Silent? Not me… A post about hate speech, and why I won’t be shutting up after all…

 

 

There’s a problem with being a feminist. Every now and then, you find those who believe men should have the right to abuse, rape and kill women will hit back, in what they think is the worst way. And when you’re a radical feminist, with a male child, they believe they have an extra line of attack. Or they can attack your experience of rape. Or they can send you thinly veiled threats, in the style of an illiterate Blondie/One Direction fan. They think they can scare you into silence. Instead, they forget they’re sending these threats to someone who borrows insults to add to her profile, and, even at the worst points in their life, takes solace in writing. So, to my darling little trolls, thank you for the writing prompts. If you have any more, you know where to submit them.

Now, firstly, if you have shit with me, then fair enough. But the fact you’ve chosen to attack my son by proxy says a lot about you. The fact I can love and care for a young boy, whilst challenging men’s violence against women terrifies some people. It doesn’t add up. According to them, I’m some frothing man hater, who must be channelling my hatred of men onto my son. I confuse you all, don’t I? In the MRAs mind, I’m supposed to hate men. Seriously. If you think I hate all men, you’re not paying enough attention. Seriously, your stalking skills are somewhat lacking. But the fact you’d drag a child into your attacks concerns me. Do you do the same with children in your own life? I suspect so. Which, you know, saddens me a lot.

As for attacking my experience of rape, telling me that I deserved it… I know this didn’t come from the same troll. I’m feeling slightly honoured that I have more than one. But seriously. Telling someone they deserved to be raped? I’m assuming you’re from “Justice For Ched”. You’re not helping your cause. At all. I’m open about my experience for a reason. I know I didn’t deserve to be raped. No one does. It doesn’t matter if they’ve drunk the bar dry, taken every drug available to man, whether they’re prostitutes, or even the person who sent me that “question”.  Seriously. None of your victim blaming bullshit is going to make me believe anyone deserves to be raped. If men could refrain from raping, that would be lovely, thanks. And if people could stop applauding men for raping, that would be even better.

But, a quick note to the MRAs, the Justice For Ched brigade… Those who hate women THAT much… Other people may shut up because of you. But surely you all know by now that any silence from me is temporary, and most likely coincidental. Seriously. I have a life outside Twitter, Facebook, WordPress. You know what I feel is relevant. And, to Kathryn Rice, yes, that does included that detail about my nephew. I’ve never claimed to be perfect. Nor have I claimed that my family are. But my feminism includes being honest. Sometimes brutally. And not standing for bullshit, either. I can promise you. My family’s actions don’t define me as a feminist, but they sure as hell encourage my feminism. And no, that doesn’t mean I’ll step down from challenging your bullshit.

Feminism Isn’t Just About The Middle Classes… Stop Letting Middle Class Feminists Speak For Us

There’s an old cliche which is oft repeated; “Feminism is a middle class phenomenon.” This is supposed to be one of the concerns about feminism, often uttered by those very women decrying radical feminism as not being intersectional enough.

I’m, to put it bluntly, an underclass feminist. I’ve spent the past five years of my life trying to escape the benefit trap, only for such attempts to be thwarted by debt, financial difficulty, and ill mental health. I had the privilege of completing a year of university, before having to leave due to the effects of post traumatic stress disorder, depression and crippling debt caused by several outside factors. For me, phoning the university to withdraw from my course was just another reminder of the fact I wasn’t middle class, unlike my course mates.

Today’s New Statesmen Feminism debate was another harsh reminder of how the liberal feminist movement forgets the women it begs radical feminism to remember. I mean no disrespect to each of the panellists, before I start. But liberal feminist conferences seem to be dominated, primarily, by white middle class women. And judging by the feedback from #nsfem, these are white, middle class, heterosexual feminists. These are the women who are likely to have successful careers, or can afford to stay at home with the kids. These are women likely to have been able to finish their university education, because they weren’t caught in the poverty trap at the same time. These aren’t women who were at risk of female genital mutilation, or forced marriage during their childhood. And these probably weren’t the woman who felt pushed into prostitution due to the poverty trap. They’ll have their own battles, but these were battles which went unanswered at #NSFem See, recent welfare cuts are affecting women all over. But #NSFem left this battle unchallenged. The question of why the panel was all female was asked, but audience members begged for talks of male violence against women, using the #NSFem hashtag.

