The Goddess “Wonder Woman”: A Feminist Review at Her Story Arc

Cross-posted from: Her Story Arc
Originally published: 06.05.17

It’s hard to know where to start. When it was announced that Wonder Woman would be getting her own movie years ago, I was excited that the debut would coincide with the year I anticipated graduating from my MBA program. A year and a half ago I was excited that the movie debut would coincide with having the first female President of the United States. What a year 2017 would be, I thought.

My MBA graduation has ended up being delayed a year, and that’s fine. But we all know how the presidential election turned out. We march. We protest. We persist. We aren’t sorry.

And we needed Wonder Woman. I needed Wonder Woman. 


Read more The Goddess “Wonder Woman”: A Feminist Review at Her Story Arc

Gingerbloodywigsdrunkardsleprechaunsguinnesbonocangettofuck, by @resurgamblog

Cross-posted from: The Real Thunder Child
Originally published: 24.08.15

Ok . St Pat’s day…

Has the dust settled, are we over our hangovers? Then I’ll begin…..

Once upon a time , there was an Anglo Irish girl, a convent girl no less, who eschewed her roots, spent time being strenuously *not* Irish .

Why, well partly , St Patrick’s day, or more arguably, the buffoonery and racism , yes racism.
“Racism she says” and I hear ya ….We’re white . Very, very white. Usually the whitest person in the room, I won’t lie.
But yanno, we’ve only “just” joined “white club”* , still probationers, if you will.
Read more Gingerbloodywigsdrunkardsleprechaunsguinnesbonocangettofuck, by @resurgamblog

The Olympics, Maria Miller, and sleeping under bridges, by @marstrina

Cross-posted from: Not a zero sum game
Originally published: 28.01.16
Let me just say at the outset: I don’t really care about sports all that much. I don’t watch it, much less play it. The only reason I’m even talking about it now is because it’s a hugely important aspect of modern culture, in terms of both the passion that individual people invest in it and the multi-billion part it plays in the global economy. But as a person, I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I didn’t even watch the Olympics when they were in he UK, meaning in my timezone and not at some outlandish hour in the middle of the night, so. Having cleared up any confusion about my Olympic aspirations, let’s have a look at what equality in sports looks like for trans men and trans women. 

 

The International Olympic Committee recently released the guidelines from its November “Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism“, in which it asserts a commitment to “ensure insofar as possible that trans athletes are not excluded from the opportunity to participate in sporting competition”. This is a pretty decent goal in and of itself, taken in isolation. It’s not clear to me why the commission is especially concerned with trans athletes; even at the largest estimates, they constitute a tiny proportion of the population. The crossover between people who are trans and people who are good enough to try for the Olympic games must be infinitesimal indeed; but OK, it’s the trendy minority right now, and the Caster Semenya case is still ringing in everyone’s ears, so fair enough.


Read more The Olympics, Maria Miller, and sleeping under bridges, by @marstrina

Raising Useless Children – A disaster of Helicopter Parenting, by @LK_Pennington

Cross-posted from: Louise Pennington
Originally published: 14.09.17

My eldest daughter’s first year of secondary school included a residential outdoor education trip. She had already been on one in primary school at a similar centre so I wasn’t going to bother attending the parent’s information meeting. Until she came home with not only a list of things required to take but skills needed to be allowed on the trip, including:

  • Being able to butter her own toast
  • Cut up dinner
  • Pour herself a drink without spilling
  • Getting dressed by herself
  • Brushing her own teeth.

As with all comprehensive schools in Scotland, integration for students with additional support needs was policy (although these children never get the actual level of support required due to systemic underfunding). The school also had a unit attached for students with autism who may find a full day too difficult. I assumed that my daughter had collected the wrong form and that the list was to double check children’s support needs in order to ensure the appropriate level of staffing to ensure that all children could attend. I went along to the information meeting assuming it would be a waste of my time (since I’d sat through a similar one the year before).

