Sarah Everard: A Study of Our Collective Grief

CW: mentions of death, murder, sexism, transphobia.

If you were an expecting a thoughtful examination of the judicial system, complete with infographics and source material, then you’ve come to the wrong place. I shouldn’t have to show you statistics for you to mourn the death of women and marginalised genders. I shouldn’t have to cite my sources for you to realise that these structures that were supposedly put in place to protect us, are killing us. I shouldn’t have to explain my grief.

Where’s the proof? you crow. You can’t just defund the police – not all police – not all men – not me –

Here’s your proof: the letter that Sarah Everard’s mother wrote to her dead daughter. The family of Sabina Nessa crying into microphones. The 2018 murder of Naomi Hersi and every other transgender woman who didn’t get a hashtag or a vigil. Every female, trans and non-binary person’s story of a life built on fear.

Here’s your proof: how many times I was followed home from the bus stop that was one street away. How many times I’ve been groped, cat-called, harassed, assaulted. How many times I’ve thought I’m the lucky one because I still made it home. How many women don’t make it home because of men – 180 in the UK in the last year. There: there’s your statistic. Does that number make you more empathetic than a name or a story?

Sorry – did you think there was a point to this? Did you think I was going to tear down all the systems of oppression, then tell you how to rebuild them from the ground up? Did you think I was going to give you something easy to tweet and then forget? 93%. #SarahEverard. Don’t protect your daughters, educate your sons. For once, this isn’t for you.

I’m sorry my pain isn’t palatable. I’m sorry it’s not as easy as lighting a candle and laying flowers. I’m sorry that I feel their deaths in the marrow of my bones, in the keys of my skeleton, in my too-soft, too-warm heart. I’m sorry for getting poetic, if that makes you think I don’t mean it. I’m sorry if I feel so much it makes you uncomfortable.

Fuck you and your expectations of my grief.

Fuck you for making it unsafe for me to walk alone, to live alone, to live at all. Fuck you for taking away my right to say no. Fuck you for thinking that my body is yours to own and control and throw away when you’re done.

Fuck you for yet another vigil. I don’t want another vigil, I want the perpetrators of this violence and our deaths to be held to account. Colour me victim or colour me bitch, I don’t care, as long as you paint my killer as just that – a killer. Fuck you for my future hashtag, for arresting the women who go to my grave with flowers, for finding me guilty of not making sure he killed the other girl.

I don’t have a conclusion. I have a laundry list of the ways we are oppressed that you treat with fabric softener so it doesn’t seem so harsh. I have a pain that only seems to grow. Tomorrow I’ll attach the footnotes and the asides and pretend it’s all fine, but for now, for tonight, I’ll let my grief swallow me whole.

Image courtesy of Zoran Kokanovic.

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