It Happens Here: Oxford University Student Union’s Deeply Problematic Rape Campaign

I came across the It Happens Here campaign on the weekend via twitter. I am deeply saddened that Oxford University Students Union is running such a badly designed campaign.

The article “Making Consent Count: Rape Culture in Oxford and Beyond” written by Sarah Pine demonstrates many of the problems with the campaign; most of which can be summed up with this sentence: “(t)he lack of communication during sex leads to rape.” This sentence genuinely appears in a paragraph extolling the virtues of checking consent.

A “lack of communication” does not lead to rape. Rapists rape because they chose too; not because they forget to “communicate” with their “partner”. This is a rape myth. This is why rape culture flourishes: because people genuinely believe that rape is a failure to communicate. A campaign about rape culture which lists this myth as fact is not a safe space for victims of sexual violence.

The article goes on to discuss how stranger rape is the most uncommon form. It then suggests that the vast majority of rapes can be prevented by the perpetrator checking for consent:

Whilst there are occasions that don’t fit this pattern, many of these encounters could be avoided if the perpetrator had cared to check for the consent of their partner.

I am honestly in shock at this statement. Pine basically claims that rape happens because rapists don’t value communication enough to check that they have consent. Rapists are not misunderstood men with poor communication skills. Rapists don’t check for consent because they don’t care. Rapists rape because they chose to rape and not because they are confused about “communication”.

Ironically, Pine, who is the Vice President [Women] of the OUSU,  genuinely seems to believe that the importance of the campaign is that we live in a “world that normalizes sexual violence, and excuses perpetrators from any responsibility for what they have done.” The entirety of her article excuses male sexual violence against women. It creates rape as a misunderstanding rather than a crime with a clear perpetrator who choses to rape.

I came across this article when I googled the campaign. This is the page that I first came across on twitter:

Is this you?

    Do you recognise yourself in one of the stories shared on this blog?

Or does a story remind you of something you once did?

Realising you may have perpetrated sexual violence against another can be a harrowing experience. Please think carefully about how you choose to respond:

  • Please have a look at the Respect website, and consider using The Respect Phoneline – freephone 0808 802 4040 – a confidential helpline for domestic violence perpetrators.
  • You might also consider contacting the University Counselling Service for support.
  • If you want to be in touch with the person you have offended against, you must recognise that this may re-traumatise the survivor. Therefore, do not make contact with them directly. You may wish to approach someone at your college – such as a welfare officer – as an intermediary to convey your wish to communicate to the survivor. If they choose not to respond, you must respect this.
  • You might consider sharing a story on our blog, from your perspective. Please note, however, this will be subject to the blog’s moderation policy. Particularly, it will not be posted if it in any way appears to excuse or glorify sexual violence.
  • Harassment by aggrieved perpetrators or other parties, either to survivors or the
  • website administrators will not be tolerated, and will be reported to the appropriate authorities.

There is so much wrong with this page that I am genuinely struggling to know where to start.

  1. Rapists do not “realise” they have committed sexual assault. Rapists rape because they chose too. They know perfectly well they are rapists and do not need to read the stories of victims to “realise” this.
  2. Being raped is a “harrowing” experience. Being a rapist is not.
  3. Rapists do not need to contact University Counselling Services for “support”. They need to contact the police for the protection of women.
  4. Victims need support. Rapists need to stop raping.
  5. Rapists have no right whatsoever to contact the woman they raped. Even suggesting this is disgraceful.
  6. A university welfare officer who contacts a rape victim on behalf of their rapist should be fired immediately. That is the very antithesis of a “welfare officer”.
  7. Giving rapists a platform to share their story does nothing to end rape culture. It just perpetuates it.
The campaign tumblr asks survivors of sexual violence to share their stories. Any campaign which includes such destructive rape myths as fact and gives rapists the same platform as their victims is not a safe space.
Rape is not a lack of communication. It is a violent, criminal act perpetrated by men, and legally in England and Wales only men can be convicted of rape.
An accurate list of myths about rape and sexual violence is available at Rape Crisis [England/Wales].

