What we’re reading: The Manchester Bombing and the targeting of women and girls

Does ISIS Hate Little Girls? by Bina Shah

In the aftermath of the horrific Manchester Arena bombing, in which children were targeted at an Ariana Grande concert, an opinion piece by renowned journalist Lauren Wolfe was published, called “ISIS targets ‘dangerous women’ in Manchester Attack.”

In it, Wolfe makes the premise that Salman Abedi targeted “Girls who want to grow up and be beautiful like her, wear makeup and tight clothes when they want to, and talk about who and how they love without consequences, as Grande does in her songs.” The attack was, according to Wolfe, “It was a double-hit for the terror group: The attack told us that they can kill an invaluable part of our society at will, and that they will not stand for women having any kind of freedom.”

On the other hand, Abedi’s sister has said that his motivation was not to make a statement about women’s freedom, but to hurt children in retaliation for US airstrikes in Syria that killed Syrian children. …

ISIS targets ‘dangerous women’ in Manchester attack, by Lauren Wolfe.

With this morning’s news that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing at the UK’s Manchester Arena Monday night, the obviousness of the target begins to make a sick kind of sense.

Ariana Grande, 23, who had just finished her last song when the bomb hit, is the epitome of all ISIS fears in the world. Grande represents a society in which women can choose what they do, wear, and say. The show’s audience was made up mainly of young girls who idolize the singer. Girls who want to grow up and be beautiful like her, wear makeup and tight clothes when they want to, and talk about who and how they love without consequences, as Grande does in her songs.

It is exactly this freedom that ISIS finds most threatening to their ideology, which calls for women to remain severely subdued in order for men to succeed. …

Why Manchester Bomber Targeted Girls by Emily Crockett

We don’t know the exact motivation behind Monday’s horrifying terrorist attack in Manchester, England, which killed 22 people, including an 8-year-old girl. And given that the bomber died in the attack, we’re unlikely to ever find out precisely what was going through his head as he detonated that device. But one thing we do know is the demographic he targeted: young girls and women. As is so often the case with acts of violence, misogyny was deeply woven into this attack.

ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the attack, is of course notorious for its ghastly treatment of women and girls – for mass imprisonments, rapes and acts of torture. It’s not yet known if the suicide bomber, whom police have named as 22-year-old British national Salman Abedi, acted alone, or what his exposure to ISIS might have been. Regardless, the symbolism of his attack is clear and devastating. During Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman tour, Abedi gave the world a sick reminder of the dangers of being a woman in public in 2017, attacking largely female concertgoers for doing nothing but enjoying themselves while listening to music. …

The horrific bombing on Manchester was very much purposefully an attack against women and girls. by Gretchen Gales

As I watched MSNBC for coverage about the Manchester bombing, which left 22 dead after an attack at an Ariana Grande concert, one correspondent mentioned how ISIS will “turn away recruits” because of their targeted attack on young girls and women. Another reporter expressed confusion over how ISIS could possibly achieve “the heart of their crusade” by attacking at an Ariana Grande concert. It is clear by their statements how little they understand the world’s demonization of young girls and women, and specifically the often-gendered aspects of terrorism.

The Manchester bombing could have easily happened at another venue, another concert, another night. But instead the attackers picked Ariana Grande “Dangerous Woman” show—for the purpose of punishing girls for admiring someone who they view as a strong female role model.

It is not divisive to say so, but necessary to combat societal violence on women.  …

Why I Think The Manchester Attack Was Aimed At Women And Girls, by ELSAMARIE D’SILVA

Early Tuesday morning I awoke to the horrific news of the Manchester terror attack. A suspected suicide bomber killed at least 22 people and injured dozens more at an Ariana Grande concert.

I must admit that I don’t know Ariana Grande or her music, but since then I have learned that she has a large fan base of female teens and tweens. So I now wonder: Was this attack a deliberate attempt to silence those young women and girls enjoying themselves at a concert?

