November 25 is the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women – not White Ribbon Day

November 25th was first chosen as the date for an annual day of protest of male violence in 1981. This occurred at the first Feminist Conference for Latin American and Caribbean Women in Bogota. It was chosen in memory of Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabel.

The Mirabel sisters were political activists who fought the fascist government of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. They stood up to a genocidal regime that used torture, rape and kidnapping and they were murdered for it. This is why November 25th was chosen as an international day of activism that “denounced all forms men’s violence against women from domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment to state violence including torture and abuse of women political prisoners.”

November 25th received official recognition as an international day to raise awareness of violence against women from United Nations on December 17, 1999.

None of this information is out with the public realm. Even Wikipedia, not known for its accuracy, manages to get the facts right. Yet, November 25th is rarely referred to as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women anymore. Instead, it is called White Ribbon day after a campaign started by men in Canada.

The origins of the White Ribbon campaign are important. It was created by pro-feminist men in 1991 in response to the massacre of women at the Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6 1989. A man killed 14 women because they were women. Men stood up to take responsibility for men’s violence. We need men to take responsibility for the violence they perpetuate and perpetrate.

Yet, somehow, White Ribbon no longer occurs on December 6th (although still recognised in Canada as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women). Now, White Ribbon day is November 25th – a day started by women of colour in Latin American and the Caribbean about the murder of 3 women in the Dominican Republic.

As Karen Ingala Smith points out, there is something extremely questionable about an event created by white men eclipsing a day of action and remembrance created by women of colour. It is quite surprising just how many men involved in the White Ribbon campaign don’t know the origins or the actual date of their own campaign. One even ran a panel at Feminism in London and looked shocked that no women’s organisation had raised the issue before. The fact that men just hadn’t been listening (or bothered to google) didn’t seem to occur to him.

White Ribbon Day is December 6th. Co-opting a day celebrating the activism and work of women to make it all about the men – and check out this comment from a white ribbon ‘supporter’ – isn’t about men taking responsibility for their role in supporting a global war against women. It’s about being seen to be doing something.

These are the names of the women murdered at the Polytechnique:

  • Geneviève Bergeron
  • Hélène Colgan
  • Nathalie Croteau
  • Barbara Daigneault
  • Anne-Marie Edward
  • Maud Haviernick
  • Maryse Laganière
  • Maryse Leclair
  • Anne-Marie Lemay
  • Sonia Pelletier
  • Michèle Richard
  • Annie St-Arneault
  • Annie Turcotte
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

The anniversary of their massacre deserves to be remembered. Their names deserve to be remembered – as do the names of Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabel. We need to remember all the women who are raped, tortured, abused, and killed by men. And, we need to remember all the women who stood up and said enough.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women isn’t about men. Speaking over and erasing women’s activism isn’t proof that men are committed to ending violence against women and girls. It’s just the opposite.

#DickheadDextox: Richard Brittain for VAWG

Richard Brittain drScreen Shot 2015-11-11 at 16.26.25ove 500 miles from London to Scotland to assault a teenage girl, Paige Rolland, who posted a negative review of a draft of his book online. He tracked Rolland to her job and proceeded to break a bottle of wine over her head.

This is not the first time Brittain has engaged in male violence against women and girls. In fact, the book Brittain wrote was part of the sustained harassment and stalking of a woman, which included traveling to Scotland to ‘ask if the woman he was in love with wanted to pretend to be kidnapped to share their love with the world and sell his book. Brittain pled guilty to “engaging in a course of conduct which caused Miss Durant fear or alarm by repeatedly pursuing her, approaching her, following her and publishing a story about stalking her in September 2014.” One month later, Brittain assault Rolland.

He detailed his criminal behaviour in a post entitled The Benevolent Stalker.* Having been called out on his CRIMINAL behaviour, Brittain took a stalking “seminar” and came to this conclusion:

Over the last few weeks, I have learnt a lot. In various corners of the web, my blog post The Benevolent Stalker was discussed. One thing that struck me is how many girls claim to have had stalkers; often multiple. I therefore believe that this could be a problem verging on endemic, particularly when considered in the context of a general vibe. There seems to be less trust between genders than ever. We’ve seen videos of women walking down the street and being harassed, and the misogyny of Julien Blanc and Dapper Laughs. In my view, the latter is not necessarily misogynistic but a rather desperate and unfunny comedian who played a caricature which we were supposed to laugh at for its outrageous offensiveness. But misogyny is no laughing matter, and more troubling is that such personality types are common enough for this brand of ‘humour’ to work.

He certainly showed a lack of awareness. I, too, have shown a lack of awareness; for the person I stalked, for myself, and for the nature of stalking. As it appears to be a fairly common problem, I feel that more education might be needed.