Rape Crisis [England/Wales]: 0808 802 9999
Rape Crisis Scotland: 08088010302
NIA: Delivering Cutting Edge Services to End Violence Against Women and Children: 02076831270

Dear BBC, you seem to be confused as to the exact definition of rape:

Dear BBC, you seem to be confused as to the exact definition of rape:

First thing this morning I read your “advice page” on rape after I saw it tweeted at Everyday Victim Blaming. I can’t even begin to describe how offensive and wrong your “advice” is. You manage to not only blame victims for being raped themselves but also blame them for other women being raped. I don’t know who wrote this page but they clearly know nothing about rape and sexual violence and they obviously never bothered to approach a rape crisis organisation for help in writing it. So here’s some handy hints:

1. “general safety tips” are all about blaming the victim. I don’t see anyone offering men handy hints on how not to rape. Nope, it’s always about telling women what not to do to “prevent” rape. The only person who can prevent a rape is the rapist so how about you start telling men to stop raping or, I don’t know, stop writing disgraceful articles which blame women and children.

2. This statement is victim blaming:

“You’ve been through a terrible ordeal so thinking straight might be impossible. But you really must consider reporting your rape. This is for your own safety and well-being and that of others.”

WTF were you thinking when you published this?  How utterly offensive is the statement “think straight might be impossible”. How is it “safer” for women to report their rapes when the police, you and the general public always blame women for being raped? Do you have any idea just how traumatic rape actually is? How difficult it is to report? How invasive the physical examination is? How hard it is to talk about your rape without someone telling you it’s your fault or accusing you of lying?

And, way to go with eradicating the responsibility of the rapist not to rape: it’s the woman’s fault if a man rapes another woman because she didn’t respond to her rape the way you think she should. Do you have any idea how damaging that level of victim blaming is to a woman? Seriously, you might as well start calling for an end to prosecuting rapists and instead prosecuting their victims for being victims.

Being silent only helps your attacker.

No, this horseshit you claim is “advice” only helps rapists.

I really shouldn’t be surprised you’ve got this shite listed as “advice”. It certainly explains the frequency with which you publish rape myths and victim blaming in your articles on male violence.  The fact that you think it’s acceptable to blame women for rape is the reason that you managed to publish a dreadful article by Ruth Alexander called “How many men in Asia admit to rape?” Both Alexander and her editors need to visit rape crisis for some training on what rape actually is.

Just in case you actually care that you are perpetuating rape myths, I’m going to highlight the one statement which clearly demonstrates that Alexander doesn’t quite get the legal definition of rape:

“But is it clear from the question that we’re talking about making someone have sex, or someone not consenting?”

It’s certainly not clear from this that Alexander understand that both of these statements are rape. “Making” someone have sex with you is rape. It is exactly the same as not having consent. Frankly, if an adult can’t understand that “making” someone have sex is rape then they are too stupid to be having sex in the first place and should be locked up for the safety of everyone else because they are RAPISTS.

And, let’s be clear here, rapists aren’t stupid. They are perfectly aware that “making someone have sex” is rape. It’s rape apologists who are too dim to know the difference. It’s rape apologists who seem to be confused about rapists not knowing they are rapists.

This is the example given:

“Let’s take a scenario where a husband and wife discuss whether or not to have sex,” she says.

“She doesn’t want to and he does. In their discussion the man raises the argument that she is his wife and that sexual intercourse is part of her role, and in the end the wife agrees.”

This doesn’t “amount” to marital rape. It is rape. This is a clear case where a man has raped his wife by putting her in a situation where she can not consent or refuse consent. That is the definition of rape.

Dr Jenevieve Mannell who is quoted in the article saying that she believes that this is an “oppressive gender norm” rather than rape is just wrong.

The crime of rape does not require force or overt coercion. Bullying your wife into sex because it is her “role” is rape. It really is that simple.
I’m not really surprised that you published the “advice” or that dreadful article. It’s in keeping with your record of piss-poor reporting on male violence against women and children. It’s also in keeping with your long-term cover up of serious sexual violence within your organisation by male celebrities. This is why Jimmy Savile got away with raping children for so long; you keep publishing rape myths as fact and ignore the realities of rape culture.
It’s about time you stood up as an organisation to take responsibility for perpetuating rape culture.

