50 billion shades of feminism

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

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

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

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

The feminist classroom as ‘safe space’ after Brexit and Trump by @alisonphipps

Cross-posted from: Alison Phipps
Originally published: 10.11.16

So it’s happened. Donald Trump is President-elect of the United States. He ran on a white supremacist ticket, and multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault failed to stop him taking the White House. There were reports of racist, homophobic and misogynistic hate crimes within hours of the result being declared. David Duke called the night one of the ‘most exciting’ of his life, and the Vice-President of France’s Front National declared: ‘their world is collapsing – ours is being built’. The Israeli Right took the opportunity to announce that the era of a Palestinian state is over. This only months after the British public voted to leave the European Union, ushering in a hard right agenda which ensures that the US and UK will (in Sarah Palin’s words) be ‘hooking up’ during the Trump administration.

These events are not surprising, even as they are shocking. Both Brexit and the election of Trump are national outpourings of long-held resentments, and a validation of the racist violences on which both the UK and US are built. Voters want to ‘take their countries back’ from people of colour, migrants, and Muslims. Entwined with this is suspicion and hatred of other Others: trans people, queers, disabled people and feminists. This ‘whitelash’ against globalisation and the very meagre gains which have been made in race equality targets all other social justice movements along with it. Under the pretext of ‘anti-establishment’ sentiment and suspicion of liberal political elites, white supremacists are trying to wrest back full control. There is no greater sense of victimhood than when entitlements and privileges are perceived to have been lost. 
Read more The feminist classroom as ‘safe space’ after Brexit and Trump by @alisonphipps

The Scottish Write to End Violence Against Women and Girls Award!

The Write to End Violence Against Women Awards Nominations close on Sept. 30!

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 ScotlandWhite Ribbon ScotlandScottish Women’s AidEngenderEveryday Victim Blaming, Women 50:50Rape Crisis ScotlandWomen 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!

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

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


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

SWEET SURVIVAL by @anewselfwritten

Originally published: 07.02.16

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.


Read more SWEET SURVIVAL by @anewselfwritten

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

Cross-posted from: Strife Journal
Originally published: 16.02.16

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

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

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

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

Manifesto on VAWG for London mayor candidates by @newsaboutwomen

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

Million Women Rise March – #WhyWeRise

Cross-posted from: Million Women Rise
Originally published: 04.03.16

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More than 10,000 women will march through London to call for an end to violence against women

  • Europe’s biggest march for women
  • Taking place on the weekend before International Women’s Day 2016
  • 10,000 women marched last year and even more expected on Saturday
  • Central London route: Oxford St, Wardour St. Piccadilli Circus, ending in
  • Trafalgar Square
  • 9th annual Million Women Rise march calling for an end to all forms of violence against women

More than 10,000 women and children will take to the streets on Saturday, 5 March 2016 on the weekend before International Women’s Day

The march, organised by Million Women Rise (MWR). Is holding up a mirror to the reality of male violence against women in the UK, bringing women together to say enough is enough.

Million Women Rise organises coaches to make the march accessible to women from all over the UK, thousands of whom will meet at 12 noon on Duke Street next to Selfridges.
Read more Million Women Rise March – #WhyWeRise

8 Ways to Practice Self-Care When College Is Taking a Toll on Your Spirit by @sianfergs

Cross-posted from: Sian Ferguson
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

Why sex workers should be part of sexual violence campaigns by @alisonphipps

Cross-posted from: genders, bodies, politics
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

On the Othering of Sexual Violence

Cross-posted from: The Joy in my Feet
Originally published: 26.06.15

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about FGM and the outpouring of cultural condemnations around the practice that has been flying around at large at the moment. Whilst we certainly should be condemning FGM, I wrote of my concerns about the cultural coverage of the practice which easily becomes misappropriated, used and abused by those wanting to make xenophobic, anti-immigration arguments, whilst glossing over the point that FGM is child abuse and violence against women and girls. What I didn’t write about was how the response to FGM in media and social media outlets in the UK is an example of the wider response to domestic and gender based abuse that is typical of the Western world; that is, the othering of sexual violence.

