November 25 is the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women – not White Ribbon Day

November 25th was first chosen as the date for an annual day of protest of male violence in 1981. This occurred at the first Feminist Conference for Latin American and Caribbean Women in Bogota. It was chosen in memory of Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabel.

The Mirabel sisters were political activists who fought the fascist government of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. They stood up to a genocidal regime that used torture, rape and kidnapping and they were murdered for it. This is why November 25th was chosen as an international day of activism that “denounced all forms men’s violence against women from domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment to state violence including torture and abuse of women political prisoners.”

November 25th received official recognition as an international day to raise awareness of violence against women from United Nations on December 17, 1999.

None of this information is out with the public realm. Even Wikipedia, not known for its accuracy, manages to get the facts right. Yet, November 25th is rarely referred to as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women anymore. Instead, it is called White Ribbon day after a campaign started by men in Canada.

The origins of the White Ribbon campaign are important. It was created by pro-feminist men in 1991 in response to the massacre of women at the Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6 1989. A man killed 14 women because they were women. Men stood up to take responsibility for men’s violence. We need men to take responsibility for the violence they perpetuate and perpetrate.

Yet, somehow, White Ribbon no longer occurs on December 6th (although still recognised in Canada as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women). Now, White Ribbon day is November 25th – a day started by women of colour in Latin American and the Caribbean about the murder of 3 women in the Dominican Republic.

As Karen Ingala Smith points out, there is something extremely questionable about an event created by white men eclipsing a day of action and remembrance created by women of colour. It is quite surprising just how many men involved in the White Ribbon campaign don’t know the origins or the actual date of their own campaign. One even ran a panel at Feminism in London and looked shocked that no women’s organisation had raised the issue before. The fact that men just hadn’t been listening (or bothered to google) didn’t seem to occur to him.

White Ribbon Day is December 6th. Co-opting a day celebrating the activism and work of women to make it all about the men – and check out this comment from a white ribbon ‘supporter’ – isn’t about men taking responsibility for their role in supporting a global war against women. It’s about being seen to be doing something.

These are the names of the women murdered at the Polytechnique:

  • Geneviève Bergeron
  • Hélène Colgan
  • Nathalie Croteau
  • Barbara Daigneault
  • Anne-Marie Edward
  • Maud Haviernick
  • Maryse Laganière
  • Maryse Leclair
  • Anne-Marie Lemay
  • Sonia Pelletier
  • Michèle Richard
  • Annie St-Arneault
  • Annie Turcotte
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

The anniversary of their massacre deserves to be remembered. Their names deserve to be remembered – as do the names of Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabel. We need to remember all the women who are raped, tortured, abused, and killed by men. And, we need to remember all the women who stood up and said enough.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women isn’t about men. Speaking over and erasing women’s activism isn’t proof that men are committed to ending violence against women and girls. It’s just the opposite.

#womenwrites – a compilation of essential writing

#DickheadDextox: Richard Brittain for VAWG

Richard Brittain drScreen Shot 2015-11-11 at 16.26.25ove 500 miles from London to Scotland to assault a teenage girl, Paige Rolland, who posted a negative review of a draft of his book online. He tracked Rolland to her job and proceeded to break a bottle of wine over her head.

This is not the first time Brittain has engaged in male violence against women and girls. In fact, the book Brittain wrote was part of the sustained harassment and stalking of a woman, which included traveling to Scotland to ‘ask if the woman he was in love with wanted to pretend to be kidnapped to share their love with the world and sell his book. Brittain pled guilty to “engaging in a course of conduct which caused Miss Durant fear or alarm by repeatedly pursuing her, approaching her, following her and publishing a story about stalking her in September 2014.” One month later, Brittain assault Rolland.

He detailed his criminal behaviour in a post entitled The Benevolent Stalker.* Having been called out on his CRIMINAL behaviour, Brittain took a stalking “seminar” and came to this conclusion:

Over the last few weeks, I have learnt a lot. In various corners of the web, my blog post The Benevolent Stalker was discussed. One thing that struck me is how many girls claim to have had stalkers; often multiple. I therefore believe that this could be a problem verging on endemic, particularly when considered in the context of a general vibe. There seems to be less trust between genders than ever. We’ve seen videos of women walking down the street and being harassed, and the misogyny of Julien Blanc and Dapper Laughs. In my view, the latter is not necessarily misogynistic but a rather desperate and unfunny comedian who played a caricature which we were supposed to laugh at for its outrageous offensiveness. But misogyny is no laughing matter, and more troubling is that such personality types are common enough for this brand of ‘humour’ to work.

