A Celeb’s Guide To Misrepresenting Feminism

“[I'm not a feminist] because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance. With myself, I’m very in touch with my masculine side. And I’m 50 percent feminine and 50 percent masculine, same as I think a lot of us are. And I think that is important to note. And also I think that if men went down and women rose to power, that wouldn’t work either. We have to have a fine balance.”

Shailene Woodley – “Shailene Woodley on Why She’s Not a Feminist, Time, 2014-05-06

There’s been a lot of talk of Shailene Woodley of late. Having taken on the role of Hazel in the movie adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, and Tris in the recent adaptation of Divergent. For weeks, the media representation of her has been, on the whole, positive. 

It didn’t take long, however, for the above article to find itself gaining attention through Tumblr, and rightly so. 

The problem we have is that the aims of feminism have been distorted by the patriarchy sufficiently enough throughout the years that, even when attempting to resurrect a women’s group in my home town two years ago, the previous chair of the group interjected “We’re not crazy feminists, though. We’re not ripping off our bras and burning them, just trying to get a woman friendly space.” (Does anyone even remember where the bra-burning trope came from?)

Women are picking up on pro-woman messages, feminist messages, but even upon citing them feel the need to rebuff them. After all, we’ve been taught that feminism is a dirty word, usually by people who have no problem calling any woman who says otherwise a ‘bitch’, or likening her to Hitler. We’ve attached a stigma to the words ‘I am pro-woman’, ‘I am a strong woman’, and so forth that many celebs feel the need to suffix these words with ‘but I’m not a feminist’. 

But the problem we have as women is that we so frequently take our definition of feminism from men, whether we intend to or not. My first exposure to the ‘dirty word feminist’, was whilst calling out a customer’s sexual harassment, at which point, it was asked whether I was one of those ‘bloody feminists’. Feminism wasn’t something that was discussed in my household, nor in my school. And whilst I was reading articles in Bliss, More and Company about sexual harassment, rape and abuse, none of them ever name-checked feminism itself. So whilst women-produced media sets out the basics of feminism for so many young women, albeit the bare basics and an often contradictory message, so many girls and women first meet the term with a side order of derision. 

We need to stop allowing men to use feminist as a silencer, and this needs to stop. But what also needs to stop is the culture of celebrity dismissing feminism as wanting nothing more than female superiority and that ever pervasive myth of misandry. 

What we need more recognition for, however, are the celebrities who make pro-feminist statements beyond stating a woman’s right to be ‘sexy’. We need more women like Anne Hathaway, (although the only declaration of Hathaway being a feminist comes from another self-proclaimed feminist, Lena Dunham) and we need a fuckton more women like Ellen Page, and Louise Brealey who cites herself as a feminist very publicly on her Twitter biography. And, as I leave, I think we all need to consider this quote from Ellen Page, who puts it more succintly than I ever could. 

“But I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. Maybe some women just don’t care. But how could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?”

On my absence from the blog

So, for some of you, it’ll be clear I haven’t been on this blog for quite some time. Updates have been sparse at best. And for me, it’s been a matter of self preservation. 

Many of you know of my past. It laces throughout this blog, and spills over in my more rage fuelled tweets. A lot of you even know of my illnesses, particularly of the PTSD. It’s that which has kept me from the blog since the last update, almost six months ago. 

My health spent quite some time steadily declining, worsened by the comments from my mother in relation to my weight gain. Worsened by the threat of losing my home near Christmas last year. Worsened by hearing that the first of my rapists had become a father. I reached the point that I no longer felt anger or sadness when writing about men’s violence towards women. Frequently, I felt nothing more than numb. And when I feel despondent at best; when I come to expect the horrors I write about, then I find myself losing hope. 

Thankfully, I have developed a few friendships of late; survivors of abuse, women living with PTSD. Or sometimes just people who do what those I came to call family in the previous 25 years of my life are incapable of. Respecting my own needs. I wouldn’t say I’m in recovery yet. But I’m reaching a space which has seemed alien to me for half a year. 

I have never stopped writing, but at long last, I feel ready to begin writing here again. It may take time until the updates are frequent, and the blog posts meaningful. But in short, I intend to return. 

#16Days: Erasing The Victims of Men’s Violence

We hear the statistic so frequently. In the UK, two women a week are killed by a current or former partner, and in most cases, there is documented proof of abuse in the relationship.

As a quick note, non-abusive men do not kill their former or current partners. Non-abusive men do not use intimidation or threats against women’s lives to ensure their wishes are met. Just because abuse isn’t documented in some of these murders, doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. It merely wasn’t recorded. So when people tell me a man who has murdered his current or former partner was ‘such a nice guy’, I call bullshit.

But the two women a week statistic is a lie. These statistics aren’t being exaggerated, or overestimated, much as those who hate women would like to claim otherwise. Instead, they ignore 60 – 83% of domestic violence related deaths.

On Monday, an acquaintance of mine raised the subject of suicides in relation to domestic abuse; an area which seems to be largely ignored. I found a statistic that sent me reeling into a state of shock; that 30 women a day attempt suicide in order to escape domestic violence. For those who were wondering, that works out to 210 a week, or 480 during the 16 Days of Activism.

Of those 210 attempts each week, between 3 and 10 women successfully commit suicide. I’ve found conflicting statistics, with Enfield’s Health and Wellbeing service stating the higher number. [x] Yet these women’s deaths are largely ignored when measuring the extent of men’s violence against women. Men may actively kill two women a week, but their violence is factored in to at least five deaths nationally a week. We serve the victims of men’s violence no justice if we ignore those killed by suicide.