I was wrong.
Read more Raising Useless Children – A disaster of Helicopter Parenting, by @LK_Pennington

Why don’t women matter?, by @FeministBorgia

Cross-posted from: Feminist Borgia
Originally published: 06.02.14

This morning on the Today program I listened to a very interesting segment regarding deaths of children and young people in the criminal justic system. You can read more about it here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26061816

The charity Inquest has worked with the Prison Reform Trust to produce a report
(called Fatally Flawed, can be found here) regarding deaths in custody, specifically those of children and young people under the age of 24. They report that in the past ten years 163 children and young people have died in the care of the state, mostly as a result of suicide (although there are cases where the cause of death was a result of, for example, the types of restraint used against them). Of those who died, two thirds of those under 18 and almost a third of those between 18 and 24 were being actively monitored for self harm and/or suicidal behaviour. Today’s coverage is as we await an announcement from the prisons minister, Jeremy Wright as to whether he will acquiesce to the charities’ request to hold a full independent enquiry. He has previously refused such calls, but has agreed to look at the request again.
Read more Why don’t women matter?, by @FeministBorgia

Girls Education is Imperative for Our Collective Success, by @rupandemehta.

Cross-posted from: Rupande Mehta
Originally published: 17.07.16

July 12, 2016 marked Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousofzai’s 19th birthday. Twitter celebrated the occasion with various hashtags (#YesAllGirls, #GirlsEducation, #MalalaDay) and by holding several chats. I had the pleasure of being part of one such chat (#REFSpeak), hosted by The Red Elephant Foundation led by the brilliant Kirthi Jayakumar. (Kirthi, a Mogul Influencer and Global Ambassador, is a lawyer by profession but tirelessly works for women’s rights the world over. You can read more about Kirthi here).

The guests on the chat came from various backgrounds but we all agreed on one thing: universal education for girls is essential. At a time when the world is evolving, on a daily basis, we need to ensure that girls are evolving with it and are aware of their rights and liberties.
Read more Girls Education is Imperative for Our Collective Success, by @rupandemehta.

Wah! How am I supposed to know if someone consents to sex?, by @Herbeatittude

Cross-posted from: Herbs & Hags
Originally published: 25.01.15

A flurry of internet indignation from rapey types has greeted the announcement of new guidelines for dealing with rape. New Guidelines

The guidelines advise that rape suspects who claim that the sex they had with a woman alleging rape was consensual, should be asked questions about how they ensured that the person alleging rape was actually consenting to that sex.  Just as a man accused of burglary who said “no, guv, I didn’t do it” would be asked further questions to find out if he might be lying, a man accused of rape will be treated in exactly the same way.

This is considered extremely unfair by some sections of the internet, who appear to believe that rape suspects should be treated differently from any other crime suspect.  “Off you go then mate” is apparently the correct response, followed by a no-crime report. By and large that’s exactly how it’s always been done and is one of the reasons our rape conviction rate has stood at round about 6-7% for the last few years: because police don’t bother to ask further questions in the way they do of other crime suspects. Now the DPP have issued guidelines to ensure that the police at least go through the basics of crime investigation when an allegation of rape is made, you would think that it means the presumption of innocence has been dumped.  
Read more Wah! How am I supposed to know if someone consents to sex?, by @Herbeatittude

When should a church be disqualified from having women in it?

Cross-posted from: God Loves Women
Originally published: 14.12.16

Mez McConnell is the Director of 20 Schemes, a church planting organisation seeking to “see Scotland’s housing schemes transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ through the planting of gospel-preaching churches”.  His passion for and commitment to seeing lives transformed by Jesus is extremely inspiring. 20 Schemes is working with some of the most marginalised people in society.  This is also a mission I am committed to.  I come from a working class background, have been a teenage mother and single parent.  I have lived in deprived areas almost my whole life and have worked with many women who have been deeply wounded by men and by poverty.   My husband and I are now raising a little boy from a severely deprived background having spent a year trying to support his mum to be able to become a parent again.  As such I hope that this blog is read in light of my great respect for 20 Schemes mission and passion.

Mez published a blog on the 20 Schemes website earlier today entitled “Why My First Church Hire Was A Woman, And Yours Should Be Too”.  At first glance, this blog seems to be incredibly pro-women, challenging male-led churches to value the contribution women make to the life of the church.  Not only that, he is insisting women should be paid for doing this, shifting away from the idea that women’s labour should be offered free.