He certainly showed a lack of awareness. I, too, have shown a lack of awareness; for the person I stalked, for myself, and for the nature of stalking. As it appears to be a fairly common problem, I feel that more education might be needed.

I don’t know who ran the seminar, but they need to work on their training and perhaps not use ‘seminars’ to work with perpetrators. Possibly his therapist needs some training as well because this doesn’t make me think Brittain gives a shit about anyone but himself.

I want to use my experience, of having been a stalker, to help others from going down that dark route. Here are some warning signs which I would look out for:

a) You find that you’re comparing yourself to characters in fiction. For example, I frequently compared myself to Han Solo and her to Princess Leia. Sometimes, I even had the music of Star Wars running through my head.

b) There was a strong, impulsive feeling that I had to act in order to keep the love alive. It could well be that this biological process was useful when we were cavemen, but it is of fundamental importance that we overcome such carnality in today’s society. I’m not talking about lust, by the way. This was something very different, much more powerful, a feeling which took hold of all my thoughts and emotions.

c) My psychiatrist said that I showed an ‘erotomanic’ quality. Erotomania is a type of delusion in which you believe that someone is in love with you. You believe that she/he is declaring her/his affection through special glances, signals and hidden messages. In my case, I looked at her Twitter and believed that many tweets were directed at me.

d) When the person rejects you, you manage to convince yourself that it is part of a challenge or game. Or that she is only denying you because she wants to keep it as a forbidden love, hidden from the rest of the world.

If you are showing any of the above symptoms, it is possible that you are in danger of becoming a stalker. I would advise you to take a step back and re-evaluate.

When I first heard this story, I assumed Brittain would get only a slap on the wrist for his assault despite the stalking. Having read parts of his blog, I’m now worried he will still only get a slap on the wrist even though he has stalked and harassed two women, assaulted one woman and has repeatedly harassed and behaved in an abusive manner to anyone who spoke negatively about his book. I’m worried he will step up his abusive behaviour and continue targeting women.

Brittain’s blog seems to suggest he has self-diagnosed with narcissistic personally disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. It also says a psychiatrist has prescribed him anti-psychotics. Whatever the truth, Brittain shows a long history of extremely problematic and criminal behaviour.


*clean link via Do Not Link

The Murder Statistics of Transgender People: Sources


Whilst engaged in research to respond to a comment on this blog, I was sent the following sources. I don’t know how to link photos in the comments so I’ve published them as a blog post instead.

This map is from Transgender Respect vs Transphobia Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 16.12.36

This breakdown of the statistics in the UK was first published on Mumsnet:

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 16.15.44

(I would suggest the statistics in the US are different due to racism and consequences of poverty and a complete lack of health care forcing vulnerable people in prostitution, which increases the risk of violence, rape and murder. Because men.)

This was on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 16.16.42


This from Parker Molloy on the 1 in 12 stat is worth reading. I would suggest reading Kay Brown on why she came up with the 1 in 12 statistic and why it’s wrong to continue using it. I also recommend this article “The Murder Statistics of Transgender People”.


Language does matter: menstruation is not “transphobic”

UCLA student Zoey Freedman weighed in on the global debate around taxing tampons. Normally, I’m a huge supporter of any publication willing to print this: 

Aside from some forms of birth control or medical complications, nothing will stop a woman’s period. It’s a natural part of having a uterus that just can’t be helped.

Health care currently covers services such as sexually transmitted infection testing, birth control, abortion and even access to erectile dysfunction treatments such as penile implants.

Although erectile dysfunction is a problem, it is not one that all men are inherently born with. Menstruation, on the other hand, is something almost every woman deals with at some point in her life. It’s a bit ridiculous that surgeries for sexual needs are covered before everyday feminine hygiene products.

