Dear Feminist Times,
I’ve been looking forward to today for months. I had such high hopes about your publication: a feminist magazine with no advertising is just brilliant. Feminist presses like Jezebel only serve to reinforce a heteronormative, victimblaming, celebrity obsessed culture. I was hoping you would be more like Trouble & Strife or Feminist Current than the Daily Mail.
Words cannot express just how disappointed I feel about the article in Taboo Corner entitled Sterilise Her. Forced or coerced sterilisation, even coercing someone into using long-active reversible contraceptives are not feminist acts.
It is women-hating at it’s most extreme.
It’s the violent, abusive destruction of women’s bodily integrity and their right to personal autonomy.
It privileges men’s right to fuck whoever they want, whenever they want without consequence. It reinforces a heteronormative, PIV focused construction of sexuality which privileges male orgasm over women’s health and reproductive freedom.
This is without getting into the long history of forced sterilisation of women deemed “bad” from the forced sterilisation of “asocial” and disabled women in Nazi Germany to the mass sterilisations of “bad” women in California, Switzerland, Canada and every other country in the world. The forcible sterilisation of “bad” women has a long history and anyone who doesn’t know this is either stupid or an MRE.
Publishing an article on forced sterilisation is a disgrace to feminism.
The anonymous author claims they have come to this position due to a family member who “decided to neglect (their) child” which resulted in the child being taken into care. The author claims to understand that “sometimes people have problems of their own that need to be addressed” but this is clearly bullshit. Anyone who truly understands the reasons that mothers struggle with caring for their children would not write this:
Does the mother seek help? Want to get her child back and earn the right to be called her mother and look after her? No she doesn’t.
Instead she continues to sleep about with men, picks an ex convict, gets pregnant again and surprise surprise the cycle continues.
Where is the child’s father in this story? What about his responsibility to care for the child? Was the child conceived in rape? Is that why the father doesn’t appear in this narrative or is it simply just more evidence of woman-hating. Ignoring the father and blaming the mother is victim-blaming. It’s just patriarchal behaviour.
How does this author know the mother hasn’t sought help? That she doesn’t want her child back? That her self-harming behaviour doesn’t stem from serious trauma? For a child to be taken into permanent care, the mother must have exhibited serious self-harming behaviour such as substance misuse which made her unable to care appropriately for the child.
Anyone with the slightest knowledge of child protection knows that there are simply no real programs to help women who are self-harming due to trauma. There were very few under the Labour government and those which existed have been destroyed by the ConDems. Waiting lists for substance misuse programs are immense and that’s even if you can find one that allows you to bring your child with you. Poverty is systemic now. Men are allowed to financially abuse their children without punishment but women are shamed and publicly humiliated for their failure.
Forced sterilisation and coercive/ forced birth control are not a taboo. It happens every single day to women deemed unfit or bad or stupid. It happens every single day to teenage girls deemed promiscuous without any attempt at analysing why these young girls are having sex [or even if they are being groomed and prostituted].
There a million reasons why a woman could not personally care for her child and they all come down a culture which hates women.
Forcible sterilisation and coercive use of birth control are part of the spectrum of violence against women. A real feminist would understand this.
They would not have published something more in keeping with the Daily Mail.
UPDATE: There seem to be some problem with the Feminist Times website. This is a screen cap I took:
UPDATE 2: Feminist Times have removed the piece and apologised. Before apologising and removing they added this statement:
Taboo Corner is a small space on Feminist Times for women to be open about uncomfortable thoughts they have and the personal reasons behind them, helping uncover disconcerting female truths that are normally repressed and opening them up for honest debate. Feminist Times is different to other magazines in that it won’t airbrush your frown lines or your emotions