Complaint to Glamour UK

Dear Madam or Sir,

Today, a woman (possibly, of course I have no idea how she identifies) named Kat, reposted Juno Dawson’s contribution to the magazine, where they disparage gender critical feminists as, ‘Terfs’ with a triumphant, “YES”.

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Following that, I, and many women wrote to Kat to tell her we were disappointed that Glamour magazine would use a word which is only ever used today as a slur, and she would continue to repeat it.

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Many women today told of their experiences of the word being used to silence and insult them although Glamour UK, whilst active online, did not respond in any meaningful way, other than telling us that words don’t really mean anything, the fucking idiot. See what I did there?

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Your discrimination policy states that you will not permit disparaging remarks or editorial to be made to groups on the basis of their gender identity or sex.

A summary of the precise problem with the word, and the reason why it is discriminatory is as follows:

  • TERF originated as an acronym some years ago standing for, ‘Trans Exclusive Radical Feminists’, describing a group of feminists who wish to exclude male-bodied people from female-bodied people spaces.
  • The label ‘Trans’ applies to anyone who does not identify with the gender pertaining to their birth sex. Female-bodied people, being ascribed through life the gender class of ‘woman’ according to their birth sex of ‘female’ have suffered, in numbers exceeding any other marginalised group, violent discrimination at a global level, because that gender category is taken to denote an inferior class of citizen to the dominant male class.
  • Therefore, the root of feminism is to reject the application of an inferior gender category and to fight to be liberated from that assumption and the consequences of it.
  • There is no barrier to identifying as, ‘Trans’ – anyone can be trans, on the basis of self-declaration. Important social and legal changes have followed the growing adoption of the term.
  • Given that female-bodied people have suffered extraordinary violence at the hands of male-bodied people over centuries, (precisely because of their sexed bodies that signalled the inferior gender class, and I trust you do not need sources to qualify this point), they have been forced to create safe-spaces for female-bodied people only, from rape crisis centres, to changing rooms, to sex-segregated bathrooms.
  • So it is clear that there is now a case of competing rights. Trans people would like to be seen as their preferred gender, and align that to the sex category they believe it ‘belongs to’. Some feminists, long-schooled in caution if not fear, cannot give primacy to their invisible gender over their visible male-sexed bodies, and do not believe that adopting a new gender – which they reject in any case given the female experience – gives legitimacy to the adoption of the experience or spaces of their oppressed class.
  • Since violence is predominantly committed on a world-wide scale by male bodied people, they have no way of knowing who is, or isn’t violent. Not all TW are violent. But all TW are clearly male-bodied, as this is what the Trans descriptor denotes.
  • For this reason, some feminists asked that TW respect their spaces and hence the term was born.
  • To a feminist however, this TERF acronym was at first baffling – the spaces were to protect from male bodied people!  – and then frightening. A cohort of people adopted the term using violent rhetoric (probably about five years ago) to prevent feminists from drawing any boundaries between the sexes.
  • However, and most pertinently to this argument, the use of the word has radically changed over the past three years, not only in breadth of usage, but semantically. It has now been adopted as an insult to women who:
      1. Maintain that there are male and female sex categories
      2. Argue that patriarchy is rooted in the oppression of female people by male people
      3. Argue that only female-bodied people have the potential to give birth, whether or not they do
      4. Argue that female-bodied people suffer assault, degradation and discrimination because their bodies are sexed female
      5. Sometimes, especially following rape or assault, request the need for female only spaces
  • TERF is now used only as violent rhetoric. Its etymology forgotten; all that matters now is how it is deployed.
  • To understand how this word is commonly deployed, please check www.terfisaslur.com
  • Another precaution in determining whether or not this is a harmful or harmless term is to try to find one single woman who is happy with this label being applied to her as a descriptor of her beliefs and to defend its current usage in regards to them. I defy you to find one, anywhere.
  • TERF is now only used as a discriminatory slur to alienate specific groups of women who articulate the bullet points numbers 1 to 5 above or express concerns over society’s fixation with gender norms. They are silenced, they are abused, they are hounded on the internet and they receive death threats each and every day. Vitally, the term is only ever applied to women, making it sex-specific.I find this discriminatory to me, as a woman, in terms of right to not suffer discrimination.
  • Despite an editorial position which clearly states, under heading 12. Discrimination that, “The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.”, the magazine has continued to defend its usage.
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Ted Heath, Jonathan King and the role of The Spectator(s).

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August 2015

Please read the following before forming any opinion, sharing on Twitter, or other social media sites. You may now turn over your paper.

Case Study A

There are allegations against a series of people and those allegations are that they took part in illegal activities some decades ago. The alleged crimes had victims, who are still alive today.

The crimes were fraud, war crimes, embezzlement, tax avoidance, libel, property theft, and medical misconduct.

The police have announced they will be investigating these allegations and if warranted, passing on the evidence to the country’s independent judiciary system.

This is known as a formal investigation.

Case Study B

There were once allegations against a series of people and those allegations were that their personal beliefs were at odds with the prevailing state doctrine.

The alleged activities resulted in no individual victims. The crimes were socialism, communism and homosexuality.

