Feminism, Race, Class and The Lament of Meanie Feminists

The comments below were posted on a recent blog, which I’m not going to link to, but which was the usual complaint about feminists being rude, swearing too much and not supporting the rights of one woman regardless of whether or not her choices are actively harming other women. It is the lament of “if only feminists were nicer”, yet it is the blog itself which is unkind. It pretends that all women are middle class, well-educated with great jobs. It insinuates that women who are not within this cohort are failures. It ignores the structural barriers to women’s lives by pretending misogyny does not exist – nor, apparently, racism, classism, or homophobia. Feminists are mean for not supporting every single “choice” a woman makes – regardless of the consequences for women as a class.

The comments below are why feminist analysis must examine women as a class. Erasing the multiple oppressions of women is antifeminist – pretending misogyny isn’t real is anti-woman. Women face oppression as a class. It is not mean for feminists to point out that white, middle class women have more options than many other women. Its not mean for feminists to point out that women who do experience violence, whether from a partner or because of the community they live in, have less choices than women who live without the constant consequences of violence. It is not mean for feminists to point out that women who succeed in business, law, medicine or the civil service who are white and well-educate aren’t just succeeding because of their personal qualities or ambition. It is not mean to recognise that a Black woman, regardless of how ambitious, well-educated and talented, will struggle more than a white woman in the public sphere.

It’s not mean for feminists to point out that one woman insisting on wearing a tiara during a professional event isn’t exactly fighting a battle women need to win.

Suggesting that feminists are being mean for holding women accountable for the consequences of their choices, words and actions is, frankly, infantile and ridiculous. If you want to advocate for the liberation of women through kindness, by all means, go right ahead. But, you need to start by actually being kind to women who aren’t exactly like you. It’s hardly advocating love to heal the world if you are shitting all over other women.

This was my original comment on the blog:

There is a massive difference between women supporting other women and women never, ever challenging another woman for fear of being ‘rude’. It absolutely okay to challenge a woman who has written a post which ignores the reality of the lives of the vast majority of women who aren’t middle class, well-educated and white. It’s not rude to point out that Black women are grossly under-represented in every field because of structural racism and misogyny. It’s okay to point out that white middle class women who have 3 children are ‘good mothers’ whilst a Black woman in a low-income job with three kids would be treated as shit in the media.

Confusing kindness with never holding a woman accountable for expressing opinions which actively harm other women is not acceptable. It’s not mean or rude or aggressive to point it out. Feminism is about helping ALL women – not just individuals.

X’s response: Call me psychic or intuitive but I am just throwing a guess out there that you yourself Louise may be “middle class, well-educated and white” – Hhhhhmmm why do you have an issue with that?

I don’t, which is why my son is half Nigerian. Have you actually ever been to Africa?
Please don’t raise the race card here, when it is wholly unwarranted…….. and irrelevant.
What is as you say “mean or rude or aggressive ” is some of the things I have seen written above, in recent comments.

MeYep, I’m white and middle class and well educated and I know that my options have been greater since birth because I was born white to a middle class family with access to a good education. Suggesting that race doesn’t limit women’s options is an asinine position to take and one which flies in the face of several hundreds of years of history.

X’s ResponseSorry but I don’t feel the need to compensate or be apologetic for being white, middle classed or educated. My friends, peers and relatives many of whom are of colour, from several continents, are more enriched physically, mentally, spiritually and financially than the white people I know. A child in Africa often experiences more joy with one toy than our children do with 30. Women in Africa often do not get PND or such things, because they adhere to the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child”. It’s never worked out well when I have fought other people’s battles for them, so whilst I will battle against discrimination and obliterate it from the elements of my life I can control, I will not apologise for my sex, colour, creed, nationality, class or standing. Too many people think women for example are made to cover up, yet I know many hijab/turban wearing women, none of whom have been asked to don it by a man. It’s sometimes best to battle the things you experience and can understand and not those you don’t

Response from Another Poster (Y):  sorry but that is nonsense. Have you ever been to Africa? I can’t speak for the entire continent, but I will speak from my experience visiting Kenya – the women aren’t getting PND because they are DYING in childbirth. They aren’t getting PND because they are being ‘married’ (ie raped) when they are 13 years old. They are bearing several children before they are in their twenties, and if they survive that, they are very lucky.

