Things I Never Needed to Know as a Mother.

You can wash the inside of Barbie’s pink VW bug with a toothbrush after an entire can of Vimto was spilt in it and left to fester for several weeks. 

Things  you should get told in advance:
  1. The tooth fairy can write post-dated cheques.
  2. The cat will enjoy being dressed in Cinderella’s wedding dress complete with tiara by a small child. The cat will not enjoy having the outfit removed by an adult.
  3. Cats should be declawed. 
  4. Never take your children to an art gallery or they will start trying to charge you to enter your own living room. Grandma and assorted neighbours will think this is hilarious and encourage them.
  5. Banksy is an extremely badly behaved young man who will be using his allowance to pay to clean his “art” off walls for ever and will never ever get to eat another oreo cookie. Ever. 
  6. My teddy bears are having a treasure hunt is code for: I’ve just buried all of your credit and bank cards in various plant pots. 
  7. The headteacher lacks imagination is code for: we were playing mountain climbing and I got busted two stories up free climbing a drain pipe. 
  8. If you discover the dish rack covered in potatoes, it’s best just to stick the potatoes in the compost. You really don’t need to know why the potatoes needed to be washed.
  9. Lego can be washed in the dishwasher, although be fair to the children, it was the cat peeing on an entire bucket of lego which taught me this lesson.

Men Who Commit Domestic Violence Should Not be Allowed Custody or Access of their Children

Men who commit domestic violence against their partner, or their children, should not be allowed to have access or custodial rights over those children.

Heresy, I know but I do not believe that a man who is violent to their partner can be trusted to be a good father to their children. After all, not abusing the mother of your children isn’t exactly a high standard of parenting.

A man who abuses the mother of his [step]-children is not a good father.

It doesn’t matter if he never directly physically or sexually assaults the children; the fact that a man abuses his partner negates his ability to be a good father. Forcing a child to live with a man who abused their mother is psychological child abuse and we are all complicit in a culture which is psychologically abusing children.

Men who commit domestic violence should have no legal rights to their children. They should be legally required to pay maintenance to support their children as the failure to pay maintenance is child abuse.

Men who refuse to pay child maintenance are not good fathers.

Children are not possessions. They do not ‘belong’ to their parents. What are we teaching our children if we allow them to live with men who emotionally, physically or sexually abuse their mothers?

What are we teaching our children about women’s bodily autonomy?

What are we teaching our daughters about their value? What are we teaching our sons: that being violent is the only way to be a man?

Children are entitled to live in safety surrounded by people who love them.

Children do not deserve fathers who are “good enough” when “good enough” ignores the history of male violence.

TWR & The Feminists can campaign about more than One Thing at a time Shocker

I am so bored of the concerted attacks on The Women’s Room UK and the obsession of supposed ‘feminists’ with denigrating one form of feminist activism as not important enough. 

The women behind The Women’s Room UK aren’t fucking stupid. They know their campaign to increase women’s visibility in the media by destroying cultural femicide isn’t the only form of feminist activism.

They know that there are literally millions of other feminist campaigns which have nothing to do with cultural femicide.

They know that having women on banknotes for their accomplishments rather than an accident of birth is a small step towards patriarchal destruction.

They also know that small steps are as important as the big steps.

How about we stop wasting time having tantrums on twitter about one campaign and actually start focussing on destroying the patriarchy?

The campaign to keep women on English banknotes for their accomplishments rather than an accident of birth is here.

JumpMag: For Real Girls [which means all girls]

JumpMag is a brilliant piece of online feminist activism. It’s a magazine aimed at preteen girls whose motto [coined by one of the girls] is Fluff free and Bieberless. It makes me smile every time I see it. The founder and editor, Lynn Schrieber, who is an utterly fabulous feminist, started JumpMag as a way to fight the ever increasing number of pink and sparkly magazines which were basically one giant advertisement.* JumpMag is just one of the myriad of ways feminists are reclaiming the internet and making it a safe space for our daughters.

It is an utterly fabulous feminist project.

There are lots of posts written by adults covering every topic imaginable but, to be honest, those aren’t the best pieces on the site [and I say that as a contributor]. The best part of JumpMag is the section written by girls themselves. There are short stories, personal stories of feminist activism, book reviews and poems. The posts written by young girls are amazing. So many talented and brilliant young girls sharing just inspiring and powerful pieces of writing.** 

I’m at RadFem2013 this weekend sharing a space with an incredible number of brilliant, beautiful, brave and inspiring women. We’re getting together to discuss, debate and share.  JumpMag offers that space to preteen girls. It doesn’t matter how individual women label their personal feminism, there is nothing more important than sisterhood and solidarity. JumpMag offers this to preteen girls. 

JumpMag is run entirely by Lynn and takes in no advertising revenue. All contributors are volunteers. It’s my kind of anti-capitalist, pro-sisterhood feminism.***

*Okay, it’s entirely possible this post constitutes a paid advertisement since Lynn is a friend and she bought me coffee once but this is me not actually caring about impartiality. 

