I’m really, really tired of the supposed joke “I’m a feminist, just not the hairy, man-hating Lesbian kind”. It creates a dichotomy between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ feminists wherein Lesbians in possession of their body hair, who are by default man-haters, are ‘bad’ feminists. It’s thoughtless, reductive, and, to be perfectly blunt, it’s lesbophobic.
Feminist Borgia has written an excellent critique of the concept which I highly recommend but, essentially, the entire basis of the “I’m not a man-hating, hairy Lesbian” is to make feminism palatable to men and reinforce women’s sexual availability to men. Frankly, the men who are feminist allies don’t need us to pander to their delicate sensibilities. They already get it. The men who don’t get it won’t get it whilst we throw our Lesbian sisters under the bus to make men feel important.
It is not funny. It is not clever and it is most certainly not a feminist act to use a “joke” which insults one group of women in order to placate men.
This is why I was really quite distressed to see Bitch magazine using the trope whilst advertising for new freelance writers:
By focusing on gender issues and the media, Bitch acts as a tool-kit for all those who engage in social justice and feminist criticism (no, feminist is not another word for lesbian), and editors are looking for writers who can provide smart, thought-provoking commentary on pop culture.
This appears as a guest post by Bitch on the website FishBowl NY. I can’t access the full article so I cannot tell for certain if this is a direct quote from a staff member at Bitch or not. It does read as though Bitch are looking for freelance writers who are not lesbians. I’m sure this wasn’t their intention, but the inclusion of the trope does imply that Bitch has enacted a no-lesbian policy.
We will not succeed in liberating women by making jokes about our sisters or reinforcing Patriarchal stereotypes. By insisting that we aren’t “hairy, man-hating lesbians”, we are telling the Patriarchy that lesbians, women with hair and women with valid reasons to hate men aren’t worthy of our concern or our support.
That is not a feminism I support.
UPDATE: Bitch media was not responsible for the quote and has requesting that it be removed from the article.
UPDATE 2: I emailed Bitch with my concerns yesterday morning and received a very lovely reply back from them both apologising and stating that the quote did not come from a member of staff at Bitch.
Yesterday, I read a blog written by my friend @LUBBOttom on the silencing of the voices of women with disabilities within the feminist movement entitled “white, cis and silenced”. I have read the piece multiple times but still haven’t processed it fully because I keep getting to this paragraph and am not able to express a coherent thought due to rage:
Funfairs and theme parks, which once used to be accommodating to people with wheelchairs are now considerably less so. Madame Tussauds, in particular, has brought into the scrounger propaganda and now demands medical proof of your disability in order to give you disability access. And god forbid you might want to sit with your children on a ride- they’re convinced you’re a danger to yourself, and insist that you can only sit next to, in front of was not good enough, another grown up or not go on the ride. Considering children also need to sit next to a grown up it leaves you with the option, if you’re only there with one other adult, of going on after your kids with a grown up but no children, which is understandable on a roller coaster but not so much on a small kiddy ride.
I assume this level of bullshit is currently legal since we live in a country which genuinely hates disabled people. It’s just the level of arrogance and infantilisation in this policy is just gobsmacking.
I will be boycotting Madame Tussauds until they change this policy and I will be writing them to tell them why.
UPDATE: A good friend just posted a link to a really powerful article on the erasure of women with disabilities from interesectional feminism. It really is an essential read.
You’d think this was only directed a the arsewipes at a Voice for Men and the rape apologists hanging out at the ironically named Good Men Project but it seems a number of actual self-defining feminists are struggling with this too.
So, here’s the point:
Feminists make mistakes too. We are human and we make mistakes.
Holding the entire feminist movement accountable for a mistake one feminist made ten years ago is deeply stupid.
Holding all [insert feminist category of choice here] responsible for a mistake one person made six months ago is stupid.
Trashing one feminist for making a mistake once is stupid.
Feminism is a movement and one in which we are all learning.
We will make mistakes. We will change our minds. We will be as imperfect as every other human on the planet.
If all you do is whine about what other women are doing and saying, then you really need to reassess your feminist principles.
We need to call each other out on racism, homophobia, lesbophobia, disblism, classism etc. One mistake should be forgiven as part of a learning process.
