Brilliant Spoken Poetry on Misogyny in Music

This is the first time I’ve seen this video and it just a brilliant response to Jay-Z and misogyny in music (and applicable across all genres).

The name on the video is Madiha Bhatti. I haven’t yet checked if she’s uploaded more to YouTube but this is just incredible.

Synthia China Blast: convicted for the rape, murder and abuse 13-year-old Ebony Nicole Williams (content note)

Image taken from Gender Trender

Let me be perfectly clear here: I do not like the US judicial system. They have sent generations of communities to prison for the crime of being poor or not white. The entire judicial system is racist, misogynistic, homophobic and simply not fit for purpose. The death penalty is barbaric and the three strikes rule inhumane. Incarcerating people for non-violent crimes is an asinine position – as is incarcerating juveniles with adult men. Hell, I’m not sure incarcerating men with other men, considering the sheer number of rapes which happen daily in US prisons, is anything but a human rights abuse.

That said, I am very concerned with the ways in which the media is covering Laverne Cox’s support of Synthia China Blast and the campaign to have safer housing for transgender people in US prisons. Blast, born Luis Morales, was convicted of the 1993 rape, murder and the abuse of the corpse of Ebony Nicole Williams who was only 13 years old. The campaign for safer housing writes this:

Synthia China Blast, an SRLP client and Prisoner Advisory Committee Member, has been incarcerated in New York for twenty-one years. Synthia identifies as a transgender Latina woman and proud native of the Bronx. Prior to incarceration, she experienced family rejection, lack of access to safe education, homelessness, police profiling and violence because she is transgender. The violent gender policing and various forms of trauma she experienced as a youth have only been reproduced and exacerbated while being held in various men’s prisons operated by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) over the past seventeen years.

There is no mention of Blast’s final conviction for child rape and murder – instead the coverage suggests that the Blast was incarcerated for being a transwoman.

Did Blast grow up surrounded by structural violence – absolutely. He was a member of a gang and had a history of violence. But, recognizing the violence within the system which results in boys like Blast perpetuating the very violence which harmed them does not mean we can ignore the crimes they commit.

We absolutely do need to talk about the criminal justice system and it’s gross failures to rehabilitate prisoners. We need to fight to spend our defence budgets on our own communities to prevent generations of children growing up experience poverty and violence. But, this doesn’t mean that we absolve people of their responsibility in committing crimes. We can believe the system is inherently corrupt and that prisoners deserve better treatment whilst holding individual people responsible for the crimes they committed.

Blast committed child rape and murder. We cannot ignore these facts.

You can read more here.

*As I was writing this blog, the video of Laverne Cox reading Synthia China Blast’s letter has been set to private and is no longer visible on Buzzfeed. These are the chunks of the video published on Buzzfeed:

“I was born and raised in the South Bronx, however since age 15 I’ve been raised in prison. In fact – since age 16 – I’ve only been home once, in 1993, for three months. I’ve been in prison ever since. I’m 38-years-young.”

“I am a political transgender woman ‘slash’ prisoner. I strongly support the rights of LGBT brothers and sisters in the community who are imprisoned also.”

“They may not live in a cage 23 to 24 hours a day like I do, year after year, with no fellow prisoner contact, but they too face the constant torment that LGBT prisoners face in here.”

“Lack of adequate medical care, abusive and evasive treatment by law enforcement officials, denial of basic human rights, the freedom to live among the straight society without fear of retaliation.”

“As a whole, in or out of prison, we all suffer,” Cox reads.

“My members consist of one voice. I want my voice to be heard, I want my dreams to matter, I want people to know who I am because tomorrow is not promised.”

“We each have to be an example for one another, we are minorities in here. If you are part of PAC, you are either directly or indirectly part of the LGBT family.

The letter concludes: “So when I’m asked why did I join the Prisoner Advisory Committee, I smile because I didn’t join anything. I found my family.”


The Sylvia Rivera Law Project has released a formal statement in response to the removal of the video of Laverne Cox reading Synthia China Blast’s letter. Apparently, they didn’t bother to tell Cox what Blast was incarcerated for and don’t think it’s important. I’m glad Cox has demanded they remove the video,  although the lesson here in checking shit out before signing your name to it is one a whole lot of celebrities might want to familiarize themselves with.

