#womenwrites: “child prostitution, racism, capitalism, misogyny, and queer politics.

“There is no such thing as a child prostitute”: a review of the BBC’s Three Girls by Rahila Gupta at  openDemocracy

… The drama was careful to address some of the race, class and gender tropes that have coloured the national debate. Victim blaming is frequent in situations of male violence; in Rochdale it comes from the police who described the girls as coming from “chaotic, council estate backgrounds” (a euphemism for ‘white trash’). The drama’s writer, Nicole Taylor, is careful to counter this narrative by choosing Holly as her protagonist – she is from a middle-class family forced to move to a council home after her father’s business fails. “Chaotic lives” better describes Ruby and Amber whose parents are nowhere to be seen until episode two, when their mother suddenly appears to pick Ruby up from the police station.

The drama also rubbishes the trope that these girls were making “lifestyle choices” as the social worker alleges. Sara Rowbotham, a sexual health worker and the only member of the establishment these girls trusted, argues compellingly that “there is no such thing as a child prostitute, what there is – is a child that is being abused” in trying to get complacent social workers and police to take action. The widely-held view, encouraged by the police officers themselves, that the police were reluctant to take action for fearing of stoking racial tensions just doesn’t hold amid ongoing “stop and search” tactics which target black men, lead to very few arrests and even fewer convictions, and do cause racial tension. My view is that the race argument was a cover for a deep-seated misogyny that these girls were ‘slags’ therefore no police action was required. …

How academia uses poverty, oppression, and pain for intellectual masturbation by Clelia O. Rodríguez

The politics of decolonization are not the same as the act of decolonizing. How rapidly phrases like “decolonize the mind/heart” or simply “decolonize” are being consumed in academic spaces is worrisome. My grandfather was a decolonizer. He is dead now, and if he was alive he would probably scratch his head if these academics explained  the concept to him.

I am concerned about how the term is beginning to evoke a practice of getting rid of colonial practices by those operating fully under those practices. Decolonization sounds and means different things to me, a woman of color, than to a white person. And why does this matter? Why does my skin itch when I hear the term in academic white spaces where POC remain tokens? Why does my throat become a prison of words that cannot be digested into complete sentences? Is it because in these “decolonizing” practices we are being colonized once again?

The PWR BTTM debacle demonstrates why queer politics don’t protect women by Jen Izaakson

New York queer punk music duo PWR BTTM, a vowel-less take on “power bottom” (Google that term, if you like), have become the center of controversy, due to multiple allegations of sexual assault levied against guitarist and drummer Ben Hopkins.

On May 4th, Vice dubbed the group, who identify as “queer, non-binary, and transfeminine,” “America’s next great rock band.” One week later, on May 11th, Kitty Cordero-Kolin, a member of the DIY scene in Chicago, posted in a closed Facebook group, alleging that Hopkins had been seen initiating “inappropriate sexual contact with people despite several ‘nos’ and without warning or consent” at shows. This initial post was shared on Reddit, so the story spread, prompting swathes of PWR BTTM fans to come forward, accusing Hopkins of abuse, sexual harassment, preying on minors, and using misogynist slurs. One woman, referred to as “Jen,” told Jezebel that Hopkins raped her after a PWR BTTM show last year.

Nothing says misogyny like defining feminism as equality for all by Marcie Bianco

… In the age of celebrity feminism and performative male feminists, the idea that feminism is about “equality for all genders” has become increasingly fashionable. And yet, to me, nothing says misogyny like defining feminism as equality for all—as if focusing a movement, or policy, or activism on women alone is taboo. Or too risky. The knee-jerk, “all lives matter” refusal to center women in this latest iteration of feminism is, I believe, a significant cause of the stalled gender revolution. We cannot address or end the systemic oppression of women if we refuse to center women in that fight. And that means reconsidering what we mean when we talk about equality and power. …

“Why It Matters That the Portland Killer Was a Far-Left Extremist” by Val Perry Rendel

“Before you #notallBerniebros me, I’m not talking about people who preferred Sanders in the primary but voted for Clinton in the general election; those are known as “rational people.” I’m talking about the people for whom it is an article of religious faith that the primary was rigged, and they are hellbent on vengeance. Corrupt corporate crony capitalism, they cry; to them, the DNC is a bigger threat than Trump, and the entire system is rotten and must be burned to the ground before the new socialist order can be ushered in, or something.”