A pattern of abusive behaviour should not be forgiven.
So, for all the so-called feminists out there whining about activism of The Women’s Room UK and Caroline Criado Perez, stop being so freaking self-centred and try supporting your sisters instead of wasting all your time trashing them.
And, the trashing goes for middle class white journalism too. We should all have access to education and decent employment. Let’s campaign for that instead of whining about some women being more privileged than others.
The endgoal of feminism is to liberate all women, not reduce us to the lowest common denominator. Frankly, that’s just offensive.
Well, to be completely honest, I’ve never actually had an opinion on who should be on the #banknotes since I have never actually noticed who was on them. But, that’s the beauty of feminism: we aren’t the Borg. Feminism is full of brilliant and inspiring women who question everything. We need campaigns like #banknotes and Everyday Victim Blaming and the Name Equality Campaign as much as we need Rape Crisis, Women’s Aid and Women Under Siege.
So, why my nitpicking over which woman gets to be on the £10 note?
I’m a huge Jane Austen fan and until last night I was perfectly happy with Austen. She’s a brilliant writer: funny and snarky. She also published under her own name, which remains pretty fabulous. I only changed my mind after seeing the sheer amount of misogynistic abuse and one rape threat that feminist campaigner Caroline Criado Perez received for her campaign to ensure that a woman remained on English banknotes.
I want Boudicca to serve as a symbol of what happens to women when they question the Patriarchy: Boudicca was flogged and her daughters raped for questioning the right of the Roman Empire, an emblem of male violence and patriarchal control.
Jane Austen remains one of my favourite authors but I want Boudicca to serve as a Fuck You to all the men who insulted and threatened Caroline yesterday. I want Boudicca to serve as a reminder to all the men who stood up for Caroline that this isn’t a one-off. Male violence, and the threat thereof, is constant.
We all need a reminder of what is at stake for women who question the Patriarchy.
I have been contemplating whether or not to publish this post since the incident described below happened. I have erred on the side of not publishing hoping that things will change but they haven’t. If anything, things are getting worse.
I was reminded of the incident in an email conversation with Jane Fae where I mentioned how distressing I found the situation and then said: We will not succeed by silencing dissent. Jane quoted me in a blog she wrote for the F-Word UK which is what led me to decide to publish this piece. The below post has actually nothing to do with our email conversation or her F-Word blog but it has been preying on my mind and I need to make me feelings clear on this issue.
I also think it’s important to write about this following my Twitter #FeministLoveIn post yesterday. I firmly believe we need to celebrate online feminism and the incredibly inspiring women who fight the fight against misogyny online. I don’t agree with every opinion held by the women I mentioned but that is the point. We can be feminists and focus on different issues without trashing one another’s activism. We can disagree without resorting to personal insults and attacks. Feminism isn’t one movement. And no one has the right to decide whether or not another person can label themselves a feminist. Discussion is an essential part of feminist activism. Silencing those we disagree with us is just the Patriarchy using women to police women.
As feminists, we need to acknowledge our differences and celebrate our activism. We will not succeed by silencing dissent.
I have redacted all names from the post below and I will delete any comments which name the women involved.
Several months ago, a teenage feminist tweeted out a question from a webchat. She did not use quotation marks but that is hardly relevant. A teenage girl just tweeted out a question about feminism and language. This teenage girl, who is little more than a child herself, was attacked for asking a question that was deemed unacceptable by adult feminists.
A teenage girl was verbally abused and harassed into apologising for asking a question by a group of adult women who call themselves feminists.
When did feminism get to the point that asking questions was considered anti-feminist?
When did feminism get to the point that a child cannot ask a question?
When did feminism get to the point that a child asking a question was considered worthy of verbal abuse?
Verbal abuse is just that: abuse.
It is bullying.
It is completely unacceptable behaviour, especially when the victim is a child.
Feminism will not succeed by silencing dissent.
And, feminism certainly won’t succeed when adult women think they have the right to verbally abuse a child for committing the crime of asking a question.
My feminism does not punish children for asking questions. It does not punish other women for asking questions. I’m struggling to understand how any woman who treats a child in such an abusive can label themselves a feminist. It is certainly not part of any feminist movement I want to be part of. Basic kindness and respect should be the basis of feminist interactions with other feminists. Trashing a campaign for the sake of it (as seen in the aftermath of the #Banknotes win for The Women’s Room UK) aren’t feminism.
