Transforming a victim blaming culture

evb-logo-1Media discussions of male violence against women focus on the actions of the victim rather than the perpetrator. How can we challenge this narrative using survivor’s testimony without putting them at risk of online harassment?

 

“If I was Ched Evans i would find that whore and actually rape her this time!!”

This is one of the many abusive and threatening messages directed at the victim in the rape trials (and appeals) of footballer Ched Evans’ over the past 4 years. She has experienced an incessant barrage of abuse and threats of physical and sexual violence via Twitter, alongside a deliberate smear campaign including repeated breaches of her anonymity. She has also received a tremendous amount of support from women across the UK. Her experiences demonstrate both the importance of centering the voices of survivors, who are frequently disbelieved, but also the limitations, particularly with the development of social media platforms predicated on notions of ‘free speech,’ that allow survivors of rape to be labeled ‘a fucking cunt’ or ‘lying psycho bitch’.   Social media platforms have, to date, been unwilling to have honest discussions of the reality, representation, and ubiquity of male violence against women and girls, despite a recent EU report that suggests 1 in 3 women between the ages of 18-74 have experienced sexual or physical violence. …

Read the full post at Open Democracy.

Donald Trump, Male Violence and Misogyny

Despite a clear history of misogyny, racismclassism, homophobia and being the poster boy for toxic hyper-masculinity and male entitlement in a rape culture, a large segment of people seem somewhat shocked by the release of a video from 2005 in which Donald Trump brags about committing sexualised violence. Even more people seem shocked that the Washington Post, and other mainstream publications, refer to this as a “lewd conversation”. Our only response to this “shock” is: have you ever read mainstream media? It is full of misogyny and racism and homophobia and classism. It is full of victim blaming and the erasure of perpetrators from their own crimes. If perpetrators are named, as with family annihilators, it is solely to paint them as ‘good fathers’ driven by jealousy and rage. It’s just a ‘domestic incident” and, therefore, not really a problem. They have “mental health problems” (and no one ever mentions that women who experience mental illnesses are very, very unlikely to commit violence against other people. If they do, it’s not because they are mentally ill. Or that the men who actually live with mental illnesses are more likely to injure themselves than anyone else). Their victims are erased. Their crimes deemed less important than their careers.

We’ve collected some of the best articles and blogs we’ve read on Donald Trump this weekend. Unfortunately, a lot of MSM which purports to be critical of Trump’s language simply failed to engage in a meaningful way with rape culture and systemic misogyny, rather they focused on “not all men” as though offending men were more problematic than holding Trump, and the millions of men who believe they are entitled to perpetrate violence against women and girls, accountable for their language and their crimes. #Notallmen is a useful way to derail conversations about the ubiquity of male violence against women and girls. It ignores the power differential between men and women as a class and the specific experiences of individual women within the white supremacist capitalist-patriarchy.

Trump’s comments, which have been dismissed as ‘banter’ are not an anomaly. We see similar comments submitted to this website. We’ve heard similar comments in pubs, restaurants and bus stops. We’ve see these men every single day in media coverage of male violence – in mainstream media articles desperate to mitigate men’s responsibility for violence. We hear it in discussions amongst politicians about the welfare system, reproductive justice, and immigration (which fail to address the intersection of race and sex for Black women). What Donald Trump has been caught saying on video might be considered an outlier by some but it is no different than much of the language used to define women in pornography; as one of the largest and most commercially successful industries in the world, it’s fairly obvious that millions of men watch it.

The lessons from responses to Donald Trump is that still far too many people believe this level of misogyny is an aberration rather than reality for the majority of women. Men standing up to denounce Trump in this specific incident but nothing else are still part of the problem. Saying Trump ‘crossed a line’, as former presidential candidate John McCain has suggested, misses the point. The misogyny of Trump is institutionalised, systemic and ubiquitous. And, it is certainly not limited to the US when the British media is giving Nigel Farage a platform to defend Trump’s history of sexualised violence (like they do in giving Farage a platform in which to espouse racism. Daily.).