But I’m sick, to the back teeth, of the feminism class wars. Whilst the lib fems are busy bashing the rad fems for “not being intersectional enough”, they ignore that they’re guilty of exactly the same thing. As an underclass feminist, with I find myself frequently having to decline turning up to feminist events. It would be fucking wonderful to say, just for once, “yes, I’ll definitely be at…” whichever feminist event is coming up. It would be wonderful to know I wasn’t trapped by poverty, and know that I could attend any interview without worrying too much about how much I’d be spending on travel/interview clothes.  It’d be a fucking dream to know that I could stand up there, and speak about the issues facing working class women, alongside my sisters. I’d love to know that there was a lesbian feminist stood next to me, talking of her experiences, or a woman of colour talking of her own oppression. I can’t speak for them. Likewise, the middle class feminists can’t speak for me.

The Oversimplification of Feminism, And How It’s Destroying Us

2011. Sat in Gatwick airport, I found myself reading a quote from Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman, in which Moran described how to tell if you’re a feminist.

so, here is a quick way of working out if you’re a feminist. Put your hand in your pants.

a) Do you have a vagina?

b) Do you want to be in charge of it?

If you said yes to both, congratulations, you’re a feminist.

I’d been up since 3:30 that morning, left the house at 5:10, and travelled 200 miles with two suitcases, a grumpy three year old, and successfully manoeuvred the London Underground without falling into London Below. I think I deserved the groan which escaped me at this point.

See, the oversimplification of feminism is something that’s beginning to bug me. Well, I say “beginning”. It’s been annoying me since I took baby steps into the world of Feminism. You can own a vagina, believe you should be in charge of it, and not be a feminist. I’ll stick you in a room with any of my female relatives for half an hour, and my point will be proven. Do I think the women who accuse rape victims of lying are feminists? Hell no. Do I think women who try to enforce compulsory heterosexuality are feminists? Nope. So, obviously, Moran’s definition is a *little* too simplistic  to explain what feminism really is.

So, imagine my shock when a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a quiz which reduced feminism even further. ARE YOU A FEMINIST? it asked. “Well, duh…” I sighed. And so the quiz began.

Do you think all human beings are equal?

Are we all equal? Apparently, “no” was the wrong answer. But claiming we’re all equal is a lie. Women are still raped and abused by men, at horrific rates. So no, we’re not still equal. Infant girls are still murdered for the sole reason that they’re female. So no, we’re not equal. Last year, a two year old girl was rescued from a forced marriage, here in Britain. So no, crappy over simplistic “feminist” test, WE ARE NOT ALL EQUAL. I’m not sure I even want equality with a class who allows a global genocide of women. I’d rather we got liberation. But if your crappy little test wants to lie, and convince those would-be feminists that we’ve got equality, then you may as well pack up your pickets and head home. We’ll take the battle from here.

Anyway, head back and give the “acceptable” answer, the one which sounds remarkably like our beloved MRA’s bleating “but you already have equality!”, select a lie, and get to question number 2.

Do you think women are human beings?

Oh for sapphos’ sake. Even the most misogynistic men I know would answer “yes” to this. But if they treat women as humans is another question…

For me, the definition of feminism is a bit more complicated than either provided above. If you google the word “feminism,” the first definition given is:

The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men.

As of yet, we don’t have equality to men on any of those grounds. So why are so called feminist lying to us? To me, feminism is about believing women’s histories, not telling our daughters that their value is only equal to the man they marry, about aiming to liberate ourselves, not only for now, but for our future. And it’s about remembering other women aren’t the enemy, no matter how damn much we disagree with them, no matter how much we believe they’re supporting the patriarchy. Supporting the patriarchy doth not an enemy make. It makes a victim. And to me, feminism is about saying we’ll fight for the liberation of those victims as well. Loosening the blindfold and untying their hands so they can find the power to escape with us.

Oversimplifying feminism lies to women, it harms us. It claims we already have equality, and accepts anyone as a feminist with no questions. It’s paths like this which see Femen and Hugo Schwyzer celebrated. It’s the oversimplification of feminism which tells us we don’t need those pickets, because everyone’s an ally. They’re not. We see feminist pages sharing Lennon quotes, whilst forgetting his abuse of women. We see the patriarchal lie shoved down our throats, force fed to us. “We have equality,” they claim. “EVERYONE is on our side,” they lie, using the lie that we have equality to allow further abuse of women.