I’ve been quite surprised at the response to the Good Men Project’s* current foray into rape apologism. I thought most people were aware that the Good Men Project was nothing more than a front for Misogynist Rights Activists with an extremely reductive construction of masculinity based on an incredibly harmful gendered binary of sexes. I didn’t realise anyone still took them seriously. I’ve had them on my list of arseholes for years. I had always assumed that their name was just another example of patriarchal hypocrisy.
Personally, I’m not surprised that they ran an article written by Alyssa Royse which was nothing more than a handbook on how to be a rapist or that they’ve actually ran an article written by a man who is proud to be a rapist. They’ve been waltzing about the issue of rape apologism for a while now. They certainly have form for minimising male violence against women. And, they have form for all sorts of victim-blaming behaviour. The Good Men Project are nothing more than an attempt at mass gaslighting women into thinking that male violence is normative behaviour.
Frankly, I struggle to take anyone who who writes for the GMP seriously. I snorted with laugter at Ozy Frantz’s declaration that he was parting ways with GMP because of the pro-rape article whilst simultaneously calling the editor Noah Brand a feminist. I’m glad Ozy Frantz is leaving GMP. More of their writers need to remove their collective patriarchal blinkers and part ways with GMP, but, no one who publishes an article by a rapist bragging about being a rapist is a feminist. This isn’t a multiple POV issue, like GMP were claiming on twitter.
There are only two stances on rape: either you support rape or you don’t. It is a dichotomy. There are no grey areas or women who encouraged their own rape. There are only rapists. You don’t get to call yourself a feminist if you make excuses for rape. Yes, we live in a patriarchal society in which rape myths are endemic but the true test of feminism is being called on your behaviour and then reassessing your stance. Pretending that whatever issue raised isn’t relevant is just the normal reinforcement of the Patriarchy (Vagenda might want to take note of this issue too). And, we all make mistakes. No one is a perfect feminist but when you publish blogs written by people defending rape, you aren’t a feminist.
I don’t care what brand of feminism you think you are, once you try to defend a rapist, you aren’t a feminist. That is our base line. You defend male violence against women in any form and you aren’t a feminist. So, Ozy Frantz you are just wrong in your defence of Noah Brand. He is not a feminist and he clearly never was.
UPDATE: Feministe has written a very good rebuttal to the rape apologism at GMP. They are also calling for a boycott of all the writers who either blog for GMP or who cross-post on them. I will be joining them.
*I’m not going to link to their blog because it will increase their advertising revenue.
I was 13 years old when I became a feminist.
I was 13 years old when a man walked into a Polytechnique in Montreal armed with a gun.
I was 13 years old when a man walked into a Polytechnique and murdered 14 women for being women.
I was 13 years old when a man walked into a Polytechnique and injured 10 more women and 4 men.
I was 13 years old when I realised the full extent of male violence against women.
I am not going to name him. He does not deserve our remembrance.
The 14 women who died that day deserve our memory.
- Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
- Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
- Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
- Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
- Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
- Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
- Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
- Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
- Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
- Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
- Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
- Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
- Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
- Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student
Je me Souviens.
This week’s guest blogger on Mumsnet is Holly Baxter from Vagenda as part of the 16 Days of Activism on VAW. I am genuinely at a loss as how to adequately express my rage and my disgust at the article Baxter wrote. Baxter has used the mass murder of 14 women in Montreal as a way of attempting to make a political point about the inclusion of men within the feminist movement. Now, I fundamentally disagree with Baxter on the issue of men’s involvement in feminism as I have explained here and here, but, even if I did, I can not begin to imagine how the inclusion of men in one feminist event is necessary because one violent man killed 14 women.
This is the image Mumsnet chose to run in conjunction with the blog. On a blog referencing the murder of 14 women. I have no words for this.
Tonight, I am too angry to write a proper response to Baxters’ blog. Instead, I want to remember the 14 women who Baxter failed to name in her post; 14 women who were murdered by a man who hated feminists:
Geneviève Bergeron, aged 21;
Hélène Colgan, 23;
Nathalie Croteau, 23;
Barbara Daigneault, 22;
Anne-Marie Edward, 21;
Maud Haviernick, 29;
Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31;
Maryse Leclair, 23;
Annie St.-Arneault, 23;
Michèle Richard, 21;
Maryse Laganière, 25;
Anne-Marie Lemay, 22;
Sonia Pelletier, 28;
Annie Turcotte, aged 21.
This was on my FB newsfeed. It remains one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite writers.
UPDATE: There appears to have been some quite serious inaccurate representations in the Comment is Free article written by Marta Owczarek. I wrote this post based on the information in the article, as such, there are some inaccurate statements within my post concerning what actually happened after the premier of Myriam Fougere’s Lesbiana – A Parallel Revolution. I was going to take down the entire blog post but I’ve decided to leave it up because it provoked some interesting discussion about the inclusion of men in women-only spaces. As such, this should be treated as a theoretical piece and not a representation or summation of what occurred at the London Feminist Film Festival.
UPDATE TWO: What Julia Long Actually Said:“I just wonder if there are any men that would like to show their solidarity and leave at this point, out of respect for autonomous women’s space. It’s a polite invitation, but I just thought you might like to consider it, as political allies. Thank you.”
