Victim-Blaming in #ProjGuardian: With Update

Project Guardian is a campaign currently being run by the British Transport Police to deal with the unrelenting sexual harassment on public transport in London. BTP worked with women’s organisations:  End Violence against Women coalition, Hollaback and Everyday Sexism. By all accounts, the campaign has been quite successful in raising men’s awareness of the never-ending sexual harassment women experience as well as an increase in women coming forward to report their experiences.

Even within a campaign designed to support women, victim-blaming is never to far behind as seen by this tweet which was retweeted by the official British Transport Police

Sexual harassment doesn’t happen because “it goes unchallenged by the victims.”

Sexual harassment occurs because men believe they have the right to harass, sexually assault, and rape women. 

Holding women responsible for sexual harassment because they don’t “challenge” it is disgusting victim-blaming misogyny.

Whoever was running the BTP account today clearly wasn’t paying any attention at all to the training and guideline support given by EVAW, Hollaback and Everyday Sexism.

Women respond to sexual harassment in a multitude of ways: from ignoring, shouting, or reporting to the police. We respond based on whether or not we feel safe to do so. Frankly even when women do shout for help, most men turn away. I can count on one hand the number of times men have actually helped when I’ve been sexually harassed in public. 

A campaign to inform women of how they can get help after being sexually harassed on public transport is important.

But, what we really need, is for men to stop harassing, assaulting and raping us.

We need men to start policing men’s behaviour. 

Do not tell women how they should or should respond to male violence.

Tell other men to stop committing violence. 

UPDATE: BTP have responded with an apology. I’ve reproduced the full twitlonger below as they have addressed my concerns (and those of others) and apologised.

@EVB_Now @LeStewpot @btp_uk @genderCSR @NSGillan @EverydaySexism @evaw Hi all, we’d like to clear up any misunderstandings from a retweet made during the live chat yesterday.  

Project Guardian is all about ensuring victims of sexual offences are treated the right way every time. We would like to make it clear we totally and completely disagree with any sentiments that apportion blame to victims. 

The perpetrators are solely to blame for any incident of this nature and it is their behaviour we are aiming to change and stop. 

We’re sorry for any misunderstanding. We’re extremely grateful to everyone’s contribution to the Project Guardian live chats.

Amazon’s Halloween with Side Order of Disablism

Mens Adult Psycho Ward Mental Patient Halloween Fancy Dress Costume Outfit + Mask
Amazon has joined Asda in the annual competition for : The Most Offensive Halloween Costume.

There is no excuse for selling these types of costumes. Asda’s apology and donation to a mental health charity is more than Amazon will ever do but it’s also too late once these products have hit the market. 

People with mental health problems are statistically more likely to be a victim of violence than commit violence.

The group who commit the most violence: men. Men who have no history of mental health problems.

If the idea of “killers” is such a great Halloween costume, then we should all go out wearing masks of random men. That would be far more accurate. Instead, people genuinely think it’s hilariously funny to dress up as a “psycho” or a “mental patient”.

Honestly, if you think this shit is funny, you’re an asshole. It really is that simple.

Halloween at Asda: With a Side-Order of Disablism

Everyone will be running away from you in fear in this mental patient fancy dress costume. Comprising of a torn blood stained shirt, blood stained plastic meat cleaver and gory facemask it’s a terrifying Halloween option.

Because we can’t possibly have Halloween without disablism. After all, everyone knows that “mental patients” are totally responsible for committing the majority of violence. Well, everyone who is completely stupid. 

The rest of us, in possession of with some basic critical thinking skills, know that people with mental health problems are one of the highest risk groups for being victims of violence.

This costume just increases the stigma surrounding mental illness. It also obfuscates who the real perpetrators of violence are. The vast majority of violence perpetrated across the world is by men: men with no history of mental illness.

Asda should be ashamed of itself.

They need to remove this product immediately and apologise.

A large donation to a charity wouldn’t go amiss either. 

This is Asda’s contact form. I will be sending them a complaint.

UPDATE: So, Asda has now apologised. Problem is this all too common now. Customers shouldn’t have to be pointing out how offensive this type of product or [or rape t-shirts or a million other horrible products available now]. Corporations need to start taking some responsibility before it gets to this stage and just stop making this kind of shit.