Unfortunately, the editors felt the need to include this statement:

This blog post refers to individuals who menstruate as women because the author wanted to highlight gender inequality in health care. We acknowledge that not all individuals who menstruate identify as women and that not all individuals who identify as women menstruate, but feel this generalization is appropriate considering the gendered nature of most health care policies.

It used to be that we couldn’t talk about women’s biology because it grossed men out. Now, we can no longer talk about women’s biology because it’s transphobic. Menstruation, FGM, vulvas, breasts, birthing a child, breastfeeding, infertility, menopause, and hysterectomies have all become banned topics for fear we cause transwomen ‘violence’. Oddly, I’ve never seen viagra, something widely available on health insurance in the US whilst birth control remains controversial, deemed ‘transphobic’. Vulva cupcakes, on the other hand, constitute ‘violence’.


Women have been fighting for hundreds of years to end real gender essentialism that is predicated on a hierarchical construction of sex. Now, we’re seeing a resurgence of reifying gender through an obsession with labelling brains ‘male’ or ‘female’. Recognising that a uterus exists only in a female body makes you transphobic and guilty of the murder of transwomen (despite the fact that it’s pretty clear that men are responsible for the physical violence that results in the murder of transwomen – not women’s words).

Women have been actually dying for thousands of years because of the denial of the reality of our bodies. Childbirth remains one of the biggest killers of women worldwide. Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, but we aren’t allowed to point that infections pass more easily during penis-in-vagina sex or that the vast majority of urinary tract infections are caused by a penis that isn’t clean. Instead, young girls are denied an education because menstruation is considered ‘unclean’.

Viagra is a medical necessity to ensure erect penises aren’t denied sexual pleasure, including ‘female’ penises. Tampons are classed as a luxury despite menstruation being a biological necessity.

The liberation of women from male violence and other causes and consequences of the capitalist-patriarchy will not happen whilst we are banned from talking about the biological realities of women’s bodies. Discussing menstruation is not transphobic and it will not cause the death of transwomen.


#fabulousfeminism : feminist responses to F4J

So Amazon’s search algorithm links Ms Marvel comic book to?

I wanted a copy of the new Ms Marvel, who is a Muslim teenager from New Jersey, and Amazon suggested I might also need a teacher’s handbook on extremism.

Oddly, I was actually looking for female superheroes for my kid.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 09.24.54


(and if anyone can find me a copy which is not £33, I’d be eternally grateful)

Feminism in London, No-Platforming and the process of feminism

I have been watching the fallout around Feminism in London with a sinking heart.

Like many, I was surprised to see Jane Fae’s name on the FiL program as they are very clear on prostitution and pornography constituting violence against women and are vehemently pro-Nordic model. I am aware that they have refused to offer a platform during their conferences to feminists who are pro-sex work on panels talking specifically about prostitution. I assumed that their rules either applied only to panels specifically on prostitution and pornography or that they weren’t aware of Fae’s writing on the subject. Both were equally valid since it not every single feminist in the UK has a full working knowledge of the full employment history and writings of every single person who self-defines as feminist.

I’m not involved in the conference so I have no idea who and what were involved in the conversations surrounding Fae’s continuing participation once a number of exited women raised concerns. The public statement is that Fae chose to withdraw and I have no problem accepting this version of events repeated in numerous places by the organisers. In many ways, this was the only acceptable solution once women who were speaking on their experiences in prostitution spoke out.

Fae wasn’t no-platformed for being transgender. FiL is a trans-inclusive conference. It is asinine to suggest that they would remove a speaker for being transgender when the conference is trans-inclusive. It makes everyone look ridiculous to push a narrative which is clearly false. Without a doubt, a number of radical feminists raised questions about a transwoman speaking at a feminist event – as is their right. It is also the right of the conference organisers to ignore questions raised about a transgender speaker at a trans-inclusive conference.

