A Personal Account of Domestic Violence

I am publishing this on behalf of a friend who wishes to remain anonymous; as does her friend she is writing about: 

My friend Anna’s criminal case against her violent husband has been dismissed. He was expected to at least have some sort of community service, a fine and probably some sort of restitution, but he walked away without even a caution.

Anna, my friend since university, told me about a year ago that her marriage was going through a rough patch. She made light of it on the phone, in her upbeat way, but wanted me to come and visit. For lots of reasons, I wasn’t able to manage it, and feel dreadful about this. She told me later that he had violently attacked her. I am not even bothering to qualify this statement with an explanation of how they got to this stage or belittle it by adding that it was a petty argument. He violently attacked her. She managed to get him to back off, and she went to her bedroom armed with her mobile phone and a chair to blockade the door. She said that she almost stepped outside herself and saw herself as this woman whose spirit was finally knocked out of her and she was a shadow of her former self. From confident woman having lots of warm artistic friends living in a great studio in New York and doing work she enjoyed to this frightened-to-go-downstairs woman.

She called the police who responded within a few minutes. Her husband was found barely conscious on the couch, and deemed not to be in any fit state to do much of anything. She went to a hotel that night, and the next morning, he was full of apologies.

The violence didn’t stop. And here was the dilemma for Anna; some of it was so covert that it made her wonder whether she was imagining it. For instance, they entertained quite a bit, and he would do the cooking, mainly as he was a control freak and didn’t trust her to do it ‘properly.’ She would be carrying a plate of food and he would ‘accidently’ trip her. Usually it was in front of other people who would all jump to his defence that it was an accident.

In his more sober moments, he would articulate how unhappy he had become, and wanted out of the marriage. While she didn’t disagree, they had decided to discuss it when their youngest started university. It seemed tolerable and finite; they had separate bedrooms, their own cars, friends and their paths would barely cross.

He started posting on a singles website, initially in Anna’s words, ‘discretely’ as if she didn’t mind as long as he didn’t flaunt it. And then he started being more and more disrespectful, including inviting girlfriends to their house.

And then around this time last year, he attacked her again violently. She called the police and this time he spent a night in the cells. He was charged with assault and battery. He claims not to remember any of it. He wasn’t allowed to return to the family home.

Several months later the case was due to be heard at Magistrate’s Court. She had visited the courtroom and explained how the process worked. She opted to give her evidence via a video link so she wouldn’t have to be in the same courtroom as her husband and his family. She was understandably nervous and scared. And then the case was adjourned. In total the case has been adjourned 3 times for administrative reasons such as previous cases running over, lawyers having other cases.

Last week, the case was due to be heard again, or rather for the first time since he attacked her a year ago. Since this time, she and her husband via their lawyers reached an out of court financial settlement to finalize the divorce, their children are starting to be less traumatized and time has moved forward, although the scars run deep. Her youngest son who witnessed the violence declined his offer at university as he didn’t want to leave his mother vulnerable. Despite her assurances that she would be fine, he has taken a year out, suffers panic attacks and is not sure that he wants to study medicine as he can’t concentrate.

Anna told me that the reason she initially wanted to tell her story in court was so that the, ‘legal position’ reflected what was done to her. After a year however she just wanted to put it all behind her and was exhausted physically and mentally.

The legal system really let her down. It shouldn’t take over a year to hear a case of domestic violence, keeping in mind that this was a case the CPS were actually willing to prosecute. Maybe domestic violence cases should be fast tracked, or somehow highlighted for special attention.

I don’t know the answer, but Anna’s ex husband apparently was seen celebrating at a local pub drinking champagne in the evening after the case was dismissed.

#DickheadDetox : Cee Lo Green and that pesky issue of VAW

Last week, Tilly Jean wrote a fabulous critique of Cee Lo Green’s Forget You  and the unrelenting misogyny in the song. I can not describe how much I loathe men who toss around the word “goldigger”.  Just bleurgh.

