#womenwrites

If Keith Vaz paid for sex, his prostitution report is biased and worthless by @bindelj

I’m sick of living in a culture that tolerates violence against women | Joan Smith

Why I was wrong about men by Suzanne Moore

White Feminist Fatigue Syndrome  via @critlegthinking

Passing Moments via @Carregonnen

Men Don’t Have Periods – Women Do by Samantha Rea

Being Told You Have Gender Dysphoria as a Lesbian at Nymeses

An Attitude About Gratitude: On Colin Kaepernick, Paul Finebaum, & What Black People Do Not Owe America @writermrsmith

Understanding Disability: Like me, you are different. Like you, I am equal by @mailbykite via @WritersofColour

‘Baby Brain’ and Other Myths by @jendella via @WritersofColour

I chose radical feminism over my porn-using boyfriend and got my humanity back by Rose Meltzer  via @FeministCurrent

Why I won’t be returning to teach in the classroom by Gurmeet Kaur http://buff.ly/2cu9JhF via @WritersofColour

#WomenWrites – an archive for women’s writing (August/15)

#womenwrites (5.9.16) – an archive of women’s writing

It’s not victim blaming, it’s woman blaming by Sonia Orchard

The idea that gender is a spectrum is a new gender prison –  @aeonmag

Rape Culture Is Surveillance Culture  via @scaachi @buzzfeed

REST IN PEACE, INVISIBLE WOMAN by LINNEA DUNNE http://buff.ly/2bNBvoI

Our Kids Don’t Need F@*#ing Pedal Desks, They Need Recess by Maria Guido

Black Girl Is a Verb: A New American Grammar Book by Crunk Feminist Collective

9 Signs you may be living with childhood trauma – and what you can do about it  via @WomanAsSubject

Female detransition and reidentification: Survey results and interpretation by Cari

Nymeses: Being Told You Have Gender Dysphoria as a Lesbian by Heath

Intimate Partner & Domestic Violence Homicides*: Sex Differences April 2012 – March 2015 (3 yrs) via @K_IngalaSmith

 

#womenwrites – a collection of essential writing by women

All Bodies are Beautiful by @MurderofGoths

When words fail by @Durre_Shahwar

My self (at 35) by @reimaginingme

“Not All Men? Well, actually…” by Alicen Grey

The ignorance aimed at Caster Semenya flies in the face of the Olympic spirit | Katrina Karkazis

Black women and the accusation of taking up too much space by  Bridget Minamore

Stop Close Reading by Heather Horn

The Women in My Family Had to Be Good With Money  by Dena Landon

The chore wars by Alecia Simmonds

The sex trade can never be legalised without hurting women – by Kat Banyard

Men hate us by Purple Sage Feminist

“You throw like a girl”  A brief guide to  gender policing  via @WomanAsSubject

It’s Not the ‘Gender Pay Gap’ – It’s the Maternal Income Gap  via @VOlorenshaw

Race/Class/Gender: French secularism and Whiteness  by @saramsalem

More practice, less perfect: How do we navigate the lion’s den of feminist discussions? by Andie Fox

£4 BILLION – the current outstanding child maintenance bill

£4 billion.

This is the outstanding arrears of child maintenance owed in England and Wales. According to a report by the charity Gingerbread called Missing Maintenance, the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) estimates that only £467 million will ever be recovered.This leaves nearly one half of single parent families, the vast majority headed by women, living in poverty.

The current Conservative government is in the process of closing the Child Support Agency (CSA) to replace it with the Child Maintenance Service, which charges women £20 for the privilege of opening a file and then a sum each month if some semblance of the maintenance is actually paid. The new vaunted system has seen only 53% of the families registered receiving maintenance with 90 000 people having not paid during one three month period. There is already nearly £53 million in unpaid maintenance. Many of the families will receive only negligible amounts of money, as the DWP does not require the full maintenance to be paid in order for the account to be registered as compliant. Realistically, a father of 4 earning £70 000 a year can pay only £5 a month and still be included within the 53% statistic.

