Apparently, the Queen is on our bank notes! I genuinely did not know that …

and I would personally like to thank everyman, from Mervyn King, down for pointing that out to me. After all, my vagina makes it impossible for me to turn over the bank note to see the other side.

For those owners of vaginas out there who were totally smart enough to have worked out that the Queen is a) female and b) on banknotes, there is a petition here demanding that the Bank of England keep a woman on English banknotes

Do check out Caroline Criado-Perez’s response to Mervyn King’s pansplainin’. It made me snigger, as did Caroline’s storify of every nincompoop who tweeted her to make the same stupid statement. Nothing makes me weep for the fate of humanity than a bunch of men pointing out the blatantly obvious and then getting all confused when we don’t give them cookies and blowjobs for not being stupid.

Whiny Man Says Stupid Shit in the Guardian Shocker

I know. My mind was boggled at the Guardian publishing an article by a man whinging about the Matriarchy, after all, the Guardian never publishes misogynistic twaddle. *cough Ally Fogg cough*.

Anyway, today’s Arsenugget Du Jour is one Jack O’Sullivan having a whinge about men being silent from the debate on masculinity in the media which is BAD. I’m not entirely sure how he’s missed the fact that entire media is dominated by men blithering on about masculinity and their collectives penises but he has.

Fucks know what cave in Antarctica he’s been living in to write this twaddle:

Men’s absence from the debate has dramatic consequences, making it overwhelmingly negative. In recent weeks the focus has been on abuse of teenage girls, porn, male unemployment and misogyny. But next month it could be “deadbeat dads“, domestic violence and harassment in the workplace.

The reason that everyone has been on about this “crisis in masculinity” is because of the sheer amount of violence men, as a class, have been committing. If men don’t want women to take about the abuse of teenage girls they could start by not abusing teenage girls. If they don’t want to be called “deadbeat dads”, they could start by actually financially supporting the children they have. It’s fairly obvious that if men don’t want to be convicted of domestic violence, they probably shouldn’t commit domestic violence. 

These all seem fairly obvious to me but apparently went straight over O’Sullivans head.
Really, though, there’s no point in trying to engage intellectually with a man who is so stupid as to believe that misandry is as common and as aggressive as misogyny. Anyone who argues this isn’t worth the effort:

But feminism has reinforced rather than challenged – or even acknowledged – matriarchy. It is an environment in which male spokesmen for change are unlikely to be nurtured. When they do articulate their views or concerns, they are often ridiculed or ignored by women. Misandry can be as nasty as misogyny and is as widespread (just check the internet). Smart men play safe and stay out of it. We’re so conditioned, we don’t even talk to each other.

On the other hand, the feminist smackdown on twitter has been incredibly funny. Perhaps this piece was meant to go in the funnies section? I mean, no man could seriously be this stupid, could they?

Femen: This Time They’re Burning Crosses

I am not a huge fan of Femen. I find their protests generally offensive, attention-seeking and lacking in any kind of compassion which is actually rather depressing because their original campaigns against sex trafficking were so very important. Now, they seem more interested in media attention from shock tactics than feminist analysis. They are also no strangers to accusations of Islamaphobia and racism with their anti-burkha protests.

Their newest campaign against the Barbie Dreamhouse exhibit surprised even me. I’ve already blogged my intense dislike for the exhibit but the idea of burning a cross with Barbie attached to it just blew my mind. When I think of burning crosses, I think of the Klu Klux Klan in the US and the lynchings of African-Americans. For me, burning crosses are symbols of white supremacist culture. The usage of it by feminists to protest Barbie is deeply offensive to me. 

Perhaps I am reading too much into this because of my cultural heritage as Canadian, but, for me, burning crosses can never be separated from the KKK. They are a symbol of racism and nothing more. 

There is also something deeply ironic about women who pass the patriarchal fuckability test protesting Barbie. But, that could just be me too.

