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….

Andrea Dworkin – Behind the Myth by @Finn_Mackay

Cross-posted from: Finn Mackay
Originally published: 01.09.15

Andrea Dworkin was, and remains, a Feminist legend. It is too bad that what most people know about her is nothing more than anti-feminist myth.

I first met Andrea in Brighton in 1996, at the International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Women’s Citizenship. I was then lucky enough to meet her on two other occasions, including several conversations that I will treasure. I will never forget listening to her keynote speech in that hall in Brighton, amongst rows and rows of over one thousand women, all mesmerised by the honesty and strength of Andrea’s testimony. I will never forget the passion with which she spoke and the clear, steely determination behind her low, slow, measured and husky tones. She did not mince those words; a lot of her speeches are visceral, they reference the physical suffering of abused women and children, they reference the legacy that scars the bodies of those in prostitution and pornography. 
Read more Andrea Dworkin – Behind the Myth by @Finn_Mackay

How is a lack of feminist analysis within domestic violence and contemporary services contributing to a reproduction of women’s and children’s homelessness and continued risk of domestic violence victimisation?

Cross-posted from: Mairi Voice
Originally published: 24.02.16

This is an article that WEAVE  wrote for Parity in 2013. Still very pertinent for today.

How is a lack of feminist analysis within domestic violence and contemporary services contributing to a reproduction of women’s and children’s homelessness and continued risk of domestic violence victimisation?

By Marie Hume, Dr. Elspeth McInnes, Kathryn Rendell, and Betty Green (Women Everywhere Advocating Violence Elimination Inc.)

 

It is well established that a significant percentage of homeless people in Australia are women and children escaping male violence. According to Homelessness Australia, just over two in every five of the estimated homeless population are women. More women than men seek assistance from the homeless service system each year. Two-thirds of the children who accompanied an adult to a homeless service last year were in the care of a woman, usually their mother, escaping domestic violence. Domestic violence is the most often cited reason given by women presenting to specialist homelessness services for seeking assistance.

The majority of people turned away from specialist homelessness services are women and their children. One in two people who request immediate accommodation are turned away each night due to high demand and under-resourcing.
Read more How is a lack of feminist analysis within domestic violence and contemporary services contributing to a reproduction of women’s and children’s homelessness and continued risk of domestic violence victimisation?

Cat calling & Street Harassment- Your ego is far less important than the safety of an individual by @feministvibes

(Cross-posted from Is My Gender Showing?)

The last few days we’ve all seen so many people telling women what our response should be to cat calling (what I like to call street harassment.)

Some of it’s been good, some of it not so good and some of it right down damaging.
It’s apparently become a given that women only leave the house for comments, invitations and criticism from men. Because, you know- she clearly isn’t going out because she has somewhere to be.

Firstly, a stranger announcing to a whole street full of people that he would like to fuck you isn’t a compliment. Not only is it the plain and simple objectification of an individual (You’d like to take me home? Is that because of my personality? Oh, I forgot you don’t know me- it’s because you think I put make-up on this morning just for you) but they have no idea if you want these comments or you don’t, and unwanted sexual comments? That’s harassment.

People say

– ‘You’re misconstruing it, it’s a compliment’

A compliment is currently defined as ‘a polite expression of praise or admiration.’ not ‘Hollering at a woman in a public space about how nice her tits are’

-‘I’m a good guy, it’s respectful to reply when someone pays you a comment’

If you’re such a good guy then understand that your ego is far less important than the safety of an individual. No-one should make a woman feel like she has an obligation to respond to him, especially when it could easily be at the expense of her own safety.

-‘I have trouble meeting women’

Maybe that’s because you’re the kind of man who shouts shit at them in the street?

-‘I want her to know she’s pretty’

Maybe she already knows, maybe she doesn’t care what you think anyway.

-‘I’m a woman, I don’t want to appear rude’

I’m going to be hella childish here, but they started it by being rude the second they decided to objectify you in the street.

-‘What if he’s nice?’

You want a relationship with a guy that publicly shouts sexual comments at women he finds attractive? Maybe I’m being old fashioned, but that doesn’t sound like a good relationship to me.

“Hey Mum, meet my new boyfriend- I met him when I was walking down the street and he yelled ‘Hey baby, come here- I’ve got something for ya” Nice.
-‘I don’t want to look like a man hater, so I’m going to respond to cat calling and encourage people to do the same’

It’s bad enough risking your own safety, but do you really have to encourage young women to do the same thing? Don’t risk the safety of young women because you think someone might brand you a ‘man hater’

Again, your ego is far less important than the safety of an individual.

Recently I ignored a cat call from a group of men while sitting along at a bus stop- the guy responded by punching the bus stop wall about an inch away from my face. Strangely enough that didn’t make me feel pretty, it didn’t flatter me, it just pissed me off and scared me.
We’ve all seen news reports about girls and women who are attacked and worse because they ignored cat calls, because they responded to them or because they dared to say ‘I am a person, not something here for your amusement- don’t objectify me and don’t harass me”

With soft porn in our newspapers (because if a guy can’t see boobs when he’s catching up on the daily news then what is the point of even reading it?) and the way that the media represents women in general it isn’t difficult to see why so many men think that we just love to be reduced to nothing more than sexual objects, but honestly? That’s not what we want. At all.

Cat-calling isn’t a compliment, it’s about ownership and control, the simple fact is that at least once in her life a woman is going to be made to feel frightened, uncomfortable and vulnerable because of a guy who just can’t keep his thoughts to himself.

Is My Gender Showing?: I’m an animal, people and tree hugging ecofeminist. Sporadic fiction writer and freelance journalist with a new blog, Is My Gender Showing? about all areas of feminism with a focus on objectification, gender roles and mental health. I also from time to time document my adventures with No More Page 3 Leeds and Yorkshire Feminista. I can be on Twitter found at @feministvibes

Dismissing violence against women is misogynistic by Bella Solanum

(Cross-posted from Bella Solanum)

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone, but one particular AFTA has been tweeting about how FGM is “cissexist”.

They’ve then joked about it.

Yep, in a conversation where they’ve minimised the fact that FGM is about violence inflicted on girls and women they’ve decided it’s funny that people are upset.

They want FGM to be called “clitoral amputation”, which is

a) not accurate

b) minimises that the mutilation happens because the victims are female

By arguing for the removal of the word “female” they are arguing for the erasure of the reason behind FGM.

Also “clitoral amputation” suggests a medical procedure, and let’s not kid ourselves, FGM isn’t medical it’s torture. It is performed mostly without anaesthetic and by people with no medical training. It is not performed for any medical reasons, it is performed because women are seen as needing to be controlled.

FGM isn’t about the clitorus. And anyone who thinks it is has closed their eyes to the real horror of it.

FGM is about punishing girls preemptively just for the fact they will grow up to be women.

FGM is about keeping women under the control of men.

FGM is about causing harm to girls and women just because they are seen as lesser than men.

You cannot stop calling it FGM. You cannot remove sex from the equation.

Anyone who places their discomfort with terms that reference biological sex above the serious harm of children is a narcissistic and misogynistic individual. And should maybe be forced to listen to the screams of the girls undergoing this procedure, and then think about why it’s not just about body parts.

Bella Solanum: “I’m a gender critical feminist who thinks we would all be a lot better off in a world were we could be full people rather than fit into limiting gender boxes.”

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

(Cross-posted from The Arctic Feminist)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

I want 140 characters which will end rape by Sam Berg

(cross-posted from John Stompers) 

 

So men, what do you want to hear?

Not all men are like that? You’re not like those other men?

Let’s say I tell you men that you are wonderful, kind, heroic and humble. Will these words of praise stop the girl enslavement called “child marriages”?

If women change tactics from demanding the return of girl children stolen in Africa, if instead we engulf men in a cascade of compliments assuring men that we know they are decent and devoted, will men return our generosity by raising the average age a girl enters prostitution out of the early teen years?

So men, if it is not flattery you want from women, what are the words you want to hear? What can women say that will cause you to finally stop what you have always had in your manly hands the power to end?

Women have been forgiving of what men have done to us. We have to if we want to leave our homes. We have to forget what pornography shows us men like to masturbate to if we want to go to work or buy food while looking into the porn-soaked eyes of the men around us. We have to forget what happened the last time we went out, and the time before that, and we need to remember the times nothing happened.

I’ll remember that you are the good ones and that most violence is really the fault of madness or money. I will forgive and forget whatever it is you want of me if you tell me what you want to hear women say. Then good men like you will stop telling us how we’re doing feminism wrong, because we’ll be doing it exactly as you command.

Then men will stop the violence your mentally ill brothers and financially destitute brothers commit against girls and women.

Men will stop the violence.

Not because women have always begged men to stop. Not because women have always acquiesced to silent invisibility in the hope that men would respond with civility. Not because men haven’t kept masculinity’s vaunted promise to protect women and children.

Men will stop the violence because women will finally have spoken the word sequence whose non-utterance has kept the dignity of full personhood out of women’s grasp.

So men, enough with telling women when we speak the wrong words. What would you have women say to get men to end the violence sinking humanity’s ship, the result when something naturally balanced is forcibly tipped for too long?

You can go over Twitter’s 140 characters if you need to, or whatever Facebook’s limit is, but do try to keep it from becoming a 141-page manifesto if you can.

Just say the words and I will work tirelessly getting women to repeat them, then men will stop the violence.

Men will stop the violence.

Women will say what men want to hear and men will stop the violence.

And that will work this time.

 

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.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: TV’S SHAME. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. by @grainnemcmahon

(Cross-posted with permission from feimineach)

I’ve just finished watching True Detective. I started watching it, twice, but left it both times because of the ways in which violence against women, and women characters, were being portrayed.* In terms of the violence, I could see (I think) that they were trying to offer a disturbing portrayal of the often extreme misogyny-based violence that women suffer. I got that. I could also see that they were, perhaps, offering a critical commentary on a gendered world order which allows that violence to happen. That’s a possibility.

