Drawn To The Propeller: The Allure of the Abusive Man on #BachelorInParadise, by @GoddessKerriLyn

Cross-posted from: FOCUS: Feminist Observations Connecting Unified Spirits
Originally published: 05.09.16

Josh and Andi 1When a rageaholic is the nation’s Prince Charming, young girls learn abuse is part of the fairy tale. Josh Murray, an emotional abuser, won 2014’s The Bachelorette when Andi Dorfman accepted his proposal. But several months later they ended their engagement. She’s since written a bookAndis Book called It’s Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak Into Happily Never After. In it, she details Josh’s verbal abuse, calling it “the most volatile and fucked up relationship of my life.” At one point she was concerned enough for her safety to tell her friend Nikki Ferrell that if she turned up dead, Josh did it. Andi says she was “trapped in a relationship that made her feel utterly worthless and dismally defeated.” Sounds like a dream come true, right?


Read more Drawn To The Propeller: The Allure of the Abusive Man on #BachelorInParadise, by @GoddessKerriLyn

Jon Jorgensen and Repackaged Patriarchy, by @God_loves_women

Cross-posted from: Mrs GLW
Originally published: 12.12.16

In the last week, I got my first introduction to Jon Jorgenson after stumbling across his video “Who You Are: A Message to all Women” after it found its way into my Twitter feed.  The video is well on its way to having 6 million views.  Jorgenson is a Christian spoken word poet and although this video’s title is aimed at women, the video is set in a lecture hall and seems to be seeking an audience of younger women and girls.

A white man telling girls who they are didn’t seem like a particularly liberatory model.  So I decided to have a watch.  With emotive music and short dramatic sentences, the video is designed to create a specific emotional response.  He tells girls they’re smart and precious and funny and insists we have a responsibility to set free the “world changing woman” within ourselves.  Incidentally the video is entirely produced by men.  So he doesn’t think women are actually smart enough to be involved in creating his videos with him.

After moaning about the video on Twitter, I was informed that he has also created one for men.  So I had a watch of “Who You Are: A Message to all Men”, it has close to 2 million views.  The thing that is MOST fascinating is comparing the words of the videos (and though I don’t have time to delve into them, also the tone and body language within them and soundtrack lyrics behind them).  The subtly (or not so subtly) different language devices within stories that are broadly the same.  The overarching narrative of both videos are:


Read more Jon Jorgensen and Repackaged Patriarchy, by @God_loves_women

Why aren’t there more women atheists?

Cross-posted from: Faithless Feminist
Originally published: 12.05.17
We all know that the movement called the “New Atheism” was promoted most importantly by the “Four Horsemen.” These men-Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens-all became very outspoken after the tragedy of 9/11. Each of them published seminal books in the first decade of the 21st century. A survey of the 100 best-selling books on atheism on Amazon shows each of them still in the top ten today. The number of women on that list of 100 on May 8, 2017 was two. YouTube debates between Christian apologists and atheists are dominated by men, usually on both sides of the issue, including the men mentioned above. Women atheists who take to debates about religion are few and far between. Why?


Read more Why aren’t there more women atheists?

WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT THE FAILURE OF THE BRITISH COMPUTING INDUSTRY? by @histoftech

Cross-posted from: White Heat
Originally published: 25.04.17

Recently I gave a talk at Data & Society, a think tank in NYC that focuses on issues of social justice and technology. The talk was about how the history of computing of our closest historical cousin, the UK, can help us learn things about the past and present of the US–things that we may be blind to, or perhaps just resistant to seeing. The half-hour talk is an overview of what happens when countries build discrimination into technological order, rather than seeking to make equality a core goal of technological progress. In it, I address how the current state of affairs in the US relates to this, and I offer some advice on solving the problems of underrepresentation in STEM fields today. Watch the talk here.

 

White HeatA blog about the history of technology and how to teach it. Women, gender and sexuality in history and technology. Queer and feminist analyses of the past. @histoftech

Fifty Images – 3.0, @skybluepink

Cross-posted from: Fifty Images 3.0
Originally published: 23.09.16

I once spent an afternoon in a school hall teaching 100 children how to draw  the figure in motion.

2012-05-31-08-03-18


Read more Fifty Images – 3.0, @skybluepink

Dress Rules for Women over 40

Cross-posted from: Salt & Caramel

Another summer, another list of rules for women on what they should and shouldn’t wear. From the ‘how to get a bikini body’ articles (top tip – buy a bikini, put it on your body, done!) to this incredibly stupid list of rules for women over 40 years.

Here are my dress rules for women over 40.