It is not about being apologetic for being middle-class, but about looking beyond your front door and seeing that not everyone is so lucky.

X’s response: Of course I have which is why I asked the question of her, which interestingly she did not answer.

Y: If you have been to Africa, why are you spouting nonsense about children there being happy with just one toy?

I am sorry, but this makes me so angry. I saw a child whose head was swollen with encephalitis, he was very ill but his mother couldn’t afford to take him to the doctor. I met young girls who stopped going to school when they started menstruating because they would then be seen as ‘sexually ripe’ and be at risk of rape. I met women who lost their babies in a hospital that had been found to have been selling children. A hospital that the taxi driver told us that he wouldn’t take his wife to because of that and other previous scandals.

How can you perpetuate the myth of the happy African children, who just need one toy? And women not having PND. They don’t have PND because they are DYING in childbirth. They don’t have PND because they are too busy fighting HIV and TB.

You don’t have to go to Africa to see this, it is reported daily in the media, if you take a look.

ME: I didn’t answer it because your assumption of Black -women = living in Africa is crass and completely lacking in understanding that, oddly, Black people happen to live all over the world. Not just in Africa.

X: No, what IS crass is someone upthread taking the time and effort to assume that EVERYONE on this thread was white + middle class + educated (thanks for the compliment in the latter, as it is never a word I feel when talking to you guys). Sorry but I have no time for people who live in homogeneous places, yet escape to other worlds via their bookshelves and campaigns. The only thing white about me is my skin, and I say again, I am not going to apologise for it. I will change the world via the means I have at my disposal and not adhere to a prescription of what being good looks like to you. Still have NO idea how colour was brought into this. It was a way of putting down, the ladies on this thread, in a cheap misguided way, that lacked grace, thought and compassion, yet we are expected to feel those for women all over the world who desperately need our help. How about charity begins at home, get good at it, and then branch out

Me: I can’t tell if you mean that comment genuinely or not Liska because I have actually never read a comment as so stupid as “women in Africa don’t get PND”. Firstly, Africa is a continent – not a country and the lives of women differ greatly from Egypt to Nigeria to Sierra Leone to Rwanda and to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Parts of Africa have vast wealth and others are war zones. 48 women are raped every hour in the DRC. They are raped to force pregnancy and they are raped to cause miscarriages. 6 month old babies are raped – as 65 year old women.

Many women have no access to clean water and the maternal and infant mortality rate in such areas is astronomical. Do you seriously believe a mother whose infant dies at birth from a preventable disease won’t have PND? Or, a 12 year old girl sold, raped and forced to give birth to a stillborn child won;t develop PND? Or, a mother who gives birth prematurely having seen her whole family slaughtered? Or, a child raped by a family member who gives birth in private desperate to hide the baby lest they kicked out of their community? You don’t think these women will develop PND? Or, that women living in wealthy families are somehow exempt because they live in “Africa”?

What about young girls who have experienced FGM which, at its most severe stage, inhibits the bodies ability to urinate and menstruate. Do you think these girls, who have to be cut open to have sex or deliver a child, are somehow magically exempt from PND because they live in Africa?

I’m hoping you were being ironic with this comment.





Shoes which require surgery to wear are a harmful cultural practise

The UN has been discussing gendered violence and harmful cultural practices for years. I like this definition:

By harmful practices, we mean all practices done deliberately by men on the body or the psyche of other human beings for no therapeutic purpose, but rather for cultural or socio-conventional motives and which have harmful consequences on the health and the rights of the victims. As such, these practices do negatively impact often irreversibly on the life of the girl, the spouse, the mother, the husband or their family members; it is therefore a societal phenomenon.

There are very obvious forms of gendered violence which are internationally recognised such as forced marriage, FGM, forced feeding, corrective rape, foot-binding, and breast ironing, yet the two biggest forms of gendered violence aren’t generally written about as harmful cultural practices. We discuss FGM as a harmful cultural practise with ease because it happens “over there”*. Yet, we ignore the reality of vaginoplasty being undertaken by young women here in the UK despite their being no medical need. We other the victims and perpetrators of FGM so that we don’t need to examine the fact that domestic and sexual violence and abuse are harmful cultural practises which occur in the “West” by “educated” people on a daily basis. We don’t talk about the brutal murder to two women a week by an abusive current or former partner as a harmful cultural practise despite the fact that it clearly is.

Gendered violence by men against women and girls, in all its forms, are cultural practises. They do not exist outside of our culture and they are not ‘anomalies” or “isolated incidents”. We focus on practises committed elsewhere because we do not want to acknowledge the reality of misogyny, racism, classism, and homophobia. We live in a white supremacist culture which defines violence against women in “non-Western” as cultural, yet we refuse to acknowledge the same violence within our own culture in a similar manner.

This week, the New York Times published an article on the increase in foot surgery among wealthy women in New York so the women can wear shoes created by Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik. We know that high heels cause permanent damage to women’s bodies, which are exactly the same as the damage caused by foot-binding. We know this, yet we pretend that having surgery to be able to wear designer shoes is a “choice” women make – that women do so out with any cultural pressure.

If we are serious about ending violence against women and girls across the world, we need to stop pretending that harmful cultural practises are things which only happen to “other” women from “over there”. We need to start examining the rise in plastic surgery in the “West” as a harmful cultural practise. We need to start examining the fashion-beauty complex as part of these practises: from shoes to make-up to surgery to fit an idealised version of female beauty which is young, white, thin, and utterly unattainable.

We need to recognise that gendered violence does not exist in isolation. We need to recognise that domestic and sexual violence and abuse are harmful cultural practises regardless of where they occur. And, we need to recognise that a culture which bases women’s value on their physical body and ability to pass the patriarchal fuckability test is harmful.


* All of the terms in quotation marks are clearly problematic and inherently racist.

Is this the end of Terry Richardson?

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 09.58.36


This is a message sent from photographer Terry Richardson to model Emma Appleton. Currently, Vogue US is trying to distance themselves from Richardson in a desperate attempt to not look like rape apologists by supporting Richardson’s continued campaign of sexual exploitation of vulnerable young women.

Problem is: they are 4 years too late. Jezebel has been covering this story, which wasn’t exactly a hidden secret in the industry since at least 2010. The story hasn’t changed: model after model has come forward to describe the sexual harassment and abuse they received at the hands of Terry Richardson and yet the fashion industry continues to work with him. Jezebel has conveniently listed the publications which have continued to work with Richardson since the allegations rose in 2010. This is just the section on Harper’s Bazaar

March 2014 Cover Lady Gaga
February 2014 Editorial Bar Refaeli, Wale, Diane Von Furstenberg
November 2013 Cover Madonna
October 2013 Cover Miley Cyrus
September 2013 Cover Sarah Jessica Parker
September 2013 Editorial Lindsey Wixson
August 2013 Cover Sophia Vergara
June 2013 Editorial Alessandra Ambrosio
April 2013 Cover Selena Gomez
March 2013 Editorial Lily Aldridge, Emily DiDonato
March 2013 Editorial Catherine McNeil
December 2012 Cover Lily Donaldson
November 2012 Cover Nicole Kidman
November 2012 Editorial Chloe Norgaard
October 2012 Editorial Jacquelyn Jablonski
September 2012 Cover Gwen Stefani
September 2012 Editorial Barbara Palvin
September 2012 Editorial Miranda Kerr
June 2012 Editorial Kate Moss
May 2012 Editorial Kate Upton
Jun/July 2012 Cover Kate Moss
May 2012 Cover Penelope Cruz
April 2012 Cover Mila Kunis
April 2012 Editorial Dolce, Gabbana
April 2012 Editorial Miranda Kerr
March 2012 Cover Gwyneth Paltrow
March 2012 Editorial Lindsey Wixson
March 2012 Editorial Lily Donaldson
February 2012 Editorial Candice Swanepoel
November 2011 Cover Beyoncé
November 2011 Editorial Eniko Mihalik
November 2011 Editorial Gisele Bundchen
October 2011 Editorial Lindsey Wixson
September 2011 Cover Karmen Pedaru
September 2011 Editorial Georgia May Jagger
August 2011 Editorial Michael Kors
May 2011 Cover Lady Gaga
April 2011 Cover Courteney Cox
March 2011 Cover Kim Kardashian
March 2011 Editorial Magdalena Frackowiak
January 2011 Cover Lily Donaldson
November 2010 Cover Christina Hendricks
August 2010 Cover Cameron Diaz

The list doesn’t include ad campaigns he’s worked on, videos he’s directed or the new project with Lady GaGa.

