Yesterday I had to 'represent', as I believe you young people say. Walking back from work, I saw a man in a van shouting at a woman in a 4x4 stopped across the roundabout. She was in the wrong, but this guy was leaning out of the cab of his van, shaking his fist at her, shouting 'come on' and generally being a violent arsehole. I thought as fast as I could, realised I couldn't cross the traffic to get to him , so whipped out my Blackberry and trained the camera on him, making sure the fucker saw that was exactly what I was doing. Fortunately, realising someone was watching and recording suddenly made this fellow unaccountably sheepish, and he drove off in a huff.
What would have happened if I hadn't been there? Would he have climbed out of his cab and assaulted her? And how did she feel when she drove home? These things are on my mind today not because I want to show off how much of a hero I am - I'm probably in the running for Poltroon of the Decade - but because today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Violence isn't just hitting. Violence is shouting, violence is creating an intimidating environment, violence is acting in any way with the intent to frighten, subjugate and humiliate a woman purely because of her gender.
There's a hell of a lot of violence against women, cis or trans, in this world, from all kinds of quarters. It isn't just a male-on-female issue, there's violence against women by women too, and there's behaviour that enables violence against certain groups of women by creating a false distinction between them and others(I'm looking at you here, Bindel), and there's the general existence of a rape culture which makes all women (and a hell of a lot of men who aren't total pricks) unsafe, and it all has to stop.
Arguably, that woman yesterday avoided a beating because I happened to be walking past with a camera. That shouldn't have to be the case. However she was in the wrong, the guy in the van should have caught on to himself, held his tongue, and been man enough not to be the oppressor.
A world in which men do that - a world in which we all do that - will be a safer day for all of us. Keep that in mind.