 


Read more On the Othering of Sexual Violence

Femicide – Men’s Fatal Violence Against Women Goes Beyond Domestic Violence by @K_IngalaSmith

Cross-posted from: Karen Ingala Smith
Originally published: 18.05.15

I wrote this piece for Women’s Aid’s magazine Safe:

The Office for National Statistics released findings from the 2013/14 Crime Survey for England and Wales on 12 February. Men continue to be more likely to be killed than women, there were 343 male victims compared to 183 female victims (of all ages including children and babies). Court proceedings had concluded for 355 (55%) of 649 suspects relating to 536 homicides.  For those suspects where proceedings had concluded, 90% (338 suspects) were male and 10% were female (38 suspects). Men are more likely to be killed, but their killers are overwhelmingly men. Women are less likely to be killed, when they are, they are overwhelmingly killed by a man.  When we’re talking about fatal violence, we are almost always talking about men’s violence.
Read more Femicide – Men’s Fatal Violence Against Women Goes Beyond Domestic Violence by @K_IngalaSmith

Reports on ‘Leaked Nude Photos‘ — Just Another Form of Victim-Blaming by @CratesNRibbons

Cross-posted from: Crates N Ribbons
Originally published: 01.09.14

As most of you will have heard by now, an anonymous hacker has stolen the private images of a large number of female celebrities, and posted them on 4chan, an imageboard website notorious for being a cesspit of misogyny.

Here are a selection of headlines I’ve seen today:

The Great Naked Celebrity Photo Leak of 2014 is Just the Beginning –  Guardian

Jennifer Lawrence Nude Photos Leaked ‘After iCloud Hack’ – BBC

Leaked Nude Celeb Photos Spark Hacking Fears – Sky News

Jennifer Lawrence’s Nude Photos Leak Online, Other Celebs Targeted – Huffington Post

Leaked: Photos of Naked Celebrities, Including Jennifer Lawrence – The Sydney Morning Herald

Nude Photos of Many A-List Celebrities Leaked Online After Apparent Hacking – CTV News

*****

Leaked. Over and over, the same phrase is being employed. The photographs were leaked.

What a strange word to use. A leak is what happens when I fail to turn my tap all the way off. If my water bottle is not properly sealed, it leaks. If I had a baby, and then forgot to change its diaper often enough, that would leak too.

But is that what has happened here? Did the photos of these women suddenly find themselves on the internet in an unfortunate accident, brought about through the laws of physics and a defective containment system? Or was there something else at work here?
Read more Reports on ‘Leaked Nude Photos‘ — Just Another Form of Victim-Blaming by @CratesNRibbons

Lets talk about rape (again) and being one of ‘only 9%’.

Cross-posted from: Helen Blogs
Originally published: 14.03.14

Last year when I blogged/wrote as ‘fragmentz’ I wrote several blogs titled ‘lets talk about rape …’ – not something I planned on writing much about again really, but here I am and I am able to talk more openly offline and more confident to write online as me, Helen.

7 years ago my life which I was already battling changed for the worse. It was a sunny day, where one moment made time freeze. One afternoon on the corner of a street where a building site was boarded up (with broken down boards). One second I was walking down a street I’d walked down many times and a few minutes later I ran into the high street, collapsing while some passers by called the emergency services. You always think – well I did – that you know what you would do in that situation. But I didn’t do what I thought I would. And that was it, in those brief moments life changed. Forever. Never ever to be the same again. How can it be?
Read more Lets talk about rape (again) and being one of ‘only 9%’.

Why talking about male violence matters by @SarahDitum

(Cross-posted from Sarah Ditum’s Paperhous)

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is also the international day of tediously explaining why violence against women needs to be discussed as a category. November 25 is the day when you will be reminded that two thirds of homicide victims in England and Wales are male, and that (according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales) men are twice as likely as women to have been victims of violence. November 25 is the day of being reminded that women commit violence too. Last year, I was at an End Violence Against Women event in Bristol where a man had bought a ticket solely so he could stand up in the middle of the discussion and shout, “What about Joanna Dennehy?” (Dennehy became the first woman subject to a whole life tariff in February this year, when she was convicted of the murders of three men). What about Joanna Dennehy, then? After all, it’s true that women are also implicated in violence:

Yes, women are violent too. But the traffic of violence is overwhelmingly from men, and disproportionately to women. As a class, men are the bearers of violence. As a class, women are its victims. And this is why feminists talk about male violence: not for lack of concern about the violence perpetrated by women, but because as a demographic phenomenon, violence is masculine. For this reason, we can draw connections between the patterns of violence and other areas of male domination. What about the fact that women are more likely to live in poverty than men? The fact that the UK has a pay gap of 19.7% in favour of men? The fact that women make up just 23% of MPs? What about the fact that purchasers of sex are exclusively men – is that relevant here? All of these inequalities exist in an environment shaped by that traffic of violence: from men, to women. All of them must be addressed in the acknowledgement of that context, if they are to be addressed at all.
Read more Why talking about male violence matters by @SarahDitum

I Believe Her by Outspoken Redhead

Cross-posted from: Outspoken Redhead
Originally published: 04.02.14
So, here we go again.  An older, famous, successful man is accused of child abuse.  By his adopted daughter.  An investigation takes place, but there is no ‘proof’.  Of course there isn’t.  There never is.  That’s the trouble with seven year olds.  If they were properly abused, they’d secretly film it, take a semen swab or call the police immediately.  But no, they keep quiet and then years later blab about being abused.  They’re so “me, me, me”.