** Technically, my daughter wrote one of the pieces but I’m totally impartial about this bit.

*** I suspect Lynn is rolling her eyes at me here!

Castle: Apparently, “drunk” girls deserve what they get.

It’s safe to say I’m not really a fan of the program Castle. Any show with a male lead who is a sleazy tool who isn’t actually qualified to do anything but drive a porsche yet is somehow smarter than the qualified woman isn’t something I generally watch. However, I am running about packing for #RadFem2013 and it was on in the background.

This weeks episode features a sleazy man [a la Girls Gone Wild dickhead-in-charge] who is murdered by a beautiful woman with her bra. Many, many jokes about women with large breasts ensue. It features lots of gratuitous shots of women in very little clothing being used as objects. I left it on as inspiration for a weekend of ranting with brilliant women.

Right up until the moment, the “good girl” [over-achieving, super-smart daughter of the sleazy tool] comes home from university to visit Daddy who is worried about her blog. Daddy mansplains’ the big wide internet world to his baby girl [who is 18 and way smarter than her father]. They reference the Girls Gone Wild videos and teenage daughter explains that Daddy shouldn’t worry about her because she’s a super-smart university student and not one of “Those Girls” who get drunk and “flash their tits”.

Because women who get drunk deserve whatever happens to them.

Because women who “flash their tits” deserve whatever happens to them.

I fucking hate the Patriarchy.

There are no such thing as “sluts” or “good girls”. There are women. Just women. And, none of us deserve to get hurt because of something we do or do not do.

Castle is now on my ban list. 

SmashtheP shared this article in response to my rant on twitter. It’s one of my favourite articles by Feminist Current.

Dear Hackney Gazette, Why the sudden change?

You have suddenly changed the text of your article about a conviction for gang-rape which occurred in 2007. I have both articles reproduced below. The first states that the judge gave a reduced statement because of the amount of time which had passed since the crime. The second article removes that statement. If the judge actually made that statement, then I would like to report the crime to the Attorney General.

It’s a rather huge leap between the two articles. Why have you changed the article so drastically and why not say so online?

Emad Mohamed, 23, attacked the woman after she asked a group of men for directions at a bus stop in Clapton following a night out with colleagues.

She was taken to a flat where she was stripped naked, imprisoned and raped.
The 21-year-old former reporter said later: “Sometimes I feel like my whole personality has changed from a confident and outgoing young woman to a paranoid and reclusive person.”
It was not until 2011 that jobless Mohamed, of Canterbury Road, Beckton, who has since had two sons, was linked to the horrifying attack, and pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault.
The woman’s nightmare began on October 4 2007 when she left her friends in central London to buy cigarettes, and later phoned them to say she was going home.
But she took the wrong bus and ended up in Clapton, where the men promised to help her find a taxi, but instead led her to a squalid flat.
She remembers being naked raped by one man, who left his condom inside her body.
Mohamed then lay on top of her and sexually assaulted her.
She escaped the flat the following day, but was unable to locate it afterwards, and most of those responsible have never been traced.
Last Wednesday at the Old Bailey Judge Anthony Morris jailed Mohamed for just two years, saying he took into account his guilty plea and the fact several years had passed since the incident.
Finding it hard to cope after the rape, the victim gave up her job and moved in with her mother, and is still undergoing counselling.

The Second Article
The woman boarded the wrong bus home following a night out in October 2007 and ended up in Clapton where a group of men at a bus stop promised to help find her a taxi after she asked them for help.
But instead they led her to a squalid flat, stripped her naked and raped her – in an attack which the victim said had “devastated” her life.
The woman tried to escape the flat from a bathroom window after her ordeal but it was locked and she was forced to stay in there overnight.
She escaped the following morning and managed to get to Kings Cross where she reported the incident to police – but could not find the location of the flat afterwards and most of those responsible have never been traced.
But in 2011 Somalian immigrant Emad Mohamed, 23, was linked to the attack and was last week jailed for two years.
The Old Bailey heard how he had laid on top of her and carried out a sexual assault after she was raped by another man in the group.
The victim, who is still undergoing counselling more than five years on, said in a statement: “Sometimes I feel like my whole personality has changed from a confident and outgoing young woman to a paranoid and reclusive person.”
Judge Anthony Morris said: “At the time she was a happy outgoing woman but after the rape she found it difficult to cope.
“She had to resign from the newspaper and was out of work for several months. She finds leaving the house very traumatic and difficult to deal with.”
Mohamed, of Canterbury Road, Beckton, admitted one charge of sexual assault.