Members of the state senate secretly investigated the allegations, or in totalitarian states, members of the armed forces or police.

Executions or expulsions from society were carried out.

This is known as a witch hunt.

Case Study C

There are allegations against a former Conservative Prime Minister, who was a distinguished statesman, an exceptional yachtsman, and respected public servant. The alleged crimes had victims, who are still alive today.

The crime was sexual abuse of children.

The IPCC have announced they will be investigating these allegations and Wiltshire Police have reopened their enquiries into claims of abuse by the former Prime Minister.

If warranted, they will pass on the evidence to the country’s independent judiciary system.

This is known as a formal investigation into police corruption and sexual abuse claims.

Question: Which case does case study C most closely resemble? Extra marks are available if you can strike out the irrelevant words in C’s first paragraph.

The Spectator today published convicted paedophile Jonathan King to make the case for Heath not being gay; (presumably next week they will publish Max Clifford’s claim that Ted Heath wasn’t a Celebrity Publicist who drove a yellow car either, followed up by Rolf Harris’ assertion that he was crap at painting Australian landscapes. Frankly, that would be less bafflingly irrelevant.)

Having randomly* asking a convicted paedophile to comment on an alleged paedophile’s level of attraction towards him, (King presumably waived his fee in favour of six unedited paragraphs of excruciatingly pathetic self-congratulation) The Spectator then put the emphasis firmly on the, ‘shit’ in ‘shit or bust’ by allowing him to comment on the emerging and overdue culture of victim belief being a start point in sex abuse investigations – just as it is in literally every other single crime under the sun.

“That was when I became aware of the sex abuse allegations industry. I could not believe that one could be accused, arrested, charged and eventually convicted for crimes, when there was no evidence that they had ever taken place… The sex abuse allegations industry has exploded. Whether genuine misunderstandings and adapted memories over the passage of time or a desire for sympathy and attention, cash reward, delusions or simple exaggerations, it is far preferable if the celebrity is dead or incapacitated.… …the vast majority are clearly misunderstandings, inspired by drink or drug use or simply never going to be able to be proved.”

This is not part of a ‘sex abuse allegation industry’ as King revoltingly calls it. This is not a witch hunt.

For the media to continue to draw a parallel between the alleged rape of children and the subjects of 20th Century persecutions – political beliefs and sexual preferences – reveals that for many, paedophilia should be considered more a private past time than a violent crime and any investigation into allegations of it be seen as a gross invasion of that privacy.

There are no such thing as Schrodinger’s crimes, as King would have us believe, where the fact that they are difficult to prove, carried out behind closed doors, in dark and in secret means they didn’t happen. Clue, Jonathan. Many crimes are committed in secret. That’s why we have people called, ‘detectives’ working in the police force.

Also, living with shame, moving house endlessly to avoid attention from fans or the press, coping with emotional, physical and mental health issues over a life time is not the huge motivating factor you think it is in bringing a claim to the police.

Similarly, unconsensual sex when consent is unable to be provided (such as being under the influence of drink or drugs) is rape. I know you’ve been gone a while, but the internet is now widely available.

Finally, to feel more empathy for the person being investigated, rather than potential victims shows an entrenched set of values that still centres white, middle and upper class adult males over any other set in society. And when I say, ‘centres’, I mean no one else is on the page.

This is a formal investigation into alleged crimes and corruption. This is not a witch hunt.

*We know it wasn’t random. We know the Spectator subtext here is that homosexuality is paedophilia-lite. We didn’t come down in the last shower.

Owen Jones’s Diary

Feminists Unknown's Blog

Feb 17th 2015

RTs: 150

New followers: 34

Dissenting tweets: 57 – v v bad

PANTS! Been asked to write a thing on Stonewall starting to represent trans people. NO IDEAS WHATSOEVER! Could always talk to trans people, I suppose, but had plans to watch some telly and hook up with Russell Brand later, which doesn’t leave much time for research… Just had an idea! Do you think anyone would notice if I pretended the drag queens who faced down the police during the Stonewall Riots were actually trans? Nah, it’d be fine, wouldn’t it, especially if I dropped in a bit of random TERF-bashing as a distraction technique (note to self: google all mentions of “female biology”). Should get it written in no time. God, I AM A FUCKING GENIUS.

Feb 18th 2015

RTs: 675

New followers: 103

Dissenting tweets: 392 – v v v bad

Cleaner late again. Thinking of sacking her. It’s…

View original post 874 more words

It’s not naive, sexist OR stupid to say, ‘I believe her’.

The Presumption of Innocence is a cherished principle of the British people, embedded in the national consciousness as a (near) constitutional right; a bedrock upon which all criminal justice procedures have been built. Early Islamic and Roman scholars introduced the idea to British common law maintaining that, ‘the proof lies upon the one who affirms, not the one who denies, since, by the nature of things, he who denies a fact cannot produce any proof’. You can’t prove a negative: innocent until proven guilty. The French distilled into law that the burden of evidence must be on the State, since most people are, after all, not criminals.