The Did he, Didn’t He furore over Dylan Farrow’s repeated claim that she was abused is no more than a We Love Woody Allen/We Hate Woody Allen, We Believe Women/We Think Women Lie To Attack Men tribal warfare.  None of us will ever really know.  But here’s what I do know:
Writing about being sexually assaulted at a young age while playing with toy trains or any other toys, risks being shamed publicly.  Of being forever seen as the girl who was ‘interfered with’, at best an object of pity, at worse, someone asking for it.  There are so many ways of wreaking revenge – who would choose one that also shames you too?


Read more I Believe Her by Outspoken Redhead

5 REASONS SHAMING SURVIVORS INTO REPORTING RAPE IS COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE by @sianfergs

Cross-posted from: Sian Ferguson
Originally published: 02.03.15

(Trigger Warning: Discussion of rape and rape culture)

A great number of people believe that reporting rape is the best way to fight rape culture.

And I understand why many people would think that way. The logic goes that if more survivors reported rape, more rapists would be convicted, and therefore be prevented from raping in the future.

Right?

Well, no.

It’s actually not that simple.

While I fully support the decision of survivors who choose to report their rape, we have to challenge the dangerous idea that survivors have a responsibility to report their rape.

Anti-rape campaigns often pressure survivors to speak out about their experiences. Some anti-rape campaigns insinuate that a victim’s silence is their complicity with rape culture.

But let’s look at some of the reasons why shaming people into reporting their rape is counter-productive.
Read more 5 REASONS SHAMING SURVIVORS INTO REPORTING RAPE IS COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE by @sianfergs

Re-visiting the continuum of sexual violence in the 21st century.

Cross-posted from: Mairi Voice
Originally published: 28.04.15

ANROWS Public Lecture with Professor Liz Kelly CBE

On Friday 13 February 2015 Professor Liz Kelly CBE delivered a lecture in Adelaide on re-visiting the continuum of sexual violence in the 21st century.

I had the great privilege of attending this lecture by Liz Kelly earlier this year and I would highly recommend listening to this lecture.
She talks of her early work and research “Surviving Sexual Violence” (I would recommend the book too.)

 

surviving sexual violence

Read more Re-visiting the continuum of sexual violence in the 21st century.

20 reasons why Coles and Woolworths should #BinZooMag by @meltankardreist

Cross-posted from: Melinda Tankard Reist
Originally published: 17.06.15

Zoo Weekly has a long history of exploiting and objectifying women for the enjoyment of male readers. During this time, supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths have quietly profited from the sale of this unrestricted magazine in stores around the country. There are a lot of reasons why Coles and Woolworths should rethink the sale of Zoo Weekly, but we’ve narrowed it down to just 20, in no particular order.

1) Zoo invited readers to send in photos of their girlfriends’ breasts to ‘win a boob job

2) Zoo posted this image on their Facebook page and asked young fans which half they preferred- and why.
Read more 20 reasons why Coles and Woolworths should #BinZooMag by @meltankardreist

Trista Hendren, Co-Founder of Rapebook, Discusses Facebook’s Issue of Child Sex Abuse Images and Human Trafficking

Cross-posted from: Ruth Jacobs
Originally published: 14.08.13

Trista Hendren pic

Trista Hendren is an author and a feminist activist. She co-founded Rapebook, which is a Facebook page set up to campaign against rape humour and other abusive content including child sex abuse images on Facebook. She shares her extensive experience of reporting to Facebook, in particular during the time Rapebook was being hit daily with up to 500 abusive links, comments and messages by attackers who also made rape and death threats.

Trista, can you tell me what prompted you to create the Rapebook page on Facebook and what were the aims of the page? 

I noticed that many women I knew via Facebook were having issues over the course of about 2 months. I began to connect the dots and wrote an article that included examples from a variety of women from around the world.

The more I opened my eyes to what was happening, the more frightening it became, particularly as it related to teens and young girls. I ended up writing a series of articles. Then I was involved with a group of feminist administrators of Facebook pages. Ultimately, we formed Rapebook as a protest.


Read more Trista Hendren, Co-Founder of Rapebook, Discusses Facebook’s Issue of Child Sex Abuse Images and Human Trafficking