Edward Furlong is Finally Going to Prison

It would be nice if Furlong were going to prison for one of his numerous arrests for domestic violence but, instead, he’s received a 6 month sentence for violating his parole. Technically, this prison sentence is in response to Furlong’s violation of a 3 year probation order he received after violating his restraining order against his ex-wife. 

Oddly, Furlong wasn’t actually going to receive a jail sentence for the multiple counts of domestic violence he has committed in the last 6 months. His attorney had managed to convince the City Attorney to allow Furlong to enter rehab instead of going to jail for violating his parole and two counts of assault; that whole a-different-set-of-rules-for-rich-white-dudes thing. 

Furlong has multiple arrests for domestic violence. He’s has at least two restraining orders taken out on him. He’s been sent to rehab several times. He has lost unsupervised access to his son due to his drug addiction but instead of taking his history of violence seriously, Furlong’s been allowed to continue to live free and keep assaulting women.

He may need treatment for drug addiction but his ex-partners deserve to live without fear of him violating their restraining orders. Again. Or, assaulting them again.

When, precisely are we going to start taking domestic violence serious as a crime?

If Heterosexuality is Compulsory, I want to Marry Batman

[image from here]
  1. He’s rich. 
  2. He’s never home. 
  3. He has a butler to take care of his every need: so no Wifework!
  4. He’s either whining, brooding or hanging about in a cave with bats. And, therefore, not clogging up the living room. Or, whining, brooding or hanging about anywhere near you. 
  5. You won’t actually have to spend any time with him at all.*
Or, we could just lose the compulsory heterosexuality bit, because, frankly, marrying Batman is about as intelligent as advising young girls to “toughen up” about street and sexual harassment. Rachel Roberts‘ recent piece in the Independent demonstrates everything which is wrong with a rape culture rooted in compulsory heterosexuality. What is really depressing about the piece is that Roberts’ clearly believes that Lib Dem spin doctor Jo Phillips was right about schools teaching girls to “toughen up” whilst simultaneously trying to situate her piece within feminist discourse around the prevention of violence against women through education. Any time a writer need to use the phrase “I would never wish to blame the victim“, you know it is too late. Roberts’ piece, from her homely quotes about her 13 year old niece to her failure to mention the the behaviour of boys and men is about blaming young girls for not being “tough” enough. 

Roberts seems to have misunderstood EVAW’s Schools Safe 4 Girls campaign which isn’t about teaching girls to be “tough” but rather ending sexual harassment within schools completely. This requires as much a focus on boys’ education and a fundamental restructuring of sex education as it does teaching 13 year old girls how to be assertive: 

Aged 12-13, girls ought to have at least a few hours of tuition on how to be assertive when faced with difficult situations, such as street harassment. I do not mean to suggest the onus should be on girls to be able to defend themselves by means of a witty retort or a sharp kick in the knackers – although both of these methods have served me well on the long walk to womanhood. The goal should of course be to make sexual pestering and all forms of abuse unacceptable to both genders, but until such a utopia dawns, it makes sense to teach girls practical strategies, such as naming the behaviour (e.g. “That’s very insulting”, “You’re invading my space”) and removing yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. It might sound like simple and obvious stuff, but a surprising amount of adults, never mind young people, don’t have the confidence to use this kind of language, or simply don’t know what to do in a threatening situation.

How, precisely, will this help a 13 year old walking home from school who is harassed by a group of men? How will it help a vulnerable 14 year old cornered in the school cafeteria by a group of boys demanding to see her breasts? Why is the onus always on teaching girls “practical strategies” for dealing with male violence instead of teaching boys how to behave. Why aren’t we seeing more support for campaigns like EVAW’s in schools? Why aren’t we seeing more support for programs dealing with sexually predatory behaviour of young boys? Why are we educating a generation of girls to believe that male violence is their problem because they weren’t “tough enough”? Why aren’t we raising a generation of boys to believe that violence against women and sexual harassment is wrong?

It is not a lack of confidence which prevents women from standing up to sexual harassment: it’s fear. It’s fear of the situation escalating and the possible consequences of it becoming physically violent. Within schools, one 13 year old girl standing up to a boy demanding a blowjob in the hallway won’t prevent him from doing it to another girl. Nor will it prevent that 13 year old from becoming a victim of further bullying by being labeled frigid or humourless. We need to be tackling the behaviour of boys, rather than insisting that girls be held accountable for not being “tough” enough.

