Trigger Warnings

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

Monday, 22 December 2014

An invitation to remember whose choices and behaviour cause rape

Today I am linking to a newish site which I promised to give a shout to as they're looking for contributions from other women. The http://normanawards.com/ was inspired by an exasperation with the oft-repeated assertion that women who get drunk should expect to be raped (because men turn into rapists once a woman drinks alcohol, right?).  The site invites women to send in their tales of that time they got horrendously drunk and didn't get raped because - who knew? - alcohol doesn't cause rape and men who aren't rapists don't rape women, however drunk those women are.  The Norman Awards is collecting stories from women about that time they got really drunk or were really vulnerable and yet didn't get raped, because the men they met weren't rapists.

http://normanawards.com/category/normans/

I like the concept of turning the spotlight away from women's behaviour and on to that of men and inviting both women and men to identify with rape victims, not with rapists.

Why giving men a Norman award isn't giving them cookies for not raping

You can send your Norman story in here but it's good to have a look at the site so you get the idea of what they want.  I'm dredging my memory for when I've met a Norman now, I'm sure I've met more than one in my time...

Research on online rape activism: Survey

I've been approached by a researcher at La Trobe university to ask readers of this blog if they would like to help her with research into online rape activism.

If any readers want to help Rachel with her research, please click on the link below.  It is an online survey of users of online blogs which deal with rape, so please be aware that it deals with this sensitive subject. It's entirely anonymous and there is a bit of blurb upfront telling you all about it. 

https://jfe.qualtrics.com/form/SV_bC3IJGgW8EGvFch

Friday, 5 December 2014

Man tells women breastfeeding is easy. Woman observes man is a nincompoop.


"I think that given that some people feel very embarrassed by it, it isn’t too difficult to breastfeed a baby in a way that's not openly ostentatious,"

After swearing, I literally laughed when I saw that statement from Nigel Farage (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/nigel-farage-women-should-not-be-ostentatious-about-public-breastfeeding-9905453.html?cmpid=facebook-post) who was commenting on the story about a woman in Claridges being required to cover her baby with a large swathe of fabric, thus rendering her feeding of her child far more conspicuous than it would otherwise have been.  (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/breastfeeding-mother-told-to-cover-up-in-claridges-to-avoid-causing-other-guests-offence-9898283.html)

How nice it is to be a man who has never breastfed but nevertheless knows how easy it is to breastfeed a baby discreetly.

And how nice it is that even though you know nothing whatsoever about the subject of breastfeeding, you can pronounce on it and expect to be listened to.  Indeed, your voice is much more welcomed and likely to be heard, than those who have actually done the stuff you know nothing about.  How very agreeable it is to be a white man.

Should I mention how for many women, getting their baby to breastfeed at all, is not just “not too difficult”, it’s a herculean endeavor filled with physical and emotional anguish?  I use the word anguish deliberately because that’s how it feels at 3 O’Clock in the morning when you’ve had 2 hours sleep in 24 hours and your baby hasn’t had a proper feed for 2 days and the health visitor is subtly pressuring you to give up and move to the bottle and you are in physical agony and you’re scared that your baby will get ill if s/he doesn’t have one good feed by tomorrow and you’re scared that you’ll have to move to formula even though you really, really don’t want to.  When you are desperate to feed your baby and your baby is noisily desperate to feed, but you both can’t achieve that, anguish is not too strong a word to use. 

So smug nincompoops like Nigel Farage opining that “it’s not too difficult” to do this impossible task in a way he and other nincompoops find acceptable, make me more than a little tetchy. 

This is a feminist issue.  Breastfeeding is one of the things which women do which men don’t, like getting pregnant and gestating babies, which gets some men all irrational and aerated and controlling about it.  It offends some of them because it reminds them that the world doesn’t revolve around them and their boners.  Using your breasts to nurture your young, instead of using them to titillate men, is perceived as “ostentatious” by men like Farage who have no problem whatsoever working with publications like The Sun which is famous for its daily picture of a woman using her breasts for their correct purpose in our culture – titillation of men.  No problem with ostentatious use of breasts in those circumstances.

The demand for women to be “discreet” when feeding their babies, is akin to demanding that we be discreet when eating.  Some men feel there’s something faintly disgusting about women doing something for themselves or their children, which isn’t focused on men.  So FGS women, do it in private.  Don’t eat in public, don’t breastfeed in public and in fact if you want to participate in public life at all, make sure you’re giving a man a boner while you’re doing so or at least look as if you’re trying to.  Whatever you do, don’t do anything that reminds men that they’re not the bloody centre of the universe.