We need to stop talking about being ‘shocked’ by Trump’s language (and Billy Bush encouraging him) and start talking about how normal it is. Only that will lead to a real change.

Why Donald Trump and Billy Bush’s leaked conversation is so awful by Alexandra Petri

… A repellent, but remarkably unexamined, idea that we carry around in society with us is the notion that somehow this is okay. That this is just boys being boys. That we must give boys a safe, unpolluted, secret space where they can stop the exhausting charade of acting as though women contain the same internal worlds that they do themselves.

This is what it gets back to: the idea that men are people, and women are just women.

Of course what Donald Trump said is awful. But, as Kelly Oxford noted on Twitter, it’s the fact that Billy Bush just nodded along that gives us rape culture.

It’s the idea that boys will be boys, and it does not matter what you leave in your wake, because you are the protagonist of this story, and the girl is just … an appealing body, to be discussed and dissected at leisure when you are back in one of the myriad locker rooms of daily life. If that.

This is egregious, but it is not isolated. It’s every time the Serious Concern is that a young man’s life might theoretically be ruined — by the act of punishing him for what he did to ruin someone else’s life. It’s every time someone talks about how awful something would be if it happened to your wife or your daughter or your mother — instead of just to you, to a person. Every time women’s existence is limited to their relationship to men. Every time women are treated merely as gatekeepers of sex, a resource that is somehow obtainable without the enthusiastic participation of another person who might have opinions on the matter. Every time men don’t read books by women, every time boys can’t find it in themselves to identify with a female protagonist. Every time people look at a movie with one woman in it and nine men and say “yes, this seems fine.” Every time we say to little girls in countless ways that what matters is how you look, not what you think. …

Donald and Billy on the Bus by Lindy West

… Mr. Trump is rape culture’s blathering id, and Sunday night Hillary Clinton (who, no doubt, has just as many man-made scars as the rest of us) has to stand next to him on a stage, and remain unflappable as she’s held to an astronomically higher standard, and pretend that he is her equal while his followers persist in howling that sexism is a feminist myth. While Mr. Trump boasts about sexual assault and vows to suppress disobedient media, cable news pundits spend their time taking a protractor to Mrs. Clinton’s smile — a constant, churning, microanalysis of nothing. …

Meanwhile, right-wing lawmakers are scrambling, sanctimonious and pathetic, to distance themselves from their own hideous progeny, clearly hoping to salvage some personal credibility and perhaps even save their party. But here is the thing, the big thing, that Paul D. Ryan and Reince Priebus and Mike Pence and all the spineless Billy Bushes of the world (and plenty of progressive men too, for that matter) don’t understand: Most of you are no better than Mr. Trump; you are just more subtle.

If you have spent your career brutalizing and dehumanizing women legislatively rather than personally, you are no better. If you were happy to overlook months of violent racism, xenophobia, transphobia and Islamophobia from the Trump campaign, but now you’re mad that he used a bad word and tried to sleep with another man’s wife, you are no better. If you have derided and stigmatized identity politics in an effort to keep the marginalized from organizing, you are no better. If you snicker or say nothing while your fellow men behave like Donald Trump, you are no better. …

We grew up with this by @sianushka 

 … So while desperate Republicans are trying to persuade us they care about women because they have female relatives, other commentators are trying to tell us that grabbing women by the vulva isn’t sexual assault at all. 

And that’s rape culture too, right? 

To say that violating a woman’s personal boundaries is a clumsy attempt at seduction. To say the comments are lewd – as if speaking the word pussy is beyond the pale but sticking your hand on one is a-ok. Let’s pretend it’s not sexual assault, it’s just what guys do. Boys will be boys. Top bantz.

