Women: Always asking for it, unless we don’t.

Today, while wading through the mire that is Twitter, I noticed a tweet from @jessphillips where she had retweeted a man telling her that the abuse she is getting is her fault because she dared to be a woman in public (I paraphrase).

Basically, she’s asking for it.

 

Also on Twitter, a dear friend who has been stalked by the same man for over 2 years is told that, if she didn’t want to receive the death threats from him that she documents, she should shut up about rape culture and violence toward women and girls.

She’s asking for it.

 

A young woman goes to a party in a US college town, she gets so drunk she becomes unconscious and a man leads her behind a dumpster and proceeds to commit despicable sexual crimes against her until he is caught red handed. At his trial his backers and he blame “college drinking culture”. She was too drunk to voice her lack of consent.

She asked for it.

 

It seems that when women are perceived as ‘asking for’ abuse, torture, rape and harm, we invariably get what we ask for. And yet, when we ask for equal representation, equal pay, freedom from torture and abuse and for men to stop raping us, well, then it’s just too much to ask, isn’t it?

 

 

Anger, the emotion that dare not speak it’s name (if you’re a woman)

Sit quietly.

Don’t make a fuss.

Don’t take it to heart.

Why are you so angry all the time?

Female socialisation. The things that girls hear every day that shapes their minds and their mental maps of how the world is supposed to be. Carers, nurturers, helpmeets, sugar and spice and all things nice, that’s girls and women for you, and woe betide any that fall outside this narrow band of descriptors.

 

I have news for you. Women are angry. Steaming. Roaring. Angry.

 

Today, in Spalding a woman and her daughter were killed by her husband. Has this been linked in any way to the 2-3 women killed every week by a former or present partner? Of course not. The murderer has been described as a nice, caring guy by one of his neighbours. And yet, nice caring men don’t generally get a shotgun, load it and murder the people they are supposed to be nicest and most caring towards.

 

Yesterday, a Tory county councillor tweeted that in his day wolf whistling merely prepared girls for the big bad world. I suppose on the one hand, it’s good that he’s admitting that wolf whistling is on the violence against women spectrum, but not so good that he sees that as ok. That an elected official thinks the systemic abuse of women by men is ok as long as girls are prepared early for it by slimy men commenting on their level of fuckability, often from very early ages, is a repulsive condemnation of his fellow men. It’s not however an unlikely scenario. Street harassment is a serious problem. It prevents women being able to take up public space. For some women, it prevents them being able to leave the house at all.

 

Yesterday as well, our government voted to spend over £200 billion on a nuclear toy. The same government that has made unprecedented cuts to services across the country. Cuts in legal aid, cuts in benefits, cuts in the NHS, cuts in police, cuts in refuges, cuts in children’s centres.. can you see the pattern yet, kids? Money that could have been spent to improve the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society is being ring-fenced for a toy that no one will ever play with, because hopefully, no one is that stupid.

 

All of this, and we’re supposed to sit quietly, not make a fuss and possibly make a cup of tea.

 

Well no. Women are angry, angry about the pay gap, the sexual objectification of women being normalised, emotional labour, unpaid caring, wifework, shitework, being told to be silent, or being told we’re too angry, too loud. Feminazis.

 

Well, get used to it. The time has come for anger. If you don’t want it aimed at you, don’t be part of the problem.

Mother’s Day, when your mother hates you.

Today is always bittersweet.

 

My older son has sided firmly with my mother, she’s a better financial bet, I suppose, and despite his non materialistic upbringing, he’s always saved his first shilling. I suppose being brought up in poverty will do that to a child. If you don’t know if your mum will be able to afford shoes or even food, then money takes on a specific meaning. So, I tend to get a perfunctory HMD! on Facebook, while she has the flowers and cards and fuss made. It’s actually fine. I get it, I really do.

 

My younger son has ASD, so it’s always a bit touch and go as to whether he’ll remember, despite my husband reminding him and giving him the money. And taking him to the shop. And offering to order flowers. He forgot. And that’s fine too. When you’re whole life is taken up with trying to pretend to come from the same planet as humans, then fripperies like cards are probably not high on your list of priorities. I did get a hug. For those of you in the know, hugs from people like my boy are rare, like gold dust, like fine wine. Something to be savoured and treasured.

 

My husband doesn’t do cards, but he and his brothers made a fuss of my mother in law, because his dad died last summer. So I have no cards, no bunches of flowers, and that’s fine. Not sour grapes fine, actually fine. I know all year round that I’m loved now and that’s worth more than any Hallmark moments.

 

My mother is an abusive alcoholic. There, I said it. Best to get it out there fast, or we all forget to mention it in the need to cover up for her behaviour. In the desire my brother and I have to seem like we come from a normal family. My brother and his wife and daughters spent today with my mother. I know that he will have been carefully monitoring how many glasses of wine she’d had, I know he’ll make sure that he gets away before she’s had her 5th one, because that’s when it all starts.I know he’ll have had to listen to her telling him what an ungrateful evil bitch I am because I couldn’t find a card that I could send with any level of sincerity. Somehow, despite her telling everyone that I am a liar, I can’t lie and send her a “World’s Greatest Mother” or “Thank you for always being there for me” sentiment, it would be a farce. I can’t tell a woman who nearly destroyed me that I love her.

