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

Cross-posted from: Slutocrat
Originally published: 02.12.17

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

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assault survivors and campaigners in the USA are riled up, and rightfully so: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last week rescinded Obama-era guidance on universities’ duties to deal with campus sexual assault.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

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


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

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

Cross-posted from: Abigail Rieley
Originally published: 22.10.17

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

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

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

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

 

A new angel has opened his wings!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published: 23.09.17

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

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

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

What we’re reading: male entitlement, abortion rights, racism, and women in prison

Short prison sentences punish children too, by Lucy Baldwin & Rona Espstein

… Despite none of the mothers in our study serving no longer than 34 weeks in custody, the majority under six months; the effects on the children described to us were many. Mothers described their children’s relationships as siblings being changed, especially where they had been separated to different locations. Some mothers felt their children were less close to them and had become closer to their temporary carers. One mother felt her child no longer knew her as her mother. Mothers described children having nightmares, bedwetting, becoming clingy, insecure and angry.

The study highlighted the harm caused to the mothers themselves by these short, and often very short sentences; all served for non-violent offences. But also, very clearly to the children of these mothers. The very welcome Scottish decision to implement a progression from their pre-existing   presumption against sentences of under three months, to a presumption against sentences of less than 12 months is a clear message and recognition that short sentences do more harm than good, and wherever possible community alternatives should be sought. We urge England and Wales to urgently follow suit.  …

Catholic Hospital Pressured Women to Bury Their Fetuses—Then Pence Made It Law, by Amy Littlefield

Tethered to an IV, naked under her hospital gown, Kate Marshall felt trapped as the chaplain approached her bed. It was 2015, and Marshall was awaiting surgery at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Indiana after losing a much-wanted pregnancy. She had not asked to speak with a chaplain, but the man had nonetheless entered her room and then pressed her to sign a consent form that would allow the Catholic hospital to bury her 11-week fetus in a cemetery plot.

Marshall, a University of Notre Dame English professor who wanted nothing more than to have a baby, planned to send the fetal remains for testing, hoping to understand what had caused her miscarriage and thus avoid having another. She also did not want her fetus buried in a grave as if it were a full-grown person.

But the chaplain scorned her decision, Marshall told Rewire in an interview.

Gutted by the sudden loss of her pregnancy, and conscious every moment of the dead fetus that was still inside her body, Marshall asked him to leave five times before he finally did, according to a written complaint she filed with regulators the next day. …

 I’m Disabled and I Get Sexually Harassed — Here’s Why That Matters, by Emily Wu  via @TeenVogue

We were 15 years old, just starting high school. A boy from my biology class would hiss my name, just loud enough so his friends standing nearby could also hear. “Psst — hey Wendy,” he said. I turned my head. He stuck out his tongue and wiggled it between two fingers. He laughed. His friends laughed alongside him, elbowing each other as I continued to walk by, cheeks flushed. He did this over and over again for all four years in the hallways where everyone could see, and he did it without ounce of empathy or shame. His laughter rang in my ears every time I read another story about women — including actors, senators, lobbyists, and musicians — experiencing harassment, assault, and other forms of sexual violence.

Before the #metoo movement took over social media in October, I had never written about my experiences with sexual violence before. I couldn’t even write “sexual harassment,” “abuse,” and other related words without feeling deeply ashamed — even though there is nothing for me to be ashamed of. …

Weinstein, White Tears and the Boundaries of Black Women’s Empathy, by Jamilah Lemieux  via @CassiusLife_

Despite the absence of other folks’ compassion when Black people need it most, my immediate reaction to stories of sexual assault and harassment is almost always instinctively, deeply empathetic, race be damned. For that reason, this is one of the more challenging pieces that I’ve ever written.

As I read yet another account of post-Harvey Weinstein trauma from a white woman who apparently matters more to the world than I—or even her fellow accuser Lupita Nyong’o—ever will, I had a thought that made me recoil a bit at myself:

“There is no role that white women can ever play better than that of ‘victim.’”

What a harsh response, right? And, yet, it is as true as anything I’ve ever said in my life.

Be clear, I didn’t feel bad for having this thought; rather, I was disconcerted that it came to mind at this particular moment. After all, these white women aren’t crying because a Black female colleague raised her voice in a meeting or because one of her own had a change of heart about a consensual sexual encounter with a Black man. These women are sharing horrific stories of alleged assault and harassment at the hands of Weinstein, a man who had the power to either catapult or end their careers. ….