1. Problem Zones

I try to hide my problem zones. This is generally done by throwing a dish towel over the un-washed dinner dishes or shoving the ironing basket into a cupboard when visitors are due.

If you have bits of your body that you don’t particularly like (and let’s be honest, most of us do) treat them the same way. Hide them if you want to and don’t if you don’t. Don’t feel obliged to shield innocent children from the sight of your wobbly arms, but if it makes you feel more confident to cover them up, go for it.


Read more Dress Rules for Women over 40

The Grenfell Fire

Look at Grenfell Tower and see the terrible price of Britain’s inequality, by Lynsey Hanley

The appalling destruction of Grenfell Tower and the lives of so many who lived there has exposed what society, in its heart, already knows: our housing cannot continue to be subject to the market’s desires, needs or fluctuations. If some housing is regarded as being more valuable, more desirable, corners will always be cut in the places where there is less financial return. The same goes for people: the most disadvantaged always suffer most from the mistakes of the powerful.

In an inner-London borough as rich as Kensington and Chelsea, social housing is at once integral – in that it forms a massive proportion of its housing stock, and houses a large number of its working residents and families – and yet invisible. This means tenants could warn, repeatedly and with escalating fear, that the building they lived in was a death trap; it meant they felt harassed and intimidated by the landlord and subcontractors during the recent renovation; and it meant, ultimately, that they would be the victims of possibly criminal levels of neglect. …

What happened at Grenfell tower is political—and the residents knew it, by Maya Goodfellow

Before dawn had broken on the Grenfell Tower block yesterday, the chorus of voices had already begun: don’t politicise what’s happened. But housing is deeply political and Grenfell encapsulates how.

The death toll from yesterday’s tragedy is still rising, people are still searching for the missing relatives and friends and residents who survived lost everything they owned—all because of a fire that could likely have been prevented.

The deadly Grenfell fire broke out in Kensington, one of the richest boroughs in the country. But it wasn’t one of the area’s many million pound luxury properties that was eaten up by flames; nor was it wealthy residents who were forced to throw themselves from burning windows. This was a block of social housing and many of the people living there were on low pay. And they were wise to what could happen in their home.

Time and again they pleaded with the council and with Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), the company that manages social housing in the borough, to deal with their severe safety concerns. Reporting problems over issues from wiring to boilers, they were ignored persistently.

A Very Political Tragedy, by Dawn Foster

In the richest borough of one of the wealthiest countries in the world, people in social housing, many on low incomes, were killed and injured in a fire that could have been prevented or contained. Rather than diverting blame from those responsible, or treating it as an act of nature, our responsibility is to ask why it occurred.

Time and again, residents reported serious concerns about the safety of the building to the management organization, the local council, and the member of parliament (recently unseated in the general election). They were met with silence, and several told me on the scene they were convinced it was because they were poor, living in a rich borough that was determined to socially cleanse the area as part of a gentrifying project.

Today’s fire in Grenfell Tower is not outside of politics — it is a symbol of the United Kingdom’s deep inequality. The block of 120 apartments housed between 400 and 600 people, some in very crowded conditions. Tenants reported problems with elevators, emergency lighting, wiring, and boilers. Even the most minor improvement required constant badgering. People were given the message that they were lucky to have any home at all, let alone in a borough that harbored such wealth.

The classist, racist disorganisation at Grenfell Tower is disgraceful, by HANNA DOKAL

… What is a shocking display from the media to many is unfortunately not a surprise to local community affected by the fire. Many of those lugging bin bags full of important supplies look around at the lack of officials and all come to the same conclusion: “You know why they aren’t here yet? We’re migrants, immigrants, refugees.” Although there has been some coordination from emergency services, the acute absence of local authority delegation and coordination on the ground is difficult for the community to digest.

For residents, it becomes difficult to understand the situation as anything other than classism, even racism, as they stand organising amongst themselves, unaided, in the poorest and most diverse part of one of the richest boroughs in London. Kensington and Chelsea is one of the smallest London boroughs harbouring some of the most expensive houses in the world. Yet, it also has pockets of poverty which are somehow overlooked due to the glamorous reputation perpetuated by shows like Made in Chelsea and Forbes lists detailing the prices of some of its homes. Today though, it is clear that in this tiny borough the wealthy and the working class live side by side in starkly differing conditions. The borough’s façade melts away as quickly as Grenfell Tower did in the early hours of this morning. …

Grenfell shows just how Britain fails migrants, by Nesrine Malik

The police tape that lined streets around Grenfell Tower told a tale of two cities. Multimillion-pound properties with perfectly manicured front gardens stood under the shadow of the still smoking and charred block. Throughout the night before, in church halls, civic centres and mosques all around, residents had gathered to sift through the donations and give comfort to dazed survivors and their friends and relatives.