I mean, it’s not that hard to make a Halloween costume which isn’t offensive to anyone. Millions of kids manage it each year. How come adults are incapable of doing so?

#DickHeadDetox: David Gilmour for celebrating #culturalfemicide

Honestly, I am so bored of writing this. My list of subjects for the #DickheadDetox keeps getting longer and there’s a huge queue of stupid men lining up to join.

Today’s entry is Canadian writer David Gilmour who currently teaches literature at the University of Toronto but only “guy-guy” literature: nothing by Chinese or women. The full interview is available here but here’s a choice quote: 

I teach modern short fiction to third and first-year students. So I teach mostly Russian and American authors. Not much on the Canadian front. But I can only teach stuff I love. I can’t teach stuff that I don’t, and I haven’t encountered any Canadian writers yet that I love enough to teach. 

I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Except for Virginia Woolf. And when I tried to teach Virginia Woolf, she’s too sophisticated, even for a third-year class. Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.

Oddly, the reason I don’t read books by middle aged white dudes is because they are pretty much obsessed with their cocks. I can’t think of anything more dire than reading Miller or Roth or Fitzgerald. Seriously, what they all need is for us to do a whip-round to pay for their penile enlargement surgeries so they call all just STFU [or, at least, the ones who are still alive].

Frankly, anyone who thinks Virginia Woolf is too difficult for third year university students shouldn’t be let loose in a classroom. Teenage girls manage to read Woolf and understand. Perhaps here the problem isn’t so much the students but Gilmour himself: he’s just not smart enough to understand Woolf, or any other female writer.

Gilmour could actually do with reading some books written by women so he understands exactly what the consequences of the penile obsession are: male violence. I suggest he starts with Lisa O’Donnell’s The Death of Bees

So, I’m adding Gilmour to the #dickheaddetox for misogyny, racism and a side-order of homophobia.

Sex: My British Job [content note]

I approached Sex: My British Job with the same feeling that I approach all channel 4 documentaries with: trepidation. They commission documentaries on incredibly important issues but never quite manage to pull them off. Sex: My British Job was no exception.

I was going to write a proper review but these four tweets from last night pretty much cover all of my problems with it:

Hsiao-HungPai NickBroomfield

Sex: My British Job felt voyeuristic and exploitative. Nick Broomfield, the main journalist, seemed to have very little understanding of how dangerous the situation was for the women working in the brothel as well as Hsiao-HungPai who went undercover. There was no discussion of the possible ethical violations involved in leaving these women in an abusive situation in order to film them, particularly considering they were locked in some of the brothels. There were brief mentions of the women’s status as illegal immigrants but no real analysis of the industry of human trafficking and just how vulnerable these women were as illegal immigrants. There was no mention of any support services offered to these women after filming was finished.

There was also very little about men in the documentary. This omission is highly telling since there was absolutely no analysis of the capitalist-patriarchy or rape culture. There was no discussion as to why these women had to leave home to travel to the UK as prostituted women. Some had left behind husbands and children yet the economics of the situation was barely mentioned.

This documentary seemed more about Bloomfield’s role as a right-on dude, than it did about the (sexual) exploitation of vulnerable women. 

These comments are why an exploitative documentary does not help the women involved:

Congratulations Nick. You’ve just exposed these women to further misogynistic and racist abuse because you are more concerned about your career than the safety of vulnerable women.

Some Beautiful Feminist Art to Start the Week!

This is a digital sketch by artist M.K HajdinI just love it. You can find more examples of Hajdin’s work on her blog Exiled Stardust.

Nottingham Women’s Conference – the facts

The following was sent to me via email by a woman who attended the Nottingham Women’s Conference but who is neither an organiser nor one of the presenters. She is distressed by the obfuscations and outright fabrications about what happened yesterday and she wanted her voice to be heard but was worried about the inevitable attack, as experienced by the conference organisers and a number of other women in the past 36 hours. 

I have also added images of the statement tweeted out by the organisers during the event in response to criticism. They are below.

Nottingham Women’s Conference – the facts.

It became clear that there were there women who are sex workers and active on twitter who chose to come to Nottingham Women’s Conference to protest the inclusion of abolitionist groups such as NORMAS. They had been unhappy about the inclusion of abolitionist groups and exited woman and have expressing their displeasure on twitter. In July, NWC offered them places and they declined.