Giving the benefit of the doubt to the accused, therefore, has both moral and empirical validity. Because of this, we extend this presumption outside of the courtroom. We quote it to each other, we warn gossips who talk of, ‘no smoke without fire’, that we must keep an open mind. So whilst it is a legal concept, it has currency in how we shape our thoughts, our media reporting, our opinions, our voting: our culture. However, precisely because the crime of rape is different to other crimes, uncritical adherence to the principle creates an issue we need to at the very least be aware of, and arguably, should actively correct.

Most crimes start from the position that a malicious act has undeniably happened. The first step in a burglary, murder, mugging, fraud or car-theft, is to catch the perpetrator; the house is ransacked, the person shot or beaten, the bank account empty. When we extend the presumption of innocence to an alleged perpetrator in this instance, it revolves around whether we believe he or she carried out the accepted crime. Do we have the right person here? When the crime happened, was that person in the vicinity? Do they have a motive? Did they leave forensic evidence? Until the police investigation has taken place, the CPS have agreed to bring the case to trial and a jury of twelve men and women have decided beyond reasonable doubt that this person indeed is the perpetrator, we accord them the presumption of innocence. In short, first the crime is established, then the presumption of innocence is accorded to the suspect.

Rape is different. Since the definition of rape is to force a person to have penetrative sex against their will, there is often either no evidence, or ambiguous evidence that a crime has happened at all. The test is whether consent was given or withheld – a moment in time which is neither recorded, nor possibly remembered. The presence of semen could be the result of consensual sex, as could bruises. Any amount of force used could have been consensual – as internet-weary adults we know that if you can imagine a sexual act, there’s a group of people who enjoy it, no matter how deviant it seems. So with rape, as the crime is different, so is the sequence of events and reactions following its report. A rape victim asserts she was raped and names the alleged perpetrator, since in the majority of cases he is known to her. Extending the presumption of innocence to him at this point has an (almost) unique ramification. We presume he is innocent of the rape she says happened.  Therefore, in doing so, we simultaneously presume no crime occurred. 

This is where extending the presumption of innocence to him conflicts with how we view her at the moment in time where the case is reported. Thus, unlike the majority of other criminal cases; his beneficial state of presumed innocence has a direct, negative impact on hers – not judicially yet, but socially. Make no mistake however – this is not without dramatic cost to her life, health, reputation and potentially even the verdict further down the line. More so, it can perpetuate a culture in which women are permanently disadvantaged. So, unlike the majority of other criminal cases, this brings a tangibly larger burden to the victim. She has to fight two battles now, in the court of public opinion as well as the criminal court – one to prove this aggressor committed a crime and concurrently to prove that she isn’t a liar. She is two points down. Her aggressor is at worst one point down – he only needs the court of opinion to believe he’s not lying..and in court, he need do nothing at all. That burden is on the State.

I said this state of affairs is almost unique. That is because there are of course other crimes that leave little evidence, or rely on a difference of opinion or intent (eg regarding consent) or one person’s word against another’s. Fraud is notoriously difficult to prove – did the salesman mislead the victim behind closed doors when he sold her a policy she actually didn’t need?  Did my car really get stolen, or was I committing insurance fraud? No one doubted my word when I simply said it was missing. Because there are two vital dissimilarities: Firstly, we, in society, readily accord the victims of these crimes the presumption of innocence when we discuss them or report on them. There is no suspicion that the bankrupt widow is lying about not needing that policy, or the irritated middle-aged woman drove her own car off Beachy Head. We were flabbergasted when the kidnapping of Shannon Matthews turned out to be a fraud orchestrated by her parents for financial gain. It took a long operation of surveillance to convince people that Alan Knight was pretending to be in coma to receive extra benefits.

Our starting position was one of belief. Why is this? Possibly because rape is still viewed as a spectrum, with, ‘rape rape’ at one end – down an alley, at knifepoint – and, ‘risky’ sex at the other…a drunken encounter that goes wrong, a woman who usually likes rough sex changes her mind at the last moment, etc. The other crimes are binary in our collective minds – we can clearly see who is right, and who is wrong and we identify with the obvious victim. With rape, despite the fact that it IS as binary in definition as any other crime, the prevailing sense of, ‘degrees’ of rape, (a hangover perhaps from only very recent changes in the law that outlawed marital rape, court cases we all know where the victim was told she was, ‘asking for it’ because she wore a short skirt, current campaigns which tell you how to, ‘not’ get raped, rather than ‘not’ to be a rapist) mean our culture sees the crime as virtually an occupational hazard of living in society with men.

Secondly, these cultural anomalies above weren’t created randomly. They are the result of a profoundly patriarchal society where for millennia men have made the decisions, run the institutions held the power and had an unquestionable right to sex, how, where and when they want. In a world where prostitution is treated as a leisure industry, men’s orgasms are accorded a validity which one day may even attract its own trading index. If a woman is used by a man to orgasm, it’s how the world turns. From Shaggy singing, ‘It wasn’t me’, to Vicomte de Valmonte, ‘It’s beyond my control’ – men can’t help it, especially powerful men. Therefore, if a man’s reputation is ruined, as the hapless victim of a strong libido and the present incumbent of all power, it’s catastrophic. We will sacrifice the woman to preserve this natural order – witness the sympathy towards Ched Evans, the rapist, compared to his victim.

