I am Pro-Woman not Pro-Choice

You see, unlike all the penises who believe they have the right to dictate the contents of a woman’s uterus, I happen to believe that women are not only fully human but are also capable of making decisions for themselves. Without the help of a penis. 

I support unlimited access to abortion on demand because I believe women are human. I believe women are more than capable of making decisions for their own bodies. 

I believe no woman will have an abortion at 37 weeks for shits and giggles. 

I believe that we need more sex education for children that their parents can not opt out on.

I trust women to make the decision to have an abortion or to continue with a pregnancy for themselves.

I trust women to make the decision without political interference. 

I trust women.

The people I don’t trust are the anti-women nincompoops who want to curtail women’s rights to access abortion. I don’t trust male politicians who will never have to make the choice to write the laws which will effect my body. My “pro-choice” MP didn’t think it was important for him to show up to the debate in parliament today since the debate was “purely for expressions of view, and do not make binding policy. There are no votes at the end of these debates.” His refusal to attend meant that the voices of the anti-choice women-haters were the loudest. His refusal meant that the men who claim that fetuses are “fully human” were heard and not the voices of those who believe that women are fully human. 

These men dictating their right to control the contents of a woman’s uterus are the same men who voted for cuts to benefits. It is the same men who are currently carving up the NHS. Who do they think will pay for the incredibly expensive neo-natal care of a fetus born at 22 weeks? As one of the anti-choicers pointed out today in the debate, people were already fundraising for special care baby units. Where will this money come from now that the NHS is being destroyed? Who will pay for the long-term care of these children? Who will pay for their housing as housing benefit is slashed? Who will pay for their education as the schools budget is decimated? Who will pay for their childcare as benefit payments are destroyed? 

Anyone who is anti-abortion and who also votes to cuts to the welfare state, in any shape or form, is a hypocrite. I’m sick to death of the hypocrites. 

I am pro-choice because I believe women are human too.

Some excellent blogs on abortion: 

We’re a Culture Not a Costume:

I love Halloween. It is my favourite holiday ever. When I was a child, Halloween was about making the most original costume possible. Witches, skeletons and cats were dull. I have been a ladybug, a broken heart, a cabbage patch kid and a punk rocker; my mother being far more artistic than me. Unfortunately, the push to be creative at Halloween involved costumes based entirely on offensive and racist stereotypes. I frequently find myself with clenched teeth handing out candy to small children dressed as “Indians” wondering why their parents thought it was a good idea to dress their child up as a racist stereotype.

Last year, a group of students from Ohio University’s Students Teaching about Racism started a campaign called “We’re a culture, not a costume’ on this issue. These are some of the brilliant posters from this years campaign whose tagline is “You wear the costume for one night. I wear the stigma for life”. For me, this is a feminist issue. The Patriarchy requires racism as much as it requires misogyny to keep functioning. We can not destroy the Patriarchy whilst this type of racism remains socially acceptable.

It is the End of Feminism.

At least, this is the story the media keeps spinning based on that pisstake of a survey by Netmums. The sheer number of feminists pointing out the problems with the survey has gone completely unnoticed by the press. So, I say we roll with it. 

And, we declare feminism dying.

Then, we can declare ourselves an endangered species.

Technically, humans are animals so I’m sure we can work out how to get ourselves added to the World Wildlife Federation’s list of protected species. I mean, people are forever talking about feminists as if we were some sort of strange sub-breed of human so let’s embrace it.

Then, we can get funding to run schools to train other women to be feminists thereby ensuring the survival of Feminists as a species.

Granted, there are some serious holes in my theory; notwithstanding the whole issue of there being nothing cuter than a baby panda. Also, that whole feminist thing about not being judged by our physical appearances. But, frankly, this plan is nowhere near as stupid as all the nincompoops who read that Netmums survey without recognising that it is nothing more than over-priced toilet paper.

If we’re really lucky, maybe those bucketheads at PETA will come up with a sufficiently offensive ad campaign that will have all of Hollywood tripping over themselves to donate to our cause.

War on Women: The Abortion Battle.

