Jay Leno can fuck right off

So, Jay Leno has now joined the line-up of dudes who claim they believe the women who have accused Bill Cosby of rape Yep, apparently Leno has always known that Cosby is a sexual predator. And, he believes all the women. But, he still has Cosby on his talk show.  Because it’s easy to come out pro-women after years of women being labeled liars & some other dude calling Cosby out.

Since we can’t possibly allow profit to drop by supporting women by refusing to have a sexual predator on your talk show which has a bazillion members of the audience and regularly won the most watched show in its time slot. Nope, instead Leno until a whole bunch of decades later to come out to support women.

Leno can take his sanctimonious twaddle elsewhere because I genuinely don’t give a shit about the number of rich, white dudes lining up now to claim they believe women when they could have done something 20 years ago. Leno is a coward – not a supporter of women’s rights.

A Final Word on A Room of Our Own

Recently, I have received a number of comments about A Room of Our Own and my politics – many were polite but, increasingly, I’ve been receiving rude comments and those demanding I answer their questions immediately. AROOO has always been what it says on the tin: a network for all feminists. I haven’t deviated from this and I have no intention of doing so.

It should be clear to anyone who reads my blog, twitter or FB page that AROOO does not represent my feminist politics. It was never intended to represent my politics. Instead, I founded AROOO to create a network for feminists to share their writing, activism, art, poetry (and any and everything else that can be published online). So, yeah, I publish all sorts of articles that I fundamentally disagree with and many of the members fundamentally disagree with what I write. The point wasn’t to create a network where I only publish stuff I agree with. If I wanted that, I could have just hit the reblog button and published work I agree with on here.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with my politics. I don’t expect that those who agree with my politics will support the way I choose to run AROOO. That’s life.

I do AROOO because I love it, because sharing women’s writing is important to me – even women I fundamentally disagree with.

 

The link to the AROOO Go Fund Me is here.  £1 will make a huge difference to improving the site!

Why don’t we talk about bad fathers?

This is an old post that I meant to expand but didn’t:

 Today, Giles Fraser wrote about the ways in which mothers fuck up their children. Granted, he briefly mentions fathers but, mostly, Fraser blamed women for not being ‘good enough’. At no point does Fraser mention the role of fathers in raising children or ‘fucking them up’. Fraser ignores the reality of male violence against women and children within the home that has a serious detrimental effect on children’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Why are mothers always to blame when it is men who commit the vast majority of violence within the home? Children experience domestic violence at the hands of their fathers both as victims and as witnesses. It is fathers who sexually assault and rape their children. It is mostly fathers who refuse to financially support their children preferring instead to allow them to live in poverty to punish the mother and it is fathers who kill their children to punish the mother. Why do we blame mothers for not being “good enough” when it is fathers who are the mostly like to abuse children – physically, emotionally, and sexually. Why don’t we talk about bad fathers?

 

Mrs Doubtfire is a Great Dad: And Other Stories of Stalking as Fathering

I was watching reruns of Bones the other day. I love Kathy Reich’s books and her character of Temperance Brennan and the TV show is an interesting way of rebooting the series without following the books (although I suspect partly this was a way of ensuring that an actress in her 40s wouldn’t play the main character because middle age women are a no-no if they aren’t married with children). The entire subplot of one episode was of the male lead Special Agent Seely Booth, played by David Boreanaz, using his privilege as an FBI agent to investigate the new partner of the mother of his child. At no point during the episode was it made clear how creepy, controlling and illegal the act was; instead, it focused on what a good Dad he was.

This same story line was integral to the plot of Mrs Doubtfire: a movie which celebrates incompetent fathers stalking their ex-wives and gaining access to their personal life and house through deception.  I’ve written before about my failure to recognise the abusive behaviour within Mrs Doubtfire:

 The stalking of the mother and the wearing down of her boundaries is classic abusive behaviour. Being “jealous” of Miranda’s relationship with a new man isn’t the behaviour of a good man – it’s the behaviour of an abusive man who believes his ex-wife is also his possession. Daniel has no right to interfere with his ex-wife’s new relationships. He has no right to stalk her and he has no right to manipulate her. Lying to Miranda and the children about who he is isn’t a funny movie plot. It’s the creepy behaviour of a classically abusive man.