So, the victim isn’t two down to her aggressor’s one. She’s scores of points down. Her handicap is off the scale. Proving she’s not lying is to swim upstream, against the vast undercurrent of socialisation that favours the man’s position and excuses the act of rape. She’s not so much on the back foot, as not in the race – a place that many women choose to remain rather than compete against impossible odds. Too few women are reporting rape and those that do face a flattening wave of disbelief, aggression, suspicion and malice to progress past the first step. Consider a world where this tweet would have been posted in response to a as yet un-investigated claim of fraud, or medical malpractice.  (‘Jackie’ is the UVA student who alleges gang rape).

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Or a world where a woman who claims a famous footballer stole her car has to move house three times and change her identity, such is the backlash of hate and violence against her.  Or a world where a crime which attracts such low rates of false accusations (0.62%*, and a proportion of these were from women suffering from mental health issues) but the media, including the BBC, continue to report it at best in legally inaccurate terms

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and at worst openly assert the victim is lying. You can’t. It wouldn’t happen. Police read papers. Jury member are normal workers who talk in the office. Our legal system is exposed to the same cultural forces as you or me.

So a social presumption of either innocence or guilt has importance. It indirectly but definitively contributes to the judicial process, given that the process is managed by impressionable, fallible humans. I believe in assertive action to correct cultural wrongs which are too slow to correct themselves – women are being failed, suffering breakdowns, letting rapes go unreported and therefore putting their future health and wellbeing at risk, and at times, are driven to committing suicide.

When rapes go unreported, other women are raped. The status quo cannot be accepted. I believe there is a valid political position to occupy in loudly and firmly stating, ‘I believe her’ at the moment she reports assault. I believe the media should receive mandatory training and advice in believing victims, as should juries and the police. I believe women deserve to be supported and believed from the moment they state a rape occurred, to when it is reported in the press, to when it comes to court. This is in no way incompatible with the notion of a thorough investigation and trial- it is a start point, not an end point. This is a cultural adjustment which is long overdue and statistically extremely low risk.  If the CPS can prove the rape did occur – that is their job and they must do it. But just like the accused, the raped woman can’t prove a negative either. She can’t prove she isn’t lying about the absence of consent. The principle was founded on the belief that most people aren’t criminals, and that has to go for her too. She desperately and immediately deserves the presumption of innocence.

I believe her.

 

March 2015.

The Select Committee is proposing that those accused of rape are granted anonymity at arrest, pre-charging. This will prevent police collecting adequate evidence to charge, as no other women will know to come forward. Most rapists rape multiple times. If they’re not charged, they will keep on raping and existing victims will see no justice. No other crime, other than those committed by minors demands anonymity. Remember – being raped is worse than being asked if you raped.

Please sign the petition and write to your MP.

http://everydayvictimblaming.com/activism/please-email-your-mp-re-anonymity-for-suspects-in-rape-cases/

BBC: Be the language expert you say you are.

I heard a fascinating piece on the PM show on Radio 4 last week about an internal English Language department, staffed by a handful of linguistic experts. Their job is to ensure the BBC’s published and broadcast news maintain high standards of grammatical accuracy and a consistently impartial, authoritative yet approachable tone of voice
across its multiple channels.

There was a fun segment where the head of department took Eddie Mair to task over a slip between the usage of ‘among’ rather than, ‘amongst’. Minutes of prime broadcasting time were spent examining this quirk and we all nodded along, pleasingly distracted from the tedious rush-hour traffic.

I liked this piece because I love linguistics. I love it because language changes the paths of life. It is the vehicle upon which we load all the meaning we wish to communicate, before sending it out into the world. From parental ‘phone calls in Mandarin, love-letters in Swahili, to testimonies in a Dutch court, the choice of words matters; sometimes it matters dramatically. (Derek Bentley’s tragically ambiguous, ’Let him have it’; Kennedy’s near diplomatic slip, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’.)

We know this. The BBC knows this, that’s why they (we) fund a department to ensure the news they impart reaches our ears, eyes and brains with all meaning intact, authentic pronunciations of difficult, rare or foreign words perfected, and a neutral perspective which allows us, the recipient of the news, to come to our own individual, personal value judgements.

Despite all political persuasions accusing the BBC of bias, their Mission Statement remains,

To enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.” And to do this, “independently, impartially and honestly’.

Moreover, they promise, to, ‘respect each other and celebrate our diversity so that everyone can give their best.’

Language sets the culture. We no longer say, ‘coloured’ people, because that was the term of Apartheid South Africa and carries with it connotations of oppression. In the seventies however, it was seen as a perfectly legitimate term and confusingly for people for whom English is not a first language, appears quite lexically near to, ‘People of Colour’. But culturally they are miles apart; the abbreviation, ‘coloureds’ was dehumanising, the noun has become redundant. The BBC will have updated their style guide accordingly.

Why then, are they incapable of taking advice from other groups – not minority groups here, but MAJORITY groups; just as there are more POC on the planet than white people, there are more women than men – and adapt language referring to the oppression of women and girls?