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Telegraph does whole article about teaching men how not to rape while continuing to mis-educate about rape


Here’s an article that wound me up today, I invite you to be wound up too:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11267651/Do-footballers-need-to-take-rape-prevention-classes.html

Let’s start with the course itself.  It’s apparently “designed to prevent professional sportsmen from becoming embroiled in sexual allegations”.  What do they mean by sexual allegations?  An allegation that someone’s penis isn’t very big?  That they didn’t go on for long enough?  That they made funny sniffing noises during sex?  That their personal grooming wasn’t all it should be?  Somehow, I don’t think those are the sorts of allegations this article is talking about.  I think they’re talking about allegations involving unlawful sexual behaviour like rape or other assault. 
The article discusses how footballers are likely to become “embroiled in sexual allegations” because “their age, fame and disposable income make them susceptible to the type of scenario where things go wrong.”

Things go wrong?  Really?  They just “go wrong” do they?  Without anyone doing anything to make them “go wrong”?  In general when it comes to embroilment in sexual allegations, it’s not because things have somehow inexplicably gone wrong, it’s because someone has actually done something wrong.  Like sexually assaulted or raped somebody else, just as an example.  Using the passive voice in this context, is a deliberate removal of responsibility from the perpetrator of a criminal act.

“The lines get blurred” the article tells us, "there are situations where people do things that later, when alcohol has left their system, they regret".  Again with the old rape myths.  Lines don’t get blurred, men ignore women’s physical boundaries and decide that it doesn’t much matter if the woman they are with is actively participating in sex with them or not.  It’s not a question of “regret”, it’s a question of not having had a choice about whether you participated in a sexual act or not.  Young men don’t just need to learn what consent is, they actually need to learn what sex is: something you do with somebody, not just something you do on or to somebody.  It’s much easier to understand consent, if you already know that sex is a participatory activity.
And apparently saying out loud to someone “fancy coming back to mine?” is proof of consent to sex if they agree they do fancy that.



I’m not actually opposed to daft young men learning what consent is and that they have a responsibility not to engage in sexual activity if there’s any doubt whatsoever that they have it.  But when the Telegraph report it, do they need to unquestioningly use the usual assumptions, rape myths and victim-blaming language found in our rape-friendly culture?  Can’t they do a little bit better than this?  #Fail

Friday, 19 September 2014

NAMALT and #NotInMyName


What a week it’s been.
A South African athlete got away with killing his model and activist girlfriend, in the UK a man killed his daughter to punish her mother and another one killed his whole family, 2 famous white British men pontificated about why women and girls are responsible for ensuring men don’t attack or harass them and a Thai minister nearly wrecked the tourism industry by declaring that it’s not safe for women to wear bikinis in Thailand (presumably because he thinks bikinis may cause previously blameless men to become rapists and murderers).

First it was Richard Dawkins at the weekend.  “If you want to drive, don’t get drunk. If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk” he tweeted.

Now, where to start?

Firstly, drinking and driving is a criminal offence, while drinking on its own, isn’t.  Raping on the other hand, is also a criminal offence whether or not you’ve been drinking.  Or indeed, whether your victim has.

Then followed a series of tweets where other rape apologists agreed with him and some people challenged him.
But basically, he implied that if a woman wants justice for rape, she’d better ensure she plans it properly, like she would if she’d decided not to drive that night because she wanted to drink.  Remember laydeez, if you’re planning on being raped, don’t drink!  Not sure if he extends the prohibition on drinking to everyone as we may all be the victim of or witness to a crime at any time, so we should probably give up drinking now as if a crime occurs, we may not be able to give an accurate account of it.

I suspect he would find that unreasonable.  This is our culture’s offering of a towering intellect.

The next one was Alan Titchmarsh, gardener and nincompoop. I was slightly baffled as to what Laura Bates from Everyday Sexism was doing on a gardening show and then I discovered that it isn’t a gardening show, it’s one of those chat shows with a mix of everything, including Laura (who did a sterling job refuting the crap the white men were talking), Kathy Lette and the appallingly smug Nick Ferrari, whoever he is. I don’t know whether Alan thought that as it’s daytime TV no-one will be watching so it’s OK to cheerfully declare that children wearing “inappropriate” clothes might be said to be  “asking for it” when builders cat-call them, but he obviously realised after he’d said it, that the show does actually have an audience and so he was careful to emphasise that he didn’t condone all this sexual harassment, he was just observing it.  And Nick Ferrari, his bloated self-satisfied guest, pretended that workplace sexual harassment was just silly women making a fuss about nothing.
Here’s the thing men: if you pretend that you’re an honest broker simply observing “life as it is” without condemning sexism, then women are entitled to assume you’re in favour of it.  There has been an awful lot of rubbish talked recently in the media about how Britain’s Muslims should stand up and be counted, come out and tell Muslims who are beheading people in the middle east, #Notinmyname, distance themselves from such excesses being done in the name of their faith.