 

And yet. And yet, here I am happy. I know that I have good friends. I know that I am loved and cared for. And the part of me that cries and wishes for her to tell me she’s sorry gets smaller every day.

 

This is dedicated to all the women I love, whether they are mothers or not, today, I’d like you to take a bow, in many ways, you have mothered me more completely than my biological one did. You have encouraged me to know that I have value. I hope you see the value in yourselves.

We believe you, and other lies and half truths.

Yesterday, on an anonymous forum, I finally found out what some women really think about women who have been raped and didn’t report their attacker.

 

They “enable” men to rape again.

They bear some blame for that man’s criminal activities in the future.

They have a moral obligation to other women to report, and if they fail to do so, they are in some way morally blameworthy if that man goes on to rape again. Which he no doubt will since rapists never rape once.

 

This destroyed me. I didn’t sleep last night, so now you get to read my thoughts about it all.

I was raped many years ago by a family friend. Pillar of the community he was, endlessly trustworthy and kind… except for his thing about raping young girls. I was a child. It was at a time when the police were even more useless at dealing with victims of sex attacks than they are now. I had got into his vehicle willingly, as I had many times before and he drove to a secluded spot and ripped my life away from me. Years later I would still see him, and he would always smile at me in a way that let me know that he was enjoying knowing he’d got away with it. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I found out that he had raped or seriously sexually assaulted every one of our friendship group. None of us knew about the others at the time. 20 young girls that we know of. There are almost certainly more that we don’t know of. It’s a leap to think that he spent 18 months raping young girls and then moved on to take up macramé as a hobby instead.

I didn’t report. I could have done. There was probably enough forensic evidence and evidence of force and struggle. He might even have been arrested. Possibly, if the gods were smiling, charged. And then what? Even now he would be bailed, possibly with a condition that he stayed away from me and mine. Then, I don’t know. On the very slim chance that it had made it to court, I’d have had to have faced him and told strangers what he had done to me, what he had made me do. All while he sat and smirked at me, because, let’s face it, a young girl from a ‘broken home’ doesn’t have much to say in the face of an adult male with a well respected job and years of charity work behind him do they? The chances are that it would never have come to court though. And I would, as all women who report their attacks and don’t see their attackers convicted are, have been painted forever as a “false accuser”.

I was about half way in line through the girls we know he raped. None of us reported. None of us told anyone for years about what he had done. We were all too ashamed to say anything. And yet, yesterday, I was told that because none of us reported, we are guilty of all the crimes he committed after he attacked us. Donna is as guilty of him raping me as he is, because she didn’t report. I am as guilty as he is when he raped Selina because I didn’t. And so it goes on.

This is of course utter bullshit. The only person guilty of his crimes is him. A group of young girls, terrified of him and a legal system that doesn’t care is not. I am no more guilty of his raping Selina, than Donna is of him raping me. Putting huge pressure on women to report their rape is another form of abuse in itself. It’s negating consent. It’s an emotionally violent and distressing position to put a woman in so shortly after she has been attacked. Our legal system is based on consent, we consent to be ruled by laws enshrined and enforced on our behalf by our agents in power. Rescinding that consent results in anarchy. Consent cannot be forced, women cannot be forced or guilted into reporting the crime against them.

Rape is a crime unlike any other. There is no other crime where the victim has to go to such lengths to prove that the crime actually took place or that, even if it did, the victim wasn’t in some way to blame. If you’re burgled, the first question you’re asked by the police is unlikely to be “Did you ask to be burgled?” or “Did you display your valuables in such a way as to make them tempting to a weak-willed burglar?”. If a woman is raped she will inevitably be asked, repeatedly, if she actually consented, what she was wearing, had she been drinking, is she SURE she didn’t consent, why was she there, why did she speak to that man, is she 100% super sure she didn’t consent? I absolutely understand that an accused person is deemed innocent until proven guilty, but, in the case of rape, the victim is somehow deemed guilty until proven innocent and this is in spite of changes made to the way rapes are investigated and prosecuted. Women know that, if it happens to them, their chances of seeing their attacker convicted and going to prison for it are negligible. We also know that the process of getting to that elusive goal is going to be unbelievably stressful, and, with too few ISVAs available, there is little support offered to victims.

The other bit of this is that it seems that, despite lip service paid by women about believing victims and supporting them, when it comes to the crunch, they still have a lot of internalised misogyny. Blaming victims for their attacker’s future actions unless they follow a course of action prescribed by them, a course of action they will hopefully never have to go through, or they will blame them for the future criminality of their attacker is the ESSENCE of victim blaming. You are telling a woman that, because a man chose to violate her, it’s up to her to stop him violating anyone else. More than that, you are prescribing a course of action to her, knowing how difficult and painful that will be, and how unlikely it is that it will change anything anyway.