Teen Pregnancy, Hypocrisy and Immaculate Conception

May is apparently Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. At least, that’s according to the Candies Foundation, who are currently running a huge, celebrity-endorsed, campaign to decrease teenage pregnancies. There are numerous problems with this US-based campaign, which went global with #noteenpreg hashtag on Twitter. The fact that the Candies Foundation do believe in abstinence-based education which is the least effective method of preventing teen pregnancy. They do also teach “safe sex” but, let’s be honest here, safe sex is almost always based on heteronormative penis-in-vagina sex and fails to acknowledge both the full spectrum of sex and sexuality but also is almost always directed at teenage girls. The Candies Foundation haven’t strayed far from this construct.

Basically, the campaign is lacking in any real analysis of the causes of teenage pregnancy. The fact that the organisation, who aren’t exactly pro-choice, have managed to line up a bunch of celebrities to “endorse” them proves nothing. After all, there’s no such thing as bad publicity even if you hire Chris Brown, a young artist with a conviction for domestic violence and a penchant for bragging about having sex as a teenager to endorse your campaign. I’m not quite sure what Chris Brown’s involvement is supposed to prove: that it’s wrong for teenage girls to get pregnant but it’s okay for teenage boys to seriously physically assault their girlfriends? 

It’s yet another scare-tactic campaign that ignores the social and political realities of the lack of sex education, access to contraception and abortion, poverty, education, class and race. It focuses on shaming teenage girls instead of examining the lack of a welfare state and the lack of universal healthcare in the US. It ignores the fact that abstinence-only education is increasingly common in US schools. It ignores the lack of access to contraception. It ignores the lack of access to abortions.  It ignores the lack of affordable childcare. It ignores the pornification of culture which tells teenage girls that their only value is in their “fuckability”.    It ignores the realities of the lives of teenage girls.

What this campaign really lacks, and what all campaigns to end teenage pregnancy lack, is any mention of teenage boys. The last time I checked, there’s only been one recorded case of Immaculate Conception and even that one’s fairly controversial. Yet, these campaigns invariably focus on teenage girls ruining their lives by having babies; ruining their lives by being unable to attend university or hold down a job. There is no mention of teenage boys being unable to attend university or hold down jobs. There are no mentions of teenage boys being required to pay child maintenance to financially support a child they helped create. Instead, the focus is on shaming and blaming teenage girls for having the temerity to have sex and get pregnant.

We already know the causes of teenage pregnancy and, yet, the UK is following the US’s path with parents demanding the right to prevent their children learning about real sexual education. The destruction of the welfare state and universal healthcare will have serious detrimental effects on families. The failure of colleges and universities to be family-friendly will prevent teenage girls from attending university as does the lack of affordable childcare. 

Teenage pregnancy is only a problem if we create it as one. No one wants 13 and 14  year girls to get pregnant because of the physical damage pregnancy can cause on such young bodies but teenagers have sex. It doesn’t matter how many times we tell them not to, teenagers still have sex. Shaming them with huge celebrity-endorsed campaigns which ignore teenage boys won’t change that.

We need to fundamentally restructure our country and rebuild the welfare state and the NHS. We need nationalised daycare. We need a child maintenance enforcement program that actually works since one of the biggest indicators of child poverty is being raised in a single parent household where the other parent, invariably the father, refuses to pay child maintenance. 

We don’t need to shame teenage girls. 

We need to start talking about sex properly and, not letting men with convictions for domestic violence teach our daughters what “safe sex” is a good place to start. 

We need to start talking properly to teenage boys about sex and parenting; not just teenage girls.

Another week, Another Family Annihilator.

Another man murders his children but it’s okay because he was upset about being separated from his mother. 

A five year old girl and a ten year old boy were killed by their father. That is the story. 

A father murdered his own children. A father slit the throats of the two people he was supposed to love and care for above all else. 

A father killed the two people he should have protected from violence. 

