#womenwrites

UK judges change court rules on child contact for violent fathers by Sandra Saville

Why do we still make girls wear skirts and dresses as school uniform? by Amanda Merger

Babette Cole, anarchic creator of Princess Smartypants, dies at 66 by Danuta Kean

First Class Racism by Jamelia

Lesbian Anxieties, Queer Erasures: The Problem with Terms Like ‘Subversive Femme’  via @LucyAllenFWR

Generation treat yo’ self: the problem with ‘self-care’ by Arwa Mahdawi

Response to ‘Transgender Kids:Who Knows Best‘  via @fairplaywomen

TRIGGER WARNING by @extreme_crochet http://buff.ly/2jFtCBH

The Importance of Recognizing the Murder of Women as a Hate Crime  by Zoe Holman via @broadly

Me and my accent(s) by Sara Salem

Liberal feminists ushered Ivanka Trump into the White House by by RAQUEL ROSARIO SANCHEZ  via @FeministCurrent

A Room of Our Own: An Anthology of Feminist & Womanist Writing

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-10-44-24A Room of Our Own: An Anthology of Feminist & Womanist Writing is now available:

Paperback

Kindle

CreateSpace

 

 

A Room of Our Own: An Anthology of Feminist & Womanist Writing is a collection of essays, poetry, and short stories written by women. The proceeds of this book will be used to support this platform covering the costs of hosting and website maintenance and development.

Table Of Contents

Room For Our Dangerous Ideas  

Hair by Poppy O’Neill

Used Goods by Durre Mughal

Celeste by Lucy Middlemass

Practicing Self-Love by Priscilla Lugo

Room For Our Courage  

Prologue/Epilogue by Lorrie Hartshorn

Your Silence Will Not Protect You: Racism in the Feminist Movement by Claire Heuchan

An Indian woman by Sunayna Pal

The Outsider Within: Racism in the Feminist Movement by Claire Heuchan

Abortion by Erika Garrett

Room For Our Anger

Cyborg by Susan Dunsford

You women! You’re such bitches by Cath Bore

The Colour of Justice by Estella Muzito

Room For Ourselves

Sister, mother by Lorrie Hartshorn

Because Ogwugwu Said So by Egoyibo Okoro

Giving birth in a dictatorship by Erika Garrett

Feminist Mothering with Fibromyalgia by Louise Pennington

Room For Our Escape

Hollywood’s Woman Problem in Action Films by Christina Paschyn

Room For Our Future

What’s in a Word? by Millie Slavidou

Mother’s Lament by Susan Dunford

An Open Letter to Our Immigrant Parents by Priscilla Lugo

Being Chicana in College by Priscilla Lugo

Love Sick by Erika Garrett

Room For Our Knowledge  

I am not your Mami by Priscilla Lugo

Understanding Feminist Standpoints: Situated Knowledges of Gender, Race, and Class Inequality by Egoyibo Okoro

Hysteria in Performance: The subversive potential of performative malady by Effie Samara

My Mother Said by Durre Mughal

Feminism for Girls – I need your help with answers for my daughter!

Last week, my daughter asked if I had any books on feminism that she could read. The only one I could think of was Peggy Ornstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter as she’s not quite old enough for Kat Banyard’s The Equality Illusion. Her response: we need to write one. So, we are.

Below is the post she wrote for her blog Generation Why. She’s looking for a range of answers to the three questions below to include in the book. The book is aimed at girls 8-13ish.

All answers and comments greatly appreciated!

 

This morning I asked my Mum if she had any books I could read on feminism. I found out that there weren’t very many books about feminism for girls my age. The only book that Mum had for me to read was Cinderella Ate My Daughter.unknown

We decided we would write a book on feminism for people my age. These are things we want to include what is feminism, misrepresentation of women, history of feminism and what women think feminism is.

 

These are the three questions I would like women to answer so that I can include them in the book:

  1. What is feminism to you?
  2. Why are you a feminist?
  3. Who inspired you to become a feminist?

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You can post your answers to the questions in the comments below or you can email them to louisepennington@hotmail.co.uk

You can also send us any ideas you would like us to include in the book.