Personally, I don’t believe that no-platforming is the correct term to use in this particular situation. FiL may be the largest feminist conference in the UK but it is an entirely different situation to the NUS. Julie Bindel was no-platformed by the NUS for being ‘vile’ – not for violating a specific policy but for the judgment ‘vile’ (the fact that Bindel has apologised repeatedly for the article written over 10 years ago is a tiny fact the NUS prefers to ignore). The NUS decision has an impact on all student organisations that receive funds from the NUS across the UK. One conference who have a specific policy on prostitution and pornography choosing not to have speakers who do not support their policies is not the same as a campaign to have someone publicly banned from speaking or writing at student unions, ALL feminist and academic conferences as well as rendering a woman unemployable as has happened to Bindel. There are other feminist conferences in the UK which are not trans-inclusive and ones which see sex work as empowering. Every feminist in the UK is free to create their own conferences -funding is a major impediment but many feminists have overcome this by holding them in women’s houses. You may not be able to get 1500 women into your house but it’s unlikely that any one woman will find 1500 women who agree with them on absolutely everything.0

I also understand why Julie Bindel and Caroline Criado-Perez have chosen not to speak at FiL following Fae’s withdrawal from the conference as both signed the public letter about the no-platforming of feminists written by Bea Campbell. I also signed the letter and disagree that withdrawal was the way forward – feminism being a political movement and not a dictatorship means women get to have different views on how to achieve the goal of liberation of women and fight the no-platforming of non-media friendly feminists.

I wrote parts of the above several days ago but chose not to publish it as I did not want to get embroiled in feminist disagreements amongst women I love and respect. I  was tempted to delete this post even 30 minutes ago but far too many women have been hurt in the past few days that it feels cowardly to stay silent.

Feminism isn’t circle time at kindergarten. We aren’t required to sit in a circle quietly whilst sharing cookies and listening to stories. It’s a political movement that involves anger, trauma, distress, conflicts but also love and support. We need to stop replicating patriarchal language patters and public shaming techniques. We need to lose the perforative aspects of feminism and concentrate on the politics.


Whilst the fall-out was happening in numerous online feminist communities, a woman I respect and admire reshared an article called ‘We need to talk about the process’ on Trouble & Strife. I love this quote from the the Black feminist Combahee River Collective in 1977 included in the article. I haven’t had a chance to read the full statement from the Combahee River Collective but it’s on my list for tomorrow:

In the practice of our politics we do not believe that the end always justifies the means. Many reactionary and destructive acts have been done in the name of achieving ‘correct’ political goals. As feminists we do not want to mess over people in the name of politics. We believe in collective process and a non-hierarchal distribution of power within our own group and in our vision of a revolutionary society. We are committed to a continual examination of our politics as they develop through criticism, and self-criticism as an essential aspect of our politics.

Recently, I have seen too many reactionary and destructive acts done in the name of real feminism. And, I’ve seen far too many women get hurt in the process.

Sharing information from private groups or posting FB/ twitter conversations for the express purpose of humiliating other women isn’t a feminist act. We need to be able to challenge each other, disagree and be downright horrified by the comments, statements and beliefs of other feminists. Sisterhood doesn’t involve ignoring inappropriate or destructive behaviour and it shouldn’t involve publicly trashing other women.

Public shaming is as damaging to the feminist movement when it is done by radical feminists as when it is done by liberal feminists. No side of feminism has a monopoly on good practice. I know I have fucked up numerous times failing to recognise my own privilege. I also know I’ve stayed quiet too long when I’ve seen women lashing out in anger or trauma but who cross the line into personal attacks. And. I’ve stayed too quiet when those who get pleasure out of causing pain attack a new person. I would like to say it’s because I’ve chosen not to give a bigger platform to someone behaving abusively but mostly it’s been because I’ve been afraid of becoming the target of abuse – even though silence never actually protects you.

Online spaces do so much to share feminist views – ones that are regularly no-platformed and ignored by the mainstream media. These spaces are vital to the health and future of our movement, but so are the individual members and we need to start cutting each other some slack.

The process of liberation matters as much as the end goal. We will not achieve full liberation of women if we continue to treat each other as objects of ridicule or pretend that racism and classism can be viewed as distinct entities from misogyny. Women are harmed as a class but BME women and working class women cannot separate the misogyny they experience from the racism and classism they experience. Ageism and lesbophobia can’t be separated either.

