June 29, 2016
Originally published: 07.02.16
Forty-five and still standing. I have made it this far.
So by definition I have survived. Yet, it is only recently that I have come to consider myself a survivor. This is probably common to many of us: reaching that understanding of what happened to us later rather than sooner.
My own story is nowhere near unique, probably not even rare: abused on a regular basis by my maternal grandfather between the ages of five and 11. Repeated trauma, occasionally disclosed, but never responded to.
It can be hard, particularly on a bad day, to say to yourself “I am a survivor”, or even, to use the words of pop goddess Gloria Gaynor, to know “I will survive”. After all I don’t feel like much of a survivor when I am reliving a trauma, in the midst of an anxiety attack, overdosing on attachment despair, feeling deep shame, or hating every label applied to me (including survivor). On those days I feel like a victim.
Read more SWEET SURVIVAL by @anewselfwritten
May 3, 2015
cross-posted from Everyday Victim Blaming
orig, pub. 21.11.15
We have become increasingly concerned about the (mis)use of the word ‘paedophile’, particularly on social media. We wanted to write a short and succinct piece about the problems with using this word, and we’ve referred to Prof Liz Kelly’s piece Weasel Words: Paedophiles and the Cycle of Abuse and the Child & Women Abuse Studies website.
It has become clear that the term ‘paedophile’ is now most commonly used to collectively describe child sexual abusers. It seems to refer to a type of abuser – usually one who is abusing children outside of the familial setting, the ‘loner’ with uncontrollable sexual urges, who appears ‘different’ to others within the community.
One issue with this is the assumption that most abuse takes place outside the family. This is not the case. Children are most at risk from adults who are in a family caring role – usually fathers or step fathers. The description of ‘paedophile’ is a move away from those men we know are most likely to abuse – our fathers, grandfathers, brothers, family friends. They are the men sharing our lives and and this term takes us into the more comfortable place of ‘other’. It presumes a fundamental difference between men who sexually abuse children and ‘ordinary’ men; a difference that does not exist in reality.
The dichotomy of ‘paedophile’ vs ‘ordinary men’ is a dangerous one. Ordinary men are the ones abusing children. Generally, these men do not only have a sexual attraction to children. These men have wives and partners and girlfriends and maintain successful sexual relationships with adults as well as abusing children.
Using the clinical definition of paedophile, that of these men only having a sexual interest in children, stops us looking at strategies of abusers. These strategies are the same regardless of whether the abuser fits the clinical definition. Abusers choose the children they abuse and they make a deliberate attempt not to get caught – they make strategic decisions in order to facilitate abuse. The ‘paedophile’ discourse prevents us from discussing this and also helps the abusers avoid responsibility.
Describing men who sexually abuse children in this way focuses on their ‘deviance’ – an ‘abnormality’, a ‘sickness’. It stops us looking at men’s entitlement, the notions of ownership and we lose the option to talk about choice & responsibility for our own abusive actions. If ‘paedophilia’ is thought of in these terms, we become distracted away from the real issue, which is actually one of ordinariness.
Abusing others is a choice, as is not abusing others. If we use terms that allow abusers to say ‘I can’t help myself’, what does that say about the likelihood of preventing child sexual abuse? Child sexual abusers describe themselves as such; using terms preferred by abusers means we collude by using their language. We must challenge the notions of ownership, sexuality (especially that of men) and ensure that choice and agency of abusers is acknowledged and discussed. Othering them into ‘paedos’ or ‘sickos’ prevents that.
Let us call them what they are – sexual abusers of children or child rapists.
Ending Victimisation and Blame [Everyday Victim Blaming]: This campaign is about changing the culture and language around violence against women and children. We aim to challenge the view that men cannot help being violent and abusive towards women and children. We want to challenge the view that women should attempt to ‘avoid’ abuse in order to not become a victim of it. We challenge media reports of cases of violence against women and children where there is an almost wilful avoidance of the actual reasons for these acts. Power, control, women and children being considered ‘possessions’ of men, and avoidance of personal responsibility all contribute to a societal structure that colludes with abusers and facilitates a safe space in which they can operate. This is what we are campaigning to change. @EVB_Now
December 4, 2014
(Cross-posted from the Arctic Feminist)
There’s been a lot of interesting news on twitter today. Its started my wheels spinning. Ian Watkins (lostprophets) has pleaded guilty to 11 counts of attempted rape of an infant girl. Nigella Lawson’s attacker Charles Saatchi has been given license in the British media to slander her character despite the fact that he was photographically documented brutally assaulting her. Oh and of course Karen Ingala Smith’s project “Counting Dead Women” has been taking off and been at the forefront of my mind.
Whats become even more clear to me is if a woman like Nigella Lawson, who is famous and successful, consistently in the public eye and many women in similar positions are subject to not only the threat of male violence, but to male violence itself, where does that leave women like you and me? We become numbers added to body counts that only exist because some crazy feminist out there thinks our lives matter enough to count.
Its also amazing that we still have people under the impression that being a child rapist is a “sexuality” and that we should all feel sympathy for men who brutalize children. Erasing yet again the damage inflicted upon those who are raped in childhood.
Why do we hesitate to see male violence and the male sex caste for what they are? Why do we not see that there is a war being waged against the female sex that has been going steady for thousands of years and that we are losing, badly? Why do we not see that all women, no matter what they achieve are always under the threat of some man getting to define them (as victim) forever? We desperately need to build communities that function away from men. Refuges for our refugees. We need to stop acting as if all of this is just a misunderstanding and get serious about putting an end to male violence, for good.
The Arctic Feminist: I lazily blog about whatever I want. Always from a radical feminist perspective