Justin Trudeau is not a feminist superhero.

Justinjustin-trudeau-yoga_650x400_71459338988 Trudeau is a feminist. We all know this since he says it every single time he’s interviewed. The media is obsessed with this narrative and Trudeau is regularly accused of ‘trolling the internet’ for posting pictures which revel in hyper-masculinity.

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Much of Trudeau’s appeal is that he is a conventionally attractive white male who does yoga, charity boxing and loves kids. Almost as much as Barack Obama does. This is not ‘trolling the internet’. It is part of a deliberate campaign of image management – just like every other politician on the planet. David Cameron taking up yoga would not make him a better prime minister – nothing can compensate for the destructive and deeply misogynistic and racist policies that the Tory party has developed. Likewise, an attractive prime minister who enjoys a photo opportunities with babies – of the human and panda varieties – does not automatically guarantee good policies or even a commitment to feminism.

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It is a failing of our culture and lack if critical consumption of media that we are infatuated with a prime minister who is under the age of 60 and has all his hair. We’ve learned nothing from the debacle of Tony Blair and ‘Blair’s Babes’.

 

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Trudeau grew up in the public eye. He knows the value of a carefully cultivated media construction, which is both serious and playful. It’s clear he is willing to be silly in the public eye but posing in a pool with his family isn’t a policy document. Before he gets acclaimed as the greatest prime minister ever, it’s best to have a passing acquaintance with his policies before we repeat the embarrassment of Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize for promising nuclear non-proliferation only 9 months after being inaugurated – what with Obama’s record of military intervention in the following years not being exactly on the side of ensuring World Peace. At the rate the media is going with it’s coverage of Trudeau: Feminist Superhero, he’ll win Women of the Year 2016, which is only slightly less embarrassing than Glamour voting Caitlyn Jenner despite the fact that Jenner is a republican who does not support a single right of women, including reproductive justice,  and the feting of Kellie Maloney erasing pesky issues like homophobia, racism and domestic violence (it’s worth noting here that attempted strangulation is a huge risk factor for fatal intimate partner violence).

The fact that a Trudeau has gone on record claiming to be a feminist is a good thing. It is essential that world leaders understand that women are oppressed as a class, but saying the words ‘I’m a feminist’ aren’t enough. They have to be followed through with actions and Justin Trudeau has simply not done enough for women for him to celebrated yet. A commitment to access to abortion for all women should be a basic requirement in a politician – not a cause for celebration. I have yet to read any statements from Trudeau on reproductive justice – something Aboriginal women are consistently denied.

His tax breaks are currently aimed at middle class families with a commitment to increasing contributions from the wealthy 1% and not those living in poverty, which isn’t exactly a Brave New World in political promises. The 2014 Liberal conference pledged to research a basic minimum income for all residents with the promise of Ontario trialling it. There are also promises around prescription charges, which are incredibly expensive particularly if you have disabilities or a long-term illness and no health insurance. This is all under discussion with some of Trudeau’s tax reforms conflicting with the research proposals on a universal basic income. A universal basic income is an inherently feminist policy. If Trudeau’s government follows through with these recommendations it will have an immediate impact on poverty, which disproportionately impacts women and all Aboriginal Peoples (First Nation, Inuit, and Metis).

Aboriginal communities across Canada experience systemic poverty and the consequences of Colonial practises which continue to this day, with the final residential school not closing until 1996. Access to healthcare, education, employment, and support services are sub-standard in many communities. Aboriginal women experience domestic and sexual violence and abuse at much higher rates than other Canadian women – including that perpetrated by white men. Aboriginal women are more likely to have their children taken into foster care if they exhibit trauma-symptoms caused by male violence. They are less likely to be given access to support services and are far more likely to be blamed for their experiences of violence.

