Originally published: 23.01.18
Emily Maitlis recently spoke of her distress and frustration at the Criminal Justice System response to over 20 years of being stalked and I was asked to discuss the issue on BBC Radio 4’s PM Show.
Emily Maitlis recently spoke of her distress and frustration at the Criminal Justice System response to over 20 years of being stalked and I was asked to discuss the issue on BBC Radio 4’s PM Show.
That’s the reality millions of women across America face every day. In fact, 50% of all homeless women report that their homelessness stemmed from acts of domestic violence so severe their only options were to stay and die or leave and face homelessness.
Homelessness stemming from domestic violence is not discussed as frequently as it should be, but it’s one of the most pressing women’s issues of our time, as resources for fleeing women are scarce and access to medical care and food are constantly dwindling.
Read more DOMESTIC ABUSE’S TIES TO HOMELESSNESS IS A SERIOUS WOMEN’S ISSUE – @KATEHARVESTON #XISAFEMINISTISSUE
Jemima (her real name withheld by request) is a 19 year old university student living in Melbourne. At age 10 she saw pornography for the first time. Her life began to unravel, culminating in sexual assault by a group of teen boys when she was 14 and leading to severe mental health problems. I got chatting to Jemima at the recent Justice Conference in Melbourne. Within a few minutes her story poured out and she agreed to allow me to record her experience. Articulate and insightful, Jemima helps us see the way porn exposure so young shaped her view of herself, what she was good for, how she should behave and to understand the long-lasting ramifications nine years later.
Read more ‘I learnt to act like porn stars so boys would like me’ – Jemima tells MTR how her life changed when exposed to porn at 10, by @meltankardreist
When The Handmaid’s Tale first became available on SBS On Demand, I binged-watched it. I am now watching it on live TV, an episode a week and taking notes with the idea of writing a series of blogs, identifying the underlying themes that occur throughout the series.
I have recently seen Episode 8, “The Jezebels” and it is about a brothel.
This is no dystopian scene. This happens here and now, in every part of the globe, where women’s bodies are bought and sold – for men’s use and abuse – through pornography and prostitution. I felt compelled to write about this episode in particular because it is so relevant and current –it is what is happening in our world, today.
Read more “Jezebels” The Handmaid’s Tale, at Mairi Voice
Sparked by the exposure of Harvey Weinstein as an alleged serial sex offender, a mass confessional has taken place recently via social media, in which women everywhere have held up their hands and said, me too: the things that Weinstein did to those women have happened to me too. I hope to goodness it was cathartic and useful for the women who took the brave and exposing step of outing their private pain to the world, and I hope to goodness there were as many women reading who felt less alone, less ashamed as a result. But the outpouring is slowing and I, for one, am relieved. A collective boil has perhaps now been lanced, although I still cannot see through the pus.
The pus gathers in the responses, which can be divided into three broad categories. First is blanket denial, whereby men and their cheerleaders deny that sexual abuse on such a massive scale exists at all. Women are fanciful, lying, exaggerating for effect. There is a bandwagon onto which women are joyfully leaping in an attempt to malign men and revel in their perceived victimhood. Second, we have the more modern form of denial which concedes that yes, sexual abuse is a common problem, although not a gendered one. There are simply some people that abuse other people and all abuse is equally bad. The inconvenient and statistical truth that 98% of all sexual crime is committed by men, and that the overwhelming majority of their victims are female, can be pasted over with obfuscation and the politics of individualism. In other words, if we focus in carefully enough on all the tiny pictures, the big picture will begin to fade into the background and eventually disappear altogether. In the face of this manipulative myopia I can find myself longing for the first, more traditional trope. It is, at least, straightforward. Lastly, we have the outraged hyperbole. The shock! The fury! Whoever could have imagined such horrifying evil existed in the world?!
The media loves a little political or social upheaval. In the wake of the disastrous result of the EU referendum, newspapers across the country have been relishing the chaos, as they churn out headline after headline, each more sensationalist than the last. The pound at its lowest value in 30 years! Racism and hate crime have gone up 500%! The numerous lies of the Leave campaign leave voters reeling! Xenophobia sweeps across the country!
