Feminism in London Conference: You all need to go

Technically, the only Feminism in London Conference I have attended was the one in 2010 but it was brilliant: really, really brilliant. In fact, the only problem I had with it was that it wasn’t the same weekend as Reclaim the Night and I couldn’t afford to do both.

But, this year they’ve not only ensured that the Feminism in London Conference is the same day as Reclaim the Night, there will also be an event hosted by Stop Porn Culture the same day!

I honestly can’t recommend this conference enough [or the book stalls!] and Reclaim the Night is always an amazing safe space for women. I hope all the participants have an incredible time [and take copious notes to share with me!]

Morning panel keynote speakers
Caroline Lucas – Sexism in the Media 
Natalya Dell – Disability and Bi Visibility in Feminism
Shabina Begum – Acid Violence 
Morning programme
Panel
Incarcerated Women 
A panel discussion on women in prison, particularly relevant today in the wake of the Corston Report. Speakers include Jenny Earle of the Prison Reform Trust, Adeline Trude of Bail for Immigration Detainees, Rachel Helford of Women in Prison, and Bridget Rukwira chairing.
Workshops
No Choice At All
Raven Kaliana, an artist and human rights activist, presents a screening of her film Hooray for Hollywoodfollowed by a Q&A session. The film is a look at human trafficking and child exploitation.  Raven’s motivation to inspire social change stems from her history as a survivor of these crimes.  With Heather Harvey of Eaves.
Working Towards Non-Hierarchical Relationship Models 
You can’t choose who you fall in love with, we’re told, but are there alternatives to traditional relationship structures and sexualities? What would relationship structures look like in a feminist utopia? Explore the possibilities of love in the 21st century and beyond.  Presented by Dr Christine Campbell.
Feminist Opposition to Militarised Male Violence 
This workshop explores why militarism is a feminist issue and what we can do about it.  We will consider the role and consequences of armed male power on women’s lives, and discuss a range of feminist strategies and actions that can empower us to disarm patriarchy.  With Rebecca Johnson.
Challenging Linked Systems of Power: Towards a Whole-istic Feminism 
This session aims to transcend rifts between radical, liberal, socialist and other ‘kinds’ of feminism. Women are oppressed by male dominance but capitalism, white supremacy and other power relations do just as much damage. We join the dots between these systems of domination – in workplaces, public services, at school, at home – and ask how a ‘whole-istic’ feminism can resist them.  With Brigitte Lechner and Cynthia Cockburn.
Secularism and Feminism within BME Communities 
Gita Sahgal of the Centre for Secular Space and Lola Tinubu of African Atheists UK discuss the shared challenges and experiences of BME women engaged in secular feminism. 
MRA Workshop (Pro-Feminist Men’s workshop – all welcome) 
Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) are a persistent presence in online forums and debates about feminism. This workshop looks at some typical MRA arguments and through group discussion seeks to arrive at effective responses to them. The workshop is open to all, but male allies seeking ways to support feminists online are especially welcome.  Presented by Chris Green of the White Ribbon Campaign and David Brooks of the Men’s Feminist Book Group. 
Children’s Morning Workshop: Girls in Stories
Creative storytelling for younger attendees, presented by Jean Norman.  
The workshop will look at different ways female characters have been portrayed over the last 50 years or so. We will look at similarities and differences, how and if the roles have changed and then invent our own characters, female or male, and write our own stories.   
Age 7 – 11 recommended.  Girls and boys welcome.
Teenage Morning Workshop:  What’s so good about being a woman?
As a teenage girl, what seems good to you about becoming a woman?  What doesn’t seem so appealing? What can we do to change that?
Are women today a good advert for growing up into one? Which women do you admire?  
What it’s like to be a teenage girl in 2013? What do teenagers know that would be good to share with the rest of the world?
Whether you have lots to say in answer to these questions, or whether you just want to listen to others’ points of view, this workshop is for you and we’d love you to join us. Ages 11 – 18 recommended, girls only.
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Afternoon programme:
Panel
Women and the Media, A Post-Leveson World
What can we expect from the media in a post-Leveson world? The panel will include a speaker from Object, who made submissions to the Leveson enquiry about the portrayal of women in the media, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown who is a well known writer and journalist, and Ruth Barnes from The Other Woman radio show.  Chaired by Roweena Russell.
Workshops:

Sexual Violence And Trafficking: An International Perspective
Raggi Kotak, founder of the Anti-Trafficking Legal Project and Liberty Human Rights Award nominee, will co-ordinate a workshop on international VAW with Dr. Aisha Gill, Associate Professor in Criminology at the University of Roehampton. 
Vagina!
While awareness of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as a human rights abuse increases, labiaplasty in the west gains popularity amongst those who seek the “perfect” genitalia. What does patriarchy encourage us to do to our vulvas and vaginas across the globe? Meet Nimco Ali of Daughters of Eve, BBC reporter Najlaa Abou Mehri and consultant gynaecologist Michelle Fynes.
Kick-Ass Activism 
A How to of Campaigning… by Team No More Page 3!
Let Sarah, Angela, Jo, Laura and Stephanie stoke your activism fire and show you the ropes of campaigning! Warning: You might just start a campaign after this!
No More Page 3 is a campaign appealing to the editor of The Sun to please stop showing the Page 3 topless pictures. It has public backing from UK Girlguiding, National Union of Teachers, UNISON,  Rape Crisis and many other unions, charities and organisations, as well as the support of 140 cross party MPs and well over 115,000 petition signers. In August this year the Irish Sun stopped showing the topless Page 3 pictures.

Ageism and Experiences of Ageism
This workshop will discuss stereotyping in its many forms and ageism in particular, in society generally and as it affects the young, older and old women present.  We will consider old age as seen by younger women and experienced and lived by older women. This will be very much a participatory workshop, with useful academic material available for those who are interested.  Presented by Marj of the Older Feminist Network and Vito from the Older Lesbian Network.
Taking Space, Talking Loud (women only)
Join Rebecca of the Scary Little Girls theatre company for a workshop exploring what it means to take up space as a woman.  Frequently asked to reduce ourselves and blend into the background, this workshop will use discussion, some simple drama and Transactional Analysis exercises to explore how we women can find our selves and our voices to enjoy a place in the world, rather than play under it!  We will explore issues that affect women at work, socially and in relationships in a safe, women only space. All women welcome.
Workshop on Healthy Relationships (Pro-Feminist Men’s workshop – all welcome)
Working With Men (WWM) will introduce participants to our work which aims to prevent violence and gender inequality amongst young people.
WWM uses its uniqueness in engaging boys and young men to explore masculinity and relationships within the contexts of race, culture and class. WWM supports boys and young men to gain an objective perspective of violence, in turn empowering them to regain control over their lives, make informed decisions and express themselves clearly with girls and young women. With Owen Thomas and Sally Mehta.
Children’s Afternoon Workshop: T-shirt making
A hands-on workshop recommended for girls and boys aged 7 – 11, presented by Susy Langsdale.  This workshop will involve a discussion about gender stereotyping and then give everyone the chance to make their own feminist t-shirt!  T-shirts and pens will be provided so if your child wishes to attend this then they MUST indicate on the booking programme.  
Teenage Afternoon Workshop: Empowerment!
EMPOWER is part of the Safer London Foundation.  Our EMPOWER workshop takes a look at young women’s rights. We’ll be debating, celebrating and expressing ourselves, making banners and placards with positive images, words and slogans. Ready in time to take along to Reclaim the Night. Get creative and EMPOWER yourself! For young women aged 11-18. With Lucy, Laura, Aisha and Bex.
Afternoon panel keynote speakers
Gita Sahgal – Campaigning
Finn Mackay – closing speech

Other events!
Reclaim the Night – meet 6.30pm for a 7pm start

Amazon continues to promote Rape Culture. [content note].

Amazon’s complete refusal to take responsibility for the products is well-known. They are forever being caught selling products which glamourise violence against women and children so I shouldn’t have been surprised when a link to the e-book “Using her while she sleeps: Stretching my friends little sister” got tweeted into my timeline via Ending Victimisation and Blaming [Everyday Victim Blaming] and Graham. This is the blurb to the e-book:

Hunky college senior Trey has had a terrible night out. His roomie Matt has gone home with the girl that Trey had his eye on the whole night. 