It was impossible to look at them and not see the obvious: they were, overwhelmingly, Arab, Muslim or African. They were European migrants, black British, refugees from the developing world – some of them second generation – and asylum seekers, sharing the tower with the poor, white working class of London. It was impossible to listen to the languages spoken on the phone to loved ones and not hear that these people were those often filed as “other”. It was impossible to read the names of the dead and the missing and not see that they, or their parents, were displaced from elsewhere. The first victim named was a Syrian refugee, Mohammed al-Haj Ali. The list is now extending into a roll call of the marginalised, the maligned and the disenfranchised. …

When I worked for KCTMO I had nightmares about burning tower blocks, by Seraphima Kennedy

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster, a harsh light now shines on the organisation that managed the block, and others in the area, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO).

People have said that this was “a disaster waiting to happen”. I shared their concerns. I saw them from the inside.

I remember the vote that led to the creation of KCTMO in 1996, because my mother was a tenant at the time and we received letters about it. I was born and brought up in the south of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, on benefits, in an overcrowded council flat. …

We owe it to the residents of Grenfell Tower to politicise this tragedy, by Frances Ryan

In the hours following the blaze on social media, as people began to feel anger as the news unfolded, a common retort emerged: “Don’t politicise the tragedy.” I understand why it would make some people uncomfortable: as families still search for their loved ones, it can seem “too soon” or in bad taste. But there is something very dangerous about pretending residents dying in social housing should not be seen as a matter for the state. What happened at Grenfell Tower is the definition of political.

Grenfell Tower sits in one of the country’s richest boroughs in a city undergoing a scandal in housing inequality: low-income families housed in dire conditions as the area is “regenerated” for investors. That the cladding thought to have helped cause the death of Grenfell Tower residents was chosen in order to make the tower more attractive for the rich who had to look at it from their luxury apartments is almost too horrific in its symbolism.

Awesome Women Who Disguised Themselves as Men to Follow their Dreams

Cross-posted from: Jump Mag

Throughout history girls and women have been told, ‘You can’t do that! You are a girl!’ Luckily, this attitude is becoming less common in many countries and cultures, but what did women do in the past? If they wanted to be a doctor, a musician, a sportsperson or even a soldier?

Most women put aside their dreams or practised other activities that were deemed appropriate for women. Some women protested, like the suffragettes who demanded to be allowed to vote. And a small number of women went much further. Today we are taking a look at the women who disguised themselves as men in order to follow their dreams.


Read more Awesome Women Who Disguised Themselves as Men to Follow their Dreams

The invisible children, @headinbook

Cross-posted from: Head in Book
Originally published: 30.05.17

Luckily, I’m past the stage of needing to use the Parent & Child parking spaces at the supermarket. I still play the game of “spot the invisible child”, though: eyes peeled for that strange phenomenon afflicting people who nab a convenient place presumably on the basis of owning a parent, or having once been a child.

There are ripe pickings for “spot the invisible child” in politics, too. On a more serious level which I’m not qualified to discuss, there are severely disadvantaged youngsters, whether through poverty, neglect or unmet special needs, whose plight too often goes unmentioned. On a level that affects me personally, though, along with millions and millions of others, are the children in the current hot topic of “childcare”.

To listen to politicians and most media coverage, you’d be justified in thinking that it’s an issue which applies only to tots. There are endless reams of thinkpieces on the harm or otherwise of paid care for babies and toddlers; endless (and fiendishly complex) policy wrangles around entitlement to free childcare (or is it early years education?) for the 3s-and-unders.


Read more The invisible children, @headinbook

What is happiness? by @AliyaMughal1

Cross-posted from: Aliya Mughal
Image courtesy of Jordan McQueen via Unsplash

Image courtesy of Jordan McQueen via Unsplash

“I think you might do something better with the time than waste it asking riddles that have no answers.”

So says Alice to the March Hare and the Mad Hatter when she encounters them down the rabbit hole of Wonderland, playing at tea parties in their self-confessed madness.

Happiness is one such riddle that preoccupies far too many of us for too much of the time.  Madness is another, although not so many of us contemplate it to an equal degree.  And yet the two are so often inextricably linked, unresolved conflicts tangling us up in knots.


