#womenwrites: on gender, identity politics and VAWG

All politics is “identity politics” by @MayaGoodfellow
via @WritersofColour

Charlotte Bronte did NOT repair her mourning shoes with her dead sister’s hair! by @KatharineEdgar

‘Impunity has consequences’: the women lost to Mexico’s drug war by Nina Lakhani in Jalapa

Princesses Are Terrifying. So Is Ivanka Trump via @ElleMagazine

Maybe We Do Need White History Month or Millennials Don’t Know Shit About Slavery or Picking Appropriate Essay Topics or Being a Black English Adjunct Sucks Sometimes– via @writermrsmith

I’m Tired by @RowenaMonde  via @RoomOfOurOwn

A brief history of ‘gender’  via @wordspinster

On Optimism and Despair by Zadie Smith

National Geographic’s ‘gender revolution’ cover fails women via @FeministCurrent

Frank Maloney is not a ‘butterfly’. He is a violent man.

Frank Maloney has a history of domestic violence. Quite a few people seem keen to forget this fact in their rush to deify him since transitioning. Today’s erasure of male violence comes from Polly Toynbee in her article ‘Here’s why feminism must embrace transpeople’:

there was also the jolt of a macho boxing promoter emerging like a butterfly as Kellie Maloney.

Granted, anyone who refers to political disagreements between women as ‘catfights’ isn’t exactly practising feminism, but completely erasing Maloney’s history of violence is inherently anti-woman. Transitioning does not magically make one a better person. And, it helps no one to pretend it does.

 

The Murder Statistics of Transgender People: Sources

 

Whilst engaged in research to respond to a comment on this blog, I was sent the following sources. I don’t know how to link photos in the comments so I’ve published them as a blog post instead.

This map is from Transgender Respect vs Transphobia Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 16.12.36

This breakdown of the statistics in the UK was first published on Mumsnet:

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 16.15.44

(I would suggest the statistics in the US are different due to racism and consequences of poverty and a complete lack of health care forcing vulnerable people in prostitution, which increases the risk of violence, rape and murder. Because men.)

This was on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 16.16.42

 

This from Parker Molloy on the 1 in 12 stat is worth reading. I would suggest reading Kay Brown on why she came up with the 1 in 12 statistic and why it’s wrong to continue using it. I also recommend this article “The Murder Statistics of Transgender People”.

 

Language does matter: menstruation is not “transphobic”

UCLA student Zoey Freedman weighed in on the global debate around taxing tampons. Normally, I’m a huge supporter of any publication willing to print this: 

Aside from some forms of birth control or medical complications, nothing will stop a woman’s period. It’s a natural part of having a uterus that just can’t be helped.

Health care currently covers services such as sexually transmitted infection testing, birth control, abortion and even access to erectile dysfunction treatments such as penile implants.

Although erectile dysfunction is a problem, it is not one that all men are inherently born with. Menstruation, on the other hand, is something almost every woman deals with at some point in her life. It’s a bit ridiculous that surgeries for sexual needs are covered before everyday feminine hygiene products.

Unfortunately, the editors felt the need to include this statement:

This blog post refers to individuals who menstruate as women because the author wanted to highlight gender inequality in health care. We acknowledge that not all individuals who menstruate identify as women and that not all individuals who identify as women menstruate, but feel this generalization is appropriate considering the gendered nature of most health care policies.

It used to be that we couldn’t talk about women’s biology because it grossed men out. Now, we can no longer talk about women’s biology because it’s transphobic. Menstruation, FGM, vulvas, breasts, birthing a child, breastfeeding, infertility, menopause, and hysterectomies have all become banned topics for fear we cause transwomen ‘violence’. Oddly, I’ve never seen viagra, something widely available on health insurance in the US whilst birth control remains controversial, deemed ‘transphobic’. Vulva cupcakes, on the other hand, constitute ‘violence’.

Women have been fighting for hundreds of years to end real gender essentialism that is predicated on a hierarchical construction of sex. Now, we’re seeing a resurgence of reifying gender through an obsession with labelling brains ‘male’ or ‘female’. Recognising that a uterus exists only in a female body makes you transphobic and guilty of the murder of transwomen (despite the fact that it’s pretty clear that men are responsible for the physical violence that results in the murder of transwomen – not women’s words).