Nadine Dorries has secured a 90 minute debate spot on abortion on Wednesday October 31 at 9:30. She is asking for the limit for abortions in the UK to be reduced from 24 weeks to 22 weeks. This is just a debate. There will be no vote, however, Dorries is using this as the second stage of her attack on abortion rights. Her next stage is a full parliamentary debate in the Spring of 2003 where Dorries would like to decrease the time limit on abortions to, at the most, 20 weeks. Considering the support Dorries already has from the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, this is quite clearly a concerted attack on women’s bodily autonomy. Women in the UK already do not have the right to abortion on demand. Women in the UK need greater access to abortion without judgement. We can not allow Nadine Dorries continue her War on Women’s bodies. 

Please write to your MP today to ensure that they vote to keep the abortion limit at 24 weeks. There is an excellent form letter available here on Edinburgh Eye’s blog.

Petition here to end the legal requirement for two doctors signatures for a woman to access an abortion.

James Bond’s Skyfall

I feel the same way about James Bond movies as I do Superhero movies: I like my misogyny straight-up. That way you don’t get sucked into watching something arty like Sideways and then discover half-way through that its just another giant wankfest for men. James Bond is usually predictable in its misogyny: every woman who fucks Bond dies a horrible, vile death as punishment for being a slut. After all, the only reason any woman would want to have sex with a man they aren’t married to is because they are a slut. Consequently, they deserve to die. But, Casino Royale changed this. It was different. Bond was different and his relationship to women was different.  He wasn’t just a violent, misogynistic sociopath. He was an arsehole and recognised as such. Even with the whole “falling in love with a woman made him a better man” trite sub-plot, Craig’s first outing as Bond changed the franchise.  Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd was a different woman to previous “Bond girls”.  She was smart, resourceful, loyal and brave. 

Olga Kurylenko’s Camille Montes in Quantum of Solace took it one step further. The film ends with Montes being left to lead the Bolivian resistance movement in taking back their land and their water rights. She is every bit Bond’s equal. Unfortunately, in order to have Montes as an equal, the film reasserted the “women who fuck Bond deserve to die” motif which is unbearably tedious. It’s like the producers were frightened by a Bond who wasn’t just a sociopath and so had to drag the series back to its original construction of Bond the Misogynist. 

Skyfall is just a pile of pooh. It’s basically old school Bond resurrected and it wasn’t anywhere near as good as either Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace. The plot had holes big enough to drive a subway train through, which it did. Literally. There were 3 women: the whore who dies, the ‘wife’ who becomes the secretary and the mother who is M. Each gets the punishment they deserve for trying to transgress her assigned gender role. Heck, they even throw a female MP who is clearly supposed to be the ‘bitch’. Quantum of Solace ended with a strong woman walking away from Bond to lead her people to freedom. In Skyfall, the women fucked up, got punished and then disappeared into ignominy.

Now, I like James Bond movies. I like movies with explosions and general silliness but Skyfall couldn’t decide if it wanted to like Casino Royale or cheesy like Tomorrow Never Dies. The  funny places were few and far between and mostly figured around Q; by far the best character in the film. But, it was the erasure of the strong women from the previous two films which disappointed me the most. It’s a good movie for car chases and explosions but they lost their nerve. Skyfall is just like a 100 other movies in the spy franchise which is unfortunate because it had the chance to do something really different. And, even almost feministy .

UPDATE: I have been getting crosser and crosser about Skyfall. I have been in such a rage that I haven’t quite worked out what pissed me off the most. Last night, a friend posted on FB and pointed out that the woman who is punished with death for fucking Bond isn’t just a ‘woman’. Severin’s back story involves being sold to a brothel at the age of 12. She is raped and tortured repeatedly. Her escape route is the official ‘bad guy’ of the film who is still raping her. As she says, he frightens her more than anyone she’s ever come across before. It is a deeply abusive relationship. Bond’s response to this story of child rape is to push Severin into helping him. He does so by climbing aboard her boat and getting into the shower with her. Without asking permission. Bond has sex with a terrified and abused survivor of child rape. She dies because of this. This is why Skyfall is more than a return to old school Bond misogyny. It glamourises and eroticising child sexual abuse by keeping the adult woman as nothing more than Bond’s sex toy.