Read more What is happiness? by @AliyaMughal1

Stories That Bridge the Distance Between Us at The Not Me

Cross-posted from: The Not Me
Originally published: 08.02.15

August

panorama-of-construction-of-dnieper-hydroelectric-station (detail)As I passed a construction site populated by a small herd of bulldozers, dump trucks, and backhoes, I heard all sorts of rumbling, whirring, and churning. Dirt mushroomed above the machines at work, powdering the glare of the sharp afternoon light. Squinty-eyed workers in warm-colored hard hats milled about in t-shirts and jeans. A young mother and her toddler in his stroller were gazing at the big trucks through the chain links of the tall metal fence surrounding the site. Just down the block stood an old man, also peering intently at the scene behind the fence.

The man wore a light-colored, button-down shirt; polyester khaki slacks; a wool cardigan; and beige-leather shoes with thick soles. A navy blue baseball cap with its brim pulled low and a pair of dark-plastic, goggle-like sunglasses—the kind that fit over eyeglasses—covered half his face. He seemed well-protected from the UV rays of the sun but immune to the heat and mugginess of summer.
Read more Stories That Bridge the Distance Between Us at The Not Me

O Brave New World

Cross-posted from: Abigail Rieley
Originally published: 19.06.16

Tattered-Union-flag

Nothing happens in a vacuum. My words are shaped by the experiences I’ve lived through. Everything has a cause and effect. Some events resonate so strongly within their own context that the echoes can be heard for years.

I moved back to England 5 months ago yesterday. My return was shaped by my departure many years before. I knew that the European Referendum would be the defining story of my first year. I was a journalist for a long time. I still think in stories. My own view of Europe is coloured by my experiences. While I was in college I produced and presented a European news show on community radio. I considered myself European, as a blow-in in a country of race memory it was the most comfortable choice. Europe was everywhere, the little blue plaques on public buildings, the awarding body for any funding. I visited Brussels on a press trip for local journalists, we all knew that the European funding for radio documentaries was so much easier to get than the Irish alternative and often more generous. In college I got the opportunity to mix with journalism students  from the Netherlands and and spent a semester in France with European funding. I studied French as part of my course, the better to read European documents and legislation. There’s an innate understanding in bi-lingual Ireland that translation can be a slippery thing and the devil’s in the detail.


Read more O Brave New World

Wonder Woman: Feminist Film or same old Patriarchy?

 

Why Wonder Woman is a masterpiece of subversive feminism  by @zoesqwilliams

… Yes, she is sort of naked a lot of the time, but this isn’t objectification so much as a cultural reset: having thighs, actual thighs you can kick things with, not thighs that look like arms, is a feminist act. The whole Diana myth, women safeguarding the world from male violence not with nurture but with better violence, is a feminist act. Casting Robin Wright as Wonder Woman’s aunt, re-imagining the battle-axe as a battler, with an axe, is a feminist act. A female German chemist trying to destroy humans (in the shape of Dr Poison, a proto-Mengele before Nazism existed) might be the most feminist act of all.

Women are repeatedly erased from the history of classical music, art and medicine. It takes a radical mind to pick up that being erased from the history of evil is not great either. Wonder Woman’s casual rebuttal of a sexual advance, her dress-up montage (“it’s itchy”, “I can’t fight in this”, “it’s choking me”) are also feminist acts. Wonder Woman is a bit like a BuzzFeed list: 23 Stupid Sexist Tropes in Cinema and How to Rectify Them. I mean that as a compliment.

I wish Wonder Woman were as feminist as it thinks it is: @c_cauterucci

… To me, whatever chance Wonder Woman had of being some kind of feminist antidote to the overabundance of superhero movies made by and for bros was blown by its prevailing occupation with the titular heroine’s sex appeal. Characters frequently note that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, who goes by Diana in the film, is “the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen.” Her male companions in the fight against Germany’s WWI forces drool behind her back at the notion that there may somewhere be an island full of women who look like her, with no men in sight. When she walks into a room, even dressed in a plain gray suit and bowler hat instead of her usual sensual armored leotard, men go silent and stare. “I’m both frightened and aroused,” goes one character’s response to Diana’s ass-kicking moves, prompting one of the audience’s loudest, longest laughs at the screening I attended.

“Her femininity is part of the story, for the way it makes even the other heroes in the movie underestimate and discount her. But her gender is never the story’s primary thrust,” wrote a critic at the Verge this week. Disagree. By the time the action got too fast-paced and loud for any more characters to marvel at Diana’s fine bod and bone structure, I was about an hour past being sick of the “sexy lady is also hypercompetent” joke. …

The Original Wonder Woman Had Some Familiar Racist Roots by Sesali Bowen

… However, wherever there is a mainstream feminist victory, there are racial undertones that need to be addressed. Women’s March, is that you? Wonder Woman’s epic tale is no exception, historically and as a Hollywood Blockbuster. Noah Berlatsky at The Establishment did a great job of documenting the intentions of Wonder Woman’s creator William Marston on creating an ideal woman. That woman was white and, Berlatsky noted, based on some casually sexist essentialist ideas about women.