We need better discussion around the invisible fatalities of men’s violence. We need for women to know that there is support out there; not just in relation to domestic violence, but with regards to suicide and helping these women to survive. We need for those involved in helping women who are experiencing domestic violence, or who have done in the past, to be aware of the number of women who attempt suicide daily. We need those who help victims and survivors of domestic abuse to know the warning signs in relation to suicide,and for them to receive training in how to help women who are contemplating suicide. And we need to hold men accountable when their violence is a factor in a woman’s attempt to take her own life, whether she survives the attempt or not.

But most of all, we need to give these women hope. And we need to let them know that they are not alone.

Further reading:

Refuge: Taking Lives campaign -
http://refuge.org.uk/takinglives/

Enfield Health and Well-Being: Domestic Violence - http://www.enfield.gov.uk/healthandwellbeing/info/15/enfield_place/187/domestic_violence

Rape Victim calls for law change as three women a week commit suicide to escape violent partners -
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/rape-victim-calls-law-change-2644286

Domestic Violence, Forced Marriage and ‘Honour’ Based Violence -
Volume 2

Victim’s suicide leads to fight for new law-
http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/Victim-s-suicide-leads-fight-new-law/story-19996117-detail/story.html

Refuge call for 16 days of fundraising against domestic violence -
http://www.feministtimes.com/refuge-calls-for-16-days-of-fundraising-against-domestic-violence/

The Return of The Dragon

As a lot of you will be aware, I’ve been rather inactive of late. I would offer an apology, but I’ve had more important things to deal with. Even real-life contacts have seen and heard less from me, with the exception of my sister-in-law and a very small group of friends.

In addition, I couldn’t help but feel a little disenchanted; a moment I suspect every feminist from every wave has had at some point. Maybe I’ve been oblivious over the past few years, but the summer in particular seemed to spurn a lot of women against each other. I found it necessary to withdraw somewhat, for my own well-being.

I’ve not ceased writing, nor anything with regards to feminism. I have, however, been writing elsewhere, albeit intermittently. But I have also been focusing on my fiction writing, and have probably written more in the past four months alone than I have in the past ten years.

I shall be attempting to resurrect this blog. It will take time, and I’m not naive enough to believe otherwise. But returning to this is something I feel I need to do. Not for anyone else, but in one of the first entirely selfish decisions I’ve made in a long time, for myself and myself alone.

#TwitterSilence? Silence won’t save us.

In light of the abuse aimed at Caroline Criado-Perez, Sunday 4th August was declared by some a Twitter ‘Trolliday’, or a day of #TwitterSilence. 

Of late, I’ve not been as active on Twitter. At times, silence comes naturally. For me, it’s the result of a need to retreat instinctively. For all my boisterous moments, I tend to need just as much time (if not more) to reflect. Natural silence is something that should be applauded, celebrated even, in the right circumstances. But it’s when silence is forced that concern is raised. And concerned, I am.

The Twitter Silence has seen some high profile names raise the issue of online abuse, bringing it to the forefront of discussion. But the irony strikes me with a certain bitterness. Our oppressors want our silence. Will they really strike up some new found empathy  with us in the light of a 24 hour twitter boycott? Doubtful. It merely teaches those that hate women that they can drive us off, in our hundreds. Thousands, even. 

At what point did we decide we stop discussion in the vain hope it would get our plight noticed? Silence from women is applauded by those who hate women. Our absence would be celebrated. #TwitterSilence teaches those who aim to silence women that it’s achievable. They merely need to push hard enough. 

Instead, we need to shout back louder. They want silence. I’m sure as hell not willing to give silence as a reaction to abuse. I know this is late in the day. I know many have logged off for the day, and won’t be back until the end of Sunday. But those who fall silent, those who co-ordinated the silence seem to be missing a key point. We have brought about changes over the past two weeks; From Caroline’s campaign to stop the erasure of women on UK banknotes, to the campaign for Twitter to tighten up it’s abuse policies and make reporting easier – These campaigns haven’t come about through silence, nor has silence contributed to their success. Silence doesn’t work. Instead, we need to keep shouting back. 

We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t. – Gloria Steinem

#RadFem2013; As The Misogyny Continues, “Watabouttehmenz!?”

#rapeculture

#mansplaining

#misogyny #lesbiphobia

#CookiesForTheNiceGuyNigel

I assume the trans community are pissed about statements like this, too?…

#TeamYouShouldBeAngryAboutThis

#RapeCulture

#TeamWatabouttehmenz #NotEvenGoingToExplain

#CompulsorySandwichTweet

#CompulsoryBullyingOfCaitlinMoran

#CompulsoryExtremistLabel

#CompulsoryGodwinsLaw

That old killer, misandry, eh?

What?… #Facepalm

#Lies

I just don’t even…

 

Nick Ross: It’s Not Child Porn, It’s Child Rape, And It Shouldn’t Be Appealing To Your “Curiousity”.

“We’re all inquisitive. I had never seen, until I started working on Crimewatch, child pornography… I think if someone came to me and said: ‘Would you like to see what all the fuss is about?’, I’m sorry, I probably would say yes.”

- Nick Ross, as cited in The Telegraph; June 2013

Every once in a while, someone opens their mouth and utters something so preposterous that I think I’ve woken up in some alternate reality. Today’s reality being that proposed by Nick Ross… One in which the rape of children is acceptable, and curiousity is an acceptable justification for viewing the aforementioned rapes. But this isn’t an alternate reality. It’s rape culture at full swing.

Child porn is child sexual abuse; the rape of children filmed and distributed to men who wish to rape children. Allowing Child Rape to thrive under the guise of “porn” allows the continued and furthered rape of children; a spiralling vortex. The producers care not why the rapes they film is being viewed; they care only that it’s being viewed.