This critique becomes less convincing, though, when we examine the dismissive treatment of the main female characters on the show. Maggie, Marty’s long-suffering wife, whose only agentic act during eight episodes (to sleep with Rust) was, first, explained away as a play to destroy her marriage and, second, reduced to a conversation between Rust and Marty about their friendship. In other words, Maggie’s actions was all about them.

Lisa, Marty’s once affair, was naked for the most part (Marty, on the other hand, was fully clothed) and reduced to a way to explore Marty’s moral compass and, then, some of the stresses on his relationship with Rust. Her last scene in the series – where she literally caused a scene by being a hysterical, screaming woman – was difficult to watch. The agency that she had showed earlier in leaving Marty was removed when she was portrayed as an out-of-control haranguer. Indeed, the violence that Marty had perpetrated on both her and her date was forgotten as it became all about Marty again and his inner struggle.

Two other female characters stand out. First, there is Beth, the young woman with whom Marty has an affair later on. Beth and Marty first met when he and Rust visited a camp that was being used to sell under-age sex to men (a rape camp, in other words). Later on, Marty visits the shop in which Beth now works and they start an affair. Marty (or should I say, the writers) have such little care for the violence that this young woman had endured – testament I’m sure to their view of such violence in general – that she is nothing more but the next naked pawn in Marty’s story. Incidentally, when Marty is later violent towards Maggie when they fight about Beth (and her one infidelity, Rust, see above), it is never mentioned again. It is forgiveable in the story because he was scattered and confused and lost and messy back then and together and “better” now. So that’s OK then. Second, the unnamed half-sister of Errol Childress, who he is abusing, is last seen crouched down and crying when she hears the police sirens. She defended and adored her abuser to the last. Purpose served.

Finally, all of the young children – mostly girls, I gather – who were at the centre of the criminal case throughout the series were secondary in the finale when it became all about Rust and Marty’s futures and their renewed and strengthened friendship. Indeed, with the intensity of the finale, we barely had time to give them a second thought.

So, what does all of this mean? First, it means that women, and violence against women, are nothing more than plot points to drive a story about men forward. Second, the women who are subject to this portrayal are not given any of their own, meaningful agency because to do so would distract from the central story of male struggle and identity. Third, in using the women in the show as drivers for a story about the two men, they are reduced to insignificance (note that as Marty and Rust’s stories are developed, the women in their lives get less and less screen time) and the violence that they endured is nullified because it becomes a secondary, instrumental consideration for the viewer. There is simply too much else going on to give these women and that violence much thought.

The effects of these portrayals should not be underestimated – they make violence against women expected, unimportant, frequent, dramatic (even titillating) and inevitable. This piece IN THE NEW STATESMAN discusses the normalisation of violence against women on TV. The author – Doon Mackichan – remarks:

“I would argue that TV and film are exacerbating this issue with increasingly hardcore elements. Once seen, you can’t unsee it, and like abuse, it’s insidious, attacking women’s confidence and self-esteem. […] Mainstream TV drama centres on plots involving female bodies in varying degrees of manipulation, often like meat on a slab. It then proceeds to reveal how it happened in gruesome, titillating detail. Whether the woman gets retribution is not the argument – it is the main part, often, of the stories that focus on a woman’s torture, pain, fear and suffering and I am SICK, SICK SICK to the death of it.”

She also asks the question at the start of the piece:

“I wondered about starting this off with me entering with a face covered in made-up bruises. I wondered what your reaction might be. Would this be a more entertaining way of opening my talk. Would it grab your attention right from the beginning? Would you be intrigued? Or repulsed? Or would you be indifferent?”

We need to address the ubiquity of violence against women on our televisions and, at the very least, question the way it is being used to create a drama that then ignores its effects on women (or, indeed, reduces them to a driver for a larger, male-dominated story) and is irresponsible about the impact of dramatised violence on attitudes towards women.

Responsible television and story-telling would not use violence as a plot point and would centre any story that does have violence around women’s experience and that violence that they have suffered. Instead, we’re bombarded by portrayals that ask us to accept that this is a woman’s lot, that it allows men to be MEN, and that we, as women, should really be enjoying watching it.

Feimineach quick-hitting the hell out of everything. occasional thinky blogging. [@grainnemcmahon]

————————

* I returned to it because of the very reasons that I left it – I was sickened by the violence but I had to see what such a popular programme would do with everything that it introduced. In the end, as you can see, I was very, very disappointed.

On two dangerous and persistent rape myths by @sianushka

(cross-posted with permission from Sian & Crooked Rib)

originally published 11.9.13

Trigger warning for rape and rape myths

I’ve been thinking about two rape myths today, and what they mean for our understanding of rape in and out of the courtroom.

The first myth is the idea that there is a ‘correct’ way to respond to being attacked, and that response is to scream. And the second is that a if the jury acquits a man accused of rape, the accuser is immediately guilty of the crime of ‘false accusation’ or perverting the course of justice – despite not being found guilty in the law courts.

The ‘she didn’t scream’ myth is a persistent one. It’s the belief that a woman or girl would always scream or fight back if they were attacked, and that if they didn’t scream or fight back, then there was no attack. It is based on the idea that ‘rape is the worst thing that can happen to a woman, and therefore a woman would do everything in her power to stop it’. Responding to this statement, CWASU writes on their rape myths page:

Many women assess their attacker, and make moment by moment decisions about their survival. In many circumstances, women being sexually assaulted fear for their lives. When rapists have a weapon, or threaten the victim, most will strategise for their own survival by not unduly alarming or aggravating their attacker; they follow his instructions in order to stay alive, and this may include not making a noise or resisting. Being raped is not worse than being dead or permanently injured – opting to submit is a rational decision, made in a context where there are very few choices or options.

One of the problems I see here is our skewed understanding of consent. We see consent as the ‘absence of a no’, not the presence of an ‘enthusiastic yes’. Freezing and not screaming is not an indication of consent. Consent does not rely on silence, and the fact we continue to believe it does leads to the rape myth that if she didn’t vocalise no, she must have meant yes. This myth then leads to women blaming themselves for not saying no.

When I interviewed TV writer Emilia di Girolamo about this issue, she said:

‘It was something that I felt had happened to me and I didn’t understand – I grew up thinking that I was in the wrong and that I should have fought and should have shouted no, and I didn’t. It was only when I started reading about freeze response that I realised that’s exactly what happened to me. That’s how I felt, I couldn’t move and I couldn’t shout or scream.’

Freezing and silence is not an indicator that no assault happened. It is a survival tactic and it is a normal response to being attacked. It should be respected and understood to be so.

Every time we repeat the myth that there is a correct way to respond to rape, then we are telling women who don’t respond that way that they are to blame, that they were in the wrong. As with every single rape myth out there, it moves the focus from the perpetrator’s behaviour onto the woman’s. It says that it is up to the victim to behave in an approved manner, and that her response is then ‘proof’ of her innocence or guilt. We ignore the responsibility of the perpetrator not to rape, we ignore that it is up to him to prove that the rape didn’t take place. It is his behaviour that should be under scrutiny and yet time and time again we return to the woman’s actions.

The CPS has started to challenge the defence that if a woman didn’t behave in a pre-approved manner, then it wasn’t rape. In their guidelines on rape myths, they write:

If she didn’t scream, fight or get injured, it wasn’t rape.

Implications:

Disbelieves and re-traumatises victim

Invalidates the experience of the victim

Discourages him or her from seeking help

Facts:

• victims in rape situations are often legitimately afraid of being killed or seriously injured and so co-operate with the rapist to save their lives;
• the victims perception of threat influences their behaviour;
• rapists use many manipulative techniques to intimidate and coerce their victims;
• victims in a rape situations often become physically paralysed with terror or shock and are unable to move or fight; and
• non-consensual intercourse doesn’t always leave visible signs on the body or the genitals.

The CPS is right. Accusing a woman of not responding in the ‘correct’ way to rape invalidates the victim, brings back trauma and tells them that they shouldn’t report because no one will believe them or respect their experience. And so the terrible cycle continues where reporting rates stay low, and those who do report risk being disbelieved, and the rape myths infiltrate the public imagination and the conviction rate stays low.

That’s what makes this myth so dangerous.

The second myth I want to talk about is on how when a man is found not guilty of rape, the woman is found guilty in the court of public opinion of making a false accusation.

Making a false accusation of rape is a serious crime which results in a jail term if an individual is found guilty. It is perverting the course of justice.

If you believe in the principle that everyone is innocent before proven guilty, then you MUST extend that right to women who make a rape complaint too. They are innocent of the crime of making a false accusation unless the courts prove otherwise.

Here’s an infographic of false accusations against incidents of rape:

 

It really seems to confuse people, the idea that the principle of innocent before proven guilty applies to women who make rape complaints too.

A not guilty verdict of rape does not equal a guilty verdict of false accusation. The belief that it does fosters the rape myth that false accusations are incredibly common and rape is rare. We know this is not true. According to Keir Starmer, in the period of 17 months there were 5,6751 prosecutions of rape, and 35 prosecutions for false accusations of rape. In the same period, there were 111,891 prosecutions for domestic abuse and 6 for false allegations of domestic abuse. Every year, according to the BCS, there are 1.2 million incidents of domestic abuse and 500,000 incidents of sexual assault – up to 90,000 of which are rape. False accusations are incredibly rare and rape is incredibly, terrifyingly common.

Last night I was talking with a friend of mine about these rape myths. We said we both believe that in the future, perhaps in the next generation, we will look back at society today in horror. We will be horrified that we were a society that allowed rape to happen. We will be ashamed that our response to rape was to find ways to blame and accuse the victim. It will be as ridiculous and embarrassing as witch burning or other historical disgraces. Our grandchildren will look at us and ask how we dared to allow this, how we dared to tell a woman that she should have screamed, she should have said no, that she is guilty of a crime she hasn’t been convicted of because she made a rape complaint.

