50 billion shades of feminism

Cross-posted from: Trouble & Strife
Originally published: 06.07.13

The brutal gang-rape that took place on a bus in Delhi in December 2012 galvanized feminists both in India and around the world. Among them there were differing views on what this horrific incident meant and what should be done about it; but those differences did not stop women from taking united action. Rahila Gupta argues that if we keep our larger goals in sight, while also acknowledging that different contexts call for different political responses, the many shades of feminism can merge into one strong, vibrant colour*.  

It’s become fashionable, after the meteoric rise of that mediocre book, to refer to 50 shades of everything. When it’s applied to feminism, however, I worry that it underlines our divisions whilst appearing to celebrate our diversity. At the level of discussion, it’s important to tease out our differences; but at the level of action, we’re trying to build bridges and coalitions by keeping the bigger goals in sight.

Shades of opinion are not just about women squabbling among themselves about the best way forward, but about different contexts giving rise to different demands. With that in mind, I want to talk about the brutal gang rape on a bus of a 23 year-old woman who was left for dead in Delhi last December. Different shades of opinion emerged in the solidarity actions that took place in the UK, but they did not prevent a common platform of action.
Read more 50 billion shades of feminism

When a Man Kills a Woman by @K_IngalaSmith

Cross-posted from: Karen Ingala Smith
Originally published: 27.11.16

Across everything that divides societies, we share in common that men’s violence against women is normalised, tolerated, justified – and hidden in plain sight.

Credit: Counting Dead Women project

… Responses to men’s violence against women which focus almost exclusively on  ‘healthy relationships’, supporting victim-survivors  and reforming the criminal justice system simply do not go far enough. Men’s violence against women is a cause and consequence of sex inequality between women and men.  The objectification of women, the sex trade, socially constructed gender, unequal pay, unequal distribution of caring responsibility are all  simultaneously symptomatic of structural inequality whilst maintaining a conducive context for men’s violence against women. Feminists know this and have been telling us for decades.

One of feminism’s important achievements is getting men’s violence against women into the mainstream and onto policy agendas.  One of the threats to these achievements is that those with power take the concepts, and under the auspices of dealing with the problem shake some of the most basic elements of feminist understanding right out of them.  State initiatives which are not nested within policies on equality between women and men will fail to reduce men’s violence against women.  Failing to even name the agent – men’s use of violence – is failure at the first hurdle. …


Read more When a Man Kills a Woman by @K_IngalaSmith

The murders of Clodagh Hawe and Megan Short by @EVB_Now

Cross-posted from: Everyday Victim Blaming
Originally published: 21.10.16

There was a tremendous amount of outrage about the appalling media coverage of the murder of Clodagh Hawe and her three sons in September. Unfortunately, this level of grossly inappropriate and inaccurate representation of family annihilators is not an aberration.

Mark Short Sr. murdered his wife Megan and their children — 8-year-old Lianna, 5-year-old Mark Jr., and 2-year-old Willow. He also killed the dog. Time magazine covered their murder with this headline:

Pennsylvania Father Took His Kids to a Theme Park Before Killing Them

Because murdering your children and your wife is somehow a lesser evil if you treat them to a day out in a theme park first. 
Read more The murders of Clodagh Hawe and Megan Short by @EVB_Now

Why #SREnow? – a campaign from EVAW and Everyday Sexism

The Everyday Sexism Project and the End Violence Against Women Coalition are asking for Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) to be made compulsory in all schools in England, primary and secondary, state and private. We are asking for SRE to include informationhttp://www.aroomofourown.org/ on sexual consent, healthy relationships, online pornography, gender stereotypes and LGBT rights and relationships. We believe it is essential that SRE is delivered as part of a ‘whole-school’ approach, supported by teacher training; improved school leadership; a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment and bullying in schools and a comprehensive review of current statutory guidance on child protection and safeguarding.


Read more Why #SREnow? – a campaign from EVAW and Everyday Sexism

Party Lines – on Women’s Equality Party by @strifejournal

Cross-posted from: Strife Journal
Originally published: 16.02.16

With elections coming up in May this year, Holly Dustin gives us a briefing on what the Women’s Equality Party is all about.

Without a doubt, the British political landscape has shifted significantly since I was trudging through a Politics degree at the University of Nottingham 25 years ago. It was, in some ways, a simpler time for those of us interested in who has power and what they do with it. Margaret Thatcher was still in office (until 1990), and you were either for her or against her. Nelson Mandela was still in prison on Robben Island and the Cold War dominated geo-politics. You voted in elections and in between time you could make your voice heard by going on a demo or wearing a t-shirt (I did both). There were no smartphones, no epetitions, no Facebook likes, and definitely no lobbying your MP on twitter.

There were few women in Parliament then and Thatcher, known for ‘pulling the ladder up behind her’, only ever promoted one woman, Baroness Young, to her Cabinet in all eleven years of her premiership. The Politics Department at Nottingham was an all-male affair too (my memory is of a micro-Cold War between the Thatcher supporting majority and Marxist minority). Politics (capital P) was black and white, and did not appear to include feminism.