Here is a great blog by Giles Coren on Skyfall: [[http://reciperifle.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/bond-villain.html]]

And a brilliant response by Exiled Stardust: [[http://exiledstardust.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/women-the-makers-of-skyfall-hate-you/]]

Femen Redux: Still Conforming to the Patriarchal Fuckability Test

I’ve blogged about Femen before because I was utterly gobsmacked that a photo of a topless Femen protestor without any political context managed to win a World Press Photo award (and the total lack of understanding of the irony of this photo being called The New Amazons). Supposedly, Femen protests against sex tourism, the legalisation of prostitution and the selling of “brides” internationally. How they quite expect the Patriarchy to take them seriously when they protest using pretty basic anti-woman signifiers is beyond me and that’s without getting into them selling prints of their breasts as a fundraising tactic. In using women’s bodies as a canvas of protest, Femen are conforming to the norms of Patriarchal objectification of women’s bodies. Their message is obscured by the medium of their protest because the medium conforms to the normalised construction of the Patriarchal Fuckability Test. As Exiled Stardust says, getting naked or stripping aren’t acts of Feminist defiance. They are exactly what the Patriarchy  wants after all: 

Doing what men want is appeasement. Feminism is resistance. Appeasement and resistance are opposing forces; the more you do of one, the less you can do of the other. That’s why these groups are insidious; they divert feminist energy into meaningless acts that only serve male interests. Men don’t care if you write incendiary messages of revolt all over your naked body, as long as they get to see that body. 

We all have to appease in one way or another to survive, but let’s not confuse that behavior with feminist activism. It’s not. Let’s do as little of it as we can get away with, and as much resistance as we are capable of.

Femen’s activism is the same old Patriarchal twaddle dressed up as “Fun Feminism”. The objectification of women’s bodies to make a political point isn’t new. It isn’t clever. It’s just the Patriarchy trying out a new hat. After all, PETA’s been doing this shit for years and their supporters are a whose who of celebrities with criminal convictions for Violence against Women.

Whilst I’m willing to concede that there might be a reason why using women’s naked bodies as a platform of political protest in the Ukraine is an interesting tactic because I know nothing of the their Feminist movement, it isn’t a new or even interesting tactic in Western Europe. More importantly, I think it’s a tactic deliberately chosen in order to get recognition in the western media because appealing to horny men is really the only way women get any attention. I think Femen are more interested in the attention than they are in achieving specific Feminist goals. They are hopping on far too many bandwagons, such as the Free Pussy Riot movement. Frankly, there are very few attention-seekers who haven’t hopped on the Free Pussy Riot bandwagon. It’s proving to be quite a profitable one for everyone but the two women currently being transported to a penal colony in Russia. Inna Shevchenko demonstrated her “support” for Pussy Riot by destroying a crucifix in Kiev with a chainsaw. This stunt coincided exactly with the court in Moscow finding Pussy Riot guilty of hooliganism; make of that what you will.  Femen also occupied the Louvre to protest the rape of a young woman called Mariam by two Tunisian police officers. This article seems to imply that the Femen protest in Paris was more important than the woman in Tunis who protested outside the courtroom. Maybe I’m over-thinking things here, but I think the women of Tunis taking to the streets despite the crackdown on women in Tunisia is a shitload more important and so much braver than a bunch of topless women running around the Louvre. Thing is, which protest got more coverage? And, which one really deserved the media attention?

