A call to arms: Let’s read each others’ stories

TW: Murder, abortion.

When Sabina Nessa was murdered in September 2021, a mere 6 months after Sarah Everard, I was chatting to some of my male friends about it, and a fair few of them responded “oh yeh, I read something about that”.

Personally, and especially as a woman, I couldn’t read Sabina’s story without feeling it in every fibre of my being. Every blood cell. Every breath.

I read countless versions of Sabina’s story. Thanked my lucky stars it wasn’t me. Shed a few tears. Gripped my keys between my fingers a little tighter on the way home. Thanked my lucky stars it wasn’t me.

It’s a privilege to be able to read a story like Sabina’s, and turn the page without it reverberating through your entire life. It made me super angry at the world that, for me, every time Sabina Nessa came up in conversation, every time I read Sabina’s name, I couldn’t help but imagine in vivid detail how she might have felt in her last moments. But my male buds’ responses were allowed to be “oh yeh, I read something about that”. It’s not fair. And it’s also not their fault.

As I walked home today, raging and wrestling with the horrific news coming from the US about repealing the abortion laws, and criminalising women for seeking an abortion (even in cases of incest and rape), I wondered how many of my friends (likely males, in this case) were able to walk home without wondering if their own human rights would one day be taken away. Were able to walk home without wondering if society would ever value them as equal and not just sacks of meat only made for baby making.

And also, if this is true, how many times have I walked home, a skip in my step, while another person, minority, anyone, has carried the weight of their struggle on their shoulders, me having skipped their story in the news or not given it a second thought.

I’m not perfect, no one is. And I don’t want this to be a man vs woman/anyone with a uterus-type situation. There must have been hundreds of times when I skipped over a story about male suicide or domestic violence because it wasn’t about me.

What I hope, and what I will pledge for myself, is to try and read more people’s stories. Today I feel all the feels, and I don’t want anyone to have to make that dull drudge home with the world solely on their shoulders. I’m going to try and read more of your stories, whoever you are. Please try and read mine.

And let’s keep each other in our thoughts, because then maybe that little shuffle home will feel slightly less heavy. It’s not much. But it’s something. It’s human. And that’s just about as much as I can do right now.