My feminism is about supporting women and liberating women from male violence. Harassing and verbally abusing those we disagree with isn’t feminism. It is women replicating the abuse perpetuated by the Patriarchy. Whilst I will continue to celebrate the activism and wins of women whose goals I am not support, I will not be silent when feminists use abusive behaviour to silence other women.
I’ve written recently about the negative aspects of twitter with the online bullying, cliques and some, frankly, ridiculous behaviour.
Sometimes I focus so much on the negative and worrying about being trolled that I miss the good stuff. This week I have had several really inspiring conversations with women on 3 continents. I’ve discussed pornography, reality television, rape, racism, children, cats and women’s literature.
I forget what a privilege it is to converse with so many women and learn from our collective wisdom. Our lives and our feminisms differ dramatically but the sisterhood still exists. We just need to celebrate it more. We need to celebrate our strengths and our weaknesses. We need to stop expecting perfection from our sisters. We stop pretending that feminism is the Borg where we all must think the same thing or we’re not feminists.
So, I’m having a twitter #feministlovein today for all the amazing women who’ve inspired me, held my hand, made me rage, made me laugh, made me cry and most importantly made me a better feminist.
A Lone Parent
Claire Moore (@cctheatreco)
Donna Navarro (@lexiconlane)
Hannah M. Curtis
Karen Ingala Smith
Lily Monroe (@pornfreeculture)
Nicole (@ni c_jameson)
Nicole Rowe (@cellardoor790)
Orla Moylan Hegarty
Sarah Jay (@mauvedinosaur)
Victoria Lucas (@radfemmamma)
(Sensibly, when I started this list I only put the first names. I’m going through to add either last names or twitter handles so others can follow them too, which is what I should have done from the beginning:) )
*This is only a list of women from Twitter. The list would be twice as long if I included the amazing feminists on Facebook.
As the lovely Glosswitch stated on twitter earlier this week, the Guardian have managed to find the only literate MRA and have given him a job. Like Glosswitch, I’ve only recently come across Lott The Arsewipe but he’s like every other misogynistic fucknugget whinging about his penis and why women refuse to kowtow to it.
Lott belongs on the #DickheadDetox for a number of reasons starting with insulting his wife in the national press, whining about having to share “his income” with his wife, and reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes which are based on male control of women. What concerns me the most is the sheer number of red flags for domestic violence within his columns. Lott’s construction of his relationship is one in which he has control; that is not normal and it is not healthy. It is disgraceful that the Guardian is giving space to a man who writes such twaddle.
For an excellent takedown of Lott’s nincompoopery, do read Glosswitch’s blog. I’ve reblogged a section below but the entire piece is a must read:
Using a central scene in the film as a springboard, Lott offers up a self-important analysis of what he calls the difference between “acceptance” (as displayed by him) and “resignation” (as displayed by his morally inferior wife). While acceptance is “a wholehearted, positive acceptance that no one can be everything you want them to be” (and “is hard”), resignation is “the refusal to take on board the fact that people are different from you and, anyway, you cannot cast the first stone unless you are without sin yourself”. While Lott generously allows that his wife might have “more to complain about than I do”, he argues that “one thing she doesn’t have to put up with — by and large — is me complaining about her”. Since he doesn’t add “except in the pages of a national newspaper” I’m assuming the irony of the whole character assassination has escaped him (and yes, I know I’m having a go at Tim myself, but then I’m not the one preaching bloody “acceptance” in the first place).
I’ve since learned that on all matters domestic, but especially those involving the humiliation of one’s nearest and dearest, Lott has form. Last week’s piece was called Money – the biggest taboo in a relationship
, and in it, Lott discussed the apparent complexities of earning more than one’s wife when she happens to be doing more of the unpaid domestic labour. You and I might think “just share the bloody money” but apparently that’s “archaic” and Lott isn’t “quite sure what would be a better alternative”. Hence while he’s waiting for that alternative to appear, he keeps more money for himself and “if there’s a big expense, say a foreign holiday or house improvements, I tend to have the last say”. But don’t worry – it all balances out in the end:
My wife says that my having more money than her makes me feel powerful. She’s right – up to a point. It gives me an area of control, although I don’t think I use it in order to control. I just think some form of imbalance is inevitable. When it comes to the house and children, my wife enjoys virtually total authority.