Feminism, Choice and Mummy Bloggers

I wasn’t overly surprised to learn that the panel entitled “Can you be a mummy blogger and still be a feminist?” went badly at the Mumsnet blogfest yesterday. Questions of motherhood and feminism always go badly on Mumsnet. I didn’t attend BlogFest because I don’t feel that my blog fits in with Mumsnet’s ethos anymore. To be honest, I’m not sure my blog ever fit in. And, even if I did want to attend, I couldn’t have afforded to entry price for BlogFest, never mind the hotel or train fare. As with Mumsnet Academy, BlogFest was outside the price range of a lot of Mumsnetters

We live in a capitalist-patriarchy where women are considered not-quite-human. Motherhood is the only role which gives women value, or at least, supposedly gives us value whilst simultaneously making us subhuman. Being a woman in our culture can feel like shit and we attack one another because it’s safer to attack each other than to fundamentally question the structure of our lives.

We all react defensively because we are judged wrong for everything we do: breastfeeding, formula-feeding, working, not working, – the list of things which women are found wanting is endless.

We all do it but we but that does not make it right.

Understanding why women attack each other instead of listening to each other is simple at one level but it still hurts. A lot. And, frankly, booing at women you disagree with is just rude. I can understand women with young children being so caught up in their role as mothers that any deviation from their pattern is viewed with suspicion. I can understand being afraid and hurt. I can’t understand low level booing or insulting a woman who “chose” a different path.

I’ve been reading some of the blogs written by women who attended BlogFest and I’m just shocked at how women have interpreted each other’s words. The following are a selection of blogs by those who attended BlogFest:

I will keep adding links to blogs as I come across them. I do think it’s important to read every woman’s understanding about what happened, even those who clearly have taken offence at statements neither made nor implied.
Even though I wasn’t at BlogFest, I’d like to weigh in on a few issues.
Firstly, a panel on “Mummy bloggers” and feminism is important. We absolutely need to be having this conversation and I’m glad it was there. Discussions on feminism and motherhood are always fraught with tensions and it was a brave decision to include it.
I understand why “celebrities” were invited too. Mumsnet needs to make a profit in order to pay their, mostly female, staff. Having Jo Brand sold tickets. I wasn’t overly thrilled with Liz Jones attending last year but she sold tickets and made media headlines. It may not have been an overly feminist choice to invite Jones but it was a practical one. And, I cannot state enough how much it pains me to say that. Financial considerations are paramount; without money the Mumsnet talk boards would not exist. Without them, my PND would have never been diagnosed. I may be anti-capitalist but women need to eat and that means using celebrities to fund talk boards.
This panel was absolutely necessary but it was also always going to end badly. This isn’t the fault of the organisers. We expect women to be all kinds of sweetness to one another and we forget too easily how common it is for women to lash out at other women. As a feminist, I’m acutely aware of how much we ignore women’s poor treatment of other women. I’m aware of my own guilt in replicating this behaviour but, sometimes, when we are hurting or afraid we lash out at the very people who are being kind to us.
I am also aware that part of my reaction to what happened yesterday is because Sarah Ditum and Glosswitch were both on the panel and I have tremendous respect for them. The thought of them being booed on stage makes me so very sad. They have been nothing but kind and generous to me and I don’t like the thought of them being attacked. I didn’t write this blogpost last night because I knew it wouldn’t be kind or helpful. I would have ranted. Ranting is important sometimes but this isn’t one of them.
My feelings on the panel going wrong are because of the name “Mummy bloggers”. I hate the term “Mummy Bloggers”. I find it patronising, rude and dismissive. It’s the equivalent to “yummy mummy” and “MILF”. It’s about the denigration of women rather than an acknowledgment of the realities of women’s lives.  Equally, I find the vitriol directed at “Mummy Bloggers” patronising, rude and dismissive. It’s the exact same vitriol directed at every single thing women do: it’s patriarchal bullshit at it’s most dangerous. Forcing women into taking “sides” instead of supporting each other.