I’ve seen far too many police dramas recently where fathers misuse their power to stalk their former partners and spy on them. This is always presented as normal behaviour by a man concerned about his children’s safety. The male lead in Breakout Kings, played by Domenick Lombardozzi,  consistently violates the boundaries of his ex-wife and screams in her face. Even when their child is abducted, he fails to talk to the ex-wife and, instead, screams repeatedly at her. This is the entire sum of their communication throughout the series: he shows up at her house screaming and demanding to see the kids. He pushes his way into the house, demands they do exactly what he says immediately and repeatedly refers to the child as his possession. Somehow, we’re supposed to believe these are the actions of a good cop who loves his children and not of an abusive man continuing to abuse both the ex-partner and child after the end of the relationship – that stalking and harassment are the signs of a good partner and not a criminal act.

I would like to see a cop drama run this story line and the police officer get caught and sent to prison. Just once, I want a program to reflect the reality of male violence, stalking and harassment.

 

Thank You Angelina Jolie on behalf of my Stepmother.

This is an old post that I took down due to online harassment.

This morning I read Angelina Jolie’s very personal and beautiful piece in the New York Times on her decision to undergo a double mastectomy because she is a carrier of the ‘faulty’ gene BRCA1 which increases her risk of developing both breast cancer and ovarian cancer. I thought it was a brave piece about Jolie’s personal decision. But, as ever, Jolie is being criticised for not discussing access to healthcare; for not discussing poverty as a factor which limits the choices of others'; and for just being Angelina Jolie because, as a female celebrity with political opinions, she is always wrong.

I want to thank Angelina Jolie for writing this. I know she is privileged. I’m pretty sure Jolie knows she is privileged; in fact, she discusses her privilege a lot. Jolie’s personal experience is just that: her personal experience. Considering the industry Jolie works in, which is predicated on women’s physical bodies as their only value, undergoing a double mastectomy will limit Jolie’s career. Yes, she is rich enough to never work again but that’s not quite the point. The point is, once again, a woman making a public statement is met with derision, insults and sexist discourse from other women.

My stepmother, Jean, died of cancer. It has been nearly a year since her death from breast cancer. Unlike Jolie, my stepmother was a carrier of both “faulty” genes. Breast cancer also killed her sister and her mother. My step-cousins carry both genes and have had to decide whether or not to have double mastectomies or a hysterectomy. Luckily, they live in a country where the national healthcare covers both the genetic tests, as well as both surgeries and treatment for cancer.

My stepmother faced breast cancer 4 times. Jean had numerous invasive procedures to treat the cancer. I genuinely can’t remember the number of times she was told that she had three months to live. Jean was lucky, if you can use that term, in that she responded well to chemotherapy and radiation. When the cancer was discovered in her liver 3 years ago, Jean was given the usual 3 months to live statement. We had heard it so many times that none of us really believed it. The cancer finally spread to 4 other internal organs.

Jean lived 2 years longer than her last diagnosis of cancer. She lived nearly 15 years longer than her first oncologist predicted.

Many women across the world can not access clean water, never mind expensive medical tests. Whilst we cannot forget that fact, it is unfair to continuously hold women responsible for all of the ills in the world.

All women should be able to access medical care.
It is not Jolie’s fault that she can afford treatment outwith the reach of most women.
After all, my stepmother was far from rich and she received years of expensive treatment. The problem isn’t Jolie’s article explaining her personal decision. The problem is the capitalist-patriarchy which puts profit above the lives of humans.
We won’t change this by attacking other women for sharing their personal stories. All we are doing by attacking Jolie is silencing other women.
As a friend said to me earlier today, this has to be one of the most inventive ways of silencing women: blaming them for being able to access healthcare.
I await with baited breathe the attacks on the next male celebrity who undergoes an invasive procedure to decrease he chance of getting cancer.
But, we all know that won’t happen.

