#womenwrites March 2019
Silencing Women in the Name of Trans Activism, by Julie Bindel
It all began with a warm and friendly email from an arts producer who runs a regular London-based project called the Truth to Power Café (TTP). Founder Jeremy Goldstein had seen my writing, and figured I might be a worthy performer. …
Then, out of the blue, Goldstein emailed to say how “sorry” he was, but few tickets had been sold, so he needed to “rethink” the program. On my hasty first scan of the ambiguously worded message, I concluded that the event had simply been cancelled.
Imagine my surprise when, the next day, I saw the event advertised on Twitter with my name neatly substituted by another—that of supposed free-speech championand LGBT rights activist, Peter Tatchell, well known for having supported the legal right of a religious baker to refuse to decorate a cake with the slogan “Support gay marriage.” …
The New Patriarchy: How Trans Radicalism Hurts Women, Children—and Trans People Themselves, by Helen Joyce
… under the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) of 2004, after a psychological evaluation and two years presenting themselves in their preferred sex role, they could change the sex on their birth certificates. Melissa, who takes female hormones and has undergone surgery to refashion her genitals into a female form, is now legally a woman. “People take me for what they see,” she says. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
The motive for such laws was largely compassion. Gender dysphoria was viewed as a rare and distressing condition that could be alleviated by accommodating sufferers as legal exceptions to the rules of biology. But a decade and a half later, a more radical notion is sweeping across the Western world, with English-speaking countries in the vanguard. The brainchild of a few sexologists, trans-activists and academics, it has spread via lobby groups and the internet, and on liberal campuses. It is now becoming consolidated in practice and codified into law, with profound consequences—not just for people who wish they had been born the opposite sex, but for everyone….
The Shapes of Stones, By Niya Shahdad via @Harpers
The morning I left my house in Kashmir for the first time in fifty days came halfway through a cruel summer more than two years ago. It was after dawn, and I was on the road to my uncle’s grave in the hour before curfew would start, yet again, to reclaim the valley. The morning, still cold from the previous night, drooped in the absence of men and their ordinary chaos. As I drove, I passed through the absolute stillness and silence of Srinagar, cutting into it in hopes of eventually crashing into sound and life.
Driving the empty route to the graveyard felt as though I was moving on dead land. It seemed like the suggestion of inhabiting a cold, frozen corpse rather than a valley. My deceased home. And then came a waking dream. In it were the figures of two young men whom I had seen only once before, a few years earlier, at my uncle’s grave. The men were leaning idly against a short green fence when I stepped into that particular house of graves, stood in front of my uncle’s headstone, and looked at them in the brief moment before I looked down and began to cry. I did not look up again to see if they were watching me, but I could feel their detached, harmless gaze as my cries grew louder. And that was all there was to our meeting; I had cried and they had watched. Without words or movement, it was an exchange borne entirely by sight. …
Is the white saviour narrative in film finally dead on arrival? – Diaspora Tales, by Vanessa Walters via @WritersofColour
When Sarah Hagi conceived her ‘Daily Prayer for the confidence of a mediocre white man’, it might have been referencing Peter Farelly, the filmmaker of Dumb and Dumber who suddenly decided he was ideally qualified to take on racial politics and African American history in the form of Green Book, which opens February 1st in the UK.
Sure, the road to ridicule is paved with good intentions. Just as Tom Cruise’s entirely fictional white man Nathan Algren is inserted into Japanese history to tell the story of the Samurai tradition in The Last Samurai, Viggo Mortensen’s Tony Lip is centred in the true story of Black classical pianist Dr Don Shirley. Shirley is played by Mahershala Ali and the film takes its name from the Negro Motorist Green Book – an essential travel guide for Black people to stay safe while travelling around a deeply racist and segregated America.