Women know this. We know what it’s like to be told not to complain. To keep quiet. Not to make a big deal out of it. We wouldn’t want to upset him, after all. We wouldn’t want to get him into trouble over just a bit of sexual assault. We wouldn’t want to make a fuss. It’s just a slap on the ass, a pinch of your tits, a hand on your thigh, a hand up your skirt. He didn’t mean it. He didn’t mean it. It was just a joke. It was just a clumsy attempt at seduction. What, are you going to criminalise flirting now? …

So Trump has crossed a line? His views are as old as misogyny itself by Suzanne Moore

… His campaign is an anxiety performance. Machismo by its nature is always an exaggeration, an overcompensation. It works for losers precisely because it covers loss. Look, he says to the disempowered, white male, look at me and my phallic boasting. I will make you hard again.

His hatred of women, his refusal of their bodily autonomy, whether over sex or reproductive rights, is not suddenly being revealed. This is his lifestyle. Now he has crossed a line apparently. Well, the line is a moveable feast when you can hint at assassinating your opponent, at the black vote being rigged, at interviewers menstruating. Multiple choice offence is his USP. Suck it up, bitches. …

Trump’s latest comments about women are rape culture in a nutshell by Emma Gray

… In Trump’s world, women are objects ― objects that only hold a value based on how physically attractive he personally finds them to be. And if women are objects, rather than whole human beings, it follows that Trump must deserve them. Women are things. And when he wants them, he wants them.

As he says to Bush: “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

This is what rape culture looks like.  …

Rape culture is why victims of rape and sexual assault feel unsafe reporting their assaults to law enforcement.

Rape culture is why even when these crimes are reported and prosecuted, the perpetrators rarely see the inside of a jail cell.

Rape culture is why the vast majority of women have experienced street harassment.

Rape culture is why many female victims of sexual violence are still asked what they were wearing and drinking when the assaults occurred.

Rape culture is what allows famous men like Bill Cosby to remain untarnished in the public eye until more than 50 women publicly accused him of sexual assault.  …

The Violence of Donald Trump by @bridgettedunlap

… As Harry Hurt III reported in his 1993 book, Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, Ivana Trump, the real estate tycoon’s first wife, testified in a sworn deposition during their divorce proceedings that Trump was angry with her for recommending a plastic surgeon he believed had “ruined” him with a painful scalp reduction surgery to remove a bald spot. Ivana testified that Trump held back her arms and pulled out fistfuls of her hair from her scalp before forcibly penetrating her. Trump denies that the attack or the surgery ever happened.

Trump was never tried or sued, so we’ll never know if he is guilty of raping his wife. But the way Trump and his legal team reacted to the allegations tells us they do not believe the law applies to him.

Prior to Hurt’s book being published, Trump and his lawyers got a statement from Ivana saying she felt “violated” by the events of that night but that she didn’t mean that she’d been raped “in a literal or criminal sense” – even though what she described in her deposition amounted to rape as a legal matter. She’s since said the story of Trump raping her is “without merit.” …

Trump’s leaked comments aren’t just “lewd.” They describe sexual assault. by @emilycrockett

… Whether or not Trump is bragging for effect or machismo, he is saying that he thinks it’s no big deal to grab or kiss a woman in a sexual manner — either by moving too fast for her to consent or resist or by exploiting his power until “they let you do it.”

It is sexual assault to “just start kissing” a woman, much less “grab” her “pussy,” and not “even wait” — in other words, to act without warning or consent.

It is sexual assault to exploit your power over a woman for the purpose of sexual favors.

This isn’t a joke. This isn’t even just a much worse version of the usual sleaze or insults that we’re used to on Trump and women. This is serious.

It’s serious because this kind of cavalier treatment of sexual assault is the definition of rape culture. When men see sexual assault as a punchline, or even something to brag about, they take it less seriously when they see or hear about it happening, and they take women less seriously who talk about it. …

This post was originally published on Everyday Victim Blaming.

