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?


Jezebel shames a 3 year old for having a natural human reaction to bears breaking her stuff

Jezebel* has surpassed itself with it’s policy on shitting on people for no reason whatsoever. This time their target is a three year old who gets distressed whilst a family of 6 bears take over her backyard and break some of her toys. Being three, the natural reaction was to be upset. Hell, the father is upset and Jezebel doesn’t insult him for winding up his three year old. Nope, Jezebel has to go for the whole publicly shaming a three year old. And, yes, the child is identifiable to all of their neighbours, extended family and anyone else watching the video:

Five years from now, the little girl featured in this video will watch this and realize just how flagrantly youth is wasted on the young. That’s because, at eight years old, she’ll realize what she didn’t at three: Bears chilling on your swingset isn’t a cause for tears but a cause for celebration! (Just like when a bird poops on you for good luck, but less gross.)

And at 8 the child will be able to read and learn that Jezebel has invited the internet to trash her for being a three old. With emotions. Because nothing says cause for celebration being publicly shamed by a major media outlet.

We’re also supposed to be okay with the bears causing damage because a swing set only costs $300 at Target:

Bro Bible reports that the scene you’re witnessing happened in New Jersey, and correctly chastises this entire family for not just stopping for a second and recognizing how cool it is that six bears (a mother and her five cubs) are ripping up your backyard amenities. A swingset costs $300 at Target, but a story about a bear cub just chewing the hell out of your floatie while his brother tries to use your slide? That’s priceless!

This assumes that the family has $300 to spare to replace the pool and the swing set. The commentary in the video implies they might be but circumstances change and that pool may never be replaced. It’s okay to be disgruntled and annoyed at your stuff being broke. Granted, the father winding up the small child isn’t exactly a vision of excellent parenting, but he’s still allowed to be upset at the bears damaging their possessions.

The rest of the article is also twaddle:

And it’s all on video, so no one can even say shit when the toddler featured here tells everyone about it at school. “You think I’m joking about them ripping up my Eddie Bauer licensed pool float?” she’ll ask her teacher, after being gently accused of having a very vivid imagination. “Well, why don’t we just roll the goddamn tape, Sharon?”

Plus, you know that this is just an excuse for a bigger, better pool, right? Everyone wins!

Unless of course they can’t afford to buy another pool. Or, the bears keep coming back and some over officious police officer shoots them for causing a public menace. Or they get killed by a hunter. Or hit by a car. Or a million other things that can go wrong when bears enter human spaces.

Jezebel seriously needs to dump the label feminist when publishing shit.

* clean link

#DickheadDetox: George Clooney for hypocrisy

George Clooney’s hypocrisy as a human rights defender has been well known for years. It’s hard to take a man claiming to be a left-wing Right-On Dude seriously when he advertise for Nestle – a corporation renown for it’s total disregard for basic human rights like free access to clean water for everyone. Hell, they are currently draining water from drought-ridden California. Hard for Clooney to miss this since he LIVES in California.

Clooney’s Saving The World activism is completely undermined by his prioritisation of personal wealth over infant health and nutrition in countries where access to clean water to make formula (and the money to buy it) are in short supply due to the behaviour of multi-nationals. Like Nestle. This is without getting into Nestle’s well-documented history of grossly inappropriate, misleading and dangerous advertising of infant formula.

On top of this total disregard for infant health it turns out Clooney’s new organisation The Sentry isn’t quite the The End to All War as he seems to believe. David Swanson’s article in Counter Punch breaks down the who-owns-who and who-hangs-out-with-who data:

Clooney’s new organization, “The Sentry,” is part of The Enough Project, which is part of the Center for American Progress, which is a leading backer of “humanitarian” wars, and various other wars for that matter — and which is funded by the world’s top war profiteer, Lockheed Martin, and by number-two Boeing, among other war profiteers.

The spreading of the U.S. empire through militarism is most often justified by the example of Rwanda as a place where the opportunity for a humanitarian war, to prevent the Rwanda Genocide, was supposedly missed. But the United States backed an invasion of Rwanda in 1990 by a Ugandan army led by U.S.-trained killers, and supported their attacks for three-and-a-half years, applying more pressure through the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and USAID. U.S.-backed and U.S.-trained war-maker Paul Kagame — now president of Rwanda — is the leading suspect behind the shooting down of a plane carrying the then-presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on April 6, 1994.

