BBC thinks ‘Entertainment’ is the correct category for child sexual violence

This is the BBC’s response to my complaint about them publishing the trials of Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall and Freddie Starr under the category of ‘entertainment’.

Dear Ms Pennington
Reference CAS-2694650-BMFJZY

Thank you for contacting us regarding BBC News Online.
We understand you feel the entertainment news section of the BBC website shouldn’t have included a report on Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall and Freddie Starr.

While we appreciate your concern the fact is they have all been broadcasters or affiliated with the entertainment industry and as such is connected with the entertainment industry. It’s therefore entirely appropriate to publish the content is this section.

We’d like to assure you that we’ve registered your complaint on our audience log. This is an internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily and is available for viewing by all our staff. This includes all programme makers, along with our senior management. It ensures that your points, along with all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.

Thanks again for contacting us.

Kind Regards


BBC Complaints

Amber E. Kinser’s Motherhood and Feminism

History of motherhood starting at industrial revolution. In many ways, it is a ‘basic’ history of motherhood in the US. Or, at least, it should be a basic history but Kinser traces more than the usual history of white middle class women with its focus on Victorian values, Betty Friedan and the myth of suburbia. Instead, Kinser traces the real history of motherhood looking at how issues of class, race and homophobia/lesbophobia challenge the dominant discourses of motherhood.

Her inclusion of the history of reproductive rights and mothering of Chicana and African-American women is a much needed addition to the feminist movements understanding of history and the complexities of real reproductive justice in a culture where racism and classism create categories of good and bad mothers; which punishes women of colour for becoming mothers.

Kinser also examines radical feminist texts on motherhood and labels them as radical feminist. Usually these texts on women’s history and feminist theory try to erase the term radical feminist and situate women like Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde out with their theoretical heritage. Shulamith Firestone is simply dismissed. Kinser writes about the history of motherhood as a patriarchal institutional and the challenges to it through an intersectional lens actually addressing issues of race, class, gender, and identities.

Are universities safe for our daughters?

UPDATE: it appears the male students are from a Cambridge university drinking society and are now under police investigation

Benjamin Sullivan, 21, president of Oxford University’s union was arrested this week on charges of rape and attempted rape. Today, student feminist magazine Bad Housekeeping tweeted out this video of male students at Oxford chanting about rape and laughing at just how-hilariously-funny they are:

55 colleges and universities in the US are currently under investigation by the Department of Education for their mishandling of complaints of sexual violence.

It seems like every single day there is a new allegation of rape at a university: one in which the victim is treated as a perpetrator and the perpetrator is treated as a poor ickle lamb who couldn’t help himself.

It’s at the point where we need to be asking are universities safe for our daughters? And, if not, what are we going to do about it? Personally, I’m at the point where it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ban male students from university until after they have taken a one year intensive course on male violence against women, toxic masculinity and how to act like a human being in public spaces run by feminists. If young men at what is considered one of the best universities in the world genuinely think it’s funny to sing about rape in public, then what choice do we have? These aren’t silly boys using words they don’t understand. These are men, who have the right to vote, engaging in abusive behaviour in order to intimidate and harass women.

Men who think it’s acceptable to chant like this walking down the street don’t deserve the right to be attending university. Really, they shouldn’t be allowed in public spaces. But, Oxford University booting their asses out would be a good place to start.



Toshiko Horiuchi: The Most Incredible Art

This is the most amazing piece of art I have ever seen photos of. It is both beautiful and looks incredibly fun to play in:

horiuchi_1_L horiuchi_12_L horouchi_2_L horouchi_5


The artist’s name is Toshiko Horiuchi and you can find her biography and more examples of her work here.


I hate making school lunches.

Honestly, I can’t think of a worse way to start the day. By the time my kids could spread peanut butter on bread, then were on their own. When the teenager was a vegetarian, this meant peanut butter sandwiches for six years straight. Any attempts at suggesting alternatives were met with abject horror and the suspicion that I was somehow trying to poison here. I am also the mother that considered crisps in a lunch box on par with deliberately feeding your kid salmonella. Hypocrisy be thy middle name and all that jazz.

As a single working mother (and now one who also has a disability), making packed lunches has never been on my list of priorities. I couldn’t stand them when I was a kid and I can’t stand them now. My kids won’t eat school lunches so they make their own packed lunches. This doesn’t always go to plan as seen with Small’s 22 olives in her lunch yesterday but they eat healthy food they like and then go out to play with their friends.  Surely, this is all parents want for their kids: a decent lunch with time to play regardless of who and what ends up in that lunch.

I was really disappointed in today’s article in Parentdish* which rather sneeringly dismissed one mother’s creative lunches made for her son. The article itself has now been taken down but you can see some of the snippets here.  A quick google brings up lots of images of women who make art projects out of their kids lunches:

images 1images  images 2  images 1

It is very unlikely I would do the above but, having checked with my teenager, we’re both pretty sure that mothers who do do this for their children aren’t ruining their lives or deliberately making them fussy or whatever accusation you want to toss at them. They are mothers making lunches for their kids which is what some mothers do. Other mothers don’t. It doesn’t make either category a better or worst mother. It just makes us mothers.

Judging other mothers for taking the time to cut sandwiches with cookie cutters says more about those judging than the mothers making them. We all need to cut each other some slack and recognise that doing things differently doesn’t mean we’re doing it wrong. Different isn’t bad. Creative isn’t a crime against children and  neither is refusing to spread peanut butter on bread 5 days week.



The Women Who Mapped the Universe And Still Couldn’t Get Any Respect

The Smithsonian published this article last year but I’ve only just come across via Facebook. It’s a great piece on misogyny and cultural femicide with one teensy tiny omission. They don’t actually name the 80 women in the article. Now, I do understand the pressures of space in the production of a glossy magazine such as the Smithsonian but an article on the erasure of women which doesn’t name the 80 women seems to miss the point, particularly when these women were derided as Pickering’s Harem.

Natasha Geiling is so very clear on the role of misogyny, gendered stereotypes, patriarchal control and sexual harassment that not naming the women seems odd. There are links to information on the women in the online version but not, apparently, in the magazine. These women were the only reason that Edward Charles Pickering, director of the Harvard Observatory, could photograph and catalogue the entire sky. Their work is invaluable, yet we only know them as Pickering’s Harem.

We really need a feminist to write a collective biography of these 80 women!

The photographs and information below are taken from here:



A print of this HCO photograph was found in an album that had once belonged to Annie Jump Cannon. The print was dated by tracing the HCO serial number on it to the record books in the Harvard College Observatory Collection of Astronomical Photographs. The women were identified by comparing the print to other HCO photographs on which Margaret Harwood or Annie Jump Cannon had noted the names.

This picture which includes Edward Charles Pickering, the Director of HCO (1877-1919), was taken on 13 May 1913 in front of Building C, which faces north. At that time it was the newest and largest building of Harvard College Observatory. It was specially built of brick to protect the astronomical data and glass negatives from fire. Since the astronomical photographs were stored on the ground floor and most of the women worked on the top floor, the building had a dumb waiter to convey the plates up and down. The women all worked in a large room on the east end of the third floor. Pickering had his offices on the west end across the central hallway. All the other men worked on the lower levels.

At the far left of the photograph is Margaret Harwood (AB Radcliffe 1907, MA University of California 1916), who had just completed her first year as Astronomical Fellow at the Maria Mitchell Observatory. She was later appointed director there, the first woman to be appointed director of an independent observatory. Beside her in the back row is Mollie O’Reilly, a computer from 1906 to 1918. Next to Pickering is Edith Gill, a computer since 1989. Then comes Annie Jump Cannon (BA Wellesley 1884), who at that time was about halfway through classifying stellar spectra for the Henry Draper Catalogue. Behind Miss Cannon is Evelyn Leland, a computer from 1889 to 1925. Next is Florence Cushman, a computer since 1888. Behind Miss Cushman is Marion Whyte, who worked for Miss Cannon as a recorder from 1911 to 1913. At the far right of this row is Grace Brooks, a computer from 1906 to 1920.

Ahead of Miss Harwood in the front row is Arville Walker (AB Radcliffe 1906), who served as assistant from 1906 until 1922. From 1922 until 1957 she held the position of secretary to Harlow Shapley, who succeeded Pickering as Director. The next woman may be Johanna Mackie, an assistant from 1903 to 1920. She received a gold medal from the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) for discovering the first nova in the constellation of Lyra. In front of Pickering is Alta Carpenter, a computer from 1906 to 1920. Next is Mabel Gill, a computer since 1892. And finally, Ida Woods (BA Wellesley 1893), who joined the corps of women computers just after graduation. In 1920 she received the first AAVSO nova medal; by 1927, she had seven bars on it for her discoveries of novae on photographs of the Milky Way.

Barbara L. Welther published the photograph and some of the text in a note about “Pickering’s Harem” in Isis 73, 94 for March 1982.

annie-611 pickering-611

We need to stop using the word rape because it hurts men’s feelings.

At least, that is what Oliver Wright is claiming in a nasty piece of click bait in the Independent* today. We need to stop using the word rape because it confuses the menz and gives them sad feelings.  So, we need to replace it with “non-consensual sex” so rapists don’t feel upset about being labelled rapists. Because it’s the sad feelings of men that we need to work on in order to deal with low rape convictions. Not the systemic nature of sexual violence and rape. Or, the fact that the Metro can list anal rape as “bad sexual etiquette”. Or, the fact that the media prints rape myths on a daily basis as truth. Or, the fact that police use rape myths in their annual Christmas “don’t be stupid enough to get yourself raped” campaigns despite the ONLY risk factor for being raped is being in the presence of a rapist.

Suggesting that the best way to deal with low rape convictions is to change the term is a simplistic answer to a complex problem by someone who has clearly not bothered to do any research into rape, male violence and the criminal justice system. A quick phone call to any number of third sector organisations, Alison Saunders who is the current director of  public prosecutions, or, you know, Rape Crisis would have been more than enough to learn why this suggestion is so incredibly harmful. Frankly, reducing rape to a “unpleasant crime” shows just how little Wright understands the issue.

The basic problem with Wright’s article can be summed up by his concluding paragraphs:

The attrition rate for rape cases at early stages in the criminal-justice process shows that too many are getting filtered out early – mainly because police and prosecutors don’t think that there is any chance of getting a conviction. But with a less emotive charge, that could change.

Because the truth is this: it is not the term rape that is important, it is getting justice for the victims of the crime – whatever it is called.

Changing the name of rape to a “less emotive” one doesn’t change the fact that rape is the one crime that the vast majority of people believe victims bring on themselves. It doesn’t change the fact that many men, and a lot more men commit rape than are ever convicted, are rapists. A generous study on this issue puts rapists at 1 in every 60 men. This does not include street and sexual harassment.

We don’t need to change the word rape. We need to stop men raping. Changing language won’t deal with the number of men who are rapists. If anything, it will just give rapists more wiggle room to whine about how they didn’t understand consent as if it’s difficult to know that a woman saying no or freezing doesn’t want to have sex.

Frankly, if we’re going for simplistic ways to end rape, I’d vote for a law which bans men from having any kind of sexual contact until they can prove that they aren’t too stupid to understand consent.

* Clean link.


And men, I am no longer publishing comments by you on this blog so don’t waste your time writing rape apologist bullshit on here. I don’t want to hear how you’re not a rapist because you misunderstood. You’re a rapist because you made the choice to rape someone.

27 “Annoying” Things Men do in Bed: AKA Sexual Assault

I’m not sure there is much more to say about this piece of rape apologism in the Metro which isn’t covered by the following tweet:

Metro’s “27 annoying things men do in bed” has mistaken “annoying” for “sex assault”

It is worth looking specifically at a couple of the “points” because the implication of this list is actually quite frightening:

4. ‘When they think it’s sexy to spank you so hard that you just want to turn around and punch them in the face.’

