What sort of person would assault a peaceful protester?
This question has been asked, I’m sure, many times throughout our history. It was most likely asked on Black Friday, for instance, when Suffragettes were sexually and physically assaulted by police during what was quite clearly a peaceful protest.
Perhaps Mark Field isn’t up to date on his British political history, or just holds the same mindset as those policemen did over a hundred years ago. If you haven’t yet seen, he’s been rightfully suspended for his actions against a Greenpeace activist, which included forcing her against a pillar and dragging her by the neck. This (of course) came across to most as an assault. Maybe it was because of his own insecurities, or maybe he really did think that a peaceful protester was going to commit an act of violence. Whatever motivation he had for doing it, it’s difficult to watch the video of it without grimacing with discomfort, and even anger.
As far as I’m concerned, this is someone taking advantage of a situation in which an assault could be perceived as in the name of justice rather than their own ego.
There is an argument, of course, that he only attacked her because he thought she might be dangerous. Field has even less of a justification in that sense than the police officers of 1910. Whilst it was evident through the Suffragettes’ hunger strikes that they were willing to do harmful things (at least to themselves) for their cause at the time, the irony of the idea that a Greenpeace activist could be protesting in any way other than peacefully would either call into question Field’s intelligence, or the truth behind his excuse.
I’m aware that it would be quite easy to argue by now that I have somewhat of an anti-Tory agenda. So, for balance, here are the comments of some people who are Tories themselves:
Sarah Wallaston, former Tory MP; “absolutely shameful, a male MP marching a woman out of a room by her neck”
Johnny Mercer, current Tory MP; “Calm down, move on, and be thankful this wasn’t worse”
Perhaps Mercer really is just blind to the severity of the situation. What’s more likely of course, is that he has little to no empathy for the female experience. Or even the human experience actually, considering that not only has he consistently voted against laws to promote gender equality, but human rights, too. Wallaston actually voted in a similar pattern when it came to gender equality – so misogyny only crosses the line when violence is involved?
There was another male Tory MP who defended Field’s actions, Peter Bottomley, saying that;
“Not intervening often has a cost, and if this becomes a fashion, there will be casualties”
All I will say on that is that I’d like to invite Mr Bottomley to watch the video again, and see who was at risk of becoming a casualty in that particular instance.
That being said, we don’t even need a whole video to grasp the severity of Field’s toxic attitude towards women’s personal space. Just a photo will do.
This is almost exactly how I pictured the men to be acting in the President’s Club. Even down to those in the background, who are either smiling or turning away rather than displaying the look of disgust such actions should really evoke. Of course, a picture is only a snapshot, and perhaps there were some delayed reactions to the audacity of Field’s approach to Lucia Hunt. But it must be said, from what we can see, no one shares the deep discomfort felt by myself and many others who see this photo.
And considering that this is how he was prepared to act at times when cameras were visibly surrounding him, I’d rather not imagine what could happen in a more private setting.
Speaking about people who treat women badly in private – Boris Johnson has dropped the Parliamentary investigation into the assault. Whilst the City of London police and Janet Barker herself have decided it’s preferable to leave the issue to be dealt with in the “court of opinion”, Johnson has abdicated his responsibility to investigate with a much less sound reason than that. Apparently “It was a matter for the previous PM”. Despite being a man who once proclaimed himself to be a feminist, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that for most of his life, he’s been a pretty blatant misogynist. Especially with this being one of his first actions as PM, I’d suggest this sets the tone for a less than feminist approach to public office. I’d be so happy to be proved wrong, but I have a sneaky feeling that quite simply, I won’t.
So there was an assault against a Greenpeace activist. Mark Field chose to ignore her message about the Climate Emergency, and tried to silence her. He instead only succeeded in getting himself sacked.
Perhaps if climate change was assaulting Mark Field in the same way that he assaults women, he’d feel more sympathy to the cause. In any case, MPs and PMs need to wake up and smell the patriarchy. And if they keep trying to ignore the Climate Emergency, one day the entire world will not be able to wake up.