Read more When should a church be disqualified from having women in it?

ON ESCAPISM: THE 2 REASONS THOSE DRUGS WON’T WORK

Cross-posted from: Elizabeth the Third
Originally published: 15.03.17

I should tell you that as I begin writing this I’m considering whether to pop an opiate, a benzo, both, or neither.

“Should I take it/them before writing? Will I be lucid enough if they kick in? They’re not strong doses, but I’m allowed to take three at once… What dose is a strong dose? What can I get away with here?

“Mid-writing? Best of both worlds. Do some sober writing, and then experience a bit of wacky writing, see what happens…”

The other option of course is to take the drugs for the medical condition for which they’ve been prescribed. In a minute. Or now. It doesn’t matter.

They seem like innocent, innocuous questions. But there’s a hell of a lot going on behind those debates. For me – maybe for you too.

This is your brain on(/anticipating) drugs. *frying pan*
Read more ON ESCAPISM: THE 2 REASONS THOSE DRUGS WON’T WORK

Hugh Hefner: A Feminist Review

“Hugh Hefner is no ‘hero’ – he built an empire on misogyny”, by Claire Heuchan

Reading all of the glowing tributes to Hugh Hefner, I wonder if some sort of collective amnesia has struck. It is a sad thing when any life comes to an end, particularly for grieving family and friends. And yet so many celebrations of the Playboy founder’s work gloss over the sexism that was the foundation of Hefner’s company. Hugh Hefner profited from misogyny – he built an empire on it. At the time of his death, Hefner’s net worth was estimated to be £37 million – money that was made through the commodification of women’s bodies, through presenting women’s bodies as sexual objects that existed for men’s consumption.

Hefner was not, as some claim, a pioneer of the sexual revolution. There is nothing revolutionary about men exploiting women for their own sexual gratification or financial gain – it has been happening for hundreds of years, and is called patriarchy. Hefner has even been embraced as an LGBT ally for featuring a transgender model in Playboy back in 1991. If Hefner was an ally, the word is meaningless. Objectifying a transwoman does not pave the road to equality for anyone. …

I called Hugh Hefner a pimp, he threatened to sue. But that’s what he was, by Suzanne Moore

Long ago, in another time, I got a call from a lawyer. Hugh Hefner was threatening a libel action against me and the paper I worked for at the time, for something I had written. Journalists live in dread of such calls. I had called Hefner a pimp. To me this was not even controversial; it was self-evident. And he was just one of the many “libertines” who had threatened me with court action over the years.

It is strange that these outlaws have recourse in this way, but they do. But at the time, part of me wanted my allegation to be tested in a court of law. What a case it could have made. What a hoot it would have been to argue whether a man who procured, solicited and made profits from women selling sex could be called a pimp. Of course, central to Playboy’s ideology is the idea that women do this kind of thing willingly; that at 23 they want nothing more than to jump octogenarians. …

When I heard Hugh Hefner had died, I wished I believed in hell, by Julie Bindel

On hearing that the pimp and pornographer Hugh Hefner had died this morning, I wished I believed in hell.

“The notion that Playboy turns women into sex objects is ridiculous,” said the sadistic pimp in 2010. “Women are sex objects… It’s the attraction between the sexes that makes the world go ‘round. That’s why women wear lipstick and short skirts.”

Hefner was responsible for turning porn into an industry. As Gail Dines writes in her searing expose of the porn industry, he took it from the back street to Wall Street and, thanks in large part to him, it is now a multibillion dollar a year industry. Hefner operated in a country I live in, a country where if you film any act of humiliation or torture – and if the victim is a woman – the film is both entertainment and it is protected speech. …

Hugh Hefner’s influence lives on in his particular brand of “feminism”, by @glosswitch

September has been a difficult month in terms of losses to feminism. First we saw the death of Kate Millett, the radical second-wave author of Sexual Politics. Now it’s been the turn of Hugh Hefner, the Playboy publisher who once described himself as “a feminist before there was such a thing as feminism”.