Twenty five years later we can say for sure that British politics is less blokey, though still too white and male with only 29% of MPs being women and less than 7% of MPs being from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, and there is a new wave of feminist activism both in Parliament and outside it. Furthermore, British politics is fragmenting; the three-party system is breaking up with the collapse of the Lib Dems in Parliament and the rise of Nationalists around the UK. and smaller parties, such as UKIP and the Greens, gaining electoral support even if first-past-the-post means that support doesn’t translate into seats.
Read more Party Lines – on Women’s Equality Party by @strifejournal

Manifesto on VAWG for London mayor candidates by @newsaboutwomen

Cross-posted from: Women's Views on the News
Originally published: 30.03.16

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Commit to maintaining London’s pioneering Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy.

 

 

Women’s groups in London published a ‘manifesto for ending violence against women and girls in the capital,’ recently and sent open letters to Mayoral candidates highlighting the endemic levels of domestic and sexual violence in London, and asking them to make specific commitments on ending female genital mutilation (FGM), on prostitution, on ensuring support services are maintained, and the effective policing of these crimes.

A new ‘mayorwatch’ website, which will track all relevant mayoral and Assembly candidates’ pledges has also been launched.

The manifesto and open letters precede an ‘ending violence against women and girls hustings’ in central London on 12 April, with Sian Berry, Green Party;  Yvette Cooper MP for Labour; Stephen Greenhalgh for the Conservatives; Annabel Mullin for the Lib Dems; and Sophie Walker, standing for the Women’s Equality Party, on the panel.
Read more Manifesto on VAWG for London mayor candidates by @newsaboutwomen

The Bartered Sex by @EstellaMz

(Cross-posted from Uncultured Sisterhood)

An op-ed on how payment of bride price turns women into commodities provided welcome respite from the endless sexism in Uganda’s mainstream media. While I generally agree with the writer, payment of bride price in itself isn’t what turns women into commodities. Rather, in a society where women are seen as commodities, bride price is just one of many cultural practices emblematic of a ridiculous notion.

Obviously the need to pay is taxing on men, as it is for anyone buying a good or service. In a hard-pressed economy, the pressures are more constrictive and likely to create discord for those who fail to deliver what is owed, be they women or men. Marital frustrations on the back of bride price debt could partly explain why in a recent UN survey across 37 African countries, Uganda was in the lead with 60% of Ugandan men considering beating their wives a ‘necessary’ aspect of marriage, while a similar percentage of women think themselves deserving of a beating. Neither the air we breathe, nor the food we eat could have led us to this warped level of odious beliefs. Nevertheless, they are evidence of a culture accepting of violence against women. And with practices like bride price, it is the woman received in exchange who pays the ultimate price for this innocent-seeming giving of gifts.

Yet often, culturalized human-to-commodity metamorphosis of females not only manifested in customary exchanges between men, but in the reality of women’s status in society, is brushed off; bride price touted as a good, traditional practice. Some claim it is paid to show appreciation; another equated it to a ‘tip’ offered in addition to payment for a meal. These views are neck-deep in paternalism; further expose the lower rank of women in a male-dominated society, and importantly, fail to deliver a non-sexist reason as to why this gratitude isn’t also shown by women for men. It is there that we find the woman-commodifying ideals celebrated as unique, valuable aspects of African culture.

But there is nothing uniquely Ugandan in the practice of men pimping “giving away” their daughters and sisters to other men in the name of marriage, nor in man-as-prize and woman-as-property ideology. Brides are walked down aisles to their new owners in Kampala, Cambridge, Calcutta, and California. Romanticizing bride price needs to be seen for what it is: a ruse to mask its significance as one of the markers of man’s assumed lordship over woman, in marriage, and in every other socio-political institution for that matter. We should at least be frank about that, if only for the sake of honest discussion.

Our honest selves would acknowledge that the dehumanisation of women permeates myriad settings and cultures wherein the female body is objectified and violated in the day-to-day. Take the recent case in Ireland where a woman impregnated by a rapist was denied access to health-care, specifically, an abortion. As per interpretation of Irish law, the right to life of the foetus took precedence over her needs. In addition to the mental and physical suffering from sexual assault, she was placed under confinement and forced feeding, culminating in delivery. Being female, she had no right to deny the seed of the man who raped her from growing off her body – her trauma now in flesh. Whereas the rapist walked away from his crime, most likely unscathed as many of them do, she carries brutal lifelong reminders.

Such a horrific conclusion can only be seen as moral and justified in a society where women are valued only to the extent to which their bodies serve men and the wider good. Her right to self-determination was of little to no significance within and outside the law; first the rapist violated her by exercising his (perceived) right to her body, and then her personhood is dismissed for the ‘higher duty’ of woman as womb. Justice may not have been dealt to the rapist. His offspring will get it, the state will see to it. But for sure it will not be afforded to woman for whom, regardless of circumstances, child-bearing is the raison d’être.

The injustice is replicated in laws like the Mozambique one which exonerates a rapist if he marries a woman he raped. That a man’s crime can be written off because a woman’s status has been ‘raised’ to property of the miscreant who violated her (thus awarding him, in retrospect, the right to do so) underlines the position of women in a woman-hating society: commodities whose worth is in the value men can make of them.

Similar dynamics are in force when a man opts to ‘try elsewhere’ for a boy child; essentially taking advantage of his (perceived) male right to find another uterus in which to play reproductive lottery. Such recourse would be considered unbecoming of the wife – who is usually blamed for a couple’s seeming inability to conceive children of a preferred sex. Which is just as well since her duty, with bride price firmly in dad’s tummy, is to fulfill her husband’s physical/biological demands.