The point that Lott seems to miss is that while his wife may have “authority” over the dirty socks, that’s because it’s become her job (in case you’re wondering, Lott shrunk a sweater in the wash once and is therefore incapable of helping). It’s the same type of “authority” Lott has over his writing. It’s not the same as the reward. It’s not the same as the fundamental freedoms that financial autonomy brings. I suspect deep down Lott knows this (how could he not?) but is playing dumb.
I imagine there are members of the men’s right’s “movement” who’d consider Lott too “Guardian” to really be one of them. They’d be wrong. He’s the perfect example of the way in which, via Essential Difference neurosexism
, Fathers 4 Justice grandstanding and hype over male underachievement, the men’s rights narrative of resentment has become mainstream. It could be there at your own dinner table. Don’t listen to it. Achieving the right balance is difficult in any household but we can all do better than resignation, acceptance or whatever someone who claims to speak for you is telling you to call it.
OK Magazine: continuing it’s policy of woman-shaming.
I’m not surprised OK Magazine ran this cover.
I’m angry. Sad. Depressed. Mostly angry. How dare they treat a woman like this. It doesn’t matter what woman because none of us deserve this.
I am surprised at how many people seem shocked by OK Mag running this as their cover. It’s not like OK Mag ever write anything positive about women. All of their articles are about women being too fat fat, too skinny, too promiscuous, too orange, too stupid, too smart, too woman. Just like most women’s magazines.
Women’s magazines make their money making women feel insecure. They don’t care about women’s health or happiness: just the money.
We need to boycott them all.
We need to start developing magazines aimed at women which don’t engage in women-blaming and women-hating.
No woman should ever be shamed for her body. Ever.
I genuinely don’t know what to say about Louise Mensch anymore. I know she is a troll by profession but her recent tweets have been shocking. At least, I’ve always assumed she was a professional troll, along with Dr. Christian, but I am at a loss for words to describe her recent tweeting. If she were a friend, I would be worried about her. I cannot decide if she’s actually quite dim with moments of brilliance or if she genuinely lacks the empathy to even attempt to understand the lives of people who aren’t wealthy and white like her.
The idea that George Zimmerman should be thankful for the imminent birth of the “royal baby” demonstrates such a lack of awareness of reality that I’m gobsmacked. How can anyone living in the US think of the Zimmerman acquittal in positive terms? A child is dead, dead because of racism and utterly insane laws about “standing your ground”, and Mensch is blithering on about the birth of a child in a country that she no longer lives in.*
As for “rape fantasy porn” tweets, I can’t believe any woman could be so dismissive of the experiences of sexual violence of other women. Mensch is engaged in that old skool narcissistic twitter tendency to retweet everyone who agrees with them and ignore the comments by those who disagree. Her replies to those expressing concern are dismissive and, frequently, rude as though survivors of sexual violence aren’t worth her time.
I loathe the term “rape porn”. Rape, by definition, is a non-consensual act. It is impossible for consensual porn to be made about rape. As for Mensch’s assertion that most women have “rape porn” fantasies, well, I’d like to see her research to back up the statistic because I think it’s complete twaddle. What really shocked me was Mensch stating she would blog about the “rape porn” debates AFTER she blogs about the royal baby. How skewed are her priorities if the potential birth of one child is more important than legislation dealing with pornography and sexual violence? I know she’s hardly the only person blithering on as if we are witnessing the birth of the new Messiah but her tweets shocked me.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at what Mensch tweets or blogs since she is clearly in it for the attention and the best way to get attention in our culture is by being utterly ridiculous. This is just another dimension of our reality television based culture which grants those engaged in self-destructive behaviour with fame and columns in national papers. Instead of publishing actual news, our national media has spent the day stalking a hospital where one woman is giving birth in a denial of her right to privacy and at the expense of reporting information which is important.
It is a sad indictment of our culture that Louise Mensch, who resigned as an MP to live in the US with her new husband, is still considered an important political commentator on our culture.