I believe this will happen because things are changing, and they are changing because of feminists. Two years ago, when a group of men group raped a 12 year old girl and they got out of jail on appeal because the judge said she was sexually experienced and wanted sex, there was silence. This year, when a lawyer called a 13 year old rape survivor ‘predatory’ and the judge gave her rapist ridiculously low sentence, David Cameron got involved and action was taken against the lawyer. Feminists didn’t get any credit despite Everyday Victim Blaming leading the march on this case, but at least there was uproar. At least people said it wasn’t ok to victim blame a child.

Things are changing. Feminists are leading this change. We are having an impact. We are facing a helluva backlash as a result. But the day when we are ashamed of our attitude to rape and survivors is coming. It is coming.

 

Rape crisis helpline: 0808 802 9999

Sian and Crooked Rib I‘m a bristol based blogger who writes stories, talks about feminism and politics and generally muses on happenings. [@sianushka]

The hypocrisy of calling for anonymity for rape defendants by @sianushka

(cross-posted with permission from Sian & Crooked Rib)

originally published 12.9.13

TW for rape and rape apolgism

I don’t know how many more times I can write this blogpost.

But, unsurprisingly, the not guilty verdict in the Michael LeVell trial has led to more calls across the media to introduce anonymity for rape defendants. From Philip Schofield’s tweet to this frankly disturbing Peter Lloyd piece in the Mail, those who believe that those accused of rape should be afforded the same protection as victims of rape are out in force.

The formula is the same. A man’s life has been ‘trashed’ because – in their belief – a woman ‘lied’. His reputation is in ‘tatters’. In this case it’s the reports of drinking and extra-marital affairs that are the problem. The logic goes that if this girl had not made a rape complaint, no one would know about the affairs and therefore all rape defendants should have anonymity.

The hypocrisy of the press in this matter is astounding.

It’s the press that gleefully reveals the embarrassing personal details such as affairs and drinking, and then use the fact that this embarrassing information is out there as a reason to re-open the debate foranonymity  for rape defendants. In the run up to the trial I saw gleeful headline after gleeful headline on the tabloids in my corner shop on alcoholism and affairs – the very stories that are now seen as reason to change the law in favour of men accused of rape.

As Glosswatch  says in her superb blog, we don’t know what the motivations of his accuser were. But we know what the motives of the press were in reporting his affairs and drinking. And it wasn’t motivated by showing solidarity to the rape complainant, but a prurient delight in celeb bad behaviour.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It isn’t rape survivors or rape crisis centres of feminists campaigning against violence against women that are ‘dragging a man’s name through the mud’. We just want to encourage victims and survivors to feel safe and supported and for victims and survivors to have access to justice. And part of that involves naming defendants.

Despite the views expressed across the press today, and the increasing results of public polls on the issue, naming rape defendants works in the interests of open justice. It improves justice for victims and survivors. It simply does. The academic research bears it out – with research from Professor Clare McGlynn  published in the Criminal Law Review making a comprehensive case for why naming defendants supports justice and encourages convictions for rape.

In her concluding comments, Professor McGlynn writes:

‘First, there is no justification for singling out the offence of rape for special treatment. There are many stigmatic crimes: indeed that is one of the reasons for labelling an activity criminal. Secondly, while parts of the media may be irresponsible, this alone cannot justify limits on media freedom which may impinge on its ability to report issues of public interest and attempts to catch the public’s attention. Similarly, and thirdly, it may be that the difference between suspicion and guilt are not as apparent as they should be to some people. But this does not include all people, and it would be dangerous indeed if public debate could only proceed at the level of the least able. There is, therefore, no basis on which to single out the offence of rape. The final lesson, and perhaps the most important conceptual message to be drawn from the analysis in this article, is that privacy rights, the mainstay of justifications for reform, are generally not accorded greater weight than freedom of expression, when open justice and media freedom come into play. If the media are to be able to report matters of important public interest, such as rape cases, the choice of method of doing so, often likely to include the personal details of a defendant, is an important element of media freedom and open justice.


It isn’t just academics. Police and legal experts are also of the belief that anonymity for defendants will impact on justice for victims and survivors. Responding to the Stuart Hall case, Lancashire Police confirmed that naming the suspect helped survivors to come forward, leading to his conviction.

The cases like Stuart Hall’s bear out the argument for naming defendants over and over again.RochdaleWorboysGordon Rideout are all cases where naming the defendant(s) has encouraged survivors to come forward, report and secure convictions. Without the ability to name these defendants, without women seeing the reports and feeling that finally, they are able to come forward, these men probably wouldn’t have been convicted. We all know, after all, how often the police knocked back women reporting Worboys, delaying justice as he continued to rape. How often the girls inRochdale were ignored.

And I’m sure we can all agree that we are glad these serial rapists have been convicted and put into prison. I’m sure we can all agree that we would not have wanted anonymity for rape defendants in those cases – anonymity that may have prevented the cases progressing. And yet this is what those calling for anonymity are leading us towards.

But unfortunately it doesn’t matter how much research you quote, how many case studies you give and how many experts you refer to – the belief that anonymity for defendants is necessary sticks. Why? Well, the argument against naming defendants lies in the belief that a rape accusation ruins lives. But it is something else too. It is the belief that has developed that somehow false accusations are equal to being raped, and that false accusations are common. We know the latter isn’t true and in fact false accusations of rape are rarer than false accusations of other crimes. And, let’s face the facts. Being accused of rape is not the same as being raped.

Rape can ruin lives. It does ruin lives. It can lead to depression, PTSD, it can leave women with STDs that impact their physical health or their fertility. The impact of rape is far reaching, and can go on for years. Each woman or girl will respond differently to the violence committed against her and not everyone will feel the same long-term impact. But the fact is rape isn’t just a one occasion thing that happens and then is done with. And it is astoundingly, terribly common. The BCS estimates there are between 60,000 and 90,000 rapes in the UK every year. That’s 60,000 to 90,000 people every year who are living with the devastating impact of rape.

It simply is not equal to false accusations of rape. It certainly is not equal to being accused of rape. And let’s remember that most men who are accused of rape actually committed the crime. In fact, for the handful of cases that make it to court, 63% of defendants are found guilty (the conviction rate from incident to guilty remains at 6.5%).

Of course I know that to be falsely accused of rape can ruin lives too and I appreciate that. But – and there is a but – we only have to look at our popular culture that celebrateslaudswelcomes andsupports men who have been found guilty of rape or domestic abuse to know that men who abuse women aren’t automatically placed beyond the pale. It’s embarrassing just how much our culture is happy to boost convicted rapists and abusers, whilst hounding and attacking their victims. 

The calls for anonymity ignore the reality of what rape is. It places making a rape complaint on the same level as being raped – suggesting that one is as damaging as the other. It argues that rape defendants are victims too, victims of women who have a legal right to make a rape complaint. They’re not. They are defendants. They have been accused of rape. They are not victims.

The calls for anonymity ignore the overwhelming and repeated evidence that naming defendants is good for justice. And that is what matters in the end. Justice. There is no convincing argument out there that supports anonymity for rape defendants. There isn’t. Each one of the arguments ignores the rights of victims and survivors and the voices of victims and survivors. And that isn’t good enough.

Rape crisis helpline: 0808 802 9999

Sian and Crooked Rib I‘m a bristol based blogger who writes stories, talks about feminism and politics and generally muses on happenings. [@sianushka]

 

a blog about not blogging about Max Clifford by @helen_a13

(cross-posted with permission from Helen Blogs)

originally published 29,04.14

I tweeted late last night that I wouldn’t be blogging about Max Clifford.

And yet, here I am, 24 hours later writing a blog about … Max Clifford.

Why? Well …

Yesterday I was quite busy. I had a morning meeting for work, then met some people for lunch and then ended up at some more lovely peoples house for a cuppa which led to tea and evening chatter. I didn’t check my twitter all day. I know, I know. It didn’t seem to be working in the morning anyway, and then I just actually didn’t have time.

So it was not until I got home fairly late last night that I found quite a few messages sent to me about the Max Clifford verdict. And some were asking for my response. My thoughts. If I was going to be writing anything about it, and how I felt about it.

I was largely disconnected from ‘online’ life yesterday – but because I was expecting an important call I was checking my phone a fair amount so as soon as the guilty verdicts were announced and BBC Breaking News flashed it up on my phone, I knew about it, as did the people I was with because it went straight to their phones too.

So I was aware. And yes, I was relieved. Because for months, time after time we have seen high profile cases going to court and a constant barrage of ‘not guilty’ which then leads to horrific victim blaming. I still don’t have any faith in our current legal system with regards to how it supports and seeks justice for people who have survived abuse. So, yes I was relieved to feel that maybe hopefully I wouldn’t need to spend the next day or two defending women and men who have been abused who are being called the most awful things because a ‘not guilty’ verdict apparently = innocence of the perpetrator (which I don’t believe). A not guilty verdict does not = innocence – it often simply equals that some technicality has meant they got off. Or ‘not enough evidence’ (do you know how hard it is to provide ‘ENOUGH’ evidence to a court of abuse/sexual abuse/rape?!).

Anyway – back to why I’m writing a blog about not writing a blog …

I was really honoured, moved and felt valued that people were messaging me and asking for my thoughts. That they felt my voice was and is important enough to be heard, and that they genuinely wanted to hear it. I was really honoured that people remember my initial writings in the immediate aftermath of the Savile expose and that I had written one or two blogs that got incredibly wide readership. I’m honoured that they felt they could contact me, to ask for a response in the context of Max Clifford being found guilty being the first conviction since the set up of Yewtree, and the investigations taking place post Savile.

I responded to people as personally as I could explaining that I didn’t intend on blogging/writing or particularly engaging with the conversations taking place especially on twitter. I didn’t feel I needed to give an explanation.

And yet they felt I should have. Given an explanation. So today, whilst I have been largely away from my phone (again, shock horror it isn’t actually tied to my neck) and whilst I have been busy working and doing stuff I got quite a few more messages back.