[Cheers and applause.]
Julia Long’s response in the Guardian Cif.
I offer my sincere apologies to Julia Long for misrepresenting what happened in the blog post below. I am sorry.
The London Feminist Film Festival took place last weekend at the Hackney Picture House. By all accounts, it was incredibly successful event with the premier of Myriam Fougere’s Lesbiana – A Parallel Revolution selling out. Considering the amount of press the death of feminism has garnered recently, the success of the London Feminist Film Festival is something to celebrate. Not that feminism is actually dying; 10 minutes on google would be evidence enough of the strength and sisterhood within the feminist movement, but it is an accusation frequently thrown at feminists.
After the premier of Myriam Fougere’s Lesbiana – A Parallel Revolution, panel member and feminist activist Julia Long asked all the men in the audience to leave so that women could discuss the movie, a film about the lesbian separatist movement, without men. Now, I wasn’t there but I can imagine the uproar this caused. Excluding men from feminist events always causes an uproar. But, no one ever seems to ask why feminists are excluding men from *some* feminist events. No one asks why feminists are moving back to women-only organising or why feminists are increasingly identifying as political lesbians or lesbian separatists. Why are women-only spaces, once again, becoming so important? No one asks why there is such a backlash to the thought of women-only organising. When people do ask, they don’t appear to be hearing the answer.
Marta Owczarek, in her Comment is Free article, claims that Julia Long derailed feminist debate about the film by asking men to leave. I would argue the exact opposite. Julia Long used a public platform to make a specific political point. She raised the issue of women-only spaces for organising and debating feminism at the premier of a film which is specifically about lesbian women choosing to live amongst only women. I can’t think of a more appropriate place to push the debate back into the public sphere and, make no mistake, this debate has always been a part of feminism. It has never gone away. It has only reemerged in the press due to the backlash to the RadFem 2012 conference in London in June. It has never stopped being a contentious issue amongst feminists. It has never stopped being something for feminists are routinely ridiculed and belittled.
I support women-only spaces. I think they remain fundamental to the success of feminism as a political movement dedicated to the liberation of women. Whilst the inclusion of men within the movement is necessary, they do not need to be involved at every meeting and conference. There are thousands of ways that men can be, and are, involved with feminist activism that doesn’t require them encroaching on women-only spaces. They can help financially support women’s organisations like Rape Crisis, Shakti Women’s Aid, Women’s Aid, Nia, or Southall Black Sisters. Men can join activist groups like Object, UK Feminista, Fawcett Society, and Abortion Rights. Men can fundraise by holding car washes and bake sales. They can join the White Ribbon Campaign and help to raise awareness about male violence against women and children.
The most important thing men can do to help the feminist movement is to challenge sexism every time they witness it. They have to challenge every rape joke. They have to challenge every man who minimises domestic violence. They have to step up every time; not just once in a while but every time they witness sexism. Sometimes this means they have to challenge themselves and recognise that their own behaviour is sexist. Sometimes it means accepting that they won’t be allowed into every feminist space. As a white, heterosexual feminist it would be hypocritical of me to demand to be allowed into feminist spaces for Black, Ethnic and Minority Women. It would be equally hypocritical for me to demand entry into a feminist space for lesbians-only; just as it would be hypocritical for me to demand entry into a room of male survivors of sexual violence or testicular cancer. Campaigning for women’s liberation to bring about the destruction of the capitalist-patriarchy and the creation of true equality does not mean every person deserves equal access. It means hearing the specific needs of specific groups and taking those into account. Like kindergarten, it’s about learning fairness.
We need men in the feminist movement. We need men like the teenage boy I met at a UK Feminista conference in London two years ago who entered into a group on women’s poverty and listened; a young man who asked thoughtful questions and then heard the answers. He participated as an equal instead of dominating the discussion. Male domination of public speech has been well proven in research for thirty years now. Dale Spender wrote about it in The Writing of the Sex? in 1989. Margaret Atwood wrote about men dominating classrooms in early 1980s. There have been countless studies in education and within the workplace that demonstrate the silencing of women’s voices within the presence of men. The largest global study on violence against women found that it was the feminist movement which had the biggest impact on tackling the issue; much of this was accomplished with women-only spaces.
Would have I done what Julia Long did? No, but not because I disagree with her, rather because I would have been too afraid to speak up; too afraid of the inevitable backlash. And, that’s the main reason why I believe women-only spaces are integral to the feminist movement. The silencing of women’s voices never stops. Sometimes the only way to stop the silencing is to uninvite men and that’s the lesson men need to take from this. If they insist on attending, whose voices are they really silencing?
There have been two murder-suicides this weekend: Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins before killing himself. Keith Johnson killed his wife Andrea before killing himself. Today, two sets of families on two different continents are mourning the loss of their daughters; both murdered by their partners. Two women a week in the UK are murdered by the men who claimed to love them. Despite this fact, press coverage is always about what “nice” men they were. The coverage does not focus on the women murdered but on the careers and personal characteristics of the murderers. The coverage of the deaths of Kasandra Perkins and Andrea Johnson are no different.