Femen’s anti-burkha protests are equally offensive. Regardless of what I, as an individual, think of burkhas, the fact of the matter is that many Muslim wear them. It is utterly arrogant for a group of non-Muslim women to tell Muslim women what they can and can not do. The debate over whether or not the burkha is anti-feminist or whether or not it should be banned is a debate that needs to involve the voices of Muslim women. This does not mean that others can not have opinions. I think the burkhas use as a tool of oppression for all Muslim women in some countries supercedes its use as a tool for freedom for a small number of women in “western” countries. However, Muslim women’s voices need to be central in this discussion. In this case, Femen are attacking an easy target; one which has very little access to mass media. Veiled Muslim women are some of the most frequently silenced of women’s voices. Femen aren’t really doing anything really radical here. They are just doing exactly what western neoliberal men do: attack a visible target with no power. A radical approach would have been for members of Femen to approach Muslim women’s groups and ask them how to support them. Running about in front of the Eiffel Tower stripping off burkhas to reveal young, thin white women in their underwear isn’t radical. It’s not even very interesting. Setting up a “bootcamp” in Paris to teach French feminists how to tackle the Patriarchy using tactics developed in the Ukraine is also not very clever. It’s a reversal of the normal imperialism but, nonetheless, it shows a rather incredible lack of self-awareness.

I would not have bothered to write another blogpost on Femen had I not caught the discussion on Femen live-streamed on AlJazeera called the “Future of Feminism”. I knew from the beginning that the discussion was going to piss me off when the host got herself confused between Radical Feminism, the political theory, and radical forms of protest. Femen are not a Radical Feminist group. Femen’s idea of “sextremism” is not Radical Feminist. This is not to say that they aren’t feminists. Femen clearly defines that way. They just aren’t Radical Feminists. That said, I agree with Chloe Angyal from Feministing that we should be having discussions about the role of women’s bodies in the public sphere but it isn’t Femen starting these conversations. These conversations have been started recently by the Everyday Sexism project, the Turn Your Back on 3 campaigns, the publication of nude photos of Kate Middleton, and the unmasking of violent, predatory internet trolls. Femen are getting media attention for being naked; not for their message. They are just like PETA: equally tedious and utterly incapable of listening to others. And, this is the problem. The issues Femen claims to want to discuss are important. They are so very, very important, particularly the issue of sex trafficking and prostitution in Eastern Europe. The sexual exploitation of vulnerable and poor women is increasing at astronomical rates. But, this isn’t what the media is discussing. Femen’s insistence on baring their breasts, regardless of what they are actually protesting, just reinforces Patriarchal norms. They have become objects for men to wank to rather than feminist protestors. Whatever message they had, is obfuscated. Instead, their breasts are what is deemed important. 

We won’t destroy the Patriarchy by reinforcing it’s constructions of “acceptable” women. We won’t destroy the Patriarchy by targeting one small group of women and demanding that they remove their veil, without even considering the political and cultural structures in which they are either forced or, in some cases, choose to wear the veil. We can not demand the government of Tunisia tackle the issue of rape by police officers by running about art galleries naked. We won’t change the control that the Church has by chopping down crosses half-naked. Protest needs to be vibrant, engaging and culturally specific. Suffragettes marching on Parliament this week was truly beautiful but it would have been a stupid protest in somewhere like Zimbabwe where the symbol of the Suffragette does not have the same political meaning. Femen’s protests lack the imagery that Pussy Riot managed. We will not smash the Patriarchy by reinforcing its belief that the only women who matter are those who conform to the Patriarchal Fuckability Test.

As many a wise feminist has said: if the penis is keen, it probably demeans. And, that’s the problem with Femen. Men aren’t listening to the message. They are wanking to the image.

Watch Porn. Cure Breast Cancer

This rocked up on my FaceBook feed and I genuinely thought it was a joke. I couldn’t believe that the misogynists were now using breast cancer as a way to promote the use of porn. This is actually what Men’s Health writes about Pornhub’s campaign:

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which means every man should do his part in helping to find a cure for the terrible disease that afflicts 1 in 8 U.S. women. And you can start by staring at hot, naked porn stars.