Despondent, well-hung Trey goes home to jerk off alone, but when he gets there, he remembers that Matt’s 19 year old little sister Chelsea is crashing on their couch. 

Unable to stop himself, Trey starts to play with the passed out young teen, but he has a problem. She’s so petite, and his cock is so huge, he just can’t fit inside her. 

Will he be able to have his way with her without waking her up? 

Find out in this 4400 word erotic story, which features a horny guy with a huge manhood, a petite sleeping teen, oral sex, rough sex, and creampies. 

Strictly for adults only!

Another title by the same author is Gangbanged in her sleep.

This is rape. Selling products which promote rape is not acceptable. It’s precisely why victims of rape and sexual violence are either labelled liars or blamed for being victims: because shit like this is peddled by huge multinational corporations [and can be easily bought by children].

You can submit a complaint about products which promote rape here

#DickheadDetox : Gok Wan for being a patronising arsenugget


I’ll just be brutally honest here: I hate Gok Wan. He represents everything that is wrong with our culture and he’s made a fortune making women feel ashamed of their bodies whilst gaslighting them into believing he genuinely cares about their physical and emotional health. 

If he genuinely gave a shit about women, he wouldn’t be publicly humiliating them by telling them their bodies are hideous and then shoving them into spanx and high heels whilst grabbing at their breasts without permission.

Why he thought a webchat on Mumsnet was a good idea is beyond me. It was never going to go well. There is some sycophantic drivel posted on the thread. Wan obviously only chose to answer the drivel and ignore the difficult questions about how he reinforces patriarchal culture by forcing women to conform to the patriarchal fuckability test.

Gok Wan doesn’t give a shit about women. He’s in it for the money. 


Below are a selection of the questions that Wan refused to answer on the web chat. Notice the mini-tantrum Gok has when challenged on a question: 

International Day of the Girl: We Need to Celebrate the Brave Girls.

This is a short list of some of the brave girls making our world a better place: 

Eesha Khare (18): For inventing a device which can charge cellphones in less than 30 seconds

Ann Makosinski (15): For inventing a body-heat powered flashlight

Deepika Kurup (14): For inventing a solar-powered water purifier.


Duro-Aina Adebola (14), Akindele Abiola (14,) Faleke Oluwatoyin (14), and Bello Eniola (15) : For inventing a generator which is powered by urine.


Angela Zhang (17) : For inventing a cure for cancer which eliminated all tumours in mice. 


The Hippie Pands (11-14) : For inventing a way of pasteurising milk in places where traditional methods aren’t possible.

Catherine Wong (17): For inventing a portable electrical cardiogram.

Malala Yousafzai (16): For standing up to the Taliban in defence of education for girls [and who may or may not win the Nobel Prize for Peace today]

These are only a snapshot of some of the amazing girls;  many of whom will never get public recognition for their roll as carers, inventors, scientists, artists, dancers and survivors. 

We need to celebrate all the brave girls who stand for themselves and other girls in a culture who teaches us to hate our bodies and our minds. 

Today, I’m celebrating all our brave girls.

#DickheadDetox : Hugo Schwyzer for a career built on MVAW


I was lucky to have only come across Schwyzer in 2010 on Mumsnet. A group of (white) radical feminists were discussing his latest “incident” [and I don’t remember which one as Schwyzer has a lot of incidents]. I asked who he was and they gave me the litany of the violence he has perpetrated against women, including nearly killing a former partner, his continuing sexual predation on young women who were his students as well as overt racism.

Having read all the links posted, I just assumed all feminists thought that Schwyzer was a manipulative sociopath who was using feminism as a ruse to get access to more young women. 

I forgot what the “manipulative sociopath” bit meant. Schwyzer has succeeded for so long because women want to believe in the redemption narrative. We are trained from birth to believe that men have the ability to change through the “love of a good woman”. Lib Fems believed Schwyzer because he represents Third Wave “sex-positive” feminism. They believed him because they had too. 