The BBC coverage of the murder-suicide in Cromer includes these statements:
Mr Johnson, a former mayor of Cromer, became Conservative leader of North Norfolk District Council in May.
Fellow Conservative councillor Trevor Ivory, a friend of the couple, said: “It’s a complete shock. I last saw them both on Thursday evening and they were both very happy and seemed to be enjoying life.
“The words Cromer and Keith Johnson are synonymous. He typified what’s good about the town and the district of North Norfolk.”
In a statement, North Norfolk Labour Party paid tribute to Mr Johnson. Chairwoman Denise Burke said: “The death of Keith is a tragedy and a massive loss to Cromer and North Norfolk, too.
“Keith has been a real public servant throughout his life and will be sorely missed by the whole community. He was much respected across the political spectrum.
“Our thoughts are with Keith’s friends and family at this time.”
If Johnson typified all that was good about Cromer, then they have some serious problems. This man murdered his wife and he will be sorely missed? What about his wife Andrea? Will she be sorely missed? Andrea barely gets a mention in the article. We know that the man who murdered her was a well-respected career politician but, his wife, just an addendum to the story. Was Andrea’s death not a tragedy? Just the death of her murderer?
Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins before shooting himself in front of the coach and general manager of his football team, yet this story focuses on the fans and the team:
Although the game was unimportant — especially with neither the Chiefs (2-10) nor the Panthers (3-9) bound the playoffs — it did provide some relief for the team and community.
Kasandra is just as absent from this article as Andrea. There is no discussion of the grief of her family and friends. There is no mention of her life at all. Both Andrea and Kasandra are being written out of the story of their murder whilst the eulogies of their murderers begins.
This is the War on Women. Not only do we pay for the hyper-masculinity within the Patriarchy with our bodies through rape, torture and our deaths but we are also written out of the stories of our own lives.
I await with sadness the inevitable stories to follow which will blame the women for their own murders.
UPDATE: This is an excellent article by Heather Harvey on the issue of male violence within patriarchal family structures.
Duwayne Brooks, the Liberal Democrat Local Councillor for Downham ward in Lewisham said this on twitter tonight:
I have no doubt that complaints to the LibDem party will be pointless, after all these are same arseholes who bandied about the anonymity for rapists bullshit and suggested that the answer to the thorny issue of consent in porn is to drop the age to 16; that way pornographers wouldn’t have their feelings hurt by illegally employing 17 year olds. Their track record on women’s rights is appalling.
It does not matter what side of the prostitution debate we sit on, we can all agree that any man who claims to be sickened by the sight of prostitutes is an asshole.
This is woman-hating.
This is the war on women.
I love the ballet. I love the sounds of pointe shoes thumping on the stage. I love the artistry and the strength of the women dancers. I know ballet is one of the least-feminist friendly sports going because of the physical toll on women’s, and it’s mostly women’s, bodies. I know and agree with all of the feminist arguments against ballet; from it’s origins with its relationship to prostitution to the quite serious long-term health implications for dancers, particularly in relation to the fetishisation of eating disorders within the industry. Yet, I still love ballet. I know I shouldn’t but it’s one of those things I can’t *quite* give up.
I’ve been taking my eldest daughter to the ballet for years. It’s one of the best parts of living in this city: the sheer number of brilliant dance companies that tour here. Scottish Ballet’s The Nutcracker and anything by Northern Ballet Company remain my favourites. Recently, I took my daughter to see Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty: A Gothic Romance. It’s the first production I’ve seen by the company and I have to say I found it really quite disturbing. The story of Sleeping Beauty is the story of sexualised violence and the control of women’s bodies. I’ve just not seen it performed in quite so blatant a manner without any attempt to deconstruct the myths.
There is so much wrong with this version that it’s hard to know where to start. It still uses the modern telling of the myths of “Patriarchal Love” but rather felt like Twilight with tutus. The “evil fairy” dies quickly after cursing the princess Aurora so it is her son who makes the curse come true by pricking her finger. Aurora is not awoken by a kiss from a stranger but rather by the gardner she’d been fooling around with before pricking her finger. He lives for a 100 years because the good male fairy bites him and turns the gardner into another fairy. The erotic connotations of that “kiss” go unremarked. The son of the evil fairy guards Aurora’s body for a 100 years desperately kissing her to bring her back to life now that he has decided he wants to fuck her. There is a rather lot of rolling about on the stage between the son and the unconscious body of Aurora. In the original fairy tale, Aurora is awoken by the twins she conceived after being rape whilst unconscious by the king. I don’t know if Bourne was actively trying to reference that version but the implications of rape were very obvious. After a 100 years the son tricks the gardner into waking Aurora and then the son tries to ritually sacrifice her. She is saved
by the gardner/ new fairy whilst the other fairies kill the son. Then, Aurora gives birth to a half baby/ half angel.
I don’t expect much from productions of Sleeping Beauty. There is no way to reclaim the story from its original construction of rape but I have never seen a version so utterly problematic before. I’m actually surprised their was no trigger warning or child-viewing warning to the production. The dancing was beautiful but the story Bourne chose to show wasn’t.