I don’t know who ran the seminar, but they need to work on their training and perhaps not use ‘seminars’ to work with perpetrators. Possibly his therapist needs some training as well because this doesn’t make me think Brittain gives a shit about anyone but himself.

I want to use my experience, of having been a stalker, to help others from going down that dark route. Here are some warning signs which I would look out for:

a) You find that you’re comparing yourself to characters in fiction. For example, I frequently compared myself to Han Solo and her to Princess Leia. Sometimes, I even had the music of Star Wars running through my head.

b) There was a strong, impulsive feeling that I had to act in order to keep the love alive. It could well be that this biological process was useful when we were cavemen, but it is of fundamental importance that we overcome such carnality in today’s society. I’m not talking about lust, by the way. This was something very different, much more powerful, a feeling which took hold of all my thoughts and emotions.

c) My psychiatrist said that I showed an ‘erotomanic’ quality. Erotomania is a type of delusion in which you believe that someone is in love with you. You believe that she/he is declaring her/his affection through special glances, signals and hidden messages. In my case, I looked at her Twitter and believed that many tweets were directed at me.

d) When the person rejects you, you manage to convince yourself that it is part of a challenge or game. Or that she is only denying you because she wants to keep it as a forbidden love, hidden from the rest of the world.

If you are showing any of the above symptoms, it is possible that you are in danger of becoming a stalker. I would advise you to take a step back and re-evaluate.

When I first heard this story, I assumed Brittain would get only a slap on the wrist for his assault despite the stalking. Having read parts of his blog, I’m now worried he will still only get a slap on the wrist even though he has stalked and harassed two women, assaulted one woman and has repeatedly harassed and behaved in an abusive manner to anyone who spoke negatively about his book. I’m worried he will step up his abusive behaviour and continue targeting women.

Brittain’s blog seems to suggest he has self-diagnosed with narcissistic personally disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. It also says a psychiatrist has prescribed him anti-psychotics. Whatever the truth, Brittain shows a long history of extremely problematic and criminal behaviour.


*clean link via Do Not Link

Language does matter: menstruation is not “transphobic”

UCLA student Zoey Freedman weighed in on the global debate around taxing tampons. Normally, I’m a huge supporter of any publication willing to print this: 

Aside from some forms of birth control or medical complications, nothing will stop a woman’s period. It’s a natural part of having a uterus that just can’t be helped.

Health care currently covers services such as sexually transmitted infection testing, birth control, abortion and even access to erectile dysfunction treatments such as penile implants.

Although erectile dysfunction is a problem, it is not one that all men are inherently born with. Menstruation, on the other hand, is something almost every woman deals with at some point in her life. It’s a bit ridiculous that surgeries for sexual needs are covered before everyday feminine hygiene products.

Unfortunately, the editors felt the need to include this statement:

This blog post refers to individuals who menstruate as women because the author wanted to highlight gender inequality in health care. We acknowledge that not all individuals who menstruate identify as women and that not all individuals who identify as women menstruate, but feel this generalization is appropriate considering the gendered nature of most health care policies.

It used to be that we couldn’t talk about women’s biology because it grossed men out. Now, we can no longer talk about women’s biology because it’s transphobic. Menstruation, FGM, vulvas, breasts, birthing a child, breastfeeding, infertility, menopause, and hysterectomies have all become banned topics for fear we cause transwomen ‘violence’. Oddly, I’ve never seen viagra, something widely available on health insurance in the US whilst birth control remains controversial, deemed ‘transphobic’. Vulva cupcakes, on the other hand, constitute ‘violence’.

Women have been fighting for hundreds of years to end real gender essentialism that is predicated on a hierarchical construction of sex. Now, we’re seeing a resurgence of reifying gender through an obsession with labelling brains ‘male’ or ‘female’. Recognising that a uterus exists only in a female body makes you transphobic and guilty of the murder of transwomen (despite the fact that it’s pretty clear that men are responsible for the physical violence that results in the murder of transwomen – not women’s words).

Women have been actually dying for thousands of years because of the denial of the reality of our bodies. Childbirth remains one of the biggest killers of women worldwide. Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, but we aren’t allowed to point that infections pass more easily during penis-in-vagina sex or that the vast majority of urinary tract infections are caused by a penis that isn’t clean. Instead, young girls are denied an education because menstruation is considered ‘unclean’.

Viagra is a medical necessity to ensure erect penises aren’t denied sexual pleasure, including ‘female’ penises. Tampons are classed as a luxury despite menstruation being a biological necessity.

The liberation of women from male violence and other causes and consequences of the white supremacist capitalist-patriarchy will not happen whilst we are banned from talking about the biological realities of women’s bodies. Discussing menstruation is not transphobic and it will not cause the death of transwomen.

#fabulousfeminism : feminist responses to F4J