I should not have to bring up your sister/mother/aunt/wife in order for you to give a fuck….

Cross-posted from: Life in the Patriarchal Mix
Originally published: 12.12.17

The title of this post summarizes my thoughts whenever I have a discussion with men who seem to proudly display their ignorance about the constant attacks on women and girls. One should not have to pull heart strings in order for one side to have any feelings or even care about the subject at hand. It never forces men to have empathy for women and girls, it just reinforces the idea that men’s “damaged property” (female loved ones) should be the only reason why they should be against rape.


Read more I should not have to bring up your sister/mother/aunt/wife in order for you to give a fuck….

Everyone Knew: Male Violence & Celebrity Culture, by @LK_Pennington

Cross-posted from: Everyone Knew
Originally published: 30.11.17

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 07.41.08

Everyone knew.

We hear this over and over and over again. Every single time a male actor, athlete, musician, artist, politician, chef (and the list goes on) are alleged to be perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence and abuse, the refrain is “oh, everyone knew”.

‘Everyone knew’ about the multiple allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape surrounding Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein; allegations that go back decades. Yet, no one (read men) in positions of power followed even the most basic protection regulations and laws around sexual harassment.

Everyone also ‘knew’ about Jimmy Savile’s predatory behaviour to children and women. Despite multiple allegations made to numerous people supposedly responsible for child protection and multiple reports to police, the media still didn’t want to publish the clear evidence of Savile’s sexually predatory behaviour even after he died. Everyone knew; no one talked.


Read more Everyone Knew: Male Violence & Celebrity Culture, by @LK_Pennington

What we’re reading: on poverty, women’s bodies, language and women’s mental health

As we continue to blame single mothers for society’s woes, it’s no surprise their children are living in poverty, by @glosswitch

While single parenthood can be stigmatised, the true horror of deprivation can be downplayed. Victim-blaming policies allow responsibility to be shifted onto those who suffer most. …

Stony (Butch) Femininity and the Watery Female Body: Why Women Want Bounded Bodies via @LucyAllenFWR

In her novel Stone Butch Blues, Feinberg imagines a brutal police raid on an underground club full of butch/femme couples. The character of whom she writes the lines quoted at the beginning of this post is, so we are told, subjected to deliberate humiliation by the local police, stripped naked in a bar, her female body opened up to a public gaze. ‘Later she went mad, they said. Later she hung herself’. For Feinberg (or, at least, for her novel’s protagonist), the quality of stoniness encapsulates a certain lesbian identity, an identity deeply conscious of its embattled ‘otherness’ and characterised by a magnetic resistance to touch. Intimacy might ‘melt’ this stoniness, her novel suggests, but to outside eyes it is a target for violence because it appropriates masculinity, because it insists upon boundaries between the stony body and the world, to which female bodies are not traditionally considered entitled. …

It ain’t what you say…  via @wordspinster

Women/ Rabbit rabbit rabbit women/ Tattle and titter/ Women prattle/ Women waffle and witter/ Men talk. Men talk.

These are the opening lines of ‘Men Talk’, a rap poem by the incomparable Liz Lochhead (you can watch her performing the whole thing here). It’s built around the familiar lexicon of disparaging terms for women’s speech: words like ‘rabbit’, ‘prattle’ and ‘witter’, which represent women’s talk as excessive, trivial and inane; and words like ‘gossip’ and ‘nag’, which represent it as malign and spiteful.

The nauseating weight of words, via Harold Pinter, by @AliyaMughal1

… Throughout his speech – and in his plays – Pinter rejected the idea that dialogue should be straightforward, that endings should contain resolutions, that life should be neat and orderly, even that words should come easily and make any explicit sense. …

3 ways to make cooking and eating less overwhelming when you’re depressed , by @sianfergs via @wearethetempest

… The problem is that the food we eat when we’re depressed further impacts our mood. Binging on too much food can make us feel sluggish and lethargic. Eating too little nutritious food will make us feel more tired. Poor eating takes a huge toll on your mind and body. These disordered eating patterns perpetuate depression, and depression makes it harder to eat properly. It’s a truly vicious cycle. …

 