Substance use is common in Aboriginal communities and is directly linked to trauma and poverty.  Many communities have taken extreme measures to support young people, particularly alcohol consumption and huffing. It’s not unusual to hear of RCMP officers stationed in remote communities dealing in illegal substances, including alcohol in those where it is banned. Racist and misogynistic violence against Aboriginal peoples by police is common at the national, provincial and local levels. “Starlight tours”, the practise of dumping Aboriginal peoples outside of the city limits by Saskatoon police was common in the 1990s – there is little documented evidence of it happening at other times but even the chief of police in Saskatoon believes it happened(s). These “starlight tours” resulted in the deaths by hypothermia of a number of people including Rodney Naistus, Lawrence Wegner and Neil Stonechild. I’ve yet to have heard any policies from Trudeau which will deal with these issues.

One promise Trudeau has already instituted is holding an inquiry into the missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Estimates suggest more than 4000 women disappeared during the last 30 years – the police, of course, have a lower number of 1200. The police of Canada aren’t exactly trustworthy when it comes to recording crimes against Aboriginal people – and aren’t exactly free of perpetrators either. This inquiry is absolutely essential to address Canada’s current racist and misogynist polices which have resulted in the abuse, trauma, disappearance and murder of Aboriginal women. However, this is not Trudeau’s policy but the consequence of decades of activism by Aboriginal women and their families culminating in a very distressing report written by Human Rights Watch on the disappearance and murder of Aboriginal women along highway 16, or Highway of Tears, in British Columbia.

If this inquiry is undertaken appropriately, and avoids the incompetence and possibilities of corruption seen in the UK’s Chilcot Inquiry into the war in Iraq, it will fundamentally change the way we understand Canada both historically and currently. However, Trudeau announcing that an inquiry will take place is not a sign of his commitment to feminism. His commitment will be demonstrated by ensuring that the voices of Aboriginal peoples are given priority during it and when any recommendations are put into place.

The inquiry will also need to address the disproportionate number of Aboriginal women forced into prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation due to poverty, misogyny and racism. Trudeau supports the decriminalisation of the ‘sex industry’. This is not just the women, children and men forced into selling their bodies but includes decriminalising those who profit from the sexual exploitation of women.  There is nothing feminist about decriminalising pimps and there is nothing feminist about ignoring the fact that many of the missing and murdered Aboriginal women were vulnerable because they had no options other than prostitution. A decriminalisation policy which ignores systemic racism and misogyny within Canada is not feminist.

Before lauding Trudeau a feminist superhero, we need to see the following:

  • immediate investment in education and healthcare
  • a real commitment to reproductive justice ensuring that abortion and birth control are easily available across Canada, as well as recognition that poverty and racism impact on how women access reproductive justice. This requires an overhaul of the welfare system, foster care, and access to free prescriptions, dental, eyesore etc for all who need it.
  • Universal basic income
  • Federal control over child maintenance so that it is not a lottery sweepstakes for mothers
  • Fundamental overhaul of child contact to recognise the ways in which abusive fathers harm their children and former partners through contact starting with recognising that a man who abuses his partner is committing child abuse.
  • massive investment in women’s services including refuges, homeless accommodation, and rape crisis centres
  • Exiting services
  • massive investment in housing, particularly on reservations some of which still do not have access to appropriate clean water and energy.
  • Ensuring that his commitment to action on climate change recognises how it disproportionately impacts Aboriginal communities and that support for the Keystone XL pipeline does not address this.

As it stands, Trudeau has the potential to be a transformative prime minister dedicated to instituting feminist policies, but he isn’t there yet and the obsession with his looks is simply demeaning to us all.

 

 

Further reading:

 “Those Who Take Us Away: Abusive Policing and Failures in Protection of Indigenous Women and Girls in Northern British Columbia, Canada,” – Human Rights Watch

Red River Women – BBC

No more Stolen Sisters – Amnesty Canada

Missing and Murder Aboriginal Girls and Women – Native Women’s Association of Canada

Canada’s Missing: Thousands of Murdered or Missing Women – Al Jazeera

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Images:

Image 1: Justin Trudeau – twitter

Image 2: Bespoke Films/ Daily Mail

Image 3:  Rachel J./Twitter

Image 4: Maude Chauvin

Real feminist sisterhood

It’s very rare that I share positive stories of women here. I spend so much time writing about male violence and celebrity culture that I forget to share the good stuff.

This is the good stuff: an anonymous donor gave a disabled, single mother 10 000 pounds so she can complete her master’s degree.