Yet, something about their seeming outrage at the miserable state of affairs we are in leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Perhaps it is their positioning of themselves as objective observers, just as shocked as anyone by the horrific unfolding of events, when in so many cases, they helped to create the very climate that they are now reporting on? I have yet to find a mainstream media outlet that has acknowledged its own role in shaping public opinion in the lead up to the referendum, or in helping to fan the flames of racial intolerance.
Read more Is it time for the media to take responsibility for feeding fascism?
The category of “hate crime” is now widely recognized, both legally and in the culture at large. To many activists fighting racism and homophobia, this recognition is welcome; but what value does it have for feminists dealing with violence against women and children? Is “hate crime” a useful concept, or is it ultimately divisive and unhelpful? Liz Kelly weighs up the arguments.
These reflections are prompted by my involvement in an EU study  which considered whether it was feasible to harmonise European national legislation on violence against women (VAW), violence against children (VAC) and sexual orientation violence (SOV). Since I was responsible for the section on SOV, I had to engage with the now-common framing of it as a “hate crime”. This is a concept I have had misgivings about for some time , and my unease was reinforced by my experience of working on the EU study.
Before I elaborate, I should make clear that I am not denying the existence of misogyny—woman-hating—or more generally of crimes motivated by hate. That both are real was underlined for me in summer 2010, when I spent some time with a close friend who had just attended the first gay pride march in Split, Croatia. 200 marchers were confronted by thousands of men chanting “kill, kill” and “you should all be dead”. Rather, what I want to argue is that there are problems with “hate crime” as an overarching concept. Neither hate nor misogyny provides an adequate explanation or theoretical framework for understanding all violence against women, especially when we examine the intersections with race/ethnicity, age, disability and sexuality. And the evidence suggests that while categorizing them as “hate crimes” has increased the recognition given to certain types of crimes, it has not delivered much in terms of justice and redress.
Read more The Trouble with “Hate”, by Liz Kelly at @strifejournal
There is a growing need to revisit our conceptual frameworks for understanding men’s violence against women and girls. Recent high-profile cases have raised public awareness of the extent of sexual violence; by using digital media, feminist activists have highlighted the everyday nature of men’s intrusive behaviour. The diverse voices that give feminism as a political movement its complexity and reflexivity have undoubtedly been amplified. But the internet has also changed the way we create, take in and distribute information; often we end up speaking over rather than to one another.
Read more Situating agency, by Dr Fiona Vera-Gray for @strifejournal
When a rageaholic is the nation’s Prince Charming, young girls learn abuse is part of the fairy tale. Josh Murray, an emotional abuser, won 2014’s The Bachelorette when Andi Dorfman accepted his proposal. But several months later they ended their engagement. She’s since written a book called It’s Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak Into Happily Never After. In it, she details Josh’s verbal abuse, calling it “the most volatile and fucked up relationship of my life.” At one point she was concerned enough for her safety to tell her friend Nikki Ferrell that if she turned up dead, Josh did it. Andi says she was “trapped in a relationship that made her feel utterly worthless and dismally defeated.” Sounds like a dream come true, right?
Here’s the Full Transcript Of Angela Davis’s Women’s March Speech via @ElleMagazine
“At a challenging moment in our history, let us remind ourselves that we the hundreds of thousands, the millions of women, trans-people, men and youth who are here at the Women’s March, we represent the powerful forces of change that are determined to prevent the dying cultures of racism, hetero-patriarchy from rising again.
“We recognize that we are collective agents of history and that history cannot be deleted like web pages. We know that we gather this afternoon on indigenous land and we follow the lead of the first peoples who despite massive genocidal violence have never relinquished the struggle for land, water, culture, their people. We especially salute today the Standing Rock Sioux.
