Mansplainers Arrive!

I haven’t read Rebecca Solnit’s new book but it’s on my wish list because her essay on what is now known as mansplaining is absolutely bloody brilliant. I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t experienced mansplaining at some point. The utter arrogance of men who think they know more about absolutely everything than women never ceases to amaze me – one prolific mansplaining, abusive dickwad on Mumsnet swears blind that women are totally over-reacting to child birth with their use of the word trauma because he’s seen his wife give birth twice and she was fine. This level of fucknuggetry is hardly strange or surprising.

These comments have been submitted to my blog in the past few days, whilst they aren’t as abusive as Larry is on MN, they aren’t exactly an example of men respecting women’s boundaries and intelligence.

First:

Madame – I have never heard of The Good Men Project nor what it is they represent, but it is quite obvious that you disapprove of it. The open letter seemed critical of Mr. Rodger and his thought “process” (?), as well as the acts he committed. Maybe calling him a “good man” meant that there was nothing unusual about his appearance (just going by the photos) which would make any of us fear him. I would also hope that any male virgin at the age of 22 would not feel the pressures to do such a thing.

 Second:

I have spent the last hour or so reading your blog and while there was much I felt I would like to comment on I realised that I would not be allowed enter the discussion due to my gender. So failing being able to engage in discussion on these topics I would like to comment on your comment policy, to you alone if not to your readers.

I encourage you to open your mind and challenge your views regarding the shutting down of challenging discussion. Challenging our views is what makes us wise, how can you learn new things unless you are willing to admit you may have been ignorant?

I refer to a quote from one of history’s great leaders

“If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.”
― Marcus Aurelius

i urge you to revise your comment policy to increase the legitimacy of your writing as it stands your blog reeks of disillusionment unless you are prepared to engage in meaningful discussion and contemplate that you may be wrong on some issues.

Thanks for reading, you can email me if you wish to discuss.

My first reaction to these comments was to snigger at the total lack of self-awareness, but, like Solnit states in her canonical article, men’s disrespect of women’s intelligence isn’t just some dude on the internet whinging about being denied the right to comment on a women’s blog. It’s about the systemic silencing, derailing and gaslighting of women. It’s about ignoring women’s knowledge and taking credit for their work.

Vulvas, gender and the real price of being female

In my living room right now are two little girls playing Monopoly. So far this morning they’ve discussed the following: the existence of God, what happens to your vagina when you give birth, and whether or not they are talking about vaginas and vulvas. Granted, I could have done without the 6:30 am wake up call asking me where I fit on the vagina/vulva debate.

<note for children who may be reading this: it is always too early to wake up to discussions on mislabelling of body parts within a patriarchal culture.>

The first debate could have been any child, but the second is a conversation that little girls have constantly because they are taught from birth that having a vulva isn’t something to be proud of – and if you don’t believe me, just look at the sheer number of threads on Mumsnet by women worried about what to call their daughter’s vulva: a foofoo, front bottom, or flower being continual suggestions. Can we just look at how stupid the term front bottom actually is? We never tell boys they have front bottoms – it’s only girls who are told their reproductive organs are dirty and probably full of pooh from birth. And, flower, besides being linguistically stupid, isn’t a “nice euphemism”. It’s a ridiculous term which makes it difficult for small children to explain if someone is hurting them. After all, the statement “he hurt my flower” could mean anything.

Children need to know basic biology . They need to understand how human reproduction works – and it isn’t like flowers do it – regardless of what you learned from Grease 2. It isn’t basic biology which is harmful to children, contrary to this rather ridiculous article in Slate.  It is the coercive gender roles we assign to male and female which harm children, as Glosswitch so eloquently writes. It is the idea that male children are A and female children are B which damages our children. It is telling boys they can be as violent as they want without repercussions and teaching girls that they are responsible for becoming a victim of male violence. That is harmful; not labelling an infant male or female (unless the child is intersex which, whilst rare, has not been handled appropriately by the medical profession).