As chaos followed, the U.N. might have sent in peacekeepers (not the same thing, be it noted, as dropping bombs) but Washington was opposed. President Bill Clinton wanted Kagame in power, and Kagame has now taken the war into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with U.S. aid and weapons, where 6 million have been killed. And yet nobody ever says “We must prevent another Congo!”

What does George Clooney’s new organization say about the DRC? A very different story from that told by Friends of the Congo. According to Clooney’s group the killing in the Congo happens “despite years of international attention,” not because of it. Clooney’s organization also promotes this argument for more U.S. warmaking in the DRC from Kathryn Bigelow, best known for producing the CIA propaganda film Zero Dark Thirty.

Personally, I’m not exactly shocked or surprised by Clooney turning out not to be the Good Guy. Rich, white dudes rarely are the great men they claim to do. Frequently, they turn out to be the problem.

Yogi Bear, Leonardo DiCaprio and Great Whites: Pointing out the Obvious

Another surfer in Australia is currently undergoing surgery having been bitten by what appears to have been a great white. This is only a few weeks after the media deluged us with footage of surfer Mick Fanning being pulled off his board by a great white. The media, showing a total disregard to little issues like personal space and trauma, had cameras jammed in Fanning’s face even before he’d made it to shore. Because shark attacks are super-cool for a 24 hour faux-media saturated culture. They are far more interesting than reporting on actual globally important news like war, genocide, male violence, and human rights abuses. Images of great whites breaching in South Africa are way more entertaining that a report on Nestle capitalising on a drought in California:



Sea World ought to capitalise on The Great White Entertainment Industry by replacing their Orcas with them. That way no will ask pesky questions about that little film Black Fish. No one will care about great whites trapped in cages. Just means less of them eating surfers.

Here’s my question though: if we’re spending obscene amounts of money tagging sharks and flying drones to spot them so that people can surf wherever they want, whenever they want, why are we also dangling food off boats so dopey people can hang about in cages getting up, close and personal with a great white? Seriously, where is the sense in this? In one hand, we’re spending a fortune and trashing the environment so tourists can swim without being eaten but we’re also spending a fortune and trashing the environment so tourists can swim with the same animal they don’t want to eat them?

I’m not an animal behaviourist and the only animal I anthropomorphise is my cat, so I have no idea if sharks actually confuse surfers with seals or, as this interesting article on the 3 surfers killed by sharks off the coast of Reunion suggests, some sharks are learning to see humans as an easy source of food, particularly for well-loved or injured members of the pack (which sounds rather sweet. And anthropomorphising). I just don’t see how dangling food off the side of boats so humans can swim in cages next to great whites does anything but teach them boat = food. Even without the anthropomorphising, sharks aren’t stupid. They follow the food and currently we’re tossing it off the side of the boats so this can happen:




Although, it’s possible the second image isn’t actually meant to happen, but I have it on great authority that it also happened to Leonardo DiCaprio. And, if a shark can have a go at the bun-wearing, never-going-to-win-an-Oscar, and only-dates Victoria’s-Secret-models former star of Growing Pains, what chance do the rest of the nincompoops hanging about in cages have?

Having googled, Great Whites targeting boats isn’t exactly an unusual circumstance but what do we expect? Has no one seen an episode of Yogi Bear? There are reasons you don’t feed dogs from the table. Surely the same rule should apply to sharks? Don’t feed wild animals is a rule that doesn’t seem to apply to sharks, who, if you believe the media, are the only animal that actually eat people – though I suspect cougars starving in the mountains of North America might have a query or two about this particular theory.

Like with the bucketheads who yank the tails of nurse sharks napping in the sand off the coast of Florida and then who express surprise at being bitten (seriously, I’d bite someone if they insisted on waking me from a nap by trying to yank my finger from it’s socket), I have to wonder about the shark-viewing population.

Granted sitting on a boat in the freezing cold for 8 hours on the off chance you see an orca isn’t exactly exhilarating, but surely it’s better than enticing large mammal-eating creatures to hang out when we’re also mammals. I’ve yet to see evidence of sea lions deliberately swimming with great whites for funsies. And, humans should, at least, be slightly more intelligent than sea lions.