Obviously it would be difficult to say which of the two fought the hardest for women. Would it be Millett, who sought to liberate us from the bounds of patriarchy, or Hefner, who sought to free us from body hair, inner lives and clothes? An impossible call to make. Still, if it came down to the question of whose brand of feminism has won the day, there’s an easy answer to that.

Hefner feminism is all around us. It’s the feminism of pre-teen girls seeking designer vaginas; of men who rent out vaginas and wombs; of women who diet, shave, starve and never say no. We’re not free from oppression, but oppression is no longer stigmatised. Isn’t that enough? …

The 15 Worst Things Playmates Have Said About Life in the Playboy Mansion at Cosmo

1. “Everyone thinks that the infamous metal gate was meant to keep people out. But I grew to feel it was meant to lock me in.” —Holly Madison in her book, Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny

2. “When you’re here you have to be in by the 9 p.m. curfew. You’re not allowed to invite any friends up to see you.” —Carla Howe, The Mirror … 

Abortion Is Legal in South Africa — But Illegal Clinics Are Thriving. Why?, by @sianfergs

Cross-posted from: Sian Ferguson
Originally published: 03.04.17

faded poster with the word ‘ABORTION’ in purple capital letters is plastered on a lamppost near my house in Grahamstown, South Africa. At the bottom of the poster, a phone number is printed in large font. Similar posters can be spotted in cities like Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town. It might be on an electricity box in a small town, or on the side of a traffic light in a coastal area. The posters live all over South Africa — in fact, they’re so ubiquitous I rarely noticed them until a foreign friend mentioned them.

“Are these clinics legal?” she asked. “Because, I mean, abortion is legal here, right?”


Read more Abortion Is Legal in South Africa — But Illegal Clinics Are Thriving. Why?, by @sianfergs

A quick, personal reflection on health and safety

Cross-posted from: Sian Norris
Originally published: 21.06.17

One of the stories I grew up with as a kid was the story of when my granddad’s friend died.
It was a ghost story – or that’s how it was told when we were kids. A premonition by my spiritualist great-nana.

The story was this.

My granddad had a job on the steelworks in Shotton. He and his friend were sat side-by-side, eating their lunch. A load of steel fell from a great height and killed his friend.

This happened in the era before ‘health and safety’ or ‘elf and safety’ as it is called by Richard Littlejohn, a man for whom humour is defined by ‘putting on a funny accent’.
Read more A quick, personal reflection on health and safety

Broadchurch, Call the Midwife, Vera – Male Violence Against Women

Cross-posted from: Mairi Voice
Originally published: 07.03.17

There is not much in the way of quality programmes on TV, so it was with some delight that I looked forward to last weekend when three of my favourite programmes – Broadchurch, Call the Midwife and Vera  were going to be on ABC TV in Australia.

And each of them dealt with male violence against women.

In Broadchurch, Trish, played by Julie Hesmondhalgh is a victim of sexual assault. She portrays the trauma of rape very realistically and sympathetically, forgetting her name and many of the details of her experience.

We see the detail of the forensic investigation, such an intrusion in itself. The detectives, Ellie Miller played by Olivia Colman and Alec Hardy played by David Tennant, respond to Trish with compassion and sensitivity.  The whole ambiance of these scenes acknowledges the trauma and pain of sexual assault.

“The considerable effort they have put into portraying the trauma of sexual assault sensitively and accurately is hugely welcome. Broadchurch, along with the likes of the BBC’s Apple Tree Yard, is helping to make significant strides in dispelling the myths and stereotypes around sexual violence.”  Rowan Miller
Read more Broadchurch, Call the Midwife, Vera – Male Violence Against Women

Sharing images of ‘missing children’: the problems of violent fathers and spiteful trolls

Cross-posted from: Louise Pennington
Originally published: 10.06.17

Within hours of the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, people across social media were sharing images of those who were declared missing. Some of these were shared by family and friends who knew girls and women attending the concert, but who had not yet heard whether they were safe. These images were also being shared by those wanting to help – a desire borne out of genuine kindness. Unfortunately, by early Tuesday morning, media were already reporting that some of the images being shared were of people who were not at the concert. One of the first images we saw when we logged on to Twitter was of Nasar Ahmed, who died in November from an asthma attack at school. We immediately tweeted out asking people not to share images of children declared missing unless they knew that the source is real. At that point, we didn’t know the scale of the spiteful and cruel trolling. Then we were informed that another image being shared was of Jayden Parkinson who was murdered in 2013 by her boyfriend, who had a history of domestic violence. In the end, multiple false images were being shared; many of which originated from a thread on reddit where men were encouraging each other to deliberately and maliciously harm the families and friends of victims with ‘fake news’.


