Men who need cookies are not feminist allies.

Everyday Sexism are running a hashtag tonight called #EverydayAllies about the men who stand up for feminism.

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I get what they are trying to do, but, come on. Men who actually give a shit about sexism and misogyny don’t need a freaking hashtag.

And those men who do, aren’t allies. They are in it for the blow jobs and cookies and we need to ignore their shit. We don’t need to be giving them a hashtag. We don’t need to be wasting our time on crap like this. We should be directed our energy at other women: praising their work. Celebrating their accomplishments.

Feminism needs to be by women for women and about women. Anything less is just replicating the very same patriarchal structures. FFS giving men cookies for not being an asshole isn’t feminism. It’s expecting them to act like humans: not assholes. Which isn’t really a very high standard to hold them to. Most 5 year olds get it.

Let’s hear about #AwesomeFeminists not men who are in it for a blow job.

So, “sex workers” are propping up the Patriarchy. All by themselves.

I believe the sex industry perpetuates violence against women and children: from prostitution to lap dancing to gonzo porn: it is an industry built on the abuse of the bodies of women and children. There are a small number of women working within the sex industry who do so by choice, however limited those choses are within a capitalist-patriarchy where the majority of labour of women remains unpaid despite the entire economy requiring wifework and childcare  to function. This group of women aren’t representative of the lives of the vast majority of women and children within the sex industry. As long as we live within a capitalist-patriarchy, I support the Nordic model of decriminalising those who sell sex (usually women and children) and criminalises the purchasing of sex (pretty much always men). The model requires proper implementation with support for housing, education, healthcare and childcare (among a multitude of other supports) but I do not believe that legalising sex work will help liberate women, as a class, from male violence and rape culture.

That said, I’m incredibly fucked off by Women’s Hours dismissive treatment of the sex workers interviewed . When a woman tells you they’ve experienced sexual harassment whilst working as a waitress, the proper response is not to state it’s less problematic than sex work. Sexual harassment on the job, any job, is a crime and we need to treat it as such. Women working as waitresses should not expect to be “chatted” or “felt up” by customers as a matter of course. It is precisely this kind of arrogance which perpetuates rape culture and puts women, within the service industry, at risk. Yes, the potential for violence is higher for women within the sex industry, but this does not mean that the women working within it deserves to experience violence.

Sex workers are living in the patriarchy, just like every other woman on the planet which the workers interviewed made very clear. And, we need to deal with this. The capitalist-patriarchy is only beneficial for a limited number of women. Most of us are living the best we can within the limited options we have. Women in all forms of employment deal with sexual harassment, abuse and shit. The capitalist-patriarchy is harmful to women in all industries and pretending this isn’t true harms women.

This said, I really, really object to Jane Garvey saying this to a group of sex workers: “couldn’t be doing anything that perpetuates the patriarchy more than sex work.” It is so lacking in feminist analysis  that I don’t know where to start. I am so fucking angry by this statement. People who are perpetuating the patriarchy are Terry Richardson: world-famous fashion photographer and sexual predator. The people hiring Richardson are perpetuating the patriarchy. Women trying to pay their bills are women trying to pay their bills. Suggesting that they are somehow upholding the patriarchy all by themselves is disgraceful.

Not to mention the fact that it’s fucking Women’s Hour saying it: a program which supports the Patriarchy on a daily basis by dismissing women’s concerns and inviting men to speak on behalf of women. the hypocrisy is astounding.

Lottery Funding for Burlesque Lessons For Teenage Girls?

 

At least, that is the impression given by the I will if you will website run by Bury Council.  This is the tagline for the website:

‘I Will If You Will’ is a movement to get us ladies of Bury moving. It’s about getting together, trying something new and having a laugh while we do it. So how about it? Join in online and get all the latest news and gossip, as well as keeping up to date with what’s going on near you and how to get involved.

Who could argue with a safe space for women to exercise without worrying about harassment from men? Obviously, they offer the standard exercise classes like swimming, aerobics, dance and basketball but I have concerns about burlesque being classed as an appropriate class for teenage girls. I will if you will defines burlesque as such:

Burlesque is a fun way to express your body through dance. I loved learning a new dance routine to a great music track!

