Trigger Warnings

Some of my posts deal with rape and that means that bits of this blog may be triggering.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Forgetting the humanity of non-males

Poor old Harriet Harman, all her adult life she has worked for the rights of women and children and has actually been fairly effective in her own way, in promoting their interests.  And yet the Daily Mail has managed to run a smear campaign consisting of the ludicrous implication that she spent the seventies supporting and promoting the interests of child-rapists.

It’s clearly absurd, like the allegation that Marxist Milliband hated Britain and the implied conclusion that on the basis of the sin of the father, we shouldn’t vote for the son.  But the reason it was possible, is because of their wishy-washy liberal feminist outlook, rather than a more radical approach. 

The reason the National Council for Civil Liberties allowed the Paedophile Information Exchange to infiltrate them, is the same reason Amnesty International has allowed pimps to infiltrate them: both organisations have solid liberal values and of course most liberalism, like every other political idea except feminism, is dominated by male values and assumptions which see men as default humans and consign women and children to the almost but not quite human, so human rights relevant only to women (or women and children), are simply not relevant or indeed, necessarily recognised as basic human rights.  When liberals talk about human and civil rights, they don’t mean women or children’s rights, they only mean rights that affect adult men.  If those rights affect women too, then that’s fine and of course they agree that women should have access to those rights; but rights which affect only women (such as safe and legal abortion) do not have the sacrosanct position held by rights which also affect men.

Organisations which know that women and children are as human as men are not vulnerable to falling into the trap of allowing men who directly threaten the rights of women and children, to infiltrate them.  If the NCCL or Amnesty had been run by people who had a proper, radical feminist perspective on human rights and civil liberties, they would never have made the mistake of forgetting that women and children are human too and that their civil and human rights are as important as those of men. They would have instantly seen the arguments of the child rapists and pimps for what they are: the elevation of men’s right to sexual gratification no matter the cost to people other than men, at the expense of everyone else.

If you have never challenged the idea that the sexual expression of men at the expense of other people is a basic human right, then it is easy to become bamboozled by the libertarian arguments put forward by pimps and rapists. So much of the discourse about sex is about the right to sexual expression, but only within the confines of the sexual expression approved of by men.  Inevitably, where men set the parameters of sexual expression, it will evolve around their boners and their ejaculations.  In our society, many of them see women as useful applications to enable them to have a harder boner, or a longer one or a more intense one and a useful receptor for their sexual emissions. And of course the rest of us, if we haven’t developed a radical feminist consciousness regarding this, will accept those parameters so when men start talking about their rights to have consensual sex with children, we might actually countenance the concept because they are using the language we have been taught is liberating, forgetting that it’s not women and children who are being liberated.  As with human and civil rights, when men talk about sexual liberation, they tend not to mean that of women.

It is because they don’t recognise this dynamic, that they failed to spot it when it turned up on their committees and in their workshops and in their debating chambers.  Radical feminists would never have made that mistake.  An awful lot of embarrassment would have been avoided.  But of course, Harriet Harman would never have made it into government.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Male politicians and their secret affairs

So here we have another male politician (Francois Holland) who has been having an affair and the call goes up that it's his business, it's his private life, everyone has a right to a private life and move along, there's nothing to see here, the way a man treats the woman he lives with gives us no clue at all as to his character, values or political competence.

This is a very convenient narrative for abusive men.  Because let us be quite clear here, with very few exceptions, men who have long term affairs are abusing their partners.  I'm not talking about drunken one night mistakes, I'm not talking about exit affairs where both partners know the relationship is nearing its end, life's not black and white yadayadayada but some generalisations are legitimate and I'm talking about affairs entered into while pretending to be fully engaged in a monogamous relationship.

In order to conduct a long term affair successfully, the man who is having it, will need to do a lot of lying.  He will need to brush away his partner's uneasy feeling that he is emotionally not present; he will need to deny the reality of her feelings; she will know something is wrong, she will know he's pre-occupied with something outside their domestic and emotional life and she will try to access that.  She will be asking him if anything is wrong, if he is worried about something, if he's over-worked, she'll be offering him support, a shoulder to cry on, companionship, she'll be anxious about him, concerned that he's worried about something he's not telling her - and all the time, he'll be insisting that nothing is wrong, leaving her questioning herself, sometimes getting angry with her for "nagging" him. It's a form of gas-lighting, it's emotionally abusive and if it were any other form of abuse the assertion that it is totally irrelevant to politics would be challenged more robustly.