Yep, men can help cure breast cancer by participating in the degradation and objectification of women’s bodies. They can help cure breast cancer not by financially supporting cancer research but by financially supporting the rape and torture of women’s bodies. And, Pornhub is being totally generous with their campaign and are going to donate a whole penny for the  every thirty videos watched under the two channels “Big Tit’s” and “Small Tit’s”. That’s right 1 penny for every 30 videos. Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that that one penny won’t cut too much into their profit margins. Thankfully, the charity named on Pornhub’s media release, the Susan G Komen Foundation, have refused to take the donation.* 

As ever, I am behind the times since this campaign started on the first of October. I may have been aware of it then and just filed it under “shit that will make me incandescent with rage” and then thought of it no more. I probably would have missed it completely if the link to the article in Men’s Health wasn’t making the rounds of FB. I can safely say I have never perused that particular magazine before and won’t be doing so again. It is an appalling example of heteronormative misogyny. Men’s Health is quite clearly just another Lad’s mag. This is something I did not need to know. And, seriously in an article on raising money for breast cancer was it absolutely necessary to sneak in a reference to teaching your girlfriend to love porn? Really? In this context, “teaching” sounds a lot like brainwashing. And, calling the (extremely limited) donation “porn pennies” is freaking creepy. Really, really creepy. But, hey, if that doesn’t creep you out, this will:* 

Meanwhile, here’s one more awesome way to save breasts: Touch ‘em! Men’s Health partnered with the charity Fuck Cancer, and we want you to pledge to be a gentleman. If you find something fishy on your favorite pair of breasts, you could save a life—90 percent of cancers are curable if caught in stage one. Click the image below and take the pledge to touch some breasts now!**

And, if the above doesn’t depress you, Men’s Health seems to be running a campaign with a charity called Fuck Cancer called Fuck Cancer: Touch Some Breasts which calls for men to take a pledge on Facebook to touch some breasts to help identify breast cancer in its early stages. Because a bunch of creepy men are so much likely to help identify breast cancer by grabbing their partners breasts. Their is actually no information easily visible on how to check breasts effectively or what the other signs of breast cancer might be so mostly this is just a cheap trick to abuse women’s bodies and tell them it’s for their own good.

Having read Men’s Health’s sex tips, I think it is safe to say that none of the staff are having sexually satisfying relationships with their partners. Well, they may be. I suspect their partners might be balancing their cheque books during coitus instead.***

* I may be over-using the word creepy here. It’s becoming somewhat of a habit. I promise to invest in a thesaurus tomorrow.

*** There was a link here. I have taken it out. They don’t need anymore aattention.

** Men’s Health has an article on words not to use during sex. I’m reclaiming coitus because they are too weird for words.

UPDATE: FeministCurrent has written about the problematic breast cancer campaigns here, as has I Blame the Patriarchy here.

Flavor Flav is a member of the #DickheadDetox

Flavor Flav, one of the founding members of Public Enemy has been arrested, again, for domestic violence. I have to be honest here and say that I have been a fan of Public Enemy for years. I also had no idea that Flavor Flav has such a long history of domestic violence and assault. I did catch the ads for some TV show where he was “auditioning” girlfriends a few years back. At that point, I shoved all my Public Enemy CDs to the back of the cupboard since I’m opposed to all forms of reality television and that’s without the level of misogyny involved in “auditioning” girlfriends. I had no idea that Flavor Flav was  a violent misogynist. I just thought he was the garden-variety misogynist. I also never looked into it. I should have because his history is disgraceful. In 1991, he pled guilty to assaulting his partner Karen Ross and served 30 days in prison as well as losing custody of his children [a law the UK might want to look into]. In 1993, he was charged with attempted murder when he shot his neighbour but, apparently, he only spent 90 days in jail. He was also arrested that year for domestic violence as well as drug offences. He has also had his license and passport revoked for failing to pay child support; the sign of a real man. His arrest on October 17th, in Las Vegas, is for domestic assault and battery. 

Now, this might seem like the history of yet another violent man, but this article   , includes the lovely line: 

Flavor Flav became a well known as a personality by wearing big clocks like necklaces, yelling out “Flavor Flav” and Yeah Boy” during performances and dating beautiful women (such as Beverly Johnson in 2000 and Bridgette Nelson in 2004).  

