#IBelieveHer Redux: Some Excellent Resources

I have previously blogged my ire and disgust at the treatment of the woman raped by Ched Evans. Increasingly, I am finding it quite difficult to continue identifying this woman by the crime committed against her body and, as  I dislike ‘X’ as a pseudonym, I have decided to use the name Orla Vuss instead. This name  was suggested by a friend when I was explaining my discomfort over the issue. Orla Vuss is entitled to anonymity under the law in the UK and anyone posting her real name in the comments will be reported to the police.

The I Believe You FB page in support Orla Vuss has been growing exponentially over the last few days. Many of us have been writing blogs, tweeting and sharing links on FB in support of her. It has become a truly beautiful space. There are so many amazing women sharing their stories and listening and supporting one another. We need more people to “like” the page so that Orla Vuss knows their is a large community of women [and men] who support her and who believe her.

Many of the women posting on the FB page have been linking resources and blogs they have found helpful and I wanted to collate them here so that they don’t get lost in such a busy wall; partly because I keep losing the links on the page myself.

These blogs and resources all come with trigger warnings. Please take care of yourself when accessing them:

Petition to the Professional Footballers Association

Rape Crisis: England/Wales

Rape Crisis: Scotland

Fugitivus: Another Post About Rape

Project Unbreakable: Youtube video

MyMilkSpilt: Who Hears you when You Speak of Rape

MyMilkSplit: Why Shouldn’t she take some responsibility?

BlueMilk: Don’t Get Raped

Stavvers: The Anatomy of Rape Apologism

Biting Beaver: The Rapist Checklist

Yououghtaknow: Are there such things as mugging myths?

Yes Means Yes: If she’s not having fun, you need to stop.

I will keep adding to this list as more resources and blogs are posted on the FB wall.

Fariman Saleh: New Appeal to have her Asylum Claim Reviewed

I did not write this letter. It’s come via a friend who has kindly given me permission to reprint. The letter speaks for itself but please take the time to email both Theresa May and your local MP about this very serious case. Violence against women is far too often dismissed as a concern for individual women. VAW is systemic and endemic and should be recognised as such under British law and we should be offering safety to all women fleeing from VAW.

Contact your MPWrite to Them

Dear Home secretary,

I am writing on behalf of Fariman Saleh and her two children Liaily El-Attar and Ibrahim El-Attar who belong in Cardiff.

Mrs Saleh and her children arrived from Egypt in 2007 leaving behind a cruel and abusive husband and father. She had endured 15 years of domestic violence and rape, for which he was never tried, due to his close links with Egyptian police and judges. Soon after arrival they received threats to their lives, by their servants’ father who wanted revenge for his daughters illegitimate child, fathered by Mrs Saleh’s husband. As Mrs Saleh’s husband had impunity, his closest family members were at risk. 

Mrs Saleh’s youngest daughter, Liaily, was still at school in Egypt, which led to Mrs Saleh claiming asylum under a false nationality, saying she was from Iraq. This was to protect Liaily, as Mrs Saleh believed that the Egyptian authorities would find and harm her daughter if they knew she had claimed asylum in the UK. Once her daughter was safe in the UK, she explained that she had lied about her nationality. 

Her asylum claim was subsequently refused, but I believe the credibility of her claim has wrongly been questioned ever since. Mrs Saleh provided evidence to back up her claim, but due to improper legal representation, her evidence was not properly translated. It is clear to me that her only reason to provide a false nationality was because of the risks to her daughter’s safety and she would not have done so if she had known how this would affect her claim. 

Their solicitor is currently making a fresh representation on their behalf, and I ask that this is fully considered on its own merits, without questioning her initial error. 

The family have lived in the UK for 5 years now and have integrated well into the Cardiff community. Her children have spent their adolescence growing up here and consider this to be their country. They are settled here, have made good friends and enjoy regular social activities. They are happily progressing through the education system and currently taking exams. Should they be rightly permitted to reside here in the UK, they would be able to complete their education and be in the position of living full and prosperous lives. They all make a positive contribution to the community and would be missed.