In fact, women of color typically only showed up on Marston’s Paradise Island in heavily stereotyped representations. I would go so far as to argue that the introduction of Phillipus — the Black woman who trained Wonder Woman in combat when she was young and served as an advisor to her mother, Queen Hippolyta — in 1987 had him turning in his grave. Serves him right. By casting Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress to play the title role in this film, Jenkins and the producers are also deviating from the white blueprint made by Marston. …

Hollywood’s ideas about audiences are outdated. Wonder Woman’s record-smashing debut proves it. by@alissamarie

Whether or not Wonder Woman smashed the patriarchy this weekend, it certainly smashed records at the American box office, raking in a whopping $100.5 million in ticket sales.

That huge pile of receipts busted the record for the highest-grossing opening weekend for a film directed by a woman. (The previous record was held by Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey, which made $85 million in its 2015 opening weekend.) It also debuted in the top spot in many countries, including China, where it made $38 million. ….

In 2016, just 7 percent of the 250 top domestic grossing films were directed by women. Among high-ranking roles on film productions (like producers, editors, writers, and cinematographers), that number was higher, but not by much: Only 17 percent of those roles were filled by women. …

Princess Buttercup Became the Warrior General Who Trained Wonder Woman, All Dreams Are Now Viable, by Emily Asher-Perrin

Imagine you star in a movie that is widely considered to be one of the greatest fantasy films of all time. The movie has your name in the title. You are the character whom the whole story revolves around, a story told to a sick little boy in need of a distraction as he lays in bed, home from school. You are the two most important things for a fictional woman to be according to societal standards: beautiful and marriageable.

And you’re also a princess, because that’s how these stories always work. …

Those who know the secrets of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride know that he started writing the story for his daughters, one who wanted a story about a bride and the other who wanted a story about a princess. He merged those concepts and wound up with a tale that didn’t focus overmuch on his princess bride, instead bound up in the adventures of a farmboy-turned-pirate, a master swordsman in need of revenge, a giant with a heart of gold, and a war-hungry Prince looking for an excuse to start a terrible conflict. It was turned into a delightful movie directed by Rob Reiner in 1987. …

Is Wonder Woman the feminist superhero film we’ve been waiting for? @thepooluk

…. The film does have flaws. It’s a little too long and there is an effects-smothered, super-powered punch-up towards the end that is familiar from dozens of other superhero films. There are other ways to end a blockbuster – think of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade’s puzzle-solving or The Poseidon Adventure’s escape scenes. Diana’s such a good character that she doesn’t need so many bells and whistles.

But there is such power to seeing a woman up there, facing down armies and bounding into the air to smash a tank or take out a sniper, that it hardly matters. If you have daughters (older than five or six, say), bring them along – this will make young girls feel like they can fly. There have been 30 superhero films since 2005 and every single one had a male lead. Studios thought women just couldn’t lead superhero films. Wonder Woman proves them wrong. ….

Should every feminist go to see Wonder Woman – and other blockbuster questions by Helen O’ Hara

…. This is the first major superhero movie directed by a woman, Monster’s Patty Jenkins, and a lot rides on it. If Wonder Woman can knock it out of the park, commercially and critically, that success will help women in Hollywood – both behind the camera and in front – and it’s tempting to suggest that it’s every feminist’s duty to go along on the opening weekend just to prove that women can make, and lead, giant action movies. …

ON THAT REPRODUCIBILITY IN PSYCHOLOGY STUDY, by @grainnemcmahon

Cross-posted from: Feimineach
Originally published: 13.08.15

The FEMINISTPHILOSOPHERS take on the recent claim from a study published in Science (Reproducibility in Psychology – NOSEK ET AL, 2015) that some research in psychology is not replicable (i.e. the same findings are not found over repeated, similar investigations) and, therefore, invalid. At least that’s the way it’s being reported in articles such as this on SLATE which states that,

If it feels like you can find a study to back up any harebrained idea these days, you actually might be right, a new study SAYS. On Thursday we, as humans, arrived at the zenith of irony when a study of studies was published and found—you guessed it—many studies were totally full of it, and overstated their findings. To be fair, the REPRODUCIBILITY PROJECT investigation, led by a University of Virginia psychologist did not set out to debunk every study in every discipline and only dealt with psychological-based studies published in three leading journals. The critique focused on social science research, so this does not necessarily disprove either of the studies you just read saying seven cups of coffee a day will, and will not, make you live longer.