The fashion and music industries, as well as Hollywood, have continued to work with Richardson despite the clear evidence of his harassment. Women like Madonna, Nicole Kidman and Gisele Bundchen have continued to work with him despite being in a professional position to refuse. Charlie Hunman, Pharrell, and Jeff Bridges have continued to work with him. Modelling companies, who have the power to protect their young models, choose to send vulnerable women to work with a man who has a reputation for harming them. Fashion houses continue to hire men.

So, do I think this is the end of Terry Richardson?


I think young vulnerable women will continue to be placed in positions where they have very little choice but to work with Richardson. Because all the fashion industry gives a shit about is making money and being a spectacle. They don’t care about the health and well-being of their models. If they did, they would have addressed the issue of eating disorders within the industry years ago. Vogue US is only backing off now because they are humiliated – not because of Richardson’s abuse – but because Richardson made it clear that Vogue’s cover was up for sale.

This is all about the money and not about the young women.



Dear Feminist Times, Forced Sterilisiation is not a “Taboo”

Dear Feminist Times,

I’ve been looking forward to today for months. I had such high hopes about your publication: a feminist magazine with no advertising is just brilliant. Feminist presses like Jezebel only serve to reinforce a heteronormative, victimblaming, celebrity obsessed culture. I was hoping you would be more like Trouble & Strife or Feminist Current than the Daily Mail. 

Words cannot express just how disappointed I feel about the article in Taboo Corner entitled Sterilise Her. Forced or coerced sterilisation, even coercing someone into using long-active reversible contraceptives are not feminist acts. 

It is women-hating at it’s most extreme. 

It’s the violent, abusive destruction of women’s bodily integrity and their right to personal autonomy. 

It privileges men’s right to fuck whoever they want, whenever they want without consequence. It reinforces a heteronormative, PIV focused construction of sexuality which privileges male orgasm over women’s health and reproductive freedom. 

This is without getting into the long history of forced sterilisation of women deemed “bad” from the forced sterilisation of “asocial” and disabled women in Nazi Germany to the mass sterilisations of “bad” women in California, Switzerland, Canada and every other country in the world. The forcible sterilisation of “bad” women has a long history and anyone who doesn’t know this is either stupid or an MRE. 

Publishing an article on forced sterilisation is a disgrace to feminism.

The anonymous author claims they have come to this position due to a family member who “decided to neglect (their) child” which resulted in the child being taken into care. The author claims to understand that “sometimes people have problems of their own that need to be addressed” but this is clearly bullshit. Anyone who truly understands the reasons that mothers struggle with caring for their children would not write this:

Does the mother seek help? Want to get her child back and earn the right to be called her mother and look after her? No she doesn’t. 

Instead she continues to sleep about with men, picks an ex convict, gets pregnant again and surprise surprise the cycle continues.

Where is the child’s father in this story? What about his responsibility to care for the child? Was the child conceived in rape? Is that why the father doesn’t appear in this narrative or is it simply just more evidence of woman-hating. Ignoring the father and blaming the mother is victim-blaming. It’s just patriarchal behaviour.

How does this author know the mother hasn’t sought help? That she doesn’t want her child back? That her self-harming behaviour doesn’t stem from serious trauma? For a child to be taken into permanent care, the mother must have exhibited serious self-harming behaviour such as substance misuse which made her unable to care appropriately for the child. 

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of child protection knows that there are simply no real programs to help women who are self-harming due to trauma. There were very few under the Labour government and those which existed have been destroyed by the ConDems. Waiting lists for substance misuse programs are immense and that’s even if you can find one that allows you to bring your child with you. Poverty is systemic now. Men are allowed to financially abuse their children without punishment but women are shamed and publicly humiliated for their failure.

Forced sterilisation and coercive/ forced birth control are not a taboo. It happens every single day to women deemed unfit or bad or stupid. It happens every single day to teenage girls deemed promiscuous without any attempt at analysing why these young girls are having sex [or even if they are being groomed and prostituted]. 

There a million reasons why a woman could not personally care for her child and they all come down a culture which hates women.

Forcible sterilisation and coercive use of birth control are part of the spectrum of violence against women. A real feminist would understand this.

They would not have published something more in keeping with the Daily Mail. 