This normalization of men’s right to women’s bodies must be seen for its role in many societal ills. According to the World Bank, women between 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria. In Uganda, the high incidences of different manifestations of male violence against girls and women indicate a society which views female bodies as objects to be beaten/raped/bought and used for sex; enforced by cultural practices which naturalize inequality between the sexes. That women too can be violent doesn’t negate the fact that gender violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.

Meanwhile in India, the rule of male over female rages on like a cancer. The long-outlawed dowry system, characterized by a bride’s family ‘gifting’ a prospective groom and his family in exchange for the honor of having him as their son-in-law, still thrives. Dowry institutionalized the hatred of femaleness in that land of ancient goddesses; spawning female infanticide, poor investment in the girl child, rape, bride burning, and death – one woman killed every hour over dowry.

Like dowry, payment of bride price presupposes the inferiority of women to men. It establishes wives at commodity level; subordinate to husbands, and supposedly privileged to be in service to them. It relegates women to the same category as slaves bought to perform field labour, or a heifer added to a kraal for reproductive labour. The analogy may not be representative of the intentions of a 21st century African man when he is paying bride price. But good intentions don’t change the fact that commodities are given in exchange for the reproductive, domestic, sexual and emotional labour expected of a wife.

The individual woman’s favorable view of bride price doesn’t attenuate its legitimation of the commodification of women into human objects that are exchangeable between men in return for material objects.

Men’s favorable view of the practice is expected because it is for their benefit; as fathers who receive goods/animals/money, as husbands who receive wives, and as future fathers expecting a ‘return’ through their own daughters. They also get to retain a position of superiority and ownership over women.

It isn’t surprising, therefore, that men are major advocates for bride price as a “woman-valuing” tradition.

In that tradition, women will remain treated as lesser human-beings for as long as the bedrock of our society, the family, is built upon customs cemented with the bartering of ‘things’ for female life and labour.

Aiming for so-called ‘gender equality’ without striving to dismantle the cultural practices keeping inequality alive maintains the pillars of the mindless belief that to be female is to belong to an inferior caste, and women are, thereby, living commodities existing to be in service to everyone except themselves.

This nonsense must end. Starting with bride price.

 

Uncultured Sisterhood:  I am a Ugandan feminist, based in Uganda. The blog, unculturedsisterhood, started out of extreme personal frustration with the state of affairs for women in my country, outside of it, in pretty much every area of life. From a feminist theory perspective, I critique topical, community, and cultural issues in Uganda (and the wider continent) as they relate to women. Hoping one or two sisters read/engage and join in as we work toward liberation. Category: Feminism; AfroFeminism; Radical Feminism Twitter: @EstellaMz

#WhyIStayed – Why leaving domestic abuse is never easy at Truth about Domestic Violence

 

(cross-posted from The Truth about Domestic Violence)whyistayed-resize

With Crown Court fast approaching, I am acutely aware of the uncomfortable questions I am going to have to answer soon. I am acutely aware of how I am going to be forced to justify my actions in front of a whole court room full of strangers, and how my movements and actions, conduct and more importantly inactions, are going to be scrutinised, as a jury deliberates over whether my Ex-partner is to be found guilty of seven counts of rape, or not. In the aftermath of the Janay Rice/Palmer assault, which was captured on CCTV and caused her now-husband an indefinite ban from future American Football games, Domestic Violence has been a topic in the media, with many asking “Why did she stay”, and why on earth did she go on to marry him, the day after he was indicted on a third degree aggravated assault charge against her.
Many people struggle to understand why anyone would stay in a violent and abusive relationship, and often come to the secondary conclusion, that the “abuse” can’t have been that bad, if the victim chose to stay, instead of running a mile. I know that, in a few months, I am going to have to answer that question, as I will give testimony of how I was systematically abused, assaulted and raped for years.

Before I was a victim of Domestic Violence, I might have been on the other side of that scenario, I might have sworn blind, I’d never let a man lay a finger on me, and that I’d leave the instant that he did. I would have said I’m a strong woman, asserted that I would never succumb to a man, let alone let him victimise and abuse me! Fast forward seven years, and, well …Ignorance is bliss… as they say. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and knowing what I know now, I’m aware of just how ignorant and damaging such claims are.

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Ask any victim of Domestic Abuse, and they will tell you just how hard leaving, and staying separated, is. One must remember, that abusers aren’t behaving the way ‘normal’ people do- , sometimes because they are clinically disordered, sometimes because their narcissistic, or psychopathic tendencies or personalities won’t allow them to, sometimes and perhaps mostly, simply because they don’t want to. Abusers, generally speaking, aren’t individuals who simply accept the end of a relationship. Quite often they have ‘worked hard’ at establishing control over their victim, and the end of a relationship would mean to lose control, and that is, quite simply, not an acceptable concept to them. So when people say, “Why didn’t she leave?”, they categorically fail to acknowledge the fact, that a lot of victims simply can’t. Domestic abuse often starts, or escalates, only after the relationship is established and some form of commitment has been entered. In many cases, the abuse starts with the couple’s first pregnancy or child, after some form of financial commitment was made (mortgage, car finance, large credit, etc.), or the victim is economically, financially, or emotionally dependent on the abuser. Outsiders often also fail to realise that simply ending the relationship, does not mean that the interactions or contact with the abuser ends. In many cases, victims are stalked, harassed, coerced, manipulated, threatened, or further victimised and assaulted, until returning to the abuser simply seems like the lesser evil. If the couple has children, the nightmare rarely ends for the victim, and her children, as the abuser frequently (ab)uses the children as pawn in his scheme to further inflict pain on his victim, and maintain as much control over her life as possible.

