Lessons from Russia: Why We Can’t Trust Men to Protect Women’s Rights

Cross-posted from: Woman as Subject
Originally published: 03.03.17

The 90s were a time of unbridled optimism. Fukuyama was so certain of the victory of Western liberal democracy that he excitedly declared that  were witnessing the ‘End of History’, leaving us all to sit back smugly on our laurels, put our enlightened feet up and carry on  reading the Guardian in the knowledge that all would be well. Society decided that we were living in a post-feminist world – (we’re so equal now, why do we need all those silly old ideals?) and we could concentrate on the important things like consumerism and working and not questioning the logic of endless growth through the magic of the free market. Times were good.


Read more Lessons from Russia: Why We Can’t Trust Men to Protect Women’s Rights

Individuality vs Societal change, by @MogPlus

Cross-posted from: Mog Plus
Originally published: 21.07.17

“Feminism means not judging women’s choices”

“Body positivity means celebrating people loving their bodies”

These are positive, uplifting quotes. Based on celebrating and raising up others, emphasising individuals happiness, because don’t we all want to live in a happier society?

Of course we do.. so why are they sometimes controversial? 
Read more Individuality vs Societal change, by @MogPlus

‘I learnt to act like porn stars so boys would like me’ – Jemima tells MTR how her life changed when exposed to porn at 10, by @meltankardreist

Cross-posted from: Melinda Tankard Reist
Originally published: 26.11.17

‘I shaved my pubic hair and became highly sexual…my innocence was stolen from me’

Jemima (her real name withheld by request) is a 19 year old university student living in Melbourne. At age 10 she saw pornography for the first time. Her life began to unravel, culminating in sexual assault by a group of teen boys when she was 14 and leading to severe mental health problems. I got chatting to Jemima at the recent Justice Conference in Melbourne. Within a few minutes her story poured out and she agreed to allow me to record her experience. Articulate and insightful, Jemima helps us see the way porn exposure so young shaped her view of herself, what she was good for, how she should behave and to understand the long-lasting ramifications nine years later. 
Read more ‘I learnt to act like porn stars so boys would like me’ – Jemima tells MTR how her life changed when exposed to porn at 10, by @meltankardreist

What is African feminism, actually?, by @MsAfropolitan

Cross-posted from: Ms Afropolitan
Originally published: 06.12.17

One of the questions I am most frequently asked is “what is African feminism and how is it different from western feminism”. It is a valid question that points to the clarity that people seek in the process of self discovery, which is what becoming feminist is.


Read more What is African feminism, actually?, by @MsAfropolitan

Why British Campus Sexual Assault Victims Can’t Get Justice From Their University- But Americans Can, by @Slutocrat

Cross-posted from: Slutocrat
Originally published: 02.12.17

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First published on The Fifth Column, 2/10/17.

Students, sexual assault survivors and campaigners in the USA are riled up, and rightfully so: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last week rescinded Obama-era guidance on universities’ duties to deal with campus sexual assault. But just because there’s a relative lack of public debate on the issue in Britain, doesn’t mean it’s not happening or that British universities and colleges are dealing well with campus sexual assault.

Let’s take a look at the legal situation in the USA first, then compare it to the UK.


Read more Why British Campus Sexual Assault Victims Can’t Get Justice From Their University- But Americans Can, by @Slutocrat

In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses (aka why we all love Ray Bans) , by @rae_ritchie_

Cross-posted from: Rae Ritchie
Originally published: 27.09.17

Woman in sunglasses - In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses (aka why we all love Ray Bans)

Around the time of Glastonbury, there was a lot of buzz in the media about inflatable flamingos being the must-have accessory of the summer.  Having spent the last few months scrolling through endless holiday snaps on Facebook and Instagram while impatiently waiting for my late September getaway to roll around, I can confirm that I’ve seen a couple – but nowhere near as many as pairs of Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Home or away, man or woman, couple or single, young or old, I’ve lost count of the number of shades I’ve seen with the distinctive logo in the top left corner.  From a friend ordering some of Ray-Ban Aviators customised with her name back at the beginning of May to my beloved red Ray-Ban Clubmasters just unpacked and sitting on my dresser, I’ve encountered them almost as regularly as the ubiquitous summertime adverts for cheap lager. 
Read more In the shades: the enduring appeal of Ray-Ban sunglasses (aka why we all love Ray Bans) , by @rae_ritchie_

Mind the respect gap, by @wordspinster

Cross-posted from: Language - A Feminist Guide
Originally published: 26.11.17

There’s a woman I know who does a lot of broadcast interviews, because she’s an expert on something that’s often in the news. And she’s noticed something annoying: the interviewers she talks to—not all of them, but quite a few—are in the habit of addressing her with just her first name, whereas the male experts on the same programme are typically given an academic title. ‘Thank you, Dr Jones. Now Sarah, if I could turn to you…’.  ‘I’m not usually precious about titles’, she says, ‘but I’ve got a Ph.D too’.