I’ll be at Feminism in London this year because it was the place that I met many incredible radical feminists for the first time. Some I had ‘met’ previously on Mumsnet and others on the day. Being with 1500 women is a powerful experience even if you don’t agree with many of them on issues fundamental to your politics.

None of us are perfect and we all start somewhere. For some women that somewhere is Feminism in London. Being with other women on their journey through feminism is a beautiful thing – painful, frustrating, enraging, but also beautiful.

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that other women are hurting too.



Jeremy Corbyn and the theory of inelectability

As with everyone, I’m beyond bored of the coverage of the Labour leader election  and associated meltdowns by people on all sides of the debate. The double standard of claiming how much I hate the coverage by participating in the debate isn’t lost on me.

I’m not a member of the Labour party or even remotely fond of any of their recent policies so I haven’t weighed in on any discussions about leadership before the election on Saturday. I assumed Jeremy Corbyn would win – not with the majority he did though. I was completely off in terms of percentages. To be perfectly blunt, I’d thought we’d still be arguing who won in ten years with visions of that Florida vote wafting through my brain.

I thought Corbyn would win, after much more mud-slinging and tantrums by people refusing to work with other people (memories of teacher training in primary school abound here), because Labour LOST the last election due to their failures to even try to oppose Tory austerity measures. They peddled the lie – one that actual economists state is guaranteed to destroy the economy – that the UK can’t afford to support it’s most vulnerable people because austerity was needed to pay off our debt.

What I find most annoying is the polarity of views on Corbyn: he’s either the anti-christ or the resurrection. There is no in between.

I find Corbyn’s choices for shadow cabinet depressing. I don’t care if Corbyn believes there is no such thing as the top 4 jobs in cabinet. Everyone else does and the failure to appoint even one woman to these jobs is telling. (and don’t even start with the ‘best person for the job’ crap. Systemic sexism and racism actually exist). The fact that there were no women speakers when the results were announced doesn’t inspire faith that Labour will put women’s rights at the centre of his policies. Hell, I’m still struggling to understand how Diane Abbott was not chosen as the candidate for London mayor – that would have been so revolutionary politics.

We live in a country where women and children are being forced into poverty by government polices which disproportionately affect them. There have been no discussions about our ability to afford to bomb civilian populations in Afghanistan and Iraq whilst being unable to afford to keep children out of poverty. Labour may have created tax credits but these are a panacea. If we forced businesses like Tescos and Amazon to pay living wages and their tax bill, children wouldn’t be living in poverty. If we didn’t have to bail out banks, we’d be able to afford major investment in education. Very little was made of policies like child maintenance which punish women and children. There is no point in voting Labour if their policies are no different that the Tories.

Equally, though, I don’t buy the theory that Corbyn is unelectable as a prime minister because of his socialist background. Scotland voted out Labour BECAUSE of their support for austerity. Why isn’t it possible for England and Wales to vote for Labour if they campaign to end austerity measures? Why wouldn’t Scotland vote back in Labour MPs?

Right-wing, ultra-conservative, racist, homophobic Alberta – known as the Texas of the North – has elected a NDP government. It’s the first time in 44 years that Alberta hasn’t voted conservative. Not only did they not vote in the Tories, they voted in a left-of-centre pro-union party whose platform involved massive investment in education and other ‘social’ issues. If Alberta, who are as right-wing as UKIP, can vote in the NDP, I don’t see why the UK couldn’t vote in a Labour party which returned to its socialist principles.

Jeremy Corbyn may turn out to be the same old brocialist who doesn’t get that women are human too (see the socialist parties). He could also be the leader who sweeps Labour back into power in 2020 on a socialist platform. He could be both.

If Alberta can vote for a quasi-socialist party, I don’t see why middle England can’t.

Personally, my vote will be for the party and candidates who recognise that ending violence against women and girls involves massive investment in specialist women’s organisations. VAWG currently costs the economy billions. Investment now to support women and to hold men accountable for their actions will save billions in the future. If you don’t care about women, care about your taxes.

I’m not very hopeful about ending VAWG because no political party seems to be bothered enough to take a real stance on the issue. Labour is in a position to fundamentally change this. Question is: will Corbyn stand up for women? Or will he replicate the same patriarchal theories of every other political party? Will Labour stand up to austerity?