A few of them have accused me of being silenced. A few of them have accused me of not using the voice I’ve been given. A few of them have accused me of distancing myself and not continuing to represent women affected by abuse. And a few of them seem to feel that I have let someone/something/some people down? I’m not quite sure why or how but that would be the theme coming from one or two messages – simply because I have said I am not able to engage with this topic in the depth that they were expecting/wanted.

And this is why –

I had a really bad weekend. A really really bad weekend. Friday night I found myself having a flashback which totally takes me off track for a bit and sends my mind into a whirl. So it has been a tough few days. And yesterday I found myself spending some time with some great people, thinking about some upcoming stuff and then time with some more great people just chatting/sharing etc. I was hugely impacted by some of the conversations. And challenged by some too. So driving home before I saw all these messages I was thinking about my identity. And my identity online. And the fact that actually, before Christmas I made the conscious decision to stop writing under the pseudonym I had adopted and written many things using. I decided to become ‘Helen’ online and offline. And learn how to be vulnerable offline too instead. Any many things spurred that. But I remember in the midst of the many things that were spurring this change, was someone phone me, who  I love, trust and respect a lot and asking me if I had considered whether I was becoming defined by the identity I had created/was creating – and was I becoming defined by being a survivor. And it was quite a ‘moment’ because up until that point that was all I believed I was. I was nothing else. I had nothing else. But they spoke into my life and made me realise I am MORE than a survivor. Being a survivor is part of my story. Its not it all. Being a survivor is part of who I am. But it is not the whole of me. There is more to be than abuse. Rape. Suicide. Depression. All the things I consistently wrote about as ‘fragz’. I am more than those things. And so for a while I stopped writing about those things. I spent time moving forwards and actually it coincided with being pretty sick most of the time and not really writing much about anything anyway. But over the last few months I’ve began to re engage with all the things I am passionate about I’m passionate about seeing women treated as equals in society, passionate about speaking out against violence against women, and raising issues of abuse and rape. I’m also starting to write again more of my journey, my story and the current journey I am on. I love writing. And I will continue to do as and when its right.

BUT in all of that I’m also starting and learning to self care a bit more. And I am also learning and starting to learn that actually whilst I am beginning to recognise I do have a voice, and would love to work on using that more proactively in the future years that actually there are just times when its ‘right’ to not have anything to say. That sometimes self care is important. That whilst my voice is valued by the people contacting me to hear it, that actually I have the power to say ‘NO’ , and not feel I ‘have to’ tweet/write about something and that actually that is OK.

Its not that I DONT have anything to say – its just that I am choosing not to throw myself in at the deep end and engage on a personal level every single time there is a case in the media, or a high profile celebrity has been found not guilty/ or guilty as is the case this week or a particular theme trending. Don’t get me wrong – I do engage ALOT of the time, but just sometimes its right to back off.

One of the things I am learning on my journey especially with social media is how to pick your battles wisely, and that is so true in terms of disagreements but actually also true on many levels in terms of what we choose to engage with.

I choose not to read articles by certain people/groups on particular topics late at night now. I choose not to follow certain people who often tweet things I find quite difficult to see in my timeline. I choose to attempt to look after myself better.

And that goes for this week. That goes for why I am not engaging specifically with the Max Clifford conversations. Its why I am not sat reading tweets with the hashtag of his name. Its why I tweeted just a couple of tweets last night and intended not to think about it again this week. Because just this week, I don’t need it. I don’t need to be constantly thinking about abuse. I don’t need to be constantly thinking about how poorly treated victims of sexual assault are treated and how society as a whole blames the victims more than the perpetrators. I actually just don’t need it. And so I’m choosing not to be as proactively outspoken this week as I sometimes have been in the past. And how I sometimes am generally. And I’m sure, maybe even in a day or two something will come up I feel strongly about and will want to discuss, tweet, write about etc. But please don’t attack for me for what I choose to or to not be involved with.

I’m thankful some people contacting me have been able to respect that, and hope the ones who don’t seem to read this and perhaps understand slightly more.

 

 

 

Helen Blogs: christian, feminist, rape survivor & survivors advocate, Jaffa cake lover. writer about #faith, #mentalhealth, #chroniclife & #violenceagainstwomen.  @helen_a15

Elliot Rodger: not all men hate women – but if one does, that’s enough by @jessiecath

(cross-posted with permission from Writing all Wrongs)

When I first started calling myself a feminist, I was tentative about it. Apologetic even. I wasn’t always sure how important it was – I mean, we’ve got the vote right? And Maggie Thatcher happened and everything? And aren’t feminists all hairy and angry (god, how terrible)?

But I read books and I watched films and I started to realise how the objectification of women had become so normalised we’d all stopped noticing. Things started to bother me, like why did I ask my mum if I could buy a thong when I was in year 6? Why when I was a 14-year-old virgin did girls at school who wanted to hurt me call me a slut? And why was I more likely to see a woman on TV giving a bloke a tit wank than I was to see her chairing a debate? Phrases became important: the beauty myth, the Bechdel test, everyday sexism.

But a while ago, that changed for me. It was no longer just about women being treated like sex objects in adverts or music videos, or that page 3 still exists, or that women are often meaningless plot devices. I began to understand that ritual misogyny is a pervasive, subtle and poisonous part of everyday life. Of course, the latter is only possible because of the unwavering persistence of the former – the continued portrayal of women as second-class citizens are symptoms. But I can no longer pretend that we don’t live in a society that is awash with the hatred of women.

We are repeatedly told that misogyny is just a case of mildly amusing anachronisms. The chief executive of the FA sent some sexist emails? Oopsy, wish the public hadn’t seen that – but he’s just being bawdy! Oh, another famous man off the telly has been arrested for sexually abusing women – but the culture was just totally different back then, you understand. Rape jokes? Jeez lighten up guys!

And then a 22-year-old man goes on a killing spree which he himself describes as “my war against women for rejecting me and depriving me of sex and love” – and it’s not a misogynistic attack. People are falling over themselves to say that Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and claimed “it was women’s fault for refusing to have sex with me”, did not hate women.

He did it because he was mentally ill, or because of the gun laws, or because his dad worked on the Hunger Games therefore = violence obvs. In fact we should totes just blame Jennifer Lawrence. Some have said Rodger is not a misogynist because he killed men too. But he didn’t kill those men because they refused to give him the sex that he felt unequivocally entitled to.

So I’ll just tell you right here and right now, Elliot Rodger was a misogynist killer. As far as I’m concerned, that is not up for debate: he murdered women for not giving him the sex he felt he was owed. He murdered men because they were getting the sex he felt entitled to.

Misogynist killings aren’t rare one-off events either: let’s not forget Jill MeagherJoanna Yeatesthe five women killed in Ipswich, or the 2012 Delhi gang-rape. Woman-hatred like this is not interesting or complex – it’s simply because some men believe that women don’t have the right to have control over their own bodies.

We can argue that misogynist murders take place until we are blue in the face, but we can’t escape this tuneless dull chorus: “but not all men are like that”.

Of course not all men are like that, but even if one is, it’s a massive fucking problem. All the time that men continue to use their energy to distance themselves from misogyny, rather than address the fact that it not only occurs but kills, they are simply perpetuating its existence.

I’m sick of trying to convince people that misogyny exists. I’m sick of trying to explain to people that rape jokes legitimise sexual assault. I’m sick of trying to tell people that a sensationalist video of a woman beating a man in public is distorting the debate, because I have never seen a woman be violent to a man in public but I’ve seen it the other way round more than enough times. I’m also bored stiff of the fact that even though I know ‘asking for it’ is the vile rhetoric of victim blamers, I still feel like it’s my fault if I walk home late at night and get attacked. And I’m also pretty bored of the fact that when I’ve called out commonplace wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing misogyny, I’ve been told ‘that can’t be right – he’s such a nice guy’.

What the ‘not all men’ argument does – whilst distracting from a proper debate about structual misogyny – is that it ignores the fact that actually, yes, all men are taught to feel entitled to sex and attention from women. And yes, yes, I know that when you were in your mother’s womb you had no concept of the patriarchy, but you were born into it just like we all were, and either you face up to that, or you try and pretend that you’ve lived your life in a vacuum and that you haven’t been trained all the way from Disney movies to porn films to see us as something you are owed. Fool yourself, but you won’t fool me.

Jessie Thompson a.k.a girl ignited tricks people into listening to her opinions at length by disguising them as attempts at humour.

She has also written for The Independent, The Telegraph, The Quietus, Red Pepper, Ideastap, Vagenda, Feminist Times, Huffington Post, A Younger Theatre and Libertine. Whilst at university, she worked as Arts Editor and Arts Editor-in-Chief of Sussex’s student newspaper, The Badger, which she found dehumanising because at house parties people only spoke to her so that they could find out how they could write for The Badger.

 

The Day Of Retribution. On Elliot Rodger, the Butcher of Santa Barbara. by @Echidne

(cross-posted with permission from ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES)

This post is about the slaughter carried out by Elliot Rodger in Santa Barbara.  It is about violence, the hatred of women and the general hatred of humans.  Consider carefully whether you wish to read it.

1.  The Recent Events 

Elliot Rodger, 22,  spent last Saturday killing people in Santa Barbara, California.  He first brutally stabbed to death three men in his apartment:  Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, George Chen, 19 and Weihan Wang, 20, then got into his BMW with  his three semi-automatic legally acquired guns and headed to that UCSB (University of California, Santa Barbara) sorority  he had rated as having the largest number of pretty tall blondes, the kind of womanflesh he wanted to have on his plate but was denied because the damn dinners had rights to refuse him!

He planned to kill all women inside the sorority, but was stopped by the fact that nobody opened the door however hard he banged on it.  Poor Elliot!  Things always worked out against him.  No wonder he was filled with such rage, as witnessed byhis manifesto for the butchering or “the day of retribution.”

Instead, he shot at the three young women standing outside the sorority building, killing Katherine Breann Cooper, 22, and Veronika Elizabeth Weiss, 19.  The third victim is still alive and I hope that she will recover.