Tilly Jean’s blog fired a synapse in my brain and I thought I remembered Green recently being arrested for VAW. I was wrong. He has multiple arrests for VAW : threatening his then wife in 2001 and rearrested for skipping his court appearance two months later. He was sentenced to 12 months probation after being charged with “simple assault” (domestic violence) and disorderly conduct. He was also required to attend domestic violence counselling. She filed for divorce in 2004 citing “mental and physical cruelty”. 

Green was also subject to a sexual battery investigation in 2012. And, there was this charming incident in July 2011.

I’d trawl for more but all the links keep taking me to Perez Hilton and TMZ and I’m pretty much opposed to reading their shite at the best of times. It is somewhat, erm, ironic? depressing? soul-destroyin that researching violence against women perpetrated by male celebrities gets more coverage in gossip mags than in the mainstream media. 

But, Cee Lo Green: on the #dickheaddetox list. 

#Dickheaddetox : Jeremy Irons Supporting Child Rape

Turns out Jeremy Irons is a creep who belongs in the #Dickheaddetox too. Apparently, women should feel honoured by middle aged men perving all over them and teenage girls shouldn’t be encouraged to feel like “victims” when raped by creepy old men. Bleurgh.

Read more here and here

Don’ cha Wish Your Girlfriend: Reinforcing the Patriarchal Fuckability Test

I loathe the PussyCat Dolls’ “Dontcha Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me”. Lyrically, it’s a master-class in woman-blaming culture and passing the Patriarchal Fuckability Test. This just got retweeted into my TL and I love it:

Pony Pony Tangerina‏@ColeyTangerina: DONTCHA WISH YOUR GIRLFRIEND WAS uninterested in competitive beauty standards that undermine the solidarity women need to end patriarchy.

Blondie are the same. The lyrics of some of their biggest hits are about being desperate for a man; especially a man in a relationship with another woman. There is nothing powerful or liberating about hurting another woman and the lyrics in these types of songs both encourage the myth that women need a man all the time and that the only way for women to have any value is if a man wants to fuck them. 

The Patriarchal Fuckability Test is dangerous for all women. The “you need a man to be complete” is equally dangerous. We need to stop purchasing music which encourages these myths, even if they are sung by women.

The lyrics are below: 

Don’t Cha”
(feat. Busta Rhymes)

[Busta Rhymes]
OK (ahh)
Yeah (ahh)
Oh, we about to get it just a lil hot and sweaty in this mu’fucka (oh, baby)
Ladies let’s go (uhh)
Soldiers let’s go (dolls)
Let me talk to y’all and just you know
Give you a little situation… listen (fellas)

[Buster Rhymes]
Pussycat Dolls
Ya see this shit get hot
Everytime I come through when I step up in the spot (are you ready)
Make the place sizzle like a summertime cookout
Prowl for the best chick
Yes I’m on the lookout (let’s dance)
Slow banging shorty like a belly dancer with it
Smell good, pretty skin, so gangsta with it (oh, baby)
No tricks only diamonds under my sleeve
Gimme the number
But make sure you call before you leave

[Pussycat Dolls]
I know you like me (I know you like me)
I know you do (I know you do)
That’s why whenever I come around
She’s all over you (she’s all over you)
I know you want it (I know you want it)
It’s easy to see (it’s easy to see)
And in the back of your mind
I know you should be on with me (babe)

Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?
Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?
Don’t cha?
Don’t cha?
Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was raw like me?
Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was fun like me?
Don’t cha?
Don’t cha?

Fight the feeling (fight the feeling)
Leave it alone (leave it alone)
‘Cause if it ain’t love
It just ain’t enough to leave my happy home (my happy home)
Let’s keep it friendly (let’s keep it friendly)
You have to play fair (you have to play fair)
See I don’t care
But I know she ain’t gonna wanna share

Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?
Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?
Don’t cha?
Don’t cha?
Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was raw like me?
Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was fun like me?
Don’t cha?
Don’t cha?