Nick Ross: There is no such thing as Child Porn

I didn’t think Nick Ross could say anything more offensive but it turns out he’s worse than I originally thought. He’s not just a misogynist, he’s also a racist. I’ve reproduced the Telegraph article on Ross’ appearance at the Hay Festival below. Even if the Telegraph has gone for the most extreme out-of-context quotes, Ross is a deeply hateful man. Ross has gone for the “police aren’t institutionally racist, West Indians are more likely to mug people” construction of crime. 30 years as a journalist heading Crimewatch and he thinks that skin colour and community dictates criminality . I would write further about that one comment but, frankly, that’s just the level of stupid I would expect from a man peddling rape myths in the Daily Mail.
Ross also suggests he might peruse some child porn, if offered, just to see what the fuss is all about. Yep, he wants to peruse some “child porn” to see what the fuss is about. 
“Child porn” does not exist. 
Ross wants to view images of children being sexually assaulted, raped and tortured just to see what the fuss is about.
He wants to view images of 2 year old children being raped until their pelvises break. 
He wants to view images of a 5 year old child being sodomised.
He wants to view images of a 12 year old child being gang raped.
That is the reality of “child porn”
It is the violent sexual and physical abuse of children.
It is not something that normal people view because they are “curious”.
It’s what violent, hateful men think is entertainment.
Ross needs to shut the fuck up.
The Telegraph article
Speaking at The Telegraph Hay Festival, Ross, who provoked censure last week with his views on rape, claimed that all humans were essentially curious.
“We’re all inquisitive,” he said. “I had never seen, until I started working on Crimewatch, child pornography.
“I think if someone came to me and said: ‘Would you like to see what all the fuss is about?’, I’m sorry, I probably would say yes.”
Ross referred to a study in which internet users clicked on links to extreme pornography even if they had not searched for it.
He said: “Does this tell us that we’re all awful? I think not.”
The presenter courted further controversy when he claimed some races were more likely to commit certain crimes. He argued that there was no evidence of institutional racism in the police force, claiming instead that West Indians were simply more likely to mug people.
Ross had already admitted at the festival that his views were likely to get him into “hot water” again.
Last week, he was criticised for his comments on rape, when he compared “provocatively dressed” women to a bank “storing sacks of cash by the door”.
Yesterday, he urged critics to read his book, Crime and How to Solve It, and Why So Much of What We’re Told is Wrong. He discussed the relevance of race to crime, claiming that particular ethnic minorities had a tendency to commit certain offences.
He said there was no evidence of institutional racism in the police force simply that some minorities were likely to commit certain crimes.
“We’re very bad pickpockets in this country,” he said. “We’re incredibly good at car crime. It does seem that contact crimes of the sort people don’t like, such as mugging, are specifically of some communities from the West Indies.
“Does that mean they’re worse than us? No. Does that mean they’re less moral, than us? No. It just means they’re not very good at pick pocketing, they do this sort of crime.”

This week in Missing the Point Completely: Maria Miller and the WBC

According to the Guardian, Maria Miller has come up with yet another completely pointless but expensive program to deal with The Problem of Girls. This time she’s got the Women’s Business Council, which was only set up last year, making recommendations which demonstrate just how out of touch they all are with the reality of the lives of girls who aren’t white and born to wealthy, well-educated parents. Miller is going to produce information packs to teach parents of girls how to bring up “aspirational” daughters. You see, the only reason that the number of women in the upper echelons of management and on FTSE 100 boards is because girls lack “aspiration”.

It has absolutely nothing to do with systemic oppression which privileges boys over girls from the start of their lives. 

It has nothing to do with educational practise which favours boys.

It has nothing to do with girls being socialised to defer to boys their whole lives.

It has nothing to do with girls being taught that having an opinion or being intelligent doesn’t count unless they pass the Patriarchal Fuckability Test.

It has nothing to do with sexist hiring practises. 

It has nothing to do with the fact that women are penalised for being mothers before actually being mothers [and the assumption that all women want to be mothers].

It has nothing to do with poverty or class or race or disability. 

The Fawcett Society has clearly been blithering on about absolutely nothing for years.

The only problem girls have is a lack of aspiration. We know this because a bunch of well-educated, mostly white women who are very privileged have gotten together to say so.

I could rant for hours about Miller’s complete lack of understanding of the reality of the lives of most girls in the UK. Government policies to encourage FTSE 100 companies to have a minimum of 25% women on their boards won’t change anything if the vast majority of girls in the UK are being left behind for no other reason than not being born to privileged parents.

There are two things that will increase girls “aspirations”:

1. The Welfare State
2. Feminism

That is it. We need a fully functioning welfare state which supports everyone. We need universal and affordable child care. We need a social care network which helps care for family members who are disabled or elderly. We need a culture where men do 50% of the childcare and the housework. We need a culture where women’s choices are supported and not used as a stick to beat them with.

We don’t need information packs to teach parents how to raise “aspirational girls”. Our girls are already aspirational. We need nothing less than a complete destruction of the capitalist-patriarchy so that our girls can grow up to be who they want to be without being pilloried, insulted and denigrated.