I am very disturbed by the message within the SRLP which effectively states that it doesn’t matter why a transwoman is in prison, they must be supported regardless. Prejudice is a common reason for incarceration in the US and many people within the system should not be there, particularly those incarcerated for substance misuse, prostitution and petty theft. But, there is a huge difference between a transwoman incarcerated for prostitution and one incarcerated for rape, murder and abuse of a corpse – just as there is with any other group of  people incarcerated. We can understand that the carceral system is built on racism, poverty etc and that young men and women living in ghettos end up in gangs for millions of reasons which have nothing to do with personal choice whilst still holding them accountable for their actions. Understanding the system and campaigning to destroy it doesn’t mean that people who commit rape and murder should be forgiven because of the violence they grew up with. Lots of people grow up in families and communities ravaged by poverty and structural violence who do not go on to commit child rape and murder. Whatever we think of the system itself (and it’s a massive failure), the crimes committed by individuals within it need to be spoken about. Failing to address Blast’s actual crimes undermines the SRLP.


Laverne Cox has posted a response on her tumblr.


This video was just shared on my FB. It is Cox’s reading interspersed with facts about the murder of Ebony Nicole Williams :


Paris Lees, That Vice Article and Some Basic Facts about Radical Feminism

This is a clean link to Paris Lee’s “article” in Vice magazine entitled “THE TRANS VS. RADICAL FEMINIST TWITTER WAR IS MAKING ME SICK”. Now, I do agree with her title. The so-called twitter “war” does make me sick but only because threatening to rape, kill or otherwise harm another human being doesn’t exactly fill me with the same feeling that, say, fluffy bunnies do. Telling women who disagree with you politically to die in a fire or using the tag “die cis scum” isn’t covered under the heading of debate, conversation or discussion.

Hate speech: definitely.

Debate: not so much.

I don’t disagree with pretty much everything else in the article.

I’m going to assume that Lees isn’t very familiar with radical feminist theory when writing this:

The TERFs and the Meanies call themselves “gender critical” but they’re not, not really. They aren’t obsessed with David Beckham, or Katie Price, or the billions of other people who aren’t trans who perpetuate gender every day. Just trans people, who they can pick on. 

Less than 60 seconds on google will find radical feminist discussions of gender performativity as exemplified by both Beckham and Price. It would find millions of discussions of masculinity (which, for those who can’t follow the argument, is about men and women who perpetuate harmful gendered behaviours and stereotypes such as the girls are nurturning/ boys are violent bullshit we see every single freaking day in nurseries, playgroups and schools across the UK/North America). In fact, shocking as this is, it was radical feminists who pushed the discussions on gender, masculinity and patriarchy into the public sphere in the late 60s and the 1970s. To suggest that radical feminists do not talk about gender in any other context than that of transgendered people is a deliberate misrepresentation of radical feminist theory.

The utterly ridiculous conflation of a consensual relationship between two adults [and, you know, Brian Cox is probably aware of who his wife is – enough assholes tweet him telling him to shut his wife up on a weekly basis that he couldn’t possibly ever forget the woman he MARRIED FFS. Also, demanding a man control his wife is misogyny. It’s the freaking dictionary definition). :  

Asking someone why they are trans is no better than asking them, “Why are you so fat?” Gia Milonovich is the girl in the playground shouting “You’re not pretty like us!” but who never gets into trouble because she’s banging the head of science, Mr Cox. She’ll tell you what being trans is all about. Me, sir! Me! I know the answer! I’ve read the next chapter!

There is no such thing as a teenage girl “banging” the head of science. An adult male teacher engaged in any form of sexual relationship with a student is committing sexual assault or rape. It’s a deliberate abuse of power and should result in a lengthy jail sentence for the perpetrator. It is not a subject open to “jokes”. It isn’t “banging” – and the use of the term “banging” to refer to sex is heteronormative and lesbophobic. (And, just to be arsey: spelling Gia Milinovich‘s name right isn’t that hard. If you’re going to make baseless insults about someone, it’s probably worth checking you’ve got their name right.)

The naming of individual women as targets of derision is a direct contradiction of Lees’ demand that people on both sides of the debate stop attacking one another. Have to say, I haven’t seen any personal attacks by Sarah Ditum, Glosswitch, or Milinovich naming specific women as Lees did. And, I’m also not entirely sure why Sarah Ditum not hanging out behind the bike racks means she hates fun as this suggests: 

 I’m the girl with the short skirt and too much makeup on hiding behind the bike shed with a bong, a packet of Superking Menthols and Liam from 6th Form.