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The #WhyIstayed hashtag, which surfaced after the Palmer/Rice media coverage, really hit home, because I realise that as I walk into court as some point in the near future, I will have a group of jurors wondering the exact same thing. Those twelve people will be told the extent of my “allegations” against my Ex-partner, and father of my child, and they will wonder, why I resumed a relationship after having been in court once before, why I remained in a relationship with a man who has injured me to the point of needing Emergency Treatment, and why, after having been brutally raped, I carried on the relationship for another 15 months or so, only for it to happen, over and over again. I realise that for some, the reasoning behind me staying is simply too abstract, that my personal views on what was acceptable and what was not, what I considered safe and what I didn’t may seem skewed and arbitrary at best, and downright unbelievable, pathetic, weak and dumb at worst. Unless one really takes the time, however, to empathetically and critically look into the psychological dynamics and profiles of both perpetrators and victims, most probably will never really understand why anyone would stay.

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I had to attend A&E late at night because he’d thrown a wooden brick in my face injuring my eye ( temporary loss of sight, permanent change in vision and shape of my pupil ) and giving me concussion. He harassed, called and text all the way to the hospital, whilst I was waiting, being examined and on the way home. He repeatedly reminded me that my child was with him and to ‘ not do anything stupid ‘ , and I was exhausted and weak from being sick from concussion. The medical treatment took several weeks and I had no support and no where to go. #WhyIStayed

I tried to leave – and he abused and beat me all day. He smashed my head against the wall repeatedly – He broke my phone and sim, disconnected the landline, locked the doors and hid the key. He choked me with a belt that night and raped me, then told me if I tried to leave again he’d kill our child and me . I had no support & nowhere to go. #WhyIStayed

Truth about Domestic Violence: my own personal experience with DV and also about general issues in relation to Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Rape, exposing the truth in just how severely victims are let down, in particular by poor policing and in the family courts.

It’s Hard out here for a witch at The Arctic Feminist

(Cross-posted from The Arctic Feminist)

Witches are everywhere but like most non-conforming women they are invisible to the general public.

Much like being a lesbian, any woman can be a witch, its a choice one makes to stand against patriarchal spirituality, rules and expectations of woman as docile recipient of whatever men want from her. Witches bypass this expectation that women are to be passive in our experiences, and like men, choose to make their own realities. Choose to be creators, choose to use the laws of nature for their own purposes. Now just because any woman CAN be a witch, doesn’t mean that every woman will be a witch or is willing to do what is necessary to cut herself off from her conditioning. But we must remember that the choice is always available for those select women who desire it.

Witches choose to see that which we are supposedly not supposed to, that which isn’t there. They have a direct connection to the world around them, to nature, to the divine. It is easy then to see how radical feminism is a form of witchcraft. It requires unfixing the eyes, delving into the subconscious and extracting the patriarchal attachments that have wormed their ways into our spiritual and emotional bodies. I’m sure many women have experienced the feeling of being sucked into an alternate dimension when they read Griffin or Daly. Thats what the work is meant to do. Its meant to act as a portal to that dimension where we can replenish our damaged souls and find our strength and power to act in brave ways. Like we are meant to.

There is a reason why witches are persecuted. Magick works. It obtains results. Now we can debate why that is but the fact is that anyone who has spent any time in the practice will know this. They will also know that every human being practices magick, most are just unaware that is what they are doing.

I feel called to write about this today because it’s October, Halloween season and I want to write about “spooky” subjects because its my other passion, but also I want the women who read my blog, or come across it to understand just how deep men’s war against women goes. Its on every level. Men have not forgotten how to practice magick. Its partially why they obtain things so much easier than us. I don’t mean they’re out there every week casting a spell, although some do, it isn’t necessary to practice what I refer to as magick. They don’t go through the conditioning women do that puts us in an oppressed mindset. From an oppressed mindset it is very difficult to do much more than be a cog in the MANchine. From a powerful, elementally connected, infinite mindset its pretty easy to see yourself doing anything you want. Now we can’t have women standing in their own power, truth and actually enjoying their lives can we? They might decide they don’t want to be disposable rape objects, baby factories, cheap labor and domestic servants.

So men have waged spiritual war against us. Literally crippling our spirits before we are even born. They have created disturbing death cults that DICKtate how we are to obtain salvation for our inherent wickedness by being good servants to them and seeing their faces as the face of god. These BS (belief systems) tell women to accept our unhappiness, to swallow our own bitterness, literally making us physically ill. Its no wonder so many women can’t sleep at night for the physical pain and worry that eats them alive. They tell us not to practice magick, that they should not suffer those women who step outside and do it anyway amongst the community.

