Valentine’s at the Drapers Arms 2013..
The autumn and winter season has a rhythm and series of events in it that perfectly suit the pub – and it gives operators a framework for hanging events and ‘get yourselves down here’ marketing messages on. The whoooooo of Halloween; crash, bang, whooooosh ….ahhhhh! of the 5th of November; lighting the fires…mulled wine and cider (bleeuuuurgh); carols and mince pies; Christmas parties and gatherings, from family dinners to vomit and shots corporateathons and finally the crash bang snog and lengthening bog-queue fest that is New Year’s eve as our exhausted staff thank god the month is over (whilst wondering how they are going to survive New Year’s day service).
And then the barren wasteland that is late winter in the new year and early spring…our customer’s wallets are exhausted, their livers tender and there’s little on the horizon to celebrate. Oh hurrah as valentine’s pops over the horizon, like a piece of driftwood edging toward a drowning man on an otherwise empty sea.
My early valentine adventures seem so very long ago…hazy memories across the mists of 30 years. At a boys only boarding school and whisked off at the end of term to what was effectively a mining town in the middle of Africa where I met no girls there was never a danger of my being overwhelmed by valentine’s cards, and yet walking out of breakfast to where our post was set out was always a nervous time, tinged with hope – and sure enough after a while the odd card popped up. As more time passed the day transformed for me so that, broadly speaking, at my stage in life I think of valentine’s as an opportunity for us blokes to show our love for our womenfolk and I think sometimes we do ok on the day and step up to the plate. *pats self on back*.
But I get to thinking, what about the other 364 days, how do we blokes do then? Well I’ve got a little list of how women fare the rest of the year, and it isn’t exhaustive. Women:
· Are paid on average around 15% less to do the same job as men
· Have glass ceilings and working practices at work that prevent them from enjoying an equal opportunity for fulfilment through work and career
· Are ganged up on, bullied and trolled on the internet when they dare to be smarter, cleverer and funnier than men
· Are depicted in magazines and ‘newspapers’ that take pictures up their skirts, of their sweat patches, underwear, weight gain, weight loss, aging, poor plastic surgery, bad hair days, poor clothes choices – at the same time as being bombarded with images of ‘perfect’ unattainable ideals for womankind ….so there is no woman anywhere who can ever feel un-judged, secure and happy with their appearance
· Are raped at home, at work, at play and in the outside world where rape convictions are at shockingly low levels
· Are sexually abused as children principally in the homes and schools where they should feel most secure
· Are forced into marriages they don’t wish for
· Are subject to attempts to deny them control of their own bodies by refusing them abortion rights including after rape
· Are ‘honour’ killed when they don’t do what they are told
· Are called sluts if they enjoy sex and frigid or lesbians if they don’t sleep with us
· Are called ‘normalised’ pejoratives like ‘bitch’ and ‘ho’ in everyday language
· Are the target of acts of domestic physical and psychological violence that destroy and undermine their entire lives
· Have men mutilate their genitals with the express intention of preventing them from enjoying sex
· Have rape against women used as an act of war in conflicts propagated mainly by men
Quite the list, and taken around the world collectively it affects billions of lives. So, in the round, I’m not that comfortable ringing the tills in the name of mens’ love for women on the 14th of February and turning a blind eye the rest of the time to mens’ collective acts of violence against women. Women should step out into the world feeling genuinely loved by men 365 days of the year. This year and every year until it is no longer needed we will treat all of our takings on valentine’s as a voluntary donation from our customers to a charity organisation that supports women affected by the violence of men. This year that will be Refuge.
Because there are 365 days in the year, not just one.
Here is an excerpt from a letter I received from Refuge - the numbers are shocking both in terms of money they receive and the number of women who need their help:
Domestic Violence is, unfortunately a massive problem within the UK, in fact it is the biggest social problem facing women and children. Every day we support over 2000 women and children in our refuges and through our specialist services.
Raising the essential funds Refuge needs to ensure the continuation of our vital frontline services to abused women and children is becoming increasingly difficult. The women’s sector is, subsequently, one of the most impoverished of all charitable sectors: in 2009 The Donkey Sanctuary received £20 million in voluntary donations; in comparison, Refuge received £1.7 million.
Domestic Violence facts:
• One woman in four experiences domestic violence at some point in her life
• Two women are killed by a current or former partner every week in England and Wales
• Thirty women a day attempt suicide to escape domestic violence
• The police receive a domestic violence related call every 60 seconds