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The donor is anonymous so we can’t guess as to their biological sex. What we can say is that due to women sharing Diane’s GoFundMe (and whatever spiteful asshole reported it), a brilliant feminist is now going to be able to complete her Master’s degree in criminology to embark on a career helping young people who have been criminalized following substance abuse. This is real sisterhood.

Kate Middleton: Suffragette

Kate Middleton is officially our generations suffragette for the incredible action of wearing the same outfit twice. At least, according to Patsy Kensit.

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Image via 

Feminism is about liberating women; not who your friends are

On Friday morning, between getting myself ready for work and my child ready for school, I was tweeted an article on the BBC about a report from the Home Affairs Select Committee which recommended anonymity for rapists. I was horrified. Anonymity for rape suspects is incredibly dangerous for all sorts of reasons – starting with the fact that rapists have a huge rate of recidivism and a very low rate of conviction. Because of misogyny. Rapists commit rape knowing that the general public, the media and the police will label their victims a liar or insist she was partly responsible for the rape for the crime of being born a girl.

I was so angry, I started a petition. Whilst I was writing it, I saw a tweet with a press release from the End Violence Against Women coalition so I added their quotes into the text of the petition.

I started the petition because I was angry. I assumed other women would be angry too. I was a bit surprised at the low numbers of people signing the petition, but I hoped it would be a slow-burner with the lack of signatures due to starting the petition during a solar eclipse.

I was really shocked and hurt to discover on Saturday morning that the reason the petition wasn’t being shared publicly was because a high profile media feminist refused to sign and share it because she doesn’t like me. It’s a petition asking the Home Affairs Select Committee review their recommendation on anonymity for suspects in rape cases – a recommendation made with no research-based evidence, just vague worries about the reputation of rapists. It never occurred to me that there would be anything so controversial about this petition that people wouldn’t share it because they don’t like me.

Yet, this is what happened. The petition wasn’t shared by a high-profile feminist because she doesn’t like me. When questioned, the answer changed to “because it’s not well-written”. I wrote the petition in 15 minutes as that’s all the time I had on Friday to do so. I’m a single disabled mother – my time is limited due to caring responsibilities and my disability. I wanted to get it out as soon as possible to challenge the inevitable media coverage of men feeling sad for being accused of rape – as though the real problem in rape was the rapist’s feelings rather than the fact that a woman was raped.

Now, I’m hearing others say the same thing: they can’t sign because the petition “wasn’t written well” – an answer that smacks of classism and disablism. Under this argument, only women who have Russell group university education will be allowed to engage in public activism. After all, a rogue comma could destroy the feminist movement completely since bad grammar is a bigger sin that anonymity for rape victims.

As a disabled woman who has written at length on my experiences dealing with the brain fog associated with fibromyalgia, I find this idea that women refuse to sign my petition as its “poorly written” humiliating. I know that my illness has affected my writing and my ability to talk coherently (especially when tired as I start to lose words or use the wrong ones). I’ve been really open about how hard it is as someone who loves writing to be unable to put my thoughts out coherently: that what ends up on the paper isn’t what was in my head because of the way the fibromyalgia has effected the ability of my brain to communicate clearly. It’s also effected my ability to speak since I lose words and have huge pauses in between words (that I don’t realise is happening). I also find it difficult to process what is being said to me when tired: I know people are talking but I can’t hear the actual words and, even when I can hear some of the words, my brain can’t actually process the message. When it’s this bad, the only thing I can do is nap. This isn’t exactly conducive to mothering or being a writer.

Hence, the humiliation and hurt at being told that my petition isn’t shareable because it isn’t well-written. Because I have a disability that is slowly destroying my life. I know that it isn’t being shared because this particular woman doesn’t like me – not because of the writing style. But, it doesn’t make it less humiliating when people are being told it’s because it’s ‘poorly-written’.

Feminism is a political movement to liberate women. It isn’t about who your friends are or who is a good writer. It’s about changing the world to make it safer for women. That’s why I started my petition to the Home Affairs Select Committee. And, that’s why I hope everyone will sign it.