What Rodger tells us in his manifesto is that this is the plan he had for killing people because he was owed that retribution for all the sex he deserved but wasn’t getting while other men were getting it:

First horribly carve up men in his apartment, then kill all the sorority residents, then just  drive around the place shooting and hitting people with his car.  With the exception of failing to wipe out the sorority, his plans were going pretty well.

He next killed Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20, at a local delicatessen.  He was probably chosen randomly, as “one of the animals,”  Rodger’s view of other humans.

No more immediate deaths on his rampage through the streets, though his car drove into two bicyclists (and two other individuals) and his bullets hit pedestrians walking by.  In all, six victims were killed,  seven other individuals were hurt on this “day of retribution.”  Two of the hurt remain in serious condition.  I hope all of them will be made as whole as possible.  I hope those who loved the dead (including those who loved Rodger) get some peace.

The day ended with Rodger’s suicide.

2.  What Happened Before?
In reverse time order:
Just a day before the slaughter, Rodger posted a YouTube video about his plans.  The video is now removed but I watched it, and wehuntedthemammoth.com has a transcript of it.   It is a monologue promising us the slaughter that followed.  Rodgerplaces the blame for his loneliness and suffering firmly on the shoulders of women, especially those of tall, white blond-haired women:

College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex, and fun, and pleasure. But in those years I’ve had to rot in loneliness.
It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me.
I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it.
It’s an injustice, a crime, because I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy, and yet you throw yourselves at all these obnoxious men, instead of me, the supreme gentlemen.
I will punish all of you for it. (laughs)
On the day of retribution I am going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB… and I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blonde slut I see inside there.

Rodger’s parents tried to desperately find him when they saw the video.

In April, a family member asked the police to make a welfare check on Elliot Rodger.  He passed the check with flying colors.  The interviewer(s) found him perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human. 

Later another policeman described the results of the slaughter as “the work of a madman.”

At the time of the welfare check, Rodger was relieved that the police didn’t search his room where he had at least two semi-automatic guns in readiness.

Rodger clearly suffered from mental problems.  He had been receiving treatment, based on his manifesto, for several years.  What the treatment consisted of is unclear, but in this case the mental health system cannot be said to have  completely failed a sick person. Indeed, I’m not sure there is any effective current treatment for what Rodger’s manifesto reveals, except for involuntary confinement which could have protected his victims but would not have done much for him.  As far as I gather from the manifesto, Rodger received help in learning social skills, perhaps an attempt to relieve the loneliness he suffered.

His autobiographic manifesto suggests that he was bullied at school.

3. Reactions
These are of the expected type and often reflect the writer’sposition on the political map.  That Rodger had access to semi-automatic weapons made him a very efficient killing machine.  That he suffered from clear mental problems was also pointed out.  That he was a misogynist of rather extreme nature is given at least a nod in most places (though at least one writer disagrees on that as the cause for the massacre).  Whether he indeed was “a madman,” in the sense of an isolated, impossible-to-prevent-but-horrific event or whether something could have been done to prevent the massacre also seems to depend on one’s general slant about such things.
Comparisons to the 2009 killings by George Sodini, also  described as a loner who felt women need to be punished for spurning his advances might have been useful.  Both cases are about men who felt that they were entitled to have sex, that those who refused to hand it over on demand deserved punishment, and that punishment was not incommensurate if it meant death.  Both also felt great pain and perhaps self-pity because they were not receiving their fair number of voluntary f**ks.
In the primeval slime areas of the Internet, some comments argued that the killings were the fault of women who refused to give some pussy, even though by doing that they could have prevented murders.  From the comments attached to the now-removed YouTube video (the cleanest one of those which expressed the view):

He’s not a bad looking guy. Why wouldn’t chicks go out with him? If they had been nicer to him, this wouldn’t have happened. 

And the saddest reaction to the story is this one:

UCSB senior Kyley Scarlet, who lives next door and has served as president of her own sorority, said all three who were shot are sorority members, but neither of Alpha Phi nor her own.
Scarlet said she was very disturbed by the video describing his anger at sorority girls.
“It’s hard thinking my actions, being part of a sorority, led him to do this,” she said. “When I saw that video I was shaking and crying.”

4.  The Role of the PUAHate Site
Some have pointed out that Elliot Rodger participated at one Manosphere site, PUAHate.com (now inactive), where he wrote about his views on women to a membership which failed to disagree with him.  Indeed, he received support for those views, and nobody made a negative response to these comments he made there in April:

It must be accepted, but not embraced. Human society should never be allowed to degenerate to such brutality. The problem is women, they are primitive in nature and incapable thinking rationally. If they are allowed to choose who to breed with, humanity will never advance. Look at civilizations over 100 years ago. In a way they were much more civilized, simply because women were restricted and controlled. It was a much better world to live in.

And

Eventually these frustrated men won’t be able to take it anymore and will explode in rage and fury, and the female population will suffer the consequences, as they rightfully deserve. Once women are brought to their knees, things can be reformed. The sooner this happens, the better.

On the other hand, his participation at a bodybuilding forum did get some pushback.

The crucial question to answer here is a simple one:  Did Rodger’s participation at the PUAHate site affect his readiness to slaughter?  Did the support he received for his warped ideas strengthen them?

One might argue that his manifesto reveals the same strand of misogyny from the beginning to the end, whereas his visits to the wonderful world of extreme woman-hating sites were quite recent.  But when did he write his manifesto?  My impression is that he completed it right before the planned May 24, 2014 slaughter, which would have allowed his new “learning” about “alpha males,” “beta males” and “incels” (involuntarily celibate people but only men as women’s involuntary celibacy is a non-thing in that world) to have colored his views about his misfortunes and the causes of his suffering.*

Note, also, the language he uses in the YouTube threat:

All those girls that I’ve desired so much, they would’ve all rejected me and looked down upon me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance towards them while they throw themselves at these obnoxious brutes.
I will take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you.
You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one. The true alpha male. (laughs)

Bolds are mine.

The second question I cannot help having concerns the fact that Rodger is by no means the only person on the misogyny sites who expresses these kinds of opinions.  Are we to simply assume that all the other enraged (enraged!) men who blame everything bad that ever happened to them on women are simply using their freedom of expression without any further consequences coming out of it?  Chatting to each other about the perfidy of women, the necessity to restrain and cage them, just sharing their feelings about women in a supportive environment?   And this would never make anyone do what George Sodini and Elliot Rodger did?

What is the responsibility of such sites?  Why are extremely hostile comments not moderated?

Rodger wrote this about the PUAHate site in his manifesto:

The Spring of 2013 was also the time when I came across the website PUAHate.com.  It is a forum full of men who are starved for sex, just like me.    Many of them have their own theories of what women are attracted to, and many of them share my hatred of women, though unlike me they would be too cowardly to act on it,.
Reading the posts on that website only confirmed many of the theories I had about how wicked and degenerate women really are.  ….
The website PUAHate is very depressing.  It shows just how bleak and cruel the world is due of the evilness of women.

So there’s the sharing of misogyny, at least, something in which he didn’t have to feel all alone.

5.  The Manifesto
I read through the 140-page manifesto, trying to understand Elliot Rodger’s mind.
As the shortest possible summary:
He comes across as a severely troubled individual, narcissistic, megalomaniac, expecting to be adored and adulated and falling into rage when this does not happen.  The pattern is evident even in his descriptions of a happy childhood.  The happiness depended on him getting what he wanted, and what he wanted was to be the center of attention, a member of the “cool group,” never to be denied anything he desired.  He wanted to be rich, to live in luxury, to be looked up to, to have the hottest blonde by his side as he walked towards the sunset on the beach.These desires in a teenager are not unusual, perhaps.  But what certainly IS unusual are his reactions when the ideal world failed to materialize. Those were extreme rage and the assigning of blame to others, including vast groups of individuals in terms of “all women.”  He also expressed racist anger at men who were not white for having white and pretty girlfriends, because he ranked himself above them.

He bases his sufferings on comparisons to the richest, most handsome, most privileged of all people, and his failure to find himself among that group made him rage.   That  his life was financially comfortable, that he seemed to have a mother who did everything for him (“At mother’s house,  all of my needs were met with excellent precision, whereas at father’s house…”) and an acceptable albeit distant father  didn’t matter at all.
His suffering is real, his life probably was subjectively pure torture, his reactions out-of-proportion to what happened to him.  What would have been an ordinary (or better) life to many was full of painful failures to him, because he interpreted almosteverything except extreme adoration as rejection.
Because of the misogyny he so plentifully expressed, I read the manifesto looking for examples where he would have been rejected by women.  Oddly enough, there are none, unless we count a girl who pushed and yelled at him in childhood, because he first bumped into her.  Other examples are of the type where a woman he smiled at didn’t smile at him, where a woman he said “hi” to didn’t respond.  If female rejection was what he mostly blamed for his suffering, where is that rejection in his manifesto?  Or did he expect women to flock to him, without any necessity to make an effort to meet them or talk to them?
I cannot say for certain.  But the impression I got is that he never approached women at all, that he expected women to approach him, and when they did not, he felt enormous pains of rejection.
If anything, the actual named women in his life were all overly kind to him, with the possible exception of his stepmother who tried to set limits to his behavior and assigned him chores such as cleaning which he felt were beneath him and belonged to the hired help.
I am not a psychiatrist and cannot give psychological diagnoses on the basis of reading something of this sort. I cannot tell what the role of the bullying he faced at school might have been, and I cannot tell if anything could have been done to relieve his pain and suffering.  But the role of entitlement, the role of narcissism and the role of god-like thinking in the manifesto makes me fear that ordinary therapy would not have worked.  I may be wrong, and would be glad to be found wrong.  Still, I feel for his parents and for his family who clearly tried to help him over a period of many years.
The manifesto concludes with his plans to kill lots of people, especially women and men who have sex with women.  He writes:

Women should not have the right to choose who to mate and breed with.  That decision should be made for them by rational men of intelligence.,  If women continue to have rights, they will only hinder the advancement of the human race by breeding with degenerate men…

There is no creature more evil and depraved than the human female.