They were open about their intentions to gate crash the conference on social media so it was hardly a surprise when they arrived.  The conference had sold out some weeks ago, and there was a waiting list of women hoping to attend. I know this as I tried to pull strings to get an extra ticket for a friend and was firmly told no!

The organisers took their legal obligations seriously and refused to let anyone in who had not bought a ticket.
The three sex workers were not allowed in for this reason. Not because they are sex workers. If that was the case, then why would local services for women have been given free tickets? Why would there have been sex workers in the audience? That doesn’t make sense.

I am aware that SWOU contacted the organisers and requested a platform. However, this was only a couple of weeks ago and the speakers & workshop leaders had already been booked. There was literally no room for anyone else.

I am also aware that the organisers contacted Whorephobia after a blog post about the exclusion of sex workers some months ago. An invitation was extended and refused.

Personally, I am not actually sure what else could have been done.

The twitter hashtag was over run by those who felt able (despite not being present) to comment, criticise & attack the decisions of the organisers. It actually started to read like a tabloid headline.

“Sex workers locked in car park!” – well the car park was at the entrance to the venue so maybe we were all locked in?

“Sex workers locked out of venue!” – the door was open all day.

“Sex workers refused entry by feminists who hate sex workers!” – No. They were refused entry because they didn’t have a ticket.

There seems to be an assumption made that, because the three women turned up to the event, they should have been let in. Why? Why should they take precedence over other women? What makes their rights greater?

Just because they are Sex workers does not automatically gain them entry and a platform to speak at a sold out event. Especially, given that other sex workers were already in attendance. Does your activism & presence on twitter give you more of a say than other women?
The fact is, they didn’t buy a ticket. They didn’t ask to be involved until it was too late. 

They are not the only sex workers in the country.
They are not the only ones who can speak on behalf on sex workers.
They do not have more right than any other women.

Yes, there were exited women present who spoke eloquently & articulately about their experiences.

Yes there were organisations there who do not agree with sex work. And? The sex workers who were present were perfectly able to speak for themselves (and did).
And actually, isn’t it just a little bit arrogant and presumptuous to assume that YOU are the expert on sex workers?
To assume that every woman in the conference is a middle class, white non sex worker?
To assume that the sex workers who were present were those who want to exit?

Let’s remember that the conference was a women’s conference. Not a sex worker conference. And as a women’s conference it was brilliant.

UPDATE: Currently, I’m being attacked across twitter for the last two sentence of this piece. Honestly, if you think that it implies that sex workers aren’t women too, you’re just desperate to find something to complain. It quite clearly states that the conference wasn’t just about the issue of sex work and exited women. It was a day-long conference on a multitude of topics relevant to women.

And, how on earth can you tell whether or not the above statement was written by an exited woman, a prostituted woman or a sex worker? It is an anonymous statement. Hence, there are no identifying details of the woman who wrote the statement. 

Statement by the organisers:

UPDATE: I have deleted the comments on this blog and I will continue deleting them as it is clearly stirring from those who were not at the event.

Dear Salon, What’s with the victim-blaming of Julie Bindel?

Dear Salon,

You are normally one of my favourite media outlets. I don’t always agree with everything you publish but you’ve got a great track record with feminists writing about women’s issues. You also report the actual news, which is increasingly rare in a mainstream media which seems to have confused the scripted twaddle of ‘reality’ television with stories of actual importance: like genocide, healthcare and human rights violations.

I was really quite disappointed by your recent article by Mary Elizabeth Williams entitled : Was a feminist writer threatened off a debate? It contained both factual inaccuracies and victim-blaming language. Granted, your statement about the campaign by Caroline Criado-Perez and The Women’s Room UK isn’t an uncommon error in the media; so much so that Criado-Perez got bored of correcting each inaccurate statement and wrote a blog on the issue.

So, for the umpteenth, and hopefully last, time: Caroline Criado-Perez did NOT  campaign to have Jane Austen on the ‘British’ pound note. First off, the campaign was about the English pound note. I know English money is frequently classed as ‘British’ in the press but this isn’t quite right. The Bank of England and 7 retail banks have the right to print money. The seven retail banks are in Scotland and Northern Ireland. These are not considered ‘legal tender’ but they are accepted as currency. Wikipedia has a handy page on the differences.