I am still rather cross about this piece in the Huffington Post Canada written by a member of the women’s blog Purple Figs but it encapsulates all of the problems with the concept of “Mummy Blogging”: that women are shit no matter what we do. What the debate over “Mummy bloggers” does demonstrate is the misunderstandings of “choice” rhetoric.

Every “choice” a woman makes is not a feminist choice just because a woman made it. It just doesn’t work that way. All of our choices are constrained by the culture we live in. Having money makes a huge difference to individual women’s “choices”. Having access to a good education  makes a huge difference to individual women’s “choices”. Having a supportive family  makes a huge difference to individual women’s “choices”. Unfortunately, the list of things which constrain our “choices” is much larger.

Too many women simply don’t understand how much poverty constrains women’s choices. The women at the Mumsnet BlogFest had the ability to pay to attend. A huge swathe of Mumsnet would not; nor can they afford the Mumsnet Academy. Many are raising children with little to no help. Being able to afford to attend does not make one a bad woman; it just means they have privilege at that exact moment. There will be a million other ways in which those women have no privilege starting with the fact that they are women. But, equally, class, sexuality, trauma, race, disability, all change women’s abilities to make “choices”.

I don’t allow advertising on this blog. That is a feminist choice I made. It’s a choice made easier by how relatively small my readership is. If I were getting 50 000 hits a day, would I be so cavalier about advertising revenue? Probably not. Choosing to take advertising revenue at that point wouldn’t be a feminist choice but one of survival. That doesn’t make it a bad choice or a wrong choice but one necessitated by living in a patriarchy.

Making jam and homemade baby food because it is something that you enjoy and something that brings you pleasure is a good thing but that doesn’t necessarily make it a feminist choice. This doesn’t mean there is something inherently wrong with making jam or wearing high heels but these are “choices” that are made within patriarchal constraints. Women who behave as a “good mother” get more rewards than women who do not and the definition of who is and is not a “good mother” changes drastically from literally one minute to the next.

Feminism isn’t just about equality. If it were, there would be no pay gap between men and women as that is entrenched in law. The pay gap exists because equality in law in a culture which classes you as subhuman will never work. Feminism is about liberating women. It is about recognising women’s basic humanity. It is about recognising that all our “choices” are seriously constrained and denied in our culture. It is about recognising that most women are just trying to survive the best they can. A woman who makes a different “choice” from you isn’t inherently wrong, but insulting that woman for her “choice” will always be wrong.*

This said, those who attended BlogFest and were rude need to apologise to the panel members.

*And, if people did attack Sarah Ditum for having the unmitigated gaul to continue uni whilst pregnant, you can add me to the list of “bad mothers” too. I did it as a single parent of a toddler whilst barely a teenager. Judge us all you want but don’t be surprised if we defend ourselves.

UPDATE: Here are links to a video recording of the panel. The disconnect between what was said by the panel and what the audience heard is quite astounding. It’s also clear from the commentary on the video that the woman recording had already entered the session with a fixed idea about feminism and members of the panel.

This post by Lynn Schreiber is an excellent analysis of the difference between feminist theory and individual choices as understood by the panel and the audience.

Missing the Big Picture: AR Wear and the White Supremacy

I’ve been fairly open about my criticisms of AR Wear’s crowd funding in order to design a new range of “anti-rape” underwear.  Iranted on here, wrote a sensible piece for Everyday Victim Blaming and then wrote a piece for the Huffington Post. I stand by what I wrote in all three pieces but I also missed two very important issues; two issues which fundamentally change what I should have written.