There are a million ways women can have “fun” that don’t involve performing femininity. Hell, there are lots that don’t involve leaving the house or skipping school. Granted, I never actually enjoyed school having been a victim of sustained bullying for 8 years but some girls actively enjoyed being there and found it “fun”. This doesn’t make them not-girls or unfun.

Oddly, the theory that the only girls who are “fun” are those in short skirts, wearing too much make-up and smoking is a gendered stereotype that radical feminists loathe. Having sex is not the only way to have fun – and suggesting that women who don’t fuck every single man they meet aren’t “fun” is misogyny. It is very clear from this statement that the only “fun” girls Paris Lees identifies are those who meet the patriarchy’s standards of acceptable girls (and that men will label these women sluts or that many of them will be victims of male sexual violence is totally irrelevant.) Dismissing women who disagree with you as “meanies” or “unfun” isn’t discussion or debate. And, really, if Lees wanted to change the nature of the discussions so as not to address radical feminists, why name women like Julie Bindel, Caroline Criado-Perez or Glosswitch? It’s hypocritical to demand people stop engaging in discussions they want to have by insulting them but demanding the right to do so yourself. And, really, a diatribe against “meanies” which uses disablist language and insults? Really?

Radical feminist opposes all gendered stereotyping and assumptions that sex dictates personality, behaviours or traits. Radical feminism argues against stereotyping women as nurturing and boys as rough and tumble. Radical feminist theory and transgender theory are polar opposites because transgender theory believes that gender is innate and radical feminists believe it is socially constructed. Radical feminists aren’t arguing for the genocide of transgendered people. They want an end to to the hierarchical structure of gender in which power is maintained by men for men through compulsory heterosexuality and the ownership of women and children.

Many radical feminist do argue about the exclusion of transwomen from bathrooms, change rooms, and other women-only spaces because the definition of trans is so open as to be pointless. If anyone who identifies as a transwoman can use women’s bathrooms, then any sexual predator can identify that way to access vulnerable women. There have already been examples of abusive husbands claiming to be transwomen to access the refuge their wife and children are hiding in. 60 seconds on google would find examples in the UK, US and Canada. This isn’t “what if” scenarios. This is actually happening and women are being raped by men in supposedly women-only spaces. This is without examining the issue of prisons where one man, incarcerated for raping his ex-girlfriend, claimed to be trans to be switched to a women’s prison. A convicted rapist, who still has his penis, is now in a prison for women – considering the vast majority of women in prison are incarcerated for non-violent crimes and have histories of child sexual abuse and substance misuse. And, they are being put at risk from a convicted rapist who claims to be a woman.

There is no such thing as innate gender. We are born female, male or intersex. Women get pregnant – I want to say adult here but we have all read stories of 10 year olds denied abortions. PIV is far riskier for women than it is for men – STDS pass more easily from male to female and the majority of urinary tract infections in women are caused by dirty penises. Women engaged in oral sex are more likely to get an STI than a man. Women are refused work or fired for the possibility of becoming pregnant – regardless of whether or not they can actually conceive and carry a foetus to term or even want to. A man with a post-secondary education who transitions late in life has had very different prospects in employment than a woman with an equivalent education. To suggest otherwise is utterly fucking ridiculous. These aren’t facts that women can ignore. We shouldn’t have to pretend they aren’t real or harmful. Women have been told to shut up by men for a millennia. There is nothing new or special in demanding women not talk about these topics.

Transwomen are raped and murdered for being trans. They are being raped and murdered by the same group of people who rape and murder women and children: men. So, why do transactivists focus their energy on a small number of radical feminists who have very little political power and wealth? Why don’t they target the group with actual power: men?

The real problem on our planet is men: they control 99% of the world’s land, most of the income and they spend their trillions of dollars on arms, drugs and human trafficking. Men would rather spend billions on pesticides and destroying clean water than ensuring that every single person on this planet has access to clean water. These are the issues radical feminists are concerned about: gendercide, education, war, famine, environmental destruction, the arms trade, rape culture, reproductive justice and the right of all children to grow up safe. Suggesting that it is only concerned with transgender theory is a malicious and deliberate misrepresentation of radical feminists.

After all, who the fuck do you think fought for rape crisis centres and refuges? Who were at the peace camps like Greenham common? Who continue to campaign against human trafficking, the arms trade and the total environmental destruction of our planet?