Currently, the identities of the father and the two children he brutally killed are not being released but we do that the man was British. We know that he separated from his wife three years ago. We know the relationship ended due to domestic violence. We know that he only had supervised contact with his children until this weekend. We know that the very first time this father had his children unsupervised, he murdered them. 

This is yet another example of a family annihilator punishing his ex-partner by murdering their children. Like Ceri Fuller, Gavin Hall, Mohammed Riaz, and Michael Pederson, this case is just another example of a family annihilator. It is another familiar tale of male violence.  

Yet, the media already seeks to excuse his violence by claiming he was “upset” about being separated from their mother. Neighbours are claiming he “drank too much”, whether or not that is true remains to be seen but we do know he brutally murdered his children. 

There are no excuses for killing children. Divorce is not an excuse. An affair is not an excuse.

Men who kill their children do so because they choose to; because they believe they own their children. Make no mistake, this is a male crime. Karen Ingala Smith has analysed the children murdered in 2012 in the UK. Her research clearly points to this being a case of male violence, but we already knew that. 

We know this is a story of male violence. We just don’t want to talk about it. Instead, we make excuses for these men. We blame their ex-partners for ending the relationship. We blame the economy for these men losing their jobs. We blame everyone but the men who choose to murder their children.

As long we continue pretending that this is not about male violence, more children and women will continue to die at the hands of violent men. We can talk about a “crisis in masculinity” because men are upset about not being “breadwinners” and call for a return to an ahistorical concept of capitalism which has existed for less than 150 years in industrialised nations but we can’t discuss male violence.

Instead, we blame women for the actions of men. 

Two children were brutally murdered by their father. That is the story. 

Their mother deserves to grieve in peace without the media blaming her for having the temerity to end her relationship with the father of her children.

According to First Response and the Daily Mail, I’m an excellent Mother

This is because I did not leave it “too late” to reproduce. The Tory party might disagree what with the whole reproducing-first-as-a-teenager thing but, I’m sure First Response is totally okay with my reproducing as a teenager since I was not, you know, “old”. I am enjoying the irony of the Daily Mail labelling me a good mother. I might get a t-shirt with that printed on, but I digress.

We’re supposed to shudder at the thought of old people having sex never mind reproducing. Actually, we’re supposed to shudder at “old women” having sex and reproducing. After all, these campaigns are never aimed at men being too old to have sex and make babies [see: every male celebrity over the age of 40.] This is what really pisses me off about these campaigns: women who have babies too young are whores and women who have babies too old are creepy. We never see the same language used against men.

Now, I can’t be bothered googling for the references because it’s 9:30 on a Sunday morning and I want to watch stupid cartoons with the kids, but there is research into men’s fertility declining as they get older. All of these “women must have babies between the ages of 28-32 or there eggs will get icky” campaigns ignore the research into the quality of male sperm decreasing as men get older. There have been studies linking increases in children born with disabilities to the age of both parents but guess which studies get media play?

God forbid, we talk about men’s fertility and health. Instead, we celebrate older men who reproduce with younger women; many not much older than teenagers.

If we want to discuss infertility, then why aren’t we talking about men? Or, environmental factors like pollution?

Where are the men in these discussions?

This is just the same old misogynistic, woman-blaming bullshit designed to punish women.>

Vagenda, Anal Sex and Missing the Point Completely

*I am aware that Vagenda is claiming that the article on anal sex is meant to be a satire of Cosmo sex tips. The problem is that that is not how the article reads.

I have a love/ hate relationship with Vagenda. When they are on form, they are just bloody brilliant but when they miss, they do so spectacularly. Today’s piece on anal sex was well past missing the point completely and into shaming people who like non-PIV and teaching women how to avoid anal rape.