Why Men Can’t Be Feminists Redux

 

They say shit like this on twitter and think it makes them a feminist and a gender egalitarian.

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Granted, it’s possible he’s being ironic in his twitter bio:

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 09.36.15But, we all know he isn’t. And, this is why men can’t be feminists.  Hell, it’s why most men who identify as feminist are suspect.

Suggesting that women who wear a religious item of clothing are “spineless” is misogyny. It is a total failure to understand structural oppression, choice, faith, and survival. It is equally racist.

Women aren’t property but we also aren’t spineless or stupid – as this man implies. Women make choices within a very limited range to survive. Many women have no choice not to wear the hijab because of threats of violence within the home or the community. Others choose to wear a hijab for a million reasons that this man is clearly too dim to even begin to contemplate.

Telling a woman to wear/not wear an item of clothing is just a bullshit erasure of male supremacy and structural oppression. It holds women accountable for men’s behaviour.

The Dude who came up with #NoHijabDay is equally as misogynistic and racist, but at least he’s not pretending to be a feminist. Not that that is any comfort whatsoever in the grand scheme of things.

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Brilliant Spoken Poetry on Misogyny in Music

This is the first time I’ve seen this video and it just a brilliant response to Jay-Z and misogyny in music (and applicable across all genres).

The name on the video is Madiha Bhatti. I haven’t yet checked if she’s uploaded more to YouTube but this is just incredible.

#WomenAgainstFeminism, Feminist Critique and the Replication of Patriarchal Abuse

These are a few of the tweets currently being posted on #WomenAgainstFeminism by women who genuinely believe that feminism is a serious problem:

bc feminists today are truly intolerant, incapable of debate & will attack anyone who challenges their agenda

because I don’t need to blame everything that happens on a man.

Feminism has hurt men, women, and children to serve the few at the top who couldn’t make it on their own.

And, this is what some feminists are tweeting in response:

Still can’t believe the hashtag is real… I honestly can’t believe the world has people that stupid.

pointing out the stupid people on the tag how fun

i like how every girl in the tag that’s actually against feminism looks like janet reno. pick your battles, uglies.

It is absolutely true that many of the women who are posting grievances on the #WomenAgainstFeminism tag are white, privileged women and there are some very valid criticisms to be had of the tag but calling people ugly isn’t activism and it won’t change the opinions of those you are insulting. Pointing out the privilege of those dismissing feminism, like in this tweet:

“I am so privileged that I wont take the time to understand a movement that is for helping women who aren’t as lucky”

is absolutely essential. Calling Janet Reno ugly is not.

Critiquing the tag doesn’t require insulting the appearance & intelligence of the women posting on it. It doesn’t require replicating misogynistic language or insults. It requires an evidence-based answer – such as those pointing out the battle for women’s suffrage, rape laws, equal pay acts, maternity rights, reproductive freedoms and the ability to have your own bank account. It is feminism that one these rights for women. Feminism didn’t achieve any of these goals by being obnoxious to other women.

Feminists should understand that systemic misogyny within the capitalist-patriarchy makes it very difficult for women to see the reality of our oppression. Even naming male violence as an oppression results in women being belittled, abused and harassed online and off. Our education system is designed to teach children to pass exams – not to question authority. Our media is owned and dominated by white men who have a vested interest in preventing women from accessing knowledge.

This isn’t to say that the women who started this tag aren’t causing harm to other women. Of course they are but we don’t need to replicate patriarchal patterns of silencing against women who are blinded by their privilege or too afraid to speak out. This is the true demonstration of the power of the capitalist-patriarchy: using women to silence and control other women. We can challenge these women with kindness or with anger. but we do not need to engage in abusive language.

Instead of insulting the women who started the hasthag, let’s start a real discussion as to why women see feminism as threatening. Let’s start questioning their belief systems and pointing out the reality of the lives of women who do not have similar privileges.

 Calling women ugly and stupid is exactly what men do to us every single day. We do not need to be doing this to other women – even if they are tweeting out messages which cause harm to other women. We don’t need to replicate the lowest common denominator.

And, if you do feel the need to be abusive, why not target some of the men posting on the tag:

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