This isn’t to say that Roberts’ piece is entirely without merit. After all, I am firm supporter of sex education moving out of pregnancy prevention and into relationships and the signs of domestic violence. Roberts’ piece just reflects current patriarchal discourse which makes women responsible for male behaviour. Her article focuses exclusively on the education of girls and her throw away line about “utopia” shows just how little Roberts’ believes that male behaviour will change.

Teaching girls to “toughen up” is as sensible as telling girls to marry Batman as a career plan. It does nothing to change the fundamental problem our culture has with male violence. It also presupposes a heteronormativity that does not reflect the realities of the relationships of many adults. Instead of teaching girls to “toughen up”, how about we teach boys that sexual harassment is a crime and will be prosecuted as such?

* This is liberally borrowed from a post on MN from years ago which I think was lost in the annals of chat. 

Amazon’s Keep Calm and Commit VAW T-Shirts [with trigger warnings]

Amazon has been caught selling yet another t-shirt which glorifies sexual violence. In fact, they’ve been caught selling a number of t-shirts which glorify violence against women in general.  I’m not entirely shocked that they were found to be selling the following t-shirts designed by Solid Gold Bomb via the Amazon Marketplace: Keep Calm and Rape Her, Keep Calm and Hit Her and Keep Calm and Drug Her. I doubt anyone is particularly surprised by this considering Amazon’s other business practices.  It’s also not the first time a major international corporation has been caught selling t-shirts which normalise male violence against women: Topman was forced to withdraw these t-shirts condoning domestic violence last year:

Last week, stationary company Paperchase was discovered to be selling the following cards: 
This is what feminists mean when we talk about rape culture: these products are considered socially acceptable and men buy them. Women are socialised into believing they are nothing more than fucktoys and men are raised to believe that rape is a joke. 

Solid Gold Bomb and Amazon were both responsible for perpetuating rape culture by selling these pro-rape t-shirts. Solid Gold Bomb’s “excuse” for being caught selling them is pathetic and rather disingenuous. It is available on their website but I have reproduced the full quote:

Thanks for your interest in contacting us. We have been informed of the fact that we were selling an offensive t-shirt primarily in the UK. This has been immediately deleted as it was and had been automatically generated using a scripted computer process running against 100s of thousands of dictionary words. 

Any offensive items that are remaining are certainly in the deletion queue and will be removed as soon as the processing is complete. Although we did not in any way deliberately create the offensive t-shirts in question and it was the result of a scripted programming process that was compiled by only one member of our staff, we accept the responsibility of the error and our doing our best to correct the issues at hand. 

We’re sorry for the ill feeling this has caused! We’re doing our best here to fix the problem.

First, they simply aren’t the only company making these kinds of pro-violence against women t-shirts. These types of offensive t-shirts are easily available on every online t-shirt printing company going. Secondly, I simply don’t believe their excuse about these t-shirts being “automatically generated using a scripted computer process”. Thirdly, even if I did believe their excuse responsibility still lies with the people responsible for both Solid Gold Bomb and Amazon Marketplace. Computers are not responsible for accepting t-shirt slogans and then making them available online for sale; both Solid Gold Bomb and Amazon have a moral obligation to ensure that products they sell are not pro-rape. Frankly, they should have a legal obligation as well but that’s the problem with rape culture. It lets those who perpetrate rape and their rape apologists abdicate all responsibility for the harm they cause.

Pete Ashton gives a technical explanation of his belief in the computer algorithm excuse here. I’m sure this sounds a perfectly rational explanation to many but I think Ashton’s missing the point. There are indeed random language generators used for all sorts of things: the problem is they are programmed by humans. Humans who should have programmed them to exclude words like rape. Why would any company making “humorous” t-shirts not immediately exclude the word rape when writing or using a random language generator program? That is a question I want Solid Gold Bomb to answer.

This isn’t just about random language generators though. This is about humour. There is a reason the t-shirts say Keep Calm and Drug Her and not Keep Calm and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious** or Keep Calm and Nits. It is because the latter aren’t considered funny. Someone thought Keep Calm and Hit Her was funny. Someone thought Keep Calm and Rape A lot was funny. Random language generators are not capable of humour yet. Artificial intelligence simply does not have the level of sophistication to generate humorous t-shirts. These slogans may have been randomly generated but I refuse to believe that no human ever read through the random generator to see if the t-shirts were funny or not. Someone read them and someone thought they were funny enough to upload onto Amazon Marketplace to sell them. 

Amazon is equally culpable in this though. They have been forced to remove numerous products over the years deemed unacceptable. Last year, Amazon was forced to withdraw a book detailing the age of consent for teenagers in the US as it was deemed to be a guide for child rapists. Amazon has consistently refused to take responsibility for what is sold on its site. As an international corporation, no one seems to have responsibility for ensuring that Amazon behaves ethically. 