“The freedom struggles of black people that have shaped the very nature of this country’s history cannot be deleted with the sweep of a hand. We cannot be made to forget that black lives do matter. This is a country anchored in slavery and colonialism, which means for better or for worse the very history of the United States is a history of immigration and enslavement. Spreading xenophobia, hurling accusations of murder and rape and building walls will not erase history.” …
“Friends, sisters and brothers, all of you who are before me today and in 370 marches in every state in this country and on six continents and those who will be communing with us in one at 1 [p.m.] in a silent minute for equality in offices, in kitchens, in factories, in prisons, all over the world. I thank each of you, and I especially want to thank the hardworking visionary organizers of this women-led, inclusive march, one of whom managed to give birth while she was organizing this march. Who else can say that?
Thank you for understanding that sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are. Sometimes pressing send is not enough. And this also unifies us with the many in this world who do not have computers or electricity or literacy, but do have the same hopes and the same dreams.
I think that because I and my beloved co-chairs, the Golden oldies right?–Harry Belafonte, Dolores Huerta, LaDonna Harris–all these great people, we may be the oldest marchers here today, so I’ve been thinking about the uses of a long life, and one of them is you remember when things were worse. …
All politics is “identity politics” by @MayaGoodfellow
… The idea underlying this link of thinking is that the left have for too long focused on minorities at the expense of the “majority” (read: straight, white people), pushing the latter into the arms of the far-right. This comes from the age-old assumption– that has by no means been expunged from the left – that white, straight men have no identity other than one based in class (if they’re working class).
But all politics is identity politics. Nigel Farage pledged during the referendum campaign to “take back control” – not just from EU bureaucrats but migrants who were repeatedly racialised as a threat to this country. His platform was rooted in the politics of whiteness (and importantly this is a form of politics that doesn’t always exclusively speak to white people). It can be hard for some to see how this is true because whiteness masks itself as natural. As academic Gloria Wekker has said, whiteness is “not seen as an ethnic positioning at all”. It is the default – the identity contains worth and humanity. That’s why the working class is so often treated as a homogenous group that’s exclusively white. …
Princesses Are Terrifying. So Is Ivanka Trump by Sady Doyle via @ElleMagazine
For those of us who overdosed on Disney princess memorabilia growing up, good news: Thanks to Donald Trump and his legion of terrifying yet well-coiffed children, Americans are now closer to living in a monarchy than we have been since 1776. And Ivanka Trump—blond, pretty, well-mannered, given massive amounts of power over the citizenry thanks to nothing but her genetic makeup—is the closest thing we’ll get to a princess. Which is how we’ll all get to find out: Princesses are terrifying.
It’s not clear yet what role Ivanka Trump will play in her father’s administration. What isclear is that she will have one. It was reported Wednesday that she would occupy the White House offices usually reserved for the first lady. (Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks pushed back on this report.) Ivanka was initially tapped to join Trump’s two oldest sons as part of his “blind trust”—assigned the role of keeping the $3 billion conflict of interest that is the Trump Organization alive while her father was off presidenting. And yet, almost immediately after Trump was elected, she began holding meetings with foreign heads of state and hunting for houses in D.C. In subsequent weeks, Ivanka’s name was floated for every position from “climate czar” (although she has no relevant expertise re: climate change) to first lady (although Trump is married) to, most ominously, “women’s rights”and/or child care policy: “If you look at Ivanka—she’s so strongly, as you know, into the women’s issues and childcare…. Nobody could do better than her,” Trump told Fox News last Sunday.
‘Impunity has consequences': the women lost to Mexico’s drug war by Nina Lakhani in Jalapa
Ten years ago this week, Mexico’s then-president Felipe Calderón deployed thousands of troops to fight against organized crime, at the start of what became an all-out war on drug trafficking which has raged ever since.
Since then, more than 100 of the country’s most wanted drug traffickers have been captured or killed. Billions of dollars have been spent, but the campaign has not ended the narcotics trade, or enforced the rule of law.