It’s a bit harsh, I know.

There are two related points to be made here. For me, the Science study’s claims that many psychology research studies are not as valid as first reported is worrying for the research community. Well, no, it’s rather the damning coverage from Slate and the like that is most damaging because most readers will not (and why should they, I suppose) wade through the sensationalist headline and claims. Also, most people will not consider what we need or want research to do.
Read more ON THAT REPRODUCIBILITY IN PSYCHOLOGY STUDY, by @grainnemcmahon

Diane Abbott Appreciation

Diane Abbott was the first Black woman elected to parliament. Here are 4 love letters to Abbott and, in her own words, the racist and misogynist abuse she has received over the years for standing up for her constituents and women across the UK.

Diane Abbott & Unrelenting Misogynoir , by Danielle Dash

Diane Abbot was the first black woman elected to the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament in 1987. Bridget Minamore’s article on The Pool outlines clearly and succinctly “racism and misogyny explains why there are so few black women in politics.” Minamore details Abbott’s experiences of misogynoir (the intersection of racism and sexism) as an example of the challenges all black women politicians face “all Members of Parliament (especially the female ones) get online abuse. But still, I’ve never seen a white female MP get abuse at the scale Abbott does.” The online abuse Minamore’s article focuses on isn’t from your average, backwater troll. It is public figures “journalists who write about her and her parliamentary peers” and so confident are they in the acceptance of misogynoir by the British public, they do not even seek the protection of anonymity online trolls enjoy. …

Racism and misogyny explains why there are so few black women in politics, by Bridget Minamore

Diane Abbott – the first black woman to be elected to the House of Commons – is easily one of the most well known female politicians in the UK. She is also, arguably, the most attacked; if you want to look into the pits of world wide web abuse, try having a scroll through her twitter mentions. Saying that, all MPs (especially the female ones) get online abuse. But still, I’ve never seen a white female MP get abuse at the scale Abbot does from people who should be relied upon to show a decent level of respect: the journalists who write about her, and her parliamentary peers. …

Like all women, the way we look is often disparaged, but brown skin takes any sexist mocking or criticism and adds a grimy layer of racism to it – like the icing on a particularly shitty cake …

We need to talk about Diane Abbott. Now. (EXPLICIT CONTENT)  via @MxJackMonroe

…  Diane was first elected as an MP in 1987, the year before I was born. She has been dedicated to serving the British public for longer than I have even been alive. Hold that thought. Understand it.

Diane was the first black woman to have a seat in the House of Commons. She MADE HISTORY. Her father was welder, her mother a nurse. How many working class kids do we have in politics these days? Fuck all, really.

Diane went to Cambridge University to study history. IN THE SEVENTIES. In 2017 only 15 black kids went to Cambridge. Sit down and listen.

Diane worked for the Home Office in 1976. She was so smart they put her on a course to fast-track her career. (I’m just getting started.)

Diane was Race Relations Officer at the National Council for Civil Liberties from 1978 to 1980. (Big fucking job. Bet you couldn’t do it.) …

Diane’s political career began in 1982, on Westminster City Council. Then in 1987, I’ll say it again, she became the first black female MP.

In 2008, her speech on civil liberties in the counterterrorism debate won Parliamentary Speech Of The Year in the Spectator awards.

That speech is here. Watch it, and then come back.  https://t.co/qNMvtilMa1

Polly Billington: The shame of those who doubt the truth of Diane Abbott’s illness  via @labourlist

Diane Abbott is, as Stephen Bush recently wrote, an astronaut. She has gone where no-one like her had gone before. It is worth remembering why: the first black woman ever to be elected to parliament 30 years ago, British politics has been transformed in her lifetime, partly because of what she has achieved. Being black female and working class make life difficult enough now: in the 1970s when Diane graduated from Cambridge and joined the Home Office fast-stream she was smashing barriers, for others to follow. You don’t have to like her, or agree with everything she says, but you have to admire her grit and resilience, not least these past few weeks. …

I fought racism and misogyny to become an MP. The fight is getting harder | Diane Abbott

The Nobel prize-winning author Toni Morrison once said, “If there is a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” And as a young woman the “book I wanted to read” was a narrative where a black woman could be a member of the UK parliament.