They have also waged physical war against witches. I don’t want to get too far into it here as its a topic that deserves far more attention than I can give now – but the European witch burnings were done on purpose, to put women in an even more subservient place than they were before. People don’t talk about the real history of Europe prior to the witch burnings. Women’s place was not in the home prior to that. Women owned businesses, properties, had jobs, were a vital part of the life of their communities. After this time period, men became the shop owners, it was considered unladylike to be out of the home engaging in business. Men took over traditional women’s roles like midwifery and healthcare. The burning times were a direct genocide on women as a caste, which men won and we are still dealing with the reverberations of today. Lets be clear – hardly any of the murdered women were witches. The witch is the scapegoat of womanity. Her spirit exists in all of us, waiting to be set free. Waiting like Lilith to seek her revenge on the sons of Adam who have knocked her down from her place in the garden of Eden.

 

The Arctic Feminist: I lazily blog about whatever I want. Always from a radical feminist perspective

#DeadWomenWalking: A March to Raise Awareness of Fatal Domestic Violence

This is a peaceful creative ‘Murder March’ created by Claire Moore to represent the women mudered in the UK by partners, ex-partners, family members i.e. domestic violence murders. Since the election in 2010 there have been more than 400 domestic violence murders.

This #DeadWomenWalking walk to Downing Street is to raise awareness of the women behind the statistics of domestic violence murders. To take place on Sunday 23rd November 2014 to coincide with International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women that week.

One in three women experience domestic violence in the UK.

Women are not alone in experiencing domestic violence but we are the majority of victims – and when we are it rarely makes headline news Why? Because it is commonplace! When it is covered by the media it’s usually towards the back of the paper and the story is often about our killer, his previous achievements, struggles – we are often forgotten or blamed – seen as wife of…. Far too frequently we discover that women had asked for help, the killers were known to the police and had a history of domestic violence. The inevitable statement is released and we are told ‘lessons will be learned’ I have worked to raise awareness of domestic violence for over 19years and I have heard this said too many times!  I want those lessons to be learned NOW – for women to be listened to and believed because domestic violence murders are preventable – awareness and understanding is key along with properly funded specialist support services.

There is a Go Fund Me to raise money to cover insurance costs, printing t-shirts etc.

I hope you will support the event and help remember these women – who should be alive today.

#HeForShe and the pointless battle to be recognised by @PlanetCath

(Cross-posted from Opinionated Planet)

I am really torn with this HeForShe campaign. It’s great that a young woman such as Emma Watson has spoken up, identified herself as a feminist and, in doing so, will introduce a whole generation of other young women to the feminist movement. It’s also good news that sexism, misogyny and inequality is being discussed at UN level. There are many issues that blight women’s lives every single day and we are long overdue for a sea change in male attitudes. It’s exhausting battling this shit every day and our voices are hoarse from shouting about it.
My problem is that I don’t believe that the involvement of the United Nations will do anything to change societal attitudes towards women. The problems are far too entrenched for men to willingly surrender their power. When you have as much privilege as men do, the process of unpacking and examining that privilege is far too much like hard work. Retweeting Everyday Sexism is easy. Adding your name to a petition against domestic abuse takes about five minutes. Adding your voice to a campaign such as HeForShe takes approximately five seconds. Anyone can do that, and proudly pat themselves on the back for being a ‘good’ man.

The real work is in challenging sexism and misogyny. When your mates tell a rape joke, when your work colleagues tell a domestic violence joke, when you witness street harassment, when your women friends are sexually assaulted in pubs and clubs. That’s the real work; challenging other men.

And men don’t see what we see. They understand the, “get your tits out” sexism because it’s blatant and they can hear and see it. What they don’t see is the implicit sexism. The comments that can be dismissed as “just a joke”, the man who talks to your chest, the man who speaks over you, the man who runs the University Feminist society because he wants to ‘help’ women become empowered. They don’t notice when they switch on the radio and it’s predominantly male voices. They don’t notice that the majority of newspaper editors, managers, CEO’s and politicians are men. They don’t think anything when they watch Question Time and see a panel of white, male faces. They don’t understand why you get frustrated when the head of your STEM panel is male, or when you disengage from politics because the ‘greater good’ argument has yet again made women invisible and silenced.

For HeForShe to actually work, we need men to shut up and listen. We need them to WANT to change and I don’t see any evidence that they do.

The sexism in society is not just about the obvious objectification of reducing women to body parts. It’s implicit, it’s quiet, and it’s subtle.

When we have to beg men to imagine that the women experiencing abuse is their daughter, mother or sister then we have a problem. If men can’t support women because, y’know, we’re women then frankly, I don’t want your support.
Read below the line of any article written by a woman and you will see what we experience. You will see what men really think of us. You will see the hatred, the abuse and the dismissive sneering that accompanies any one of us that dares to speak. Go on Facebook and join a discussion about feminism and women’s rights, see the men falling over themselves to explain how we’re getting it wrong, we are campaigning on the wrong issue, there are more important things to worry about. Join Twitter and tweet about feminism. Sit back and wait for the replies.

Essentially, there are a lot of men who can just about manage feminism if it’s done ‘right.’ If the campaigning women are young, white, pretty and slim then you have a chance of men supporting your issue. If you’re old, a woman of colour and fat then forget it.

You have pretty much zero chance of any man wanting to be involved in your campaign. The comments come thick and fast;

“who’d rape her?”

“why are feminists so fucking ugly?”

“she deserves a smack in the mouth, fat ugly bitch.”

And we get angry. We get really fucking angry and this means that we are irrational, emotional, and erratic.

“You need to calm down”

“Why are you so angry all the time? It doesn’t solve anything”

“You won’t get anyone to listen if you’re angry”

So we quieten down. We lower our voices, we ask nicely instead of demanding angrily. Does anything change? No.