Secondly, Criado-Perez was not campaigning to have Jane Austen on the English five pound note, nor was she campaigning to have Jane Austen on the ten pound note. If you read the text of the petition, you will note that the Bank of England chose to replace the only woman on English money, who is Elizabeth Fry on the five pound note, with Winston Churchill, a man not renown for his feminist principles. Criado-Perez was campaigning to have A WOMAN on English money in line with the Equalities Act of 2010. The Bank of England responded to the campaign by choosing to place Jane Austen on the ten pound note.

This isn’t semantics. The campaign was an important test case for forcing the government to acknowledge the existence of the Equalities Act of 2010 and implement it properly. This campaign was about more than just Jane Austen on a bank note: it was about insisting the government recognise that women are human too. Trivialising the campaign to just being about Jane Austen is disrespectful and wrong.

That said, what really worries me about this piece is that it blames Julie Bindel for being a victim of abusive and threatening messages. I’m sure Williams didn’t mean to insinuate that Bindel’s gender-critical stance means that she deserves all the abuse she’s received.

I’m sure Williams didn’t mean to list Anita Sarkeesian, Hadley Freeman, Mary Beard and Caroline Criado-Perez as ‘good’ victims of male violence deserving of our sympathy and support whilst Bindel deserves it for being ‘controversial’. Just using the word ‘controversial’ involves an implication of personal responsibility for being a victim of harassment and threats. If Bindel were a “nice” woman, then it would be okay to feel sorry for her but she’s “controversial” and therefore responsible.

Williams also wrote this: “(s)he claims that since her appearance was announced, she’s received over 30 harassing messages.” It’s a subtle point but there is a difference between “she claims” and “Bindel has received”. One implies that Bindel is exaggerating and the other starts with the premise Bindel is telling the truth. This is the type of language that is used time and time again by violent men and in the media to negate male responsibility for the violence they perpetrate. 

This paragraph is disingenuous at best: 

And perhaps most notoriously, a decade ago, she wrote a piece called “Gender Benders, Beware,” in which she opined that “I don’t have a problem with men disposing of their genitals, but it does not make them women, in the same way that shoving a bit of vacuum hose down your 501s does not make you a man.” Disagreeable stuff? Hell yes. Rape threat-worthy? Well, is anything really rape threat-worthy? (Hint: No. Never.)

Firstly, Bindel has apologised, repeatedly, for what she wrote in that article. Ignoring the apology is making a point: it says the author believes Bindel’s own behaviour is responsible for people sending her rape and death threats. You might say “No. Never” but that’s not how the article reads. Bindel made a statement deemed transphobic and ten years later, despite numerous apologies, Bindel deserves rape and death threats.

The use of quotation marks within the piece is also problematic. The first sentence in this paragraph requires quotation marks. The second does not: 

In the U.K., Bindel, who writes regularly for the Guardian, is a polarizing figure. She’s the founder of Justice for Women, an organization that “supports and advocates on behalf of women who have fought back against or killed violent male partners.” She’s vocally anti-porn, which she states “causes harm,” and sex work, which she calls “violence against women.” 

The first is a direct quote; the second are statements common within radical feminist discourse. They do not need quotation marks and the use of them implies that Bindel’s statements are wrong. Again, this creates a dichotomy of ‘good’ victims of violence and harassment versus bad. Believing that porn causes harm and sex work/ prostitution are violence against women are theoretical statements which have been subjected to countless research and debate. There was no need to put quotation marks around them unless you are trying to make a point about Bindel’s status of “good” victim.

Make no mistake about this, Bindel’s decision to step down from the event at Manchester University is censorship. Williams is flat out wrong when she claims that Bindel wasn’t censored because she has other platforms. Yes, Bindel is fortunate in being able to financially support herself through her feminist writing and activism but that doesn’t mean Bindel isn’t a victim of censorship.

Julie Bindel received around 30 harassing messages which included rape and death threats. As a consequence, she stepped down from a debate on pornography. 

That is censorship. 

It is forcing a woman to withdraw by threatening to rape or murder her. This is why violent men, and it is almost always men, threaten rape and death: because they know women will put their personal safety first. It doesn’t matter how many other platforms Bindel might have, and that most women don’t have, this is of male violence.

There are no excuses for rape and death threats.