Winnicott’s ‘good-enough’ mother

Cross-posted from: Mothers Apart Project
Originally published: 02.08.17

The concept of the ‘good-enough’ mother, introduced by Winnicott (1965), is still in common use today in family law, and in health and social services. However, it is often misused to blame women for falling below expected standards of parenting rather using it in its intended context. It is often not understood that the concept of the good-enough mother was embedded in another concept: that of ‘the nursing triad’. Winnicott acknowledged that support for mothers is necessary to mothering. The author did not have an expectation that mothers could be ‘good-enough’ without the support of either the child’s father, or another supportive adult. On the contrary, Winnicott acknowledged that mothering would be very difficult without support: this was a concept that he applied to all mothers.  
Read more Winnicott’s ‘good-enough’ mother

Surviving Sexual Violence – a review

Cross-posted from: Trouble & Strife
Originally published: 22.01.15
Ever since it began publishing in 1983, T&S has included an occasional ‘classic review’ feature in which a contemporary feminist re-reads an important text from the past. The latest addition to the series features Liz Kelly’s groundbreaking 1988 book Surviving Sexual Violence. Revisiting it in 2015, Alison Boydell finds it as relevant as ever.I first read Surviving Sexual Violence (SSV) in the 1990s for a postgraduate Women’s Studies dissertation about abusive men who murder their current/ex-partners. Today my understanding is informed by both reading and experience of working with survivors: I am involved in providing front line services to survivors of sexual violence, and will be shortly working in the domestic violence sector. I’m also studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Advocacy for Victims of Sexual Violence: SSV is on my reading list. Since it’s now more than a quarter of a century since it was first published, this is surely a testament to Liz Kelly’s work.

In the 1970s, feminists had analysed rape as an act of male power, raised awareness about its prevalence and deconstructed the myths that surrounded it. However, it was only later that literature about other forms of male sexual violence began to emerge. SSV focused on a wide range of manifestations: it was one of two ground-breaking books published in 1988 which forced childhood sexual abuse onto the public agenda (the other was an American self-help book, Ellen Bass and Laura Davis’s The Courage to Heal).


Read more Surviving Sexual Violence – a review

#nakedisnormal, but for Playboy, #nakedisprofit at Frothy Dragon and the Patriarchal Stone

Cross-posted from: Frothy Dragon & The Patriarchal Stone
Originally published: 14.02.17

Today, Playboy announced that it was bringing nudity back to its magazines, a year after it had previously banned naked spreads. Following a series of tweets tagged #nakedisnormal, Chief Creative Officer, Cooper Hefner made the announcement this morning, stating that naked is normal and should not be treated as something to shy away from.

Naked is, indeed, normal. However, for a magazine that has been founded on the profits of pornographic material, naked is a profitable kind of normal, one that is used merely for exploitation. Playboy has founded itself on the oppression of women, and to claim that a return to featuring nudity is in our interests is nothing more than a lie. It’s a return to instant gratification, and the ownership of women’s bodies in an attempt to bolster sales.


Read more #nakedisnormal, but for Playboy, #nakedisprofit at Frothy Dragon and the Patriarchal Stone

‘Housewifization International: Women and the New International Division of Labour’ Maria Mies

Cross-posted from: Mairi Voice
Originally published: 11.01.18

“The whole strategy is based on a patriarchal, sexist, racist ideology of women which defines women basically as housewives and sex objects.”

Maria Mies: Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale Women in the International Division of Labour

I have written previously about Maria Mies’ thesis on how the success of the accumulation of capitalism has been dependent on patriarchy and the oppression and exploitation of women.

In Chapter 3 (‘Colonization and Housewifization’) she outlined how wealth and growth in Western countries was based on exploitation of the colonies, where countries, dominated by colonial powers became the producers of consumer goods for rich countries. Rather than meeting their own needs, production in developing countries was promoted to meet the demands of markets in developed countries.

