Cross-posted from: Feimineach
Originally published: 26.06.15

On the 23rd of June, 2015, the PRISON REFORM TRUST LAUNCHED A REVIEW to examine why children aged 10 to 17 who are in care are more likely to offend than children who are not in care. [1] The Trust acknowledges that the majority of young people in care do not offend or come into contact with the youth justice system; however, “children and young people who are, or have been, in care are over five times more likely than other children to get involved in the criminal justice system.” The Trust continues: “In a 2013 survey of 15-18 year olds in young offender institutions, a third of boys and 61% of girls said they had spent time in care. This is despite fewer than 1% of all children in England being in care.”  The review aims to identify why young people in care are disproportionately represented in the youth justice system and, importantly, how to respond to this problem. 

Justin Trudeau is not a feminist superhero by @LK_Pennington

Cross-posted from: Elegant Gathering of White Snows
Originally published: 12.04.16

Justinjustin-trudeau-yoga_650x400_71459338988 Trudeau is a feminist. We all know this since he says it every single time he’s interviewed. The media is obsessed with this narrative and Trudeau is regularly accused of ‘trolling the internet’ for posting pictures which revel in hyper-masculinity.


Much of Trudeau’s appeal is that he is a conventionally attractive white male who does yoga, charity boxing and loves kids. Almost as much as Barack Obama does. This is not ‘trolling the internet’. It is part of a deliberate campaign of image management – just like every other politician on the planet. David Cameron taking up yoga would not make him a better prime minister – nothing can compensate for the destructive and deeply misogynistic and racist policies that the Tory party has developed. Likewise, an attractive prime minister who enjoys a photo opportunities with babies – of the human and panda varieties – does not automatically guarantee good policies or even a commitment to feminism.
Read more Justin Trudeau is not a feminist superhero by @LK_Pennington

Tory Housing Transformation Nothing more than another attack on the poorest by @JayneLinney

Cross-posted from: Jayne Linney
Originally published: 11.01.16

Sadiq Khan was in yesterday’s Mirror offering his opinion on the Tories “plan to transform sink estates“;  he speaks of how “having a secure and affordable home meant my parents could build a better life for me…”; this was also my experience.

My mum when widowed January 21 1965, was in the process of moving home, with my dad they’d bought a new bungalow  and sold the terraced house they’d lived in for a decade, completing on Saturday 16/01/65. Due to the insurance documents not being signed at the same time, when my dad died of an unknown chronic heart disease on the Thursday, she and I were made homeless.

After two years of ‘making do’ at my grandparents we moved into a maisonette, on a new and at the time, state of the art council estate. Over the past 49 years the same estate has gone from being the flagship for Leicester City Council to so-called sink estate, now surrounded by  iron bars. Yet it was that estate where I grew up, went to grammar school and ultimately university and on to post-grad education.

Read more Tory Housing Transformation Nothing more than another attack on the poorest by @JayneLinney

Why Climate Change Impacts Indian Women More Than Men by @rupandemehta

Cross-posted from: Liberating Realisations
Originally published: 20.12.15

report issued by the World Bank suggests that India’s economic progress could be severely hampered, with an additional 45 million pushed into poverty, due to the effects of climate change. While Prime Minister Modi makes his position clear vis-à-vis developed nations, the government does not appear to be taking enough cognisance of the devastating effects of climate change at home.

Climate change is real and unless serious action is taken there is no way back. There is no plan B and unless our space exploration explodes a million fold and we get extremely lucky, we do not have another planet to call home. So climate change is here to stay and will affect everyone – most of all the marginalised. Within that subset, the vulnerable – women and children – are most likely to see its full-blown effects. Throughout the world, natural disasters and severe weather events tend to impact women more than men. In developing countries, this problem is compounded when several other factors such as malnutrition, inequitable distribution of power and gender roles that are unfavourable to women are added to the mix.
Read more Why Climate Change Impacts Indian Women More Than Men by @rupandemehta

‘This shameful Bill aims to demolish working-class life’

Cross-posted from: Morning Star
Originally published: 04.01.16

GROWING up on a council estate in the early 1970s meant a level of safety that working-class families now can only dream of.