Witness today’s headline, ‘Bristol Sex Gangs Jailed for Grooming Girls’.

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When you read the word, ‘sex’, your eyes process the symbols, S E X and your synapses fire off images and connotations. They will include; interest (because sex is interesting to human beings), maybe even some sexual interest, (let’s face it – sex with young women, often called, girls, looms large in our cultural stimulus), and a degree of normality. It’s no big deal! People have sex. We see it on the telly, we read about it in our daily newspaper, we may have had it ourselves last night.

But. The girls are girls – real girls – for once the term is being used accurately. They are underage.

Therefore, legally they cannot consent to sex. Therefore, it is rape.

Rape is nothing to do with sex. Rape is a non-consensual act of power, in the vast, vast majority of cases from an empowered male over a subjugated female. It is an act of violence and oppression. It is under-reported, socially stigmatising, but can ruin a woman’s life. The girls were raped. They weren’t, ‘groomed for sex by gangs’, they were raped by multiple perpetrators.

If you use the wrong words, you create the wrong connotations, you alter behaviour. This diminishes an act of terror in the eyes of the BBC’s readers. These readers are law-makers and enforcers. They are the policeman a girl runs to after a rape, a member of staff at the hospital carrying out the rape examination, a person at the CPS evaluating whether to bring a case, a jury member settling down to come to a verdict.

Take your resources, BBC and divert them to listening to survivors of violence against women and girls and to women’s groups. Tell the Language Department to re-write the language of abuse. Stand them down from arguing over, ‘less and fewer’, ‘while and whilst’ and uphold your mission statement for the sake of the millions of women who fund your entire organisation.

Eskimos, Snow and a Hundred words for, ‘Dead Women’.

 Popular folklore has it, that Eskimos have a hundred words for snow, and the Sami speakers of Norway have over a thousand words for, ‘reindeer’.

Snow and reindeer are culturally important to them, so we are very ready to believe this. As it turns out, the Inuits actually make artful use of suffixes attached to the pivotal word, ‘snow’ to reach that famous number; ‘fallen-snow’, ‘falling-snow’, ‘melted-snow,’ being the resulting compounds.

The suffix or prefix, ‘man’ in compounds was gender-neutral in Early English and stood for, ‘human-being’; consider antiquated uses of, ‘every-man‘ instead of, ‘everybody’, ‘no-man’ for ‘nobody’ and, ‘wiffman’ for, ‘wife-person’, the root of the word, ‘woman’. However, it gradually and irreversibly assumed the male gender, largely because it was also used in professions only carried out by men, ‘businessman’, ‘fisherman’, ‘chairman’, and so on. (Feminists of course have battled to accelerate the evolution of language in line with social changes that see women performing in an equal capacity in these positions, usually in the face of a Daily Wail of politicalcorrectnessgonemad.)

Reading the papers these last few months, I wonder if ‘Man’ still stands for ‘Human Being’, and ‘Human Being’ is still represented by, ‘Man’, and ‘Man’ alone.  Maybe our genetic memories are strong, or maybe the congruence of language with social realities is just too powerful to break. And, for reasons no thinking person should need spelling out to them, maybe there’s just no desire to.

Pistorius shot dead a woman. Here is how the media reported it:

Reeva Steenkamp is a bikini-clad blonde lover, Pistorius’s blonde, defined by him. Meanwhile – his manly essence is immutable, central to the compounds he can, ‘own’.

Pistorius Slays Blonde The Sun: Oscar Pistorius front pageTime

John Lowe shot two women – mother and daughter, Christine and Lucy Lee. Here is how the media reported it:

Headline 2copy of Get SurreyPuppy Farm 2

Here, quite simply, the women take second billing to the dogs.

Finally, (IF ONLY! More than two women a week are murdered by men, as you know, but as few media outlets seems to care), Rurik Jutting murdered two women in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong 1 Hong Kong 2a Hong Kong 3

The crime was referred to as either, ‘sex murders’ or, ‘killing two prostitutes’ across the majority of the media.

In the following days, as the headlines give way to, ‘analysis’, we have learnt about, the killers’ ‘women’.  Linguistically, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is fascinating – the women are finally granted their rightful definition…so long as they pertain to the man, as his one-time possession.

Pistorius's womenRJ's women 2

Ask yourselves this: Do you remember ever reading an exposé of Rosemary West’s ex-boyfriends, or Maxine Carr’s, or even Myra Hindley’s?

No, because they are the satellite moons, not the central, burning star. They only existed in the orbit of the man and have no history of their own.

Women are transient beings, existing only in relation to the men who date them, own them and kill them.

We don’t have an immutable essence that grants us permanency in language. Words aren’t constructed round our vital being. Anyone can identify as a woman, simply by saying, ‘I feel it’.

Women aren’t synonymous with human beings.

We don’t need a hundred words for, ‘woman’. Just one will do.

Now can we get on to the bloody point? A list of 21 Feminist (really) FAQs.

I’ve recently become knackered with having the same arguments, with the same types of people, about the same points regarding Feminism.