Read more Sharing images of ‘missing children’: the problems of violent fathers and spiteful trolls

Writing women’s lived reality out of the narrative of their death

Cross-posted from: Karen Ingala Smith
Originally published: 14.07.17

8 Christina Randall

Hull City Council has recently published a Domestic Homicide Review[i] (DHR) into the murder of Christina Spillane, also known as Christina Randell. The conclusion in the  Executive Summary of the full report stated ‘Nothing has come to light during the review that would suggest that [Christina Spillane’s] death could have been predicted or prevented.’

On 5th December 2013, Christina Spillane had phoned the police and in the course of describing threatening and aggressive behaviour from Deland Allman, her partner of over 20 years, she told them that he was going to kill her. The claim that nothing suggested her murder could have been predicted is not just wrong, it is doing one of the things that DHRs are supposed to avoid: writing the voice of the victim out of her own narrative. Christina had herself predicted that Allman was going to kill her and she told this to the police the first time there was any recorded contact between  her and them. Also, women are more likely to underestimate the risk they face from a violent partner than overestimate it.  Her fears should not have been ignored whilst she was still alive, let alone after she had been killed.

The conclusion of the executive summary of the DHR, contrary to several examples given in the body of the report, states ‘There is nothing to indicate there were any barriers to reporting and advice and information was given to [Christina]  regarding services but these were not taken up.’ This belies any understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and abuse. 1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes and almost 1 in 10 will suffer domestic violence in any given year. Most women will never make any sort of formal report, to the police or any other service, statutory or otherwise, but most of them would be able to explain why they haven’t, exactly because of the multitude of barriers to doing so: shame, feeling it’s your own fault, not wanting to admit there’s a problem, feeling knackered enough and demoralised by the abuse and not being able to face telling a stranger about it, feeling judged, feeling more afraid of the unknown future than the known present or past. These are just a few examples from a much longer list of possibilities. On one occasion that the police were called to respond to Allman’s violence against Christina, their adult child had told the police that their mother, Christina ‘was too scared to call the police.’ That the panel of people assembled for the domestic homicide review panel declined to identify this, or any other significant barriers to reporting in the report’s conclusion, is a shockingly bad omission.

Research published in 2012 by the Equality and Human Rights Commission showed that 95% of women using women’s services preferred to receive them from a women only-organisation.   Another report ‘Islands in the Stream’ by London Metropolitan University also stressed the importance of independent organisations. The domestic violence and abuse service in Hull is provided by Hull Domestic Abuse Partnership, a multi-agency response within the council’s community safety function. This is not an independent woman-only organisation. It is remiss that the DHR report does not consider whether this might be a barrier to reporting. Indeed it only reinforces the suggestion that too many statutory commissioners are happy to ignore what women tell us about the services they most value and furthermore, that independent women’s organisations are often undervalued and their importance side-lined.

For Christina there were additional problems: she had problematic substance use and a long history of involvement in prostitution. The review details that she had a criminal record including  ‘prostitute loitering and prostitute soliciting’ but does not consider even in passing that this may have affected her behaviour, choices, beliefs about herself or relationship with ‘the authorities’. By failing to look at this, the inclusion of this information in the review risks merely inviting judgment of her character, the expectation of which is itself a barrier to accessing support. Indeed a report by nia found that prostitution-specific criminal records have a profound and specific negative impact on women, massively influencing how they expect to be viewed by others. Additionally, involvement in prostitution itself is a homicide risk factor.  The Femicide Census found that of women who were involved in prostitution and killed  between 2009 and 2015, almost 20% had been killed by a current or former partner, suggesting prostitution must be recognised as not just a risk factor for or form of male violence, but also as a risk factor for intimate partner violence including homicide. There is no indication in the DHR that anyone on the review panel had an expertise in understanding the impacts of prostitution upon women and considered this a barrier.