#fabulousfeminism : feminist responses to F4J

https://storify.com/LeStewpot/fabulousfeminism

Charlie Sheen: Still a misogynistic dickhead shocker

Charlie Sheen, misogynist extraordinaire, who spent Father’s Day tweeting vile abuse at his ex-wife Denise Richards, including this charming poem, is still one of the most popular sitcom actors in Hollywood. This is the War on Women

“open letter to
the
media:
Denise Richards
is a shake down
piece of shit doosh phace
&
worst mom alive!
a despicable charlatan who
sux ISIs
ass!!!!
(and cock)
fuk it

I’m out
©

I have paid that
Klay-Vinnik leaky diaper
over 30 Mil
and she calls me
a DbD!

see u in
court you evil
terrorist sack of landfill rash

bitch couldn’t act
hot in a fire
or
wet in a pool

you should all
hear her acting lessons:
sounds like
dolphins sucking off
Coyotes!!!

this gangster
Sheenius will be
Winning!
Duh!!
really grandma?
I’m the
ARCHITECT OF THE TERM YOU LEAKY AND MALARIA
RIDDLED
PUDDLE OF SHIT STINK DECAY!!

and now I’m
out

last note;
this lab rat
is from a retarded
shit hole named
“Downers Grove”

nothing further your Honor

hash tag
go fuk Sambora some more
you
“Dood thief”

that genius called
me 1000 times to ask
“how can I get the
ass funk to be less,
ass-funky”

the only answer I had
was
to tell him to
“steep” that hedgehog
in bleach…”
twice a day

for a year
fukker whore

and hey Irv;

go fuk yourself pussy
bitch

I am the truth
you are my enemy

try me

I dubble dare ya
skinny boy face

Sir © of the Sheen
is
on
stand by

 

Misogyny on the End Austerity March

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This is what misogyny looks like on the left. It’s why so many feminists don’t trust men who claim to be feminists or socialists. We’re all well aware of the misogyny within their ranks and their support for rapists and rape apologists over the safety and bodily integrity of women and children. Julian Assange, George Galloway and the ‘comrade’ in the socialist workers party aren’t aberrations. They reflect the reality of women-hating amongst leftist men: they depend on women’s labour which they consistently undervalue and then they treat women like objects only worth fucking.

And, seriously, what kind of fucked up man takes a sex doll on a public march where it will be seen by children? The kind that don’t give a shit about girls who are being sexually exploited. The kind who participate in the preparation of young girls for sexual abuse (grooming) and the kind who believe girl children can ‘consent’ to sexual acts. I don’t see men supporting an end to austerity. I see sexual predators.

13 Of The Worst Mothers Living On This Planet

I must have been having a naive moment when I opened the link to 13 of the Worst Mothers Living On This Planet (clean link). Or, had taken one too many cold pills this morning since I assumed it would be a list of mothers who have killed their children. I wanted to write a comparison of how the media covers child murders committed by mothers versus those committed fathers. It’s not. It’s actually a list of “worst mothers” ever where most are blamed for the behaviour of a man or denigrated for having a mental illness.

Just in case any MRE asshats rock up, I have googled “worst fathers living on the planet”. This is the top five hits on google:

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 18.32.04

3 hits refer to animals, 1 refers to a really bad vacation and the last refers to a climate change (I shit you not). Worst fathers on the planet are animals that eat their young – worst mothers are Kris Jenner who signed her kids up to a reality television show.

Now, I’ve never actually watched the Kardashians – or any of its spin-offs – and I’m not a fan of any parent who signs their children up to reality TV. I don’t think parents have the moral right to put their children in the public sphere in a way which is guaranteed to result in them experiencing abuse and harassment. If it is true that Jenner was responsible for releasing the video of her daughter having sex without consent, then she has committed sexual assault. I would absolutely agree that this makes her a bad mother but until I have actual evidence that Jenner did this I’m going to approach any such claims with a grain of salt. After all, the rest of the “13 of the worst mothers living on the planet” list aren’t exactly serial killers, child rapists or violent offenders.

Linda Hogan, Kate Gosselin, Nene Leakes, and Dana Lohan are also on the list because they were involved in reality tv shows. Also, involved in those shows: the fathers – who don’t appear to be on any “shit father” list. Because, hypocrisy.