#NotYourRescueProject: How a white middle-class academic masqueraded as the women he trafficked and pimped, by @bindelj  via @FeministCurrent

Molli Desi was — until recently — one of several women and girls trafficked from the Indian sub-continent into the UK sex industry and pimped from flats in Kingston and Surbiton. Their names include “Beauty,” “Kama of Kingston,” “Rani Desi,” and of course “Molli Desi.” These women and girls were marketed to sex-buyers under the moniker of “sacred prostitutes”: servicing men wasn’t just “sex work,” it was their spiritual mission and they were highly trained. The men who bought them, however, complained on punter websites that they were unable to speak English and were utterly unenthusiastic. These men did not report the trafficking of these women and girls to the police. …

I have discovered the creator of the hashtag campaign #NotYourRescueProject is Dr. John Davies, masquerading as Desi. This hugely damaging campaign continues to be instrumental in enabling liberals, leftists, and others who should know better, to smear feminist sex trade abolitionists such as myself as Victorian, anti-sex, racist colonialists, driven by class prejudice, hell-bent on controlling the sexuality of “sex workers.” It is also a handy platform from which to abuse and gaslight survivors who give very different accounts of male violence in prostitution. Moreover, it is has become a legitimate “body of peer-reviewed research” to thwart social policy which would otherwise provide prostituted women and girls exit from prostitution and hold the men who profit from their abuse to account. ….

Me Too, Now What? (sex, the left, and gender identity), by @GappyTales

Cross-posted from: Gappy Tales
Originally published: 20.10.17

Sparked by the exposure of Harvey Weinstein as an alleged serial sex offender, a mass confessional has taken place recently via social media, in which women everywhere have held up their hands and said, me too: the things that Weinstein did to those women have happened to me too. I hope to goodness it was cathartic and useful for the women who took the brave and exposing step of outing their private pain to the world, and I hope to goodness there were as many women reading who felt less alone, less ashamed as a result. But the outpouring is slowing and I, for one, am relieved. A collective boil has perhaps now been lanced, although I still cannot see through the pus.

The pus gathers in the responses, which can be divided into three broad categories. First is blanket denial, whereby men and their cheerleaders deny that sexual abuse on such a massive scale exists at all. Women are fanciful, lying, exaggerating for effect. There is a bandwagon onto which women are joyfully leaping in an attempt to malign men and revel in their perceived victimhood. Second, we have the more modern form of denial which concedes that yes, sexual abuse is a common problem, although not a gendered one. There are simply some people that abuse other people and all abuse is equally bad. The inconvenient and statistical truth that 98% of all sexual crime is committed by men, and that the overwhelming majority of their victims are female, can be pasted over with obfuscation and the politics of individualism. In other words, if we focus in carefully enough on all the tiny pictures, the big picture will begin to fade into the background and eventually disappear altogether. In the face of this manipulative myopia I can find myself longing for the first, more traditional trope. It is, at least, straightforward. Lastly, we have the outraged hyperbole. The shock! The fury! Whoever could have imagined such horrifying evil existed in the world?!


Read more Me Too, Now What? (sex, the left, and gender identity), by @GappyTales

#MeToo: A Hard Freedom To Bear, by @God_loves_women

Cross-posted from: God Loves Women
Originally published: 18.10.17

I’ve been working out if or how to write about #metoo.  The hashtag was started over ten years ago by Tarana Burke to enable women in underprivileged communities who did not have access to rape crisis centers or counseling, to be able to share their stories of having been subjected to sexual assault.  In the wake of the New Yorker publishing details of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assault of women across Hollywood (over a number of decades), actress Alyssa Milano encouraged women to tweet their stories of sexual harassment.  A million people have tweeted using the hashtag in the last few days, with many people also using it on Facebook.

 

The most wonderful Vicky Walker has written over at Premier “Harvey Weinstein isn’t just Hollywood. Men like him exist in our churches too”.  Vicky’s piece, which included her own personal experiences of having been subjected to harassment by Christian men, has been commented on by a number of men.  Peter tells us that, I am concerned that this article is actually approaching the whole issue from the wrong perspective.” (What wisdom Paul has…)  Whilst Paul tells us that, Plenty of conjecture and personal anecdote but nowhere near enough sources to properly level the claim with credibility.”  (I’m hoping Paul is going to commission a nationwide survey on harassment in churches to help us get the data he thinks is acceptable.)


Read more #MeToo: A Hard Freedom To Bear, by @God_loves_women

Why don’t women matter?, by @FeministBorgia

Cross-posted from: Feminist Borgia
Originally published: 06.02.14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cross-posted from: Mairi Voice
Originally published: 07.03.17

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

And each of them dealt with male violence against women.