It doesn’t matter how much you hate someone’s politics, NO ONE deserves to be sent rape and death threats. As I’ve said multiple times, if your “activism” involves sending rape and death threats, you aren’t just doing activism wrong. You are doing humanity wrong.

And, it is mostly certainly censorship to send a woman rape and death threats in order to silence her. It doesn’t matter if that woman has no public platform or a huge public platform: there is no excuse.

Claiming that Bindel was not censored just proves that William’s doesn’t believe Bindel was a “good enough” victim. 

This is victim-blaming.

The moment you try to excuse the violence targeted at women because they have a “public” platform, is the moment you cross the line into victim-blaming and excusing male violence. 

There are no “good” or “bad” victims of harassing and threatening behaviour. 

Those who sent Bindel rape and death threats need to be prosecuted, just as those who sent threats to Anita Sarkeesian, Hadley Freeman, Mary Beard and Caroline Criado-Perez deserve to be prosecuted. 

And, I expect better from Salon.

For the sake of the child, I hope this is fake: that One Direction Ebay post

This got retweeted into my timeline earlier tonight.:

‘Woman sells daughters One Direction tickets in eBay’. The description on this item made my day”

I am totally nosey so I opened it thinking it would be something completely hilarious. Instead what was written was this:*  

THIS AUCTION IS FOR ALL 4 ONE DIRECTION TICKETS IN SYDNEY OCTOBER 25th. You can thank my daughters self righteous and lippy attitude for their sale. See sweety? And you thought I was bluffing. I hope the scowl on your bitchy little friends faces when you tell them that your dad and i revoked the gift we were giving you all reminds you that your PARENTS are the ones that deserve love and respect more than anyone. And your silly little pack mentality of taking your parents for fools is one sadly mistaken. Anyhow. Your loss someone else’s gain who deserves them! THE TICKETS ARE SEATED … . REMEMBER AUCTION IS FOR ALL 4 TICKETS and will be sent registered post

…OH YOUR FRIENDS THOUGHT THAT A FEW PRANKS CALLS WOULD PUT ME OFF SELLING THE GIFT WE BOUGHT FOR THEM for YOUR BIRTHDAY because YOU all LIED to us about sleep overs so you could hang like little trollops at an older guys HOUSE????? Pffft!! I find it HIGHLY amusing that you girls think you invented this stuff. Tricks like this on OUR parents is how HALF of you were conceived …..And why a lot of your friends DONT have an address to send that Fathers day card to!!! I’m not your friend. I’m your MOTHER. And I am here to give you the boundaries that YOU NEED to become a functional responsible adult. You may hate me now….. But I don’t care. Its my job to raise a responsible adult..not nuture bad habits in my teen age child

I can’t believe this is real. I can’t believe any parent would write this about their child on a public website. Punishing a child for misbehaviour by selling their birthday present isn’t acceptable parenting. As much as they anger and frustrate you, selling a birthday present isn’t a punishment. It’s vindictive.

The language in the text is just horrifying. Calling a group of teenage girls “bitchy” and “trollops” is disgusting. Clearly, the behaviour of the girls was inappropriate but this isn’t how to parent a teenager. They push boundaries. They test you. And, sometimes, they make you want to move to cave in the middle of nowhere. But, the above. That isn’t parenting. 

It’s abusive, vindictive and malicious.

It doesn’t matter what your children do. You never, ever speak to your child like this in private.

And, you never, ever publicly humiliate your children in this manner. 

I hope this is fake but it’s probably real. I know people who were parented like this. I’ve met people who parent like this. People babble on and on about how horrible teenagers are: well this is the reason. You treat a child like they are worthless and then wonder why they misbehave? 

Even if this is a hoax, I have seen lots of positive statements about what great parenting this is. I can’t decide what I think is worse: that this is real or that people actually believe this is a good way to parent a child.

*when I opened the link, there was no other identifying information. I haven’t included the link in case it is possible to identify the child. 

Where’s the best place to build a yurt free from stupid people?

Today, Jezebel informs that an EIGHT YEAR OLD child has made Star’s worst beach bodies. Then Vagenda tweeted out this image from The Times: 
The Times has actually published a piece on the exact mathematical formula for the “perfect breast”. 

So, I want a yurt. Preferably one with indoor plumbing and central heating but no where near the kind of assholes who think that it’s acceptable to publish either of these stories.