[Busta Rhymes]
OK, I see how it’s goin’ down (ahh, don’t cha)
Seems like shorty wanna little menage pop off or something (let’s go)
Well let me get straight to it
Every broad wan watch a nigga when I come through it
It’s the god almighty, looking all brand new
If shorty wanna jump in my ass then vanquish
Looking at me all like she really wanna do it
Tryna put it on me till my balls black an blueish
Ya wanna play wit ah playa girl then play on
Strip out the Chanel
And leave the lingerie on
Watch me and I’mma watch you at the same time
Looking at ya wan break my back
You’re the very reason why I keep a pack ah the Magnum
An wit the wagon hit chu in the back of tha magnum
For the record, don’t think it was something you did
Shorty all on me cause it’s hard to resist the kid
I got a idea that’s dope for y’all
As y’all could get so I could hit the both of y’all

[Pussycat Dolls] 
I know she loves you (I know she loves you) 
I understand (I understand) 
I’d probably be just as crazy about you 
If you were my own man 
Maybe next lifetime (maybe next lifetime) 
Possibly (possibly) 
Until then old friend 
Your secret is safe with me 

Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me? 
Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me? 
Don’t cha? 
Don’t cha? 
Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was raw like me? 
Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was fun like me? 

Nick Cave is a Better Feminist than Feminists

Obviously, the Nick Cave is a better feminists than feminists theory has been around for a while. He was blithering on about it in an interview in New York Mag in 2010. This is the full quote:

You write a lot about sexual neurosis, which has gotten you into some trouble. Do you consider yourself a feminist?  

Well, I don’t consider myself not one. I’m not a misogynist, so you can dispense with that. I think I’ve done wonders for the feminist movement. I get criticized for a lot of what I write about, but as far as I’m concerned I’m actually standing up and having a look at what goes on in the minds of men, and I have the authority to talk about it because I’m a man. Women don’t have the authority because they don’t know what goes on in a man’s head, so largely what they say is kind of irrelevant. My songs and stories and books are character-driven, they talk about the way people are and the way men are and women are. I’m actually confronting certain issues that some women appear to feel are now redundant.

Bless his little socks. What we think about what goes on in men’s heads is irrelevant. I’m glad he thinks that because he won’t like what I’m thinking right now. And, I’m sure he understands that I know what he thinks about women is complete twaddle: sexist twaddle at that. I do like the arrogance of Cave’s being able to understand what women “are” when women are too incapable of understanding men.

Yep, nothing inherently problematic or anti-feminist with that piece of nincompoopery at all.

And, now, Cave has an awesome new album cover to prove his feminist credentials. One which does not objectify women’s bodies in any way. After all, it’s totally normal for men to be fully clothed whilst women are naked. And, it’s totally normal for the man to be clearly ordering the woman from the room whilst the woman looks ashamed. Covering her face and breasts while displaying her vulva just looks pretty. Or, something.

Normally, this kind of crap bypasses me. I only came across it via Media through a Feminist Lens. I’ve read a huge chunk of the discussion of this album cover on Nick Cave’s FB wall and all I can say is that is full of dingbats and nincompoops. This, however, is the best ‘how to miss the point completely comment’ by one of his fans on his FB wall: 

“How about waiting to listen to the album BEFORE you decide the image is offensive?”

Honestly, I had to read it about six times before I actually got that the quote was as dim as I thought. I had no idea my listening skills were required to analyse an image. 

You learn something new everyday.

[I am aware that the image is that of Cave’s wife. I think that makes it creepier personally but it’s the construction of clothed, powerful man and naked, shamed woman which I find so utterly Patriarchal and unpleasant.]