Equally problematic is the fact that the Child Maintenances Service is actively writing to the primary caregivers to request they ‘forgive’ the debt owed by non-paying fathers – as though the primary caregivers of children, who are overwhelmingly women, can neglect to pay rent, council tax and the credit card debts they rack up buying groceries knowing these debts will be ‘forgiven’. As Polly Toynbee makes clear,

Some 90% of CSA cases have now been transferred over to the CMS, but only 13% of mothers affected have decided to pay the new fees and apply to the CMS: the DWP must be pleased, as it had publicly estimated that 63% would pursue their claims. All the pressure in official letters is to deter mothers. The £20 fee may be a mild block, along with charging fathers 4%, but the evidence suggests mothers just give up when prodded by these letters.

Charging mothers to use the Child Maintenance Service is simply a way for the government to abdicate responsibility. They are very clear that the sole purpose is to force more parents into dealing with child maintenance themselves. In doing so, they have refused to recognise the reason why men, and it is overwhelmingly men, refuse to pay maintenance: it is both a punishment and a form of control over their former partners. This is male entitlement writ large by men who do not care about the welfare of their children.

We need to start calling the refusal to pay maintenance what it really is: financial child abuse. Forcing your children to live in poverty because you cannot be bothered to support them or refusing to punish the mother are not the signs of ‘good fathers’. It is the hallmark of an abusive father.

It is not difficult to implement child maintenance policies that are effective and ensure that men cannot hide their assets. Placing the Child Maintenance Service under the heading of HM Revenue & Customs so that child maintenance is garnished directly from the salary of the non-resident parent. This coupled with actual punitive policies for those who refuse to pay, such as a fee for every missed payment, interest accrued on outstanding payments, and the use of enforcement agents (bailiffs) to confiscate personal property, and, potentially, criminal proceedings would see an immediate increase in the number of men who start to pay their maintenance. Canada’s maintenance enforcement program has the right to suspend the driver’s licenses and passports of men who are in arrears recognising that the legal obligation to pay maintenance being higher than the desire to vacation in Hawaii.

There is a quote bandied about in discussions of child contact and child maintenance that says ‘children aren’t pay per view’, as though children were nothing more than a possession to be passed about. As with Women’s Aid campaign, Child First: Safe Contact Saves Lives, we need to stop talking about children as possessions and start talking about children’s rights.[7] Children have the right to live free from violence. Children also have the right to live outwith poverty.

The erasure of men’s financial responsibility for their children, supported by government policy, is an absolute disgrace. It is, simply, state sanctioned child abuse.

 

Gingerbread’s Missing Maintenance Report

Child First: Safe Contact Saves Lives Petition

 

 

The firing of Thomas Gibson: Celebrity Culture and the Inevitability of Male Violence

Thomas Gibson has been fired from Criminal Minds after kicking a writer in the leg following ‘creative differences’.

My very first reaction to this news was that there was no way one of the highest rated shows for CBS would fire its lead actor solely for kicking a writer – as the first media stories claimed. Allowing male celebrities to engage in violence and abusive behaviour on set. It took years of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ by Charlie Sheen before he was fired from  Two & A Half Men – and even then only because he was rude about one of the producers.

So, I started googling Gibson to see what else he’s been up to. According to The Hollywood Gossip and Variety, the producers of Criminal Minds had already sent Gibson on anger management classes after he shoved an assistant producer in 2010. They also claim that Gibson has a history of “aggressive and verbally abusive” behaviour. The Hollywood Reporter insinuates that Shemar Moore left Criminal Minds last year following years of strife on set. There is also a lawsuit from Gibson’s former manager which also alleges abusive behaviour that has yet to receive a judgment from the Labour Commission.

The Hollywood Reporter, which is one of the more detailed descriptions of the allegations against Gibson, also mentions similar lawsuits – including one from Nicolette Sheridan for wrongful termination. Now, I never watched Desperate Housewives and only vaguely heard of Sheridan leaving the show, which I understood was because she was rude to Teri Hatcher (who, in turn, was apparently rude to Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman, and Marcia Cross). Turns out I was wrong about the Sheridan lawsuit. She alleges that she was fired due to complaints about physical and verbal abuse by show creator Marc Cherry. Cherry claims her contract was ended due to her unprofessional behaviour and treatment of the other main actors. The lawsuit has wound its way through several courts and is set to restart in 2017 focusing on unfair dismissal rather than the allegations against Cherry.