Now, I self-identify as pro-radical feminist so I am highly critical of the focus on the male orgasm as the defining moment in sex as if everything up to that point, including making women cum, is just making out. The obsession with heteronormative constructions of sexuality are deeply damaging to women and make women responsible for contraception, pregnancy, STDs and making boundaries. Sex education in this country is a joke. I also think pornography is incredibly harmful and deeply destructive. I am anti-prostitution and support the criminalisation of men who purchase sex and those who profit from selling the bodies of other people. I also support the Merseyside model which labels the rape of prostitutes a hate crime. I am against the heteronormative construction of sexuality which uses and abuses the bodies of women and children for male pleasure.

I am really concerned about the normalisation of pornography in our culture and the increasing pressure on young women to have anal sex. There is increasing pressure on young women to preform sex acts which make them uncomfortable or cause them physical pain otherwise they are labeled frigid. We need to be having this discussion but Vagenda hasn’t started a conversation. Instead, they seem to have published an article written by a teenage boy with boundary issues. FGS, who actually says “I’m a woman and I like what I like when it comes to the party in my pants” who isn’t in a really bad hiphop video produced by Playboy? And, what type of conversation were they planning on having by calling anal sex “bum funnery” and “rump ranging” I’m not even going to go into how angry this sentence makes me: “Now, I know that a few of the ladies out there are total arse-penetration converts, I do.” This basically states that women who choose to have anal sex and who do it are actually lying about both.

There are women who genuinely enjoy anal sex and there are women who feel pressured into doing so. We need to be having a conversation about the second group of women, especially young women who are being raised in a culture which sublimates their sexual desires. We need to talk about how women are expected to be the arbiters of sexual boundaries. We need to talk about living in a rape culture where the word no is apparently non-existant in the vocabulary of an ever-increasing number of young men. We need to talk about how we are raising girls to believe that their orgasms aren’t really all that important as long as men have one. We need to talk about raising a generation of young boys and girls in a pornified culture and the harm that is causing them. Let’s be honest here, the Vagenda article was talking specifically about heterosexual relationships as if they were the only possible kind.

We do not need more infantile articles blithering on with childish language. We do not need more articles yelling ‘yay, anal sex is awesome’ or more yelling ‘it’s disgusting’. We need to be having actual adult conversations about having sex in a positive and loving manner, by which I don’t always mean within a relationship. Sex without respect, even with a partner you never plan on seeing again, is not good sex.

What really worries me about the Vagenda article is this paragraph:

I have a lovely man in my life that seems to really enjoy my pant party to which he is now the only man invited to. I want to make him happy all the time above and below the sheets, but surely playing Backdoor Buddies isn’t the answer (I’ve forever believed the answer was bacon, but apparently I’m wrong about that too.) He loves the bum: he’s so fascinated by it you would have thought he had been born sans derriere – but there’s no hiding the fact that every time a finger so much as wanders over into that forbidden territory, I suddenly turn into a bucking bronco, jumping six feet in the air like a scaled cat screaming out an appropriate rendition of Meatloaf’s ‘I would do anything for love’, emphasis on: ‘But I won’t do that.’

If you are in a long-term relationship with someone and you have to keep telling them that you do not want anal sex, either with penis, finger or object, then you aren’t actually in a very respectful relationship. If your partner respects you, you talk during sex. You should not ever have to repeat that you don’t want to engage in one specific sex act, whether that be anal sex, oral sex, or whatever. If you’ve said no once, then a partner should respect that. If they don’t, well I’m sorry, but a sexual partner who repeatedly tries to transgress sexual boundaries is not someone you should be having sex with.

Telling a sexual partner that you do not want to engage in a specific act should not be difficult. If it is difficult, then you should not be having sex with that person/ persons. No one should ever have to use this line to describe their sexual relationships: “(i)n the last few years, I’ve been remarkably creative with ways to avoid posterior decorating out of sheer necessity.” You should be able to say no and that word be respected. If your partner doesn’t respect that word or keeps asking or keeps trying, then you aren’t in a healthy sexual relationship. You aren’t in a healthy relationship.