The house I grew up in had been the home of my grandparents and when they died — my coalminer grandad of emphysema and my grandma of heart disease — the tenancy was passed on to my mother.

This provided a safe and secure home that is still in my family’s possession in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, today.

We didn’t “own” this property in the way homes are owned today, but it was our home. We decorated it the way we liked it, we lived in it, we were safe in it. I lived in that council house until I was 19 years old and had my own council tenancy in Nottingham’s inner city with my baby son in 1989 — where I lived until I moved to London in 2013.


Read more ‘This shameful Bill aims to demolish working-class life’

Selling Sex at Rhodes University by @sianfergs

Cross-posted from: Sian Fergs
Originally published: 24.10.15

Originally published as part of a university assignment.

With the price of tertiary education in South Africa being notoriously high, more and more Rhodes University students are turning to the sex industry in order to survive financially.

Like many other students at Rhodes University, Angela* and Lindi*need to work part-time in order to support themselves financially.  But while most of their peers work in local restaurants or shops, Angela and Lindi are sex workers who provide services to Grahamstown’s elite businessmen.

They began doing sex work together in their first year at Rhodes University. “We advertised ourselves as escorts online. It started as a joke, but when we got offers, we thought it could be something worth trying,” Angela says.

From there on, they found sex work to be relatively lucrative and easy work. “We give sex away for free anyway. What’s the harm in being paid?” Lindi reasons. Both of them are currently doing Honours courses. “Our families are not rich and we would struggle to pay for our studies otherwise,” she says.
Read more Selling Sex at Rhodes University by @sianfergs

Austerity at Blues in a Tea Cup

Cross-posted from: Blues in a Tea Cup
Originally published: 12.10.15

I’m never going to forget the smell. This unspeakable blend of stale urine and rotting vegetables. It stings my throat. Clings to the air so thick you think you’ll never get away from it. The street’s uneven. Dirty. Dark as pitch. You can’t see where you’re putting your feet. The day’s debris is strewn everywhere, so you’ve no idea what that squishing on the sole of your shoe might be. The blackness deadens everything, except the smell. The chaos and colour of the market all swallowed up by the night. We speak in whispers, as if we might awaken something unholy. A scrabble and it breaks cover in front of us. Just a rat. The silence is broken though. From the shadows under the abandoned stalls, they emerge. A skinny boy. A girl, the baby on her hip almost as big as she is. Two younger boys. They crowd us. Seize the bread and the coffee, eating as if they’ve not seen food in weeks. They grow louder. The boys jostle and bluster. They flex their muscles and elbow one another aside. The girls hang back and watch the sideshow. A scrap of a girl’s tugging at my coat. She talks in a half-whisper. Rapid. Incoherent. As if our attention’s too brief for her need. She’s drunk. I hear babyDead. Anniversary. She can’t be old enough to have a baby, much less to lose one. Her first one died too, someone says as she melts back into the shadows. I feel sick.

Read more Austerity at Blues in a Tea Cup

J’accuse: Laying Poverty Blame Where It Belongs

Cross-posted from: Development Truths
Originally published: 25.09.15

“How could one hope that a council of war would demolish what a council of war had done?”

– Émile Zola, from J’accuse! – his open letter to Felix Faure, the President of France, 1898.

A lot of people might agree that the United Nations as a concept is a good one – it’s intended to protect human rights, seemingly uphold some sense of ‘universal’ values and strive for some kind of international cohesion. But can an organisation arguably run by the old rich, (largely) white boys club of the West, who do well out of the status quo, really deliver on a commitment to ending poverty and inequality by 2030 with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

Apart from the fact that his hierarchy is completely unfair, unequal, patriarchal, racist and unjust, here are four reasons why I think not:
Read more J’accuse: Laying Poverty Blame Where It Belongs

Get her to an asylum! On Downton Abbey and unmarried mothers. by @sianushka

Cross-posted from: Sian & Crooked Rib
Originally published: 05.10.15

One of the many things that have happened since I moved back into my childhood home is that I’ve been watching TV programmes I had never really engaged with before. Some of it is great (Great British Bake Off! Where had you been my whole life?); some of it less so (why does Nicholas Lyndhurst talk posh in New Tricks?) and some of it is Downton Abbey.