I call upon the likes of men like Dawkins, Ferrari, Titchmarsh and ALL men, to stand up and come out in favour of women’s humanity.  Stop validating misogynists by pretending that women are exaggerating misogyny and the effects of it. Stop aiding and abetting rapists and predators by letting them know that you can be relied upon to demand that their victims are perfect, before you will allow them to be considered victims.   Stop giving a nod and a wink to other men who do the dirty work of keeping women in our place (beneath you) while you pretend you don’t benefit from what they do because you’re too cowardly and dishonest to acknowledge it.  Stand up and be counted.
Oh of course I don't call upon men to acknowledge women's humanity and offer us some solidarity.  I’m expecting to see a flock of flying pigs being herded by a crowd of flying swineherds bleating that NAMALT*, before I see men as a group holding their bros to account for their abuse of women.

 

*Not All Men Are Like That

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

27 things women hate in bed. Rape and sexual assault being some of them.

I raised an eyebrow – or two – when this Metro article which details 27 things men apparently do in bed (though not in my bloody bed, thanks), which women hate, came up on my Facebook feed. http://metro.co.uk/2014/05/03/27-things-men-do-in-bed-that-women-hate-4717030/  For your ease and comfort, I’ve gone through all 27 things to learn how the sexual revolution is progressing.

1. ‘When they try to recreate sex positions that they’ve obviously seen on some online porn site, and you end up basically doing a headstand, looking a mess and having to listen to them say: “You’re loving that aren’t you babes?” Err, no.’
Try not to go to bed with men who watch porn.  They are shit in bed.  Fact.
2. ‘When you’re on top and they’re just staring at you and it’s like, ahhh what face do I pull? So you just close your eyes and hope for the best.’
I have no advice on this.  I am unfamiliar with the face pulling dilemma.
3. ‘When they ask YOU to put the condom on. Just no.’
This is personal taste.  Do if you want, don’t if you don’t. Remember, sex is supposed to be fun.
4. ‘When they think it’s sexy to spank you so hard that you just want to turn around and punch them in the face.’
This is common assault and is a criminal offence under English law.  Men who are spanking you, should have had a discussion with  you beforehand to see if a) you want him to spank you and b) how hard and how long and c) what signal you are going to give if you want him to lay off.  Any man who doesn’t do this, is committing assault if he just ups and spanks you without checking with you first that that’s what you want.
5. ‘When they just stop, and it’s like, “hello? Did you hear me orgasm?” No.’
Well this is about communication and having a lover who thinks your orgasm actually matters.  If he doesn’t, stop going to bed with him.
6. ‘Asking “do you like that?” How about just don’t talk and see if I look like I don’t want to kill myself/watch Family Guy over your shoulder.’

Again, this is communication.  I don’t have a problem with men asking “do you like that?” – they seem to me to have the edge over men who assume you “like that” without asking – but if you don’t want men to ask you stuff in bed, tell them so.  Sex should be fun.

7. ‘When you give them a blow job and they start f*****g your face as if you don’t have a gag reflex. How about I’m sick all over your penis?’
A man who does this without asking first, is committing oral rape.  Agreeing to give someone a blow job, does not imply agreeing to be deliberately choked and a man who thinks it does, isn’t a man any woman should be having sex with. 
8. ‘When they ask you to strip (which is always awkward – what music do you put on?) and then your skinny jeans get stuck round your ankles.’

Personal taste and communication again.  If you don’t want to strip, don’t. You should be having fun.