The Attack in Manchester was an Attack on Women and Girls  via @K_IngalaSmith

We now know the names of the 22 people confirmed dead in the attack in Manchester, and we know the 17 of them were women and girls.  Whilst not to deny or denigrate the lives of the 5 men that were also taken, it is essential that we view the attack as an attack on women.

Daesh have claimed responsibility and so the attack is rightly framed in the context of religious extremism.  The patriarchal oppression of women by men is at the heart of this ideology,  and in that respect Daesh is not alone.  Inequality between women and men and men’s violence against women go hand-in-hand the world over.  It is estimated that across the globe  66,000 women and girls are killed violently every year .  Generally those countries with the highest homicide rates are those with the highest rates of fatal violence against women and girls; but other factors are at play too,  countries with higher levels of sex  inequality also have high rates of men’s violence against women and girls. The UK is no exception, this year, even before the attack in Manchester, at least 37 UK women had been killed by men. Links between men who perpetrate violence against women  and terrorism are now being identified; and mass killers, including school shooters, are almost always male. …

The bombing at a Manchester Ariana Grande show was an attack on girls and women, by Christina Cauterucci via @doublexmag

British authorities have identified a suspect in what appears to have been a suicide bombing and an act of terrorism outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England on May 22. Details are still emerging, but as of late Monday night, authorities had confirmed 19 people dead and more than 50 injured.

The victims of Monday’s bombing will almost certainly be mostly girls and women. The Grande fan demographic also includes a number of older millennial women, gay men, and general lovers of pop music, of course, but her live concerts are largely populated by tween and teenage girls and their moms. By staging the attack at a Grande show, the perpetrator or perpetrators chose to target children who may or may not have had an adult around to help them through an emergency situation. …

 

In memory,

Angelica Klis, 40

Georgina Callendar, 18

Saffie Roussos, 8

Kelly Brewster , 32

Olivia Campbell, 15

Alison Howe,45

Lisa Lees, 47

Jane Tweddle-Taylor, 51

Megan Hurley, 15

Nell Jones, 14

Michelle Kiss, 45

Sorrell Leczkowski, 14

Chloe Rutherford, 17

Eilidh Macleod, 14

Wendy Fawell, 50

Courtney Boyle, 19

Elaine McIver,43

And also,

Martyn Hett, 29

Marcin Klis, 42

John Atkinson, 28

Liam Curry, 19

Philip Tron, 32

New Mountains, New Maps by @_ssml

Cross-posted from: Fish Without A Bicycle
Originally published: 20.03.15

…when women speak truly they speak subversively–they can’t help it: if you’re underneath, if you’re kept down, you break out, you subvert. We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains. That’s what I want–to hear you erupting. You young Mount St. Helenses who don’t know the power in you–I want to hear you.Ursula K. Le Guin

I have not been able to write. There is a weight on my chest that has been there for months. It heats up and swirls around and settles heavy when I endeavor to speak to the confusion, outrage and injustice as I take in another narrative of child sex trafficking, the dismantling of reproductive rights and a woman who was recently convicted of Feticide after having a miscarriage. My pulse quickens as I read the latest update of a rape case in which a boy chummily gave a thumbs up in a photo while he penetrated a 15-year-old girl from behind as she vomited out of a window. That split second in her life was memorialized, fed to and devoured by the millions of people in a culture that is fueled by images of female degradation. Rehteah Parsons hung herself in her home on April 4, 2013; her mother pushed open her bathroom door and held the body of her lifeless teenage daughter. In January, the boys involved with her rape and the photo of it were handed a 4-week course on sexual harassment because after all, consent is “complicated.” Mount Holyoke (a Women’s College) cancelled their production of the Vagina Monologues because some members of the student body have adopted the ideology that to stage a production that acknowledges and focuses on the experiences of women who have vaginas is “inherently narrow, reductionist and is exclusionary” to women who do not have vaginas. I can’t help but wonder what could happen if the same internet outrage that that was turned toward Eve Enlser for her work that “reduces gender to biological distinctions” was turned toward the hordes of men who perpetrate psychic gang rapes on Twitter by talking about how they are going to dismember, defile and denigrate the vaginas of women who speak out of turn. Feminist writers are putting down their pens and stepping out of public conversation because the hate speech, death threats, and the vitriol are all so much. Yes, we live in an era of “call out culture” but I have never seen a woman say she was going to sexually violate someone’s face and then murder them because she disagreed with something they said, nor have I seen men doing this to other men.
Read more New Mountains, New Maps by @_ssml