Women have been actually dying for thousands of years because of the denial of the reality of our bodies. Childbirth remains one of the biggest killers of women worldwide. Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, but we aren’t allowed to point that infections pass more easily during penis-in-vagina sex or that the vast majority of urinary tract infections are caused by a penis that isn’t clean. Instead, young girls are denied an education because menstruation is considered ‘unclean’.

Viagra is a medical necessity to ensure erect penises aren’t denied sexual pleasure, including ‘female’ penises. Tampons are classed as a luxury despite menstruation being a biological necessity.

The liberation of women from male violence and other causes and consequences of the white supremacist capitalist-patriarchy will not happen whilst we are banned from talking about the biological realities of women’s bodies. Discussing menstruation is not transphobic and it will not cause the death of transwomen.

I really hope this is meant to be a joke:

because this has to be one of the stupidest things I have ever read:

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 14.00.42

The province of Ontario needs to do some serious work on their social studies curriculum if this what their graduates come out with.

Kim Kardashian is a better choice than Caitlyn Jenner for the BBC Women’s Hour

This is the response the from BBC to my complaint about the inclusion of transwoman Caitlyn Jenner on the Women’s Hour Power List:

We note you were unhappy that Caitlyn Jenner featured on the Woman’s Hour Power List 2015.

This list featured women involved in a wide range of areas, from politics and fashion to journalism and entertainment. As stated on the Woman’s Hour website, “The aim of this year’s list was to identify a range of women who have an exceptionally large impact on our lives, not just because of their job title but because of their personal ability to influence others.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1wsc6xjTph1CvN5jWzLtfzT/womans-hour-2015-power-list-influencers

The list was decided upon by a panel of judges, headed up by journalist and broadcaster Emma Barnett and including human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy QC and Radio 1 DJ Gemma Cairney. They looked at well-known women’s personal ability to influence others. You can read more about the judges here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1YmbsbyVkMDTXgjwgn9P4Ff/the-womans-hour-2015-power-list-influencers

As the following BBC News article on Caitlyn Jenner’s inclusion notes:

“Speaking about Jenner’s inclusion in this year’s top 10, Daily Mail columnist and judge Sarah Vine acknowledged it was controversial, for several reasons.

“Initially… many of us felt that Kim Kardashian would have to appear somewhere – not because any of us felt any particular admiration for the woman, but simply because her influence on millions of women worldwide is undeniable.

“But then the Caitlyn Jenner story broke and I in particular felt that she trumped all others in the celebrity stakes.”

She added: “I understand why someone like Jenner might make people feel uncomfortable; but she is a human being like the rest of us and should not be denied the same rights – or indeed respect – as those who live more conventional lives.

“As to her influence, it can only be to the good if a wider audience can learn to understand her experience.””

Woman’s Hour editor Alice Feinstein also gave her thoughts on the list, adding:

“”The way power operates in today’s global, interconnected society is not straightforward – brokers of hard power like prime ministers, presidents and CEOs are no longer calling all the shots.

“What I wanted to examine in this year’s list of influencers is how women are operating outside traditional power structures to get things done.””

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-33344317

We hope this is helpful in explaining the focus of this list, and giving more insight into the judges’ decisions, but we appreciate that you may continue to disagree with Caitlyn Jenner’s inclusion and we appreciate your feedback.

Please know complaints are sent to programme makers and senior management every morning and we’ve included your points in our overnight reports. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC ensuring that complaints are seen quickly by the right people.

I would have preferred Kim Kardashian be on the power list instead of Caitlyn Jenner, since Kardashian has not:

  1. Killed another woman this year with her car. Unlike Jenner who killed Kim Howe
  2. Kardashian financially supports her daughter. Unlike Jenner who failed to financially support his sons from his first marriage.
  3. Kardashian hasn’t bragged about stealing anyone’s underwear. Unlike Jenner who stole his stepdaughters’ underwear and wore it. Which is massively creepy and the type of activity sexual predators enjoy.

Obviously, the BBC doesn’t let little things like child abuse or killing women get in the way of declaring an abusive man a great woman. I can’t wait to see next year’s list. Maybe they will include a child sexual predator for funnsies.

Caitlyn Jenner makes Woman’s Hour Power List

Shall we enumerate the ways in which Caitlyn Jenner has helped women:

1. Killed Kim Howe with his car.

2. Failed to financially support his children.

3. Stole his teenage step-daughter’s underwear to wear it around the house.

4. Reinforced neurosexism and heteronormativity with his stance on ‘female brains’ and ‘female souls’.

So, Bruce Jenner makes the list for doing sweet fuck all for women. Fabu-fucking-doodle. Next we’ll see Charlie Sheen on the list for not insulting, denigrating and threatening. one of the mother’s of his children for a period of 24 hours.