Women are like a plague.  They don’t deserve to have any rights.  Their wickedness must be contained in order to prevent future generations from falling to degeneracy.  Women are vicious, evil, barbaric animals and they need to be treated as such.

He also suggests that most women should be put into concentration camps, to be starved to death, while he watches.  Some would be saved for breeding in laboratories where they would be inseminated with male sperm and where women’s animal natures would be bred out of them.

6.  Conclusions
This has been a difficult post to write, a difficult post to write in the correct tone, a difficult post even to think about.  And I have failed in finding the correct tone, failed in the distance I should have had, perhaps failed on the side of cold and hard anger myself.  The victims of the massacre deserve my focus, not its perpetrator, and even though I justify my writing about the perpetrator as a search for greater understanding I’m not sure that I achieved that.
Yes, Rodger was a troubled individual with severe problems.  Yes, he managed to slip through the police net, yes, he was able to buy three semi-automatic guns, apparently with no questions asked.
Perhaps all that is the framework, the flow-chart of what happened.  Still, the contents of his hatred were largely about women, not as individual women but as some thing he deserved to have, as some thing which deserved punishment when it refused to be available on command.  Yet reading his manifesto suggests to me that that no woman had actually rejected him in some particularly painful manner.  And of course the people he killed had nothing to do with Rodger’s life or with his problems. They were the sacrifice his anger deserved, in that last god-like state.
But Rodger learned his thinking about women (and about other races and the help in his home) somewhere.  It can be learned in many places, including some places on the Internet where the concept that women, as a class,  owe men sex is not unknown.  It is that belief which probably drives some men to the PUA and similar sites where the hurt they feel from real or imaginary rejection by individual women creates a toxic mix with the rage they feel at women who have not delivered the sex those men believe they are entitled to.
Rejection is something most human beings will experience.  It hurts.  It is part of life.  You will, however, get over the hurt.  That simple fact should be taught more widely, together with healthy coping mechanisms which can be used when the inevitable rejection happens, whether it is by a love interest, by a job or by a college.
Nobody is entitled to have sex on demand, just for existing.  That second simple fact should also be taught more widely, together with the interpersonal skills which help someone look at a possible love or sex object as a human being.  Flipping the mirror like that, astonishingly, raises one’s chances of getting laid, too, because people want to be loved for themselves, not as the menu selection for the night.
Certain Manosphere sites teach the exact opposite of these two simple facts, and that is where their potential harm lies.  What the role of the PUAHate.com site might have been in the butchery of Elliot Rodger is something we will never know.  But that site certainly didn’t change his mind or his misogyny, and it’s not unlikely that similar sites can turn more vulnerable minds onto the dark paths.
———–
*The theories of the world these sites propose are as follows:
In the past all (heterosexual) men had lots of sex because women needed to find a male provider, so they sold sex in exchange for bed and board.  Now, because of feminism, women no longer need to do this.  Therefore, they all flock (based on an evolutionary pseudotheory, combined with some stuff about alpha wolves in artificially created wolf-packs (the actual wolf packs in the wild are led by grandpa and grandma wolves)) to a small group of alpha males, men who are at the top of the society, but who are also rude, arrogant bastards who treat women like the scum women are.  The rest of the men are beta males, those who are always also-rans, those who now can’t get any sex at all, because the alphas are getting it all.  Indeed, beta males will never pass their genes on, which means the ultimately failure in the evolutionary race!
The solutions to this “dilemma of extreme harems of just a few alphas” vary, but usually the idea is to kill feminism.  If women had to sell sex for bread and board, then beta males would get more of it.  In general, this part of manosphere doesn’t believe in any women’s rights.The other ideas come from Pickup Artists (PUAs) who teach betas how to come across as alphas, how to hunt for pussy in the best possible manner.  The PUAHate site dislikes the PUAs because of their pyramid schemes and because the hunting instructions don’t  work.  But the PUAHate site also hates women for not spreading their legs enough or at least not to the correct men.

Now I wrote all that with sarcasm, but these are the actual beliefs of those sites.  That we don’t see a few “alphas” with giant harems matters not a whit, that the way these theories treat women (as prey, dinners, something that is a rack for vaginas) doesn’t matter,  that all those sites mean “alpha females” (the most gorgeous women only)  when they talk about “women” is irrelevant.  The idea is that all men are entitled to the small number of truly beautiful and desirable women.
Because the theory doesn’t regard women as individuals, it assumes that all women (whatever their looks, age and other characteristics) can get any amount of sex they wish to obtain, that the whole female gender must be somehow forced to give sex to all men who wish to have it.  Because the women “have” all the sex that these heterosexual men feel entitled to.

Everyday Violence: It’s Not Just Mass Shootings Women Fear by @VABVOX

Everyday Violence: It’s Not Just Mass Shootings Women Fear

by Victoria A. Brownworth

copyright c 2014 Victoria A. Brownworth

Women live in fear. It might not be obvious, palpable, heart-pounding, horror-movie-style fear, but it’s fear, nevertheless. We know what can happen to us. We know one in five of us will be a victim of rape. One in four of us was already a victim of child sex abuse by the time we turned 18. We know that one in three of us in the U.S. will be a victim of domestic violence, one in four in the U.K. We know that murder is the second-leading cause of death for women between the ages of 17 and 35 and that it is the leading cause of death among pregnant women.

We know that the night is not our friend. We are told that what we wear and where we go and how much we drink when we get there all makes us vulnerable to assault. We know that we will, most likely, be blamed for any violence that is perpetrated against us because we see how the media minimizes violence against women and maximizes the concept of the violent assaults on women as “isolated incidents.”

Elliot Rodger is the most recent example of that “isolated incident” meme, but he is also a clear example of exactly why women live in fear: because we never know who is the abuser, rapist or killer among us because so many men are abusive, so many are rapists and men who kill women almost always were people who said they loved them.

The mass-killing by Elliot Rodger in Isla Vista outside Santa Barbara, California on May 23 has raised the voices of myriad feminists and other women in a chorus of outrage. More than other killers in recent similar incidents in the U.S., Rodger stands out. Not because of his youth–he was 22 and the last ten mass shooters have been under 25. Not because of the number of weapons and ammunition he had–three semi-automatic pistols plus more than 400 rounds of bullets, according to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department. Not because he was male–the overwhelming majority of mass shooters in the U.S. have been male.

It was his plan. Elliot Rodger wanted to kill women–as many women as possible. He wrote about it, he vlogged about it on his YouTube channel, he talked about it to the few friends he had. The content was so disturbing, Rodger’s parents, British director Peter Rodger and his Malaysian mother, Chin Rodger, called police to report their son, fearful of what he might do. According to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department Rodger’s parents were on their way to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles–a 100 mile drive in the worst traffic in the country–when their son went on his murderous rampage. They’d been sent the text of his manifesto and an email outlining his plan to kill. They were frantic to stop him.

They were, as we know, too late.

This was not their first effort. They had already gone to police to report their fears after seeing his videos. Police did a “welfare check” on April 30 at the request of Rodger’s mother, to determine if Rodger was a threat to himself or others.

Police came away from that visit referencing Elliot as “polite, kind and wonderful.”

Elliot Rodger was near-gleeful at that response, writing in his manifesto that he had fooled them all and if they had asked to see his room–well within their purview–it would have been all over. Rodger wrote: “The police interrogated me outside for a few minutes, asking me if I hadsuicidal thoughts. I tactfully told them that it was all a misunderstanding, and they finally left. If they had demanded to search my room… That would have ended everything. For a few horrible seconds I thought it was all over. When they left, the biggest wave of relief swept over me.”

Did the police see the videos? Did Rodger’s mother explain the nature of her fear? (Rodger also writes about his desire to murder his family members.) Or did no one care especially about this son of a director who wasn’t Muslim, wasn’t black, wasn’t poor and presented like the “beautiful Eurasian” he described himself as in his videos?

Was Rodger not taken in for a temporary involuntary psychiatric hold because he was “polite” or because his proposed victims were “just” women?

Rodger’s videos are unnervingly violent, but it’s the text of his 141-page manifesto that is bone-chilling.

Rodger wanted to put women in concentration camps to be starved, tortured, flayed alive. He wanted to “punish all women.” He wanted to “kill as many blonde girls as I can” because he loved blonde “girls” and they didn’t love him back. (He did kill two young blonde women–Veronika Weiss, 19 and Katie Cooper, 22–who were standing outside the sorority he tried to enter to slaughter the women there. He shot at several others.)

The standard scenario is being promulgated in the media about him–he was mentally ill (he had been under the care of therapists and was being seen by a social worker hired by his parents at the time he set about the killings). He has Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism. He had been bullied. He never fit in among his peers. He was lonely–his writings and videos are an endless litany of misery inflicted, Rodger insists, by cruel women who chose “ugly guys” over the “beautiful Eurasian” and “perfect gentleman” he proclaimed himself to be.

The Elliot Rodger story unsettles me more than most. I’m used to mass shootings in America. I live in the city with the highest body count of the most populous cities in the U.S. Philadelphia is often referred to as “Killadelphia” because unlike New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago, the four cities larger than ours, this fifth-largest city in the U.S. has not lowered the body count. There are still a dozen shootings here a day, at least one resulting in death. In the past month a dozen children have been shot, several have died.

I’m not inured to gun violence, it just doesn’t surprise me in a country where over 100,000 people are shot each year, more than a third of whom die. Mass shootings–characterized by the FBI as the killing of four or more people at a time by one person–happen about every two weeks here. Yet they still only comprise one percent of the total number of shooting victims.

Those victims concern me, however. How long before we forget the names of Rodger’s victims, if we ever really know them? He killed two women and four men. Two of the 13 other wounded remain in critical condition. The violence he inflicted: six killed–his three roommates stabbed multiple times and three others shot, 13 wounded, himself a suicide–took a total of ten minutes.