One of the great successes abusive men have had, is to get it widely accepted that disloyalty to their female partners, tells us nothing about their character and values.  This is of course, because disloyalty to women simply isn't in the same class as disloyalty to real people, men.  When men experience sexual betrayed, they know exactly how awful it is, so much so that in every single patriarchal society that has ever been, they have protected themselves from the pain and indignity of it by wreaking such horrific vengeance on women when they undertook it, that women were hugely disincentivised from engaging in sexual infidelity, or if they were brave enough to break the rules anyway, the punishment would be dreadful enough for men to feel that they had punished their chattels sufficiently.

The penalty for women's sexual infidelity has at one time or another been death (it still is in countries where women are stoned to death if they transgress the sexual rules). In England in the middle ages, to be unfaithful to your husband was Petty Treason (because you were not simply upsetting your husband, you were rebelling against the social order by not knuckling down to the obedience due to a husband from his wife) and therefore punishable by burning to death.  That's how seriously men took sexual infidelity.  As some of the more barbaric punishments were abandoned in Europe, social ostracism and the loss of ones children replaced the death penalty. But for a man sexually betraying a woman, there was no punishment and in fact, no crime.

The idea that in their personal lives, men's behaviour towards the women they live with shows us nothing about them, goes right back to that idea that women are not really full human beings and that therefore, it is unfair to make assumptions about the character of a man based on how he treats the woman he lives with.    No amount of pain or outrage suffered by a betrayed woman, is relevant. Only by how he treats other men or people in general, is it considered legitimate to draw conclusions about what a man is like.

So stop thinking it matters what men do with women in their private lives.  The personal isn't political, because if it were a whole load of men in public life would be without a career and where would we all be then?

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Domestic Violence victims still need to be perfect to be deemed "Real" victims

So the discovery that Nigella Lawson may not a perfect victim and therefore not a victim at all, has at last been made.  Allison Pearson in the Telegraph today (although one wonders why it wasn’t in the Mail, what with it being very Daily Mailish an’ all) declares gravely that:

“if the Grillo sisters turn out to be telling the truth… then Charles Saatchi may turn out to be the victim of an injustice”.

What injustice can this be?  Allison doesn’t say.  She only implies it. I presume she means the injustice of being thought to be an abusive man, because his wife is not the perfect victim and therefore he couldn’t have been an abuser, could he?  Here's the link to the article: Victim Blaming piece by Allison Pearson

That I think, is the confused thinking behind this vicious piece of victim-blaming.  You would think, wouldn’t you, that an educated woman with a column in a broadsheet, would have better critical thinking skills than this, but when it comes to male violence against women, many people’s critical thinking skills go missing completely.  Suddenly they’re straight back into the Madonna/ Whore dichotomy where if a woman doesn’t fit the Madonna stereotype then she must be the Whore and as such, can be justly blamed for whichever bit of male violence has come her way.

Pearson repeats the allegations from the Grillo trial, that Saatchi considered his wife “an habitual criminal”, which is a bit of a PR gaffe from Saatchi - imagine, another one from this advertising genius - given that a substantial group in the population when they hear that term, instantly picture Norman Stanley Fletcher from Porridge and think Nigella must be rather genial and fun.  At the same time, the image of Saatchi’s Mr McKay to Nigella’s Fletch has a terribly unfortunate cultural resonance for Strangler Saatchi, because we all enjoyed watching Fletch get the better of McKay week after week. No wonder twitter echoes to the cry of “we’d all be on narcotics if we were married to Saatchi!”

But Pearson may not have watched Porridge. “What if this villain of the piece was actually trying to save his destructive wife from herself?” she asks plaintively.  By strangling her?  Is that how you save someone from themself?

“What if Saatchi lamely excusing the fight outside Scott’s as “a playful tiff” was not trying to protect his own reputation, but Nigella’s? Physical violence is never excusable, but what if a frustrated Charles was shaking his wife and saying: “Wake up, woman! Look what you’re doing to yourself and our family”?  she goes on.

This is such classic victim-blaming that I hardly need to critique it, but oh well, I’ve started now, so: the “Physical violence is never excusable, but” excuse, followed by the excuse, means that actually, you believe that physical violence is sometimes excusable.  If you actually believed that physical violence is never excusable, you wouldn’t propose that shaking someone and strangling them, was an excusable desperate attempt to get someone to “wake up”.