Sarah’s experience is not unusual. I regularly get emails from students which hail me as ‘Ms’ or ‘Mrs’ Cameron, though my official title (‘Professor’) is on everything from my office door to the university website. Do the same students address my male colleagues as ‘Mr’? I have no way of knowing, but I doubt it happens very often. The writer and university teacher Rebecca Schuman agrees, reporting that she often hears male faculty members referred to as ‘Dr’ or ‘Professor’ by people who routinely address her as ‘Ms Schuman’. ‘It happens all the time’, she emphasises, ‘and I often hear a sneer in the “izzzzz”’.
Read more Mind the respect gap, by @wordspinster

“Jezebels” The Handmaid’s Tale, at Mairi Voice

Cross-posted from: Mairi Voice
Originally published: 11.10.17

When The Handmaid’s Tale first became available on SBS On Demand,  I binged-watched it. I am now watching it on live TV, an episode a week and taking notes with the idea of writing a series of blogs, identifying the underlying themes that occur throughout the series.

I have recently seen Episode 8, “The Jezebels” and it is about a brothel.

This is no dystopian scene. This happens here and now, in every part of the globe, where women’s bodies are bought and sold – for men’s use and abuse – through pornography and prostitution.  I felt compelled to write about this episode in particular because it is so relevant and current –it is what is happening in our world, today.
Read more “Jezebels” The Handmaid’s Tale, at Mairi Voice

Honesty at Blues in a tea cup

Cross-posted from: Blues in a tea cup
Originally published: 18.07.17

The flower bed in the lee of the wall on the beach road has flourished in the year since it was replanted. Amongst the tangle of oxeye daisies and fading thrift, a glimpse of honesty takes me to a time when those papery seed heads grew alongside carrots and sweet peas in the garden of my childish dreams.

“Why is it called honesty?”

“Because you can see right through it,” my mother said, as we patted the earth over the seeds together.


Read more Honesty at Blues in a tea cup

STUDY PRIORITIZES MEN’S LIBIDOS OVER WOMEN’S SAFETY, BLAMES FEMINISM

Cross-posted from: I was a high school feminist
Originally published: 10.07.15

This week in ‘what were they thinking,’ we look at a news article titled Legalise Prostitution because 21st Century Men Need More Sex Says Think-Tank. (I’m pretending that the awkward title to my post is a direct response to the awkward title to that one).

The subtitle helpfully informs us that ‘Empowerment of women has created a “male sex deficit” which prostitution could usefully fill’.

A picture similar to this one accompanies the article, captioned 'Is it inevitable that men will seek sex from outside sources?'

A summary of the study by Dr. Catherine Hakim can be found here.

The assumptions in the claim that ‘Feminism has left modern men starved of sex’ are laughable at best – all of the female-identified feminists I know who shared this article online did so with captions like ‘I must have missed the memo’ – and incredibly dangerous at worst.
Read more STUDY PRIORITIZES MEN’S LIBIDOS OVER WOMEN’S SAFETY, BLAMES FEMINISM

When Women’s Rights Are #NotaDebate,

Cross-posted from: Not the news in brief
Originally published: 26.11.17

When there is conflict between trans rights and women’s rights (such as whether toilets and changing rooms should be segregated by ‘sex’ or ‘gender’) an open debate should be encouraged to ascertain how best to accommodate the rights of both parties. This hasn’t happened, and it hasn’t happened in a big way, so it’s worth looking at how and why the debate has been stifled.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 gave trans people a right to be legally recognised as the opposite sex. The Equality Act 2010 gave the characteristic of ‘gender reassignment’ a protected category status. At that time ‘gender reassignment’ essentially meant ‘sex change’ – the language used in the Act refers to transsexuals, and people understood ‘trans’ to mean a transition of some sort, usually (at that time) from male to female. The Act was for a person who was ‘…proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex’. Although biologically impossible, sex change was recognised in law as it was the only treatment which could alleviate the suffering of a minority of people with gender dysphoria.
Read more When Women’s Rights Are #NotaDebate,

A dark tale for a bright season at She means well but

Cross-posted from: She Means Well But ...
Originally published: 22.12.16

In the spirit of the season, I’m sharing a story that was included in the ‘Festive Frights’ anthology published by the CW Publishing House last Christmas. If it whets your appetite for more dark Christmas tales, you can order the book here

Seasons’ Greetings by AJ Millen  

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 14.36.27The harsh caw of a rook made Inspector Thomas Crumb look up at the row of beech trees on the horizon, their branches outlined stark against the early morning sky. He should have been home by now, sipping tea and nibbling on toast and marmalade after a quiet night shift at Burbon-on-Lee’s tiny police station.