America and possibly the world–at least the social media world–will be fascinated by Rodger for a news cycle. A week, likely two, until the next such event. One of his victims or possibly more will appear on the morning TV talk shows to discuss their experience.

And then it will be over. Rodger’s name will be consigned to the rolls of young, male killers and the victims themselves will be forgotten.

But the victims and their families won’t forget. For the victims, as one woman victim of a violent crime tweeted me when I was writing about this, the crime will be replayed again and again.

That victim is right, of course. For victims of violence, the news cycle never ends. That’s certainly been true for countless victims and their families I have interviewed over my years as a reporter.

It was also true for me.

I, too, am a victim of violence. I was raped and almost killed on a bright, sunny September afternoon less than 100 yards from my front door. A man walking down my street offered to help me with a chore. I told him cheerily, thanks but no, and seconds after I turned my back he grabbed me from behind. He dragged me into a neighbor’s yard where he beat, punched, slapped, bit, choked, raped and sodomized me. I was left bloodied and torn, with bruises black as night, the size of dinner plates on both thighs and my back. The mark of his fingers were on my throat and my arms for weeks. As were the marks of his teeth around my nipples.

I couldn’t undress or bathe without seeing his mark upon me for months. In addition, the outline of my body remained in the ivy in my neighbor’s yard for many weeks. I saw it every day when I left my house, like one of those chalk outlines in a TV crime drama.

Like the rampage of Elliot Rodger, it didn’t take long for my rapist to repeatedly threaten to kill me, repeatedly assault me, to change my life forever.

I wasn’t his first victim. As I discovered from the police detective who interviewed me, mine was a serial rapist who had been assaulting women in the middle of the day using exactly the same m.o. as was used on me. Five other women had reported similar rapes. There were five other victims like me, but likely far more, since according to the FBI, only 40% of women report when they are raped.

There were, though, at least five other women who had thought they would die, whose bodies were broken, whose psyches would never be the same again. Who were not only afraid of being out alone at night like all women, but now also had to fear the day–something none of us ever thought to fear.

Yet the police had said nothing, even though the rapist was operating only in my neighborhood, which meant he either lived or worked here.

Most rapists and killers commit their crimes close to home. Half of all mass shootings in the U.S. are actually domestic violence killings–the shooter kills family and self. Elliot Rodger committed his crimes within two miles of where he lived–first in his own apartment, then at the sorority house, then just randomly until it was over.

The mayhem Elliot Rodger wreaked in Isla Vista has turned the town itself into a victim, but most definitely the wounded and the families of those killed.

All their lives are changed forever.

We’re not supposed to say victim anymore. Especially not feminists. We’re supposed to say survivor. Many men and a plethora of anti-feminist handmaidens constantly claim feminists demand to be seen as victims, that victimology rules feminism, that all we do is talk about being victims night and day and night.

I’ve thought about that, of course. Women who have experienced violence can’t help but think about it. How do we situate ourselves in the chronology of our own lives when so often that timeline reads “before incest/abuse/rape” and “after incest/abuse/rape”?

I’m not opposed to the term survivor. That may be the path to healing for some. But I prefer victim because I want it made clear that I am not the same as I was before. What happened to me altered me forever. Just as I can never see my neighbor’s yard without thinking that’s where I almost died, I can never get back the parts of me that rapist took with him.

One of the things that is taken by violence is one’s sense of safety. One’s equilibrium is shattered. PTSD has become a meme on social media, but for actual victims, there are indeed triggers and they may diminish over time, but they never disappear.

Every day for the rest of their lives the parents of the six students Rodger killed will wake up to the memory that their child is dead.

Every day the others Rodger wounded will replay what happened to them, how lucky they are to be alive and wonder, why am I alive when others died and worse, what if it happens again?

The most insidious element of male violence is the sure knowledge that this is no one-off: What happened to you once could very easily happen again. Violence is not like lightning–it strikes in the same place time and again. Twenty percent of all rape victims are raped again. I had been raped years before this recent rape, back when I was a college student.

All those women at the University of California Santa Barbara will remember Elliot Rodger’s crime and who his intended victims were. Praise accounts for Rodger have already sprung up on Twitter and Facebook, protected by free speech, but unsettling women who are already victimized by abuse on social media on a daily basis.

We know about everyday sexism and everyday misogyny, but what we don’t talk about is everyday violence.

Elliot Rodger put a spotlight on what Germaine Greer said more than 40 years ago–that women have no idea how much men hate us. The Internet has made it much more clear.

As we wring our societal hands in the U.S. and beyond over Elliot Rodger and who is to blame for his crimes and who might have done more, we ignore the reality that he is not the only one. Rodger is extreme because of his manifesto, because of his videos, because he killed more than one woman.

But as was reported in the BBC, last month in the U.K., of the eight women killed by their partners/spouses or former partners/spouses, several of those men also murdered other members of the primary victim’s family.

Is that really so different from Elliot Rodger’s crime? Or is it just his weaponry that’s different?

And as we know, it is not one man raping all the girl children and adult women. It’s not one man beating all the girlfriends and wives.

Everyday violence against women is a thing, now. As it always was. We just know more about it. But when we focus on extremes like Elliot Rodger, we forget women’s reality: We’re being raped and killed every day by men who never posted a YouTube video about it and never wrote a manifesto.

What are we going to do about that?

Victoria A. Brownworth is an award-winning journalist, editor and writer. She has won the NLGJA, the Keystone Award, the Lambda Literary Award and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She won the 2013 Society of Professional Journalists Award for Enterprise/Investigative Reporting. She is a regular contributor to The Advocate and SheWired, a blogger for Huffington Post and a contributing editor for Curve magazine, Curve digital and Lambda Literary Review. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times. She is the author and editor of nearly 30 books including the award-winning Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic and Restricted Access: Lesbians on Disability. Her collection, From Where We Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth won the 2012 Moonbeam Award for Cultural/Historical Fiction. Her Y/A novel, Cutting will be published in fall 2014. @VABVOX

 

Women’s responses to the mass murder at UCSB perpetrated by Elliot Rodger

We’re collating all the responses written by women to Elliott Rogder’s brutal murder of two women and four men in Ilsa Vista on Friday. The response from men and the media to Rodger’s clear hatred of women is state we are over-reacting and being ridiculous. This is gas lighting on a systemic level.

 

Elliot Rodger’s California shooting spree: further proof that misogyny kills by Jessica Valenti

Elliot Rodger And Men Who Hate Women at The Belle Jar

We need to talk about systemic male violence not the “work of a madman” at My Elegant Gathering of White Snows

What Elliot Rodger Said About Women Reveals Why We Need to Stamp Out Misogyny by Elizabeth Plank

Let’s call the Isla Vista killings what they were: misogynist extremism by Laurie Penney

Violent and wrong: Elliot Rodger’s crime should not taint my child at Grace Under Pressure

Misogyny Is Poison, And You’re Drinking It at Jess ZimmermanIronic points of light.

The Pick-Up Artist Community’s Predictable, Horrible Response to a Mass Murder by Amanda Hess

Joining the dots: From fairy tales to Elliot Rodger by Glosswitch

Elliot Rodger and illusions of nuance by Glosswitch

THE UNDERACHIEVING GRADUATE ON… THE WEEK’S EVENTS on The UGGO

Femicide, Misogyny and Elliot Rodger at End Online Misogyny

Femicide, Misogyny and Elliot Rodger Part 2 at End Online Misogyny

Please add links to any blogs you have written or read in the comments!

“You’re not like a rape victim” by @Herbeatittude

(Cross-posted with permission from Herbs & Hags)

“You’re not like a rape victim”

That’s what someone years ago said to me, when I pulled him up on some shit he was talking about rape. I can’t remember the exact stuff he was saying, but it was the usual stuff I expect, about how rape victims ask for it and how rapists can’t help it. I pointed out that for all he knew, I might be a rape victim, so what the hell did he think he was doing saying things like that about rape?

And that’s when he said it. That I wasn’t like a rape victim. Which made it clear, that he had a certain idea of what rape victims were like. An idea which didn’t fit with me and what I was like. Which is a bit misleading, because I was a rape victim, though of course I didn’t tell him that.

So what is a rape victim like?

When I first thought about this, I found myself at a bit of a loss. I’ve thought loads about rape over the years, about rape myths, consent, victim-blaming – you know, all the stuff you usually engage with.  But for some reason, I hadn’t thought about that image of the rape victim.  I hadn’t been able to face that.  So I asked around because it seemed easier to get other people to tell me how I would have been categorised all these years, than to try and imagine it myself.

What people came up with, imagine your surprise, is that as with so many other images of women, the Madonna / Whore dichotomy is present for rape victims/ survivors as much as it is for all women

So first to the Madonna Rape Victim:

She is preferably a virgin or if not, pregnant or married, who has never done anything exciting or interesting or likely to cause any eyebrow-raising. She’s possibly a bit naieve, not very streetwise or assertive and too trusting. She must not have been drunk or wearing anything revealing at the time of the rape (or at any other time). She will not have known or been personally acquainted in any way, with her rapist prior to the rape.

Afterwards, she is required to be broken by the rape; afraid to go out, untrusting of men, timid, scared and has gone off sex forever. She can never enjoy sex again unless it is with a pre-existing boyfriend or husband. If her personality is outspoken, vocal or assertive, she will be deemed not to have been a rape victim, so she had better be unassertive and shy.

Now for the Whore rape victim:


She will have been drunk at the time of rape, or on drugs or at least have had one alcoholic drink. She would have been wearing a short skirt, low cut top or other sexualised item of clothing. She was not a virgin at the time of the rape and she may well have either been single or had lots of boyfriends (by which I mean more than 3) in the past. She knew her rapist or had exchanged social niceties with him before the rape and she gets more whore-points if she had either kissed him or flirted with him. She gets whore-points full-house if she had consensual sex with him on any other occasion before the rape. The fact that she was raped, proves that she wasn’t very careful, prudent or sensible.

Afterwards, if she has lots of lovers and treats sex casually, this will be seen as evidence that she wasn’t really raped.  Because someone who likes sex so much, or doesn’t think it’s that important, can’t have been raped, right?