When I gave birth to my daughters, I didn’t think they could only be nurses or that they could be whatever they wanted to be. When i gave birth to two girls, I thought about the likelihood they would become a victim of male violence.

When I gave birth, I thought about the increased risk they would live with for being born female:

  • child sexual abuse
  • rape as a teenager
  • rape as an adult
  • sexual harassment in the street, school and workplace
  • their increased risk for contracting STDs through PIV
  • their increased risk of contracting STDs from a male partner ejaculating in their mouth or eyes (as is increasingly common via porn)
  • the fact that most UTI in women are a direct consequence of PIV since men don’t tend to wash their penis after urinating (or hands for that matter)
  • the risk of unwanted pregnancy (and having no access to birth control or abortion)
  • the increased risk of domestic violence, stalking and harassment
  • the increased risk of being killed for being female

I also thought about the “privileges” of being female:

  • earning less than men for doing the same work
  • being fired for being pregnant
  • being forced out of the workplace because of childcare commitments
  • living in poverty because of piss poor pensions
  • living in poverty because they are raising children whilst the father makes no financial contribution
  • being less likely to work in senior management or on a board of a FTSE 500 company

And a 1000 other things which women are punished with for the crime of being born female in male supremacist culture. These punishments are not because we have vaginas, rather its because of the gender coercively assigned to biology which creates women as an inferior class. Gender needs to be abolished – not the biological reality of women’s bodies.

Our girls should be playing monopoly and discussing their bodies without feeling ashamed – but perhaps not at 6:30 in the morning.

 

Glosswitch’s response: Boy or Girl? Why not have a stereotype instead is a must read.

Choice Feminism and the Bra Wars

To wear a bra, or not to wear a bra – that is the question most don’t bother asking. So, I was rather intrigued by a thread on Mumsnet asking if women really do take their bras off as soon as they get home. It should have been one of those threads which are silly, funny and celebrating the differences amongst us. Instead, literally the second post was a rather dismissive: “surely no one takes their bra off as soon as they get home. If they do, they must be wearing the wrong bra size.” This was followed by a series of equally patronising responses suggesting that women who only wear bras when absolutely necessary must simply be too dim to understand that their bra doesn’t fit properly.

Now, it’s quite possible that many of the women were wearing badly fitting bras; just as likely as those who wear them constantly are wearing ill fitting one. I stopped reading rather quickly but I didn’t see any comments pointing out that getting a bra sized properly costs money. It’s not a service that Primark offers and many women can’t afford to spend £20 on a bra from Marks & Spencers or Debenhams, never mind the more expensive brands. Some women don’t even live anywhere near a store that offers proper fittings. Some women can’t even afford the cost of bus fair to travel to a store which offers proper fittings, never mind find £20 to buy a bra. Obviously, they could measure themselves but that would mean knowing the best places to get advice on bra fittings. Oddly, this isn’t always on women’s to do list. It ignores those cute little issues of disablism which prevent women from accessing service or even systemic racism which results in non-White women being trailed around department stores by security guards racially profiling them as shoplifters (and, around here at least, anyone wearing a track suit).

Granted, in the scheme of feminist thought, bras aren’t always high on anyone’s list of priorities. Certainly, coverage of the prison book ban rarely mentioned women not getting access to clean bras or knickers either. I never actually thought about it until it was pointed out by a friend who works with girls exploited by gangs.

Bras are just one of those silly things that you can spend a few minutes chatting about. At the same time, the discussion of bras on Mumsnet was a pretty basic model of why “choice feminism” is actually an anti-feminist position because it starts from the position that all women are equal and have equal access to resources, eduction and services. It erases the multiple structural barriers that restrict the ‘choices’ women can make. The implication being that women who remove their bras as soon as they walk in the front door must be wearing an ill-fitting bra through a somewhat unfortunate tendency to dimness. It ignores the very basic issues like access to money to buy a bra.

It also ignores the idea that some women don’t want to wear a bra. And, that it’s totally okay to not like wearing bras. It’s not okay to prevented from making the choice to wear or not wear a bra that may or may not fit properly but that it’s totally ok to be a little bit different.

