#MakingWorkVisible for #IWD2017

#womenwrites (12.11)

Get Your People at Crunk Feminist Collective

About the ‘Left’ and its Discontents in These Perilous Times  via @sunnysingh_nw3

It’s too soon for you by Talat Yaqoob

Make no mistake – Donald Trump’s victory represents a racist “whitelash” by Maya Goodfellow

White women sold out the sisterhood and the world by voting for Trump.  via @doublexmag

After the election of Donald Trump, we will not mourn. We will organize | Gloria Steinem

“On ‘Woke’ White People Advertising their Shock that Racism just won a Presidency” by Courtney Parker West

7 Women Besides Susan B. Anthony Whose Graves Deserve “I Voted” Stickers at Bustle

Blood, Sweat and Tears: Medieval Literature, Cambridge, and Leonard Cohen  via @LucyAllenFWR

Equal Rights; Different Needs   by Polly Neate

Breaking the Cycle: the challenges of parenting after an abusive childhood  via @WomanAsSubject

If women aren’t a class, there’s no such thing as radical feminism by Cherry Blossom Life

Bounty should be banned from maternity wards by @lisaaglass

The Importance of Conversations and Community by @jendella
via @WritersofColour

#womenwrites (7.11.16)

The Historian’s Altmetrics: How can we measure the impact of people in the past? by Dr. Michelle Morovac

With Brexit the Tories have made sure we all have egg on our faces via by Kiri Kankhwende @WritersofColour

For the White Woman Who Wants to Know How to be My Friend: A Black Feminist Guide to Interracial Solidarity by @ClaireShrugged

Feminism, pornography and lots of crying in the loos: Lennie Goodings reflects on 43 years of Virago 

National Treasure at Rape Crisis Scotland

End this misogynistic horror show. Put Hillary Clinton in the White House | Barbara Kingsolver

One woman’s brush with Sharia courts in the UK: “It ruined my life forever” by Rahila Gupta

Feminism and the Social Model of Disability by Heather Downs

The Stunning Literariness of Solange by Panashe Chigumadzi

Tattooing your name on your partner’s forehead is an act of control, not devotion  by @glosswitch

For the White Woman Who Wants to Know How to be My Friend: A Black Feminist Guide to Interracial solitary  by @ClaireShrugged

How ‘sex work’ killed the victim by RAQUEL ROSARIO SANCHEZ

The short list for the Zero Tolerance Write to End Violence Against Women and Girls Award. via @WritetoEndVAW

#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 – 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

#womenwrites – a collation of essential writing by women

A collation of brilliant writing by women

#womenwrites for February 2016

(Re)Writing the Margins: Radical Feminism and Reproductive Justice Book Call for Papers

There has been a plethora of feminist texts and anthologies published on motherhood and feminist mothering in the past ten years, but there has been very little published with a radical feminist perspective on feminist mothering, the patriarchal institution of motherhood, the advent of reproductive technology and the backlash on single mothers. Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born is the quintessential radical feminist text on motherhood and feminist mothering and its influence is clear in numerous modern texts, but not from within radical feminist communities. Radical feminist writing has been relegated to online communities – such as the powerful collective blog Motherhood is a Feminist Issue – where debates have raged over the question of mothers having more privilege over non-mothers and whether or not it is possible to be a radical feminist within a heterosexual relationship.

Much of these debates have become polarised into two camps: mothers vs. non-mothers reinforcing the very patriarchal systems radical feminism was created to overthrow by policing women’s bodies to reflect political positions. Even fewer of the numerous anthologies and online writing has examined the issue of reproductive justice from within a radical feminist framework.

(Re)Writing the Margins is a collection of radical feminist essays, personal experiences, poetry and short stories on reproductive justice and radical feminist mothering within a white supremacist capitalist-patriarchy. We welcome submissions from researchers, activists, artists, mothers, children, grandmothers, and community members; we encourage submissions of both scholarly chapters and creative works that explore radical feminist theory and practise in relation to reproductive justice.