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

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

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

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

Cross-posted from: Louise Pennington
Originally published: 10.06.17

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


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

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

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

8 Christina Randall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Cross-posted from: Trouble & Strife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unlearning the myth of American innocence, by Suzy Hansen

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

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

Kate Millett: In Memoriam

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Andrea Dworkin on Kate Millett: Sexual Politics in the New Statesman 

The world was sleeping and Kate Millett woke it up. Betty Friedan had written about the problem that had no name. Kate Millett named it, illustrated it, exposed it, analysed it. In 1970 Kate Millett published the book Sexual Politics. The words were new. What was “sexual politics”? The concept was new. Millett meant to “prove that sex is a status category with political implications”. She pointed to male dominance in sex, including intercourse. In challenging the status quo, she maintained: “However muted its present appearance may be, sexual domination obtains nevertheless as perhaps the most pervasive ideology of our culture and provides its most fundamental concept of power.”

Thirty-three years later, it is hard to remember or envision the convulsive shock of this new idea. Male-over-female had been seen as a physical inevitability not unlike gravity. Nothing that had to do with sex was open to questions of power, dominance or hierarchy. Social sex roles originated in and were determined by biology or a supernatural divinity. The male was the figure of action, even heroism. He alone was made in God’s image. He ruled in religion, marriage and politics as conventionally understood. His sovereign place as head of the family was unchallenged. Millett called this arrangement “patriarchy”, which she described as “male shall dominate female, elder male shall dominate younger”. …

De Beauvoir, Lessing—now Kate Millett, by Marcia Seligson

… Kate Millett’s book on “sexual politics” is thus a rare achievement. Its measure of detachment is earned by learning, reason and love, its measure of involvement is frankly set out. It is a piece of passionate think ing on a life‐and‐death aspect of our public and private lives.

We are plunged in at the deep end, in a not unappreciative commentary on a scene of sex in and just out of the bath, from Henry Miller’s “Sexus,” rapidly followed by a more complexly brutal passage from Mailer’s “An American Dream.” Per missive fiction proffers rich mate rials. The pornographic element now so assimilated by imaginative litera ture as to confound the legal distinctions of censorship has ex posed far more than beds and bodies. Its freedom shows truths and fan tasies about sex hitherto disguised. Moreover, the act of sexual descrip tion is itself aggressive, indulgent, attractive, repulsive. These scenes are crucial. The power‐politics of patriarchal society creates the com placent zest of Miller’s hero as he subdues his women, and creates too the desperate arrogance of Mailer’s Rojack. …

What Kate did, by Maggie Doherty at The New Republic

… Not many dissertations begin with a close reading of a scene of anal rape. But Millett’s was no typical dissertation. Though filing for a doctorate in English, she ranged widely over the disciplines. Two long sections on the history of women’s liberation and of sex-based oppression—“The Sexual Revolution” and “The Counterrevolution”—were flanked by studies of what Millett calls the “literary reflection” of patriarchy. Drawing on Weber, Engels, and Arendt, among others, Millett aimed to show how the relationship between the sexes was one of “dominance and subordinance.” This power relationship was institutionalized, she argued; it was a form of “interior colonization,” a kind of oppression “sturdier than any form of segregation, and more rigorous than class stratification.” Children were socialized to their roles in this “caste system,” thus consenting to a system of inequality long before they understood their world in such terms. “However muted its appearance may be,” Millett wrote, “sexual dominion obtains nevertheless as perhaps the most pervasive ideology of our culture and provides its most fundamental concept of power.”   …

“Sexual Politics” and the Feminist Work That Remains Undone at the New Yorker

In the fall of 2014 Time magazine published a list of words that, it proposed, should be banned—a click-bait compilation of terms and phrases that had become so buzzy and catchy that they had proliferated into cringe-inducing overuse. Among them were “bae,” a term of endearment; “disrupt,” a Silicon Valley cliché; “literally,” when used to mean “figuratively”; and “feminist.” About this last the magazine asked, “When did it become a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them, like some politician declaring a party? Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.” …