If your first instinct to a discussion on whether or not women wear bras is to suggest that those who don’t are doing it wrong, well, I’d suggest the problem isn’t really with the bra-refuser.

 

UPDATE: This comment is posted below but it’s a really important critique of my post that I’m including it here so no one misses it (and thank you Kate):

Actually it misses even more than just who can afford a well-fitting bra. It misses can you afford to share your home only with those who you can comfortably walk about bra-less in front of. Or do you have lodgers, etc? It misses are you comfortable without a bra? It misses do you have a schedule that it fixed enough to know you won’t have to up and leave at a moment’s notice. It misses how you’ve been made to feel about your bra-less breasts growing up. Whether you’re embarrassed or ashamed. Whether they get sweaty underneath. Whether your own family might ridicule you for the way they look bra-less. I’m quite large and (1) I hate them out of a bra and feel self conscious if anyone can see the shape of them and (2) find bra’s (even expensive professionally fitted ones) uncomfortable. I compromise with pyjamas with a soft support top in and changing bras regularly. Even just writing this makes me think about them and hate them and feel sad though.

Feminism, Race, Class and The Lament of Meanie Feminists

The comments below were posted on a recent blog, which I’m not going to link to, but which was the usual complaint about feminists being rude, swearing too much and not supporting the rights of one woman regardless of whether or not her choices are actively harming other women. It is the lament of “if only feminists were nicer”, yet it is the blog itself which is unkind. It pretends that all women are middle class, well-educated with great jobs. It insinuates that women who are not within this cohort are failures. It ignores the structural barriers to women’s lives by pretending misogyny does not exist – nor, apparently, racism, classism, or homophobia. Feminists are mean for not supporting every single “choice” a woman makes – regardless of the consequences for women as a class.

The comments below are why feminist analysis must examine women as a class. Erasing the multiple oppressions of women is antifeminist – pretending misogyny isn’t real is anti-woman. Women face oppression as a class. It is not mean for feminists to point out that white, middle class women have more options than many other women. Its not mean for feminists to point out that women who do experience violence, whether from a partner or because of the community they live in, have less choices than women who live without the constant consequences of violence. It is not mean for feminists to point out that women who succeed in business, law, medicine or the civil service who are white and well-educate aren’t just succeeding because of their personal qualities or ambition. It is not mean to recognise that a Black woman, regardless of how ambitious, well-educated and talented, will struggle more than a white woman in the public sphere.

It’s not mean for feminists to point out that one woman insisting on wearing a tiara during a professional event isn’t exactly fighting a battle women need to win.

Suggesting that feminists are being mean for holding women accountable for the consequences of their choices, words and actions is, frankly, infantile and ridiculous. If you want to advocate for the liberation of women through kindness, by all means, go right ahead. But, you need to start by actually being kind to women who aren’t exactly like you. It’s hardly advocating love to heal the world if you are shitting all over other women.

This was my original comment on the blog:

There is a massive difference between women supporting other women and women never, ever challenging another woman for fear of being ‘rude’. It absolutely okay to challenge a woman who has written a post which ignores the reality of the lives of the vast majority of women who aren’t middle class, well-educated and white. It’s not rude to point out that Black women are grossly under-represented in every field because of structural racism and misogyny. It’s okay to point out that white middle class women who have 3 children are ‘good mothers’ whilst a Black woman in a low-income job with three kids would be treated as shit in the media.

Confusing kindness with never holding a woman accountable for expressing opinions which actively harm other women is not acceptable. It’s not mean or rude or aggressive to point it out. Feminism is about helping ALL women – not just individuals.

X’s response: Call me psychic or intuitive but I am just throwing a guess out there that you yourself Louise may be “middle class, well-educated and white” – Hhhhhmmm why do you have an issue with that?

I don’t, which is why my son is half Nigerian. Have you actually ever been to Africa?
Please don’t raise the race card here, when it is wholly unwarranted…….. and irrelevant.
What is as you say “mean or rude or aggressive ” is some of the things I have seen written above, in recent comments.