Brilliant Girl Blogger and Feminist Activism

This post comes under the heading of ‘nepotism-by-proxy’ since these particular blogger happens to be the daughter of a friend.

HotCrossBrezel is run by Cat who is active across various social media platforms, including instagram, where she shares her art, and youtube. Cat’s most recent post is in response to her parents planning on refurbishing their kitchen. So, Cat spent the weekend researching on pinterest ways to improve your kitchen and wrote this brilliant blog about cheap ways to do so.

We spend so much time humiliating children who misuse social media or who make simple mistakes about politics which then gets shared by 3 000 people. What we aren’t doing is teaching children how to use social media appropriately so they can share their work. We need to stop sharing all of those Buzzfeed articles which name and shame people for mistakes online and we need to stop pretending that banning kids from social media will protect them. Online bullying is rife but telling kids to stop using Facebook won’t end it. If we want to stop it, we need adults to engage in the behaviour we want children to mimic. Kids engage in online bullying because adults do.

Lynn Schreiber, mother of the awesome Cat, has written extensively on safeguarding and social media. Her most recent blog examines the new problematic campaign from the NSPCC which ignores the issue of online bullying to focus on sexual predators (and assumes boys sending girls pictures of their penis is normal behaviour). Parents and schools need to know more about online safeguarding of children, but it needs to start with parents modelling appropriate behaviour. And, yes, I judged every single person who shared the youtube video of a young gymnast’s suit ripping on so her vulva was on display negatively. In fact, the phrase perpetuating sexual violence was what I was thinking every time I saw it shared.

Social media is a fundamental part of our culture now. Kids need to learn to use it and we need to start positive reinforcement as a way of teaching children to use it effectively. I love Cat’s blog and her YouTube channel. I want to see more young girls developing the confidence to showcase their talent and their enjoyment of life online. I want to see a generation of kids growing up knowing that social media can be a positive place.  I’ve allowed my youngest daughter to get an Instagram account. It’s at the top privacy setting possible and it mostly features pictures of our cats being ridiculous. I’m hoping that my daughter will follow Cat’s lead and be confident in sharing her art online as well. And, I’m hoping I will never have to have the conversation about online bullying with her.

Supporting young girls is a fundamental part of feminist activism. I’m going to start practising this by sharing blogs and writing supportive comments. We can change online spaces for girls. We just need to take the lead.

 

THE ORIGIN AND IMPORTANCE OF THE TERM FEMICIDE by Diana E.H Russell

This article appears on Diana E.H Russell’s website. You can find more of her work here.
I first heard this word … in 1974 when a friend in London told me that she had heard that a woman in the United States was planning to write a book titled “Femicide”. I immediately became very excited by this new word, seeing it as a substitute for the gender-neutral word “homicide.”

I first used the term femicide in public when I testified to the approximately 2,000 women from 40 countries who attended the first International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women, in Brussels, Belgium, in 1976. Here is a photo of the female-only participants attending this groundbreaking global speak-out, some of whom also testified about other crimes against women. We, the organizers, used the term “crimes” to refer to any and all forms of patriarchal and sexist oppression of females.

Belgian feminist Nicole Van de Ven and I compiled a book about this event, including all the testimony, which we titled Crimes Against Women: The Proceedings of the International Tribunal, which was published in 1976. Used copies of this book are still available on Amazon.com.

Incidentally, when I finally discovered that Carol Orlock was the author who had planned to write a book on femicide, but had never done so, she told me that she couldn’t recall how she had defined femicide. She also expressed delight that I had succeeded in resurrecting this term that now promises to eventually raise global awareness of the misogynist character of most murders of women and girls, as well as mobilizing women to combat these lethal hate crimes against us.

When I testified about femicide at the International Tribunal, I defined it implicitly as a hate killing of females perpetrated by males. For example, I stated that:

“From the burning of witches in the past, to the more recent widespread custom of female infanticide in many societies, to the killing of women for so-called honor, we realize that femicide has been going on a long time.”

Just as murders targeting African Americans and/or other minority groups, are differentiated by those that are racist and those that are not, so must murders targeting females be differentiated by those that are femicides and those that are not. When the gender of the victim is irrelevant to the perpetrator, the murder qualifies as a non-femicidal crime.

After making minor changes in my definition of femicide over the years, I finally defined it very simply as “the killing of females by males because they are female.” I’ll repeat this definition: “the killing of females by males because they are female.” I use the term “female” instead of “women” to emphasize that my definition includes baby girls and older girls. However, the term femicide does not include the increasingly widespread practice of aborting female fetuses, particularly in India and China. The correct term for this sexist practice is female feticide.

Examples of femicide include the stoning to death of females (which I consider a form of torture-femicide); murders of females for so-called “honor;” rape murders; murders of women and girls by their husbands, boyfriends, and dates, for having an affair, or being rebellious, or any number of other excuses; wife-killing by immolation because of too little dowry; deaths as a result of genital mutilations; female sex slaves, trafficked females, and prostituted females, murdered by their “owners”, traffickers, “johns” and pimps, and females killed by misogynist strangers, acquaintances, and serial killers.

There is a continuum of femicides ranging from one-on-one sexist murders, e.g., a man strangling his wife because she plans to leave him; to one or more males killing a group of women for, say, refusing to wear the correct attire in public; to the other end of the continuum, for example, mass femicides such as when preference for male children results in the killing, or death from neglect, of millions of female babies and girls, as in India and China.

My definition of femicide also includes covert forms of the killing of females, such as when patriarchal governments and religions forbid women’s use of contraception and/or obtaining abortions. Consequently, millions of pregnant women die every year from botched attempts to abort their fetuses. And when promiscuous AIDS-infected males continue to feel entitled to have sex with their wives, girl friends, and/or prostituted women and girls, their sexist behavior causes the death of millions of these women and girls. So do AIDS-infected males who refuse to wear condoms to protect their female sex partners and the females whom they rape, including the common practice in parts of Southern Africa where many males rape babies — including their own daughters — believing that these barbaric acts will cure them of AIDS. Hence, I consider AIDS resulting in the deaths of females to be a form of mass femicide.

Some people might wonder why I decided to use the invented word femicide instead of some other term like gender-discriminatory-murders. First of all, gender discrimination is not specific about which gender is a victim of discriminatory murder. In addition, the prefix “fem” connotes female, and “icide” connotes killing — as in terms like homicide, suicide, genocide, patricide, matricide, infanticide. More importantly, the excitement I felt when I first heard the new word femicide caused me to intuit that other feminists would likely share my response.

Just as U.S. Professor Catharine MacKinnon’s invention of the new feminist term sexual harassment was necessary before laws against these crimes could be formulated, so I believed that inventing a new term for sexist/misogynist killings of females was necessary for feminists to start organizing to combat these heretofore neglected lethal forms of violence against women and girls. Still today in the United States, where rates of violence against women are extremely high, most feminist organizations set up to combat violence against women, continue to ignore the most extreme form of it, that is, the murder of women.

….

I’d like to begin my conclusion by quoting a slightly edited version of a paragraph of the testimony on femicide that I delivered at the International Tribunal in 1976.  These words followed my reading descriptions of 17 examples of femicides that had occurred recently in San Francisco, in the Unites States — where men’s murders of their wives are by far the most frequent form of femicide.

Men tell us not to take a morbid interest in these atrocities.  The epitome of triviality is alleged to be a curiosity about “the latest rape and the latest murder.”  The murder and mutilation of a woman is not considered a political event.  Men tell us that they cannot be blamed for what a few maniacs do.  Yet the very process of denying the politics of this form of terrorizing women helps to perpetuate it, keeps us weak, vulnerable, and fearful.  These are the twentieth century witch burnings.  The so-called “maniacs” who commit these atrocities are acting out the logical conclusion of the woman-hatred which pervades all the patriarchal cultures in the world.

