I THOUGHT the #MeToo movement marked a pivotal moment not just for women but also for men. That’s what I thought but I was wrong.

It was clearly important to share terrible personal stories of sexual abuse to communicate the scale of the problem. This wasn’t about telling other women the scale of sexual abuse. They already knew it was frighteningly commonplace. Almost every woman has suffered it. Almost every woman bears the scars.

Who knew? Well, women knew, obviously. But #MeToo should have – at last – denied men the opportunity to refuse to recognise the scale of the problem, to close our eyes to the blindingly obvious and walk away. Again. Surely it would force men to look deep within ourselves and our friends and face facts. There was something wrong with us, profoundly wrong.

Well it didn’t. Sure, there were a slew of articles claiming that we were all feminists now – or at least feminist allies. That we were at last taking responsibility for our own actions and those of other men. That we were standing up for right and facing down misogyny once and for all. Except we weren’t doing any of those things. We talked a good game but did not change our lives in any way.

If the events of the past week – the dreadful events leading up to the death of Sarah Everard and the events which followed it, which have been literally incomprehensible – prove anything it is that men ticked the “caring” box and moved on, changing nothing about their attitudes and their behaviours. Even as I write I hear the resentful murmurings, the suppressed anger of my sex; the shameful words: “Not all men.”

I’ve used those words myself. And of course it is true that not all men rape. Not all men attack women and sexually abuse them. Not all men stalk. But raping and sexual violence, indeed almost all violence, is a carried out by men. In those instances where men are the victims they are the perpetrators too. This is a fact. It might hurt innocent men’s feelings to say so but it doesn’t make it any less true. And frankly, we are very far beyond caring about men’s hurt feelings.

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The dreadful death of Sarah Everard and the fact that a police officer at the crime scene sent a disgusting message to seven of his colleagues should have every man hanging his head in shame.

We have to be honest here. We all know the poisonous context of these terrible events. We know our culture either turns a blind eye or treats as a joke all the little examples of everyday sexism which come across our radar. We know of our own failure to challenge comments or actions which cross the boundary into unacceptable. We don’t hold our courts accountable for the shockingly low conviction rates for sexual crimes. We have known all our lives and we know it persists to this day. We know that we don’t have to personally indulge in such behaviour to bear some of the blame. This week of all weeks we know that silence is complicity.

Not all men. I’ve used those words myself. They make the weight of all the things we know that much easier to bear. I’ve done worse. I’ve ignored evidence of how widespread the sexual abuse of women is. If the scale of a problem is unbelievable, then it’s easier to simply refuse to believe it. But this week, of all weeks, it is simply impossible to deny any longer that our society is crippled by sexism and misogyny and men do nothing to stop it.

It was a man who was charged with Sarah Everard’s murder. A policeman. And it was the police who failed to properly react this week. They couldn’t stand the temerity of the women who held a vigil after Sarah Everard’s body was found. We’ve all seen the footage of the police reaction, of women arrested, handcuffed and dragged off simply for being there. Of senior police officers refusing to apologise for those actions and saying they were justified in enforcing Covid restrictions.

Lockdown restrictions went noticeably unenforced, of course, when crowds of men marched through Glasgow to celebrate a football victory, but then we can all understand the exuberance of football fans, can’t we chaps?

All this represents just the most obviously misogynist reaction to the vigil but more insidious were some of the undercurrents flowing through social media platforms. Tweets which suggest the killing has been “hijacked and weaponised by misandrous metropolitan feminists”. Supposedly well-meaning posts pointing out Sarah was “just walking home” which give the impression that women who behaved differently – who were, for example, drunk – were less blameless.

It’s always the same, of course. Women forced to defend their own behaviour when men attack and kill them. They were dressed wrong, in a way that “asked for it”. Or they shouldn’t have been out so late. Or they were flirtatious, or stand-offish. Now they need to stay in at night, so as not to tempt men to kill them.

Then there were tweets attempting to deflect attention from misogyny and violence against women towards the need to protect statues from attacks and vandalism by women protestors. Male vandalism, for example those who wrecked benches in George Square, was blamed on the city council for not realising football fans would have damaged property and removing it in advance.

In a particularly ironic twist, police suggestions they had been “forced” to inflict violence on women to fulfil their responsibility to stop mass gatherings during lockdown were used to justify Draconian new police powers contained in the Tories’ Police and Crime Bill backed by a Commons vote this week. This is what happens when you don’t speak out. If violence goes unchallenged it becomes normalised, accepted and even expected.

It’s the same with misogyny. None of this is new. Sexism has been woven into our society for decades. If it was going to be removed by “nice” men it would be gone by now. There have been outcries over a long list of deaths through the years. After every one there is an outcry and pompous statements about how this time everything will change. Statements like those made this week by Labour leader Keir Starmer, who said: “This must be a turning point in how we tackle violence against women and girls.”

He saw the solution as including the criminalisation of street harassment and a toughening of the law on stalking.

Sarah Everard’s body was found between International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, a grim reminder that women need more than chocolate and flowers celebrations. They need to be safe. But the truth is that this will not be a turning point, just as past deaths have not been a turning point. We will not seriously tackle male violence against women and girls unless men take responsibility and change their attitude and their actions. Unless they seriously embrace initiatives such as the suggested male curfew in areas where women have been killed. And yes that punishes all men for the actions of a minority but it shows we understand why sometimes that’s needed.

A friend explained it to me like this: if you were given a box of chocolates and were told one in three were poisoned you would be worried about having anything to do with any of them.

So all men are not poison but some are. And the rest of us seem perfectly happy to accept that. Until we show that we know it’s our job to get rid of them we’re sitting back and condemning women to death.