Originally published: 06.07.13
The brutal gang-rape that took place on a bus in Delhi in December 2012 galvanized feminists both in India and around the world. Among them there were differing views on what this horrific incident meant and what should be done about it; but those differences did not stop women from taking united action. Rahila Gupta argues that if we keep our larger goals in sight, while also acknowledging that different contexts call for different political responses, the many shades of feminism can merge into one strong, vibrant colour*.
It’s become fashionable, after the meteoric rise of that mediocre book, to refer to 50 shades of everything. When it’s applied to feminism, however, I worry that it underlines our divisions whilst appearing to celebrate our diversity. At the level of discussion, it’s important to tease out our differences; but at the level of action, we’re trying to build bridges and coalitions by keeping the bigger goals in sight.
Shades of opinion are not just about women squabbling among themselves about the best way forward, but about different contexts giving rise to different demands. With that in mind, I want to talk about the brutal gang rape on a bus of a 23 year-old woman who was left for dead in Delhi last December. Different shades of opinion emerged in the solidarity actions that took place in the UK, but they did not prevent a common platform of action.
Read more 50 billion shades of feminism
Originally published: 28.02.16
Was my abuser a criminal, a very sick man or both?
That is the question I am confronting right now. And while I generally feel I am an expert by experience as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I don’t instinctively know the answer to this question.
Logic, rationality, the thinking things in life can of course supply an answer straight away – he was probably both. But to jump to that conclusion without truly knowing why is lacking somehow. I need a bit more to go on; my education didn’t include the rigours of studying jurisprudence so I don’t know the questions to ask about criminality. My education also didn’t include any aspects of psychiatry or other clinical disciplines which might help the sickness bit of it (I’m discounting my biology O level here).
Read more CRIMINAL OR VERY ILL? by @anewselfwritten
Section 41 of the rape and sexual offences act 1999 states that the sexual history of the claimant can be used as evidence in cases in the U.K. We the undersigned agree that this should be stopped and previous sexual history should be inadmissible in court.
Originally published: 22.06.16
JANE & MARIA DOE
Jane Doe was 13 years old when Donald Trump tied her to a bed and raped her. She begged him to wear a condom. He responded by violently striking her in the face and screaming he would do whatever he wanted. She asked what would happen if she were to get pregnant, at which point he threw $100 dollar bills at her and screamed that she should “get a fucking abortion.” Jane’s rape was witnessed by Tiffany Doe, who has signed a sworn affidavit confirming her testimony. Jane and Maria Doe (who was 12) were forced multiple times to perform oral sex on him.
Originally published: 09.10.16
It’s that time again, when the liberal left pretends to be totally outraged by some heinous act of sexism which they’d ordinarily condone. Perhaps I should feel relieved. Perhaps I should think “well, at least one sexist out of the many millions is getting his comeuppance.” But instead I feel tremendously depressed. I don’t believe the outrage over Donald Trump. Yet again it’s feminism being used for anything but the purpose of liberating women.
So the GOP has chosen Trump’s “lewd” admissions of grabbing women “by the pussy,” caught on tape, as the excuse to distance themselves from him. Fair enough. They’ve known about the creepiness, the misogyny, the rape accusations, for long enough, but better late than never. They could of course have drawn the line over some other form of discrimination – one which, as many liberal commentators have helpfully suggested, affects actual people, such as men – but you can’t have everything. Hey, at least a trivial issue such as sexual assault is being used for the greater good.
I don’t believe anyone is actually outraged, though. Not women, nor men, either, and not merely because this is “what they’re all really like.” It’s just another of these increasingly false dawns, a cleansing ritual of sorts, whereby everyone gets to performatively express horror at one man’s sexism and by doing so absolve themselves of guilt. Take our sins upon you, oh tiny-handed one, that we may once again be pure (and not have to liberate women in any meaningful, practical way, which might cost us time, money and our precious ‘rights’).
