Language Does Matter: FGM is not “cissexist”

These four tweets have been appearing in my TL for days.

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The term FGM is not cissexist. Female genital mutilation, as defined by the World Health Organisation,

“includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. … FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

This definition does not even begin to describe the actual practise and consequences of female genital mutilation. The long-term consequences of FGM includes: sterility, difficulty urinating, increased infant and maternal mortality, fistulas, bleeding, and infections. As an organisation, the WHO has serious problems with misogyny, racism, and classism. It replicates capitalist, patriarchal white supremacist controls over women’s bodies, an allegiance to wealthy industrialised nations and far too much investment from pharmaceutical corporations whose whole raison d’être is making money: not helping people.

Yet, even the WHO recognises that FGM is a form of violence against women and girls. It is only performed on girls. We need to be able to name this crime – just as we need to name every other form of violence against women and girls. We will not end violence against women and girls by obfuscating language.

We need to be able to talk about abortion, access to birth control, and all other forms of reproductive justice as women’s issues. We need to recognise and label these as forms of violence against women and girls. We need to be clear that male circumcision is not equivalent to female genital mutilation. It may not be medically necessary and it may cause pain to infant boys, but it does not maim and kill infant boys like the practise of female genital mutilation does. Circumcision does not cause sterility or result in difficulty in urination. It doesn’t kill.

It is not “cissexist” to talk about the biological reality of women’s bodies and the damage done to them within a capitalist-patriarchy. Frankly, even the suggestion that it is “cissexist” demonstrates a fundamental inability to actually understand the reality of lives of women and girls in our world. I am incredibly angry at living in a society in which identity politics have not only erased all political and theoretical understandings of the oppression of women as a class but that we have to see this type of bullshit bandied about as if it’s The Most Important Thing Ever Written. It’s not. It’s just the same women-hating shite that we have to deal with on a daily basis.

The term FGM is not “cissexist” and suggesting that it is is misogyny.

#DickheadDetox: Pharrell Williams for refusing to listen

Because he’s apparently the dude who wrote most of Blurred Lines – a song he’s allowed Robin Thicke to get most of the credit – and backlash for. And, despite hundreds of thousands of women explaining why they found it triggering, he’s decided it’s totes ok because he wrote the song from a “good place”. <pardon me whilst I vomit>

So, Williams gets on the list until he’s actually listened to the advice from every Rape Crisis centre on the freaking planet and realises that his Girl Power talk means fuck all unless he starts taking responsibility for the consequences of his actions.

From the Independent:

The chorus – “I know you want it” – was that T.I.’s part too?

“No, I wrote that. But what’s wrong with that? I know I want it!”

Some commentators have called it a “bit a rape-y”.

“Mmm. Well they have some creepy friends. Because, by the way, when did I say it meant sex?”

It’s heavily inplied.

“When did I say anything about sex?”

We go round the houses a bit. Finally Pharrell says: “You have to make sure that you’re coming from a decent place. And I was coming from a decent place. Because when you look at the song in totality you realise that the song’s about a woman who wanted to… who felt something, but decided to take it out on the dancefloor. I’d never want to say anything about sex. Like, ‘rape-y’ would mean, ‘I’m gonna do this to you, you know you want me to do that to you…’”

Things which make me snigger:

Yeah, this is mean but I am enjoying the fact that an appeal panel at Family Court not only told a man to piss off when he tried to claim half of his ex-wife’s lottery win, but also made him pay her legal costs. It’s so very rare that the family courts respect women that we have to celebrate the little victories.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

I will be lighting my candle at 7 pm.

On this day, we would like to invite you to take part in the global ‘Wave of Light’ to remember all the babies that died during pregnancy, at, during or after birth.  Simply light a candle at 7pm and leave it burning for at least 1 hour.  This can be done individually or in a group, at home or in a communal space. Wherever you do this, you will be joining a wave of light uniting the world in honour of those babies who lit up our lives for such a short time.

No-Platforming, Radical Feminism and Violence

There is yet another petition demanding that Julie Bindel be no-platformed. This time  it is students at Essex University demanding she be no-platformed from a panel on pornography during an event dedicated to critical thinking.

I’ve been at a number of feminist conferences this year where women have spoken about Bindel’s “hate speech” and “violent language” – the first was the New Turns Conference in February and ending with the FWSA Affective Sisterhood conference in September. Not one woman I spoke to about Bindel actually knew anything more than that she;s “transphobic”. None had read her work. They certainly weren’t familiar with her work on pornography, prostitution, and other vulnerable women. They hadn’t read of the news articles and opinion pieces nor any of her research. All of these people – female and male – had heard “somewhere” that Bindel was transphobic and violent.