On 1st February 2015, almost two years and two months after telling the police that she feared Allman would kill her, Christina Spillane was found dead. Allman had stabbed her three times and strangled her in an assault of such force that the blade had snapped. She was 51. Far from there being ‘Nothing [that had] come to light during the review that would suggest that [Christina Spillane’s] death could have been predicted or prevented.’ as concluded in the executive summary, there had been a number of indicators of serious risk: escalating violence, threats to kill, reports of strangulation, separation, expression of suicidal thoughts by Allman, and male entitlement/possessiveness indicated by Allman’s belief that Christina was ‘having an affair’. Christina had spoken to the police, her GP, her drugs support agency, a support provider for women offenders and A&E between calling the police in December 2013 and her murder on the eve of 1st February 2015. It is simply incorrect to state that support ‘was not taken up’. Another interpretation is that Christina Spillane was desperately afraid and made multiple disclosures as she sought to find a route to safety, was facing multiple barriers to accessing specialist services and was failed by those that may have been able to help.

Frank Mullane, CEO of AAFDA,  a charity set up to support families of victims of domestic homicide in memory of his sister and nephew who were murdered by their husband/father, says that the “victim’s perspective should permeate these reviews throughout”. The DHR in to the murder of Christina Spillane sorely failed to achieve this aim

No-one but the perpetrator, Deland Allman, bears responsibility for killing Christina. It is not the purpose of a DHR to redirect blame from violent killers (usually men) who make choices to end (usually women’s) lives. But if DHRs are to fulfil the functions of contributing to a better understanding and the prevention of domestic violence and abuse, they cannot be a hand-washing exercise. They need to ask big questions, there needs to be a robust challenge to victim blaming and they must endeavour to see things from a victim’s (usually woman’s) perspective. If we want them to be part of what makes a difference, we need to make sure that we hear what victims of violence tell us, rather than use them as a means of absolving us from taking responsibility for the differences that we might have been able to make.

 [i]  Since 2001, local authorities have been required to undertake and usually publish reports on Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) where the death of a person aged 16 or over has, or appears to have, resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by a relative, household member or someone they have been in an intimate relationship with. The purposes of the reviews, which should be chaired by an independent person with relevant expertise, include establishing and applying  what lessons are to be learned from the ways that agencies work to safeguard victims and also, to contribute to a better understanding of and the prevention of domestic violence and abuse.

 

Karen Ingala Smith: Blogs (mainly) about men’s violence against women, feminism, inequality, infertility.  Twitter @K_IngalaSmith

 

healing, hope and Jesus.

Cross-posted from: Helen blogs
Originally published: 27.11.16

Its been a while since I last wrote something …

In fact over a year, and part of me has wondered over the last few months whether or not I have lost the ability to write. Or whether I’ve just lost confidence.

You can let me know after you’ve read this maybe?

I’ve been working on some thoughts for quite some time now and have never actually managed to feel like I had sorted them enough to publish for people to read – thats if I still have any readers! Anyone still out there?

And then I realised over the last few days especially, that perhaps I am never going to have them ‘sorted’.

I’ve also struggled with pressuring myself about the fact that I felt this stuff should be/needed to be ‘deep’, and theological and and and … but maybe they don’t need to be, and maybe they are just simple ideas and maybe some simple truths that don’t need over complicating right now, if ever? 
Read more healing, hope and Jesus.

Is it time for the media to take responsibility for feeding fascism?

Cross-posted from: Crates N Ribbons
Originally published: 07.04.16

microphone

 

The media loves a little political or social upheaval. In the wake of the disastrous result of the EU referendum, newspapers across the country have been relishing the chaos, as they churn out headline after headline, each more sensationalist than the last. The pound at its lowest value in 30 years! Racism and hate crime have gone up 500%! The numerous lies of the Leave campaign leave voters reeling! Xenophobia sweeps across the country!