It was cold outside, but colder yet inside Hathaway Cottage as he stepped across the threshold. The living room was crammed with overstuffed, once grand furniture and a collection of knick-knacks that only a lifetime in the same place could accumulate. A forlorn plastic Christmas tree sat in the corner, its lights blinking feebly. Three stockings hung from hooks on either side of the old cast iron fireplace. One hook lay empty, spoiling the careful symmetry.

A line of cards stood on the mantelpiece, pride of place given to the largest one, an ornate affair which looked like it had been made to order. It depicted a room like the one it sat in, but an picture book version without the dust and discarded crockery.


Read more A dark tale for a bright season at She means well but

Disclosure and exposure in the neoliberal university

Cross-posted from: Genders, Bodies, Politics
Originally published: 18.05.17

This Spring, as part of a collaborative partnership of colleagues from the UK and 5 other European countries, I helped to launch a European Commission-funded project entitled ‘Universities Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence‘. Our main aim is to create university environments in which students can disclose experiences of sexual harassment and assault, through providing ‘first response’ training to key staff. We have committed to training 80 staff in each of our 13 Partner and Associate Partner universities.

As we begin our work, I want to think more deeply about disclosure. The word is loaded, and the act is too: laden with emotion and often perceived as a threat. It means to reveal, to expose, to name something which creates discomfort and shame. Our work is loaded. Sexual harassment and assault in universities is pushed under the carpet in every national context I have studied, both within Europe and further afield. The 2015 film The Hunting Ground portrayed US university campuses as sites where sexual predators roam with impunity. Although I was not a fan of the film’s restitution-retribution narrative, it relayed powerful testimonies by survivors who described a heartbreaking silence which resounds across national borders.
Read more Disclosure and exposure in the neoliberal university

On hashtags, secrets and the balance of power, by @abigailrieley ‏

Cross-posted from: Abigail Rieley
Originally published: 22.10.17

This post is a hard one to write. I’ve kept this blog for years but this is the post I’ve always second guessed myself out of writing. I’ve written about dysfunctional homes so many times, homes that weren’t safe, predatory men, an inadequate legal system, but I’ve never said that what I had a personal stake in what I was writing – that I understood, that I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to live with a volatile narcissist who will make you doubt the facts in front of your nose. I know what it’s like to dodge ever-changing emotions. I know what it’s like to fear for your life – a dull practical alertness, not a nerve jangling panic.
Read more On hashtags, secrets and the balance of power, by @abigailrieley ‏

Magana, by @mttmfeed

Cross-posted from: More than the music
Originally published: 13.02.17

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 10.27.09When did you begin making music, and did you ever ponder a different career?

I’ve been singing ever since I remember. Though my first instrument was piano…I was probably 9 and my family ran a fruit stand all summer long, which meant long hours of sitting around in the sun or organizing watermelons. I went to the church that was down the road and started taking lessons from the pastor’s wife in order to escape the boredom. We paid her in fruit.
Read more Magana, by @mttmfeed

The House that Hef Built: Hugh Hefner’s Dark Legacy, by @meltankardreist

Cross-posted from: Melinda Tankard Reist
Originally published: 08.10.17

Behold your hero of the sexual revolution: girl child centrefolds, rape cartoons, sexual harassment and wife beating jokes. MTR on Hefner

 

A new angel has opened his wings!”

“We need more men like Hugh in this world today.”

These passionate declarations from his Facebook page are among numerous accolades for the pornhefmerchant Hugh Hefner, who recently died aged 91.

A charming trendsetter, brave visionary, legend, pioneer, icon, folk hero – the glorification is seemingly endless.