I did snigger at this comment under the petition:

I’m not capable of discussing ideas with those who may hold different opinions. University is only for those who think the same way as me.

but it raises some interesting issues. University is not an institution where students should expect everyone to have the same opinion as them – it’s kind of the whole point of attending university. You will be exposed to alternate view points and you will think some of the people attending are racist or stupid or nincompoops or one of a billion other things. Demanding that someone be no-platformed when you have never bothered to do any research on the person or read anything they have written is anti-education.

Now, I have no idea if the tweet below is one that Bindel actually wrote or yet another myth created by people who aren’t familiar with Bindel’s work, but the statement below, taken from the petition, demonstrates the fallacious logic of much of the accusations:

Julie Bindel, in solidarity with the rest of her ignorant TERF bigots castigates transwomen purely because they were born with male genitals. Moreover, she falsely accuses all transwomen of being paedophiles, rapists and murderers, because – just like ALL genders – some are. Need proof? Text of a Tweet by Julie Bindel, 19 March 2013:

Some trans women are rapists and predators/child abusers that are in for killing/raping born women”

Bindell is no friend to transwomen, just as she is no friend to women. Her fanatical feminazi outporings actually damage feminism, which can only be detrimental to the rights of all women. (my bolds)

Ignoring the use of the term “feminazi” which in and of itself is a ridiculous and deeply offensive hyperbole, some and all do not meet the same thing. We do know that “some” transwomen are rapists. Dana McCallum pled guilty to two misdemeanours including domestic violence and false imprisonment. We know that Christopher Hambrook claimed to be transgender in order to access vulnerable women in shelters – he was allowed in these shelters because he had been taking hormones and despite his history of convictions of sexual violence.

We need to recognise that violence is perpetrated by some transwoman and that women aren’t lying when they disclose this abuse. We can’t pretend that it doesn’t happen or that their crimes should be forgiven as transwomen experience disproportionate abuse as the Sylvia Rivera Law Project did with Synthia China Blast. It is not transphobic to discuss whether or not McCallum’s rape was an example of sexual violence within lesbian relationships or if it is yet another example of male violence (for the record, I believe committing rape with a penis is male violence). We can’t pretend that some men claim to be transwomen to access women’s spaces to perpetrate sexual violence and can do this because the laws on gender recognition are open to abuse. Men who kill transwomen make that choice but the murder and sexual assault of some transwomen does not negate responsibility for the perpetration of violence of other members of the Trans community.

Julie Bindel has not been invited to speak at the University of Essex on the topic of transgenderism. She’s been invited to speak on a roundtable on pornography: a subject in which she is highly qualified to speak.  No-platforming someone who’s work you aren’t familiar with is censorship – it’s the kind of censorship that gets sniggered about in liberal circles when banned book week comes up. Yet, these same people think it’s okay to censor a woman for something that they don’t actually know what it is but only that it’s “vile” – a term that pro-pornography people claim has no actual definition. Unless it’s applied to radical feminists and not pornography.

 

UPDATE: Julie Bindel’s invitation to speak at Sheffield University next week has been withdrawn.

Why Men Can’t Be Feminists Redux

 

They say shit like this on twitter and think it makes them a feminist and a gender egalitarian.

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Granted, it’s possible he’s being ironic in his twitter bio:

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 09.36.15But, we all know he isn’t. And, this is why men can’t be feminists.  Hell, it’s why most men who identify as feminist are suspect.

Suggesting that women who wear a religious item of clothing are “spineless” is misogyny. It is a total failure to understand structural oppression, choice, faith, and survival. It is equally racist.

Women aren’t property but we also aren’t spineless or stupid – as this man implies. Women make choices within a very limited range to survive. Many women have no choice not to wear the hijab because of threats of violence within the home or the community. Others choose to wear a hijab for a million reasons that this man is clearly too dim to even begin to contemplate.

Telling a woman to wear/not wear an item of clothing is just a bullshit erasure of male supremacy and structural oppression. It holds women accountable for men’s behaviour.

The Dude who came up with #NoHijabDay is equally as misogynistic and racist, but at least he’s not pretending to be a feminist. Not that that is any comfort whatsoever in the grand scheme of things.

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Reportedly: Just Another Weasel Word

UPDATE:  Radhika Sanghani, the journalist who wrote the article I ranted about below, has removed the word reportedly and apologised. My objection to the term remains but it is so very rare to have a journalist respond so quickly.

 

Reportedly and allegedly: both code words for women are liars. And, men are helpless little victims of nasty wimmen accusing them from all sorts of things which never happen: like rape and domestic violence. These exist only in women’s imaginations you see.

Today’s women who lies: Jean Hatchet who the Telegraph who labels “reportedly” a victim of domestic violence because of her campaign to have Ched Evans banned from playing for Sheffield United following his conviction for rape.

Maybe it’s just because she’s a friend, but seriously, the Telegraph can FUCK RIGHT OFF with their women-blaming bullshit. This isn’t an article about a criminal trial. There is no potential for libel. The ONLY reason to include reportedly is to bring Jean’s character into doubt.  To imply she is prone to hysteria and over-reaction. It’s hateful fucking bullshit and I am seriously sick to death of journalists  who haven’t bothered to read the NUJ guidelines on reporting male violence against women. I’m sick to fucking death of journalists who prefer to label women liars rather than examine the reality of male violence.

Shit like this is why mainstream media is neither trust-worthy nor unbiased. They all collude in eliding male responsibility for perpetration of violence.

Even Brownies has been pornified

Small is a Brownie. I’m not overly-enthused by the commitment to the Queen twaddle in the Brownie promise but the girl-only space more than compensates for any pro-monarchy drivel. This morning, at that grand hour of 6:47, Small woke me up to discuss what my Brownie uniform looked like as a child. Being way too early, I used Safari to google images instead of the child-friendly one I normally use with her (not that the child-friendly one isn’t without problems – it doesn’t allow any images for small children so we’ve had to set the parental controls at high school so she can look at pictures of kittens).

This is what I expected to find:

Unknown Unknown 1 Unknown 2

This is what I found:

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 imagesimages 1

Some of these are marketed as hen night outfits. It just makes me so very sad that even an outfit designed for 7-10 year old girls has been sexualised. Who finds an organisation created to help young girls grow confidence in themselves, nurture friendships and become responsible citizens sexy? At what point do people start to recognise the harms of pornography?

Because, “sexy” outfits using children’s characters is beyond creepy. It looks like child sexual exploitation – grooming children.

Dear Ally Fogg, Start your own Counting Dead Men Project …

Dear Ally Fogg,

Please start your own Start your own Counting Dead Men Project. I am so incredibly bored of you derailing the amazing work Karen Ingala Smith and other women are doing tracking male violence against women and girls in order to shriek “whatta bout the menz”

It was completely unnecessary for you to respond to this:

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We all know the vast majority of violence against women and girls is committed by men. We know the vast majority of women and girls murdered are killed by men – most of whom the victims know personally. We know men are the majority of perpetrators of domestic violence against women, children and other men. We all know that in the rare cases of female on male homicide, that many (if not most) of the female perpetrators kill men who are abusing them. We also all know that Ingala Smith is tracking women killed by men, so your complaint is just ridiculous.

If you genuinely care about male victims of violence, stop derailing conversations about male violence against women and girls and start your own Counting Dead Men Project. I’m sure if you ask Ingala Smith politely, she will give you some top tips on the best ways to research the data on women who kill men.  To make it as accurate as Ingala Smith’s Counting Dead Women Project, you will need to ensure you include more than just names. You will need to include whether or not the male victims had a history of domestic violence.

You could even start a Counting Dead Men Project which includes EVERY single male victim of homicide so we could see that the vast majority of men are killed by other men. But, we all know you won’t bother doing this. It’s far easier to derail conversations about the reality of male violence to whine than it is to actually do the work Karen Ingala Smith does: giving a name to the women who are murdered every month.

If you can prove that women kill two men a week and that these women did not kill a violent current or former partner in self-defence, then I might stop thinking your an MRE. We all know you can’t prove this though.

Stewie

P.S I’ve storified some of the great feminist response to Fogg here.

COUNTING DEAD WOMEN PETITION

“Parody” Accounts Remain a sign of the truly desperate: Redux

I’ve written about parody accounts before – and someone always pops up to say I have no sense of humour. The problem is not my sense of humour, or lack thereof. It’s the fact that I can tell the difference between the Larry the Downing Street Cat twitter account, which targets politicians and policies and isn’t very polite, and the ones created to harass, intimidate, abuse and silence women. Larry the Cat – even at his rudest – does not have the political power to silence the prime minister (as much as we might want him to). These “parody” accounts of women are part of a spectrum of abusive behaviour created with the sole purpose of silencing women. They are, in and of themselves, abusive behaviour.

These “parody” accounts aren’t just by misogynists targeting women – they are being shared by women who self-identify as feminists. These women are sharing tweets by accounts set up directly to harass, shame and silence another women. Feminism doesn’t mean we can’t be critical of other women’s politics or behaviours. But, there is a world of difference between criticism of a political stance and trashing another women. It’s so incredibly depressing that we now have self-defined feminists who believe that trashing is a valid political action.

Critical engagement with each other’s political policies, activism and theories is essential to the success of the feminist movement. But, we won’t get anywhere if women who self-define as feminists replicate the same abusive behaviours as misogynists. We need to stop pretending that these “parody” accounts are anything other than patriarchy in action and start engaging with other as if we are real people. With feelings and everything.

Otherwise, we might as well jack feminism in and leave the misogynists in charge.