Read more I don’t believe the outrage over Donald Trump by @glosswitch
Originally published: 05.10.16
On Sunday night, I watched the Louis Theroux documentary ‘Savile’, which investigated why he (and by extension, others) hadn’t realised who and what the thankfully deceased serial rapist and abuser Jimmy Savile was, back when he interviewed him in 2000. In it, Theroux recognises and acknowledges that he missed certain signs, etc., as did so many others, but at the end, when he finally concludes that we will probably never truly know how Savile got away with so much for so long, he is completely mistaken. Because it’s totally obvious why he did – misogyny. And Theroux, for all his soul-searching, for all his sense of guilt and shame, for all his willingness to research the topic and hear difficult things from victims, including insulting things about his own past involvement with Savile, never stops to analyse the most obvious reason for why he also failed to spot the truth – his own misogyny. As a liberal, lefty guy, he probably doesn’t think he’s sexist at all, and I imagine that if you met him, he probably would come across as very nice and less sexist than a lot of men. Like so many men, because he’s not an out-and-out leering chauvinist pig who thinks women should only exist to attract and service him, he thinks he’s not sexist. BUT. BUT. His misogyny and male entitlement and participation in patriarchy are glaringly obvious in the documentary.
Read more Louis Theroux, Jimmy Savile and the failure to recognise the obvious: misogyny
Originally published: 22.08.16
Not too long ago, Brock Turner, a Stanford student, raped a woman who was inebriated. The judge gave him to a meager sentence saying he has too much potential and did not want to ruin his life.
Last week, an exact copy cat case occurred. Austin Wilkerson, a University of Colorado student, offered to take his inebriated friend back to her dorm. Instead of escorting her to safety, he took his chances with her and raped her without her consent. He was let off with a light sentence too, despite confessing that he “digitally and orally penetrated” the woman while he “wasn’t getting much of a response from her.”
Read more Its Time to Change the Narrative on Victim Blaming by @rupandemehta
Violence against women is often in the news. Its prevalence in society makes it a ‘hot topic’ for reporters and its complex nature makes it an interesting issue for feature writers. However, the fact that violence against women is so complex can mean that even journalists with the best of intentions can misrepresent some of the issues and perpetuate myths that are harmful to women.
On the other hand, good reporting can play a vital role in increasing understanding of violence against women and challenging its place in our society. And many journalists and bloggers produce high quality work which confronts violence and gender inequality.
We believe that their hard work deserves to be recognised, which is why Zero Tolerance with the support of NUJ Scotland, White Ribbon Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid, Engender, Everyday Victim Blaming, Women 50:50, Rape Crisis Scotland, Women for Independence and the Scottish Refugee Council are pleased to present the fourth annual Write to End Violence award for excellence in journalism. We are also pleased to announce the Sunday Herald will be working with us as our media partner.
This award seeks to drive up standards in journalism by rewarding those committed to furthering the cause of gender equality through their work. It is open to all those writing in Scotland, and there are categories open to both paid and unpaid writing. Articles and blogs must be published between 01/09/15 and 01/09/16.
Read more The Scottish Write to End Violence Against Women and Girls Award!
Originally published: 13.06.16
Rape culture is porn culture in 2016 — the two are indistinguishable. Since Hustler famously turned Cheryl Araujo’s 1983 gang rape, on a pool table in Massachusetts as other men watched, into porn, rape culture and porn culture have been merged, quite literally, by pornographers. We could place bets on how many days it will be until porn users are offered pornography themed on the Stanford rape case.
Consequently, it’s not unfathomable that the average porn user and Stanford rapist Brock Turner share similarities in how they have learned to pursue sexual gratification.
People who masturbate with porn largely think they’re better people than the Stanford rapist, but are they? Let’s examine the possibilities of anti-rape porn users sexually consuming the products of prostitution with integrity.
Both the Stanford rapist and men who use porn believe some women are there for the sexual taking, no questions asked. Like Turner, porn users stumble across drugged up, barely conscious-to-unconscious women and assume consent. Testimony from the porn industry confirms intoxication is ubiquitous during production, and even Hollywood actresses like Jennifer Lawrence often admit to using alcohol or pharmaceuticals to get through simulated sex scenes. …
This article was first published on Feminist Current. You can find the full article here.