A Woman is Repeatedly Violated: What Happens Next

I woke up this morning to the sounds of my adopted nephew, who has bipolar disorder, ADHD, FASD, and operational defiance disorder, and my daughter playing Just Dance on the Wii. Granted, it’s not perhaps the gentlest of ways to wake up: Who let the dogs out is OTT at the best of times. The kids were enjoying themselves so I hid with some tea in the kitchen and read the news. This article by Sarah Ditum for the New Statesman was the very first thing I read and I was both horrified and heart-breaking.

A young woman living in Ireland was raped, became pregnant, was denied an abortion, was force-fed during a hunger strike as she was suicidal and then forced to endure  a c-section at 24 weeks gestation. As Ditum makes clear, this woman experiences a catalogue of violations of her bodily integrity:

And what trauma. As an onlooker to this case, what strikes me is the constant traffic of foreign objects through this woman’s body, imposing foreign wills. The penis of the rapist who forced himself into her. The nasogastric tube stuck into her nostril and down against her resisting throat. The scalpel of the doctors who cut her open, their hands in her belly, the moving horror of another body within your restrained flesh. The unbelievable awfulness of being compelled to provide life to the child of the man who raped you. And the terrible silence of voicelessness, a woman with no tongue that would let her be heard.

This is the reality of woman-hating in our culture: a woman is nothing more than a womb to carry a foetus conceived in rape. A woman is violated over and over again by the Patriarchy who care only about the rights of foetus when it is inside the body of a woman.

We don’t know the health of the child but being born at 24 weeks has a very high risk of being severely disabled. Maternal stress also has a negative impact on the foetus. This child does not have very good prospects: being placed in foster care for adoption (if the birth mother so chooses) does not have great outcomes for a child with disabilities. Most adoptive parents do not want a child with disabilities and remaining in the care system does very little for a child’s mental and physical health. This assumes the child will be considered adoptable – Ireland prohibits the adoption of children born in marriage and has other equally bizarre rules which make adoption difficult. If the mother chooses to keep the child, the welfare state of Ireland (or indeed anywhere) is not supportive of a child with disabilities. Accessing the minuscule services that exist requires daily fights. It is emotionally and physically draining. The outcomes for this child, if they survive birth at 24 weeks, is not very good in any scenario.

The mother has experienced multiple traumas. Regardless of whether or not she will choose to keep the child, there is no real welfare state or health care which can support her through the trauma of rape, forced pregnancy and forced surgery. Her mental and physical health are not known (and must remain unknown for her privacy) but we can imagine the consequences of trauma.

The other question is who will pay for this care for both the mother and the child now born? No country has real universal healthcare which supports women through trauma and gives appropriate support to a person with disabilities. Poverty, and all the consequences which come with it including poor physical and mental health, are the future of this woman and the child.

My nephew was adopted in an open-adoption in Canada which supposedly has a welfare state and national healthcare. He has a relationship with his extended birth family, as well as his extended adopted family. We all love him but we also know the reality of his life: the fights for appropriate support in school, mental health care, physical health care and inclusion in society. Every day we watch him battle with the consequences of this multiple diagnoses. Yet, he is one of the “lucky” ones because he has a stable home life and a knowledge of his whole family. Most children born with disabilities who are in the care system have to deal with being bounced from foster placement to care homes dealing with a system which prefers to spend money on weapons than on caring appropriately for its citizens.

It is unlikely we will ever learn how or if this child and their birth mother live, but this is why reproductive justice is more than access to abortion or birth control or living in a world without rape. Far too many traumatized women and children bear the brunt of a culture which privileges foetuses over people.

Mrs Doubtfire is Patriarchy in Action.

I have always hated the film Mrs Doubtfire as I thought it was creepy. As a teenager, I never understood how a useless father who lost custody of his children in the divorce due to his useless, incompetent and lazy parenting. Hell, even the editors at Wikipedia – who are not known for their feminist analysis – get that this a film about a pathetic man:

His wife, Miranda (Sally Field), considers him irresponsible and immature, and their marriage is on the rocks. When Daniel throws Chris a birthday party despite his bad report card, Miranda loses her temper and asks for a divorce. At their first custody hearing, the judge provisionally grants Miranda custody of the children, as Daniel has neither a suitable residence nor a steady job.