The idea that Gibson was fired for kicking a co-worker was analogous to being rude (rather than verbally abusive) set me off on a spree of googling that resulted in me reading far too many ‘Worst Celebrities to Work With’ lists, which were pretty much the same:

  • women were listed for mental illness or drug and alcohol addiction
  • perfectionism in men was deemed controlling behaviour in women
  • women not liking their co-stars (like Hatcher) was labelled as ‘bad’ as men who engaged in verbal aggression and physical violence on set.
  • Not one of the women listed in ANY of the lists had a history of physical or sexual violence. Most of the men did.

These are some of the highlights:

Russell Crowe‘s reputation for aggressive and abusive behaviour on set has not prevented him from getting hired – whilst Katherine Heigl has been effectively blacklisted for being opinionated. I think we can all agree with Heigl that Knocked Up was misogynistic twaddle, even though she has now backtracked on that statement. Shannon Doherty is meant to be ‘demanding and controlling’ on set – Edward Norton and Christian Bale are lauded for the very characteristics that label Doherty ‘bad’. And, really, lists of ‘difficult actors’ that include Heigl for trashing a film she starred in tend to ignore  Steven Seagal – a man who has reputedly kicked numerous people on several sets between he legs.

According to this list, Jennifer Aniston is a bitch for choosing to eat alone whilst on set and Jennifer Lopez for requiring a personal assistant on call 24/7, which somewhat begs the question about the working conditions of personal assistants across Hollywood and businesses. Now, I’m all for unionising personal assistants and increasing pay and decreasing contact hours but Lopez is hardly a bitch for doing exactly the same thing as every single male actor in Hollywood. I can’t even begin to work out what Beyonce did wrong here.

Even Bustle, a supposedly feminist media site, includes 9 women on their list of “16 Actors who are the worst to work with”, including Lindsay Lohan whose documented history of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ is self-harming through alcohol and drugs rather than say, kicking a member of staff.

Only one list mentioned Randy Quaid:

… an Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actor, apparently behaved so badly while working on the pre-Broadway play “Lone Star Love” in 2007, that he was banned for life from Actors’ Equity and fined $81,000. A complaint filed by all 26 cast members against both Quaid and his wife/manager Evi alleged sexual harassment, physical violence and a variety of other transgressions.

Granted none of the gendered constructions of ‘bad’ are particularly shocking. Women have always been held to a higher standard than men. Male celebrities are forever given free passes for their violence – Charlie Sheen even got a sitcom based on his abusive behaviour called Anger Management. That millions of people actually watch. The media, who adore trashing Lindsay Lohan for her drug and alcohol abuse, have remained silent on the domestic violence she has experienced.

I’m sat her waiting for the inevitable allegations of domestic violence against Thomas Gibson. Men who believe they are entitled to verbally and physically abuse their co-workers tend to be the same ones who believe they have the right to abuse their partners and children. And the minimisations of Gibsons’ behaviour.

Mostly, I’m shocked that CBS took the steps to fire him, regardless of his behaviour on set. Because, Gibson is no different to hundreds of male celebrities who believe they are above the law. I mean, obviously, Gibson has now hired lawyers because having a penis in Hollywood means never ever taking responsibility for your actions and choices.

I wonder how many shows would be immediately cancelled if their male stars were fired for abusive behaviour on set?

 

#DickheadDetox: Clint Eastwood for whitesplaining racism

Clint Eastwood has a very nice spread in Esquire with his son Scott in which he pontificates on being too important to raise his son and claiming that people who call out racism belong to the ‘pussy generation’.

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Have to say, I assumed Eastwood was dead what with being rather old. He’s certainly not lying about most things being deemed unracist when he grew up but that’s because he was born when segregation was legal. He was 34 when the Civil Rights Act came into effect in 1964. I’m not entirely certain that you can claim that the Jim Crow laws were a ‘big hoodoo’. Or that the implementation of the Civil Rights Act was worse than people calling out racism. Or, that people should just ‘get over’ racism.

But, hey, Eastwood is descended from a dude who arrived in the US on the Mayflower. So he can totally support Donald Trump because Eastwood is one of the ‘good immigrants’. And not one of those people fleeing civil war, terrorism and poverty who thinks that the message written on the Statue of Liberty still constitutes American law:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The only thing going for him in the interview is that he doesn’t trash talk the mother of one of his children, which is something I suppose. He’s certainly not all that concerned about casual misogyny either.

So, life lessons from Clint Eastwood on being a ‘good’ man include not bothering to raise your children, racism is acceptable, people who believe in social justice need to get over themselves, and anyone who doesn’t agree with him is a pussy.