 “What if that tweak on her nose was not aggressive and patronising, as we all supposed, but a dig at her cocaine habit?” Well, I know men are supposed to be bad at multi-tasking, but I’ve never bought that stereotype, so I’d just like to point out that it’s possible to have been both.

“What if Nigella’s tears, as she fled the restaurant, were not of fear, but guilt?”  What if they were?  Does that excuse Strangler Saatchi’s violence?  People with critical thinking skills who are not prepared to defend domestic violence for any excuse, would say no.  People who think that they are not in favour of Domestic Violence but when confronted with a real taste of it are, leave the question hanging in the air with the implication that yes, indeed, it does excuse his violence.  No real victim of DV is supposed to have any guilt, about anything at all - like the Immaculate Conception, she’s got to be spotless.  In other words, she’s got to be either a child or someone who has never done anything wrong in her life ever.

Which leaves adult women in the position of never being allowed to be real victims of DV, because none of us is guiltless. None of us would ever be the perfect victim.  All of us have done things in our lives which could be held to be either illegal, immoral or fattening and so if a man decides to attack us, the very fact that we have done those things will absolve our attacker from guilt.  Which is really, really good news for men who go in for domestic violence. In order for a man to be held guilty of domestic violence, his female victim has to be guiltless of anything else.  If she isn’t, then it’s OK for him to strangle her.  That’s the message Allison Pearson in the Telegraph is sending us today.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Girls to remain Gatekeepers of Sex for Forseeable Future

So the debate about the age of consent has reared its head again.

Need I mention that like practically any debate about sex in the media, it ignores the elephant in the room and completely misses the point?  Probably not, you probably already know that, but I can't help picking at it.

The latest argument for lowering the age of consent to 15, seems to be that 15 year olds would then find it easier to get sexual health advice.  But that's surely an argument for lowering it further, so that any girl of any age finds it easier to get sexual health advice.

I was especially irritated by a discussion which said that in order to cut teenage pregnancies, STI's etc. girls would need to be educated about their right to say no, having high self-esteem etc.

No need for boys to be educated then?  No need to let boys know that the absence of no isn't the same as the presence of yes, no need to educate them that if both people aren't fully participating and having loads of fun in a sexual encounter, then you have to stop - if one person looks like they 're not sure they want you to do whatever it is you're doing, you must stop, because otherwise you are at the very least doing sex very badly and at the worst you may be committing a sexual assault up to and including rape?    No need to educate them that they aren't entitled to sex, however much they want it and however much they thought they were going to get it that day, no need to educate them about respecting other people's physical and emotional boundaries?

No, no need at all.  Just concentrate on educating the girls, because clearly, boys have no role whatsoever to play in ensuring that sexual relationships are fun, happy and consensual.  It's all down to the girls.  They're the gatekeepers.  They're the ones our educational efforts need to target.

In a culture where 1 in 4 women will experience either sexual assault or rape and where most of that happens when they are young and inexperienced; where coerced, unwanted sexual activity is so widespread as to be a rite of passage when you're a teenager, it still appears to have escaped most commentators, that the best way to stop unwanted sex, is to educate potential perpetrators rather than potential victims.  Not one commentator that I heard today acknowledged how much pressure teenage boys put teenage girls under to have penetrative sex they don't want.  There is some oblique acknowledgement of the problem; Professor Ashton, President of the Faculty of Public Health and the dude who raised the Age of Consent issue again today, touched on the issue of how prevalent coercion is in teenage relationships, but in a safe, no-naming-the-agent sort of way.  "What we are seeing is more physical abuse and mental abuse in relationships".   Interesting.  Who is committing that abuse?  Do we think teenage girls are inflicting physical and mental abuse on boys, do we think they're coercing or blackmailing boys into sexual activity boys don't want at the same rate as boys are girls?  I wouldn't put money on it.

No-one suggested that it might be more useful to teach boys not to be rapists rather than raising girl's self-esteem. I'm not against raising girl's self-esteem, that's an excellent idea and I'm all in favour.  But high self-esteem doesn't stop you being coerced, blackmailed or forced into sex you don't want.  The only thing that will do that, is to cut the odds of meeting someone who will do that to you and the way you cut those odds, is to ensure that there are fewer of those types about.  The way to ensure there are fewer of them about, is to educate them into not being that type of boy. But the people the media chooses to quote, don't seem to have cottoned on to that.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Dad branded incapable for not taking his kid to McDonald's. Really?