So, forgive me if I’m not thrilling with excitement about yet another campaign. Forgive me if I sound negative and weary. It’s because I’ve been here so many times before and we are in a worse situation than we ever were.

All power to Emma Watson. Truly. But don’t be surprised when this campaign fades away into obscurity.

Men aren’t giving up their power any time soon.

Opinionated Planet: a radical feminist blog by women for women on male violence, women-only spaces and sports

It’s all about “WE”. Here’s my extended hand for the men…it has an extended finger too. by @JeanHatchet

(Cross-posted from Jean Hatchet)

I was a bit mild in my blog yesterday. I was wrong.

I’ve mulled over it reading some great stuff today by others.

Today I encountered a man who was insulting women online – for a grin. He insulted me. He tutted at feminism. He eventually caused a huge fuss when I politely backed away and blocked him. How dare I ignore him was the general message.

Well. He’s an arse. I have no obligation to him. I have the right to ignore him. Given his aggression towards females I think I have the right to punch him in the bollocks. Or I should have. Because that’s what he probably needs.

Should we really be trying to include him in the feminist effort? Should I be working to get him onboard? Should I expect that if other “better” men are urged by the earnest and thoughtful Emma Watson that suddenly men like him will be coerced into “better” behaviour? Do I expect that men will voluntarily accept their loss of control? It’s too daft for words really. Of course he won’t. Of course his kind won’t. Men are possibly going to say the right “stuff” – some of them – largely because if they say the wrong “stuff” they look bad in today’s society where women are more vocal. We’ve achieved that much. They might not get any sex because today’s women will think they are arses. They might have to force themselves on women. Or visit a prostitute. Oh…. I see a flaw. But they are GOOD men! They are NOT ALL MEN!

Well. Where have these “good” men been so far? Have they been face down in a Jamie Oliver Cookbook preparing vegan cottage pie for their offspring and just waiting for the opportunity to help stop all the raping and abusing and murdering? Did they just not know about it until Emma stepped up?

Of course they fucking knew. Of course they fucking didn’t care. Of course they are happy with things exactly the way they fucking are. They’d just prefer the stats didn’t get in the way of their good intentions and cooking.

The ONLY thing that will force men to stop being bastards to women is if women make them. Men didn’t stand around the suffragettes saying “y’know if you just included us and taught us how to sew we could help you with those banners” or ” ah well… since you asked nicely here’s the vote…we genuinely didn’t know you wanted it. Soz about that!”

WE have the men twitchy. WE are stronger than we’ve ever been. We keep getting knocked back but WE organise again. WE support each other. WE put each other back together after men have damaged us. WE start something else. WE keep shouting. WE keep pushing.

The internet has been powerful so they try to take it from us and drive us from it with their mansplaining and rape threats and death threats and intimidation. They erase male violence from their headlines. They exclude us from the cabinet. They beat us out of Party elections and dismiss us from shortlists. They ridicule and humiliate us in their tabloid newspapers. They degrade us in the street.

To quote Angelou “Still I Rise”

Because WE do.

Men aren’t fucking interested until they have to be. We are making them have to be. That’s what feminism is. WE owe it to the second wavers who have already done all this. What do they think about asking the men to help? I can guess.

I say fuck the hand of friendship and inclusion.

I say back the fuck out of my woman only space.

I say you fucking realise it’s a war and WE will not give up until you know that WE will not let you rape and abuse and murder and multilate and degrade and use us. WE will not become weak and hope you feel sorry for us and stop doing it. WE will make you so fucking scared of our intelligence and our determination and our organising and our never-ending versatility in our fight against you that you will HAVE to change your ways.

Feminists don’t need to hold out a hand to men. They need to hold it up like this….

 

Jean Hatchet : Feminist blogging. Simple but hearty food for the feminist tummy. [@JeanHatchet]

Emma Watson – I know you said what you could – so thank you. by @JeanHatchet

(Cross-posted from Jean Hatchet)

Just now listening to a debate on Radio Tees about Emma Watson’s speech on feminism to the UN I became pretty angry.

When I first heard the speech I was glad to hear that Emma Watson had raised the profile on such a huge stage and I’m pleased that it was so popular and spread so widely.

I managed to stuff down inside me a bit the feeling that she was sort of missing the point by her male-inclusive attitude. I know that she is young and she is on the world stage and she can’t afford to alienate men. I get that. I let it slide. She did well, despite this somewhat fawning inclusivity, in thrusting feminism forwards. We can’t all do feminism in the same way. As long as we’re doing it in some way that’s good.

But listening to Angela Epstein, a self professed “non-feminist” and Daily Mail journalist, trot out feminist-bashing statement after cliche after bigoted comment I realised that actually, I’m glad I’m one of the “angry” “toxic” “inappropriate” “rude” feminists that she so despises. Men despise us. Other feminists sometimes despise us. Women who don’t understand feminism and can’t feel the patriarchal hand up their back despise us. Well. Good. Then we must be doing something right. Because if we were accepted by  Patriarchy and their handmaidens how the hell would we be challenging them?