On the contrary, the decade-long war has had a devastating impact on the country’s social fabric: violent crimes perpetrated organised crime factions – and the security forces themselves – have spread amid almost total impunity.
The human cost has been catastrophic: about 200,000 people have been murdered and at least 28,000 “disappeared” since 2007. Abuses by security forces are widespread.
Most of the victims have been men, but women also have been tortured, trafficked and targeted for particular brutality, with almost total impunity.
Official records indicate almost 7,000 women and girls have disappeared since 2007. But activists say the reality is much worse. The government register of the missing includes 164 women from Veracruz, yet a local monitoring group has documented almost 500 cases of girls and women who have vanished in the past three years alone. ….
On Optimism and Despair by Zadie Smith via @nybooks
A talk given in Berlin on November 10 on receiving the 2016 Welt Literature Prize.
First I would like to acknowledge the absurdity of my position. Accepting a literary prize is perhaps always a little absurd, but in times like these not only the recipient but also the giver feels some sheepishness about the enterprise. But here we are. President Trump rises in the west, a united Europe drops below the horizon on the other side of the ocean—but here we still are, giving a literary prize, receiving one. So many more important things were rendered absurd by the events of November 8 that I hesitate to include my own writing in the list, and only mention it now because the most frequent question I’m asked about my work these days seems to me to have some bearing on the situation at hand.
The question is: “In your earlier novels you sounded so optimistic, but now your books are tinged with despair. Is this fair to say?” It is a question usually posed in a tone of sly eagerness—you will recognize this tone if you’ve ever heard a child ask permission to do something she has in fact already done.
Dear Alan Carr,
You can harp on about how the Justin Lee Collins who assaulted his partner wasn’t the Justin that you knew, but the truth of the matter is that he was.
See, this is the kind of talk that silences abuse victims. Talking about how it was a “toxic” relationship. Minimising the abuse. It’s telling victims that their experiences of an abuser aren’t accurate, because yours are different.
16 Ways To End Violence Against Women And Girls by @EVB_Now via @HuffPostUK
Transforming a victim blaming culture | openDemocracy
Content note: this post contains examples of offensive slur-terms.
Last week, the British edition of Glamour magazine published a column in which Juno Dawson used the term ‘TERF’ to describe feminists (the example she named was Germaine Greer) who ‘steadfastly believe that me—and other trans women—are not women’. When some readers complained about the use of derogatory language, a spokeswoman for the magazine replied on Twitter that TERF is not derogatory:
Trans-exclusionary radical feminist is a description, and not a misogynistic slur.
Arguments about whether TERF is a neutral descriptive term or a derogatory slur have been rumbling on ever since. They raise a question which linguists and philosophers have found quite tricky to answer (and which they haven’t reached a consensus on): what makes a word a slur?
Before I consider that general question, let’s take a closer look at the meaning and history of TERF. As the Glamour spokeswoman said, it’s an abbreviated form of the phrase ‘Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist’; more specifically it’s an acronym, constructed from the initial letters of the words that make up the phrase. Some people have suggested this means it can’t be a slur. I find that argument puzzling, since numerous terms which everyone agrees are slurs are abbreviated forms (examples include ‘Paki’, ‘Jap’, ‘paedo’ and ‘tranny’). But in any case, there’s a question about the status of TERF as an acronym. Clearly it started out as one, but is it still behaving like one now?
Read more What makes a word a slur?
I’m beginning to think that men shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion on the sex trade, let alone be in charge of deciding the legislation around it. In the last few weeks we have found out that Keith Vaz is a punter, that the Lib Dems are happy with the idea of prostitution being on the careers curriculum at school, and that Jeremy Corbyn just doesn’t care that much:
“Most important the figure of the witch…in this volume is placed at the center-stage, as the embodiment of a world of female subjects that capitalism had to destroy; the heretic, the healer, the disobedient wife, the woman who dared to live alone, the obeha woman who poisoned the master’s food and inspired the slaves to revolt.” (p.1)
I have just finished reading this fascinating and excellent work.