Critiquing Schwyzer means actually analysing the problematic nature of identity politics and “sex positivism” which privileges the male orgasm above all else, including the physical and emotional harm done to women. It means actually analysing the systemic and structural consequences of the Patriarchy. Hell, it means acknowledging the Patriarchy exists. 

It’s very clear (for anyone who bothers to google) that radical feminists and WOC feminists/ womanists have been calling out Schwyzer for years. Jezebel and a disappointing number of mainstream feminist presses have allowed Schwyzer a platform for years. They have ignored his attacks on WoC and women who Schwyzer deemed as a “lower class” than him. 

Schwyzer is a manipulative sociopath who has abused women for years. But, he has had help in continuing to abuse women. Every single feminist magazine which gave him a platform helped. By accepting Schwyzer’s redemption narrative uncritically, many Third Wave feminists have simply reinforced patriarchal norms. 

Frankly, a man who lists himself as the head of a movement about women should always be treated with suspicion. And, any dude who brags about nearly killing a former partner should be placed in the dickhead pile. Not given a column in Jezebel. 

Schwyzer may be a manipulative sociopath but a lot of women say through his behaviour and for this, they were ridiculed, dismissed and ignored. Feminism isn’t about men. It’s about women. The destruction of the patriarchy will result in men being liberated from oppressive gender roles but our first concern must be women. 

Schwyzer has never stopped abusing women. Instead, too many chose to ignore the evidence of his abuse. Third Wave feminists did not believe women who stood up to Schwyzer. Believing women who speak out about their experience of male violence is a fundamental tenet of feminism. Anything else is patriarchal bullshit. 

Schwyzer belongs on the #dickheaddetox. But, those who supported him uncritically also need to do some reflection and, in a number of cases, apologise.

#DickheadDetox: Terry Richardson for being a Sexual Predator and all his supporters for colluding with him

Terry Richardson’s status as a sexual predator is well-known. Jezebel ran an article in 2010 detailing Richardson’s quite clear sexual harassment and assault of model Jamie Peck when she was only 19 years old:

When she [Peck] said she wanted to keep her underwear on because she was menstruating, Peck says Richardson asked her to take out her tampon so he could play with it, and make “tampon tea.” He insisted on being called “Uncle Terry,” and during their shoot, Richardson unexpectedly stripped naked.
“Before I could say ‘whoa, whoa, whoa!’ dude was wearing only his tattoos and waggling the biggest dick I’d ever seen dangerously close to my unclothed person (granted, I hadn’t seen very many yet).” In Peck’s words, Richardson eventually “maneuvered” her over to a couch in his studio, where he “strongly suggested I touch his terrifying penis.” When he ejaculated, one of his assistants gave Peck a towel.

 The Globe & MailJezebel and NYMag have all covered his predatory behaviour. His well-known quote “it’s not who you know, it’s who you blow” has been doing the rounds of the media for years. All of his images are of pornified bodies of young women who pass the patriarchal fuckability test. 

The comments in this article on Jezebel are very interesting: apparently, Richardson only takes photos of young, white models. I am not familiar enough with Richardson’s work to take a formal stance but a quick five minute google does suggest that most of the models in Richardson’s work are white. Is this Richardson’s personal preferences or a reflection of the systemic racism with the fashion industry which privileges an image of beauty that most women can never attain but that no WoC will ever manage? Either way, it is still racism.


Yet, Anna Wintour “loves” his work. He’s shot for pretty much every major fashion magazine and designer. He’s clearly a sexual predator and the fashion industry [and Hollywood] have colluded in his sexual harassment and assault of vulnerable young women for the entirety of his career. 


I hope that the fashion industry will take some responsibility for the very young women they have allowed to be abused and harassed by Richardson and stop using his work. At the very least, Barack Obama probably has enough clout to have someone who isn’t a sexual predator take his picture.

Oh, and whatever you do, don’t google images of Richardson without a filter. He takes a lot of photos of his penis.

#DickheadDetox: Sean Penn for Domestic Violence

Sean Penn is one of the most famous of the leftwing, right-on Dudebros of Hollywood. Read any media story and it will be a litany of his Oscars and his running about being a ‘nice guy’. He was on the ground after Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake. He’s one of the celebrities involved with the “Real men don’t buy girls campaign“, a campaign which features a number of problematic Dudebros like Justin Timberlake.