 More recently, increasing numbers of male leaders in several countries order their armies and supporters to perpetrate mass rape-and-mutilation femicides as a deliberate strategy in their patriarchal wars.  If increasing numbers of women and our male allies don’t succeed in organizing effective strategies against femicide, the already epidemic prevalence of femicides in almost all countries will escalate even more.

We must demand that the United Nations recognize that large numbers of males are engaged in a war against women and girls in which many of us are terrorized into submission.  National and international efforts must be made to assist feminists in ending this war — including by implementing severe punishments for the millions of perpetrators of femicide, just as the perpetrators of genocide are prosecuted for their murderous acts.

Trashing Boxing Day sales erases women living in poverty

My FB and twitter feed are full of people commenting that they wouldn’t dream of going to the Boxing Day sales – just as it was on Black Friday. I can understand the desire to comment on rampant consumerism that our capitalist-patriarchy is predicated on, but targeting the people buying in these sales is not appropriate because it completely ignores the issue of poverty.

I believe that the patriarchy will not be smashed unless we also destroy capitalism. There is no way to make capitalism ‘fair’ – it will always be predicated on the exploitation of the unwaged labour of women as carers for children and family and the the labour of people who live in “non-industrialised/non-Western” (or whatever othering term is being used this week).

Advertising makes us believe we are shit parents for not buying our kids the must-have toys of the season. We know it’s a scam to make rich men richer and that our kids won’t be scarred for life if we don’t buy them the toy, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t buy the toys because we don’t want our kid to be the one missing. As a single parent, I’ve always shopped in the sales. This is why we have the entire first edition of the Lego Harry Potter castle (75% off at Tescos), Playmobil school (50% off), pink micro-t scooter (25% off plus free delivery but only if you get the pink one) and numerous Barbies, Polly Pockets and My Little Ponies (both the branded and non-branded ones). Did I need to buy these for my daughters as a single parent? No. Did I still line up on Boxing Day, first day of the annual Playmobil sale at Toys’R’Us ( 40% off & if you spend £40, you get a ‘super’ set worth £20 free!) and Black Friday. You betcha.

They didn’t make me a better mother and they didn’t compensate for my eldest daughter’s father being a dick and either failing to even make contact at Christmas (having not paid child support all year) or sending her a puzzle for 18 month olds when she was 6. I still shopped on those big sales day because I didn’t want my kid to be the one at school who didn’t have a gazillion presents to talk about. And, I know most of these are made by people, including children, who are making less than a pound a day and frequently live without clean water and sanitation. It feels shit being in this position but I’m very lucky compared to many single parent households as I never lived under the poverty level.

So many women, and it almost always women, live in poverty because men refuse to financially support their children and the state colludes with these men by allowing them to perpetuate financial child abuse. The state, and increasingly NGOs, collude with multi-national corporations forcing huge swathes of the population of the planet into poverty with farm subsidies in ‘industrialised’ countries, commodifying water, running a “war on drugs” when we have a worldwide shortage of medicinal morphine & have destroyed the cash crops of indigenous famers, and denying workers a living wage (whether they be living in a slum in India or in London).

Capitalism requires people to live in poverty in order to continue. We need to challenge the corporations like Apple (I say typing on my new Apple computer bought on credit card as my old one was dying) who build their products in inhumane conditions or Nestle, who continues to promote their formula in areas with no access to clean water despite the fact that this actively kills babies, or any company who participate in the arms trade – all of whom are culpable in mass genocide.