These are the two issues I missed:

  1. The Patriarchal Fuckability Test
  2. The White Supremacy
The first is rather bizarre since I write a lot about the patriarchal fuckability test. Missing the fact that the models used in the crowding funding video are all very young and thin is weird. I should have seen it but didn’t. I should have noticed the implication that only young, thin women are rape victims. I know this is a common rape myth but I didn’t notice. Maybe because I was angry at the rape myths and didn’t take the time to stop and think it through but that would be an excuse. The point is I missed it and I shouldn’t have.The second part is my white privilege. I missed the fact that this video only featured white women; that the implication isn’t just that young, thin women are more likely to be raped. It’s that white women are more likely to be raped. I missed the fact that this product erases the experiences of women of colour despite the fact that, in North America, aboriginal women are more likely to be victims of rape than white women. I missed the fact that this product isn’t just predicated on the belief that rape victims can “prevent” rape by doing what they are told. I also missed the fact that this product implies that only “good” women need protection and that these “good” women are inevitably young, thin and white.This is white privilege: that I can rant about a product and for that rant to go viral without even noticing that I have missed the existence of the white supremacy.

These are some great responses to AR Wear’s campaign that need to be read:

What the company marketing anti-rape underwear gets wrong about rape at ThinkProgress.org
“Anti-Rape wear” reinforces every rape myth you can think of at Colorlines
Twelve questions about AR Wear’s anti-rape underwear at Feministing
The chastity clothing line which creates victims at Nouse

They wrote about the issue which I missed and for that I apologise.

6 year old boy suspended for kissing classmate

6 year old boy suspended for kissing classmate is the actual title of a Sky News story. As with much of Sky News’ content, the article is high on drama but short on analysis of systemic violence against women and children which starts with grooming girls from a very young age that they have no bodily autonomy. Whilst everyone is an uproar about the suspension of 6 year old Hunter Yelton for kissing the hand of a six year old girl, no one seems to have thought to ask what the little girl thinks of the situation. All we have is Yelton’s statement that he has a crush on the little girl and that “she likes him back”.

What this rather sensationalist title doesn’t say is that this is Yelton’s second suspension for inappropriately touching a classmate and that he has a history of other disciplinary problems.  This is clearly not a case of a once off kiss on a hand in which a school grossly over-reacted with a punishment. It is a case of unwanted touching. If the children were 16, would we be dismissing the behaviour still?

Children are allowed to have boundaries and they deserve to have those boundaries respected. They need to know they will be supported if someone does violate their boundaries, and that includes when the person violating their boundaries is their six year old classmate. Young girls need to be taught that they can say no and young boys need to learn that their wants and desires aren’t more important than the bodily integrity of other people.

The response of Yelton’s mother, Jennifer Saunders, is quite concerning. She has dismissed the punishment as an over-reaction on the part of the school and seems to be implying that her sons ‘crush’ on the little girl means that he is entitled to touch her without her permission. This is rape culture. It is the grooming of a young girl into an object for the (sexual) exploitation by boys and men. It is a young boy growing up to believe that he has the right to touch whoever he wants whenever he wants.

There is a discussion to be had about the appropriateness of the punishment, but this must not come at the expense of the young girl who experienced unwanted touching from a classmate. Rapists and other sexual predators are not born; they are made in a culture which privileges’ men’s needs over the bodily integrity of everyone else. Both of these children have learnt a lesson here: the young girl will know that she has the right to bodily integrity and the young boy will, hopefully, learn that he does not have the right to touch others without permission.

Salacious and misleading headlines aside, we need to start discussing how young boys are groomed in a rape culture. We will not stop the sexual violence of women and children as long as we tell young boys that it’s okay to pull the hair of the girl they like or that they kiss whoever they want without permission.

We all have the right to bodily integrity and 6 year olds need to learn this lesson too.

Update: The school has backed down due to public pressure and is allowing the young boy back to school. Whilst I’m still unsure about suspension, because it would be inappropriate for the school to give out a full record of the child’s behaviour, I do not believe it is appropriate for the school to change it’s position because of public pressure. The article on CNN makes it clear that the young girl did not want to be touched by this boy and that he has done it before. What are we telling her about her right to bodily integrity?

This is real feminist activism: #feministtenner

This is real feminist activism:

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 16.49.56

 

It started as a response to the attacks on Caroline Criado Perez by a few other women and quickly became a brilliant piece of online feminist activism. This is what feminism and sisterhood is about. Even if a campaign isn’t something you personally support, trashing other feminists campaigns isn’t a feminist act and we’ve got to stop pretending it is.