As I have argued before, the right to free speech does not equal the right to be a jackass. We need to stop allowing these companies to hide behind their fallacious legal understanding of free speech and holding them legally accountable. So, thank you to the organisation Miss Representation and the hundreds of feminists who complained to Amazon and Solid Gold Bomb about these t-shirts. Thank you for taking responsibility when our legal system continues to blame women for being raped rather than the men who raped them.
(Image from here)

*I know I’ve mentioned my technological incompetence on here before but I know I’m right about random language generators. I have a friend of a friend who did her PhD on natural language processing and humour twenty years ago and now works on space exploration. Obviously, I’ve never actually met her but I’m claiming I know all about this via her work. Clearly.

** I’ve genuinely got no idea how to spell that and I’m too lazy to google to 

UPDATE: Here is another t-shirt for sale on Amazon (via @EVAWhd):


My Favourite Texts on Women’s History

(Image from here)

These are some of my favourite texts on Women’s History. The vast majority are about women’s experiences in the Holocaust but I’m always looking for new recommendations!

Elizabeth R. Baer & Myrna Goldenberg, eds.. Experience and Expression: Women, the Nazis, and the Holocaust, (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2003)

Judith Tydor Baumel, Double Jeopardy: Gender and the Holocaust, (London: Vallentin Mitchell, 1998)

Kathleen M. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia

Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War Two, (Penguin Books, 1997)

Esther Fuchs, Women and the Holocaust: Narrative and Representation, (University Press of America, 1999)

Marlene E. Heinemann, Gender and Destiny Women Writers and the Holocaust, (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986)

Esther Hertzog, Life, Death and Sacrifice: Women and Family in the Holocaust, (Gefen Books, 2006)

Marion Kaplan, Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998)

Felicja Karay, Death Comes in Yellow, Skarzysko-Kamienna Slave Labor Camp, translated from the Hebrew by Sara Kitai, (The Netherlands: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1996)

Ronit Lentin (ed), Gender and Catastrophe, (London: Zed Books, 1997)

R. Ruth Linden, Making Stories, Making Selves: Feminist Reflections on the Holocaust, (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1993)

Dalia Ofer & Lenore J. Weitzman: eds. Women in the Holocaust, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998

Anna Reading, The Social Inheritance of the Holocaust: Gender, Culture and Memory, (Palgrave, 2002)

Leslie J Reagain, When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine and Law in the United States. (University of California Press, 1997)

Carol Rittner & John K. Roth, Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust, (Minnesota:Paragon House, 1993)

Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Vintage, 1999)

Rochelle Saidel, The Jewish Women of Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004)

Rochelle Saidel & Sonja M Hedgepeth, Sexual Violence against Jewish Women During the Holocaust, (Brandeis Press, 2010)

Penny Summerfield, Reconstructing women’s wartime lives: Discourse and subjectivity in oral histories of the Second World War, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998)

Nechama Tec, Resilience and Courage: Women, Men and the Holocaust, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003)

Zoe Waxman, Writing the Holocaust: Identity, Testimony, Representation, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)

How to Tell When You Need to Invest in a Divorce Lawyer and a Vibrator

(Image from here)

This morning I awoke to this utterly brilliant piece by The Kraken Awakes on Paperchase’s unbelievable misogyny. You have to read Kraken’s takedown of these cards because it is just brilliant. 

There is nothing I can add to the Kraken’s smackdown except to say that if you receive one of the following from your male partner, you need a divorce lawyer and a vibrator* because he’s an arsenugget and you are worth so much more than him.

(Well, actually, being on the RadFem spectrum, I think women should spend more time learning how to pleasure themselves without the use of sex toys. After all, learning to love ourselves is an important part of feminism and that includes sexually. I’m not against sex toys. I just want women to feel comfortable and sexual  within their own bodies without needing external options. But, definitely, the divorce lawyer is needed.)

#ReadingOnlyBooksWrittenByWomen : Women’s History Month

I’m a history nerd; not that this piece of information is surprising to anyone who reads this blog but I am. And, proud. Obviously, also a huge fan of Women’s History Month!

These are books I have lined up for Women’s History Month; all are written by authors who are new to me. I doubt I will have time to read them all but I’m aiming to spend the month not reading fiction!

Andrea Smith’s Conquest: Sexual Violence and the American Indian Genocide
Antonia Fraser’s The Warrior Queens
Barbara Black Koltuv’s The Book of Lilith
Jewly Hight’s Right by Her Roots: American Women and their Songs
Rosalind Miles’ The Woman’s History of the World
Bettany Hughes’ Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore