Je Me Souviens

Je me souviens: in memory of the 14 women murdered by a misogynist at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6 1989

Geneviève Bergeron a civil engineering student

Hélène Colgan a mechanical engineering student

Nathalie Croteau a mechanical engineering student

Barbara Daigneault a mechanical engineering student

Anne-Marie Edward a chemical engineering student

Maud Haviernick a materials engineering student

Maryse Laganière a clerk at the École Polytechnique

Maryse Leclair a materials engineering student

Anne-Marie Lemay a mechanical engineering student

Sonia Pelletier a mechanical engineering student

Michèle Richard a materials engineering student

Annie St-Arneault a mechanical engineering student

Annie Turcotte a materials engineering student

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz a nursing student

Dumbass man claims being denied a bread roll makes women as sexist as men

Seriously, some dude actually makes this comment on an article called “What’s so safe about feminist, women-only space” after claiming to be a supporter of women.

This is so clearly an example of male entitlement and missing the point completely that I genuinely can’t believe he actually read the article. No one can be this self-centred that they equate women’s daily experiences of silencing and violence at the hands of men to once being denied a bread roll. I mean, how utterly fucking privileged and dim do you have to be to make this kind of statement?

I responded to his comment with this:

I posted this and thought no more of it until I was sent a link to the response by a woman who has called me rude and bullying for responding with this comment. 

Here’s the thing, I think equating being denied a bread roll once to the systemic silencing and violence women experience daily at the hands of men is rude. His comment basically implies that women are hysterical with an extreme tendency to over-reaction. And, that our need for a safe space in order to gather our thoughts and feel safe is sexist and exclusionary. 

Feminism needs real allies: men who listen and support women’s activism; who challenge misogyny everyday; who call other men out on rape jokes. We don’t need to waste our time on men who so fundamentally miss the point that they can claim that being denied a bread roll once is the same level of sexism as women experience daily. 

A child forcibly removed from her mother’s womb

As with everyone, I am horrified by today’s article by Christopher Booker in the Telegraph about an Italian woman, in the UK on business, who was forcibly given a caesarian section and her child taken into care.

A woman being given surgery without her consent is assault. It is that simple. Women are not incubators and any society which sees women as human would not be forcing surgery on a woman without her consent; never mind a surgery which results in a child being delivered. Taking the child into care, without the woman being able to instruct her own lawyers, is disgraceful and inhumane.

But, and this is a huge but, reading Booker’s article, I have more questions that answers. I understand that Booker is limited in what he can publish due to the fact that family courts are closed for the protection of the children. Taking this into consideration, Booker’s article is still low on details.

Don’t get me wrong, there are serious problems within child protection due to chronic underfunding, massive caseloads and staff not being given appropriate training in dealing with sexual violence, male violence, and victim blaming. This is clear from the Rochdale and Oxford grooming cases for a start – and the sheer number of children who are forced to continue relationships with abusive fathers. Yet, child protection is more than just social workers [who inevitably get a bashing in these cases], there are medical doctors, psychiatrists, police, teachers, community support workers and any number of court officials involved in the decision to remove children from the home. Our culture treats children as possessions and we pay a very high price for the damage we cause them. In this case, it is clear that the police and medical establishment were involved before Essex social services were.

These are the questions that first popped into my mind when I read the article last night:

  1. Why hasn’t the Italian government been fighting this? They are certainly not bound by UK laws on child protection which keep family courts closed. Why hasn’t the Italian government gone to the EU Human Rights court on behalf of their citizen? 
  2. I do not understand why the family suggested that the baby be adopted, in America, by the aunt of the baby’s stepsister (and does Booker not mean half sister rather than stepsister? If we’re talking about kinship carers, you need to get the relationship right). This isn’t the closest of kinship ties and I do think sending the child overseas is a drastic response. Was there no family in Italy who could care for the child in order to allow the mother to continue her relationship with the child? I support kinship adoptions because I do think they are the best outcome in such circumstances but not if the kinship adopter lives on the other side of the planet. The whole point of kinship carers is to try to continue the relationship with the birth parents, if possible. How would this continue if the child was living in the US?
  3. What on earth does Booker mean by panic attack and “bipolar” condition? These are medical terms which have medical definitions. A bit more detail to make it clear wouldn’t go amiss here. 
  4. I want to know why the caesarian was preformed. This is an incredibly drastic move which only takes place, within normal circumstances when the mother can’t legally consent, if the mother’s health was at risk. Having bipolar disorder does not put the mother’s health at risk whilst pregnant. If the hospital performed the caesarian for any other reason than the baby or mother being in immediate risk of death, then they have committed assault. I would expect the Italian government, on behalf of their citizen, to being taking the hospital trust to court over this.
  5. I don’t trust John Hemmings at all. The moment he gets involved in any case involving social services, my brain starts screaming ‘ulterior motive’. Hemmings is never involved for the best interests of the child; he’s all about the publicity.
There are obvious constraints on the publishing of this case but Booker’s article is too full of holes to make sense of. If this is a clear case of the assault of a woman, then the there are a whole lot of people who need to be prosecuted and both the British and Italian governments are complicit in this abuse. 

Forcible caesarians are violence against women. 

Removing a child from their mother because the mother is bipolar is violence against women. 

A society which treats women as more than incubators and believes children are not possessions would invest more money and training in the police, education, health, social services and judiciary to ensure that all have more than adequate training to support women who need a little extra help. A society which cared would offer more support to a pregnant women with a mental illness [and here the Italian government is just as complicit]. This is why we are supposed to have a welfare state: to help those in need and not punish them for needing help.