Now, I’m not an expert, other than I come equipped with reproductive parts and therefore a propensity to get accidentally oppressed, but many other women are. They have studied and worked in the boggy, mine-covered field of feminism for years. And yet they are having to constantly re-tread the last 100 steps of the argument each time they want to begin to think about possibly tabling a motion to draw up an agenda for a meeting to scope out a workshop for the 101st flipping point.

And that workshop involves either a) having to achieve, ‘buy-in’ from all the men who will assume it’s their workshop (please see Ally Fogg’s entire body of work to illustrate this point) or b) watch your point get stolen from one of them. (consider how these women felt. Or the women who campaigned against the Rochdale sex-abuse cover-up before the male journalist ‘uncovered’ it. etc etc etc).

It’s taking too long and whilst we dick* about doing this, society is going to hell in a handcart. I’m not going to say, ‘women are suffering’, because I presume if you’re reading this, you’re as yet unconvinced. And even if you are convinced, it’s actually more than the women who suffer. The men who love them suffer. The men who don’t want to be cast into roles they don’t identify with suffer. But yes. Mainly it’s the women. So I’ll round up from AT LEAST 51% of the population to the nearest 100. Ok?

So, why the need to keep making the same points? If it affects over half the population, surely it’s self-evident? Let’s have a go.

The point of feminism is to liberate women from a patriarchal system that oppresses them, through relegating them to the subordinate ‘gender’.

Or, colloquially – males get to build and run the world, women get fucked and make the sandwiches.

And here we get to the rub.

‘Not all men!’

‘What about Margaret Thatcher?’

‘Just give it up. You’ve got equality. What more do you want?’

‘Some women like getting heckled in the street!’

‘Men die younger!’

And so, women again get worn down, repeating, repositioning, reframing the same arguments, and occasionally winning small** battles when the sheer logic of the argument, or the lack of any visible drawback leaves detractors nowhere to go. (Mothers’ names on marriage certificates is a good example here.)

But mostly, the battles are not won. We don’t have gender equality in the workplace** yet. We are suffering towering rates of sexual violence. We are being killed at a rate of more than two a week. Our girls are having their genitals mutilated. We aren’t anywhere near represented in the media, arts, politics, financial institutions or any other which shapes our lives.

But despite these injuries, we have to suffer the insult of explaining, not our methods for righting these wrongs, but THE FACT THAT WE EVEN WANT TO RIGHT THEM.

So. Given that we live in a gender-orientated world, I’m going to write this in the style I’ve been socialised to believe will appeal to my target audience – men. That’s right – it’s a list. If you like, it’s a list a bit like a takeaway menu.

And women – from now on, just quote a number on it and save your energy. We’ve got stacks to do.

FAQs

1 ‘Not All Men’
  • Thank you for pointing out that 49% of the population aren’t identical in characteristics. (This is actually something quite close to our hearts so it’s great you’re on board with that principle)-
  • ‘Men’ here is being used as a class; the dominant, global class.
  • ‘Redheads tend to burn’. ‘Long-legged people are good at long jump’. ‘Lions kill people’. Not the ones wearing SPF100, on crutches or that nice one called Christian that the gay chaps in the 70s reared. Respectively. Hope you get the point.
2 ‘Men don’t run the world. What About Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel or Hillary Clinton?’
  • These women succeeded in a man’s world. In so doing, they saw very little of their children, live(d) with their appearance being constantly under scrutiny, suffered misogyny in the press and every day at work and are quoted constantly exactly as you have, precisely because they’re not the norm.
  • This was this year’s Nato summit. Tell me if you spot anything unusual. Anything at all.

nato-4september-2014

3 ‘You’ve got equal rights. What more do you want?’
  • Despite legislation, there is still a 17.5% pay gap, only 7 of 150 elected heads of state in the world are women, and only 11 of 192 heads of government.
  • See here for why it matters and if you struggle with making connections between bad things and bad feelings.
4 ‘Page 3 models are celebrating their bodies. Why shouldn’t they? Good luck to them.’
  • Some women do choose to do naked or topless modelling or films and that is indeed their choice. But IMO, in a patriarchal, celebrity driven society some of them choose this because they believe the path to self-worth to be paved with sexy intentions and that’s a shame, in many ways.
  • Also, sexy pics don’t exist in a vacuum. They’re in Tesco, your garage, the office wall. Which is why my five year old cried in the supermarket that she was worried what she’d do if she didn’t grow big boobs. Tell me that’s ok, then tell me where you live and I’ll come round and punch you.
5 ‘Violence isn’t gendered. What about men who get abused?’
  • Some men are abused by women. Many, many, many, many, many more women are abused by men. That’s the fact of it, and that’s what we mean by saying, ‘it has a gender bias.’
  • 43,869 sexual offences were recorded by police in England and Wales in 2011/12.
  • In the same year:
    • 96.7% of cautions issues for sexual offences were to males
    • 98.2% of prosecutions for sexual offences were against males
    • 99% of convictions for those found guilty of sexual offences were male

If you don’t like these facst, take it up with the Police, the CPS, the ONS or really knock yourself and take it to the UN. You’ll hear the same story.