 

I made a formal complaint to the BBC here.

Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman who has killed a woman (Kim Howe) through dangerous driving, failed to financially support her children from previous relationships, and who admitted to stealing and wearing her step-daughter’s lingerie has been placed on Women’s Hour Power List. What precisely has Jenner done for women that negate killing a woman, financial child abuse, and stealing her stepdaughter’s lingerie (which in and of itself is deeply creepy)?

Could Woman’s Hour not find any women to place on this list that haven’t committed criminal offences like financial child abuse? Or, not killed anyone recently?

Jenner’s inclusion makes a mockery of the idea of a power list.

Frank Maloney is a perpetrator of domestic violence

Frank Maloney attempted to strangle his then wife Tracey. Maloney also claims to have engaged in emotionally abusive behaviour.

According to the Daily Mail, and Maloney, this isn’t really a big deal because Maloney has since had a gender reassignment surgery and is now known as Kellie.

Maloney has admitted to committing domestic violence but we’re supposed to feel sympathy as it was a:

“toxic combination of pent-up frustration, anguish over her gender identity and booze had caused Kellie to lunge at 48-year-old Tracey.”

Because those sound nothing like the normal excuses used to minimise responsibility for domestic violence. Anger, alcohol, and mental illness do not cause domestic violence. Men, and domestic violence is nearly always perpetrated by a man, make a choice to engage in emotional and physical abuse.

Maloney is a perpetrator. I don’t care if he’s since undergone gender reassignment surgery. That doesn’t negate his choice to behave abusively.

Maloney made a choice. He should be held legally accountable for those choices; not fawned over by the mainstream media eager to minimise yet another example of domestic violence perpetrated by a celebrity.

Bruce Jenner killed a woman

Kim Howe was killed in February of this year when her car was rear-ended by Bruce Jenner and then pushed into oncoming traffic.

Kim Howe is dead because of the actions of Bruce Jenner. It would be nice if some of the hagiographies being written recently would remember that Kim Howe was a real person. That she matters too.

Where are the articles exhorting men to have sex with transwomen?

Today, I have read yet another article in a mainstream press which suggests that lesbian women who refuse to have sex with pre-op trans women are bigots. There is quite a lot that I find problematic in this article including the continuing refusal to acknowledge that there are a number of transwomen in prisons who transitioned after incarceration for rape and other forms of violence against women and girls. It is simply ridiculous to pretend that Synthia China Blast is in prison simply for being Trans as the Sylvia Rivera Law Project did last year. Blast is in prison for the rape and murder of 13 year old Ebony Nicole Williams. There are Trans who are in prison for using illegal substances or engaging in sex work and no one should be in prison for this. It is very clear that those who end up in the prison, regardless of whether or not they are Trans, do so because they are not white, middle class, heterosexual men. Poverty, racism, homophobia, classism etc are the reasons that the prison-industrial complex exists. This is not to say that there are not classes of prisoners who need to be in prison for the safety of the rest of society – a group that includes rapists, but social problems are not solved with mass incarceration. They are solved by ending poverty.

What really struck me reading this particular article is how frequently I have seen the issue of lesbian women who do not want to have pre-op transwomen as sexual partners in the press and that I have never seen a similar article aimed at heterosexual women about having transmen as partners. I’ve never seen one calling gay men bigoted for refusing to have sex with transmen. And, I have certainly NEVER seen a similar article exhorting heterosexual men to have transwomen as partners.

Why is it that every single one of these letters focuses on lesbian women? Why are we not talking about the fact that many transwomen have not had surgery. Is it really bigotry for a women who is a lesbian to refuse to have sex with someone who has a penis – regardless of how that person identifies? If it is bigotry, then where are the articles labelling heterosexual men bigots for refusing to have sex with pre-op transwomen? Why aren’t there calls to insist that heterosexual pornography – like Playboy – feature the bodies of transwomen who have not had surgery like there is with lesbian porn?

We need to have an honest discussion about these questions. And, calling people bigots does not change the fact that there is a clear issue of lesbophobia inherent in these articles. If the only group of people being labelled bigots is lesbian women, we need to ask ourselves why lesbian women are considered a completely different category of human to heterosexual men and women and gay men.