A draft nomination for EVB for a National Diversity Award

National Diversity Award Nomination Form

This is my draft nomination for EVB. All criticism welcome (and needed). Do feel free to take this and change it to nominate EVB yourself!

Ending Victimisation and Blame are a campaign organisation which actively challenges victim blaming and myths about domestic and sexual violence and abuse in the media. Victim blaming and myths not only make it more difficult for women and children to report their abuse but it also results in the police, social workers, and criminal justice system from actually investigating the crimes of domestic and sexual violence and abuse to start with.

The media is a very powerful tool for transmitting myths and EVB’s work is essential in helping to change the discourse around domestic and sexual violence and abuse by demanding the media be held accountable for inaccurate reporting and misuse of legal terminology. EVB’s campaigning has resulted in numerous media outlets, from the Guardian to the BBCm changing headlines and rewriting articles.

EVB have also had success in campaigning to have the Attorney General review inappropriate sentencing of men convicted of sexual and domestic violence and abuse, including a case where a prosecutor labeled a 13 year old rape victim “predatory in all her actions” and therefore partially responsible for her own sexual assault.

Currently, 1 in 3 women experience sexual violence and 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence during their life time. A recent EU report suggests that these figures might be too positive and that many more women experience domestic and sexual violence and abuse. 2 women a week in the UK are murdered by their current or former partners. Domestic violence is on the increase in relationships among teenagers.

EVB is a small campaign which is only a year old but has already had a substantial impact on our culture. Their website hosts posts of personal experiences of victim blaming from survivors of domestic and sexual violence and abuse. For many, this is the first time they have been believed. That single act alone can change someone’s life.

Systemic victim blaming actively harms victims but so does media representation. We need the media to be held accountable for perpetuating damaging myths about domestic and sexual violence and abuse. We need victims to be able to report to the police knowing that they will be believed. We need to ensure that they can access support and medical attention without being treated as liars.

This is why EVB’s campaign is essential: no victim of domestic or sexual violence and abuse should ever think it is their fault. They should be able to access healthcare without being blamed. The police must be required to actively investigate every single incident of sexual violence reported to them and they must understand that domestic violence is a pattern of control and coercion not simply single incidents. Civil servants in front line services like housing, immigration, healthcare and education need to understand trauma so as to actively support victims and survivors. Teachers and social workers need mandatory training on victim awareness and trauma-informed practise.

EVB’s campaign demands a fundamental shift in our culture. They are a small campaign with big dreams and are already on the road to accomplishing them.

Banksy : Not a fan of feminism

To be fair, I’m not a fan of Banksy. I think his art is derivative and boring. It is classed as important because it doesn’t actually challenge anything. And, it was made by a dude with  a penis, which, in the art world, is more important than actually producing art.

I wasn’t exactly shocked when this image, taken from Banksy’s Facebook, rocked up in my twitter feed. Nor, was I shocked by the obscene amount of misogyny in the comments underneath this image. It’s just the kind of crap I’d expect from Banksy.

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(I can’t remember who tweeted this out. Give me a holler if it was you so I can credit you!)

#DickheadDetox : The Ricky Gervais Edition

I haven’t written a #DickheadDetox in several months as I’ve just been snowed under with other work. And, there are simply too many dickheads to write about.

I was remiss with Ricky Gervais though. He should have made this list years ago. Tonight, he gets to be part of my special list for this tweet:

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Granted, there are a million and one reasons Gervais should be on the Detox but I think the misogyny in this particular tweet sums him right up.

The “Magaluf Girl”: Consent, Alcohol and Coercion

I have been with my children all day. I’ve seen bits and pieces about the “Magaluf girl” giving blow jobs for a holiday but I didn’t want to look too closely because I could already guess how the media would report the story. A young woman who “gave” 24 men blow jobs whilst drunk in a club in Spain would only be reported one way: she was a slag, a slut and a whore.

I didn’t want to read because I remember the coverage of the sexual assault of a young girl at a concert at Slane Castle in Ireland last year: a 17 year old girl who was exploited, assaulted and then had to deal with the images being shared through social media. I thoroughly dislike the term “revenge porn” because it minimises sexual assault and rape with the suggesting of “consent”. Every single person who shared the images and video of the incident at Slane Castle was perpetrating sexual assault – particularly those who shared identifying details of the young woman.

The young woman, who will now be known as the demeaning term “Magaluf girl”, which may or may not be better than her real name being shared, is now experiencing a similar level of blame, harassment, and shaming as the young girl assaulted at Slane Castle. Yet, we still aren’t discussing the issue of sexual exploitation, consent to commit the acts, coercion, consent to share the images in the mass media and the role of men in the club, the audience, and the club owners  and managers who planned a game to have a young woman perform sex acts on multiple men.

@Seja75 has written an important critique of media coverage for Ending Victimisation and Blame but I disagree with part of her analysis. I don’t think it’s possible for a young woman who has been drinking in a club surrounded by large numbers of men cheering her on to have informed consent. Even if a woman has sexual fantasies involving exhibitionism, in a situation in a club with an audience, it is very difficult to feel safe enough to say no – to believe you have a choice to say no. Being surrounded by a large number of men is coercion.

This is without getting into the issue of sharing the video and images across the web. Here, I agree with Seja entirely: anyone who was actually concerned about issues of sexual exploitation and assault will have asked several questions including: has the young woman involved given consent to the the sex act? has the young woman consented to filming? Have the men involved consented to filming? Have the men consented to participating (and Seja raises some interesting questions about one of the men involved)? What was the role of the club in this event? Do they have informed consent? Do they even know what informed consent is?

Unlike Seja, I don’t think there is a best case scenario here. Young women are groomed into sexual exploitation from childhood. We are taught not to say no and we all learn very early what the consequences of saying no are. This is a clear case of sexual exploitation – by a club, by people at the club and by the media.

We need to start asking why men would line up to in a club surrounded by an audience to have a woman orally masturbate them. What is going through their heads at that moment?  Were they drunk and incapable of informed consent? Or, did they enter the club knowing that this was part of the evening?

We need to challenge the shaming of this young women but we also need to challenge a culture where a young woman could be put in a position like this. We need to start talking honestly about what informed consent actually means and we need to start looking at holding businesses accountable for sexual violence perpetrated on their premises but also created by their employees and managers. The staff who created this “blow job for a holiday” are guilty of coercion.

Sharing the images of this event is unethical and immoral. It isn’t required to discuss this case in the media. The media holds responsibility for further sexually assaulting this young woman, just as they did with the young woman at Slane Castle.

Whatever the answers to the questions raised, one point will remain: the media should be prohibited from sharing these images. And, any media outlet, blogger, tweeter or Reddit commentator who share these types of videos and images without consent should be legally prosecuted for sexual assault.

Defining transphobia

This is a really interesting statement posted by BuffytheReasonableFeminist on a Mumsnet thread in chat on what is the difference between the theory of gender is the Trans community and the political difference with feminism*:

“I want to be accepted as a woman, because that is what I am.”

“But ‘women’ to me is an oppressive stereotype that I want to challenge”

“I don’t want you to challenge it, because it I want it to stay how it is. It is my identity.”

“It’s my identity too and I don’t want you to define it for me.”

It’s a pretty good summation of the discussion on what constitutes transphobia from representatives of all forms of feminism, a transwoman, women who aren’t feminist (and one misogynist dick being a misogynist dick).