I’ve selected a few of the tweets to reproduce below but there are many, many more on the storify created by Caroline.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 16.55.01 Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 16.55.23

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 16.55.46 Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 16.55.46Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 16.56.38 Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 16.57.36 Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 16.57.53 Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 16.58.49

I’m donating my #feministtenner to Ending Victimisation and Blame [Everyday Victim Blaming]

On top of Kira Cochrane’s beautiful article in the Guardian and the creation of A Room of Our Own: A Feminist Network, today has been a good day for feminism!

This is misogyny.

 

 

 

This is misogyny. It is simply nothing more than the normal abusive comments that women get online for having an opinion. The fact that it’s from a woman who claims to be a feminist is irrelevant. It is nothing more than the spiteful regurgitation of male threats of sexual and financial violence against women they are trying to silence.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 09.06.30

This isn’t feminism. It has never been feminism. It will never be feminism. It’s just old skool trashing of a woman because they disagree with her.

Intersectionality, Elitism and Google

Last night saw several rather distressing conversations on the term intersectionality. I’ve been attacked before  for not being “intersectional enough”. The last time this happened, I wrote this rather rage-induced blog.  Whilst I was angry when I wrote it, I stand by the basic sentiment of the blog. My problem with the use of the word intersectionality has always been with a small group of middle class, white cis feminists who use the term to bully, harass and silence other women.

My Twitter TL is full of feminists practising intersectionality, if not always perfectly. Feminists are human too. We don’t always get things right but most of us are trying the best we can to make the world a better place for other women by listening and learning. So, you can imagine my surprise when it turns out that few members of this group of ‘feminists’ have never bothered to read Kimberle Crenshaw.

Intersectionality isn’t just a word. It’s not the same as hamburger or toast where the etymology is interesting if you’re interested in etymology or hamburgers. Intersectionality is a term which has political power: it cannot be separated from its origins. If you are using the term, you should know where it came from and why Crenshaw felt she had to invent the term.

When I expressed this last night on twitter, I got attacked for being ‘elitist’. If we were talking about Michel Foucault or Judith Butler, I’d agree but Crenshaw’s work is easily available online. The second link which appears when you google intersectionality is a link to Crenshaw’s article on JSTOR; the first is to Wikipedia. This is what comes up when you google intersectionality and Tumblr. There are literally hundreds of brilliant bloggers who write about intersectionality and who engage with Crenshaw’s work in a way which is comprehensible to anyone with basic literacy skills.

Here’s the thing: I don’t expect a lot of people have heard of intersectionality. We live in a patriarchal white supremacy. It’s hardly shocking that the lives of women of colour are erased, never mind theoretical terms defining that erasure. I do expect people who use the term to have more than a passing acquaintance with both the origins of the term and it’s application now. It’s elitist to expect someone living in a sinkhole estate with no access to the internet at home or in a public library to know the term. It’s hardly elitist to expect someone with a good education, access to the internet and who uses the term to have taken 10 minutes to google it.

Using a term which is contextualised within a very specific movement without understanding that context isn’t good feminist practise. I don’t expect feminists to be perfect or know every single feminist writer ever. I do expect feminists who are using terms like intersectionality to at least try to learn why it exists and where it came from.

And, for those of you expressing shock at how intelligent a Black woman could be, the word to define yourself isn’t intersectionalist. It’s racist. Sort yourselves out.

UPDATE: I had an interesting conversation on twitter about the use of the term intersectionality and what Crenshaw’s intentions were when she created the term, which clarified my thoughts. I see the term intersectionality used to mean identity politics and that’s not how I interpreted Crenshaw’s work. When I first read Crenshaw, I understood her to be discussing the specific oppressions faced by women of colour  as a class – not in a hierarchical sense but about the damage caused by a label placed upon a body without their consent because of racism. It is not an identity chosen in the way that sex worker can be used to convey a specific political identity; rather it is an acknowledgement of the reality of the lives of women of colour which cannot ever be removed from public knowledge.