UPDATE: There seem to be some problem with the Feminist Times website. This is a screen cap I took: 

UPDATE 2: Feminist Times have removed the piece and apologised. Before apologising and removing they added this statement: 

Taboo Corner is a small space on Feminist Times for women to be open about uncomfortable thoughts they have and the personal reasons behind them, helping uncover disconcerting female truths that are normally repressed and opening them up for honest debate. Feminist Times is different to other magazines in that it won’t airbrush your frown lines or your emotions

Loving the NHS: Why Privatisation Kills

Someone on Twitter linked to this document Dying for Coverage: The Deadly Consequences of Being Uninsured by Families USA. And, I read it. And, I was horrified. One of the statistics quoted is that more people in California in 2010 died because of a lack of health insurance than in car accidents. Now, I’m not unfamiliar with the shite which passes as the US healthcare system. You can’t grow up in Canada in a place which only had American TV channels accessible or attend uni in a border town without getting at least a passing understanding of its all-round crapness. But, the idea that more people die from lack of adequate healthcare than in car accidents [with the sheer number of stupid people who are apparently legally entitled to drive; some as young as 15] is just jaw-dropping.

Living on the border with the US, you see lots of healthcare tourists. Many are elderly people on pensions travelling several days on buses in order to buy their prescription medications for pretty basic conditions like asthma and diabetes [and I say basic because the treatments like ventolin have been on the market for years and cost very little in Canada or the UK]. The use of the term “tourism” is just farcical. Travelling 4 days on a bus when you’re 75 to get treatment for diabetes is not the sign of a civilised nation. And, it’s hardly surprising that the states with the highest amount of deaths due to lack of health insurance are the states with the largest populations of Hispanics, African-Americans and other ethnic minorities. Nothing says racism quite like poor access to healthcare. Nothing says racism quite like institutionalised and systemic murder through lack of basic healthcare. And, there can be no debate on this. A child who dies of cancer because they can’t afford the treatment isn’t dying because of cancer. They are being murdered by a society that doesn’t give a shit.

The Affordable Care Act comes into effect in 2014. It still won’t guarantee basic health insurance for every person living in the US and that’s only if the evil Republicans don’t get it vetoed [and anyone who participates in that should be going straight to hell]. This bill still doesn’t cover universal access to birth control, abortion or maternity services. The US has one of the highest rates of maternal death in “Western-Industrialised” economies. The misogyny inherent in killing women through lack of access to these services is astronomical.

 I am proud to live in a country which has free healthcare at the point of service. Where a child with cancer is treated at ANY hospital, regardless of their insurance. Where abortion and birth control are considered human rights. Where prescription medications are available for all and not just those lucky enough to be wealthy.

Father’s Day: The Patriarchal Whiny Prize.

My feelings on the capitalist-patriarchal conspiracy which is Mother’s Day are quite clear. It was a fob-off for women who do most of the work most of the time. So they get one insipid little day a year to go home to visit their Mummies (and all the work that goes into it). It is patriarchal obfuscation at its finest: one day a year. Despite doing all the shit work. And, that’s without getting into the issue of whose responsible for mothers-in-law. Here’s a hint: not usually the person with a penis they gave birth too.

Father’s Day, on the other hand, is just the kind of stupid prize men give themselves in self-congratulatory hypocrisy because, God forbid, women get something men don’t. (See also International Men’s Day in response to International Women’s Day). Giving yourself a prize for doing nothing is totally a male response. And utterly pathetic.

Here’s a couple of tips for men on Father’s Day:

Stand up and be a father.

Do 50% of the parenting.

Do 50% of the scut work.

Do 50% of the shit work.

Get up in the middle of the night with your sick kids.

Take the day off work when your kids are sick.

You don’t ‘baby-sit’ your kids. You are a parent.

You don’t get rewards for acting like an adult. You shouldn’t get one for being a parent.

Pay maintenance. Not paying maintenance is child abuse.

You show up for contact. There is nothing more important than your children. You skip contact to watch football, then you are a shit father.

Domestic violence makes you a shit father. Abusing your partner in front of your children is child abuse.

If you can’t name your child’s teacher, best friend or medication, you are a shit father.

If you can’t name your child’s favourite toy, you are a shit father.

If you need to be told what time your child’s school starts or the names of their after-school activities, you are a shit father.

Parenting is a 24/7 job with no breaks or overtime. If you don’t understand that, then don’t have PIV. Children deserve real fathers; not neglectful arse wipes who care more about their cocks than they do their children.