A partner who does not listen to you when you say no is a rapist. You do not need tips to avoid having anal sex if you do not want too. A good partner should respect your decision. Crotchless panties shouldn’t be used as a defensive weapon against the possibility of being anally raped. If you like wearing them during sex, wear them. But, do not wear them as a way of trying to focus your partner away from doing something to your body that you dislike. If you have to bargain with other sexual acts to prevent someone doing something you dislike, you should not be having sex with them. You most certainly should not be in a relationship with them.

The entire Vagenda article was basically an instruction manual on how to avoid anal rape. It puts the onus on the female partner, instead of expecting the male partner not to be a rapist.

Women don’t need a guide on how to avoid anal rape. Men need to stop raping.

Correction: It has been pointed out, via twitter, that I am implying that it is easy to just walk out of an abusive relationship. I am very sorry. I do know how hard it is to leave an abusive relationship and I should never have made that implication.

You Too Can be a Model or a Pop Star: Living the Barbie Dream

Remember when Barbie was President of the United States? A vet? An entrepreneur with a string of high street stores? An astronaut? A paraolympian? A jockey?

Remember when Barbie’s body measurements were hateful but Barbie herself could do anything and be anything?

I do.

It’s unlikely my kids will remember Barbie this way since Barbie is now either a model, pop star or actress. It’s not that Barbie can’t be President of the United States since a limited edition Barbie for President 2012 doll was produced or that Barbie the Vet is no more, it’s simply that the most easily available versions of Barbie for sale on the high street are fairies, mermaids, princesses, models and popstars; all of which are tied into films and all of that subsequent merchandising. 

To be fair, I also had Pop Star Barbie; mine owned a record company, spoke 6 languages and had a PhD in archaeology. It’s probably fair to say I was a nerd. It’s not also that I think girls today lack the imaginations to make their Barbie mermaids into something; my small has made her Barbie mermaid into a superhero but Barbie used to be every girl [even with the ridiculous figure]. Now, even with the new more “realistic” bodies, Barbie is actually more 
limited in terms of careers and adventures.

The Barbie films may be predicated on the notion of girl power and female friendships, heck Barbie and the 3 Musketeers is practically Germaine Greer-approved, but they are reinforcing an even more narrow version of femininity that is inherently harmful for girls. The opening of the first life-sized Barbie Dreamhouse in Berlin is just further reinforcing the idea of Barbie-as-Object rather than Barbie-the-Adventure-Girl of my childhood. 

Barbie-of-the-Dreamhouse only allows two careers: model or pop star. Girls can pretend to bake cupcakes in her fake kitchen and rifle through her wardrobe. There is no evidence of President Barbie or Barbie The Musketeer or Barbie the Vet here. It’s just the plastic pink version of femininity that Barbie has been criticised for more than 40 years. At this point, I’d love a return to Malibu Barbie and Stacey who hang out at the beach surfing. At least they were athletes. Barbie-of-the-Dreamhouse doesn’t do adventures and I’m not entirely sure when she works as a model or pop star when she seems to spend all her time baking cupcakes and dressing up.

Barbie had an opportunity to change into something really quite radical with the return of President Barbie. Instead, Mattel has returned to the pink princess twaddle. 

And, don’t even get me started on Barbie the TV series which is available on youtube. I can’t tell if it’s supposed to post-modern irony or the brainchild of someone deeply stupid but it is well past creepy.

Skint: Channel 4 Joins the Tory Party

A friend brought Channel 4’s latest victim-blaming bullshit to my attention last week. I was going to actually watch the program before registering my dislike but I have just seen the ad. Again. And, it’s pissing me off. The press pack on the program doesn’t exactly help their case.