Whole Foods represents the failures of ‘conscious capitalism‘ by Nicole Aschoff

“Mackey has loudly declared unions akin to herpes and state regulation little more than “crony capitalism” – that all we need to solve things like the climate crisis are better, smarter, “conscious” capitalists. The crisis of Whole Foods belies this notion. There’s no way to “fix” corporations’ compulsion to produce ever more, ever more cheaply. It’s written into the DNA of global capitalism.”

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

… “At best, white people have been taught not to mention that people of colour are “different” in case it offends us. They truly believe that the experiences of their life as a result of their skin colour can and should be universal. I just can’t engage with the bewilderment and the defensiveness as they try to grapple with the fact that not everyone experiences the world in the way that they do.

“They’ve never had to think about what it means, in power terms, to be white, so any time they’re vaguely reminded of this fact, they interpret it as an affront. Their eyes glaze over in boredom or widen in indignation. Their mouths start twitching as they get defensive. Their throats open up as they try to interrupt, itching to talk over you but not to really listen, because they need to let you know that you’ve got it wrong. …

Why there’s nothing racist about black-only spaces | Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

” …. Some white people have got so upset about their exclusion from parts of the Nyansapo festival, an intersectional black feminist gathering scheduled for 28-30 July in Paris, that the mayor of the city called for the festival to be banned, until organisers clarify details with her, and anti-racist groups have claimed that Rosa Parks would be “turning in her grave” at the event.

In the same week that some men have kicked up a fuss over not being allowed to attend women-only film screenings of Wonder Woman it seems a discussion is needed as to why spaces that are centred around marginalised groups, whether they be women or people of colour, are not racist or sexist.

Unofficial safe spaces have existed for all denominations for centuries, and self-organising has long been a key part of anti-racist and feminist movements. As one of the editors for gal-dem, a magazine and creative collective written and produced exclusively by women of colour, I think about our position of racial exclusivity a lot. In some ways I appreciate it might be difficult to grasp why such spaces feel so necessary. The simplest way to understand why the Nyansapo festival has elements that aren’t open to white people (the festival is split into three areas, one specifically for black women, another for black people, and a third for everyone) is to acknowledge the racism we suffer in western society. There’s no moving forward unless we accept that racism against people of colour is deeply systemic. …”

Britain’s Youngest Mum was 11 years old [content note for child rape]

(originally published at Ending Victimisation and Blame)

Tressa Middleton was only 11 years old the first time she became pregnant. When first reported, in 2006, the media repeatedly made statements about the father being a “neighbourhood boy”. The focus was on the girl; not the boy and not the circumstances in which an 11 year old child could find themselves pregnant. There was very little discussion about the fact that an 11 year old cannot legally consent to sex and that any sexual relationship with a “neighbourhood boy” older than her would have still been classed as a crime. There was very little discussion about why an 11 year old child was “having sex” or drinking alcohol. Instead, media coverage focused on shaming Tressa and her mother.

Many feminist commentators and people involved in child protection clearly knew the story was far more complex. Those directly involved in the case knew it was more complex, yet could not defend Tressa from the media intrusion without putting her further at risk. When Tressa was 14, it was revealed that her older brother Jason, aged 16 at the age of the attack, was the man who raped her. Jason Middleton was sentenced to 4 years in prison in 2009 and has since been released home to live with his mother.

Tressa, a child victim of rape, became pregnant. She also became addicted to alcohol and was eventually placed in a residential unit without her child and placed in a position where she had no choice but to sign adoption papers.

The original coverage of Tressa’s pregnancy was simply victim blaming. It was horrific shaming of a child victim of rape with no attempt to contextualise Tressa’s abuse. The case has once again gained media coverage due to Tressa’s new pregnancy with the Daily Mail publishing an article conveniently ignoring their original victim-blaming. The refusal to acknowledge their own responsibility in perpetuating the harm to Tressa by publishing salacious articles is important to note but equally so is the failure to place Tressa’s experience within a paradigm of male violence and our culture’s refusal to accept responsibility for not supporting Tressa.