Yet, something about their seeming outrage at the miserable state of affairs we are in leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Perhaps it is their positioning of themselves as objective observers, just as shocked as anyone by the horrific unfolding of events, when in so many cases, they helped to create the very climate that they are now reporting on? I have yet to find a mainstream media outlet that has acknowledged its own role in shaping public opinion in the lead up to the referendum, or in helping to fan the flames of racial intolerance.
Read more Is it time for the media to take responsibility for feeding fascism?

cheeseburgers and Ikea bags, at Blues in a tea cup

Cross-posted from: Blues in a tea cup.
Originally published: 08.08.17

It’s dark the way only an October night in England can be, and raining a baptism. I’m walking home from Mrs M’s, reflecting on the fragility of life. In truth, I’ve believed Mrs M to be immortal until now, but she’s 92 and so frail it’s taken two of us to get her into bed tonight.  My faith is beginning to waver.  I don’t yet know the day when I’ll hold her hand while she fights her last battle is less than eight weeks away, but there’s a sense of finality. 
Read more cheeseburgers and Ikea bags, at Blues in a tea cup

The Trouble with “Hate”, by Liz Kelly at @strifejournal

Cross-posted from: Trouble & Strife

The category of “hate crime” is now widely recognized, both legally and in the culture at large. To many activists fighting racism and homophobia, this recognition is welcome; but what value does it have for feminists dealing with violence against women and children? Is “hate crime” a useful concept, or is it ultimately divisive and unhelpful? Liz Kelly weighs up the arguments.

These reflections are prompted by my involvement in an EU study [1] which considered whether it was feasible to harmonise European national legislation on violence against women (VAW), violence against children (VAC) and sexual orientation violence (SOV). Since I was responsible for the section on SOV, I had to engage with the now-common framing of it as a “hate crime”. This is a concept I have had misgivings about for some time [2], and my unease was reinforced by my experience of working on the EU study.

Before I elaborate, I should make clear that I am not denying the existence of misogyny—woman-hating—or more generally of crimes motivated by hate. That both are real was underlined for me in summer 2010, when I spent some time with a close friend who had just attended the first gay pride march in Split, Croatia. 200 marchers were confronted by thousands of men chanting “kill, kill” and “you should all be dead”. Rather, what I want to argue is that there are problems with “hate crime” as an overarching concept. Neither hate nor misogyny provides an adequate explanation or theoretical framework for understanding all violence against women, especially when we examine the intersections with race/ethnicity, age, disability and sexuality. And the evidence suggests that while categorizing them as “hate crimes” has increased the recognition given to certain types of crimes, it has not delivered much in terms of justice and redress.
Read more The Trouble with “Hate”, by Liz Kelly at @strifejournal

What we’re reading: on racism, male violence, motherhood, and Kathy Acker

New book on Canadian racism firmly refutes ‘We’re not as bad as the U.S.’ sentiment, by Shree Paradkar

Self-deception has repeatedly served as a bedrock of cruelty.

It has transformed greed into gallant heroism, where invasion of lands is adventure, displacement of natives is about saving the savages, and theft and self-enrichment is ingenuity.

It has rationalized subjugation as the “natural order” of things. Women — at home; gays — in the closet; natives — in reserves; and Blacks — in farms or in ghettos. …

Settler deception in Canada, however, is unique in the euphemism it employs. …

Let’s stop romanticising the misguided, possibly dangerous actions of spurned men, by Sian Norris @thepooluk

On Saturday, the Bristol Post reported the story of how a 34-year-old man was intending to play one of the city’s public pianos in order to “win” back his ex girlfriend. Calling the woman who he’d been dating for four months “Rapunzel”, the stunt was intended to show off how much he loved her.

As is fairly typical in these kinds of stories, the Post branded the stunt as romantic, calling Luke Howard “heartbroken”, tagging his efforts as “dedication” in their tweet. However, in refusing to accept his ex girlfriend’s “no”, and by making a huge public statement demanding that she recognises his “love” for her, Howard’s behaviour is not romantic. It’s entitled – and it’s symptomatic of a wider problem of men’s harassment of their exes.