MeYep, I’m white and middle class and well educated and I know that my options have been greater since birth because I was born white to a middle class family with access to a good education. Suggesting that race doesn’t limit women’s options is an asinine position to take and one which flies in the face of several hundreds of years of history.

X’s ResponseSorry but I don’t feel the need to compensate or be apologetic for being white, middle classed or educated. My friends, peers and relatives many of whom are of colour, from several continents, are more enriched physically, mentally, spiritually and financially than the white people I know. A child in Africa often experiences more joy with one toy than our children do with 30. Women in Africa often do not get PND or such things, because they adhere to the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child”. It’s never worked out well when I have fought other people’s battles for them, so whilst I will battle against discrimination and obliterate it from the elements of my life I can control, I will not apologise for my sex, colour, creed, nationality, class or standing. Too many people think women for example are made to cover up, yet I know many hijab/turban wearing women, none of whom have been asked to don it by a man. It’s sometimes best to battle the things you experience and can understand and not those you don’t

Response from Another Poster (Y):  sorry but that is nonsense. Have you ever been to Africa? I can’t speak for the entire continent, but I will speak from my experience visiting Kenya – the women aren’t getting PND because they are DYING in childbirth. They aren’t getting PND because they are being ‘married’ (ie raped) when they are 13 years old. They are bearing several children before they are in their twenties, and if they survive that, they are very lucky.

It is not about being apologetic for being middle-class, but about looking beyond your front door and seeing that not everyone is so lucky.

X’s response: Of course I have which is why I asked the question of her, which interestingly she did not answer.

Y: If you have been to Africa, why are you spouting nonsense about children there being happy with just one toy?

I am sorry, but this makes me so angry. I saw a child whose head was swollen with encephalitis, he was very ill but his mother couldn’t afford to take him to the doctor. I met young girls who stopped going to school when they started menstruating because they would then be seen as ‘sexually ripe’ and be at risk of rape. I met women who lost their babies in a hospital that had been found to have been selling children. A hospital that the taxi driver told us that he wouldn’t take his wife to because of that and other previous scandals.

How can you perpetuate the myth of the happy African children, who just need one toy? And women not having PND. They don’t have PND because they are DYING in childbirth. They don’t have PND because they are too busy fighting HIV and TB.

You don’t have to go to Africa to see this, it is reported daily in the media, if you take a look.

ME: I didn’t answer it because your assumption of Black -women = living in Africa is crass and completely lacking in understanding that, oddly, Black people happen to live all over the world. Not just in Africa.

X: No, what IS crass is someone upthread taking the time and effort to assume that EVERYONE on this thread was white + middle class + educated (thanks for the compliment in the latter, as it is never a word I feel when talking to you guys). Sorry but I have no time for people who live in homogeneous places, yet escape to other worlds via their bookshelves and campaigns. The only thing white about me is my skin, and I say again, I am not going to apologise for it. I will change the world via the means I have at my disposal and not adhere to a prescription of what being good looks like to you. Still have NO idea how colour was brought into this. It was a way of putting down, the ladies on this thread, in a cheap misguided way, that lacked grace, thought and compassion, yet we are expected to feel those for women all over the world who desperately need our help. How about charity begins at home, get good at it, and then branch out

Me: I can’t tell if you mean that comment genuinely or not Liska because I have actually never read a comment as so stupid as “women in Africa don’t get PND”. Firstly, Africa is a continent – not a country and the lives of women differ greatly from Egypt to Nigeria to Sierra Leone to Rwanda and to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Parts of Africa have vast wealth and others are war zones. 48 women are raped every hour in the DRC. They are raped to force pregnancy and they are raped to cause miscarriages. 6 month old babies are raped – as 65 year old women.