Tressa was a child who was raped. Instead of discussing her experience as rape, which it clearly was under law as 11 year olds cannot consent, the media blamed Tressa repeatedly. Whilst I cannot comment on the specifics of the investigation into Tressa’s rape since that is not a matter of public record, I do want to make it clear that child rape is frequently not investigated properly. We simply do not know if the authorities involved in Tressa’s care realised they were dealing with a child victim of rape. The media certainly didn’t think so. If the authorities did realise it was child rape, did they ever investigate the brother as a possible perpetrator? Again, we cannot know that. All that we do know is that an 11 year old rape victim was forced to live with her rapist despite becoming pregnant (and the rape becoming known to the authorities). The reality is that most rape victims are raped by someone known to them yet we don’t publicly acknowledge the reality of rape by fathers and brothers. We talk about stepfathers and uncles but very rarely fathers and brothers despite this not being uncommon.

What the Daily Mail has also failed to make explicit is that Tressa’s daughter was placed for adoption because of the lack of specialist services for teenage mothers and for mothers with substance misuse problems. They failed to acknowledge the lack of adequate support for victims of child rape; for a child with a clear case of trauma. They didn’t investigate the poor provision for teenage mothers. They didn’t acknowledge how traumatic it would be for a young mother to be forced to live with her rapist; to have no safe space. Or, how traumatic it would be for a child to have her own child forcibly removed from her care simply due to the lack of resources to support both.

Tressa Middleton has had very little choice in having her story become public knowledge. We are doing her a tremendous disservice by focusing on her pregnancies without acknowledging that she was originally blamed for being a victim of child rape; that she has been publicly shamed and humiliated.

Tressa’s case is not an isolated one. We do not have exact figures for children who are raped within their own home by male relatives. We do not have accurate figures for children who become pregnant after being raped. We do know that it is not uncommon. We need to reflect on the treatment Tressa received and look into implementing victim-centred support so that no other child is forced to experience what Tressa did.

There are two separate required responses to this case:

1. The lack of services for victims

  • specialist rape support for children
  • better mandatory training for GPs, health workers, social workers, teachers, police and any other front line staff working with children to recognise the signs of child sexual abuse
  • residential units to support all mothers who are recovering from trauma and/ or substance misuse where the babies can live with their mothers
  • foster care for teenage mothers where the babies can remain in the primary care of the mother

2. Enforceable legislation guiding the publication of stories of male violence against women and girls. Guidelines already exist but they are not strong enough and the media ignores them.

We are complicit in continuing the abuse of Tressa by irresponsible reporting and denying services to victims.

We need to do better.

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:

brownie 1 images 2

 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.

Nick Ross: There is no such thing as Child Porn

I didn’t think Nick Ross could say anything more offensive but it turns out he’s worse than I originally thought. He’s not just a misogynist, he’s also a racist. I’ve reproduced the Telegraph article on Ross’ appearance at the Hay Festival below. Even if the Telegraph has gone for the most extreme out-of-context quotes, Ross is a deeply hateful man. Ross has gone for the “police aren’t institutionally racist, West Indians are more likely to mug people” construction of crime. 30 years as a journalist heading Crimewatch and he thinks that skin colour and community dictates criminality . I would write further about that one comment but, frankly, that’s just the level of stupid I would expect from a man peddling rape myths in the Daily Mail.
Ross also suggests he might peruse some child porn, if offered, just to see what the fuss is all about. Yep, he wants to peruse some “child porn” to see what the fuss is about. 
“Child porn” does not exist. 
Ross wants to view images of children being sexually assaulted, raped and tortured just to see what the fuss is about.
He wants to view images of 2 year old children being raped until their pelvises break. 
He wants to view images of a 5 year old child being sodomised.
He wants to view images of a 12 year old child being gang raped.
That is the reality of “child porn”
It is the violent sexual and physical abuse of children.
It is not something that normal people view because they are “curious”.
It’s what violent, hateful men think is entertainment.
Ross needs to shut the fuck up.
The Telegraph article
Speaking at The Telegraph Hay Festival, Ross, who provoked censure last week with his views on rape, claimed that all humans were essentially curious.
“We’re all inquisitive,” he said. “I had never seen, until I started working on Crimewatch, child pornography.
“I think if someone came to me and said: ‘Would you like to see what all the fuss is about?’, I’m sorry, I probably would say yes.”
Ross referred to a study in which internet users clicked on links to extreme pornography even if they had not searched for it.
He said: “Does this tell us that we’re all awful? I think not.”
The presenter courted further controversy when he claimed some races were more likely to commit certain crimes. He argued that there was no evidence of institutional racism in the police force, claiming instead that West Indians were simply more likely to mug people.
Ross had already admitted at the festival that his views were likely to get him into “hot water” again.
Last week, he was criticised for his comments on rape, when he compared “provocatively dressed” women to a bank “storing sacks of cash by the door”.
Yesterday, he urged critics to read his book, Crime and How to Solve It, and Why So Much of What We’re Told is Wrong. He discussed the relevance of race to crime, claiming that particular ethnic minorities had a tendency to commit certain offences.
He said there was no evidence of institutional racism in the police force simply that some minorities were likely to commit certain crimes.
“We’re very bad pickpockets in this country,” he said. “We’re incredibly good at car crime. It does seem that contact crimes of the sort people don’t like, such as mugging, are specifically of some communities from the West Indies.
“Does that mean they’re worse than us? No. Does that mean they’re less moral, than us? No. It just means they’re not very good at pick pocketing, they do this sort of crime.”