The Monster of Masculinity in Oz by @LilyRMunroe

(cross-posted from REAL for Women’s Campaign)

UPDATE – First 23 days of 2015, 8 women murdered by suspected male violence, 5 women/girls missing.

Three weeks into the New Year and six women have been murdered by men in Australia. Male violence and male sexual violence is plaguing the women of this country, the victims ever growing, and though a national conversation has finally started about Domestic Violence in Australia, which is great, it falls way too short of the problem to get us anywhere, as it has failed to address why? Why are men doing this to us, treating us this way? And as Eve Ensler asked of the ‘good men’, “Where the hell are you?”

Tom Meagher, whose wife was raped and murdered in 2012 by a man who the parole board failed to take off the streets, speaks publically about the Monster Myth here. There are no monsters, these are everyday men of this society, of this culture. What is monstrous here is this culture of masculinity, which most men, even anti-violence campaigners, want to bypass in this national conversation.

So we have to ask again are men born killers and rapists, born abusers of females, or are they shaped, socialised, trained, by the culture they are raised in? And if you are a male and you agree with the latter, then as Former Victorian Police Commissioner said, have a look at yourself. Also we need to talk. And this means listening to us, women.

As Sheila Jeffreys states; “I think that in Australia this is hard to understand, it’s a very masculinist culture, and I think that prostitution and the sex industry generally and the privileges men have to abuse women in this way is so accepted that people are outraged to think that there actually might be other values, but believe me there are, and in fact Australia is quite low, very low in the index of OECD nations on gender equality, and it’s because there’s a very masculinised culture”.

We also need tougher penalties for male perpetrators of violence and sexual violence against women, to send a clear message that this will no longer be tolerated, as Julie Bindel states here, “domestic violence is a crime, not an illness …beating up your partner should carry as serious a consequence as assaulting a member of the public in the street.”

Now there are sure to be cries of “not all men”, but by what barometer? What is the standard of ‘Not all men’? Is it just not beating and murdering women? Because one in three men would rape a woman if they could get away with it. Is it not forcing non-consensual sex/raping women? Because 28% of rapes happen within a relationship with a man, and many, many Australian men pay as little as they can to act out their ‘fantasies’ on real women, no matter the harm to these women.

The national statistic for the last few years was that just over one woman a week will be murdered by their current or former male partners in Australia. By the end of last year there were approximately 1.5 women a week murdered by men. So far 2015 is resembling the statistics of the UK which has a far larger population. As for the next week, and the one after that, sadly I know better than to hold my breath for men to just stop killing us, we know reality better than that.

Want to be a part of the solution. Watch this space!

If you are a woman suffering domestic violence contact – 1800Respect or Call 1800 737 732

If you are man seeking help with your violence contact – Men’s Referral Service or Call 1300 766 491

For men wanting to be a part of the solution contact – No To Violence

passivity of good men

 

Recommended reading;

Silence on Violence

Gender Representations; Parts of Reality

Common Problems Associated with the Myth of Perpetrator “Abnormality”: believing victims and looking past perpetrator camouflage

 

REAL for women: Reflecting Equality in Australian Legislation for women: Australia has a population of around 22 million yet this year 6 women have been murdered by men in the first 3 weeks, giving us the same statistics as the UK – 2 women a week (https://www.facebook.com/LilyRoseMunroe https://twitter.com/LilyRMunroe)

Vile Product: Mick Philpott & our cosy acceptance of male violence by @Marstrina

(Cross-posted from It’s Not a Zero Sum Game)

The Daily Mail is doing what the Daily Mail does: taking a human tragedy & obscenely distorting it to score a cheap political point, in the process shedding or neglecting every semblance of decency or tact. Small things like the fact that children are born, not “bred” like piglets; or that if you plaster an enormous headline screaming “VILE” above a photo of six dead kids, people will assume that’s what you’re calling them.