JohnStompers My blog neatly collects my published articles about prostitution, porn, and other human trafficking issues into one easily found blog. I don’t twitter much, but I’m fairly active on Facebook as “Samantha Berg” from Portland, Oregon, USA.
Originally published: 29.09.14
For trauma survivors, there are many paths to healing and moving on. Why does forgiveness culture demand that survivors forgive their abusers?
I can relate many small wrongs after which the offender has apologized, claimed he would never demand forgiveness, and then become condescending when I’ve not immediately accepted the apology. “We don’t have to be enemies, but sure, I’ll leave you alone,” said one text message. I had not said I would not forgive him; I had simply not forgiven on demand. Still, this incident was relatively minor. ….
Why I Reject Forgiveness Culture was first published by Stir Journal. You can find the full article here.
erringness in perfection class : Elizabeth Kate Switaj is a Liberal Arts Instructor at the College of the Marshall Islands and a Contributing Editor to Poets’ Quarterly. She completed her PhD at Queen’s University Belfast with a dissertation on James Joyce as an EFL teacher. She previously taught English in Japan and China in December 2012. (@)
Forty-five and still standing. I have made it this far.
So by definition I have survived. Yet, it is only recently that I have come to consider myself a survivor. This is probably common to many of us: reaching that understanding of what happened to us later rather than sooner.
My own story is nowhere near unique, probably not even rare: abused on a regular basis by my maternal grandfather between the ages of five and 11. Repeated trauma, occasionally disclosed, but never responded to.
It can be hard, particularly on a bad day, to say to yourself “I am a survivor”, or even, to use the words of pop goddess Gloria Gaynor, to know “I will survive”. After all I don’t feel like much of a survivor when I am reliving a trauma, in the midst of an anxiety attack, overdosing on attachment despair, feeling deep shame, or hating every label applied to me (including survivor). On those days I feel like a victim.
Originally published: 16.02.16
With elections coming up in May this year, Holly Dustin gives us a briefing on what the Women’s Equality Party is all about.
Without a doubt, the British political landscape has shifted significantly since I was trudging through a Politics degree at the University of Nottingham 25 years ago. It was, in some ways, a simpler time for those of us interested in who has power and what they do with it. Margaret Thatcher was still in office (until 1990), and you were either for her or against her. Nelson Mandela was still in prison on Robben Island and the Cold War dominated geo-politics. You voted in elections and in between time you could make your voice heard by going on a demo or wearing a t-shirt (I did both). There were no smartphones, no epetitions, no Facebook likes, and definitely no lobbying your MP on twitter.
There were few women in Parliament then and Thatcher, known for ‘pulling the ladder up behind her’, only ever promoted one woman, Baroness Young, to her Cabinet in all eleven years of her premiership. The Politics Department at Nottingham was an all-male affair too (my memory is of a micro-Cold War between the Thatcher supporting majority and Marxist minority). Politics (capital P) was black and white, and did not appear to include feminism.
Twenty five years later we can say for sure that British politics is less blokey, though still too white and male with only 29% of MPs being women and less than 7% of MPs being from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, and there is a new wave of feminist activism both in Parliament and outside it. Furthermore, British politics is fragmenting; the three-party system is breaking up with the collapse of the Lib Dems in Parliament and the rise of Nationalists around the UK. and smaller parties, such as UKIP and the Greens, gaining electoral support even if first-past-the-post means that support doesn’t translate into seats.
Read more Party Lines – on Women’s Equality Party by @strifejournal
TO: UN, BAN KI-MOON
Originally published: 30.03.16
Commit to maintaining London’s pioneering Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy.
Women’s groups in London published a ‘manifesto for ending violence against women and girls in the capital,’ recently and sent open letters to Mayoral candidates highlighting the endemic levels of domestic and sexual violence in London, and asking them to make specific commitments on ending female genital mutilation (FGM), on prostitution, on ensuring support services are maintained, and the effective policing of these crimes.