Now, I may be confused but at what point does dating “beautiful women” make one a “personality”. And, what is the relevance in an article about a man who has just been arrested for assaulting his partner, scaring his young child and threatening to kill his stepson. Celebrating a man who dates “beautiful women” is just ridiculous, even if he hadn’t just assaulted a woman.

This is the problem with the Patriarchy. Flavor Flav has a serious history of domestic violence for which he has never really been held accountable. Yet, Public Enemy have been nominated for induction into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Their song was used by Channel 4 to advertise the ParaOlympics and an article about his history of domestic violence also has to discuss the fact that he “dates beautiful women”; as if this somehow mitigates the violence he perpetrates. Maybe if Flavor Flav had been held accountable the first time he assaulted a woman, rather just 30 days in prison, we wouldn’t be looking at such a long history of violence.

The Netmums Survey: Mark 2

I know I have already blogged about this but it has made me very, very cross. There is so much wrong with this survey. It’s poorly worded and deliberately and maliciously negative, as Salt and Caramel pointed out here. So, I’m going to break my complaints down by image. It’s not very exciting but, let’s be honest here, malicious smear campaigns about feminism aren’t very exciting either. Mostly, they are tedious and dull. So, to start with, that bit about this being a “new movement … to reflect women’s personal choice”, well that’s either some serious reinvention of history or extreme stupidity. I haven’t decided yet. Normally, we call this Third Wave Feminism. I’m not quite sure how Netmums managed to miss this but, apparently, they did. And, if 36% of youngsters (and WTF is a youngster on a parenting site? I was a teenage mother. The last thing you are is a “youngster”) can’t imagine a time when men and women were not equal, I would suggest they have never actually engaged with the media in any way, shape or form. Also, I’d be questioning their education. I’d be sending OFSTED in, pronto, for a quick inspection.

Now, I’m willing to concede that only 14% of respondents wanting to self-identify as feminists is a problem. If this were a real survey, I would be concerned but it’s not. It’s a group of self-selecting women on a specific internet site choosing to take the time to fill out the survey. It’s about as accurate as those fake surveys hair care and make-up companies are forever peddling in women’s magazines and then claim they are scientific. This only works if you are a dingbat. Even I, who effectively slept through high school math, can tell that this is a bad statistic. It just doesn’t work. 

I still don’t know what they mean by “old-fashioned” feminism and how “old-fashioned” is different from “traditional”. Or, how “old-fashioned” feminism is too “divisive” and that 39% of women “don’t want to be equal – women are different to men and we should celebrate the differences” whilst simultaneously claiming that it is “old-fashioned and not relevant to their generation”. Which old-fashioned is it? Because that is the same answer to two very different statements.

And, frankly, anyone who thinks feminism has gone “too far” when women still are paid less than men, women are more likely to live in poverty than men, and rape is still a daily occurrence is a nincompoop. 

This statistics in this chart make sense but how they are the downside to feminism is beyond me. Too much is expected of women. We are expected to hold full time jobs and do all the housework and all the childcare. That isn’t the fault of feminism. That is the fault of men who refuse to give up their privilege and act like adults. That is the fault of the patriarchy who insist that women pass the Patriarchal Fuckability Test 10 minutes after giving birth. When all men are doing 50% of the childcare and 50% of the wifework, I might consider the question of the possible downsides of feminism success. 