The entire premise of the film is that the character of Daniel Hillard, played by Robin Williams, is a dickhead. This isn’t a loveable film about a man supporting his ex-partner and children. This is a man who had a temper tantrum at being held accountable for his piss-poor fathering and instead of taking responsibility for the consequences of his behaviour, he chose to lie to his children and ex-partner by dressing up as a female housekeeper. The idea that his ex-partner Miranda is too stupid to notice that her new “housekeeper” is, in fact, her ex-husband in drag demonstrates a remarkable lack of belief in women’s intelligence.

My analysis as a teenager wasn’t feminist. It was just disbelief that a useless father could miraculously become a better one overnight. You don’t need to be a feminist to look at the fathers of all your friends – who have little to no contact and commit financial abuse of their children by their refusal to pay maintenance – to understand that whitewashing a man’s laziness helps no one. The ending of the film is all about evil women and nasty judges punishing men for being useless and the children being devastated at their father being removed from their lives. Miranda got full custody of the children because the father REPEATEDLY lied to her, the children and the judge. Having a steady job and a permanent address does not undo years of piss-poor parenting and lies. The premise of the film is that children are men’s possessions and it doesn’t matter how shit a parent they are, the children will be harmed by being parented properly by their mother. The fact that evidence points out the exact opposite of this is always ignored, even with an abusive father, because father’s rights are always more important than the health and wellbeing of the children involved.

I haven’t seen Mrs Doubtfire in years  and it wasn’t until I saw this shared on Facebook that I realized the subtext of the film that I had been missing for years:

Angela LeeI was just telling Jitana that Mrs. Doubtfire was a tribute to domestic violence and stalking. Yup, one of the most famous comedies in fact romanticizes IPV stalking. Women are always the joke.

I hadn’t even realized that this film was about stalking and intimate partner violence. I had always focused on the relationship with the children. The stalking of the mother and the wearing down of her boundaries is classic abusive behaviour. Being “jealous” of Miranda’s relationship with a new man isn’t the behaviour of a good man – it’s the behaviour of an abusive man who believes his ex-wife is also his possession. Daniel has no right to interfere with his ex-wife’s new relationships. He has no right to stalk her and he has no right to manipulate her. Lying to Miranda and the children about who he is isn’t a funny movie plot. It’s the creepy behaviour of a classically abusive man.

We need to stop pretending these kinds of films are just a bit of fun. They reinforce male ownership of children, stalking as appropriate behaviour for men and rewarding men for not being assholes. Children aren’t rewards. And, a lifetime of piss-poor parenting and irresponsible behaviour cannot be overcome by lying to your children.

12-Year-Old Boy Facing Multiple Charges of Sexual Assault

According to an article in the Huffington Post, a 12 year old boy in the Alberta town of Lethbridge is facing multiple charges in the sexual assault of his two younger sisters. The charges include incest, sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching. The article in the Huffington Post gives the ages of the three children which I find troubling since that level of information given in a case in a small town does identify the victims.

But, more worryingly, the article suggests the boy has been released from custody with the stipulation that he not be left alone with any child under the age of 12 without the supervision of an adult. It is absolutely inappropriate and  unethical for any information to be released about this case as it will identify the victims, yet, I have to ask whose custody has the boy been released into: his parents? foster care? If he has been released into foster care, is the carer trained to deal with a juvenile sexual predator? If he has been released into his parents care, where are his sisters? How, exactly, will the courts ensure the child is never left alone with other children? Will he be allowed to return to school? And, if so, what safety procedures has the school put in place for recess and bathroom breaks? Are the police investigating the potential sexual abuse of the young boy since it is possible that he was acting out abuse perpetrated on him? Are the whole family being given appropriate support and mandatory counselling?

We can’t ever know the answers to these questions because the two young girls in this case deserve anonymity. But, I do worry that, as ever, the criminal justice system – even the juvenile one – does not deal appropriately with children who commit sexual violence and that social services do not have the resources or training to support the two young girls.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the “can men be feminists debate”


Joseph Gordon-Levitt, actor much loved by the hipster generation, has come out as a feminist:

Coming out against the label? Wow. I guess I’m not aware of that. What that means to me is that you don’t let your gender define who you are—you can be who you want to be, whether you’re a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, whatever. However you want to define yourself, you can do that and should be able to do that, and no category ever really describes a person because every person is unique. That, to me, is what “feminism” means. So yes, I’d absolutely call myself a feminist. And if you look at history, women are an oppressed category of people. There’s a long, long history of women suffering abuse, injustice, and not having the same opportunities as men, and I think that’s been very detrimental to the human race as a whole. I’m a believer that if everyone has a fair chance to be what they want to be and do what they want to do, it’s better for everyone. It benefits society as a whole.

in response to this question:

I read that you consider yourself a “male feminist,” and you credit your parents who are educators and really taught you about the history of feminism. But nowadays, you have a lot of young stars coming out against being labeled a feminist.