#DickheadDetox:Edward Furlong is Back in Prison

Edward Furlong was jailed on Friday. The Daily Mail is reporting that his arrest follows a violation of his probation following his breach of a restraining order taken out by his ex-wife in 2010.  EOnline and TMZ both claim he was jailed for breaching his probation after breaching a protection order taken out by his ex-girlfriend who was arrested for assaulting in October 2012 and January of this year.

Furlong will remain in jail until a review of his probation violation on March 4.

Whatever the precise reason for revoking Furlong’s probation, why was it not revoked following the assault in October against his now ex-girlfriend? Surely, physically assaulting another woman constitutes a violation of probation? Why was a man with a clear history of domestic violence and substance abuse not locked up immediately after violating his probation?

And, how many restraining orders need to be taken out on one man by different woman before he ends up in prison?

Story reported here in Digital Spy, LAist, and and Perez Hilton.

Rape Victims Deserve Anonymity. Not rapists.

(Image from here)

I don’t know why we keep having to have this conversation. Anyone with an ounce of common sense and compassion should understand why rape victims deserve anonymity and why men charged with rape, like people charged with any other crime, do not deserve anonymity. But, it’s come up. Again. This time the issue was raised by Maura McGowan, who is chairman of the Bar Council of England and Wales. I would have thought that the chairman of the Bar Council might have a passing knowledge of why granting anonymity to defendants in rape cases is wrong but clearly I assumed too much.

So, this is my response. Again.

Rape victims deserve anonymity.

Rapists do not.

Giving rapists anonymity puts more women in danger of rape. 

It is that simple. 

sianushka tweeted these links earlier today: 

All are worth reading. Her blog is here

The Mommy Blogger: Apparently, they’re Destroying Feminism

(Image from here)

This morning I awoke to discover that the real problem with feminism right now is Mommy Bloggers; not male violence against women, endemic poverty, the destruction of reproductive rights or the fact that we still don’t have equal pay for equal work despite the legislation being in place for years. Nope, it’s Mommy Bloggers who are ruining feminism for feminists.

Now, I do disagree with Amana Manori’s definition of feminism as I don’t think “feminism is simply the belief in the equality of rights and opportunities for men and women”. For me, feminism is nothing short of the full liberation of women. Equal rights and opportunities for women can not exist in a world where male violence against women is so common place that it rarely makes the news. I don’t like the idea of “choice” feminism because it removes women’s actual experiences from the Patriarchal-Capitalist structures of our culture. The idea of choice is irrelevant when many women experience violence on a daily basis and others live in poverty.

Manori’s definition is that of choice feminism, yet she’s written an article denigrating the choices of other women. I genuinely don’t know where to start with this article because there is so much wrong with it: starting with the premise that it’s okay to belittle other women’s work. I don’t care what definition of feminism you are using, it is never okay to belittle other women’s work nor their personal life experiences. Criticise the structures which limit women’s opportunities and blame women for not being perfect but dismissing Mommy Blogs isn’t feminism. It’s the Patriarchy kicking women. Again.

Frankly, this is just wrong:

Some of the biggest hurdles in the strides for equal opportunity include women and their issues being improperly depicted and the lack of self-promotion that affects recognition and access to opportunities. What I’ve noticed is that when women are not being misrepresented, they are often underselling themselves. The blogosphere is as an amazing tool that is easily accessible to help correct these problems: self-promotion has never been easier.

The biggest hurdles for women are male violence. And, our “issues being improperly depicted” completely misses the point of the Patriarchy. The Patriarchy doesn’t care about how women’s issues are depicted because it doesn’t care about women’s issues. That’s kind of the point. As for women “underselling themselves”, well yes, that happens a lot. Why? Because the moment women talk about their skills accurately they are insulted, denigrated and maligned. Women are socialised from birth to minimise our skills. How about we blame the Patriarchal structures which punish women rather than blaming women for not wanting to suffer public humiliation?

And, I’m sorry but this bit is offensive:

Mommy blogs that present neurotic, emotionally unstable, kid-crazed mothers, is a misuse of this opportunity. What concerns me the most is that this is a misuse at the hands of women themselves — we, ourselves, are the ones that are turning this tool into another obstacle to progression.

