An Open Letter to Peter Gleeson
This letter was written in response to Peter Gleeson’s op-ed “Tired of Zealots? Me too“
Dedicated to all those outraged women.
To Peter Gleeson,
After I read your article in the Sunday Mail I felt morally outraged and sad to hear the voice of women so disrespected. You’ve dishonoured women who have braved the rhetoric of the “lying accuser”, or the “over the top feminist” just to express their pain. And you have the audacity to feel offended by how we as women express our pain and struggle.
You say you are tired of hearing us shout. Well, we started because we grew tired of hearing you speak. You think you have the divine male authority to tell us how to express our experience – you couldn’t be further from the truth. History has taught women to behave in the ‘right’ way, the way manufactured by men, and when we become liberated and attempt to break free, you would dare try and cage us again.
Does this tone seem over the top and ludicrous to you? Well, imagine this for a moment. I have not studied neurology and nor am I a surgeon. Yet, I attempt to criticize a neurologist’s diagnosis or perform surgery. Think that sounds ludicrous? What you’re doing is no different.
You dare patronise to women and tell them how they should feel and act, when that beats at the very core of why we are protesting. We protest any kind of circle drawn around our identity, how we should behave or what we should say. The patriarchal set of rules, determining when women should curtsey and be polite, never be too angry, nor too meek. Never be too pretty, nor too dull. That time is over.
You wonder why we are angry? It is simple really. We demand to be no longer confined to these rules because the patriarchy has placed a subtext on these behaviours. If I wear makeup a certain way, I am asking for it. If I am too angry, I am simply a man-hater. My safety and mental health are in jeopardy because of these confining social scripts that dictate to men how to mistreat women. Women are angry because every day we fight for legitimacy and for the right to be taken seriously.
We are angry because we are hurt. Crushed under a stronghold of patriarchal oppression that started on day one. We are no longer asking for a seat at the table, we are demanding one. Women are on a crusade, striving for a world where men and women are paid the same and given equal opportunity in the workplace. We are on a crusade to make our streets safer and to finally create a space where we hear the voice of rape and sexual assault victims.
Do you know what the newspapers said about the suffragettes? They banged on about how they were over the top, they were men-haters and yet at the end of the day, the suffragettes brought about a fundamental societal right that women were missing. Second and third-wave feminists were demonised and set apart from other women. They were called hysterical and they were mocked and displaced. So, congratulations Peter Gleeson, you’ve successfully joined the horde of regressive old white men who bully and reject women’s crusade for liberation.
Hannah and Faye.
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Sean Bradley is the editor behind the scenes at Fatally Narrow. He is a true literature enthusiast and feminist comrade, who never fails to pick up on my misplaced commas.