Also on the list for hypocrisy: Brooke Mueller, Courtney Love, and Kate Moss. How many male celebrities are fathers who have a history of drug use? How many of those fathers are considered “the worst fathers living on the planet”?

Jenner’s daughter Kourtney Kardashian makes it on the list “because of the terrible antics of one of Kourtney’s lovers, Scott Disick”. I had to google Disick having never heard of him but it turns out he’s Kardashian’s long-term partner and father of her three children. There are also rumours that he is an alcoholic and all-around jerk, but I only found those rumours looking at Perez Hilton’s website and Hilton isn’t exactly renown for his attachment to reality. So, we have Kourtney Kardashian as one of the “13 worst mothers living on the planet’ because her partner is a dick. Because that is the definition of a shit mother: reproducing with a jerk. Although, clearly not the definition of a shit father because that is reserved for lions who eat their babies.

I had to google Farrah Abraham and Jenelle Evans both of whom made it on the list because of difficulties they faced following motherhood at age 16 which was broadcast on MTV. Britney Spears makes it on the list for similar reasons: unable to deal with ‘fame’ (read: unrelenting shit from a celebrity obsessed culture which prefers to destroy young women rather than celebrate their accomplishments) and because she is bipolar. All 3 of these women were raised in difficult circumstances – Spears was the main breadwinner for her family and her father still maintains control of her estate effectively infantilising her for life whilst Evans is living with domestic violence. These women are the “worst mothers living on the planet”  not because of what they have done (although all have interacted with the criminal justice system at some point) but because they have not managed to remain Paragons whilst being chased by paparazzi, labelled fat daily, and surrounded by predators interested only in how much money they can squeeze out of them.

Nadya Suleman makes the list for giving birth to octuplets through IVF despite having 3 children already and not being able to financially care for them all. Not a word is made of the fertility specialist who implanted 8 embryos in her womb or the fact that the US lacks both the healthcare and welfare structures to support its own citizens preferring instead to spend billions killing other children around the world. There are issues raised by this case – notably the ethics of the medical profession but they don’t make Suleman “the worst mother living on the planet”.

 The only mother on this list who actually deserves to be on it is the Mom from Futurama. And, she’s a fucking cartoon character.

In the interests of gender parity, I’ve come up with my list of “worst fathers living on the planet”.

In no particular order:

Woody Allen – for marrying his stepdaughter and that tiny issue of child sexual abuse

Charlie Sheen: for multiple accounts of domestic violence and years of substance abuse. After all, if it makes Mueller a bad mother, then it certainly makes Sheen a bad father – and that’s without the small issue of Sheen actually shooting a former girlfriend in the arm.

Andrew Parsons: Call me persnickety, but a man who kills the mother of his child in front of the child is  not a “good father” like the judge claimed.

Every single father who perpetrates domestic and/or sexual violence and abuse.

Every single man who has murdered the mother of his children. Or his children.

Is sexism still acceptable when racism isn’t?

I’ve seen this sentence used numerous times in the past few weeks in feminist blogs and online discussions and it horrifies me. The idea that racism is no longer acceptable comes from such a place of privilege that I struggle to understand how someone could genuinely believe this. UKIP have increased their membership and won a local election. They dominate the media. The Tories anti-immigration policies are inherently racist and are getting stronger because they are appealing to racist voters. This is with discussing the lack of representation of Black* people in the media and the higher echelons of business and industry. To claim that racism is no longer acceptable is to perpetuate white supremacist culture. It completely erases the experiences of Black people and actively implies they are making shit up when they point out racism. It is an asinine statement to make and those making it need to do some self-reflection on their own racist behaviour.

Setting up racism and sexism as a dichotomy also completely erases the lives of women of colour. It assumes that the experiences of white women with sexism are qualitatively worse than Black men with racism. It ignores the fact that Black women experience both racism and sexism and these cannot be separated. It also completely negates any discussion of class – both within and outwith racism and sexism.