A selection of her tweets on the murder of Trayvon Martin
People most thankful for #royalbaby – George #Zimmerman and his family.
Should #Zimmerman have followed #Trayvon, no. Did Trayvon have right to attack, yes. Previous statement still applies. Not guilty. #tcot
In the end #Zimmerman defence & acquittal very simple, backed by forensics; #Trayvon attacked, GZ feared for his life, shot him. Not guilty
George #Zimmerman wasn’t on trial for being a puffed-up vigilante. He was on trial for murder 2 & the President should not have intervened.
Her tweets on the debate over “rape fantasy” porn
I would hope that any such law would be challenged in the courts and fail in the courts. It is inhuman. Rape and rape fantasy not the same.
It is not for our government to police consensual simulation, between adults, of one of women’s most common fantasies.
It’s not law yet and I hope it never will be. The Simon Walsh Obscenity trial should give all MPs pause. Govt out of people’s bedrooms.
Going to blog on opposition to government seeking to criminalise simulation one of most common female fantasies, rape, but after #royalbaby
* I know insane is not the right word to use here. I apologise for the ableist term. I’m just so angry that I can’t work out what to say.
I have been very critical of Femen’s brand of feminist activism. I supported their goals years ago when they were targeting sex traffickers and male violence, although not the methods they employ. Now, Femen seem to be after the media attention rather than supporting women. Femen have moved into colonialist discourse where in white women are the saviours of brown women. The recent protests against the burqha and Islam have been steeped in racism and the othering of women. Whilst I firmly believe that feminism has multiple constructions and that we are all on a journey but at different places on that journey, I find Femen’s activism deeply troubling.
Today, I read a blog at LaLibertineSalon which claims that a Femen activist attacked a woman who works as a stripper on stage. I am really hoping this isn’t true because I can not believe that anyone who labels themselves as a feminist would believe that physically attacking other women was acceptable.
I am an abolitionist. I believe that all parts of the “sex industry” are harmful to women as a political class. I do understand the arguments about the ‘sex industry’ [from Hooters to lap dance clubs to prostitution] being the only industry in which women living in poverty or who are Othered can survive but I believe that is why we need to destroy the Patriarchy. Poverty and lack of choice are not acceptable reasons to commodify women’s bodies.
What the Femen activist did isn’t feminist activism. Feminism is a political theory which attacks political structures. We are critical of women’s behaviour but that criticism can not descend into personal attacks, both physical and emotional.
Feminism is about sisterhood and solidarity. It is about making the world a better place for all women. We cannot do that whilst engaged in sustained personal attacks.
I am deeply disturbed that a Femen activist would choose to storm a stage and put already vulnerable women in further danger. Women who work in the “sex industry” are more vulnerable to sexual harassment and sexual violence from men that other women. They don’t need other women helping men to hurt them. They don’t need other women physically attacking them.
I am thankful I read the piece at LaLibertineSalon as I had missed this story, however, I am equally disturbed by the personal attacks on Meghan Murphy and Stella Marr at the bottom of the article. The assumption that feminists who campaign against the ‘sex industry’ must be omniscient is harmful. This idea that Murphy and Marr must know every single thing every other feminist on the planet is doing and must write about it is ridiculous.
It is also wrong. Mainstream feminists have written about the harm caused by Femen. Murphy has written several pieces on the subject. I have not seen anything by Marr but that’s because I have not yet read every word she has ever written. I have read numerous pieces by mainstream feminists from Germaine Greer to Sara Salem. I’ve read criticisms in the Guardian, Al Jazeera and the CBC. If the author of LaLibertineSalon has not, well, I’m assuming it is because she isn’t omniscient either.
Feminists cannot and must not let personal attacks on other women go unchallenged, whether that is Femen engaged in deeply troubling behaviour to women sniping at other women about their brand of feminism.
We need to move out of this toxic discourse and start focussing on the real problems.
We need to stop demanding perfection and total obedience from women. None of us are perfect. None of us have all the answers. Pretending that we do is harmful; as is demanding that every woman who self-defines as feminist must agree with everything we say or be booted out.
We are not the Patriarchy so let’s stop acting like it.