The Daily Mail is, of course, interested in twisting this awful, incomprehensible event to have a dig at people on benefits. All of them, it implies, are morally bankrupt scroungers who would murder their own children to do the taxpayer out of a buck. Who’s more morally bankrupt is of course a debatable point, but the debate wouldn’t be very long or very interesting (hint: it’s the Mail).

But almost as interesting is what the Mail is almost equally interested in eliding, turning away from, hiding. Reaching back into some unspecified past, the Daily Mail news team implicitly posit a scrounging attitude, engendered by reliance on benefits, that developed over an unspecified length of time to a murderous approach to benefit fraud. That’s the implication of “product” – first there was the benefits system, then there was this murderous monster, so clearly the two are connected.

But we don’t really need to engage in hand-waving and insinuation to offer an opening bracket to the kind of mindset that leads a man to set this own children on fire: we can go back to when Michael Philpott was 21, and broke in to the home of a 17 yer old woman who dared to leave him. He stabbed her 17 times, attacked her mother, and was sentenced to 7 (!) years imprisonment for attempted murder. When he was 21, he thought that the penalty for daring to rebuff his violent, controlling advances was death, whereas the penalty for trying to kill a woman was a few years bread & board at Her Majesty’s pleasure. If he really is such a determined scrounger as the Mail makes him out to be, he must have been in heaven.

Is it any wonder, then, that a man who was allowed to go back out into society and inveigh vulnerable young women with a history of abuse or violence to give themselves over to his control would have drawn the conclusion that leaving him was a crime that should -and could – be severely punished? When Lisa Willis decided to leave him, is it really such a stretch that a man who’d been breezily getting away with abusing and nearly enslaving one teenage future wife after another would decide that she should be punished?

This man killed six children trying to get back at a girlfriend who dumped him. That’s all there is to it. He didn’t do it because he was on benefits (in any case, both of the women he’d been controlling worked, not that the Mail would care for such a detail of fact) or because he was particularly evil or twisted. He did it because that’s what men get away with in society all the time.

Two women a week die at the hands of their abusers; the majority, while trying to leave or just after having left. The Philpott children are just another such statistics. You’d almost think that this unusual circumstance would lead us to ask: why? Why do we let men like Mick Philpott get away with decades of violence, abuse and exploitation? You’d almost hope we’d ask those questions instead of the inevitable “why did she stay with him” (look at happens when “she” does!).

But nope. Our leading daily newspaper uses this opportunity not to start a conversation that will possibly safeguard the lives of other children, other women, but to ram home a mendacious, rancid piece of propaganda that will probably endanger their lives even more.

I don’t know whether the national conversation about the Philpott case can ever rise above the sexual prurience of it all and really get into the mechanics of how men such as him find, target, groom and control vulnerable women with our collective support and connivance. Certainly the Fred and Rosemary West case never gave rise to anything other than polite but ultimately ineffectual horror. But we can and should try; we can and should tell people when the topic comes up: no, he wasn’t especially or uniquely evil. He was a common or garden variety abuser who had gotten away with it for a very long time, and thought he could get away with it yet again. We never gave him a  reason to believe otherwise.

ETA: Apparently Philpott only served just over 3 years for the attempted murder & GBH of his ex-girlfriend and her mother. If I were given to making up hysterical screamy outraged headlines for tabloids, that’s what I’d be shouting about.

ETA II: Women’s Aid have released an excellent statement highlighting the mechanics of “decades of domestic abuse”.