*Okay, the authority is the Mirror. But, they don’t totally exaggerate stories to sell papers.**

** It’s possible I need a nap.


16 books Mark Zuckerberg NEEDS to read to stop perpetuating VAWG

Mark Zuckerberg has given a list of 14  books he thinks everyone should read this year. Since he’s so concerned about the general knowledge of random people on the internet, I thought I’d give Zuckerberg a list of books that he needs to read so he can stop putting survivors of domestic and sexual violence and abuse at risk with the deeply stupid ‘real names’ policy on Facebook.

1. Lundy Bancroft, Why Does he do that? Insides the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, (Berkly Publishing, 2003)

2. Aisha Gill, ‘Honour’ Killing and Violence: Theory, Policy and Practice, (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

3. Dee L.R. Graham, Loving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men’s Violence and Women’s Lives, (New York University Press, 1994) – a full PDF of this text is available here.

4. Lynne Harne, Violent Fathering and the Risks to Children: The Need for Change, (Policy Press, 2011)

5. Michael P. Johnson, A Typology of Domestic Violence: Intimate Terrorism, Violent Resistance and Situational Couple Violence, (Northeastern University Press, 2008)

6. Lorraine Radford & Marianne Hester, Mothering through Domestic Violence, (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2006)

7. Evan Stark’s Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life (Oxford University Press, 2007)

8. Liz Kelly, Surviving Sexual Violence, (Polity Press, 1988)

9. Nancy Berns, Framing the Victim, Domestic Violence Media & Social Problems (Transaction pub. 2008)

10. Nina Burrowes, The Courage to be Me, (2014)

11. Gavin De Becker, The Gift of Fear, (Bloomsbury Pub, 2000)

12. Marianne Hester, Who does what to whom? Gender and domestic violence perpetrators. (Bristol University, 2009)

13. Kimmel, “Gender Symmetry” in Domestic Violence: A Substantive and Methodological Research ReviewViolence Against Women, vol. 8 No.11

14. Rachel Pain Everyday Terrorism: How Fear Works in Domestic Abuse, (University of Durham & Scottish Women’s Aid)

15. Jennifer Perry, Digital Stalking: A guide to technology risks for victims, (Pub, by Network for Surviving Stalking & Women’s Aid)

16. Women’s Aid, Virtual world, real fear: Women’s Aid report into online abuse, harassment and stalking.

Granted my list  has slightly more than 14 books, but I figure if Zuckerberg has taken the time out from running a multi-national corporation to give the general public a reading list, he has the time to make sure his corporation isn’t perpetuating violence against women and girls.

I really hope this is meant to be a joke:

because this has to be one of the stupidest things I have ever read:

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The province of Ontario needs to do some serious work on their social studies curriculum if this what their graduates come out with.

#DickheadDetox Donald Trump for being a White Supremacist


Donald Trump’s recent public statements on migrant workers don’t need to be deconstructed: they are racist and xenophobic.

But, he isn’t an anomaly. Trump represents the core of the Republican Party. Dismissing Trump as a joke or ‘mad’ is to fundamentally misunderstand American politics. It ignores the entirety of American history starting at colonization and continues through US foreign policy and domestic policies on housing, welfare and healthcare.

After all, there’s already a giant wall between Texas and Mexico. Trump wanting to expand it doesn’t make him more racist than the men who built it in the first place.

Rihanna should have known better because she’s a victim of domestic violence

I’ve seen this statement repeated on numerous blogs and media articles on Rihanna’s latest video and it seriously pisses me off. Holding a victim of domestic violence to a higher standard than other women isn’t a feminist position. I don’t like Rihanna’s new video, but this idea that she has transcended all of the societal norms of the capitalist patriarchy by being a victim of male violence is inherently anti-feminist. This is victim blaming language and feminists shouldn’t be shaming a woman.

Critical engagement with the video is essential, but critical engagement doesn’t involve victim blaming language or woman-shaming. Feminists should know better.


8 Celebrities Who Look Like A Quality Street

This is actually an article in the Huffington Post. I’m not going to link to it since they don’t need the advertising clicks, but this is the world we live in: not only are women body-shamed for having bodies, our clothing is policed for looking like “chocolate wrappers”.

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Celebrity women get trashed in the media for going out in jeans or trackie bottoms, but also shamed for dressing up in designer clothes for events they are required to wear. As women, we need to stop consuming media that shames women for their bodies. We may not be able to stop it but we can certainly cause financial harm to such online media by refusing to click.