Many women have no access to clean water and the maternal and infant mortality rate in such areas is astronomical. Do you seriously believe a mother whose infant dies at birth from a preventable disease won’t have PND? Or, a 12 year old girl sold, raped and forced to give birth to a stillborn child won;t develop PND? Or, a mother who gives birth prematurely having seen her whole family slaughtered? Or, a child raped by a family member who gives birth in private desperate to hide the baby lest they kicked out of their community? You don’t think these women will develop PND? Or, that women living in wealthy families are somehow exempt because they live in “Africa”?

What about young girls who have experienced FGM which, at its most severe stage, inhibits the bodies ability to urinate and menstruate. Do you think these girls, who have to be cut open to have sex or deliver a child, are somehow magically exempt from PND because they live in Africa?

I’m hoping you were being ironic with this comment.

 

 

 

 

How to spot a dumbass man:

When they try to post this crap on your blog:

Human rights not female rights. Quit abusing men! BTW, its not ok call men radical like its bad when your agenda is radical. Work on enjoying men, not attacking them. Women are as abusive as men, make a wold that peaceful, not. I notice you have no objections to misandry but you wont allow Misogyny. that’s about what I expect. As a good person I wont allow either. Men can be good, can you? I’ve seem plenty of women abuse men….

Motherhood Is Not For Every Woman

Every single time I read this statement, I twitch. Because I do know what the author, in this case Melanie Holmes, means  but it’s inevitably from a place of privilege. I certainly agree with this statement:

Motherhood is not for every woman. And we shouldn’t assume that it is. It is unjust to view females’ lives through the lens of motherhood. Instead, we should view females through a wide‑angle lens.

Not all women want to be mothers, many become mothers by accident and some want to become mothers but are denied that through infertility or life. Not all mothers are “great” (however you want to define that) but most mothers are “good enough” – a statement which is as patronising as it can be true. Most mothers are doing their best whilst living in a culture which devalues and, frequently, hates women.

The problem I have with the “motherhood is not for every woman” rhetoric is encapsulated in Holmes’s concluding sentences:

When we speak about motherhood, let’s be realistic. No one can have it all. Some don’t want it all. And it doesn’t make them selfish, dysfunctional, or “less than.”

The problem is the phrase “have it all” is absolutely limited to  white, well-educated middle class women who are not disabled and nor do their children have disabilities who live in house free from domestic violence in an area where street violence is minimal and the schools and childcare are excellent. Many women living on this planet are working extreme hours living in absolute poverty with no access to education, healthcare or, in many cases, clean water. There is a vast chasm between white, ‘western’ women who have ‘it all’ (however you define that) and the reality of the lives of most women who become or want to become mothers.

It’s much easier to be a mother when you have money, healthcare, and sanitation. It is much easier to mother your children when they do not have profound disabilities in a culture with very little support for your child and basic access to education for your children, whilst guaranteed by law in the UK, rarely exists. It assumes that you have access to every single specialist that your child needs to support them. It ignores women who have disabilities themselves, who are most likely to be living in poverty. It ignores women living in poverty working 3 jobs to pay the rent whilst their child’s father refuses to pay child maintenance. It ignores the women who are experiencing domestic violence and are desperately trying to protect their children from a violent father and a social structure which blames the mother rather than holding the father responsible for his violence. It ignores women living in conflict zones: from gang-ridden areas of major cities to war zones across the world. Being a mother in an area where violence is the norm is incredibly difficult.

We’ve got to ensure that the “motherhood isn’t for everyone” and “motherhood isn’t the most difficult job in the world” rhetoric don’t end up silencing or erasing women for whom motherhood is indeed like being a soldier – esp when you live in a conflict zone from Iraq to any area where gang violence is endemic.

Motherhood would be easy if we didn’t live in a capitalist-patriarchy. It would be easy if male violence weren’t a real threat that all women live with. It would be easy if access to clean water were actually considered a basic human right and not a commodity to be sold. It would be easy if our government actually invested in our children with well-funded schools, libraries, parks, and healthcare instead of spending £3 billion year on nuclear submarines. It would be easy if mothering our children were valued.

