As readers of UnCommon Sense will know, it is not uncommon for me to disagree with Julie Bindel. However on this occasion my slight disagreement with Julie is of a slightly different nature and probably not something she would disagree with herself. Julie, reporting from Parliament Square tweeted this and a few similar tweets;
"Support the students and hate the gov but a minority of nasty violent macho tossers down here, and not just the police for once".
Her take on the demo being that it was about macho twats on both sides of the police lines, intent on letting their testosterone take over. I can see her point, I haven't been to a demonstration yet where someone hasn't had testosterone problems, but I think it actually represents something rather more sinister than that; targetted violence against women.
OK so I have to admit that I arrived a bit late at the demo (because I couldn't get out of work that day), and my take on it as such may be a bit different. As I arrived, I noticed that the majority of people walking away from it with bloody heads were women and girls. This video, posted to show that the police officer fell off his horse rather than was dragged off it (as Cameron wanted us to think) actually shows, in the background, two women being beaten over the head by a policeman with a truncheon. These women were obviously not threatening anyone, yet they were targetted by a burly male police officer. This report from a girl from Barnsley clearly shows that police officers were engaged in deliberate targetting of women demonstrators, despite them being no threat to the officers involved in committing these crimes. The excellent reports from Laurie Penny have also shown how women and girls are deliberately targetted in unprovoked attacks;
"Fighting for breath, I am shoved roughly through the line by two police officers; twisting my neck, I see a young woman in a white bobble hat pinned between the shields and the crowd, screaming as the batons come down on her head once, twice, and her spectacles are wrenched from her face" (New Statesman 10 Dec 2010).
In the previous demonstration it is clear that Tahameena Bax was targetted by police and injured as policemen hit her over the head with battons. Tahameena is still nowhere near a full recovery. I could continue with many other reports of police violence against women.
What seems to be happening here is a deliberate policy (on the part of the Met - probably from the government) to target women in order to discourage women from coming along to these demonstrations and as such to reduce their numbers and eventually make them appear to be just the work of a small minority of hard-core anarchists and the moronic and macho Socialist Wankers Party.
There needs to be a full enquiry into the violence of male police officers attacking women and girls in these demonstrations, on top of the deliberately political police tactics of kettling demonstrators unnecessarily for very long periods after a demo has finished. Everyone has the right, and indeed the duty, to demonstrate. If the government is using the police to deliberately target female demonstrators in order to discourage them from demonstrating then they are actively discriminating against one group of people.
In my opinion there is clearly a deliberate targetting of girls and women by the police (obviously not to the exclusion of men and boys). There have been too many examples and reports for this pattern to be ignored. Whether it is the result of a deliberate policy of trying to discourage anyone female from protesting, or the result of something more sinister; a group of male police officers who are out of control and wish to indulge their dark, psychiatric fanatsies of misogynistic violence against women is a matter of debate. So whilst Julie may have a point, to an extent, that there was a lot of macho posturing there, it seems to me that there is more to it than that.
I suspect that not only will Lynne Featherstone not be interested in this aspect of equal opportunities but that the tactic of targetted violence will backfire and women and girls will be more determined to demonstrate to get rid of this appalling government. If the Met/Cameron thinks this sort of thing is going to make women cowed and frightened and stay at home, I believe they/he is very mistaken.