I know the program is scheduled for tonight but I will not be watching it. I will not watch the vilification of the poor for the entertainment of those who lack empathy; for those who have no understanding of poverty and for those who see nothing wrong in the exploitation of vulnerable people, particularly children, for entertainment. I have said this before on this blog but I do not believe that children should be allowed to appear in documentaries. I do not think parents have the right to set their own children up for the bullying that will inevitably follow their appearance in these types of programs.

Whether or not the program Skint will show what it’s like to actually be skint remains to be seen but let’s be realistic here: the press pack is clearly focussing on two men. Women are far more likely to live in poverty than men and their level of poverty is more likely to be long-term. Will Skint show mothers going without food to feed their children; elderly women trying to decide between heating their poorly insulated flat or buying food? Will it show the sheer number of single parent families headed by women living in poverty solely because the father refuses to pay maintenance? Will it show the sheer number of mothers who are on benefits because they are caring for children with disabilities for whom there is no childcare? Will it show the differential in pay between women and men once women are employed? Will it show the difference in benefit packages?

Will the show explain how women are far more likely to be dependent on the welfare state and the NHS because we care for our families? 

Will the show explain how the destruction of the welfare state and the NHS effects women more than men?

Poverty is gendered. 

That is forever the elephant in the room.

The refusal to acknowledge the gendered nature of poverty allows the othering of those in receipt of state benefits. By producing these types of programs, which are inevitably played for the number of viewers rather than real analysis, channel 4 perpetuates the othering of poverty. 

It’s not really surprising for channel 4 though. This is the channel that brought us the racism of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

Destroying Books Isn’t Protest and Being Triggered isn’t an excuse for Vandalism

The only information I have on the incident which took place at the Law and Disorder Conference comes from this piece published on the blog Gender Trender and the Law and Disorder Conference Facebook page. I have no interest in rehashing the debate on transgenderism and radical feminism. I do, however, want to examine the concept of privilege and the excusing of behaviour as it pertains to this situation.

As far as I can tell from the comment of one organiser (see below), the post on Gender Trender and the discussions on the Law and Disorder Facebook page is that one transwoman* felt triggered by the inclusion of a stall by environmentalist group Deep Green Resistance at the conference. DGR are extremely critical of the construction of gender in our Capitalist-Patriarchy and I simply refuse to believe that the organisers of the Law and Disorder Conference were not aware of this. Frankly, their claims to the contrary read as desperate attempts at minimising their own culpability in not ensuring the safety of EVERYONE in attendance at the conference.

It is not clear if the transwoman who originally felt triggered was involved in the following incident or if they approached the conference organisers with their concerns. What is evident is that several transwomen approached the DGR stall and began defacing their materials as well as drawing all over one of the woman on the stall in permanent market. This is the official statement from one of the conference organisers about the incident:

This statement has since been deleted on the Law and Disorder Conference Facebook page due to apparently transphobic comments; as opposed to being removed because it condoned the physical attack on one woman and the destruction of personal property. A woman was physically assaulted and personal property vandalised and the organisers of the conference think this is an acceptable response to one transwoman being triggered? Since when was being triggered considered an acceptable defence for the crime of vandalism? Not to mention the fact that being surrounded by a group of people intent on defacing your personal property as well as putting their hands on your body isn’t just triggering; it’s terrifying.

Defacing and destroying books which contain opinions and information you disagree with isn’t an acceptable response. It is a malicious, silencing tactic designed to intimidate. Cornering one woman and drawing on their body in permanent marker is assault. Those involved in this attack should be prosecuted. This isn’t reasonable adult behaviour. It is violent and those who seek to minimise personal responsibility for committing a crime are equally guilty. After all, we don’t know the identities or personal histories of the two women who were targeted and attacked.

Is is acceptable to trigger and assault women because you disagree with them? To me, that sounds an awful lot like the construction of male entitlement and male violence in the Capitalist-Patriarchy.

* I do not know the identity of the transwoman who felt triggered. I will delete comments that name any individuals involved in this incident. My comments policy is here.