Not a Zero Sum Game: Angry feminist, naive idealist, dogless atheist, person. @Marstrina

Not All Men v Yes All Women by Not the News in Brief

(Cross-posted from Not the News in Brief)

Warning: the content of this blog might be triggering or upsetting for some people.

One Saturday morning in 2007 I was contentedly sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, when I came across an article which spoiled my day. It was so shocking that it made me feel sick and it made me want to cry. The story was about a fourteen year old girl who had been gang-raped and sexually assaulted by several different boys in various locations around a council estate in Hackney. During the assault she was dragged between locations while more boys were invited by phone to come and join the party, and some passers-by ignored her plight. I was so upset by the story that I can remember exactly where I was sitting when I read it, down to the details of how the light from the window fell across the table where I was sitting. Some people have memories of where they were when they heard of President Kennedy’s death, or the destruction of the twin towers, but mine are of a teenage gang-rape.

This may well be because I am a woman, and can identify with a girl’s feelings, and maybe this is more difficult for men to do. I have been reminded of it in the last couple of weeks because two stories in the news have frustrated me with their lack of understanding of the effect of male violence on women. The first story was the mass shooting by Elliot Rodgersin Santa Barbara. In this case, despite the gunman’s own words in his manifesto, the mainstream media failed to attribute any misogyny to the crime, and when some feminists began to point this out they were quickly shot down by male apologists crying ‘not all men’, as though they were being personally attacked by the simple telling of a truth. It was seen as a bit aggressive to say that Rodgers didn’t like women: the official line was that he committed his crime because he didn’t like *people*. The second story was of a video produced by men’s rights group Mankind Initiative which went viral, attracting millions of You Tube views. The video sought to show that men suffer from intimate partner violence just as women do, and it ends with the statistic that 40% of domestic violence victims are male. Again, in the debates following, it was deemed to be almost rude to suggest that the statistic was flawed, as though in doing so you showed you didn’t care about male victims.

What the hashtag ‘notallmen’ and the 40% statistic are trying to do is to show us that women are violent too, and that men are victims too, and while that may be true in some cases, violence is undeniably gendered. It seems that we cannot accept that fact. It is a little  previous to start a ‘me too’ bandwagon before the initial fact has even been acknowledged. Surely you have to *know* the rules before you can begin to challenge them? I have read so many posts this week purporting to have some previously unrecognised statistics to hand, which all prove that women can be just as violent as men, and don’t need special treatment such as refuges and the like, which just make men feel discriminated against. I am not persuaded by these statistics, and to back up my opinion in an entirely non-scientific way I have made a list of some of the news items which have been in the media in the years since that horrific gang rape I started with. This is what I remember, in an order which is only vaguely chronological:

  • Steve Wright murders five women in Ipswich, in the events reported as the Ipswich Prostitute murders.
  • John Warboys, known as the Black Cab Rapist, is convicted of 12 rapes, with possibly hundreds more undetected.
  • Joseph Fritzl is sentenced to life imprisonment for keeping his daughter Elizabeth in adungeon for 24 years, raping her and fathering seven children by her.
  • A man in Essex is dubbed the Essex Fritzl after being convicted of enslaving his daughter, raping her and fathering two children with her.
  • Historic cases of sex abuse come to light in children’s homes in Jersey, North Wales and other locations.
  • Child sex abuse scandals are investigated in the Catholic Church
  • Tia Sharp, aged 12, is sexually abused and murdered by her stepfather Stuart Hazell.
  • The Jimmy Savile enquiry finds possibly hundreds of cases of sexual abuse against children and young girls, in care homes, hospitals and at the BBC.
  • Operation Yewtree, in the wake of the Savile scandal, names many more celebrity sex offenders including Dave Lee Travis, Stuart Hall, Max Clifford and Rolf Harris.
  • Reports from the African Republic of Congo describe how rape is being used systematically as a weapon of war.
  • In North Wales five year old April Jones is murdered by Mark Bridger.
  • American journalist Lara Logan is gang-raped during the Egyptian uprising in Tahrir Square, alongside reports of sexual assault against women joining men in the Arab Spring protests.
  • Suicide of soldier Anne-Marie Ellement after an alleged rape and bullying, at the same time as sexual assault in the army is being highlighted as a problem.
  • Dominique Strauss-Kahn has to resign as head of the International Monetary Fund because of rape allegations, then further allegations of aggressive sexual conduct towards female co-workers and of pimping.
  • In Rochdale, Rotherham and Oxford, grooming gangs are found to have been sexually exploiting teenage girls from care homes. Similar enquiries are going on in other cities and towns in the UK.
  • Joanna Yeates, a landscape architect, is murdered in Bristol by Vincent Tabak.
  • In Italy Silvio Berlusconi is charged with paying for sex with an underage prostitute.
  • Raoul Moat shoots his former girlfriend and kills her new boyfriend before going on the run and finally being killed in a stand-off with police.
  • In Pakistan 15 year old schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai is shot in the head by the Taliban for the crime of believing girls should have an education.
  •  Catherine Gowing, a vet who lived in North Wales, is murdered by Clive Sharp.
  • In Steubenville, Ohio, two footballers are found guilty of raping a girl who they dragged round, filming her abuse.
  • Frances Andrade, a victim of historic sex abuse by her music teacher, Michael Brewer, commits suicide as a result of the cross-examination she suffered at his trial.
  • An 11 year old girl is raped in a park in broad daylight on her way home from school.
  • A number of women begin proceedings against the police over sexual relationships they had been ‘tricked’ into by undercover officers infiltrating groups of political activists.
  • Teacher Jeremy Forrest is found guilty of abduction after running off to France with a 15 year old pupil.
  • Anni Dewani is murdered on her honeymoon in South Africa, her husband Shrien is suspected of organising a contract killing.
  • Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins is jailed for child rape.
  • In Cleveland three young women escape from the house of Ariel Castro where they had been kept in captivity and repeatedly raped for years.
  • In California Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped at the age of 11, is found 18 years later, with two children fathered by her kidnapper, Phillip Garrido.
  • Sheffield united footballer Ched Evans is jailed for raping a 19 year old woman in a hotel room.
  • Oscar Pistorius goes on trial accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
  • In India a student is gang-raped on a Delhi bus and dies from her injuries.
  • Serial killer Levi Bellfield is found guilty of the murder of Milly Dowler.
  • Savita Halappanavar dies after being refused an abortion at a hospital in Ireland.
  • More than 200 schoolgirls are abducted from a school in Nigeria by Islamist group Boko Haram, who then threaten to sell them.
  • Nigella Lawson is photographed in a public place being assaulted by her husband, Charles Saatchi.
  • Two teenage girls in Pakistan are gang-raped and hung from a tree.
  • Elliot Rodgers goes on a shooting spree in Santa Barbara.

Alongside these ‘famous’ cases (and my memory is not perfect so the list is not comprehensive) there have been countless other rapes and murders, alongside news reports on FGM, femicide in India and China, sex trafficking, forced marriage, online child abuse, increasingly violent pornography and so-called ‘honour’ killings. Sometimes the evening news has seemed to be entirely full of hatred and violence towards women and girls. The sheer scale of it and the variations world-wide of this kind of abuse is sometimes difficult to comprehend.

There have been crimes in this period which don’t target women and girls of course.Anders Breivik killed 77 people in Norway after writing a manifesto of neo-Nazi beliefs, which were acknowledged to be the reason for his crime. Soldier Lee Rigby was hacked to death on a London street because of extreme, radicalised, religious beliefs, endlessly examined by the mainstream media. And in Tottenham Mark Duggan was killed by the police in an incident which not only caused riots but also, quite rightly, a degree of hand-wringing about race relations. Then there were the true ‘isolated incidents’ – the murder in the Alps and the shooting spree by Derrick Bird in Cumbria for example. But nowhere do we find the targeting of men *because they are men* except for the one example of Joanne Dennehy who killed three men in 2013. Aside from racist or homophobic attacks, men are hurt and killed by other men of course, but often this happens in incidents where men fight eachother, eg in gangs, or pub brawls, not just because they happen to be walking home alone down a dark street.