He also has a long history of alcohol misuse and violence including assaulting his then-wife Madonna. Oddly, the history of violence rarely gets mentioned.

I say ‘oddly”, I meant obviously. After all, rich white men being held accountable for their violence isn’t exactly a common feature of our world. And, let’s be brutally honest here: Chris Brown’s vicious assault on then-girlfriend Rihanna did not hurt his career in any way shape or form. However, his history of violence hasn’t been erased because he is Black.

Make a couple of good movies and we forgive anything. Isn’t that the lessons we learned from Polanski?

Sean Penn is a violent man. He has multiple convictions for violence against other men. There are two incidents of extreme violence perpetrated against Madonna during their marriage: one of which resulted in her hospitalisation after Penn assaulted her with a baseball bat. The second involved Penn assaulting and then tying up Madonna and leaving her in the house bound and gagged.

Erasing his history of violence because he’s an actor is woman-hating.

Sean Penn belongs on the #DickheadDetox; along with all his apologists.

DickheadDetox : Stan Collymore for whining about being held accountable for DV

Stan Collymore is currently whining on twitter about being held accountable for domestic violence. Apparently, it’s totally unfair for him to held accountable for viciously assaulting then partner Ulrika Johnson when people give Roman Polanski, Charlie Sheen and John Lennon a free pass.

Collymore’s solution? well, it’s clearly not to take personal responsibility for the crime he committed. Instead, he’s gone with calling people hypocrites:

 

He’s also come up with this genius solution  :

Because no one has ever written about the hypocrisy of our woman-hating culture and it’s complete refusal to take violence against women and children seriously. Or, the fact that our culture thinks male celebrities should be forgiven for any violence they commit if they are “artists”.

We need to hold every single man who commits violence against women and children; not add more men to to the list of those we forgive because they make lots of money. We need to hold white male celebrities accountable for the crimes they commit.

And, honestly, is there nothing more pathetic than a man whining for being held responsible for the consequences of his actions?

Collymore belongs on the #DickheadDetox for both committing VAW and for whinging about it.

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. 

Disappointingly,

Stewie


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

Dear Dave, Feminism does not mean what you think it means.


Dear Dave,

I’ve just read your latest update on feminism in the Guardian. I think you might be a little bit confused about the term feminism. I understand that some poor schmuck responsible for your public relations had a bit of a panic attack on the weekend when you declined the label feminist but claimed you support equal rights. I would have fell off my chair laughing and been sent home for the day to calm down if you had said that to my face but I can see how someone in public relations might want to run about shrieking “call yourself a feminist”.

After all, the past few months have seen a prosecutor and a judge label a 13 year old victim of sexual violence a sexual predator in her own assault. We’ve seen horrendous and malicious attacks in the media on the child who brought forward the complaint of rape against Michael Le Vell. We’ve had several trials of large gangs of men who groomed vulnerable young girls and repeatedly raped and sold them for prostitution, whilst those responsible for protecting the girls blamed them. 

In the past two months, how many women have been raped in the UK? How many have experienced domestic violence? How many have been murdered by violent men? 

I can see that you want to call yourself a feminist so that women might forget that your government is responsible for the destruction of the NHS and the welfare state bringing about cuts that disproportionately effect women. Your government is responsible for putting millions of children in poverty by destroying the child maintenance program all the while rewarding men who refuse to financially support their children by giving them a tax break if they get remarried. 

I can see that someone in your public relations office might have responded to your comment this weekend with something like “oh, if you call yourself a feminist maybe women will be so stupid they will forget everything you’ve done to destroy women in the past two years”. 

May I suggest you fire your public relations team. They are clearly dingbats.

Women won’t forget that you have deliberately and maliciously forced hundreds of thousands of women into poverty.

You are not a feminist. Feminists campaign for the full liberation of women from the capitalist-patriarchy; a system which only benefits rich, white men. You don’t give a shit about women or children. You only care about rich white dudes.

You are not a feminist. You are a woman-hating arsenugget. 

Sincerely,

Stewie