7. ‘When you give them a blow job and they start f*****g your face as if you don’t have a gag reflex. How about I’m sick all over your penis?’

8. ‘When they ask you to strip (which is always awkward – what music do you put on?) and then your skinny jeans get stuck round your ankles.’

10. ‘When you’re in the middle of foreplay and they thrust a finger up your bum with NO warning.’

13. ‘Putting their fingers in all your holes at once like they’re playing some sort of instrument. Far too confusing, you just don’t know what’s going on down there.’

14. ‘When they think it’s a good idea to stick objects in you. Just no.’

15. ‘Casually trying to have anal sex without asking and without lube. It does not just slip in there.’

16. ‘Being so aggressive with their hands during foreplay that they pretty much give you internal bleeding and bruising.’

17. ‘Nipple biting. It just f*****g hurts.’

18. ‘Pulling your hair so hard you scream and your eyes water.’

Inserting an object without consent is rape. It really is that simple. If your partner has done any of the above without your express consent, then they have committed a crime.  The fact that the Metro has published this piece without recognising the difference between poor hygiene being a turn-off during oral sex and rape is frightening.

This is rape culture in action. This article is teaching our girls that a man inserting a penis in their anus without consent is “poor etiquette”, not rape. That “rough sex” should be tolerated if that’s what your male partner enjoys.

This isn’t a list about women’s sexuality and looking at ways in which men’s behaviour decreases women’s interest in having sex. It’s basically telling women to put up and shut up because men aren’t capable of understanding the difference between poor etiquette and rape.

Frankly, every single man should be angry at this and writing letters of complaint to the Metro for insulting them. And, the entire staff of the Metro need to undergo some training from Rape Crisis.


What is missing from the coverage of Boko Haram. (content note)

I’ve been following the Boko Haram story since it broke nearly 3 weeks ago. 200-300 girls abducted for the purpose of rape and sexual slavery which took 2 weeks to be covered by the mainstream media because the media doesn’t give a shit about girls.  Missing planes with men aboard get 24 hour coverage. Girls kidnapped for the intention of rape and sale: not so much.

I have tremendous respect for the activists, writers and journalists who’ve fought to get this crime international press and demand that the international community take responsibility. That they have managed this in face of a malestream media which cares little for women’s safety is nothing short of amazing.

The focus on Boko Haram is important but the media is missing the next obvious step. Boko Haram abducted several hundred girls to rape and sell their  bodies. This requires men willing to purchase the bodies of children. This isn’t just about Boko Haram abducting children to rape. This is about a world-wide market of men willing to buy children’s bodies to rape.

We need to start connecting the dots and stop referring to this as an “isolated incident” perpetrated by a group of extremist men in Nigeria. There is no doubt that Boko Haram are an extremist religious group but we need to be very careful in not reporting this story of abduction and  rape as something “other people do”. It isn’t.

Male violence is systemic and endemic. Men of every culture and faith buy the bodies of children to rape.  Slavery, for rape or work, is a global problem.

We need to bring back these girls. And, we need to save the life of every child currently living in slavery.

There are no “isolated incidents” when dealing with male violence.

Poor Max Clifford: The Disgraced Publicist

Detectives ‘review’ new allegations against Max Clifford
Detectives are reviewing new allegations against disgraced publicist Max Clifford, Scotland Yard has said.

This is the headline that the BBC is running about the conviction of Max Clifford for child rape. Clifford is only a “disgraced publicist” because, child rape, isn’t really a crime. And, Clifford is only “disgraced” because he was convicted. The fact that this man has been sexually assaulting young girls for well over 30 years (and more allegations are still being brought forward) isn’t really a crime for the BBC.

The judge’s summation is here. It is a deeply horrifying list of sexual violence committed against children. This isn’t a “disgrace”. It is a crime. I am writing a formal complaint to the BBC and I urge others to do so.

You can submit a complaint here.