Angela also said  – I paraphrase a little because she was frying my brain –  that she was disgusted by the idea of white privilege – she couldn’t name it that as she hadn’t done her research or looked at the colour of her skin obviously- she had to couch it in terms that said she “had” to fight against racism because – well she HAD to! She simply could not acknowledge that it was not her fight or that she couldn’t claim it. Supporting wasn’t enough for her. She had to be included. But feminism, which she can be part of because she’s a woman, she doesn’t want any part of. Woman. Wise up your right-wing puppet of the patriarchy self. Those male cookies taste of shit and you can’t say it doesn’t stink.

Likewise the Emma Watson speech where she asserts that feminists need men to be involved. I agree that they must and can. As allies. But no way should women be waiting for them, or changing feminism to suit them, or handing them any of the power of a feminist movement or giving them any place in it other than as allies. Those who are part of another’s oppression can’t challenge that oppression. They can stop oppressing. That is all they can do.

Am I a man-hater? Answer – I hate some men. A lot.  My list grows and it’s already hefty. There are some men I would like to see boarding a plane to Space with a one way ticket and I would hope the air was rare and the food was shite. And… there aren’t many men I meet who impress me. Most are so beguiled by their own presence on the planet that I wish they weren’t on it at all. I can say this. It doesn’t make me a bad woman. As a woman who has suffered male violence more than once I think I’d be a frikkin fool to say “Ah no! I love men…. because … you know….. it’s not all men.” I don’t. If a man wants to prove to me now that he is “not all men”.. then he has to work damned hard at it. That isn’t my fault. It’s the fault of his team.

Jean Hatchet : Feminist blogging. Simple but hearty food for the feminist tummy. [@JeanHatchet]

Not all men by Kiss Me and Be Quiet

(Cross-posted from Kiss Me and Be Quiet)

Well it’s been quite the week for victim-blaming hasn’t it? Another week of people loudly proclaiming that sex offenders and abusers are not actually at fault for what they do, oh no. It’s the person who’s been attacked, abused or violated of course.

Victim-blaming is a big thing when women are attacked. It always has been. Court cases (if it even gets that far) filled with questions about whether the victim was drinking, wearing make-up, wearing a short skirt, is a virgin etc. This isn’t news. The fact that women who are completely covered up, or that men get attacked too doesn’t seem to change this narrative. Logic doesn’t apply here, it’s all about ensuring women understand the do’s and don’t’s of “acceptable” behaviour.

This week, the victim-blaming got louder for a moment, when half of twitter couldn’t stop screaming about Jennifer Lawrence. That she shouldn’t take photographs of herself that she isn’t prepared for the whole world to see. That it was a publicity stunt. That it would help her on the casting couch. That she is sexy, so she should ‘own it’. That it was worth it. Because apparently when you are famous, you are no longer allowed to have boundaries, be private or give consent. Because apparently when you are ‘hot’ then your distress is secondary to other people’s voyeurism.

And then there were the responses to the people who wrote about this. When people pointed out this was abuse, or that you wouldn’t blame someone for online banking and yet we do for storing photos online, when people said ‘stop’, or painted the picture in the wider context of misogyny or the patriarchy and of men trying to silence women.

‘Not. All. Men’ came the immediate reply.

‘Not. All. Men’ yelped the men who considered themselves to be decent citizens.

‘Fuck you. Not all men’ shouted some adding extra abuse in a heartbeat.

 

Not all men, we are repeatedly told, while being sold nail varnish that can stop us being raped.

Not all men, we are told, while being sold hairy leggings to stop us being raped.

Not all men, we are told while being given rape alarms for when we need to walk somewhere alone in the dark.

Not all men, we are told, while being advised not to wear short skirts. Or get drunk. Or kiss anyone without wanting to sleep with them.

Not all men, we are told, while being told that our mere presence in a bar, on the street, on a train, in a car park, could trigger any one of the bad men to lose control. And it will be our fault.

Not all men, we are told, while being told that the mere vision of us on our own private cameras could cause one of the bad men to go to extreme lengths to get those photos and can’t help but share them. And it will be our fault.

And it may be a surprise to realise that in spite of this, we actually know that it’s not all men. We are aware that we can walk down the street without every male we walk past abusing us. That we can take a chance and try and meet a man on a date and see if we like each other. That we can go to work and have male colleagues with whom we might have a good conversation. but I don’t know a woman who hasn’t at some point been verbally or physically abused by a man. I don’t go out with my friends without us texting each other at the end of the night to let each other know we’re home safe. The majority of my friends will wince if told to ‘cheer up love’ by a random man in case he turns nasty. And here’s the thing – we don’t know if you are the nice guy, or the man who can’t control himself. We don’t know if you’re the guy to stay near in case something happens, or you’re the guy who will make something happen.

So if your first reaction to learning how widespread verbal and physical abuse of women is, is ‘not all men!’, instead of ‘holy crap I had no idea!’ then you either need to challenge your response, or rethink your status as a nice guy, because screaming, or even calmly stating ‘not all men’ isn’t helping to change the reality that women get attacked, and then get blamed for it.

 

Kiss Me and Be Quiet: “Be plain in dress, and sober in your diet; In short my deary, kiss me and be quiet.” A satirical summary of Lord Lyttelton’s Advice to women, written by Lady May Wortley Montagu in the 1700s. Not enough has changed since then. I am a feminist, parent to two small children, and I have lived with chronic back pain for nearly two years, and counting. These are 3 topics that occupy a lot of my thinking. I’ll share some of those thoughts with you here.

Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius: Not a question of fact, but perspective by @glosswitch

(Cross-posted with permission from Glosswitch)

When women are killed, we remain just as dead as any man in similar circumstances. It cannot be argued that we have not really died, that the bullet that went through our skull didn’t really hurt us. Our death is an objective truth. It’s just the years leading up to it – all those experiences, thoughts and feelings – that can never quite be verified. For how does one know whether a life has validity unless it was lived by a man?

A man’s story belongs to him. He is more than “just the women”. As Judge Thokozile Masipa said of Oscar Pistorius, not guilty of murder despite firing four shots through a locked bathroom door, “the accused is the only person who can say what his state of mind was at the time he fired the shots that killed the deceased”. His experiences are inviolable. And as for those of the deceased? Alas, she has but one experience: that of being dead, and before then, her experience was that of being the other half; the complement, the accessory, the essential blonde girlfriend in the Blade Runner Story. Oscar Pistorius Charged With The Murder Of Model Lover. What experiences would a model lover have, anyway? None, were it not for the man who magics her into existence. Look! There she is, on his arm! How clever of him to find one like that!

Reeva Steenkamp — model lover, deceased, whatever – confessed to fearing the man who would eventually kill her. It’s almost as though she had an inner life and words of her own, not that these matter. According to Judge Masipa, “normal relationships are dynamic and unpredictable sometimes”. Whatever Steenkamp felt came and went; it is not being felt any more. Meanwhile a man can rewrite the past. Oscar Pistorius did. Even so, the assumption that just because he was untruthful, he must therefore be guilty of murder “must be guided against”. Of course. There is, beneath the fog, some rock solid truth that no one on the outside may question. We simply cannot know.

When women feel anger and dismay at verdicts such as those delivered today, we are told not to generalise. We must stick to the facts. We must also be reasonable. Here are some things that are facts, not generalisations (whether or not they are reasonable is another matter):

You can piece together a story from this, if you want to. You can identify a pattern. Nonetheless, whatever you do you will be dealing with lives which don’t carry the same weight as the lives of men. They simply don’t make the same impression. As women we are used to being talked over, corrected and ignored. Even if we die a thousand deaths each one will be separated out and filed away neatly. A woman’s death becomes a detail in the life story of the man who kills her; god forbid that we group the many deaths together and see a different story, that of a culture which tolerates and excuses male violence again and again.

#Ibelieveher matters, not because women never lie, but because our stories are always seen as provisional and in need of external verification. If something happens to us and a man cannot confirm it, has it really happened at all? How can anyone be sure? The stories of women form a backdrop to the lives of men. When they become obtrusive or inconvenient, they can be discarded. It’s not rape if areasonable person would have believed consent was given. It’s not murder if areasonable person would have felt under threat. Men, of course, are reasonable; women, less so. When we hide in toilets, behind locked doors, when we profess to feeling scared – well, who knows what that means? Every word, feeling and memory is left hanging in the air, waiting to see if a man will walk past and give it shape. And if he doesn’t? Well, we might as well not exist.

Emma Humphreys Prize for Women/ Organisations working in the field of VAW

(Cross-posted from Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize)

Emma Humphreys was a writer, campaigner and survivor of male violence who fought an historic struggle to overturn a murder conviction in 1995, supported by Justice for Women and other feminist campaigners. The annual prize of £1,000 is awarded to an individual woman who has, through writing or campaigning, raised awareness of violence against women and children. Alongside the individual prize, the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize judges choose the recipient of a group award, established to recognise the unsung work done by many women’s groups and organisations. This award marks the outstanding contribution of women’s organisations who work in this embattled area and whose creativity and resourcefulness have resulted in developments that combat the prevalence of male violence. Starting in 2009, a prize is also awarded every two years to an international women’s group. The awards aim to provide recognition for work against violence and to bring it to the attention of a wider public.

Criteria to consider in nominating a woman for the individual prize

  • The individual woman should be someone who, through writing or campaigning, has sought to raise awareness of violence against women and children
  • While she may have done this work as part of her paid employment, the judges will give priority to those nominees whose campaigning or writing has clearly extended outside of the paid work environment, or been conducted on a voluntary basis
  • Nominators should ensure that the supporting statement focuses on the achievements of the individual woman herself rather than describing the achievements of the project/organisation she works for
  • Judges will give due consideration to the issue around which the individual woman has been working, and may prioritise a nomination that they deem to highlight a pressing political imperative for feminist campaigning in the present
  • In completing the supporting statement, nominators should attempt to point out the particular and unique aspects of the work which is commended in the nomination; it is not necessary to provide a full biography
  • Nominators should be confident that, should their nominee be awarded the prize, she would be willing to participate in some related media interviews or events, in discussion with the organisers of the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize

Criteria to consider in nominating a women’s group or organisation for the group award

  • The group or organisation should have done important work in raising awareness of violence against women and children, and have sought to bring about change
  • It would be helpful if the nominator could draw attention to any particular obstacles the group has encountered
  • The nominator should try to give examples of any initiatives which best exemplify the resourcefulness of the group or organisation in carrying forward work which seeks to combat violence against women and children
  • It would be helpful if the nominator could indicate, where possible, how effective certain strategies or developments adopted by the group have been in combating the prevalence of such violence
  • The nominator should give a brief explanation of the funding status of the group, and how the award might be used to help assist the group in future.