This is not the first time that women have been told to accept men not taking no for an answer as a romantic gesture. From John Cusack’s ghetto blaster in Say Anything… to the best man’s creepy filming of his friend’s bride in Love Actually, the ideal of a heartbroken man harassing the object of his affection has been sold to us as true love over and over again.

But there’s nothing romantic about refusing to accept that a woman has a right to leave you. It’s not a love story when a woman tells a man “no” and he demands she change it to a “yes”. ..

After Kathy Acker: the life and death of a taboo-breaking punk writer, by Suzanne Moore

…  At 53, the experimental writer was too young to die and her reaction to her illness had pushed away so many friends who had tried to help her. This was a lonely place, or maybe she had slipped fully into a world of magical thinking – I can’t say. Looking back, though, I think this was how she had always lived. Another way to put it is that Kathy lied. Or that she created her own myth via a series of strategic personas. All her work was an attempt to the dissolve the “I’ , the narrator, the ego. This constant slippage of identity. Who is talking? Who is the author? What is writing but copying down words? What happens when language is lost?

To pin down the real Kathy Acker then is a self-defeating task but Chris Kraus’s biography of her is a brilliant and necessary thing. There is a wonderful ambivalence between subject and object here, which wires up a tension throughout this incredibly well-researched book. Kraus and Acker moved in some of the same circles. The poet Eileen Myles once said that Kraus was “entirely obsessed… wanting to be Kathy”. Sylvère Lotringer – who was Kraus’s husband, and who features in her previous book, I Love Dick– had an affair with Acker for three years before he met Kraus. Inside one of his books, Kraus found an inscription from Acker: “To Sylvère, The Best Fuck in the Word (At Least to My Knowledge ), Love, Kathy.” …

‘Kids are gross’: on feminists and agency, by Caitlin McGregor

… My son, Oscar, is three. He is articulate and perfectly able to understand plain English, but people are constantly talking about him, in his presence, as if he’s not there. Many of my friends are self-described fierce feminists, who can and do rant indefinitely about the indignity women suffer by being silenced, ignored, objectified and dismissed, and yet they consistently do all of these things to Oscar. They ignore his requests not to be touched or embraced, and never make what is to me the very obvious connection between this and their own feminist positions about the non-negotiable need for consent. They override his very clear statements about his emotions; they even laugh when he’s upset and say, in his hearing, that his anger is ‘cute’.

None of these people are purposefully cruel, nor is their approach to interacting with children unusual. What has often perplexed me, though, is how often this kind of behaviour is exhibited by people who are so involved with and driven by feminism, which is so heavily grounded on assertions of dignity, autonomy and respect. What I’ve come to suspect is that many feminists’ failure to recognise the autonomy of children is, at least in part, symptomatic of the way children have for many feminists become symbols of oppression. But when we are unable to separate the systematic discrimination that makes mothering a ridiculously difficult and often oppressive role from the fact that children are sentient, autonomous human beings who deserve dignity and respect, we are in danger of allowing glaring hypocrisies to creep into the way we construct and use feminist principles and ideas. …

Unlearning the myth of American innocence, by Suzy Hansen

… For all their patriotism, Americans rarely think about how their national identities relate to their personal ones. This indifference is particular to the psychology of white Americans and has a history unique to the US. In recent years, however, this national identity has become more difficult to ignore. Americans can no longer travel in foreign countries without noticing the strange weight we carry with us. In these years after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the many wars that followed, it has become more difficult to gallivant across the world absorbing its wisdom and resources for one’s own personal use. Americans abroad now do not have the same swagger, the easy, enormous smiles. You no longer want to speak so loud. There is always the vague risk of breaking something.

Some years after I moved to Istanbul, I bought a notebook, and unlike that confident child, I wrote down not plans but a question: who do we become if we don’t become Americans? If we discover that our identity as we understood it had been a myth? I asked it because my years as an American abroad in the 21st century were not a joyous romp of self-discovery and romance. Mine were more of a shattering and a shame, and even now, I still don’t know myself. …