There is no excuse for using disablist language. There’s no excuse for not recognising that women can be mothers and mentally ill and feminists. The three are not mutually exclusive but that’s not what Manori means. She’s using disablist language as shorthand for dismissing the group of women who happen to want to write about being mothers.

Of course, Manori tries to minimise this woman-blaming discourse by separating “good” Mummy Bloggers from “bad” Mummy Bloggers. She doesn’t succeed. Instead, she reinforces the same anti-woman Patriarchal bullshit that feminists have been fighting against for years. There is no excuse for this kind of woman-blaming rhetoric. Women blog because it’s one of the only spaces women have to share their stories, their thoughts and their lives without being silenced and dismissed. We blog about different things because women are different. I blog about feminism. I have friends who blog about parenting, others who blog about living overseas, and some who blog about sports. We have different interests so we blog about different things. Dismissing one group of women bloggers by patronising them with this twaddle:

(t)hese bloggers likely have the noble intentions to create a forum where women know that they are not alone in their experiences.

isn’t feminism. Blaming women for what they write about isn’t feminism. Telling women what to write about is the Patriarchy exerting control. It isn’t feminism. It is blaming women for having opinions and thoughts.

Sure, some of these blogs are problematic in that they “perpetuate gender stereotypes and generalize female behaviour”. So does the mainstream media. Every fucking day. And, they are a lot more powerful than a bunch of women bloggers. How about we start focusing our anger on the mainstream media since they are the ones supporting the eroticisation and glamorisation of male violence against women?

This bit is just facile nonsense.

First, many mommy bloggers may be living very fulfilling and well-rounded lives that you don’t get to see through their blogs. However, when all they talk about is such things as making homemade organic-only baby food, they disregard these other aspects of their lives resulting in a partial portrayal of motherhood.

Women who blog about parenting do so because that is what they want to write about. Requiring them to write about everything else in their life ignores the fact that they want to write about parenting and making organic-only baby food. I don’t because it doesn’t interest me. But, it also doesn’t make me feel like a bad mother to read that other mothers do like making organic baby-food; another charge Manori lays at the feet of Mommy Bloggers. They don’t “isolate other mothers who don’t measure up”. The Patriarchy isolates women because women supporting women is a massive threat to Patriarchal control.

And, frankly, if the “rest of society” reads Mommy Blogs and decides that the “life of a woman is simplifed”, then they are stupid. No one with an ounce of sense reads a blog and thinks that’s the only thing that the blogger has going for them. FFS, I’ve seen blogs by men dedicated solely to the meat pie. Does Manori genuinely believe that meat pies are the only thing these men having going for them?

Unfortunately, Manori may think this is not what she has done:

I am not saying being a mother or a stay-at-home mom is not meaningful work. I respect the choice to stay home and I understand the many reasons why women opt to do so. I also know that there are a lot of sacrifices and compromises that are made when women decide to stay home.

But, it is. After all, I’ve never read a Mommy Blogger who didn’t work since, you know, childcare is work. Some, shockingly, even work outside the home. Fundamentally, though, childcare is work and we devalue the experience of all women when we claim it isn’t. It isn’t about being a SAHM or a WOHM. It is about recognising that childcare is work.

After all, I want my daughter to have positive women role-models in her life: women who don’t think they have the right to dictate how other women should live their lives or think they have they right to tell women which of their stories are acceptable for publication.
Requiring Mommy Bloggers to be “domestic trailblazers” is just unkind. And, it’s not feminism. So, let’s stop pretending it is.

Another Celebrity has been arrested for child rape.

And, all I can think is “wow, ITV are actually removing Michael Le Vell from Coronation Street pending the outcome of the trial”. Seriously, how fucked up is that? My first response is that a major television program is taking an actual stance on a man charged with child rape. I thought they’d go for the old “we can’t possibly say or do anything until a conviction has been secured” twaddle which let’s rapists get away with rape. 