Their life is still in danger in Egypt, where violence and intolerance against women has increased and as a single mother, it would be impossible for Mrs Saleh to protect her children or live a normal and fulfilling life. There is no protection available for the family by either the police or the government as the country is still in chaos since the uprising in 2011. If her daughter returns there, she is at significant risk of violence, FGM and forced marriage.
I request that Mrs Saleh, Liaily and Ibrahim be allowed to continue living in Cardiff while the representations made by their solicitor are considered afresh, and that the Home Office take my views into account in the decision process.

I urge the Home Secretary to act on compassionate grounds and grant them the right to stay in the UK. 

Yours Sincerely,

Save the Women’s Library

I love libraries. Free access to public libraries is the hallmark of a civilised society and the current threat of cuts to library services under the ConDems is just further evidence of how much they hate people who aren’t rich. We are eroding and destroying our cultural heritage by closing libraries. This is doubly so in the case of the Women’s Library which forms part of London Metropolitan Univerisity. According to the Guardian, the Women’s Library is the oldest and most extensive collection in Europe. It’s also my favourite library ever. 

The purpose-built building itself was given as part of the heritage lottery-funding and it is utterly fabulous. The current exhibit All Work and Low Pay is beautiful and has the funniest black and white film on women’s work running. I could wax lyrical about the Women’s Library for hours as we need to save this space and keep it open 5 days a week so that everyone has a chance to access the mostly donated collection. I’d prefer it to be open 7 days a week but LMU would never go for that.

More importantly, it’s a beautiful library with an incredible collection. We can not close such an amazing resource without a fight. It doesn’t just further marginalise the history of women; it erodes our knowledge and access to it. The British National Library is a great resource but it is incredibly male-dominated, as their last display on illustrated manuscripts demonstrated. If we lose the Women’s Library, we lose our history. It is that simple. It is Cultural Femicide.

A petition to save the Library is here.

Apparently, the closure of the Women’s Library was discussed on Women’s Hour on Radio4 today. I didn’t listen because it usually makes me feel like ripping my hair out. Twitter seems to think it was a good discussion so I may listen later, when I’m feeling less stabby.

UPDATE: Campaign Letter gets published

Brilliant Blog here on the value of researching Black Women’s History at the Women’s Library

Sheila Rowbotham

‘Fun Feminism’: In Defence of Radical Feminism

I love Julie Bindel. I don’t always agree with everything she says but she makes me think which is a precious gift in a society driven by Patriarchal media-soundbites which erase the voices of those who don’t conform and labels them stupid to boot. Bindel, along with Bidisha, Cath Elliot, and Samira Ahmed are some of my favourite journalists because they don’t play the Handmaiden game.

Not everyone feels quite the same love I do as evidenced by this article in the New Stateman making the rounds on Twitter. Again. It is simply a brief outline of the difference between Second Wave Radical Feminism and the, unfortunately, increasingly popular “fun feminism”, otherwise known as Third Wave Feminism. The difference being, according to Bindel, that the former is a:

A political movement to overthrow male supremacy, according to us radicals. These days, however, young women (and men) are increasingly fed the line from “fun feminists” that it is about individual power, rather than a collective movement.

Radical Feminism is anti-porn not anti-sex as the Third Wavers dismissively suggest. We do not believe that women’s liberation is about “choice” and that individual “choices” must be respected irregardless of the harm they cause other women. The “choice” to do Burlesque only exists if you have the education and status to be “risque”. Burlesque isn’t a “risque” activity though. It is one that clearly has negative consequences for women who work in the sex industry due to poverty, addiction, and lack of alternate possibilities. Radical Feminism is about freeing women from male oppression and violence. Lap-dancing isn’t a route to women’s liberation; neither is prostitution. These are lies perpetuated by The Patriarchy. We are not man-haters. If anything, Radical Feminists are the ones who believe that men are actually capable of empathy and humanity and aren’t just animals ruled by their cocks.