Big names joined the love-in. Rev. Jesse Jackson tweeted in praise: “Hugh Hefner was a strong supporter of the civil rights movement. We shall never forget him. May he Rest In Peace.”
Read more The House that Hef Built: Hugh Hefner’s Dark Legacy, by @meltankardreist

The Golem and the Jinni (small spoilers), at Her History Arc

Cross-posted from: Her Story Arc
Originally published: 05.11.17

During a long Sunday walk, I found the Golem and the Jinni in a Little Free Library. After reading the jacket, I was sold. I’m a sucker for mythology, so I just had to take the Golem and the Jinni home.

The book first introduces Chava, the golem. She’s a woman formed from clay, made to serve, protect, and be the “perfect wife” for a man who paid for her creation. However, this relationship doesn’t last long, as her “husband” dies on the voyage from Poland to America. Chava escapes into 1890s New York City and settles in a Jewish neighborhood, hiding in plain sight. 
Read more The Golem and the Jinni (small spoilers), at Her History Arc

THE ONENESS IS THE GREATEST – #SANCTUMBRISTOL, by @elizabethethird

Cross-posted from: Elizabeth the Third
Originally published: 19.11.15

Every time I have read about spirituality, and usually when I am reading anything vaguely self-help-y, and sometimes when I am trawling through the Internet, there is a message that keeps coming back. That we are one. All of life, all of the Universe is, or is part of, the same organism, essence, energy.

I’m not too interested in debating or justifying this though I’ll happily discuss it, and often do, when someone is willing to engage with the idea. But without any religion, I have always believed that somehow we are all connected. I don’t know why, and I can’t really explain it. I don’t need to.

My best friend believes that we are imbued with the Holy Spirit, the same spirit of her God; my other best friend is an atheist, but does believes that we each have a soul, or spirit of some kind, and that we are connected to each other through mutual dependence and a moral responsibility to each other, simply by being alive and in proximity.

I’m not sure I can describe my experience of ‘oneness’, other than to say that at times I feel a connection, an emotional mirroring, and a rush and pull so visceral that it’s frightening, as though the soul I haven’t yet decided whether or not I have is being clamped and dragged from my body. I often shut that feeling down, especially since this happens most often when I am faced with the pain of others. Pain I’d rather not feel with no power to act on it, that’s not mine to fully grasp anyway, that’s distorted and egged on by my imagination and my adrenal glands.
Read more THE ONENESS IS THE GREATEST – #SANCTUMBRISTOL, by @elizabethethird

Yes we do want it both ways. Because we’re human. Just like men, by @Herbeatittude

Cross-posted from: Herbs & Hags
Originally published: 07.11.17

Whenever sexual harassment is discussed, someone will always pipe up “but they don’t mind it if the bloke’s good-looking!”  as if that proves – what?  That sexual harassment is a deeply unfair concept, designed to unjustly prevent unattractive men from exercising their natural right to grope their female colleagues and friends whenever they want?  That women are inconsistent and “want it both ways”, i.e.: want to have friendships and love affairs and personal relationships with some members of the opposite sex, without being obliged to extend their personal relationships to every single other member of the opposite sex who might fancy a relationship with them – just like men do?

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 07.54.36How galling must it be, to be treated with civility and politeness every day, instead of being treated to what you are entitled to: bantering, flirting, joshing around and the occasional knee-stroke during the working day.  How outrageous is it, that a woman might connect with another male colleague more than she does with you, finding him wittier, more congenial and more interesting than you and therefore treating him with a level of friendliness and companionship that will never be extended to you because … well, er, just because she doesn’t like you as much. 
Read more Yes we do want it both ways. Because we’re human. Just like men, by @Herbeatittude

How to Talk to Your Teenagers About Porn, by @cwknews

Originally published: 23.09.17

Most teenage boys – and many girls – will experiment with pornography. It’s one of those ‘as long as I don’t have to know about it’ things for a lot of parents – but what if you’re suddenly confronted by it? What if you find out that your teenager has been watching pornography, and that some of it is pretty extreme?

Of course, there’s no ‘right way’ to tackle this, but I would say that whatever you decide to do, trust is key. All teenagers, always, just want us to trust them. The more we demand explanations, or endlessly check up on them, the stronger the message of mistrust.

The media will always scare us with stories of teen porn addiction, but developing this trust requires a process of ‘un-scaring’ yourself about the issues that really worry you, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, sex or porn. Your teenager is busy working out their own relationship to all these issues, and doesn’t need the burden of your anxiety on top of their own. Over-concern can create a kind of emotional feedback loop of mutual anxiety reinforcement – and to them, anger, sullenness and resistance may seem like the best way of handling it. 
Read more How to Talk to Your Teenagers About Porn, by @cwknews