  • Violence against women has been called “the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world.” Accordingly, the Vienna Human Rights Conference and the Fourth World Conference on Women gave priority to this issue, which jeopardizes women’s lives, bodies, psychological integrity and freedom.
  • An extremely pertinent blog by expert Karen Ingala Smith summarises these facts. She works in this field, day in, day out. You probably don’t. So have a look here.
6 ‘Don’t say you’re under-represented on telly. What about Loose Women?’
  • For every female character on a British TV show, there are 2 men. 7% of British Film Directors are women. Over 70% of the performances at Glastonbury are men. Women make up less than 30% of the news stories. (source here). Your point about Loose Women is a really shite one.
  • Using US figures, In 2013-14, women comprised 27% of all individuals working as creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography. This represents a decrease of 1 percentage point from 2012-13. Full report here

 

7 ‘Why are you so obsessed with, ‘genitals’??’
  • Misogyny against women has always been rooted in a simultaneous disgust in our reproductive, ‘ways’ (Periods. Gross. Go squat in a wood) and an overbearing propensity to control them. (Consider chastity belts to vanishing abortion rights. Get your hands off my uterus. It’s mine).   Furthermore, certain genitals have been used to rape us, from partners exerting control, to the calculated use in warfare. If I may be so bold – it’s not us who’s obsessed with genitals. It’s fucking you lot.
8 ‘You are though. That’s why you’re horrible to Trans Women.’
  • There is no justification to be horrible to another human being trying to navigate their way as best they can through a system that prioritises Masculinity.
  • And there is also no justification in denying point 7 above – it’s unacceptable to disallow an oppressed group to describe their oppression, or to name it in their own language. Many decent people recognise that we are dealing with the overlapping circles of a Venn Diagram with both parties dealing with common oppressions and also those particular to their group.
9 ‘Why are you obsessed with language? It’s just words. Ffs.’
  • Is language the parent of thought or the child? i.e. Can you actually think anything at all without silently imagining the word to go with it? Think of this (sorry):

JC-1

  • You thought of a name. Or possibly a word. Either way, you can’t think without language. It is the Parent of Thought. If language impacts thought, it impacts behaviour. A woman, ‘chairman?’ How funny. Of course it’s funny – you have been conditioned to believe people who chair meetings are men. So if you don’t mind, we would like to be represented in a way that’s accurate. Accuracy’s good, right? So could we possibly avoid things like, ‘man power’, (reinforces that it’s men who do the heavy lifting) ’‘bird’ or, ‘chick’ for woman, (fluffy, compliant), and, whilst I’ve got you, ‘gash’? (see point 7 then have a fucking word with yourself)
10 ‘Why can’t men be feminists?’
  • Because you can’t. Ok? Listen to Sociologist Dr Brian Klocke. He seems to get it. “Although I believe that men can be pro-feminist and anti-sexist, I do not believe we can be feminists in the strictest sense of the word. Men, in this patriarchal system, cannot remove themselves from their power and privilege in relation to women. To be a feminist one must be a member of the targeted group (i.e a woman) not only as a matter of classification but as having one’s directly-lived experience inform one’s theory.”
  • Yeah. LIVED EXPERIENCE. Just like I can’t be left-handed or asthmatic but only want good things for the people who are. Be supportive. Just don’t try to own it. You’ve got everything else, ffs.

 

11 ‘Why can’t you respect Sex Workers? You’re trying to control female sexuality (you frigid bitch, delete as applicable)’
  • Sex-work, or prostitution, is what some women do. Some choose to do it, many are forced into it. Feminists respect all these women – they are women battling their way through a set of disadvantages which is the lot of the subordinate gender of this world.
  • Criticising an industry which commoditises women’s bodies, and a culture which accepts this as part of life’s rich tapestry is entirely different to telling women how to express their sexuality. Obviously.
12 ‘Yes but men are hardwired to be hunter gatherers. Women are biologically pre-set to raise babies’. Three points.

  1. The battle still rages over whether male and female brains are different. However, as this chap helpfully points out, “Although a study of brain scans has an air of biological purity, it doesn’t escape from the reality that the people having their brains scanned are the product of social and cultural forces as well as biological ones.” So unless you put two sample groups in hermetically sealed boxes, away from all cultural influences, we’ll never know.
  2. Gender studies have often focused on diverse cultures to demonstrate that when gender roles are reversed, everyone does fine thank you very much.
  3. It’s bloody 2014! Even if you believe that our brains are different, even if you question the methodology that seems to prove gender roles can be reversed, we no longer hunt and gather, do we? Nor do we knock out a babby every year until the blessed menopause arrives. We use knives and forks to eat our food. We drive around in cars, wearing nice clothes. We sit in offices and stare at screens. Yeah. Can really see why splitting hairs over chromosome differences in a handful of neural nerve-endings is so vital here. Stop trying to assign an innate essence to everything and consider how you could probably bring up a chimp to behave like a girly girl, given enough pink toile, Claire’s Accessories and X Factor.
13 ‘Why are you bothering with (insert campaign) when FGM is going on in this country?’
  • You know that broken window you’ve got upstairs? Leave it. It’s not that important when you’ve got the whole of the downstairs to replaster and paint.

 – But the elements are getting in!

–  Don’t worry about that, you daftie! You’ve got floors to lay, walls to strip, pipes to re-route.