Now, I generally grit my teeth when men label themselves feminist anyways but I’m incredibly suspect of the way in which this question was labelled. After all, the media has been saturated with stories about women like Katy Perry, Madonna and Taylor Swift refusing the label feminist because it’s sounds mean to men (or some other equally silly excuse). There’s a very clear “look at those silly women who don’t want to be equal to men” without even pretending to look at how women, especially those in the media, are punished for calling themselves feminist. Frankly, in Taylor Swift’s position, I’d be very hesitant to label myself a feminist for fear of the increase in death and rape threats.

Many women in the public (and private) spheres have male stalkers. Being apolitical is a way of decreasing the abuse – of attempting to limit the number of abusive men targeting them. This doesn’t make them non-feminists, nor does it imply they are stupid. For many women, it is simply one way of trying to survive in a capitalist-patriarchy which hates us. We use the word equalist or, in a completely ahistorical and factually inaccurate way, humanist to attempt to negate male violence. Women live every day with the knowledge of male violence and their behaviour reflects this knowledge.

We can argue till the cows come home about whether or not Beyonce is a feminist (and since she labels herself one, the no side might want to engage with the womanist critique of feminist theory and how it alienates and elides Black  women). But, let’s be totally honest here: it is much easier for Joseph Gordon-Levitt to use the label feminist than it is for Beyonce or Katy Perry. He’s receiving nothing but good press for recognizing that women are human too. Granted, his definition has confused biological sex with gender, he does at least seem to understand that women have been oppressed throughout history, but Gordon-Levitt’s feminism isn’t about the liberation of women: it’s about gender identity and helping men. Feminism will liberate men from the capitalist-patriarchy’s construct of masculinity which is incredibly toxic, but it is women that will benefit more from feminism which is why it’s easier for a man to assume the label than a woman. A rich, young, white man like Joseph Gordon-Levitt has nothing to lose by calling himself a feminist. Katy Perry, on the other hand, would receive ridicule and abuse.

Yet, it isn’t just whether or not men can be feminists which bother me with this news story (and, for the record, I’m on the “men can be feminist allies” side of that debate), but rather what Gordon-Lovett actually believes feminism to be. His definition is that of Barney The Purple Dinosaur with his message of love and acceptable. It doesn’t recognize the multiple oppressions that women face. Feminism isn’t just about accepting people for who they are: it’s about ending rape, domestic violence, fatal male violence, and recognizing that women are harmed daily by the men who are supposed to love them. Feminism isn’t just about equal pay in law but equal pay in practise; the recognition that the economy would fail without women’s unpaid labour in child-rearing; that marriage and child custody arrangements are still predicated on men’s ownership of women’s bodies and (re)productive layout. Feminism is predicated on the notion that women are oppressed as a class – identity politics will not eradicate this.

I am equally suspect of any man who labels themselves a feminist whilst having form for suggesting that pretty women can’t be funny at the press conference for the film Looper. This is how Jezebel wrote up the incident:

What was it like to work with costar Emily Blunt? Here was his answer:

“She’s funny … and let’s face it, most pretty girls aren’t funny.”

 Apparently, Gordon-Levitt’s words came out wrong:

“I’m actually glad you asked me about that, because I was embarrassed,” he said. “Sometimes the words come out really wrong, and sometimes the words come out really wrong in front of thousands of people. I do apologize.”

The 31-year-old went on to say that he was trying to “get at” the fact that “in our culture, girls do tend to get pigeonholed…and I was trying and failing to pay [Blunt] a compliment about the fact that she really succeeded in avoiding those traps and not getting pigeonholed, and even though she’s a very good looking young women she is so funny and plays such a badass and a strong woman in Looper.”

I have dyspraxia and fibromyalgia. I’m the Queen of Getting My Words Wrong (as anyone familiar with this blog can attest too), but, the idea that pretty women can’t be funny is a stereotype for a reason: because men genuinely believe that women who pass the patriarchal fuckability test have no other value. It is possible Gordon-Levitt’s words came out wrong but it is far more likely that he believed what he was saying and only apologized because of the subsequent media storm.