Le Vell has actually  been charged with 19 sexual offences including one count of child rape, indecently assaulting a child and sexual activity with a child. Obviously, I await with glee the rape apologists whining about poor ickle Michael being held accountable for his crime.

The BBC story is here.

Her Name was Reeva Steenkamp : It’s Time We Take Personal Responsibility for our Media Culture

I am so very angry at the reporting of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. The hypocrisy and women-hating of our media never fails to shock me.

I have written numerous times on the issue of personal responsibility in maintaining the women-blaming rhetoric in our celebrity- obsessed mass media culture; the hypocrisy of the British press publishing nude photos of some celebrities without consent whilst whining about other news media publishing those of others. I’ve written about the mass media’s sensationalising and eroticising male violence for entertainment purposes and of the harmful nature of “women’s” magazines. I’ve written about the links between reality television, bullying culture and the lack of personal responsibility in the Huffington Post.  

The media response to the murder of Reeva Steenkamp by her partner has been just as offensive as every other story of the murder of a woman by a man. The failure to name Reeva Steenkamp and the rendering her as an object has even surpassed even my cynicism of the media’s desire to reinforce rape culture and VAW. I’m not going to link to the picture in the Sun or the article in the Daily Mail since both have been shredded on twitter this morning. And, really, no one expects much from either since they both stopped publishing the news years ago. 

However, they aren’t the only mainstream media who’ve gone with worshipping a murderer at the expense of the victim. I found the Guardian’s retrospective on the life of the murderer of Reeva Steenkamp particularly galling. The Washington Post went with a quote on how some man never saw Reeva Steenkamp’s murderer as “violent”. He’s just murdered someone. I think the boats sailed on the question as to whether or not the man was violent. The BBC can’t seem to remember Reeva Steenkamp’s name. The mainstream media is effectively removing Reeva Steenkamp for the reporting of her own murder.

So far, I’ve only read two articles on the murder of Reeva Steenkamp which weren’t offensive: Mother Jones wrote about it relation to the issue of gun violence in South Africa whilst the F-Word UK wrote about the sensationalising and obfuscation of responsibility of VAW committed by athletes. It is utterly pathetic that the mainstream media has not managed to report this case with anything approaching empathy.

You can complain to the Sun about their front page by phone:  0207 782 4104 

Or, email: dominic.mohan@the-sun.co.uk  and ombudsman@the-sun.co.uk

Do feel free to tweet your anger to @rupertmurdoch

There is a petition here demanding that the Sun apologise for their front page.

Sian and Crooked Rib has written a form letter here.

There are other suggestions for activism here.

Please make a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission. As EVAW has been tweeting, you can use article 12 of the Code of Practise to make your complaint.

More importantly though, we have got to start taking personal responsibility and stop financially supporting the media outlets which perpetuate VAW as entertainment. There is no point in complaining about the Sun running such an offensive front page if people are clicking on it which increases their advertising revenue. The same goes for the Daily Mail. Complaining about the hateful nature of celebrity culture  whilst financially supporting it is hypocritical.  If we genuinely want to stop this shit from being published, we need to stop buying the Sun, Daily Mail, Heat and OK Magazine. We need to stop financially supporting a culture of bullying vulnerable people for entertainment. 

The Sun may have chosen to run an offensive picture but they did knowing full well that people will buy it. 

We need to start boycotting all forms of media which sensationalise violence in society. We need to start making formal complaints to the Press Complaints Commission. We need to start getting our media coverage from sources interested in justice rather than profit.

We need to force our media to cover actual news without glorifying male violence.


Here are some very good criticisms of the treatment of Reeva Steenkamp within mainstream media:

Helen Lewis in the New Statesman
Marina Hyde in the Guardian
Jane Fae in politics.co.uk