 

This is rape culture: That ‘tired mum and quickies’ meme.

This rolled up on my Facebook feed this morning – one of those ‘suggested posts’. Usually, these posts are just dire. This one is heart-breaking. The website someecards.com have shared the text below with the photo and name of the woman who wrote it. I have redacted both because what is below isn’t the story of a ‘good marriage’ as someecards.com suggests but a story of emotional blackmail, male entitlement, sexual harassment and coercion within marriage. This is what rape culture looks like:

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Making space to have sex when you have small children, jobs and other caring responsibilities can be difficult. That is no excuse for whining and sexually harassing your wife. Being put in a position where you have to ‘trade’ sex in order to eat what you want or listen to your music isn’t a healthy relationship. It’s a coercive relationship. Passive aggressive ‘dry humping your leg’ and asking if you want ‘sausage’ is gross behaviour. Jabbing his dick into your back to push you into sex isn’t romantic. No woman should ‘feel bad’ because they don’t want to have sex and a man who makes you feel that way should be divorced.

This is male entitlement writ large – the belief that he is entitled to sex whenever he wants regardless of his wife’s desires. It’s sexual coercion at best.

Rape culture isn’t just the stranger who sexually harasses you in the street or the man on public transport who touches you without permission. It is men who believe that marriage entitles them to sex and that women should be bullied and harassed into it for daring to say no. It is conducive context in which men ‘pestering’ for sex are seen as somehow romantic. It is the context in which a woman’s right to say no is erased. It is the context in which controlling behaviours (eating chocolate/ listening to music) are deemed ‘normal’ rather than evidence of domestic violence.

I’ve redacted the woman’s name because I believe victims of sexualised violence have the right to anonymity. This woman is a victim of sexualised violence. She deserves anonymity. And a life without a man who thinks fucking her is his inalienable right by dint of marriage.

#womenwrites – an archive of essential writing by women (July)

Shadowhunters: Erasing the Brave Women to make Soft Porn

UnknownApparently, I’m one of the only few people who enjoyed the film Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Based on the YA fiction books written by Cassandra Clare, the film is about Clary who, on her 16th birthday, discovers she isn’t a normal girl but a shadow hunter – born to fight demons. Being YA fiction, there is the usual love story between Clary and the boy who saves her life, Jace. But, at it’s heart, City of Bones is a book about a group of teenagers fighting to save the world whilst dealing with friendships and love. All are brave, intelligent and loyal. And the two female characters, Clary and Isabelle, are both kick-ass fighters. Granted, its all a bit silly and escapism but, as the new Ghostbusters film has shown, girls want to see more films with brave girls. Not less.

This is why the new television series being shown in the UK on Netflix is such a disappointment. Much was made by the producers of having more space in which to be creative with the source material – something that definitely required better writers than they’ve hired (teenage boy in lust with teenage girl: “you’re so interesting” said no boy ever.) Instead of having two brave girls, they’ve gone with a much more whiny Clary and, most appallingly, Isabelle is no longer a brave shadow hunter equal to the boys. She’s a sex kitten who spends most of her time naked or having sex. Shadowhunters is aimed at an older audience so sex isn’t a problem. It’s the fact that the only person, out of all the main characters, who is having sex is the girl. And, not just having sex but her form of fighting demons involves being sexual.

This is Isabelle Lightwood in the film

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 10.54.26isabelle-lightwood-with-swordThis is Isabelle Lightwood in the Netflix series – going into battle against vampires who outnumber them 10 to 1.

 

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Everyone else is dressed for battle in black leather.

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Isabelle is in kitten heels and a tight red dress – one she’s just put back on covered in fairy dust having had sex with said fae to find out how to enter the vampire’s lair. Because, despite having access to a IT department that would make Apple jealous and, therefore, access to city planning information, the only way to discover how to enter the vampire’s clearly marked out lair through abandoned subway tunnels is for Isabelle to writhe around a bed half-naked with a random fae dude – something none of the boys are expected to do.

I know Netflix wants to be edgy, you just have to look at how much time Jessica Jones spends having sex rather than being a superhero to see that, but erasing yet another brave girl and turning her into nothing more than a sex-obsessed plaything for the boys isn’t edgy or exciting. It’s just the same old porn culture insisting that girls can’t be brave fighters. Their only role is victim or sex toy.