Josephy Gordon-Levitt could truly understand the political theory of feminism or he could just be taking the label because he knows that he would get mega press for it. Either way, he will not be punished for taking the label as many young women are. And, either way, he’s still got a million more opportunities than the vast majority of women across the world. He’s words mean nothing unless he stands up and starts campaigning for women.

Reasons to Love the NHS: Or, My Sister’s Life

My sister lives in Canada. She very nearly died due to complications of serious medical malpractice. She was discharged from the hospital with no extended care details or even the support from a nutritionist. I have been here 2 weeks caring for her children. For the 3 weeks prior to this, my eldest daughter was here caring for her children.

My sister survived. Her recovery will be long and there is no automatic support network in place to assist those who are in recovery from severe illness.

This morning, she received a bill for 328 dollars for the ambulance to the hospital as she lacks medical insurance. I couldn’t believe it when I opened the bill. It never even occurred to me that a nation which takes pride in its health care could run a system where emergency transport isn’t covered.

The welfare state in Canada is simply a disaster. Our so-called national health service doesn’t cover the price of prescription medication. And, a woman who nearly died is sent a bill for an ambulance.

This is why we must save the NHS. We cannot allow seriously ill patients to be sent a bill to pay for ambulance transport to the hospital when they have internal bleeding and peritonitis. How many seriously ill patients would think twice about phoning if they knew they would have to pay?


That Newsnight Trans Debate

I’m in Canada so I’ve totally missed the start of the discussion and the, inevitable, twitter tantrums on the issue of gender and the oppression of women. I’m sure it was awash with deliberate misrepresentations of radical feminist theories on gender and full of threats of violence, like die in a fire, which, as ever, don’t count if they are directed at women you don’t like.

As with every other gender-critical, radical or otherwise, feminist, there is no way in hell I would have even dreamed of appearing on television on this issue. Mostly, because I don’t like getting death threats. Call me irrational, but getting death and rape threats for discussing the oppression of women as a class is pretty much the Patriarchy at work. It is misogyny. And, if you believe that being oppressed makes it okay to insult, denigrate or threaten others, I’m going to assume you have no understanding whatsoever about the reality of the oppression of women. Threatening women who disagree with you with the exact same language that men do is somehow activism, they you don’t understand the reality of activism either.

Being gender-critical isn’t erasing people. It’s a political analysis which looks at the root of women’s oppression. It looks at the structures, symbols and everyday practises which create women as a sex class (or caste). It is not calling for mass genocide or incarceration. Radical feminism examines the ways in which the social construct of gender harms women, children and some men. It recognizes the multiple oppressions in which women live and how these multiple oppressions work together to harm women and children. A small group of people labelling themselves genderqueer will not eradicate the social construction of gender, nor will it end the construction of women as a sex class. Personally, I find the idea that a person can live out with the social constructs of our culture both naive and arrogant. Labelling oneself genderqueer won’t change the systemic oppression of women and the idea that only a special few can live outside of it is, simply, ridiculous.

The only people who can live out with the very systems within the capitalist-patriarchy are those who benefit the most from it (and make up the rules). This is rich, white men.

And, it is men who are raping, torturing and killing transpeople: not radical feminists. Although, it is telling that transactivists focus on a very small group of women with little political power than they do the men who control the very systems which harm transpeople. It is far easier to denigrate those with less political power than you than it is to actually challenge the status quo.

I’ve stopped writing about gender-criticism because I simply don’t want to have to sift through the violent threats every time I log into twitter, Facebook or my email. This is what no-platforming looks like: it’s not just Julie Bindel not being allowed to speak at conferences. It’s women having to decide every single minute what they can and can not say and choosing to say nothing so that no one will threaten to rape their children (and, yes, this is a threat lobbed at a radical feminist).

A discussion on Newsnight involving 3 transgendered people would have been an important and interesting discussion. Instead, we have seen more threats and insults. This isn’t debate. It’s just the same silencing tactics that men have used over the millennia to control women.

I wouldn’t have appeared on Newsnight to discuss gender and radical feminism because I don’t need anymore rape or death threats in my life. I suspect a whole lot of women were asked and made excuses for that same reason.

Some great blogs on the Issue:

MirandaGate Fails us All at QueenThingie

Mirandagate: why the BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ pulled trans debate at Burning From the Inside

No-platforming and Newsnight by Sarah Ditum