Now, I did watch the first series of Downton Abbey on Netflix, mainly because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. And because of Lady Sybil. I got bored halfway through the second series, however, and increasingly frustrated at the total lack of engagement with class politics by the writers. Downton, I decided, was not for me.

However, I ended up half-watching an episode the other night which featured Lady Edith losing her child at the country fair and then finding her again.

What is this? I asked my mum. Where did this kid come from?

It turns out that Lady Edith had an illegitimate child and then the family gave the baby girl to a local family to look after. However, Lady Edith missed her daughter so much that the family agreed to give her back and now the Downton Abbey family are raising it.

I sat in silence for a moment. I looked at Lady Edith’s frantic expression; the paternalistic glow in Hugh Bonneville’s face as he reunites daughter and granddaughter.

‘They would have put her in an asylum,’ I responded.



Read more Get her to an asylum! On Downton Abbey and unmarried mothers. by @sianushka

Smoking your cigarettes, drinking your brandy. Messing up the bed that you chose together

Cross-posted from: Sian Steans: Thoughts on a page
Originally published: 04.10.15

I am a socialist feminist. In that order. This is because I am a working class woman. Also in that order.

I have been a socialist since I was old enough to understand that I was poor and not everybody else was.

I have been a woman since a dirty fucker flashed his flaccid penis and grey hairy sagging balls at me. When I was in my school uniform. So as a girl child I felt like being a girl is over now for me, best crack on and act like a grown up fairly sharpish.

I have been a feminist since I thought well this shit isn’t on. My brother and me cousins and me mates don’t have this shit on top of everything else we all have.

Working class women fight. We organise. We agitate. We do it for our communities, our families. We often do it seemingly for men. It is not new to us. We know why we fight. Putting the “feminism” on hold for the sake of class struggle is standard. We’ll get to that woman stuff after the revolution or what have you. You all know the type of comrade. Doesn’t mean the work being done isn’t for and about and often times led by women. We know.
Read more Smoking your cigarettes, drinking your brandy. Messing up the bed that you chose together

I’m coming out…………….as Working Class by @psycho_claire

Cross-posted from: The Psychology Super-Computer
Originally published: 09.10.15

There has been a lot of talk on my twitter timeline recently about class. Specifically the tensions of negotiating Middle Class spaces as a Working Class woman; and whilst I don’t intend to add my comments to what’s been happening it has given me the impetus to write this post.

So, this is me, coming out as Working Class: I’m a working class woman, trying to negotiate the very foreign world of academia and I have some thoughts I want to share on this experience.

I grew up on council estates, after my family home was repossessed in the recession in the 1980s because my parents could no longer afford the mortgage. I watched from an upstairs window as my dad argued with the bailiffs when they came to repossess the car. We didn’t have much money when I was growing up. My parents worked in low income jobs and life was tough. At birthdays and Christmas I grew so used to being told “We can’t afford that” that I stopped asking for expensive gifts. I remember one year when I wanted a Ghettoblaster for my birthday, and it nearly broke my parents paying for it.
Read more I’m coming out…………….as Working Class by @psycho_claire

I don’t want this for my children by @mummytolittlee

Mum-blogging often has an air of ‘dinner party’ about it. “No politics, sex, or religion, thank you very much”. But those are 3 of my favourite subjects, damnit. So, at the risk of totally alienating myself, here’s my take on the general election, and why I’m now nervous to be raising my children in this country. Brace yourselves, it’s a bigun’…

As we inched closer to the result of the British general election the days took on a surreal, limbo-like quality. I was distracted, desperate for change, and I genuinely hoped we’d see a cultural shift within government to allow for fairer, more humane politics. As it stands more than 1 in 4 children live in poverty in the UK, and the latest figures from The Trussell Trust show a 163% increase in demand for foodbanks over recent years.  Our loudest political and media voices depict benefits fraud and immigration as the source of Britain’s financial and social problems, and actively dismiss the huge elephant in the room: tax evasion. We have the world’s most billionaires per capita, and our richest 1% has reached giddy new heights, having accumulated as much wealth as the poorest 55% of the population put together. These facts have undoubtedly contributed to Britain becoming the only country in the G7 group of leading economies with worse inequality than at the turn of the century.
Read more I don’t want this for my children by @mummytolittlee

Sitting on the corner of poverty and activism, shouting on by @SianSteans

(Cross-posted with permission from Sian Steans)

This won’t be a post with lots of facts and figures to back up my experience. These things exist and each of us can access google. Some easier than others.