It was an extremely unlikely aspiration. After the 1983 general election, out of 650 members of parliament in total, there were no black, Asian or minority ethnic MPs – and only 23 women. But I ignored the odds and was elected in 1987, the first ever black woman MP. The campaign was tough. A brick was thrown through a window at my campaign HQ. Many Labour party members worked hard to back me, others went missing. The Times had marked my selection by complaining about my “rhetoric of class struggle and skin-colour consciousness”. Judging by the wariness with which I was treated when I entered the House of Commons, many MPs agreed with the Times. …

Not the Decent Hard Working Guy

Cross-posted from: Pondering Lif
Originally published: 15.11.16

Sitting in the pub smiling,talking, living.

Aware of the next table, of being glared at,

by those that say they know you, never having met;

but you know someone told them this and crap.

What are they saying; they cant say that!

Don’t you go and correct them, sit down,

don’t go giving them my pain; laying it bare like a carcass bleeding,

let them think what they think,

let them imagine my stink, my crime,

my dishonour, my mystique.

For I’m just The Cunt with a cunt

with poor excuses,

not the decent hard working guy.

Expose the truth, leave it out in the air,

unpolished,

baked bare in the bright moonlight,forever seen unseen; they will still call it lie.

Why? Because I’m just a Cunt with a cunt, not a hard working guy

that’s why.

Today I bent and kissed my Granddaughter

goodbye at the gates of learning

and I whispered, be a good girl; as the sound was leaving my lips

I wanted to grab them and shove them back down my throat, swallowing hard

so that I’ll never say them again.

Digesting all the injustice,

the pain the anger,

the shock the disapointment

the shame, the disgust the hate,

the distrust the paranoia the fear, the anger, the lies, the saddness

the anger the fear the confusion. The confusion.

Better to be a Cunt with a cunt

than the eternal Good Girl, bending so hard

that the spine permenantly cracks

and the pages, sliding fall out;

he wanted me to burn my pages.

Burn all those Daddys little girl t-shirts;

burn tradition,

destroy the Big day, say no to that guy.

Smile and be polite, its in their eyes even if they dont say it. Don’t explain; your

truth isn’t meant for their gossip,

even though they desire it.

be the Cunt with a cunt, they wont like it;

they dont understand it.

They want it;

ownership of your story, to tell it their way,

the guy’s way.

Superglue your tearducts and vasaline that smile.

Fix the spine.

Rearrange the pages, set the title, tell the story,

living, talking,being the Cunt with a cunt

with the angry eye, with the knowing look

smiling.

Smiling the Good Girl smile, they don’t believe it;

the good girl smile, but then you don’t either.

Your the Cunt with a cunt not the decent hardworking guy.

 

PonderingLifMy blog is a mixture of feminist thought on events in my life as well as comments on recent events. It also includes short stories. I’m not sure what specific category you would include me under if you chose to do so. @PonderingLif, also on facebook.

 

Is Wonder Woman privileged? by @MogPlus

Cross-posted from: MOG Plus
Originally published: 31.05.17

It might seem strange to apply a real world principle, like privilege, to a fictional character. But I think it can be quite interesting to consider it in this manner, as it has the potential benefit of allowing a degree of distance and objectivity.

The reason I’ve chosen to do this is partly because I’m a little bit excited about the Wonder Woman film, but also because she is a character who is raised in a radically different environment to the one she ends up in.

For those who don’t already know, Wonder Woman AKA Diana Prince is born and raised on the island Themyscira, previously titled Paradise Island. This is an island populated solely by women who have no experience of life with men, and therefore exist entirely outside of the patriachy. (If you wanted to read a book that Paradise Island was likely based on I can highly recommend Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman)

On Themyscira no woman has been socialised to believe that there are women’s roles and men’s roles, as women are required to do all roles through necessity. As such they are unlikely to have been taught that women have to fit into a narrow personality type, or only be interested in selected hobbies, or any of the other demands that are placed on women in our society.

 


Read more Is Wonder Woman privileged? by @MogPlus

What we’re reading: on racism, motherhood, capitalism, and women-only spaces

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

… “At best, white people have been taught not to mention that people of colour are “different” in case it offends us. They truly believe that the experiences of their life as a result of their skin colour can and should be universal. I just can’t engage with the bewilderment and the defensiveness as they try to grapple with the fact that not everyone experiences the world in the way that they do.