Yes, there are many people buying in the sales who are ‘middle class’ but let’s talk about why they feel the need to line up at Next at 4 in the morning  for sales. Are they buying work clothes that they can’t afford at normal prices? Buying bags to make them look ‘professional’ at job interviews? Clothes for the kids to wear on weekends (since school uniforms are more expensive because it forces you to buy two sets of clothes)? School shoes which are grossly over-priced and completely impractical for girls to play in? Are they buying that TV because it’s the only form of entertainment they have?

Instead of denigrating people who buy at these sales, let’s talk about the capitalist-patriarchy, consumerism and poverty. Let’s examine why it’s considered acceptable to denigrate those who shop on Boxing Day but not those who line up in the week before Christmas spending thousands to have the Perfect Christmas. After all, spending hundreds on one toy the week before Christmas is as damaging to the planet as it is to spend 1/2 on the same toy on Boxing Day.

#DickheadDetox: Matthew Sanders for being a selfish tosser

This as swipe, having had a massive temper tantrum at being caught illegally parking in a parking space for people with disabilities has chosen to spend the whole day wasting the time of police officers, traffic wardens and blocking a parking space. This is so quintessentially entitled male behaviour that it’s almost impossible to believe it’s true. But, no, Matthew Sanders, currently of Birmingham but hopefully soon a guest of His Majesty, is genuinely having a huge tantrum because he got caught illegally parked:

A driver who parked in a disabled bay is in a stand-off with Birmingham City Council – after jumping back into his car to stop it being towed away.

Double glazing salesman Matthew Sanders, 34, is still inside his Vauxhall Tigra, which is now on the back of a low loader in Birmingham city centre.

The drama began when he was given a ticket for parking in a disabled bay.He said he was then angered when wardens tried to tow the car, which he said was not causing an obstruction.

I’ll be here all day. They have targets. This is private corporations ripping people off at Christmas.This is my only form of transport and need it for work and I’ve got to pick my daughter up from her mum’s.The council is short of cash and is trying to load my car up to cost me more money.I can’t afford to get it released so if they try to get me out I’ll just write it off.

– MATTHEW SANDERS

See, he’s got reasons for  being an asshole: like having a job and a kid. Weirdly, lot of other people have jobs and kids and don’t behave like gigantic fucking tosspots. And, ruin everyone else’s day with public displays of arrogance, narcissism and general fucking stupid.

I live in hope this dude with be billed for all the wasted hours of the traffic wardens, police, tow truck driver and everyone else caught up in his whinge-fest.

Bad Feminist Alert: I bought lego friends

LEGO-Friends-on-Fire

(image from here)

Granted, I’m being somewhat facetious here since buying your kid the toy they asked Santa for doesn’t make the Top 500 List of Things Bad Feminists Do. When Lego Friends first appeared, I swore up and down I would never buy them. And, here I am wrapping several sets from Santa.  With my teeth clenched. Muttering rude words about the capitalist-patriarchy. Feeling like a sell-out. But, Small wanted them so I bought some.

I had this horse riding stable as a child:

Unknown 1

This is the lego friends version:

Unknown 4

Lego is a brilliant toy, but I want them to have non-gendered Lego. We do have the Harry Potter castle which is fabulous – as long as you don’t touch it. The moment you try to connect the sets together, they all collapse on each other. This might be why I found most of the original sets in Tescos for 75% off.

Small actually wanted the shopping mall, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy it:

Unknown

I’m not entirely sure why she wanted the shopping mall since she breaks out in hives within 2 blocks of a real one and has been fairly consistent in her belief that Marks & Spencers are the main entrance to the Underworld – although, to be fair, anyone who has been shopping with my mother thinks this way too. Even Playmobil, usually the sensible toy maker, has made a shopping mall:

Unknown 5

I tried to balance feminism with Lego’s pink palace shite and bought the following sets:

Unknown 2images

and I got the Research Institute (which is 1/3 via Lego Direct than it is on Amazon)

Unknown 6

I’m going to build a research centre in the jungle so the lego friends characters can help run the nature reserve where the centre is located. I may even toss in some information about Dian Fossey.

Because I am absolutely not over-thinking this at all.