Scholastic: Reinforcing Harmful Gender Roles for Profit

I loved Scholastic book fairs as a child. The monthly catalogue full of crappy books you just HAD to have [and the chance to buy great books at discounted prices]. I still have lots of the books I bought via Scholastic: the complete Judy Blumes and Beverly Cleary books; The Chronicles of Narnia; Lord of the Rings; Laura Ingalls Wilder; Roald Dahl;  and Jean Little. We have many Junie B. Jones and irritating books about unicorns collected by the teenager. The Book Fairs were always the highlight of Parent-Teacher interviews. And, yeah, as a child I didn’t quite get that they were merely a capitalist enterprise exploiting a captive audience and that our schools sold us out in an attempt to deal with their chronic underfunding. As they do.
Scholastic always did gender its products: pink butterfly erasers for girls and football keyrings for boys. But, this gendering, whilst all kinds of stupid, is nothing like the extreme gendering Scholastic is pushing now in their How to Survive Anything Books. I genuinely can not believe a company with the reputation Scholastic has for its educational materials is so desperate to sell books that they’ve come up with this as an acceptable way to market to kids:
Boys Only: How to Survive Anything! Table of Contents:
  1. How to Survive a shark attack
  2. How to Survive in a Forest
  3. How to Survive Frostbite
  4. How to Survive a Plane Crash
  5. How to Survive in the Desert
  6. How to Survive a Polar Bear Attack
  7. How to Survive a Flash Flood
  8. How to Survive a Broken Leg
  9. How to Survive an Earthquake
  10. How to Survive a Forest Fire
  11. How to Survive in a Whiteout
  12. How to Survive a Zombie Invasion
  13. How to Survive a Snakebite
  14. How to Survive if Your Parachute Fails
  15. How to Survive a Croc Attack
  16. How to Survive a Lightning Strike
  17. How to Survive a T-Rex
  18. How to Survive Whitewater Rapids
  19. How to Survive a Sinking Ship
  20. How to Survive a Vampire Attack
  21. How to Survive an Avalanche
  22. How to Survive a Tornado
  23. How to Survive Quicksand
  24. How to Survive a Fall
  25. How to Survive a Swarm of Bees
  26. How to Survive in Space
Girls Only: How to Survive Anything! Table of Contents:
  1. How to survive a BFF Fight
  2. How to Survive Soccer Tryouts
  3. How to Survive a Breakout
  4. How to Show You’re Sorry
  5. How to Have the Best Sleepover Ever
  6. How to Take the Perfect School Photo
  7. How to Survive Brothers
  8. Scary Survival Dos and Don’ts
  9. How to Handle Becoming Rich
  10. How to Keep Stuff Secret
  11. How to Survive Tests
  12. How to Survive Shyness
  13. How to Handle Sudden Stardom
  14. More Stardom Survival Tips
  15. How to Survive a Camping Trip
  16. How to Survive a Fashion Disaster
  17. How to Teach Your Cat to Sit
  18. How to Turn a No Into a Yes
  19. Top Tips for Speechmaking
  20. How to Survive Embarrassment
  21. How to Be a Mind Reader
  22. How to Survive a Crush
  23. Seaside Survival
  24. How to Soothe Sunburn
  25. How to Pick Perfect Sunglasses
  26. Surviving a Zombie Attack
  27. How to Spot a Frenemy
  28. Brilliant Boredom Busters
  29. How to Survive Truth or Dare
  30. How to Beat Bullies
  31. How to be an Amazing Babysitter

The ONLY thing these lists have in common is “How to survive a Zombie” attack. Now, I’ve not bothered to check out anything past the table of contents but I’m guessing the advice isn’t the same.

I can not state how much I loathe this essentialist gender bullshit. I really can’t. It’s not like there is no one with a vagina wandering about Northern Canada who might get attacked by a polar bear and boys are equally likely to suffer sunburn as girls. FFS, girls are being taught how to survive a “crush” and its pretty fucking obvious that this book isn’t aimed at teenage girls. It’s aimed at children and its telling girls that they have to have “crushes” and “be in love” in order to be a “real” girl. And, frankly, the “How to be an Amazing Babysitter” bit is just unbearable tedious and reinforces the belief that the one true desire of girls is to be a mother otherwise they just aren’t girls. The real answer to “How to Play Truth or Dare” is to NOT play it. Someone always gets hurt because its an invitation to bullying [which is hilarious considering surviving bullying follows on the list].