The effect on ordinary women of all this world violence is that it helps us to know our place: it disempowers us. It is assumed by some men that western women must feel lucky that we are not living under some oppressive foreign regime, and indeed should be grateful for the freedoms we have. It can actually have the opposite effect: we know from these world examples that our position is tenuous, hard-fought and liable to change. It engenders insecurity: we don’t take our rights for granted, we know that what can be given can be taken away. I imagine that gay people are not ‘empowered’ much when they see that their sexual preferences might get them executed in a different country or culture. It’s a reminder of your position in the pecking order, and in the case of women, those reminders happen on a daily basis. In the crimes listed above, which have been a backdrop to my life over the past few years, the common factor is the violent control of women, their sexuality and their reproductive capacity. It’s about sex, but more than that it’s about power. In the case of domestic violence I am sure that the fact that there is ‘worse out there’ is a huge factor in keeping women in abusive relationships. In a world where the overwhelming majority of rapists and murderers are men, better to stick with the one you’re with rather than risk something worse. Men can and do use the appalling abuse by other men to boost their own sense of superiority – an especially popular pasttime when those other men are of a different cultural background to themselves, such as the Asian grooming gangs (but not the white British ones, which get overlooked). This is an aspect of gendered violence which is simply not there in men’s experience: however much a man may believe that all women are bitches, there are simply not the examples out there to back him up. For women there are all too many.

When men’s rights groups try to suggest a parity between the genders when it comes to violence they are completely and comprehensively missing the point. Violence against women and girls affects all of us because it is so normal, it is endemic and it happens everywhere, in all parts of the world, in all races, religions and social classes. Poor people do it, rich people do it, famous people do it, people in positions of power and influence do it, the people next door do it. When I say people I mean *men* of course, but I really don’t want to upset all those great men out there who don’t do it. However, when you look at the cost to society of male violence (98% of sexual offences are by men), and the cost to the tax-payer of all that policing (90% of homicides are by men), all those prisons (95% of inmates are male) and all those A&E departments, it is absolutely astonishing that certain groups of men would begrudge women a little bit of money to ourselves for some rape crisis centres or some domestic violence refuges, WITHOUT HAVING TO THINK ABOUT THE MEN.

If things were really so equal between men and women regarding violence against eachother, then I’m surprised there is not more outcry about the unfairness of having a predominantly male prison population. Are female offenders just getting away with it in vast numbers? Why aren’t there more female mugshots on Crimewatch? It’s either really really unfair or it’s just reflecting reality… In order to be truly equal women need some special treatment to level the playing field: we need protection and recovery from male violence, however much it costs, and it should not be just down to women’s groups to pick up the pieces. Men need to get in on the act too, particularly those in power, through proper policies, education and funding, and above all through a real recognition of the problem, without which there can be no proper solution.

Yes, all women are affected by male violence, and no, not all men are doing enough about it.

 

Not the News in Briefs: I blog mainly about the subject of Page 3 and the NoMore Page 3 Campaign. This might change once the campaign has been won. Although, maybe not…

What does it look like, this equality that you speak of? by @K_IngalaSmith

(Cross-posted from Karen Ingala Smith)

To everyone – woman and man – who says they’re a feminist because they believe in equality, I have to ask you, what does it look like, this equality that you speak of?

Gender.  You probably want gender equality, don’t you?  But gender is inequality. Gender is the convenient invention, the way we train women and men to be different, to be unequal. Gender equality is a smokescreen. Gender is a hierarchy.  Feminine, masculine, they can never be equal, they are subordination and domination dressed up in frilly pink and crisp blue.

You mean wage equality, right? Are you going to achieve that by equal pay for equal work? Yes? Or no? ‘Cos that’ll never do it.  Work has no inherent value and just somehow, we’ve ended up with women’s work undervalued, so unless we all do more of the same, or unless we increase the value of what we see as ‘women’s work’, we’re stuck.  Wage equality without radical reform, is an impossible dream, never to be realised with the Equal Pay Act.