And, for the love of Sappho, does no one know what “chivalric behaviour” really means? It’s not opening frigging doors. That’s basic kindness. Shutting doors in the face of the person behind you is a nasty thing to do. The sex of the person holding open the door is irrelevant. But, holding them open isn’t “chivalry” either. It’s a military code romanticised in literature where rape is a common theme. In fact, rape is practically a reward for being a knight.
I’ve already deconstructed the whole “my daughter isn’t aware of feminism” motif as highly suspect but I’m equally perturbed by the fact that 36% of their daughters couldn’t “imagine a time when men and women were not regarded as equal.” Either their daughters are very dense or their parents don’t ever talk to them because only someone deeply stupid could not imagine such a thing. Again, 20 minutes on the news looking at rape in warfare would make the point pretty obvious. Basic history lessons at primary school cover the issue of women not being allowed to “work outside the home”. If their daughters don’t know this, they need to watching Horrible Histories. Or, change schools. Probably both.
We’ve already established that their is, in many ways, more pressure on women now than 50 years ago. Again, this isn’t the fault of feminism. This is the fault of the capitalist-patriarchy who refuse to acknowledge their privilege. So, more than 69% think feminism’s biggest fight is to reinstate the “value of motherhood”. It’s a parenting website. Of course, they are going to worried about issues like this. Frankly, that’s just the stating the frigging obvious. We live in a society that consistently denigrates women’s roles, regardless of what that role is. It’s no wonder that women are worried about it. I am slightly perplexed that 58% want “New Feminism” to “ensure women have ‘real choice over their family, career and lives.” That’s the whole point of feminsm. It’s to liberate women from oppression so that we have real choices.
This section is so odd since it seems to contradict earlier sections. The only way this bit makes sense is if the 1300 women [and men? it doesn’t give a gender breakdown but I assume there are men on Netmums. They are all over the place on Mumsnet] is if they genuinely don’t have a clue what the word feminism actually means. Now, you don’t need to be au courant with feminist political theories. The basic dictionary definition covers all of the above. So, they have answered the question “what does feminism mean to you” with the dictionary definition but didn’t know that’s what it meant in previous sections? The piss-poor wording of this survey is just unbelievable.
I like this bit. Obviously, there are already feminist activists campaigning on all of the issues but I like to see what different feminists want to focus on themselves. There is so much to destroy within the patriarchy that we do need women tackling it from every angle. Yes, there are only 1300 respondents and it wasn’t a very well done survey but this is still interesting, particularly since many of the issues overlap.
This bit is just really, really sad. Modern women are required to look feminine and glamourous to be taken seriously. The Patriarchy immediately punishes any woman who doesn’t pass the Patriarchal Fuckability Test by labelling them unfuckable and ugly and fat. Once you are unfuckable, you have no relevance. Just look at the way Harriet Harman and Hillary Clinton are treated. Yeah, a bunch of them claim marrying for money is wrong but what about the men who “buy” wives or who buy prostitutes? Why do they never get called on their behaviour in these surveys? Why is it always the women?
In conclusion, Netmums might want to check with their members because they don’t seem very happy with the way this survey was done or how the results were presented. Netmums have managed to make their members look stupid, which I have a problem with because I use Netmums and they aren’t stupid. Some of them are unpleasant and racist and disablist and homophobic, but, you know what, so are many people everywhere. But, using a minority of nincompoops to represent a dynamic group of women is just nasty. Dismissing an entire community in this manner just fuels the anti-woman rhetoric. 

I may mostly post on Mumsnet but I can see the same patriarchal arsehattery involved in deriding NMers for being stupid as I can when MNers are labelled vipers. I’m sick to death of women being misrepresented in this manner. 

Dear Pussy Riot Supporters,

Dear Pussy Riot Supporters,

Increasingly, I have become concerned about your inability to see the woods for the trees. Your desperate attempts at out-cooling each other as the Great Defenders of Free Speech seem to have come at the cost of your critical thinking skills. Frankly, I’m still disturbed by the articles which seemed to suggest that the only people who shouldn’t be deported to the Gulag are the women of Pussy Riot because they might be raped or killed. I know you can’t really mean that. No one deserves to be raped or killed because they committed a crime and, let’s be honest, Pussy Riot aren’t the only Russian citizens being deported for questioning the state. I have no idea what the statistics are for convictions and deportation but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that Pussy Riot aren’t the only political prisoners. So why are they important and others not? Why is it important they not be raped or killed in prison?