Forty-four years earlier, Time magazine had made a different kind of statement about feminism, devoting a cover story to Kate Millett and “Sexual Politics,_”__ as a means of addressing the burgeoning movement at large.__ _Millett was described as “the Mao Tse-tung of Women’s Liberation,” hailed as the theorist whose analysis served both as cultural diagnosis and polemical manifesto. These were times in which, as the magazine characterized it, “the din is in earnest, echoing from the streets where pickets gather, the bars where women once were barred, and even connubial beds, where ideology can intrude at the unconscious drop of a male chauvinist epithet.” Much of _Time’_s tone was lightly mocking of the movement—and now seems drenched in the unconscious sexism it sought to define—which makes its treatment of Millett’s work strike a present-day reader as surprisingly respectful. “There is no questioning the impact of her argument,” the magazine notes, while giving an accessible summary of “the patriarchy,” as more densely characterized by Millett in her book: “Women are helpless . . . because men control the basic mechanisms of society.” …

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The Misogyny Of Modern Feminism, by @GappyTales ‏

Cross-posted from: Gappy Tales
Originally published: 06.04.17

I have been thinking lately about the power of language; in particular how it can be used to silence. I’ve been a feminist all my life, my mother was a second wave activist, and I care hugely for the future of our movement.

Over centuries feminists have been labelled man-haters, family destroyers, ugly; yet still we’ve continued to raise our voices. Recently however, we’ve seen those wishing to shut us up change tack.

Last week I posted an article online about a transwoman accused of violently raping two women. I expressed concern as to the risk to female prisoners should that individual serve their sentence in a women’s prison. And I was called a bigot and compared to a white supremacist by a friend I had known twenty years.

 


Read more The Misogyny Of Modern Feminism, by @GappyTales ‏

Situating agency, by Dr Fiona Vera-Gray for @strifejournal

Cross-posted from: Trouble & Strife
Originally published: 20.05.16

Feminist debates on violence against women have often become polarized by conflicting ideas about women’s agency. But in her research on street harassment, Fiona Vera-Gray found that Simone de Beauvoir’s concept of ‘situation’ offered a way to move our thinking forward.

There is a growing need to revisit our conceptual frameworks for understanding men’s violence against women and girls. Recent high-profile cases have raised public awareness of the extent of sexual violence; by using digital media, feminist activists have highlighted the everyday nature of men’s intrusive behaviour. The diverse voices that give feminism as a political movement its complexity and reflexivity have undoubtedly been amplified. But the internet has also changed the way we create, take in and distribute information; often we end up speaking over rather than to one another.
Read more Situating agency, by Dr Fiona Vera-Gray for @strifejournal

The Thing about Toilets, at Not the News in Brief

Cross-posted from: Not the News in Brief
Originally published: 11.04.17

The thing about toilets is that it’s not just about toilets. It’s about ALL the public spaces which could present a risk to women and/or children because of factors such as confined space, being locked in, restricted escape routes and being either explicitly or potentially in a state of partial/complete undress. These spaces include public toilets (no, not your private one at home, stupid), changing rooms in shops, gymns, leisure centres etc, prisons, rape crisis centres, dormitories, shelters and more.

The reason these spaces are SEX-segregated is that men can be violent and sexually predatory towards women and children (no, not all men, and yes, women can be violent too). The stats are stark, and divide the sexes up quite neatly according to likelihood of violence and abuse. 98% of sex offenders are men. Most of the victims are women and children. It is not just the most serious sex crimes which inform this public policy of sex-segregation however: there is a whole raft of other, lesser, crimes committed where men have access to women in intimate spaces. These include indecent exposure, voyeurism and sexual harassment. Added to that there are the almost exclusively male types of antisocial behaviour, such as indulging the fetish of listening to women urinate, public masturbation and peeing on the seat.
Read more The Thing about Toilets, at Not the News in Brief

Speaking up for what’s right: politics, markets and violence in higher education, by Alison Phipps

Cross-posted from: genders, bodies, politics
Originally published: 15.03.17

Content note: this post contains reference to sexual harassment and violence.

Universities in the US, and increasingly in the UK, are finding themselves under siege. The far right is targeting academics and their social justice work, bolstered by a mainstream suspicion of ‘experts’ and ‘elites’, and a general rightward shift in politics and public opinion. With a white supremacist, alleged serial sexual harasser and abuser in the White House, a hardline English government, and a ‘new normal’ that involves overt and unrepentant sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination, we’re in for a tough few years. I have previously written about the feminist classroomas a ‘safe space’, and the need to protect our most vulnerable students. I have also thought a lot about how the neoliberal university suppresses the very capacities required to do this. I have theorised an ‘institutional economy’ of sexual violence, exploring how institutional responses (or non-responses) to violence and abuse are shaped by neoliberal rationalities. In this post, I will attempt to sketch how the market framings of sexual violence in the university interact with our contemporary political field and growing hostility to progressive work.
Read more Speaking up for what’s right: politics, markets and violence in higher education, by Alison Phipps