Burlesque is not a dance class and it’s incredibly harmful to construct it as such. We already raise our children in a culture which sexualises them from birth with offensive baby-gros like “All Daddy wanted was a blowjob” and “Future Porn Star” for three year olds. Suggesting that burlesque, which is about the objectification of women’s bodies for the male gaze, is a normal form of exercise for teenagers is telling them that they are nothing more than fucktoys for men.

Pole dancing classes for children already exist so I’m not exactly surprised by burlesque for teenagers. There will always be parents who think their daughter’s worth is measured in her sexuality sending them to school at 6 in high heels and preventing them from playing sports by dressing them in clothes which they can’t walk in but pole dancing and burlesque lessons for kids are a step too far. There are lots of forms of street dance, hip hop, breakdancing which don’t require teenage girls to participate in an activity whose original purpose was the removal of women’s clothing for the titillation of men.

I’m even more concerned that these classes are being offered in venues funded by local council money, lottery and Sports England:

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I would like to know if public money has been used to pay for these classes and whether or not the community funds of £750, which  are available to local groups and organisations in Bury, are given to groups offering burlesque classes. The guidelines of the venue do not include statements about which activities are deemed appropriate for children. Burlesque is never an appropriate class for girls and public funding should not be used  to fund these classes.

 

International Women’s Day Brilliant Feminist Texts for #ReadWomen2014

These are some of my favourite feminist texts (as requested by Kathryn Mary Knight!)

Denise Thompson’s Radical Feminism Today

Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse

Melinda Tankard Reist & Abigail Bray’s Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry

Karen Boyle’s Everyday Pornography

Andrea Dworkin’s Pornography: Men Possessing Women

Lynne Harne & Elaine Miller’s All the Rage: Reasserting Radical Lesbian Feminism

Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences

Susan Faludi’s Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women

Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider

Gerda Lerner’s The Creation of Patriarchy

Valerie Solanus’ Scum Manifesto

Susan Maushart’s Wifework: What Marriage Really Means for Women

Sheila Jeffreys’ Beauty and Misogyny

Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue

Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics

Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room

Kathleen Barry’s The Prostitution of Sexuality: The Global Exploitation of Women

Rosalind Miles’ The Women’s History of the World

Nina Power’s One Dimensional Woman

Dale Spender’s The Writing or The Sex

 

Dorothy Roberts’ Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty 

 

 

 

International Women’s Day: Great Books for #ReadWomen2014

These are some of the brilliant books written by women that I in 2013.

Precious Williams’ Precious

Aminatta Forna’s The Devil that Danced on the Water

Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions

Valerie Martin’s Mary Reilly

Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams

Barbara Kingsolver’s Pigs in Heaven

Rumer Godden’s The Doll’s House

Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Chibundu Onuzo’s The Spider King’s Daughter

Aminatta Forna’s Ancestor Stones

You can purchase all of these books from News from Nowhere Radical & Cooperative Bookshop

 

Vagenda’s New Book & The Problem of Marketing Feminist Books

Feminist magazine Vagenda have a new book out which is brilliant because there can never be enough feminist books published. I am, however, concerned about the cover. It simply reinforces the “women as object” motif, particularly since this is a woman’s body without head.

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This isn’t uncommon for the publication of feminist books but it worries me. I doubt very much Vagenda had a choice in the cover but it does bother me that feminist texts are being published using pornified images of women’s bodies. Do publishers genuinely believe that people will only buy Vagenda’s book if the image is  ‘sexy’ because I have to say, I think that’s rather insulting to Vagenda’s audience. If the only way a marketing team can think to run book by a popular feminist website is with this cover, then they simply aren’t creative enough.

Vagenda’s book would have sold well without this cover. It’s just unnecessary.

 

Natasha Walter’s Living  Dolls:

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Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs

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The epidemic of no-platforming.

No-platforming has gone from a powerful tool to prevent people who spew hate to be given public platforms to the silencing of anyone who was rude to you once in a queue in Tescos. About 30 years ago. And, more times than not, it’s the no-platforming of someone who was rude to your third cousin, five-times removed baby-sitter’s hamster breeders next door neighbours cousin who you’ve never actually heard of being no-platformed for crimes as yet unspecified. The no-platforming requires mass twitter harassment which, for those who continue to be incapable of understanding, is actually a CRIME.