When I was raped, I wasn’t a virgin; I’d had one lover, though sex was still quite new to me. I’d had an alcoholic drink, though I wasn’t drunk. Afterwards, I went out with my rapist and later still, I had a series of casual, “no strings” relationships (which were much less usual in those days than they are now – the term “fuck-buddy” hadn’t been invented) and one night stands

All this clearly put me in the Whore rape victim box, rather than the Madonna one. And here’s the thing: most rape victims get put in the Whore rape victim box, because it’s actually quite hard to make it into the Madonna one. Even in the small percentage of cases where women are the victims of the classic stranger in the bushes/ dark alley scenario, that’s not enough to get you into the Madonna box; you have to meet the dress, personality and behaviour criteria as well as the stranger rape criteria. 

Being in the Whore rape victim box, means that either you weren’t really raped and you are making a big fat fuss about nothing, or that you maybe were raped a bit, but you probably asked for it, deserved it or at least didn’t do enough to avoid it. Since most rape victims belong in this box and deep down, we know that that is how we will be categorised, it is no wonder that we’re not keen on reporting rape or even telling the people in our lives on whom we should be able to rely on for support, about our experiences of rape.

We know that they will instantly see us with different eyes; we will be cut off from normal women, who haven’t been raped and even if we get put in the Madonna box, we’re still “othered” as rape victims, people who weren’t able to keep themselves safe from predators – at the kindest, incompetent or foolish. That’s the best estimate of our character, that we can hope for. But for most of us, that’s too high a bar; we’ll be judged as feckless tarts who would inevitably end up getting raped sometime.

Because rape is not something a man chooses to do to someone; it‘s a natural phenomenon, like the rain or wind; sensible people will take umbrellas out with them and those who don‘t, will get rained on. Rape is presented as something women can avoid, like the rain, but those who don‘t, are a special breed of women apart from all others; something about them meant that nature picked them out to be raped; it wasn‘t something about the rapist that caused them to be raped, it was something about them.

When that man told me that I wasn‘t like a rape victim, that shut me up about being raped for nearly a quarter of a century. He didn‘t know it, but he was telling me that if I spoke up about having been raped, I would be declaring myself different from all other women. I didn’t analyse it at the time, but at a gut level I knew that to be a rape victim, meant to be either the Madonna or the Whore type and I knew I didn’t fit into the Madonna box.

So I shut up for twenty-five years. That’s what the othering of rape victims does to us – it silences us.

And now I’m no longer silent.  Not like a rape victim, then.

HerbsandHags: Meanderings of a Hag: I have no fixed subject matter for my blog, it tends to be whatever grabs me, but for some reason lots that has grabbed me has been about rape or other male violence. It’s all with a feminist slant though. [@Herbeatittude]

 

 

#BringBackOurGirls

(Written by Zaimal Azad for A Room of our Own)

On 14th April 2014, more than 200 Nigerian girls were kidnapped from their school in the middle of the night. Almost three weeks later, they are still missing, no proper information has been provided to their families by the government and no real attempts have been made at searching for them. In fact, even the number of girls abducted remains under dispute – low estimates are 150, the highest figure is around 270. We don’t know their names, their ages. They are nameless, faceless missing black girls – and in this racist, patriarchal world, who cares about black girls?

It is only now, almost THREE weeks later, that the world is starting to wake up to this. The same media which played news stories about a missing plane on repeat for weeks is only now starting to talk about these missing girls who are still alive and could be saved. We need to talk about these girls and we need to stand with them and their families. Every single one of them had a life, dreams and ambitions. Please don’t let them become statistics like all other girls around the world who are trafficked, killed and abused.

#BringBackOurGirls protests and vigils are being organised all around the world in solidarity with the girls and their families. Happening next week:

6th May – Manchester

7th May – Nottingham and potentially Liverpool

Please try organise a vigil for the same day/week in your city/town – coordinated demonstrations could work really well in sending out a strong message. The WEAR RED campaign is also encouraging people to wear red on 7th May and send pictures with messages of support to be forwarded to the girls’ families. Details here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/WEAR-RED-Education-for-all-women-girls/443515869084916?notif_t=page_new_likes

 

 

These images were taken at the demonstration at the Nigerian embassy in London Saturday May 3 protesting the kidnap, rape and trafficking of 276 young women in Nigeria.

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Teenage Mothers, Domestic Violence and Shame by @God_loves_women

(Written for A Room of our Own: A Feminist/ Womanist Network by @God_loves_women)

I have a confession to make. I have been totally prejudiced against teenage mums. As a young person myself I imagined they were seeking a council flat, had no aspirations and were lazy and from families who had obviously not cared about them. The usually smoked, abandoning their children wherever possible to go out clubbing. They didn’t know how to discipline their children, were incompetent and slept with lots of different men.

All of them except me of course. I was 17 when I found out I was pregnant and had my daughter when I was 18 years old. I refused to go to any “young mum” groups, because I wasn’t like “them”. Of those least likely to get pregnant or even have sex before marriage I ranked probably highest in my school year. I’d met the father at a friend’s party; he was dangerously charming and within six months he had gained total control of me, including his convincing me not to use contraception. Having a Catholic secondary education (contraception is evil) and a Daily Mail reading mother (contraception gives you cancer) contributed to the ease with which I accepted his view that “it’s not real without a risk”.

I married him within months of giving birth. Growing up as a strongly committed Christian left me feeling marriage was the only way forward. Plus the need to not be “one of those teen mums” left me feeling I must get married. At least then I could pull the “marriage card” (or ring as it’s usually known), “See, world! I’m not like the others, I’m married.”

My ex-husband destroyed me; sexual and emotional abuse left barely able to function, constant undermining of my parenting and ongoing sexually relationships with other people. We were both 19 when his abuse of teenage girls led to him being put on the sex offenders register for five years. Yet I couldn’t leave him. Alongside the reality of trauma bonding and his devaluing of me to the point I knew I was worthless; there was a deeply held fear of becoming “one of those teenage mums”. I needed to stay with him otherwise I would be failure; because fundamentally that’s clearly what I thought all those other teenage mothers were.

At 21 I escaped when my son was born three months premature after my ex-husband assaulted me. My son’s birth and subsequent hospital treatment led to me and my daughter living in a hospital over an hour from our home town. This forced separation and my son’s ongoing treatment left me knowing I must speak out, so I reported him to the Police and legal proceedings began.

Many of the doctors and nurses who cared for my son would ask, “Are you on your own?” “Where is the father?” I couldn’t only say, “Yes, I’m on my own. I’m no longer with his father.” I always had to quantify it with, “His father is a registered sex offender.” I had a premature child who frequently almost died, I had a traumatised toddler and we lived in a hospital an hour from anyone we knew and yet I desperately didn’t want anyone thinking I was one of those teenage mums.

I’m now 29, my children are 11 and 8.  They are amazing, intelligent, creative and kind people (I know I’m biased, but still…).  I married my now husband (the good one) over six years ago.  The journey I have walked, sometimes crawled and sometimes been dragged through has and continues to be full of wonder, the mundane, of brokenness and beauty.  Through much counselling, prayer and many miracles I am still standing.  I am now proud to say I was a teenage mother.  I relish the opportunity to stand with all those who I once othered, to challenge anyone who tries to talk about those teenage mothers.  I was wrong.

I stayed with an abuser for four years in part because of the messages I received.  I was conditioned by the media, society and comments from adults I knew to think that those teenage mums were less than fully human.  Media outlets, writers, politicians, schools, musicians, business leaders, each and every person, has a responsibility to consider the consequences of how our prejudices may impact others.  Because there is no those, there are only us.

 

God loves women: A blog sharing my love of God, the love He has for women and my frustration that the Church often doesn’t realise this (@God_loves_women)

Nobody’s entitled to sex, including disabled people by @PhilippaWrites

Nobody’s entitled to sex, including disabled people  

(originally published in the Feminist Times)

 

Debates about the sex industry are never far from any feminist’s consciousness, and one argument that always catches my attention is that prostitution should be legalised because, without sex workers, those poor, pitiful disabled people would never get any sex.

People who have never showed any interest in campaigning against disability benefit cuts or fighting for accessible premises are suddenly preoccupied by our ‘right’ to sex? It’s disingenuous, and it hides a not-so-subtle disablism behind the rhetoric.

….

You can find the rest of the post here at the Feminist Times

Men Who Commit Domestic Violence Should Not be Allowed Custody or Access of their Children by @LK_Pennington

(Cross-posted with permission from My Elegant Gathering of White Snows)

Men who commit domestic violence against their partner, or their children, should not be allowed to have access or custodial rights over those children.

Heresy, I know but I do not believe that a man who is violent to their partner can be trusted to be a good father to their children. After all, not abusing the mother of your children isn’t exactly a high standard of parenting.

A man who abuses the mother of his [step]-children is not a good father.

It doesn’t matter if he never directly physically or sexually assaults the children; the fact that a man abuses his partner negates his ability to be a good father. Forcing a child to live with a man who abused their mother is psychological child abuse and we are all complicit in a culture which is psychologically abusing children.

Men who commit domestic violence should have no legal rights to their children. They should be legally required to pay maintenance to support their children as the failure to pay maintenance is child abuse.

Men who refuse to pay child maintenance are not good fathers.

Children are not possessions. They do not ‘belong’ to their parents. What are we teaching our children if we allow them to live with men who emotionally, physically or sexually abuse their mothers?

What are we teaching our children about women’s bodily autonomy?

What are we teaching our daughters about their value? What are we teaching our sons: that being violent is the only way to be a man?

Children are entitled to live in safety surrounded by people who love them.

Children do not deserve fathers who are “good enough” when “good enough” ignores the history of male violence.

(Cross-posted with permission from My Elegant Gathering of White Snows)

My Elegant Gathering of White Snows: a blog about male violence against women, celebrity culture and cultural femicide. [@LeStewpot] [FB: My Elegant Gathering of White Snows]