Wasn't that a great story, just calculated to arouse indignation and disbelief?  Here's a few links to the tale of the dad who refused to take his kid to McDonald's and had his parenting abilities called into question as a result:

Let's get real here, nobody would really describe a parent as being "wholly incapable" of looking after their child, just for not buying them a McDonald's burger, now would they?

After having read several stupid comments from nincompoops on the interweb about this story, I was roused out of my fearful torpor and irritated into doing a blog post, in order to just get it out of my system so I don't waste precious moments of my life engaging with clueless eejits.

Newspaper reports about this story are to be treated with caution, but let's just pretend for now that they are roughly reporting what happened.  One of them (and I forget which one) mentions a crucial piece of information that most of the others seem to have missed out: that when the child went into a tantrum, the father took him back home EARLY to his mother.  Yes, took him back home EARLY, before his visitation time was up, presumably so that Mommy could deal with the tantrum, because guess what?  Either Daddy didn't know how to deal with it, or it didn't really occur to him that it's his job to deal with it.

Now Daddy may have had another reason for taking the child home early, I accept that.  Also the reports may be wrong - maybe he didn't take the kid home early at all. There may be several other things going on which the newspapers haven't reported because they don't make such a good story.  So I'm not going to accept this story at face value but I do think it's worth critiquing the assumptions of most of the commentators because I think they show how different the standards are to be considered a good dad, versus those needed to be considered a good mother.  The comments seem to be a catalogue of misguided hurrahs of "Go dad!" "What a great father!!!"   The majority of the commentators haven't noticed that there's something pretty basically wrong with your parenting, if you expect someone else to do it for you.

I wouldn't condemn anyone for screwing up parenting,  I do it myself on a regular basis as my children will vociferously testify. But there is a hell of a difference between screwing up a parenting situation, which all parents do every now and then and opting out of doing the parenting at all. What parent hasn't thought how great it would be to have a butler or a nanny or a wife to dump the difficult bits of parenting onto whenever they can't be arsed to deal with it?  Which of us would turn down the chance of opting out of those hideous moments where a child's behaviour is awful and we have to simply get on with dealing with it?

Oh hang on, some of us do have that option. If you have a penis and you live with a woman, chances are you've got the option of not bothering to deal with your child's bad behaviour and no-one will think you're a bad parent for opting out.  You have the luxury of dumping your parenting responsibilities on to your female partner when the going gets tough.  Because in fact as far as wider society is concerned, they're not your responsibilities anyway, they're her's. I'm not saying every father everywhere makes use of that option: lots of fathers are more involved with the actual nuts and bolts of parenting their own children than men have ever been in recorded history.  But the point is, the option is there if you want to exercise it and you can do so and not have your capability as a parent questioned.

I don't know if this guy in this story really took the kid home early because he didn't think it was his job to deal with his child's tantrum; but what I do know with absolute certainty, is that if a mother had decided that she couldn't be bothered or didn't know how to deal with her own child throwing a tantrum, there wouldn't have been hundreds of people on the internet overlooking the fact that she'd abdicated a pretty basic part of her parenting role and assumed someone else would do it, while cheering her on and commenting on what a great mum she is.  I suspect that everyone would have agreed with a psychologist's conclusion that she was wholly incapable of parenting her child.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck

Another Sunday morning, another article blaming women for men raping them in the Daily Mail.

This time it's Nick Ross, a very experienced journalist who for years presented Crimewatch at the BBC, that well-known hunting ground for sexual predators and rapists.  Here's the article for anyone who wants to read it:

He trots out the usual rape apology - women are like unguarded laptops, making it clear they have vaginas which can be penetrated (although given that they've usually got knickers on in public, along with garments which cover those knickers, surely their vaginas are covered in the same way that hidden laptops are? But  that's obviously not covered enough, maybe women should all go out disguised as post-boxes or something, so that it's not obvious we have vaginas?  But then I suppose men would rightly criticise the fact that we've got letter slots that incite them to wank into them, so post boxes wouldn't work.  I'll have to re-think that disguise, maybe I'll get back to you sometime with alternative suggestions).

But I digress.  Back to women and how we cause rape.  We get drunk, we go out unescorted, we stay out late, we wear clothing which can be seen as "incitement" to rape - all the bog standard arguments which we hear over and over again but which Nick describes as "heresy".  He seems unaware that far from being heresy, this is the usual victim-blaming rubbish churned out to justify men's sexual abuse of women on a regular basis.