Personally, I think Jonathan Ross is sexist bellend. I find his television program beyond embarrassing: he doesn’t want to be there, the guests don’t want to be there. I can’t begin to fathom how it constitutes entertainment. And, despite the bookcases devoted fantasy and science fiction in this house, I’ve never heard of the Hugo awards. I’m going to assume this is because they very rarely have female winners and there are very few books written by men in this house. I wouldn’t want to attend anything Ross presented at but, then, I feel that way about most award ceremonies: mostly white men congratulating other white men on being white men.

They are dire.

But, this no-platforming Ross because of a twitter campaign by a bunch of people who have never heard of him is dangerous territory. The comparisons with McCarthyism are apt. No-platforming is no longer about preventing hate speech but assumed crimes without evidence or basis in law. And, is deeply hypocritical when people who actually promote hate speech, like David Irving and Nick Griffin, aren’t banned from major platforms.

By all means, object to sharing platforms with people who you believe promote hate speech but, first, you should check you actually know what you’re talking about. Because, twitter is full of nincompoops who’ve got the political acumen of a hamster with late stage rabies who think they’re the shit. Mostly, they just are shit.

Twitter mobs must not be allowed to dictate policy when huge swathes are involved just for the sake of a ruck rather than politics.

And, honestly, when did it become acceptable to allow people who threaten violence to dictate what social justice is? I mean, come on.

Selling Teenage Girls Short

Yesterday, a 10 year old girl started a fucking brilliant blog about Sexism in Schools which went viral.

It went viral because it’s fucking brilliant.  Hell, even the Huff Post picked up on it!

When I went to sleep last night, my timeline was full of people talking about an articulate fabulous feminist this 10 year old girl is and this morning I see people claiming it can’t be real because:

  • children don’t “write” like that as if all 10 year olds are identikits of one another
  • no 10 year old would be “aware” of the issue of body-shaming (unlike every 7 year old in peer-reviewed studies who call themselves fat)
  • 10 year old girls aren’t that smart

And, this is really what this issue is about: jealousy and misogyny.  People are refusing to believe it’s real because this is clearly a smart kid and it might make their kids look less smart in comparison. Which reflects on insecurities in those people saying it who need to grow up before they fuck up their own children.

But, worse, this is about misogyny. This is the constant dismissal of women’s work as “fake” because no woman could write like that. It’s part of the same erasure of women’s work which perpetuates cultural femicide. Women just aren’t considered smart enough to do “real work”.

Teenage girls have it even worse: we assume they are all brain-dead, orange-tanned, blond dumbasses who are too stupid to have a thought in their pretty little heads. They are deemed incapable of doing anything that doesn’t involve beauty rituals or being objects for adult men to lust over.

We need to stop selling our teenage girls short; stop believing the lies about them. We need to believe they can be whatever they want to be: activist, artist, athlete … before they can believe it themselves. It doesn’t matter how many options we give them on careers day if they’ve grown up believing that they just aren’t capable of doing anything. We raise them in a society which punishes them for being born female, doubly so for the crime of not being white, and then we wonder why they do everything they possibly can to fit in.  We punish them for fitting into the narrow roles we’ve prescribed for them and we punish them for stepping out of these roles.

We need to stop selling them short and trust that they are coping the best way they can in a society which hates women.

We to start believing they are the fabulous, brilliant, and interesting people and SHOW them that we believe it.

Sexism in Schools is clearly written by a pretty brilliant child. Let’s build up her confidence instead of trashing it.

 

 

 

The Kindness of Strangers

There has been a lot of discussion on twitter recently about sisterhood and whether or not it exists or should exist. And, yes there are very serious problems within the feminist movement which need to be addressed but sisterhood does exist . We just need to work harder to ensure that it doesn’t just exist theoretically.

Recently, my sister suffered a catastrophic fire in her house and women (and men) who I’ve never met donated money to help her. I have seen women, and its almost always women, rally around others on twitter with money to pay for medical treatment, emotional support and physical support. I have seen this time and time again. And, we don’t recognise it for what it really is : women supporting women as we have done for several millennia.

I cannot describe how much my sister appreciated the kindness of complete strangers; how much I appreciate the kindness shown to my sister. People are still offering to help my sister. She has received so much. Instead, could you all donate to the  Ending Victimisation and Blame (Everyday Victim Blaming) campaign instead. They are a small organisation run by only a few volunteers and they really need financial support to keep fighting victim blaming within the media and helping women, children and men who’ve experienced domestic and sexual violence.

This is what feminism really is: women helping women.