“They’ve never had to think about what it means, in power terms, to be white, so any time they’re vaguely reminded of this fact, they interpret it as an affront. Their eyes glaze over in boredom or widen in indignation. Their mouths start twitching as they get defensive. Their throats open up as they try to interrupt, itching to talk over you but not to really listen, because they need to let you know that you’ve got it wrong. …

Whole Foods represents the failures of ‘conscious capitalism‘ by Nicole Aschoff

“Mackey has loudly declared unions akin to herpes and state regulation little more than “crony capitalism” – that all we need to solve things like the climate crisis are better, smarter, “conscious” capitalists. The crisis of Whole Foods belies this notion. There’s no way to “fix” corporations’ compulsion to produce ever more, ever more cheaply. It’s written into the DNA of global capitalism. … “

All I Have Are Questions, And the Most Unbelievable Broken Heart”  by Jacqueline Hoy

” … Before my sons passed away, I had absolutely no idea how common stillbirth is. Well, it claims the lives of six babies every day in Australia, more than 2,000 each year. It’s believed one third of these heartbreaking losses can be prevented.

Yet stillbirth remains such a taboo subject. I feel it most when I run into people who I haven’t seen since I lost the twins. Their questions, their judgement, the awkwardness and uncertainty of not knowing what to say. The “do we talk about the elephant in the room?” look on their faces.

But I want to talk about them. I want friends to ask me about them. I want people to know their names and know what it was like carrying them and to be able to talk about the precious time we spent with them after they passed away, before we buried them together so that they could stay by each other’s side forever. …”

Why there’s nothing racist about black-only spaces | Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

” …. Some white people have got so upset about their exclusion from parts of the Nyansapo festival, an intersectional black feminist gathering scheduled for 28-30 July in Paris, that the mayor of the city called for the festival to be banned, until organisers clarify details with her, and anti-racist groups have claimed that Rosa Parks would be “turning in her grave” at the event.

In the same week that some men have kicked up a fuss over not being allowed to attend women-only film screenings of Wonder Woman it seems a discussion is needed as to why spaces that are centred around marginalised groups, whether they be women or people of colour, are not racist or sexist.

Unofficial safe spaces have existed for all denominations for centuries, and self-organising has long been a key part of anti-racist and feminist movements. As one of the editors for gal-dem, a magazine and creative collective written and produced exclusively by women of colour, I think about our position of racial exclusivity a lot. In some ways I appreciate it might be difficult to grasp why such spaces feel so necessary. The simplest way to understand why the Nyansapo festival has elements that aren’t open to white people (the festival is split into three areas, one specifically for black women, another for black people, and a third for everyone) is to acknowledge the racism we suffer in western society. There’s no moving forward unless we accept that racism against people of colour is deeply systemic. …”

Black motherhood and survival: what my mother has taught me by Christine Pungong

My conscience is the sound of my mother’s voice. I hear it echoing in the back of my mind whenever I do something I know she’d disapprove of. Sometimes it’s scrutinizing, sometimes it’s cautionary, but most of the time it’s just concerned. Though I often try and resign myself to just not caring, truthfully I know that my mother’s disappointment, second to her worry, is my biggest fear. I’ve been thinking a lot about my conscience, and specifically about emotional and psychological burdens. Both my mother’s and, in turn, the ones she has laden me with over the years.

I find that it’s sometimes all too easy to forget that our mothers had their own lives before motherhood. That they argued with their parents, laughed at terrible jokes, lamented the loss of close friends, had doubts about their faith, hated their clothes, and spent long melancholic summer evenings contemplating the direction their lives would eventually take. For a lot of women, motherhood snatches away these memories, eclipsing them with the newest priorities in their lives: their children. Despite its often-touted (and false) status as ‘the pinnacle of womanhood’, motherhood is in fact characterized by a series of painful dichotomies and unattainable expectations. …

Nothing Like A Toddler to Dash Your Feelings of Self-Importance

Cross-posted from: Never Trust a Jellyfish
Originally published: 08.12.16

3 Year old: Mommy let’s go to the big bouncy place!

Me: Ok Lilly, we’ll go tomorrow. Do you want to go alone or with friends?

3: No friends!

Me: Ok, go alone then?

3:  Not alone mommy, I want to go with you!

Me: Awwww, that’s so sweet, I’d love to go with you. 
Read more Nothing Like A Toddler to Dash Your Feelings of Self-Importance

Include me out. How ‘inclusion’ is killing feminism.

Cross-posted from: Sister Hex
Originally published: 16.12.15

The problem with this modern obsession for ‘inclusion’, especially for university societies, is that it’s not only killing the soul of feminism or lesbian/gay rights but it’s basically devoid of any common sense.

The reason we’ve always had separation in activism has never been particularly about exclusion specifically, but for reasons of focus, empowerment, allowing an oppressed voice space to speak and sharing experience. This, in turn, lead to clear analysis and particular campaigning. Separation in activism is both common and successful and has been used in anything from civil to gay rights.


Read more Include me out. How ‘inclusion’ is killing feminism.