The anthology will examine the following topics:

  • Compulsory heterosexuality, heteronormativity and child-rearing
  • Wifework
  • Reproductive Justice for Whom? The impacts of racism, classism, disablism, homophobia on abortion, birth control, miscarriage, caring, mental illness etc.
  • Male violence and the ‘children need fathers’ rhetoric
  • Infertility and Reproductive Technology
  • Remaining childless as a choice.
  • Raising sons as a radical feminist.
  • Raising children in a pornified world
  • Defining gender – on whose terms?

Abstracts: Please send a 250-word description of the proposed paper, including a tentative title to louisepennington@hotmail.com. Along with this, please include a 50-100 word biography and your full contact information.

Deadline for abstracts is April 30 2016

Full Manuscripts: Please ensure that the manuscript conforms to Chicago style, and is 15-20 pages (double-spaced) in length. Final acceptance of the manuscript for inclusion in the collection rests upon its fit with the rest.

Deadline for full manuscripts is July 30 1016

To Submit: Please direct all submissions and inquiries to Louise Pennington at louisepennington@hotmail.com

What about the other children? – on racism and classism in schools

Mother Jones has published an extremely problematic article on integration in schools, which talks of the benefits to middle and upper class children, without once recognising the impact on Black and Latino children. These are the 3 outcomes which ‘prove’ that integrated schools are better for white children:

1. White students’ test scores don’t drop when they go to schools with large numbers of black and Latino students.

2. Diverse classrooms teach some of the most important 21st-century skills, which matter more than test scores.

3. Graduates of socioeconomically diverse schools are more effective in the workplace and global markets.

The second and third point state that it is better for white children to be exposed to Black and Latino children and those living in poverty because it will make middle and upper class white children to be better and more successful people. Apparently, raising children to be kind, compassionate and responsible is no longer necessary. Now, we just need to teach them how to talk to Black and Latina kids so they will feel more comfortable being their boss in twenty years.

Comparisons between race and gender make me deeply uncomfortable as they are inevitably comparing Black men to white women – completely erasing Black women’s experiences of misogyny and racism. In this case, there is a valid comparison to be made about the rhetoric of single sex schools.

Evidence suggests that girls perform better at single sex schools. These tend to be private schools and, in the UK, tend to be predominantly white and wealthy, which does impact on attainments. Boys do better in mixed sex schools.* The argument for mixed schools requires girls in order to socialise boys and improve their academic records. The implicit message here is that the education of boys is more important than girls so it’s okay to force girls to deal with sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour from male students. Boys aren’t held accountable for their own behaviour; parents aren’t held accountable for raising entitled sons with serious behavioural problems;** and schools aren’t held accountable for their misogynistic practises. Girls are treated as nothing more than tools in the education of boys; no different from computers and chalk.

This article published by Mother Jones treats Black and Latino children as teaching tools for white, middle class children. There is no real mention of the academic achievement of these students and the impact caused by the daily micro-aggressions of a white supremacist, capitalist-patriarchy. It ignores the systemic racism and classism in American culture which sees schools in lower economic areas and those with predominately Black and Latino students receiving less funding. There’s no mention of cuts to arts and music that disproportionately impact ‘bad’ schools – cuts that have serious negative impacts on children’s academic achievements and emotional health. It ignores the number of children going to school hungry because of economic policies which punish families who don’t have trust funds. And aren’t white.

The argument for diverse schools works only if we treat ALL children as worthy of an education and emotional health. Sending white children to predominantly Black and Latino schools to make white children ‘better’ people is racism. It erases Black and Latino children as people; just as the rhetoric around mixed schools holds girls accountable for the behaviour of boys.

We need greater investment in schools to support all children; not use them as specimens in petrie dishes to promote the welfare and entitlement of white, wealthy children at the expense of everyone else.

*I’ve not seen research on this which accounts for class and race in attainment since teachers are not immune from white supremacist thinking and it is clear that many teachers expect better results from white children and mark poor children and children of colour lower than white, wealthy children.

** This point is about neurologically typical children and not a reference to children with additional support needs who find schools difficult spaces to navigate.

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.