Jeremy Corbyn and the Women-Only Carriages Paradox

(orig published in Huffington Post on 26.8.15 as Everyday Victim Blaming)

We are highly critical of all political parties as not one meets our standards on policies to end violence against women and girls. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats decimated women’s services and have institutionalised poverty. Current Conservative policies engage in flagrant victim blaming of people who have very limited choices within a white supremacist capitalist-patriarchy and Labour has made it clear that they supported many of these so-called austerity measures. We’ve been following the Labour leadership campaigns with interest hoping to see real policies to end violence against women and girls.

Our interest was piqued this morning with the gendered reaction to Jeremy Corbyn’ssuggestion to hold a public consultation on the possibility of women-only carriages in trains to deal with street harassment. To be clear, and a number of media outlets have flagrantly misrepresented the issue, Corbyn has not made the proposal, rather his suggestion to hold the consultation was in response to women raising the issue with him.

In our, admittedly unscientific, poll of twitter this morning many women said they felt the theory was wrong as it held women accountable for the criminal behaviour of men. Many of these same women also said they would use women-only carriages if they existed because of their experiences of harassment and assault on trains. This paradox is a direct result of women’s experience of harassment and sexual assault on trains. It is the consequence of male violence.

 Trawling through various twitter timelines we came across three common responses from men:  #notallmen, women are over-reacting to men just being friendly, and jokes. Because nothing says hilarity like women being groped, assaulted, harassed and raped on public transport. Minimising women’s experiences of violence serves only to support perpetrators. They read these comments and know that they will not be held accountable; that others support their behaviour.

#Notallmen is an utterly tedious and completely predictable response to media coverage of male violence. Despite the fact that 1 in 3 women experience male violence during their lifetime, the refrain #notallmen is constant. Yes, not all men are violentbut it’s not just three men in the UK committing 80,000 rapes every single year. We have a serious problem with male violence in the UK and constantly interrupting women to shout #notallmen shows how few men are actually willing to listen.

Domestic and sexual violence and abuse (DSVA) continues because men do not challenge other men when they minimise the impact of DSVA. It happens because we live in a culture where jokes about VAWG are common and the torture and murder of women constitute mainstream entertainment from televisions programs like Law & Order SVU to games like Grand Theft Auto. It happens because men believe they are entitled to women’s time. Street harassment continues because we tell men they aren’t responsible for their actions.

The “women are over-reacting” mantra is equally tedious and predictable. Being trapped on a train with a man who hasn’t bothered to bring a book and thinks the woman stuck next to him is responsible for his entertainment is male entitlement.Women, who may be working, reading, sleeping or just not interested, are forced to negotiate their space knowing that the man sitting beside them might be the one who calls them a frigid bitch if they don’t want to chat. Or, the one who punches her in the face. Being bothered may be more common than being groped, pushed against, or flashed but it is still a barrier to women’s safe access to public spaces.

The “over-reacting” refrain is applied to women have been sexually assaulted and raped. Their experiences are minimised and those around express concern for the rapists’ life being ‘ruined’. Consequences to the victim are, clearly, negligible – certainly the reactions to the incarceration of Ched Evans bear this ‘over-reaction’ refrain out.

We don’t support women-only train carriages because it fails to deal with the root causes of harassment: male entitlement to women’s time and sexual access to women’s bodies. The resemblance to police ‘safety’ campaigns is clear: institutionalised victim blaming. Women-only carriages on trains would have the same result: women would be at fault for being in the ‘wrong’ carriage; for not being more ‘careful’; for being in a public space.

Women only carriages puts the onus on women to change their behaviour rather than insisting that men stop harassing women or that perpetrators be held criminally liable for their behaviour.

We do welcome Corbyn’s suggestion of a consultation because it makes the serious issue of endemic harassment of women in public spaces a political issue. Organisations like The Everyday Sexism ProjectHollaback and Stop Street Harassment have been evidencing the reality for years. We know its a problem and it is time the government stepped up to end the pervasive nature of street harassment with legislation, enforcement of said legislation, and mandatory sex and healthy relationships taught in school to challenge male entitlement.

Women-only carriages are not the answer but it just *might* be the place to start a serious discussion about the reality of male violence and harassment of women and girls on public transport.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of the article is also twaddle:

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

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

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

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

* clean link

#DickheadDetox: George Clooney for hypocrisy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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