. It went nuts. My intention was to share with friends and family, the vast majority of whom I am pretty sure do not find children offensive, and ask for their support in this. The post was shared almost 8000 times and nutters started flooding in from all over the place.
Before the sun had set on the first day (let’s try and turn this vitriol into poetry), comments were coming in such as ‘Stop bringing them over here ffs (which means for fuck’s sake apparently)’ ‘They have nothing that we want (or something to that effect)’ We’re all going to end up wearing hijabs’ and so on and so forth. It felt like I was being cornered by a pack of snarling dogs. To be fair, the sane comments far outweighed the insane ones but still. The post was asking for support to keep children safe. Children that are prey to all kinds of stuff – the slave trade, prostitution, sold for sex, sold for their organs – and the trade is thriving as children are on their own and wandering about Europe unprotected. I was not advocating anything other than trying to ensure the safety of children.
Why, then, should it incite such hatred? Why are people so frightened of a few children? Taking away any of the narrative around age and which country is responsible and the standard stuff, what we really have is some children who need protecting. When a story was published that children were being raped in the camp there was nothing said. When a story emerged that children needed protection and a place of safety, possibly even in the UK, there was an uprising. What is that all about?
So I come back to the sex thing. I think it is all about sex. For some reason men get upset about women having sex with someone who is not from here (This is probably true of many countries). It seems to be alright the other way round i.e. if a man is with a woman from another country – ‘Cor he’s done alright’ ‘He must be rich’ – and people don’t seem to get quite so upset about unattractive women being taken ‘off the market.’ An attractive white female, however, causes venom to spill forth, the likes of which I hoped never to hear and read (Sarah and Hamoude take comfort in this, that maybe the reason that your lives have been blighted with hatred is because you are both too beautiful!) Likewise with children. It appears to elicit a response that goes well beyond anything that is reasonable. Some people try to dress up their responses into nhs concern or schools or housing or there won’t be enough ketchup left over and so on. They are children. You just budge over and make room for children. That’s it. So I started to think about this coming from a place of primal fear, the survival of the species and all that.
Is it survival of the species that is a driving force behind all this hatred? I will take lions as an example because I like lions. Women lions generally stay their whole lives in the same pride that they are born into. The women lions do most of the hunting and work together for the whole pride to be able to eat. Men lions are driven out of their pride when they are teenagers (relatively speaking) and then they wander about until they are strong enough to take over another pride by sending the resident male packing. They have a few short years to make babies before they, in turn, are driven out. When a man lion takes over a pride he kills all cubs under the age of two. This makes sure that there are no cubs that are not his and that the woman lion is now ready to have some more babies, his babies. Women lions, who are already pregnant when the new man lion come along, have been found to ‘disguise’ their pregnancy and fool the man lion into thinking that the new babies will be his. That also sounds a bit familiar.
Survival of the species is a driving force and, therefore, individuals of any species end up behaving in a way to ensure that survival happens. As humans, though, we should have the mental capacity to contemplate how our actions, as a species, affect the whole and all of the possible consequences. The species, in and of itself, is not motivated to do anything in particular. It is the individuals that have motivations and what motivates that individual is that they have babies, their babies. The rest of the species does not come into consideration, at this point, as members of their own species (still trying to stick to lions here) are eliminated rather than preserved if they lie in the path of that individual’s ongoing reproductive success.
So I started to think of all these children as maybe representing the cubs of other lions and could this be a reason, a primal fear one, for people’s otherwise incomprehensible reactions to children needing a place of safety. I ran this idea past a very dear and wise friend who is just 18 years old. ‘Yes but we’re not lions,’ was her reply. Spot on. We, as a species, have homes for old people, we stop and pick someone up if they’ve fallen over, we even have an emergency service to help people in trouble. We do not naturally want to eliminate those that are of no use to us or stand in the way of a good shag. Naturally, we are a loving and caring species. That is how we start off and then it changes as life experiences happen and narratives reach our ears and fear kicks in. But the very primal instinct of which baby belongs to who continues to cause more than a few ripples. Women have ovaries and men don’t. I don’t know why, but that’s just the way it is. The only sure fire way to ensure that a baby is produced by one particular male is to lock that woman in a room and allow access to no other males. This does happen in some parts of the world and most people would find this abhorrent.
So, although most people would not advocate the practice (that continues to happen in this world) of burying women up to their necks and throwing stones at them until they die, when a person says ‘They deserve to be raped,’ it is coming from the same mentality. Women who volunteer with refugees have had this thrown at them time and time again, death threats and so it goes on. It is the very same mentality that drives oppressive and lethal practices across the world. It is the same mentality that finds the idea of a few children needing a place of safety terrifying. Absolutely not alright.
I put up a photo of a fire that my friend had in her garden yesterday. Big fire, big garden. Why that photo? Because although I feel genuine pity for those who are shackled by the fear of the ‘other,’ my heart actually goes out to those who lives are crippled by the idea of a divisive narrative, a teeny bit of me does actually hope that there is a special place in the burning fires of hell for those that wish ill on the lives of our children and on our fellow humans, from whichever loins they were spurned.