I am avid enthusiast of the need for the reclaiming of women’s history and the necessity to document and learn about women’s past roles in our history. So it was with excitement that I came across this important work.
Federici gave me an interesting perspective on women’s history as she claims that it is not just about reclaiming women’s hidden history but understanding how women are often at the centre of historical events but their role has been diminished by historical accounts.
Read more Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici – a review at Mairi Voice
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?
Commit to maintaining London’s pioneering Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy.
Women’s groups in London published a ‘manifesto for ending violence against women and girls in the capital,’ recently and sent open letters to Mayoral candidates highlighting the endemic levels of domestic and sexual violence in London, and asking them to make specific commitments on ending female genital mutilation (FGM), on prostitution, on ensuring support services are maintained, and the effective policing of these crimes.
A new ‘mayorwatch’ website, which will track all relevant mayoral and Assembly candidates’ pledges has also been launched.
The manifesto and open letters precede an ‘ending violence against women and girls hustings’ in central London on 12 April, with Sian Berry, Green Party; Yvette Cooper MP for Labour; Stephen Greenhalgh for the Conservatives; Annabel Mullin for the Lib Dems; and Sophie Walker, standing for the Women’s Equality Party, on the panel.
Read more Manifesto on VAWG for London mayor candidates by @newsaboutwomen
It’s not been a great few weeks to be a woman. Against the backdrop of recent allegations of sexual misconduct in politics and a thoroughly sexist Oscars ceremony, Twitter was all a flutter last night as it discovered t-shirts being sold through Amazon with the slogan ‘Keep Calm and Rape Her’. The t-shirts, supplied by company Solid Gold Bomb, contain slogans that are supposedly generated by a computer algorithm with no human input and therefore no human to take responsibility for them. Realizing that there was massive outcry the company said:
“We have been informed of the fact that we were selling an offensive T-shirt primarily in the UK. This has been immediately deleted as it was and had been automatically generated using a scripted computer process running against 100s of thousands of dictionary words.”
So far so good. Twitter then looked closer at Amazon and found t-shirts with the slogan ‘Statistically 9 out of 10 people enjoy gang rape’ supplied by seller CharGrilled.
Even funnier right? Amazon were quick to remove both rape t-shirts and most people thought that was the end of the story. However, they are still selling t-shirts that have the slogans “Keep Calm and Cut Her’ and “Keep Calm and Knife Her’ and a whole host more, again supplied by Solid Gold Bomb.
Is this just random algorithm or something more sinister? If it was random surely you would expect to see all the same verbs applied on the “Keep Calm and … him’ t-shirts, right?
No, because there are no “Keep Calm and …. Him’ t-shirts. This particular joke is reserved for women. Why is that? This must have been a decision made when a human being was programming the algorithm in the first place. Why is ‘Keep Calm and Knife Her’ a funny t-shirt while “Keep Calm and Knife Him’ is not?
You also don’t see t-shirts being the phrase ‘Keep Calm and lynch them’ or ‘Keep Calm and gas them’. Why not? Surely if the random word generating story is true we should see all these options? Imagine the public reaction to those items of clothing. We’d be utterly shocked and appalled and demand they were taken down. The reason they are not up there in the first place is because the people making choices about what words to combine know that, they know that racism and anti-Semitism are not funny and not acceptable. They do not know that sexism and rape culture are not funny.
This is the problem. As some one put it on twitter “Hate crime is only funny when it’s about women”. We still live in a culture where slogans like this can be sold on the assumption that no one will bat an eye. This is rape culture. This is patriarchy.
It’s good news that Amazon are taking action to remove these items. The clothing companies needs to have a word with themselves and investigate what culture they have that allows these ‘jokes’ to slip through. The press also needs to look closer at what passes for excuses. The algorithm story alone doesn’t stack up. Will this be the new excuse, in place of “It’s just banter!” when horrendous sexist and misogynistic comments are made in public? How come, since the eating of the apple, it’s never men’s fault.
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.”