A new ‘mayorwatch’ website, which will track all relevant mayoral and Assembly candidates’ pledges has also been launched.
The manifesto and open letters precede an ‘ending violence against women and girls hustings’ in central London on 12 April, with Sian Berry, Green Party; Yvette Cooper MP for Labour; Stephen Greenhalgh for the Conservatives; Annabel Mullin for the Lib Dems; and Sophie Walker, standing for the Women’s Equality Party, on the panel.
Read more Manifesto on VAWG for London mayor candidates by @newsaboutwomen
Originally published: 25.12.15
It’s two days before my Anthropology exam, and I can’t concentrate.
I was sexually assaulted the day before. I feel teary. I feel numb. I don’t know what to feel.
I’m torn between knowing that I need a break so that I can begin to recover from my assault, and feeling guilty for missing an exam.
My guilt stems from believing that my academics determine my worth. It also stems from my believing that my worth is defined by my productivity levels – a capitalistic lie that we’re all taught from a young age.
Because of these deep-set beliefs, a part of me feels as if missing exams means I’m weak, useless, and a failure.
I know I need to practice self-care. But practicing self-care at university – a place that equates our worth with our academic ability – is incredibly difficult. …
Read more 8 Ways to Practice Self-Care When College Is Taking a Toll on Your Spirit by @sianfergs
Originally published: 15.09.15
CN: some of the articles this piece links to contain extremely offensive ideas about sex workers.
I have been asked a number of times how my work around ‘lad culture’ and sexual violence in higher education corresponds to my support of sex industry decriminalisation. The implication, which elicits arguments commonly made by abolitionist feminists, is often that the two are contradictory, that in supporting workers in the sex industry I am tacitly condoning the objectification of womenand male sexual entitlement which feeds misogyny and violence. This may sound like good feminist common sense. However, I see it as a facile interpretation of both the causes of violence against women and what it means to support sex workers’ labour rights. This is problematic on a number of levels, not least because it betrays an exclusion from feminist anti-violence campaigning of some of the most vulnerable women in our society, whose primary demand is to be able to work in safety.
Read more Why sex workers should be part of sexual violence campaigns by @alisonphipps
Originally published: 22.12.12
The demise of feminism is back in the news again. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Katy Perryhave both made public statements about how unnecessary feminism is to their personal lives. Suzanne Venker has not only declared feminism dead but claims that there is now a war on men. Ironically, this death of feminism has coincided with very public demonstrations of feminist activism, as well as increased public debate on the issue of the inclusion of men within the feminist movement.
Yet, the debate over the inclusion of men within feminism movement has always been important. It has never stopped being important. It has only re-emerged in the mainstream British press due to the backlash to the women-only RadFem 2012 conference in London in June; as well as the no-platforming on the Manchester Women-Up North Conference who chose to have one session for FAAB-women survivors of sexual violence only. The inclusion of men within the feminist movement has been debated for 40 years now. It never stopped being debated.
Read more Feminism, Men and Women-Only Spaces
Originally published: 21.07.15
So the truth finally comes out. In a 2005 deposition, Bill Cosby admittedto giving Quaaludes to young women with whom he wanted to have sex. Quaaludes was a massively popular sleep aid, sedative formally known as methaqualone. It was started off to be used as an antimalarial but was soon discovered to have sedative-hypnotic effects.
Despite this newly uncovered information, Whoopi Goldberg on the talk show, The View continued to defend Cosby, proclaiming, “I say this because this is my opinion, and in America still, I know it’s a shock, but you actually were innocent until proven guilty. He has not been proven a rapist.”
So far, 40 women have come forward and accused the comedian of drugging and subsequently raping them and Whoopi thinks he has to be proven a rapist? Does she know a thing called ‘statute of limitations’? In most of these cases, the statute has expired and the accusations cannot be used to indict Cosby…but a far bigger question is why do we need a rapist to be proven guilty by law before admitting he did something wrong?
Read more The Reality Behind Bill Cosby’s Allegations by @rupandemehta