This case is manifestly not about “free speech” or the right to protest. What this case has demonstrated, time and time again, is that we, as a society, are essentially a bunch of hypocrites. The ‘Western’ support of Pussy Riot is not because we are the great defenders of Free Speech. Anyone who believes that is, frankly, completely deluded. Pussy Riot has not garnered support because they are feminists who are critical of the power of the state and church. In fact, their feminism, which is actually a fairly patriarchy-approved brand of feminism, has been written out of much of the media coverage. They have gotten support because they are young women dancing in public. They have been supported because they don’t really challenge the status quo; although they do wear all their clothes which puts them ahead of Femen’s soft porn protests. If Pussy Riot were challenging the Patriarchy in any way, they would have been slaughtered in the Western Press. They certainly wouldn’t have Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and half of Hollywood lining up to support them. Personally, I think a lot of their support is because of their name. It appeals to the juvenile; those who haven’t progressed emotionally from being 5 and yelling penis in the playground. And, yeah, I sniggered the first time I heard a right-wing journalist say ‘pussy’ on air but that’s not a good enough reason to support Pussy Riot at the expense of others.

The UK has recently banned protest outside of Parliament. If there is any physical space in the UK where the right to protest should be paramount, it’s outside of Parliament. Yet, we let the government deny us this right with very little complaint. Trenton Oldfield was sentenced to 6 months in prison for jumping in water to disrupt a boat race. His crime: prejudice against prejudice. You literally couldn’t make it up. As Nina Power writes: “The message is blunt: if it’s on TV and aristocrats are involved, then the state can deprive you of your liberty for as long as it likes.” The correlations between Oldfield’s conviction and that of Pussy Riot are pretty clear, yet I doubt there will be any protests to have Oldfield’s sentence over-turned. Certainly, there was very little campaigning about the ridiculously harsh sentences given out in light of last years riots with people being sentenced for 6 months for, basically, shoplifting. If we incarcerated every shoplifter in the UK, prisons would be overflowing. We’d have to move all prisons to the Outer Hebrides and let them fend for themselves since no country can afford to imprison that many people. 

I think the Pussy Riot case matters. I think it matters a lot. These women do not deserve to be arrested or imprisoned for what was a political protest. Political protest against the government should be a fundamental human right but let’s not be hypocritical here. The right to political protest really exists nowhere. There are limits everywhere on the right to protest and Russia isn’t the only country guilty for imprisoning people for political reasons. Pussy Riot aren’t the only activists whose voices are being silenced by repressive regimes. Oldfield isn’t the only protestor being silenced in “democracies”. You only need to look at the 3 activists currently imprisoned in the US for refusing to testify in a grand jury case. Maya Evans was incarcerated in the UK for having the gall to read aloud the names of British soldiers who died in Iraq across from the Cenotaph in Whitehall. That garnered very little support. There has been very little media coverage of the attempted silencing of Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho by drug cartels. In Cacho’s case, I suspect the almost total lack of media coverage has something to do with the fact that she deliberately targets the Patriarchy in her research into sex trafficking.  Yolanda Ordaz De la Cruz was murdered because of her activism as a journalist. The murder of journlaist Anna  Politkovskaya was covered by the media but she had no celebrity endorsements about her right to free speech [or the right to life for that matter].

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be protesting or standing up for Pussy Riot. I’m saying we don’t get to choose whose “free speech” we defend based on their relative attractiveness or the fact that their name inspires giggles. If we are defending the right to protest all political structures, then we damn well had better be defending everyones and not just a group of young girls in Russia.  We also need to ensure that our defence of “free speech” does not happen at the expense of harming vulnerable members of our society. The use of free speech to defend pornography and prostitution is basically the acceptance of state-sponsored rape. It’s the Patriarchy defending itself.

And, all those celebrities lining up to support Pussy Riot, how about you put your money where your mouth is and pay their legal representation. How about  you pay for the childcare of their children required whilst their mothers are in prison? How about you financially support the grassroots activists in Russia fighting to end the Gulag system? Why aren’t you financially supporting Sara Kruzan who was imprisoned for life as a teenager for killing the man who raped and trafficked her?


Some articles which need to be read:*

Why the Pussy Riot case still matters.

CeCe McDonald vs. Pussy Riot: Political Imprisonment and Perspective

Q&A: Pussy Riot’s Yekaterina Samutsevich on Their Fight for Freedom

Pussy Riot’s Act of Faith

From Pussy Riot to Todd Akin: The Claiming—and Silencing—of Language and Speech