Really, the girls list is an how to guide on surviving being a teenager in a capitalist-patriarchy whilst the boys list is a guide to having fun. How utterly despicable is it that we are already conditioning girls into being Handmaidens whilst allowing boys the freedom to be as creative and imaginative as they want. What better way to spend a long summer day than climbing trees and pretending to be a guerilla army destroying zombies? Or being an astronaut in space? Or living in the jungle and fighting crocodiles and snakes?

And, what about the boys who don’t like hanging about in trees? Are they not “real” boys? Hyper-masculinity and the Patriarchy damages boys too. It creates a construction of masculinity which requires boys to be physically aggressive and never take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

Shame on Scholastic for selling our children out and reinforcing the Patriarchy’s policy of cultural femicide.

“Girls”: Objectifying and Belittling all Women; All the Time

This started as a twitter conversation with @Alexwintermute @lynnschreiber @ladycurd and @queenofbiscuits about insults and defining the acceptability of words. Actually, it had to do with calling people “love” and “duck” and “hen”; whether or not they are offensive or worth calling people on. I’ve been contemplating what I said for a few days now [you can also read that as too lazy to type my thoughts up] and this is my semi-illiterate musings since I wrote it at 3 am.

So, whilst I’m not necessarily enthused about strangers calling me terms of endearment, I wouldn’t ask them not to; unless they were using it in a patronising or offensive manner. I would, however, consistently call people out on using the term “girl” to define or describe me [or anyone else]. I find the term “girl” extremely offensive. We do not use the term “boy” to define adult men so why is it acceptable to use the word “girl” to define adult women. “Girl” is only used to objectify and belittle women. Yes, some women do like to use the term but I think that is because of patriarchal constructions of beauty which assume that older women aren’t worthy or important. There are only two constructions of women in the patriarchy: fuckable and unfuckable. Older women and those who do not conform are invisible; unworthy. Therefore, to remain “visible” women have to conform to the patriarchal definitions of beauty which privilege youth. So, women call themselves “girls” whilst spending fortunes on “beauty” products to make themselves look younger. They stop expressing their opinions for fear of being labeled a hag. Women become infantile to prevent bullying [and I certainly don’t blame any women for choosing this path. Being a target of hatred by the Patriarchal establishment is frightening].

I think, though, that “girl” is an incredibly misogynistic term used to silence women and its use, regardless of context, hurts women. There are other words which are misogynistic in usage, such as the use of “blonde” but it does not carry same level of systemic and structural oppression that “girls” implies. Blonde is inexcusable as an insult. “Girls” represents structural misogyny and the erasure of women from culture. And I don’t think individual ‘choice’ is a good enough excuse to use a term whose structural usage is the erasure of adult women from discourse. The “choice” doctrine is individualistic, narcissistic twaddle designed to elide structural and systemic oppressions from discourse; whether this be misogyny, racism, or homophobia. It merely obfuscates the issue and blames those who have neither the wealth nor the specific skill set to overcome oppression [usually this bit involves kicking a football around a field or being grossly over-paid to appear on shite TV programs].

The capitalist-Patriarchy profits off the insecurities of women; you only need view Boots’ horrendous “Here Come the Girls” advertising to realise just how much money is to be made making women feel old and ugly. I won’t buy products from any company which tries to label me “girl” and I assume any man using it as a compliment is either thick or sexist; neither of which are particularly attractive. “Girl” represents all that is wrong with rape culture and misogyny. We need to stop using it and stop pretending we can re-appropriate it from those who cause us harm.

What Men can do to destroy the Patriarchy

I am rather bored by all the men who claim that the only way to be feminists is to be allowed into every possible women-only space and mansplain’ where feminists went wrong. It’s an unbelievably obnoxious silencing technique and an amazing display of white, male privilege. [Yeah, I’m looking at that sub-section of whiny-arsed men on Mumsnet who insist on telling women that birth trauma doesn’t exist because they’ve seen their wives give birth and it was all fine.]

