For fifteen years, women in Great Britain have been safe. Ever since the reforms of 2023, women have had equal pay, domestic work compensation, free and easy access to healthcare such as birth control and abortion, strict laws re: violence against women, and best of all, a period of curfew for men between 7pm and 7am. Men are electronically monitored, and breaking curfew immediately alerts police and requires a mandatory jail sentence. Women can walk the streets safely, be out after dark, get away from abusive partners, and control decisions about their lives. Even something as simple as cohabitating with a man requires counseling and evaluation to make sure any potential red flags for partner abuse are seen beforehand.
But domestic violence, and violence against women in general, have been engrained in western culture for so many centuries Can fifteen years of laws and curfew really overcome toxic masculinity? No system is foolproof, and when a woman ends up murdered, face pounded beyond recognition, and left in a park overnight, the police are baffled. The culprit has to be a woman, if no man broke curfew. Or is there something more at play here?
I learned about this book from a friend, and began reading it a few days before the recent SCOTUS decisions. The timing was a coincidence, but couldn’t have been better. This is one of the most pertinent books I could have been reading at a time when women were getting their rights stripped away from them. To be honest, when I heard about the book, I worried about several things – that it would present this idea of curfew as a dangerous precedent, an anti-feminist treatise or something similar; or that the book would be so heavy-handed that it wouldn’t feel realistic at all. It was neither of those. There were heavy-handed techniques employed, but honestly, it felt like the right way to present the situation. Were all the guys in the book awful? Pretty much, yeah. Are all guys in real life awful? Of course not…but enough of them are that women are in constant danger from them. And it felt so nice, so idealistic, to read about women jogging in the morning, or going out for drinks with friends in the evening, without worrying about catcalls, groping, unwanted compliments, or danger. I’d take that any day!
The reaction of the men in this book was very telling, too. Men attempting to get free from their electronic bonds. Men who beat up spouses and talked about their partners negatively. Men who lied to have affairs. Men who spoke ill of exes to their shared children. Men who feigned loyalty to improve their living conditions, but kept their dating profiles around. What was really telling – and all too realistic – was the descriptions of the protests over the years: Women protested by going on strike and marching in the street. Men protested by killing their spouses to show that curfew won’t stop the violence. Yeah…
Cowie thought about a lot of different aspects on the subject. The PR aspects from the police point of view. The naivety of children raised in this very different society. The shared living spaces for women seeking refuge from past relationships. Etc. The whole book was well-crafted and planned, and like I said before, an extremely timely read.