The New Minnie Mouse: Just Reinforcing the Patriarchal Fuckability Test

I was fairly creeped out by these “sexed up” Sesame Street character costumes for women. I can’t think of anything worse than women dressing up as “sexy” versions of children’s cartoon characters. Turns out I’m really naive because there is a whole industry of selling these kinds of costumes. I don’t get how this is even remotely sexual and I would rather scrub these images right out of my brain. The thing is lots of retailers, including Amazon, sell these kinds of costumes. If you google search Minnie Mouse costumes, you will get links to these kinds of outfits. They are easily available for all kids to find. It’s just another way sexualise childhood for girls.

I also don’t think it’s difficult to over-emphasise the problematic relationship between these kinds of costumes and the “new” Minnie Mouse campaign of Barneys New York. She is ultra thin, tall and glamorous. She is everything that Minnie Mouse, and the other Disney characters, were not. Despite quite a lot of activism to get Disney and Barneys to stop running this sexualised Minnie Mouse campaign, the companies have dismissed concerns:

“We are saddened that activists have repeatedly tried to distort a lighthearted holiday project in order to draw media attention to themselves,” Disney and Barneys said in a joint statement to the News.

“They have deliberately ignored previously released information clearly stating this promotion is a three-minute ‘moving art’ video featuring traditional Minnie Mouse in a dreamlike sequence set in Paris where she briefly walks the runway as a model and then happily awakens as her normal self wearing the very same designer dress from the fashion show.”

Neither Disney nor Barneys want to acknowledge the problem of the sexualisation of young girls. They see only a 3 minute video where Minnie Mouse pretends to be a model. I see a culture which punishes women who don’t conform to the Patriarchal Fuckability Test. I see a culture which prevents little girls from being children by focusing on their appearance rather than their person. I see a culture which tells women they aren’t important unless they are pretty.

Disney and Barneys might think it’s just a silly video. I see the increasing pornification of society. It breaks my heart to see little girls being taught that they are worth nothing unless a man wants to fuck them.

There is a petition here requesting that retailers stop selling sexy Halloween costumes for young girls. I don’t know what it will change but I signed. Because I wanted my voice to be heard.

Sesame Street Goes Porn

Well, it’s not actually Sesame Street who have joined the porn industry but some enterprising Dude, and it’s always a Dude, has decided that Halloween is not complete without women dressed up in pornified versions of Sesame Street characters.* Even creepier is the fact that these are ostensibly all male characters. I mean, I know, Sesame Street is a male-dominated show but they couldn’t think of a single female character to pornify. Not that I want any Sesame Street characters pornified. It is just way too creepy. And, yes, I am over-using the word creepy, but, come on, this is quintessentially creepy. There is no other word to describe this level of porn.
Also, whoever came up with this idea is pretty much a pervert. I don’t like making snap judgements about people’s sexual preferences but looking at Oscar the Grouch and thinking tits is perverted. And creepy. And, probably in need of some serious therapy. 
I do wonder about copyright laws. Don’t Sesame Street have to approve the use of their images for commercial purposes or does Yandy get around this by selling the masks separately? I really, really hope this isn’t something that Sesame Street approved but nothing would surprise me now.

* If you aren’t already following the Reel Girl blog you should be. It is brilliant.