–   But now it’s all wet in there and everything’s gone to shit!

–   Yeah.

 

14 ‘You get it easy! I’d like to have drinks bought for me, doors held open, the opposite sex lusting after me!’
  • Unequal pay,
  • Unequal access to education
  • A lack of reproductive choices
  • Political non-representation
  • FGM
  • Rape culture
  • Perpetual threat of violence
  • Fewer life opportunities…

Fancy swapping?

15 ‘Oh come on. A wolf whistle in the street is flattering!’ Oy darling! Nice tits!        OY. DARLING! What’s got up your nose? Fucking bitch. Old too. You should be gratefulFuck you. You deserve to be given a good seeing to. Take that look off your face.Not exactly Mr Bingley courting Jane Bennett, is it.
16 ‘You’re taking it all too personally. Don’t get so overemotional.’ –          See 14. Then stfu.
17 ‘Oh God. You’re not a feminist are you? A grumpy man-hater?’
  • Here’s something that is so bloody obvious yet seems to defeat a ton of men. Loads of feminists are mothers. (because that’s when the disadvantages go next level. Believe me.)
  • About half of these, statistically, will be mothers to boys. They probably had those boys after sex with their male partner. Before ringing their Dads to tell them the news.
  • Before getting married, it is highly likely they shagged other men and quite enjoyed it.
  • Lesbian feminists do not get a free pass either. They often have fathers, sometimes sons too. Maybe brothers! And maybe, male friends.

This is a goddamn lazy argument that makes fuck all effort to engage with the points in number 14. Only in a deeply sexist society would women campaigning for equality be described as, ‘man-hating.’

Fuck off.

18 ‘Why won’t you call yourself cis? It’s just a word. It’s Latin! It means, ‘over here’. It just means you identify with your gender assigned to you at birth! Do you object to, ‘heterosexual’ as well?’
  • Cis is indeed a Latin word which means the opposite of trans (over here vs over there)
  • Point one – before smugly telling a feminist that, consider the possibility that she has studied languages and maybe even understands Latin.
  • Then, consider the point that she is a feminist and therefore has an uneasy relationship with the gender she was assigned at birth. By fucking definition. Her sexed body – hopefully not. Her ‘gender’ – the set of social demands and expectations that automatically put her below the male class because she has a vagina (see point 7 again – this is your obsession, not ours) is problematic. So assigning a name for an ‘identification’ with this, when there is none, is not cool.
  • Consider whether this insistence happens with any other group. Black people now often describe themselves as POC. That arose from that community as a positive choice. Disabled people often describe themselves as, ‘differently abled’. I get that. Women though apparently need a qualifier and one which has been suggested to them by another group, to boot.
  • Trans is an incredibly broad umbrella term for everything from dysphoria, to occasionally cross-dressing socially. If you would like all women who aren’t, ‘trans’ to define themselves as an opposite to something, especially given the painful history of millennia of oppression, then that opposite has to be defined within an inch of its life.
  • Some women are happy to call themselves, ‘cis’, especially in a medical context. Others aren’t, for personal, painful reasons as alluded to above. That choice should be respected. In my opinion. And this is my blog so that’s what you’re getting.
19 ‘If women are so at risk of attack, why don’t you take steps to protect yourself, like self-defence?’
  • Being practical is carrying on your life, how you can, without apology and drawing attention to men’s behaviour. Avoidant behaviour does not increase women’s safety from men, it just means that man passes on to the next women. We cannot live our lives as if we’re prey in the jungle and we won’t.
  • For some people however, exercise is key to feeling more powerful in themselves, and this is a choice some women make.
  • Except. Many women can’t practice, ‘meaningful’ self-defence. Consider elderly women, disabled women, women who can’t leave the home because their husband won’t let them.
  • It is more helpful if you let those women who wish to practice self-defence do so and fair play to them, but plan for the most vulnerable. And that means eradicating the source of the problem, not treating the symptoms.
20 ‘It wasn’t real rape. She was inebriated. She asked for it. It wasn’t violent’.
  • Consider, if you’re a man, being completely plastered, ruined, drunk. And groggily becoming aware that a person is holding you down and inserting a large, hard object into your anus. After all, you may have had bum-sex before. Many people find it erogenous. You asked for it, you were hammered. Didn’t you?
  • For a woman, who has lived her whole life feeling anything from a breeder to a or sex-toy to permanently ogled, demeaned and handled: If a man puts a hard piece of his person inside a woman, reaching her most personal, private space when she doesn’t want him to – it is violence. And bloody obscene.
21 ‘Why do you call yourself a feminist, not an equalist?’
  • Feminism has to focus on liberating women. Because they’re the ones who need liberating. Hence feminism.

feminist

  • Racism and Sexism combined is a double bind. Hence for many feminists:

black feminism

This is a work in progress! Coming soon:

  • What to say to mansplainers..
  • Answers to, ‘why are you lot always fighting?’
  • Any others you think I’ve missed…..

 

 

 

*notice I didn’t say, ‘Fanny’. More on this in point 9

** small, because despite the change in legislation, the gender gap is widening in the UK