9. ‘When they see random things they’ve read online and think they’re a good idea. Err no, I don’t want ice rubbed all over my body.’ 
Again, personal taste.  There’s nothing wrong with asking someone if they’d like to try something. But you should bear in mind that whatever you're asking them to do, might reasonably be regarded as fun for them. If you then go ahead and do it when that person has made it clear they don’t want you to, you are committing a sexual assault.
10. ‘When you’re in the middle of foreplay and they thrust a finger up your bum with NO warning.’ 
That’s called sexual assault again. 
11. ‘When they drag it out because they’re waiting for you to orgasm first. You’re going to be waiting a while for that…’
Communication again. Sex sounds like not much fun so far.  Dragging it out sounds pretty dreary, what happened to the sexual revolution?
12. ‘Trying to go down on you in the morning when you’re feeling really unsexy and unclean. Just gross.
Meh.  Personal taste there. I don’t care if I feel unclean, but if you do and someone tries to do anything to your body that you don’t want them to, they are committing sexual assault.
13. ‘Putting their fingers in all your holes at once like they’re playing some sort of instrument. Far too confusing, you just don’t know what’s going on down there.’ 
Again, if they haven’t actually asked you, if they’re not tuning in with what you are doing while doing sex with them, this is sexual assault. 
14. ‘When they think it’s a good idea to stick objects in you. Just no.’ 
Without consent = sexual assault.  And er, a bit of detail about what sort of objects might be instructive.  Items of furniture?  Useful camping equipment?  WTF?
15. ‘Casually trying to have anal sex without asking and without lube. It does not just slip in there.’
This is rape. You don’t “casually” try to penetrate anyone’s body without their consent.
16. ‘Being so aggressive with their hands during foreplay that they pretty much give you internal bleeding and bruising.
This is sexual assault.
17. ‘Nipple biting. It just f*****g hurts.’
This is sexual assault.
18. ‘Pulling your hair so hard you scream and your eyes water.’
This is assault.
19. ‘Baggy boxers. Eww.’
This is sartorial incompetence, but it’s down to personal taste.
20. ‘Man stubble. And not the type that’s on his face.’
Personal taste and communication.
21. ‘When a bloke wants to do 69 but insists he’s on top, so you basically suffocate under his smelly sack. Vom.’
Without having checked that you want this to happen, this is another sexual assault.
22. ‘Eating fried chicken before a blow job. Pretty much the worst taste imaginable.’
Don’t give him a blow job.  There’s no law that says someone has to have a blow job just because he wants one.
23. ‘When men rush foreplay and think you’re going to orgasm from 27 seconds of finger pumping.
They’re incompetent lovers.  Don’t go to bed with them, find someone more competent.  Preferably someone who isn’t into porn, so hasn’t learned lots of crap about sex from misogynist porn merchants and knows that sex is supposed to be fun for all parties doing it.
24. ‘Wanting to cum on your face, in your hair, in your eyes.’
Well he can want, but if he does it without consent, it’s a sexual assault.  Again.
25. ‘Being passive aggressive when they can’t make you orgasm. So sexy.’
Um, dump this guy.
26. ‘Trying to remove underwear with their teeth. What even is that?’
Well, enterprising and ambitious, if pointless.  Men should ask if women want them to do this.  Obviously.
27. ‘Not cleaning properly. It’s not attractive to taste urine.’
Don’t taste it.  As previously pointed out, no-one actually has to have a blow job. 
Now here’s the thing about this list: it makes heterosexual sex look like an endurance test for women, rather than a fun, recreational activity. I’m puzzling as to why Metro would have published an article like this, with no comment about some of the things women “hate” which actually constitute criminal assaults.  Without any comment about the nature of sex which assumes that to have it, women don’t need to enjoy it or even reluctantly consent to it.  Without any helpline numbers to make clear to women, that they don’t have to and indeed shouldn’t be putting up with any sexual treatment which they don’t actively want as part of their sexual repertoire.
Last time I had sex with a man, it was fun.  I thought it was supposed to be.  In fact, for me, that’s the base line of sex – that it’s fun.  If it isn’t, then I don’t do it.  That’s what I thought was supposed to constitute normal.  But apparently, I should be enduring all sorts of sexual torture, humiliation and distaste because… well, I don’t know really, what, because sex isn’t supposed to be fun?  Not once in this article, is there any comment about the basic thing everyone needs to know about sex: that it should be fun for both (or all) parties and if one person isn’t enjoying it, then it needs to stop.  That is the basic rule of sex and that so many people don’t know that and that newspapers like Metro are still not making people aware of that, is alarming.
This sort of article, without comment, normalises the expectation that women shouldn’t expect sex to be enjoyable or fun; indeed, that they should expect pain, humiliation and shock to be some kind of ersatz-fun.  Because sex isn’t about enjoying yourself, sharing a great natural resource with your lover who respects you and knows that part of the fun of sex, is knowing that you are turning on the other partner.  No, sex is all about men’s pleasure when they use women as wank socks.  And in order to hang on to their boyfriend and not have the horrendous fate of being – oh horror! – single, women should just STFU and accept that this is part of the deal.
I’m curious to know if Metro is going to follow up this article with an acknowledgement that many of the practices it lists, are actually criminal offences at worst and inconsiderate, incapable sexual behaviour by men at best, sexual behaviour that the sexual revolution told women was abolished.

Here’s betting they won’t.  Here’s betting that this article will merely be added to the pile of dross that helps rape culture to flourish.

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.