This is a partial list of organisations that men can be involved with to help defeat the patriarchy, either through activism or financial support:

The White Ribbon Campaign: run by men to end male violence against women.. They organise marches on December 6th to raise awareness of violence against women. I notice the whiners who demand the right to march on women-organised Reclaim the Night marches are never committed to helping organise men-only marches. Too much like hard work?

Object: runs campaigns against the sexual objectification of women. They fought to have lap dancing clubs rezoned under English law as sex establishments and not cafes. They are currently running campaigns to end Page 3 in the Sun and challenging the demand for prostitution which is, basically, rape.

Stop Porn Culture: Make Love, Not Porn

UK Feminista: A Movement of Ordinary Women and Men campaigning for Gender Equality

SCASE: Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation

Fawcett Society

Organisations that men can help financially support to destroy the Patriarchy:

Rape Crisis (England/Wales)

Rape Crisis (Scotland)
Women’s Aid (Scotland)
Womankind Worldwide

Women’s Environmental Network
Or, and this here is just a wee suggestion, men can stop raping women, physically assaulting women, raping prostitutes and using porn. Challenge any misogynistic, racist, disabilist and homophobic language. All of which will help to destroy the patriarchy.

Breastfeeding, SIDS and Women-Blaming Culture

This article published in The Australian is currently doing the rounds on Facebook. Basically, a research and advocacy group called sids and kids has added breastfeeding to the list of things which statistically decrease the chances of an infant dying of SIDS. This isn’t new research and the links between SIDS and breastfeeding have been reported here previously. Scientific research has demonstrated time and time again that breast milk is best for babies and the World Health Organisation recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months and then up to 2 years. I posted a link on my FB wall. The first two comments suggested that the publication of the research was designed specifically to make women feel like shit.

I don’t think anyone can argue with the research but what comes up, time and time again, is the idea that somehow promoting this research is done only to “punish” women who formula feed. Now, I’m usually at the head of the queue at the woman-blaming culture protests and am a firm believer that the Patriarchy deliberately and maliciously sets women up to police other women’s behaviour to the detriment of all women. The Patriarchy punishes women in a million and one ways. I just don’t think the issue of breastfeeding and SIDS is about women-blaming culture or, at least, it shouldn’t be. It should be about what has the best outcomes for infants and mothers. Breastfeeding has health benefits for both the mother and the infant and very few women are physically incapable of breastfeeding. Statistically, the number of women who physically can’t breastfeed is insignificant in the face of the number of women who “can’t” for cultural reasons. The reason many women “can’t” breastfeed is because of structural inequalities in employment and home life, lack of support, and the constant misinformation spouted by so-called professionals like Dr. Christian Jessen and Gina Ford. Ford, at least, has the excuse of not being a medical doctor. Dr. Christian is just a misogynistic tool.

Breast-feeding is normal. This doesn’t mean that women who choose not to or who can’t breast feed are bad mothers. It simply means that breast milk fits the needs of babies in terms of their immune systems and long-term health as a result of millions of years of evolution. What we need to do is separate the emotion from the science. Breast feeding, like putting a baby on their back to sleep, statistically decreases the chance of an infant dying of SIDS. It doesn’t prevent SIDS nor does it mean a mother who loses a child to SIDS and who didn’t breastfeed is responsible for her child dying. That would be women-blaming [not to mention vile, disgusting, evil and utterly lacking in humanity]. It is totally reasonable to kick anyone who said such a despicable thing viciously in the shins.

We need to support women who want to breastfeed better and we need to tackle the misinformation about formula which actively puts babies at risk: like how to prepare formula properly. We also need to challenge the myths of breastfeeding like the fact that breastfeeding doesn’t change the shape of your breasts: pregnancy does that. And, really, who the fuck cares that your breasts have changed shape because of pregnancy? Bodies change. That doesn’t change who you are; nor does it make you less sexual if you do. Frankly, if your partner finds you less sexy because your body has changed shaped after birthing his child, then you need to kick his pathetic, judgemental, whiny-arse to the curb. Because real men don’t think like that.

We need to ensure that every woman has access to real information about breastfeeding and formula feeding in order for each woman to make the best choice for herself and her child. We need to respect the decision of each individual woman whilst exploring the structural inequalities which force women to make “choices” which are not appropriate for them. What we can not do is refuse to publish information that might make some women upset because they did not breastfeed. Preventing all women from accessing real information because a few women might get upset is precisely how the Patriarchy victimises women: by withholding information and pitting women against women.