The capitalist-patriarchy harms us all but it disproportionately affects Women of Colour, women with disabilities, and women living in poverty. Not all women want to be mothers, not all women can be mothers and not all women should be mothers. But, we need to recognise that mothering is made harder than it should be because of the culture in which we live.

We need to be realistic about the context in which we live.

MP Michael Fabricant: Just Another Violent Man

Michael Fabricant is just another violent man who knows perfectly well that threatening a woman with physical violence won’t result in any punishment to him since violence against women is “just a joke”. And, we won’t hold him accountable for such an abusive statement because, hey, he “apologised”.

Let’s be very clear here: Fabricant didn’t just say something silly or ‘off the cuff’. He made a very clear threat which doesn’t need to be followed with actual physical violence. Fabricant knows perfectly well that he doesn’t need to actually intend to carry through the threat; he knows that he can count on several millennia of male violence against women that has silenced women for the threat to be real. This way Fabricant can ‘pretend’ it’s a joke and not something he’d actually do.

It’s just bullshit though. Men say this shit because they actually believe that violence against women isn’t a real crime. As with the “die in a fire” meme, the speaker doesn’t actually have to be planning on setting the specific target on fire for the threat to be real. These aren’t statements are real threats because women are punched in the throat every single day. Women are set on fire, or have their bodies set on fire, every single day.  We don’t know if we will be the woman that experiences the violence on this particular day or if we will experience it another day. We just know that male violence against women and girls is endemic and most men don’t give a shit about it.  The men who support his apology can pretend that they to won’t ever commit violence against women, even though most of them will be perpetrators. Those who choose to be bystanders and ignore the problem are just as culpable as those who perpetrate it.

Men who did give a shit would be calling out Fabricant right now. They wouldn’t just be asking for an apology. They would be demanding he be suspended from his party pending a formal review and Fabricant undertaking mandatory training on violence against women via either a national or local specialist service such as Women’s Aid or Ending Victimisation and Abuse. They would be calling for all politicians to undergo specialist training before being allowed to vote on services on violence against women and girls. They wouldn’t be labelling Fabricant’s threat a ‘joke’ or ignoring.

Men who actually give a shit about violence against women and girls should be spending tonight writing letters to Fabricant, his party and his constituents office making their anger clear. They would be writing letters to editors or publishing articles on why this is a real threat of violence against women.

They wouldn’t be minimising Fabricant’s threat.

 

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Ed Miliband’s Youth Apprenticeship program is a fucking joke

I’m at a conference called Mothers of Innovation, which, I have to admit I was rather prejudiced about since the word ‘mumpreneur’ is in the advertising. I can’t think of anything more patronising for women’s work than minimising it with the word ‘mum’. If Bill Gates isn’t a ‘dadpreneur’ then women aren’t ‘mumpreneurs’. They are talented, intelligent and brilliant women. What these women all have in common is that they are more than functionally literate and numerate.

And, this is why Ed Miliband’s policy is a bunch of toght-wing billshit. Even if we were to pretend that apprenticeship programs exist, which they don’t, this is still a stupid idea. I live in one of the most deprived areas of Scotland and every single year the local authority and Scottish government babble on about training programs, so the kids sign up and then the training is canceled. My neighbour’s son has had no less than four separate training program’s canceled within a two year period as the LA decides it can’t afford to run them. I refuse to believe that labour plans on investing millions into training program’s when this is clearly a way of trying to attract right-wing voters.

If Ed Miliband were actually serious about encouraging youth employment, he’d make sure kids could actually READ and WRITE before threatening to take away their benefits. He’d invest millions and millions of pounds into the education system to do the following:

1. Fix the buildings, many of which are falling down around the children (literally in Edinburgh’s case where a child was recently killed by a falling wall).
2. Smaller class sizes
3. Trained TAs for every classroom
4. Specialist literacy & numeracy teachers
5. Specialist maths teachers
6. Specialist language teachers
7. Proper playgrounds
8. More ed psychs based in schools
9. Childcare with real government financial support
10. Trained nursery teachers
11. Better resources in schools including for art, music and drama
12. Real inclusion in schools
13. More books
14. Young mothers units in schools
15. On site daycares
16. Better pay for teachers & other staff
17. More support staff
18. Libraries in school
19. More funding for school trips including residential trips

But, most importantly, 1 to 1 teaching for any child who needs it for a few hours or every single day if they need it.