Feminists need to stop using the phrase “why is sexism still acceptable when racism isn’t” and start reflecting on their own participation and privilege within white supremacy culture. We need to challenge women who believe this and we need to start acknowledging that racism and sexism are not separate entities: that they work together and that all white women have privilege over Black women and that poverty does not erase this privilege. An analysis of women as a class requires understanding how classism, racism, misogyny, and lesbophobia work together to oppress all women but that those oppressions are experienced very differently for individual women. Misogyny was the first form of oppression but that does not mean it exists outwith other forms of oppression now – or that there is a hierarchy of oppression.

The theory of intersectionality is important and it needs to be reclaimed from those who have not bothered to read Kimberle Crenshaw’s work.

 

*I’m using Black as a political category with the understanding that racism is experienced differentially within/ outwith specific communities.

Language Does Matter: FGM is not “cissexist”

These four tweets have been appearing in my TL for days.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 09.54.02Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 09.55.57Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 09.56.03

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 09.51.23

The term FGM is not cissexist. Female genital mutilation, as defined by the World Health Organisation,

“includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. … FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

This definition does not even begin to describe the actual practise and consequences of female genital mutilation. The long-term consequences of FGM includes: sterility, difficulty urinating, increased infant and maternal mortality, fistulas, bleeding, and infections. As an organisation, the WHO has serious problems with misogyny, racism, and classism. It replicates capitalist, patriarchal white supremacist controls over women’s bodies, an allegiance to wealthy industrialised nations and far too much investment from pharmaceutical corporations whose whole raison d’être is making money: not helping people.

Yet, even the WHO recognises that FGM is a form of violence against women and girls. It is only performed on girls. We need to be able to name this crime – just as we need to name every other form of violence against women and girls. We will not end violence against women and girls by obfuscating language.

We need to be able to talk about abortion, access to birth control, and all other forms of reproductive justice as women’s issues. We need to recognise and label these as forms of violence against women and girls. We need to be clear that male circumcision is not equivalent to female genital mutilation. It may not be medically necessary and it may cause pain to infant boys, but it does not maim and kill infant boys like the practise of female genital mutilation does. Circumcision does not cause sterility or result in difficulty in urination. It doesn’t kill.

It is not “cissexist” to talk about the biological reality of women’s bodies and the damage done to them within a capitalist-patriarchy. Frankly, even the suggestion that it is “cissexist” demonstrates a fundamental inability to actually understand the reality of lives of women and girls in our world. I am incredibly angry at living in a society in which identity politics have not only erased all political and theoretical understandings of the oppression of women as a class but that we have to see this type of bullshit bandied about as if it’s The Most Important Thing Ever Written. It’s not. It’s just the same women-hating shite that we have to deal with on a daily basis.

The term FGM is not “cissexist” and suggesting that it is is misogyny.

Why Men Can’t Be Feminists Redux

 

They say shit like this on twitter and think it makes them a feminist and a gender egalitarian.

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 09.34.26

 

Granted, it’s possible he’s being ironic in his twitter bio:

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 09.36.15But, we all know he isn’t. And, this is why men can’t be feminists.  Hell, it’s why most men who identify as feminist are suspect.

Suggesting that women who wear a religious item of clothing are “spineless” is misogyny. It is a total failure to understand structural oppression, choice, faith, and survival. It is equally racist.

Women aren’t property but we also aren’t spineless or stupid – as this man implies. Women make choices within a very limited range to survive. Many women have no choice not to wear the hijab because of threats of violence within the home or the community. Others choose to wear a hijab for a million reasons that this man is clearly too dim to even begin to contemplate.

Telling a woman to wear/not wear an item of clothing is just a bullshit erasure of male supremacy and structural oppression. It holds women accountable for men’s behaviour.

The Dude who came up with #NoHijabDay is equally as misogynistic and racist, but at least he’s not pretending to be a feminist. Not that that is any comfort whatsoever in the grand scheme of things.

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 09.47.21

 

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.