“Fun Feminism” is why Terri White wound up as an assistant editor at Nuts magazine rating young women, barely into adulthood, on their breasts without any consideration to the harm she was perpetuating. “Fun Feminism” is why Caitlin Moran can claim, without even the barest hint of irony, that “beauty regimes” and housework aren’t Feminist issues. “Fun Feminism” is the reason why we are required to preface any discussion of violence against women with the statement “obviously all men aren’t rapists or abusers or porn-users” [although, considering porn is the most financially successful industry in the world, a seriously large number of men have to be consuming it to make it profitable]. “Fun Feminism” is why ageing female journalists are slowly being erased from the media. “Fun Feminism” is the reason our daughter’s are being taught that the only power they have is their sexuality and that being physically attractive is the most important thing in the world. Ever. We need more Radical Feminists like Julie Bindel being controversial and being heard. We need more Radical Feminists asking questions and demanding real answers and not the minimising bullshit the BBC comes out with when questioned why their children’s programming features more boys than girls than any of the commercial channels manage. We need more Radical Feminist voices loudly critiquing the “Sex-industry” and challenging pornographers and those who deny the damage done by prostitution.

UPDATE: Bindel on Brooke Magnati’s new book in the Guardian and here on the Myth of the Violent Lesbian.

UPDATE 2: Bindel’s article spawned quite a large discussion on Mumsnet. My dear friend KRITIQ had some quite interesting things to say about labelling movements. I’m going to copy some of those statements here since they pushed me out of my comfort zone in a positive manner [which is a particularly lovely gift KRITIQ has]:

[l] don’t like the term “fun fem” and still think there’s a risk it can be used just to dismiss and silence those who don’t meet some arbitrary standard of feminist values. I’d rather see arguments against the perpetuation of specific beliefs and practices rather than a list of “things that aren’t really feminist,” which will probably get lots of things tacked on the end and there will never be any agreement on. 

For what it’s worth, discussion of sexual oppression IS going to be scary, regardless of how it’s done. It’s impossible to keep the political from being personal and vice versa, so people will have strong feelings and use strong language in articulating these. Perhaps one needs a strong stomach to engage in discussions here and elsewhere on feminism. Being just a textual medium, perhaps we would all benefit from remembering how easy it is to misunderstand and be misunderstood. But, I would never want folks to feel they need to sanitise their experience or views to be more palatable. The experience of being at the sharp end of misogyny, whether individually or collectively, isn’t something that should be sugar-coated, imho. … 

Regardless of the origins of the term “fun fem,” … I still don’t think it’s a helpful term. That was the point I was making. It’s too porous to have a useful definition and like “politically correct” can be easily used as or experienced as just a throw away “slur.” I’d prefer to get beyond what could be seen as just name calling to actually challenging and questioning people about those specific points about prostitution, sexualisation of children, pornography, collusion with rape, etc.
Equally, I despise the term “sex positive feminism.” It suggests that those who don’t think prostitution, porn, stripping, etc. are tickity boo are “negative” about sex, which ain’t the case. Similarly, I don’t like the term “pro life” for those who oppose a woman’s right to choose. Advocates of reproductive rights and choice aren’t anti-life, fgs

These are some of my favourite Radical Feminist blogs, websites and organisations [well, not all will identify as Radical Feminist but they are all women who actively challenge The Patriarchy and are people whose work I admire tremendously]:

Julie Bindel


Andrea Dworkin

Stop Porn Culture

Kate Smurthwaite

RadFem Hub

RadFem Reader

Feminist Reprise

Sisterhood is Powerful

Rebecca Mott

Finn Mackay and her reprint of Sheila Jeffrey’s speech: The need for Revolutionary Feminism.