This is what youth apprenticeships should look like: support for students who’ve left school with confidence in themselves and their abilities in reading and writing.

Anything less is just noise created to entice the right wing arseholes who don’t actually give a shit about our children.

I’m in a room full of amazing women. We have a generation of children leaving schools who aren’t functionally literate. They need these skills so that they too can become brilliant women.

The “Die in a Fire” Meme is both Male Violence and Hate Speech

I’ve written numerous times about how the “die in a fire” meme used by transactivists (both those who are Trans* and those who self-define as cis) is a deliberate invocation of the mass murder of women by fire throughout history. It is chosen because fire has been, and remains, a way in which violent men control and punish women. It is used today by men committing domestic violence just as it was 400 years ago to punish women deemed ‘witches’.

Telling someone whose politics you dislike to “die in a fire” is replicating male patterns of violence and control. Telling anyone to “die in a fire” is a deliberate and malicious silencing tactic. I do not accept the theory that there is ever an appropriate time when this threat is acceptable, nor do I believe that any class of people are ever so oppressed as to make this statement acceptable.

Today, Sian published a very personal post on having experienced having her hair set on fire as a teenager. Until I read this post, I had thought only of fire in terms of domestic violence and the control of women throughout history. I hadn’t thought of the times in junior/ high school when boys thought it was “funny” to threaten to set fire to my hair. I hadn’t thought of the times that all of my friends were threatened or the time my stepsister’s hair was actually set on fire. I hadn’t made the connections in my own mind between the threats made about fire by boys and how often fire was actually used to punish and control my friends: particularly by burning homework or books.

In all the times I have written or spoken about unspeakably hateful the “die in a fire” meme is, I hadn’t made the connection with my own experiences. I had othered the threat so as not to have to think about just how real that threat is – not just for abstract women online but for myself. These people bandying about the “die in a fire” meme are deliberately triggering women’s experiences of male violence in order to shut them up – no dissent is ever allowed and any questioning immediately requires a threat of violence.

These threats are real. They are not just words or justified by ‘oppression’. They are nothing more than male violence. If you struggle to understand how fire is a violent threat, then please read Karen Ingala Smith’s blog which names the 16 women in the UK whose brutal murder either involved fire or who were set on fire after their deaths between January 2012 and December 2013.

And, think about how many women are either killed in a fire or their bodies desecrated by fire on a daily basis on our planet.

“Die in a fire” is hate speech. It is hate speech used to silence women and it is used to kill women.

 

BBC Continues its policies of minimising child rape

I’ve complained a number of times to the BBC about their insistence on placing stories of child rape perpetrated by celebrities under the topic of “Arts & Entertainment”. This is their newest excuse letter:

Reference CAS-2728613-MKGSSH

 Thanks for contacting us regarding the article ‘Rolf Harris trial: Entertainer denies ‘ludicrous’ assault claims’.

 Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. We know our correspondents appreciate a quick response and we’re sorry you have had to wait on this occasion.

 I understand you were concerned that the report was featured under the heading of ‘Entertainment’.

 Stories about abuse are written by our main UK news desk and published on a story page that simply says “News – UK.”

 However, because they may have some relevance or significance to audiences coming to the site for Arts and Entertainment coverage we also place those stories on the Arts and Entertainments section in much the same way as we might place a story about a child sex abuse internet ring in our Technology section as well as in the main news section.

 Thank you again for contacting us. All complaints are sent to senior management and our news teams every morning and we included your points in this overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future output.

 Kind Regards

Because placing an article on child rape in the “Arts & Entertainment” section is exactly the same as placing an article of online child sexual exploitation and abuse under technology.

I’ve started a petition to get the BBC to change their policy. Please sign and share it!

PETITION