Child birth? Are you looking for a brave new world where that is equal? Or a world where bearing and rearing children does not render women unequal?  Are men gonna wipe an equal number of bums? Babies bums? Sick folk’s bums? Old folk’s bums? Equality of sharing, caring, cleaning and weaning.

What about valuing women for how we look? You know, the patriarchal fuckability test?  Are men going to be equally judged by what they look like, rather than what they do? Women can chose to walk in painful heels, to maximise their ‘assets’, to flaunt or enhance their curves. Some women enjoy that femininity shit, don’t they? You surely believe in a woman’s right to choose, don’t you?  Of course you do. But what do we chose? Why do we? If we’re equal, would we? And those that choose not to, will they be equal too?

What about war? Do you want women to start an equal number of wars to men?  To fight and die in equal numbers to men? To rape in equal numbers to men? For men to be raped in equal numbers to women? Which is it?  How’s that going to work under your equality? What about no war? Maybe no war. But in this man made world of arbitrary boundaries and power struggles, how’re you going to achieve no war?

Democracy’s great, isn’t it? A cornerstone of equality, maybe, for sure?  But only 24% of the UK cabinet are women.  You’ll sort that out in the name of equality, won’t you? And where’s the equality when 6 percent of children go to independent schools but make up 45% of the cabinet?  When 61% of the cabinet graduated from just two universities?  5% percent of the cabinet – two people – are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.  What’s democracy again?  Power of the people,  ruling through freely elected representatives? It’s just that not everyone gets an equal chance of representing.  Just not rule by representative representatives.

What about the sale and purchase of women? Are men going to be commodified just the same?  Objectified? Pornified? Trafficked?  Pimped?  Ah, yes, but what about choice again?  That old turkey.  A woman’s right to choose to sell sex? Are men going to make the same choices? If not, why not?  Where’s the market? And how come it’s poor women, black women, in some counties indigenous women, who disproportionately make that choice?  What about their equality? What about mine? If some women are commodities and some men are buyers, how can any of us ever be equal? If my sisters are for sale, they cannot be, I cannot be, equal.

Equality under the law?  Yeah, surely you want that too.  But how are you going to get that, with laws written by rich white men to protect the interests of rich white men? When we have a legal system celebrated for innocent until proven guilty. When insufficient evidence is synonymous with lack of guilt, with innocence. Can’t you see how it’s stacked? When poor people, black people and women who have been abused are disproportionately found guilty, disproportionately disbelieved, where’s the equality?

When the Equality Act 2010  covers age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity but not class, not poverty, what is even the point of pretending it’s about equality?

Male violence against women? Bet you believe in equality there too, don’t you? Domestic violence is gender neutral, right? Rape?  Those hidden male victims?  If you refuse to see inequality, if you don’t even believe that most violence is perpetrated by men, how are you going to achieve equality?  Which equality are you going for there?  Increasing the number of male victims? Increasing the number of female perpetrators? Can’t be reducing male violence, can it?  Male violence isn’t a thing, is it?

In all this and more, equality just doesn’t provide the answers.  Equality is a condition of a just society, not a cure for an unjust one.  So when I say feminism isn’t about equality, it’s about women’s liberation from men’s oppression, this is what I mean.  Ending inequality is a big part of feminism, of course it is. But equality is impossible in the society that we have. That’s why feminists talk about smashing patriarchy because we need to think bigger. I don’t even know what a society free of patriarchy would look like.  I don’t know how we’ll get there, but I know we’ll never get there down the road called ‘equality’.

Early this year, I heard Bea Campbell ask ‘What would a world without male violence look like?’ Shit. I can’t even imagine that.

 

Karen Ingala Smith: As I See It: Blogs (mainly) about men’s violence against women, feminism, inequality, infertility [@K_IngalaSmith]