I’m typing this on my daughters iPad. I don’t have broadband or a landline or a PC. When she was approaching her 5th birthday and needed to regularly access mathletics for school I did what all poor parents do and thought long and hard on how I could juggle things to make it happen.

So you can get iPads on contract. Mobile data packages which are less than many broadband and line rental packages. The monthly bill I guess also includes the cost of the thing. So i needed a £100 to pay out initially. Luckily I have an overdraft, a remnant of a time I was slightly less poor. I was already into it but if I took it to close to the limit I could buy it. So I did.

Mathletics has an app plus a website so I was certain the app would be great. Plus my daughter has been playing on iPads since she was 3 because her nursery had them and she loved them there.

Well like much of what is available on mobile sites it’s not the same. Most of the activities are “not available on this platform”. So much for my super plan. Well one day in a tantrum my 5 year old threw her iPad. The screen is now cracked with some cellotape over one side. I’m not paying to get it fixed now because it means weeks of missing out on something else to do it. So she’s not bothered about playing with it as much and I turn it round and round to type and use the Internet because one edge doesn’t work.

But in what world is it normal to think of buying an expensive fragile gift for a young child who will naturally have tantrums from time to time? A world in which the pressures faced by poor women aren’t considered.

I see the truth of this world and how women like me are ignored and I feel I have to do something. I helped with a local women’s conference and the experience made me feel incredibly strong and much like the person I was before my daughter was born, before the years I spent living with her father.

It was the only feminist conference I have attended but it was amazing to be surrounded by women talking about women and not being attacked for that. There was a crèche partly funded from donations. A local activist upset at the Nottingham People’s Assembly not having a crèche donated a little, as did local trade unions. The volunteers who made the conference happen are amazing women. I joined late when they had done most of the hardest parts. They are amazing.

From the conference I took forward a desire to work locally against austerity but with a focus on women. Nottingham has a strong activist community with great work happening particularly against the bedroom tax but myself and a few others felt we needed a women only group to focus on how austerity is especially hurting women.

When one of the women involved in the group Rebecca, found out about the Women’s Assembly Against Austerity she shared it with us and her network Feminist Friends Nottingham (a lovely Facebook group for learning and growing within feminism). 3 of us from Nottingham decided we would go. Many more were interested but London is a long expensive journey and the conference itself wasn’t free (all free tickets had been allocated).

Having managed to get a lift and a place to stay I bought my ticket with a credit card. I’m paid weekly and if I use my debit card on the wrong day I won’t have money for the direct debits I know are due. I’m not the only woman who lives like this.

Rebecca had emailed to ask about a crèche but thee wasn’t a response. I had tweeted from our group account to say how excited we were to be coming but to remind the organisers London is really expensive so perhaps next time it could be held elsewhere. While I appreciated the response that they were aware London is expensive, which is why they were doing lunch for £5 it sort of missed the point. I’d paid for lunch along with my ticket on a credit card because what is a small amount of money to one woman is a large amount to another.

On arrival we signed in and signed up to our workshops. Rebecca and I mentioned to the organisers at the sign up desk that we were disappointed at lack of crèche facilities and that it would be something to have another time. I know how hard it is to put on a conference with little time, money and support so I was amazed at how well they had done. But this was important enough for me to mention it in as nice a way as I could. The response was defensive which is natural but I felt it became slightly hostile. Particularly as the day wore on.

The format of the day was great with much time spent listening to the audience as well as the speakers. I was keen to explain some of the great things happening in Nottingham with women like Becky Kent trying to fight the bedroom tax and winning her mums appeal. Although the chair taking questions from the audience seemed hesitant to allow me to speak. A woman next to me joked it looked as though I’d been blacklisted because I had my hand up pointlessly so often and for so long.

At one point I took the mic once a woman sat right behind me had finished and spoke of my own experience with the benefit system. How problematic it is for separated parents and my fears for women living with controlling partners once Universal Credit is rolled out. I explained that with cuts to services for domestic violence survivors particularly the cuts to specialised BME services it was doubly terrifying. I did speak with more detail about my personal circumstances than I am prepared to do here because I felt it was a very safe space. I was confused and angry by the gestures from the chair, fingers moving around each other while staring at me. I didn’t know if she was supporting me to go on or telling me to hurry up.