“Production and consumption are now divided by the world market to an unprecedented degree”. (p.114)

 


Read more ‘Housewifization International: Women and the New International Division of Labour’ Maria Mies

Binary or Spectrum, Gender is a Hierarchy, by @ClaireShrugged

Cross-posted from: Sister Outrider
Originally published: 05.09.17

A brief foreword: this is the fifth essay in my series on sex, gender, and sexuality. Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 are available here on Sister Outrider. With this essay, I challenge the notion that gender can be repurposed as anything other than a hierarchy. This one is dedicated to E, a stellar lesbian and feminist.


 

“It is impossible to name and act against oppression if there are no nameable oppressors.” – Mary Daly

What is Gender?

Gender is a fiction created by patriarchy, a hierarchy imposed by men to ensure their dominance over women. The idea of a gender binary was established in order to justify the subordination of women by positioning our oppression by men as a natural state of affairs, the result of how characteristics innately held by men and women manifest. Framing gender as natural not only serves to depoliticise the hierarchy, but uses essentialism in order to convince women that radical resistance to gender – the means of our oppression – is futile. Hopelessness breeds apathy, which undermines social change more effectively than any overt challenge. If abolishing gender (and therefore dismantling patriarchy) is an unobtainable goal, women have no choice but to accept our status as second-class citizens of the world. To treat gender as inherent is to accept a patriarchal blueprint for the design of society.

gender imageGender is a hierarchy that enables men to be dominant and conditions women into subservience. As gender is a fundamental element of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy (hooks, 1984) it is particularly disconcerting to see elements of queer discourse argue that gender is not only innately held but sacrosanct. Far from being a radical alternative to the status quo, the project of “queering” gender only serves to replicate the standards set by patriarchy through its essentialism. A queer understanding of gender does not challenge patriarchy in any meaningful way – rather than encouraging people to resist the standards set by patriarchy, it offers them a way to embrace it. Queer politics have not challenged traditional gender roles so much as breathed fresh life into them – therein lies the danger. 
Read more Binary or Spectrum, Gender is a Hierarchy, by @ClaireShrugged

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

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

Lazy Journalism Never Dies: Safe Spaces and Censorship Yet Again, by @LucyAllenFWR

Cross-posted from: Reading Medieval Books
Originally published: 05.10.17

Yesterday, I received an email. I received dozens, actually – term started today, and a lot of students were checking in with questions about reading or deadlines or meetings – but this one stood out. It was from a journalist, and that journalist was asking (yet again) the question that makes my heart sink.

Can you talk to us about trigger warnings, censorship, and safe spaces? 

That’s the gist of the question. You might also paraphrase it: Dish the dirt on your students and tell us how precious they are! The articles that result are always pretty much the same: they insinuate that students of today are fragile, entitled little things, pampered by their parents and schools, and unable to cope wit the rigours of the full and meaningful education everyone over the age of 30 enjoyed. Students are demanding ‘trigger warnings’ because they cannot read any text containing violence. They are picketing lectures on Pope because one of his poems has ‘rape’ in the title. They are refusing to read Othello because it’s about violence against women and racism. And so on.
Read more Lazy Journalism Never Dies: Safe Spaces and Censorship Yet Again, by @LucyAllenFWR

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

Hugh Hefner: A Feminist Review

Screen Shot 2017-12-17 at 20.45.40“Hugh Hefner is no ‘hero’ – he built an empire on misogyny”, by Claire Heuchan

Reading all of the glowing tributes to Hugh Hefner, I wonder if some sort of collective amnesia has struck. It is a sad thing when any life comes to an end, particularly for grieving family and friends. And yet so many celebrations of the Playboy founder’s work gloss over the sexism that was the foundation of Hefner’s company. Hugh Hefner profited from misogyny – he built an empire on it. At the time of his death, Hefner’s net worth was estimated to be £37 million – money that was made through the commodification of women’s bodies, through presenting women’s bodies as sexual objects that existed for men’s consumption.

Hefner was not, as some claim, a pioneer of the sexual revolution. There is nothing revolutionary about men exploiting women for their own sexual gratification or financial gain – it has been happening for hundreds of years, and is called patriarchy. Hefner has even been embraced as an LGBT ally for featuring a transgender model in Playboy back in 1991. If Hefner was an ally, the word is meaningless. Objectifying a transwoman does not pave the road to equality for anyone. …

I called Hugh Hefner a pimp, he threatened to sue. But that’s what he was, by Suzanne Moore

Long ago, in another time, I got a call from a lawyer. Hugh Hefner was threatening a libel action against me and the paper I worked for at the time, for something I had written. Journalists live in dread of such calls. I had called Hefner a pimp. To me this was not even controversial; it was self-evident. And he was just one of the many “libertines” who had threatened me with court action over the years.