As with all rape apologists, Nick doesn't seem to be aware that a woman can only incite rape, if there's a rapist around to be incited.  Men can't be incited to rape, if they're not rapists.  So Nick seems to believe that all men are rapists, otherwise his argument would not make sense.  Fancy that. Though he does concede that "no amount of temptation can excuse rape", the implication being that men are struggling through life desperately trying like St Augustine, to resist temptation.  Which makes one feel rather sorry for them.  It must be so difficult for them, poor darlings, all these women all around the place on the train, on the streets, in bars, in the workplace, just being there and tempting men, who must be making herculean efforts to not rape them.  I mean, it's not as if these women leave their vaginas safely at home either, where men can't get to them - they are silly enough to take their vaginas along to the workplace etc., with them, almost as if they're just another body part and not a dangerous incitement to men. I expect those reckless women are the same sort who don't passport-protect their laptops.

Here's the thing.  I don't believe most men do go through life resisting the temptation to rape women, because I don't believe all men are rapists. When men tell me that women are partly responsible for rape which men perpetrate because of xyz boring so-called heresy-rape-apology, when men use words like "temptation" as if they deserve some sort of gold medal for being strong enough and good enough not to rape a woman, I look round nervously to check that I'm not completely alone with that guy.  Because rapists don't tell you they're rapists before they rape you, but they sometimes give you clues, by expressing their views about women and rape.

The sort of men who think women are "temptations", rather than human beings, have the same attitudes to women as rapists do.  The sort of men who believe women are partly responsible for rape because men can't be held responsible for their own behaviour, have the same attitudes to their own behaviour as rapists do. So when men say or write stuff that makes them sound like rapists, women are justified in consigning that man to the "never be alone in the same space with" corner. Because women know that if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it might just be a duck.  It might not, but women can't afford to take the chance.  So men, here's a tip: try not to quack like a duck lest women mistake you for one.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

How to be hostile for men and women

Demetri Marchessini has caused vast amusement by declaring in a creepy book that women wearing trousers is a hostile act.

Let's pause to let that sink in. Putting on trousers and striding around in them all day, is a hostile act if you have a vagina.

Here's the article so that you can get the full enjoyment this poltroon provides:  At the same time, you can decide whether you feel he is being particularly hostile to women by not looking as attractive as we might like him to look

While I've hooted along with everyone else, I've been very grateful to this guy for expressing something which most people don't want to admit many men feel: that they have the right to be sexually titillated or at least aesthetically pleased, by the sight of women.

Not by women in their bedrooms, or on a date, or at a party; just by women in general, walking down the street, shopping, working, going about their daily business. Women men don't know, have never had any dealings with and have no relevance to their lives, have no right to be out in public, unless they are making an effort to look as if they care if men want to fuck them or not. If they're not prepared to make themselves sexually attractive to men, they they don't really have the right to be out in the world. They should either stay at home or wear a burka, so that men's aesthetic sensibilities are not offended. Looking as if they don't actually care if they please men or not, is enough to be considered as a declaration of hostility by men like Demetri Marchessini. The idea that we should have dressed to please ourselves, to go about our business comfortably, rather than to have prioritised being aesthetically or sexually pleasing to men, is a terribly worrying one for men like this.

Marchessini is idiotic enough to have expressed that worry out loud in public; but there are many more men out there, who at the back of their mind have the same assumptions but just don't express them out loud because they suspect they'd be laughed at as loudly as Marchessini has been. While it's fun to laugh at them, it's worth examining why they are worried; if women are comfortable and happy in their own skins and aren't trying to please men, then that means that men can't enjoy the power kick of being constantly reminded that women's essential role is to be there to please them and be used by them. That's what lies at the heart of this hostile trousers nonsense.

I won't even begin to compare the way men express hostility to women, compared with how Marchessini et al think women express hostility to men; men's hostility to women goes way beyond wearing the wrong trousers; in public, men catcall, harass and insult women; those women who dress without reference to pleasing men will be instructed by male acquaintances to put some make up on or cover their grey hairs and advised by men they don't know that they are munters if they don't; those who do dress to comply with patriarchal beauty standards will be advised that they have nice tits, or a fat arse or that they need to be fucked slowly for 12 hours or any of the other myriad threatening remarks men seem to be able to pick out of their bag without thinking. They'll rape or sexually assault a quarter of us at some point in our lifetime; and they kill 2 women a week in the UK.

If only men could take a leaf out of women's book and express hostility to the opposite sex by wearing clothes women find unattractive, instead of insulting us, harassing us, raping us, beating us or killing us. How much more pleasant and safe the world would be for women.