In the second workshop I felt immense relief upon hearing Zita Holbourne say what I’d been thinking most of the day. This conference was unaffordable for the women who needed it most. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate it as a first step but it must be that. A step to better,  more inclusive conversations where basic needs of women are the primary focus.

I attended the social and spoke with lots of lovely women. It was great. I had to leave early because some of the women I was with were tired (a long drive will do that, as will being pregnant)  and I had to meet the friend who had found me a place to stay (she lived in London but didn’t come to the conference). The organiser who had chaired the workshops I attended encouraged us to come back later after the two women who wanted to rest had gone home. I thought that was a lovely gesture but a bit odd as for most of the day I had got the impression she didn’t want to hear from us at all.

Returning with my friend Bex was in hindsight not a great plan. Most of the conference attendees had left by this point only a handful of the organisers were there. We stayed for one drink during which I heard some ridiculous things. Intersectionality is a load of bollocks which only matters to about 20 women in the country. Radical Feminists are just lesbian separatists and a bit weird. Strangely enough I heard that caring about individual women would not help change the world and activism isn’t supposed to be wishy washy counselling. Also that I most defiantly am not a Marxist feminist. Lovely to be told what you believe by strangers. Well I figured drunk people will say such things and decided not to stay for another drink. When we got up to say goodbye the woman who had been so keen for me to come back decided it was time to have a tantrum of her own. She didn’t crack an iPad with her tantrum. She shone a light on the cracks in the left, cracks that the woman who need the left most always fall through. I was told I had spent four hours this afternoon attacking her (I’d spoken to her on arrival at reception and for perhaps 45 minutes after the conference had finished including the time at the social). I was shouted at in front of my friend who is not a feminist and was not sold on the idea of being one. The other organisers at the table allowed this to happen suggesting only that this woman was tired and had a little too much wine and didn’t mean it. Also that they weren’t all like that.

I might have believed you weren’t all like that if the slip of paper you wrote your details on was handed to me. The woman who travelled down the country when she couldn’t afford it to attend an event she believed in. But you chose to hand it to Bex. A woman who told you she doesn’t feel especially political, likes to listen but has no interest in being involved and hadn’t committed her time and money to your event.


EDIT 9.45ish 24/2
Just want to clarify this was an overwhelmingly positive day and I met some great women doing great work locally as well as hearing a mixture of great speakers. I do think it should be an event to build from is all. Nothing is perfect but we can always work to make things better, even if we passionately disagree on lots we can usually find some common ground.


Sian Steans: is new to blogging and focuses on impact of austerity on women and intersection of poverty, class struggles and feminism. (@SianSteans)

The Scandal of DWP Silence by @JayneLinney

(Cross-posted from Jayne Linney)

We know from  the official DWP report that between January & November 2011 10,600 disabled people either in receipt of or awaiting benefits died.

Since then the DWP have, despite numerous requests refused to release further updates; we can only speculate their reason why, as we can only surmise just how many more disabled people have since lost their lives?

It is well documented how the ‘Scrounger‘ rhetoric have adversely affected disabled people  and those who are chronically ill, and even Esther McVey – Minister of State for DWP stated she “would not disagree” when it was put to her in October 2013 that “ hundreds or even thousands of people who had died sooner than they should have done, or had a much lower quality of life over their last few weeks or months because of their experience of the WCA.”.

From this we believe it is safe to presume there has been an increase in the number of annual deaths of disabled people in 2012 & 2013; given the loss of life in 2011 was 10,600, even a 2% increase per annum would result in  12,720 in 2012 and a startling 15,264 in 2013. That would give a overall figure of 38,564 deaths over the 3 years the Coalition has been in Government.

Is this shocking statistic what the DWP don’t want us to know?

Jayne Linney: I’m a disabled woman, a life long feminist and Social Activist- I write from a personal perspective, usually about the current Political climate and its affects on disabled people. On Twitter @JayneLinney

Director DEAEP – Social Enterprise ran by & for disabled people