It is strange that these outlaws have recourse in this way, but they do. But at the time, part of me wanted my allegation to be tested in a court of law. What a case it could have made. What a hoot it would have been to argue whether a man who procured, solicited and made profits from women selling sex could be called a pimp. Of course, central to Playboy’s ideology is the idea that women do this kind of thing willingly; that at 23 they want nothing more than to jump octogenarians. …

When I heard Hugh Hefner had died, I wished I believed in hell, by Julie Bindel

On hearing that the pimp and pornographer Hugh Hefner had died this morning, I wished I believed in hell.

“The notion that Playboy turns women into sex objects is ridiculous,” said the sadistic pimp in 2010. “Women are sex objects… It’s the attraction between the sexes that makes the world go ‘round. That’s why women wear lipstick and short skirts.”

Hefner was responsible for turning porn into an industry. As Gail Dines writes in her searing expose of the porn industry, he took it from the back street to Wall Street and, thanks in large part to him, it is now a multibillion dollar a year industry. Hefner operated in a country I live in, a country where if you film any act of humiliation or torture – and if the victim is a woman – the film is both entertainment and it is protected speech. …

Hugh Hefner’s influence lives on in his particular brand of “feminism”, by @glosswitch

September has been a difficult month in terms of losses to feminism. First we saw the death of Kate Millett, the radical second-wave author of Sexual Politics. Now it’s been the turn of Hugh Hefner, the Playboy publisher who once described himself as “a feminist before there was such a thing as feminism”.

Obviously it would be difficult to say which of the two fought the hardest for women. Would it be Millett, who sought to liberate us from the bounds of patriarchy, or Hefner, who sought to free us from body hair, inner lives and clothes? An impossible call to make. Still, if it came down to the question of whose brand of feminism has won the day, there’s an easy answer to that.

Hefner feminism is all around us. It’s the feminism of pre-teen girls seeking designer vaginas; of men who rent out vaginas and wombs; of women who diet, shave, starve and never say no. We’re not free from oppression, but oppression is no longer stigmatised. Isn’t that enough? …

The 15 Worst Things Playmates Have Said About Life in the Playboy Mansion at Cosmo

1. “Everyone thinks that the infamous metal gate was meant to keep people out. But I grew to feel it was meant to lock me in.” —Holly Madison in her book, Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny

2. “When you’re here you have to be in by the 9 p.m. curfew. You’re not allowed to invite any friends up to see you.” —Carla Howe, The Mirror … 

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

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

(Re)theorising laddish masculinities in higher education, by @alisonphipps

Cross-posted from: genders, bodies, politic

Screen Shot 2017-12-17 at 20.53.10

(Re)theorising laddish masculinities in higher education

Abstract: In the context of renewed debates and interest in this area, this paper reframes the theoretical agenda around laddish masculinities in UK higher education, and similar masculinities overseas. These can be contextualised within consumerist neoliberal rationalities, the neoconservative backlash against feminism and other social justice movements, and the postfeminist belief that women are winning the ‘battle of the sexes’. Contemporary discussions of ‘lad culture’ have rightly centred sexism and men’s violence against women: however, we need a more intersectional analysis. In the UK a key intersecting category is social class, and there is evidence that while working-class articulations of laddism proceed from being dominated within alienating education systems, middle-class and elite versions are a reaction to feeling dominated due to a loss of gender, class and race privilege. These are important differences, and we need to know more about the conditions which shape and produce particular performances of laddism, in interaction with masculinities articulated by other social groups. It is perhaps unhelpful, therefore, to collapse these social positions and identities under the banner of ‘lad culture’, as has been done in the past.
Read more (Re)theorising laddish masculinities in higher education, by @alisonphipps

Kate Millett: In Memoriam

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 08.38.52

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.” …

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 08.39.40