BME women fleeing violence need help – not penalties for who they are, by Lola Okolosie
Rotherham is a town now made infamous by grooming gangs and government agencies that assumed children as young as 11 could consent to sex with men old enough to be their fathers. Five minutes from a city centre that has perhaps seen better days, sits the black and minority ethnic (BME) violence against women and girls (VAWG) charity Apna Haq. Nestled behind a large mechanic’s garage, its location provides an apt visual metaphor. Not unlike wild flowers that bloom by busy roadsides, the charity exists and flourishes in spite of it all. …
The story of Apna Haq’s near demise is depressingly familiar to Imkaan, an organisation that provides strategic oversight and advocacy to BME organisations working to end gender-based violence across the UK. In its latest report, it provides yet more proof of why its members remain “the ‘poor relation’ of the wider ending VAWG movement”. Its findings reveal that the combined income of 15 London-based BME ending VAWG organisations is less than that of the main single provider in the capital. This in a city where 40% of the population is BME and where there is the highest concentration of such services. …
The ‘Father of Modern Gynecology’ Performed Shocking Experiments on Slaves He was a medical trailblazer, but at what cost?, by Brynn Holland
James Marion Sims developed pioneering tools and surgical techniques related to women’s reproductive health, and is credited as the “father of modern gynecology.” The 19th-century physician has been lionized with statues in New York City, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
But because Sims’ research was conducted on enslaved black women without anesthesia, medical ethicists, historians and others have called for those monuments to be removed—or for them to be reconfigured as tributes to the enslaved women known to have endured his experiments. …
Ideas for how a small black publisher can survive beyond the hype , by Valerie Brandes via @thebookseller
As a privately-held, black, female, owned and operated small independent publishing company, Jacaranda is still something of a unique occurrence. When we founded it in 2012, the publishing landscape looked decidedly whiter and was more disengaged from any kind of understanding of the dynamic world of “blackness”, let alone diversity. And while there have since been a new crop of publishing houses and imprints – think OwnIt, Dialogue Books, Cassava Republic and Hope Road – and multiple book deals involving runaway success titles like Slay in Your Lane, it’s essential that we keep talking (and producing) what’s conceivable and achievable for UK black publishing long after it slides off the trend radar of the mainstream industry. …
” … Citing the 2016 census figures, Plibersek said the average woman did 14 hours of housework and family organisation per week and the average man fewer than five, while women did three quarters of the child care, and 70 per cent of caring for elderly or disabled family members or friends. “The Australian economy, Australian society, rests upon women’s unpaid work,” said Plibersek. “As Marilyn Waring – the founder of feminist economics – once said, ‘What we don’t count, counts for nothing.’
” …THE MUSEUM, by Martha Blow
It was in my fourth year of university that I came across Leila Aboulela, shelved under ‘suggested further reading’ for a seminar on a Postcolonialism course. Indeed, before taking this course, my exposure to non-western writers within required reading was limited to the obligatory inclusion of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart in my second year. Although Aboulela’s novel The Translator occasionally crops up on postcolonial syllabi, it is her unflinching approach to colonialism in ‘The Museum’ that captured my attention and caused me to question museum ethics and neutrality. The 1997 short story’s value has not gone unrecognised elsewhere: it was the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2000. The 19-page tale paints the story of Shadia, a Sudanese woman studying at Aberdeen, and her acquaintance with a fellow student – a long-haired Scot named Bryan. The predominant theme of the story is the struggle of communication between colonialism’s ‘predetermined groups’, and while Bryan and Shadia begin to bridge the gap in communication, this is halted when they visit a local museum at the story’s denouement, culminating with Shadia’s announcement, ‘I shouldn’t be here with you. You shouldn’t talk to me…’ (Aboulela 18).
I write this, six women have been killed in the last five days. By the time you read it, there could well be more dead women making a small blip in the news cycle, but a blip is all they’ll get. No outpouring of national grief and rage. Just a blip. Compassion fatigue, it’s called, apparently.Our compassion is fatigued by the daily drain of women being beaten, raped, assaulted, ignored, dismissed, blamed, ridiculed, murdered. How exhausted we all are by the violence women live and die with.
…Questions academics can ask to decolonise their classrooms, by The curriculum is not just the “stuff” that students must learn to be knowledgeable and skilled in a particular discipline. It’s about more than just content.Sociologists of education argue that “curriculum” is a highly ideological hybrid discourse. This means that it includes implicit ways of knowing, ways of doing and ways of being – as well as content.In South African universities, curriculum issues came to the fore during a series of nationwide student protests between 2015 and 2017. Students have argued that what’s being taught in university courses is imported from the global North and doesn’t draw enough on African-based research and the work of academics from the global South. Students have also argued that course materials don’t take the backgrounds of most South African learners into account in terms of culture, language or method. …