I am a disabled single parent but I can make jokes about practising the art of lying down and people understanding it as a reference to my disability. There will be those who see me as a benefit scrounger [or whatever hateful term they’ve come up with today] but a woman of colour in a similar situation can’t just make a joke and have it reference their disability. The phrase will always refer to deeply racist stereotypes about black bodies and their economic production. This is why I believe people need to read Crenshaw [and some of the excellent analyses of her work available for free online] – you can’t debate how useful a term is if we’re all interpreting it in very different ways. At the very least, we need to be able to understand how we each came to the conclusion we did, even if we fundamentally disagree with one another on the application of the term to ourselves.

UPDATE 2: I love this article from Sara Salem which is a Marxist Feminist critique of intersectionality.

Collecting Women’s Writings about Violence Against Women

For the 16 Days of Activism to Eliminate Violence against Women, I have been collecting women’s writings about violence against women via a ‘bloghop’. Women’s writings about their personal experience of violence, as well as women’s journalism, research and opinion are frequently elided or misrepresented in the mainstream media. Women are blamed for the violence they experience and the feminist research into male violence and its effects on women is ignored and derided. I have started this bloghop, on My Elegant Gathering of White Snows, in order to ensure that women’s voices are heard; that our research is considered essential to ending the epidemic of male violence against women and children.

The bloghop is open to all women and I encourage the linking of multiple posts. They can be personal experiences of violence, theoretical discussion of the consequences of violence against women, activism, research, poetry, art or any other medium that you can link in a blog. This is about hearing women’s voices and centring our experiences in a debate which erases the sex of the perpetrator in an attempt to be seen as ‘gender’ neutral. The vast majority of violence is committed by men against women, children and other men. We need to name the perpetrators and let the voices of survivors be heard.

This is a brief selection of some of the bloggers and campaigns who have linked to the bloghop already:

Karen Ingala Smith

Portia Smart

Ending Victimisation and Blame

One Woman’s Thoughts

Salt and Caramel

JumpMag

Frothy Dragon and the Patriarchal Stone

Cath Elliott

Women’s Views on the News

CratesandRibbons

 

Please join in by linking your writings!

 

 

The Myth of the “Girl” Brain; or how to spot a misogynist

I wasn’t going to bother writing about this again since my views are pretty clear to anyone who’s come across my rantings on “girl and boy” brains. Some of the media coverage of the new research “proving” brain differences has been excellent. Glosswitch wrote a great review in the New Statesman as did  Marstrina at Not A Zero Sum Game. I was ignoring because it irritates me no end to see people claiming that  gender science is totes real and completely removed from our culture. 

I’m fairly certain there are only three kinds of people who believe in “girl” brains:
  1. Those with poor literacy skills
  2. Nincompoops
  3. Misogynists.
Anyone growing up with an access to good education falls into the last two categories. And, most are misogynists. They may not think they are but the only reason to believe in inherent differences between men and women based on junk science is if you believe that women are inferior to men. The myth of “girl” brains only serves to maintain the status quo: which is a culture where women earn 70% of what men earn, are fired for getting pregnant and are blamed for being a victim of a crime.


Here’s the thing, we just don’t have the ability to tell what is clearly a genetic difference versus what differences are caused by socialisation. Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences breaks down the problems with the science and the refusal the effects of socialisation in a patriarchal culture. I won’t bother repeating what she wrote since everyone needs to read this book; especially for the Daddy Rat research.

Every time someones claim that they can ‘see’ observable differences, whether in MRI scans or toddlers playing, I am reminded of Nazi scientists who swore blind they could see observable differences in the skull sizes of Jewish and African people. I am reminded of 19th eugenicists who claimed the same. In 20 years, we may have the science which can conclusively prove, once and for all, whether or not there are actually differences between the brains of men and women; or prove that actually the statistically insignificant differences we see now are nothing more the process of socialisation on the human brain.

Until then, I’m going to assume that those who insist in genetic differences are either nincompoops or misogynists with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo: and women’s inferiority.