Of course, women should be encouraged to report when they have been raped. They should be given support and help and be believed and listened to. However, they should report the crime because it’s a crime against THEM, not because they will feel a displaced guilt should their rapist go on to rape other women. But women should also be trusted to know when that process will be too difficult for her for all kinds of reasons. It is not Donna’s fault that that man chose to rape me. It is not my fault that he then chose to rape Selina, it is his, and his alone and the sooner society, even other women, stop finding ways to blame women for men’s violence against them, the better.

 

(names haven’t been changed. Sadly, this happens so often, that even knowing 2 of the names out of the series of victims won’t help anyone pin point anyone)

 

A bedtime story about trolls.

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Once upon a time, there was a campaign called NMP3, which aimed to stop tits being seen as news and a ‘man’ that we’ll call Shortarse McDickhead decided he didn’t like women speaking up and went on the attack.

He spent hours sending tweets, writing Facebook posts and generally being a nuisance

When the women at the NMP3 campaign had had enough of being nice, they blocked his accounts and this made Shortarse very cross indeed. So he started making up new accounts from which to do the same. Over and over again the women blocked him, and over and over again, he found new ways to harass them

Eventually, The Sun agreed that tits aren’t news and the NMP3 women had a well deserved break from being told that they were prudes who didn’t like sex from random men on the internet.

But Shortarse had his dander up. He thought that NO women should be able to say things he doesn’t like, so he looked about for a new campaign to harass.

One day, as he was trolling through Twitter, with his trusty trolling club by his side, he noticed a campaign called Yes Matters, which is run by a brave young woman whose sister had been murdered.

Shortarse didn’t like some of the things he thought that campaign was saying, so he decided that it would be a good idea to attack them too. He knew that the woman’s sister had been murdered, but he still thought it would be a good idea to harass her and make her life really difficult.

The woman who runs the campaign and some of the supporters of it spent ages showing Shortarse sources, full texts and context for the poster that made him so very angry, but Shortarse doesn’t like facts, he just likes stalking and harassing women.

Shortarse thought it was ok to say mean things to the women of the YM campaign, but it really isn’t, and those women decided to block him. Again, this made him very cross! How dare those women not listen to him and do as he says! So he made lots and lots of accounts (more than 100 so far) simply so that he could harass and stalk those women. One day, he would fixate on one woman, the next day on another but he would always have mean and rude things to say.

One day, the women supporting YM decided that enough was enough, and collated some of Shortarse’s tweets into a storify. This made him very cross and he stomped and thrashed and shouted, but you can’t argue with things you yourself have said.

He made all sorts of nasty threats to women. He said that he was going to find out a woman’s address and come with a camera crew to shout at her in her own home. Do you know what that’s called children? That’s right! It’s called a credible threat of violence! And we all know what happens when people threaten violence to others, don’t we? He has been warned over and over that what he is doing is breaking the law, but he doesn’t want to stop, he enjoys harming and abusing women on the internet.

This story isn’t quite finished yet children, Shortarse still has 19 active accounts on Twitter as of today. He is still tweeting abuse and threats to women who have asked him not to contact them ever again. He is still making threats to turn up at women’s doors.

So, children, can I ask you all to be very vigilant, and if you spot a nasty troll with his big troll club, that you block, report and ignore him? A very clever woman (who isn’t Lunarfish) regularly tweets out which accounts the troll is shouting from right now, If you’re clever children, you might like to follow because Shortarse isn’t very clever and we always know who he’s pretending to be now.

This was an amusing diversion for a few minutes, but it does have a serious message. Trolling and harassing women online is a crime. Even if you delete your abusive tweets, they can still be brought into evidence against you. As a rule of thumb… if you can’t say anything coherent, it might be an idea to go and play outside for a while.

No Dave, they aren’t a swarm. Insects swarm, these are people.

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In a slight departure from feminism, dogs and seabirds, I’m going to rant about how shoddily we’re treating refugees. I might do it again sometime.

There is a war going on. In fact, there are several. They are happening in countries that we, in the West kidded ourselves we belonged. We were lied to by our politicians then, and we’re being lied to now. We caused the vast majority of the problems going on in the Middle East, starting from 1948.

We are being told lies about who is coming, where they’re coming from and their purposes for coming. We are being lied to about what they want, and why they want to live in Britain.

I have some things to say, I’d like to think they will make people think. It won’t work, because I am nothing in comparison to News International or the hateful Daily Mail, but when it comes down to it, I want to be able to point at something and say “Look! I said this! I tried to get the truth out there. I tried to make people think”

1 in every 122 people in the world is presently a refugee, a displaced person or seeking asylum.

Just let that figure sink in for a minute.

Many refugees are coming from Libya, however, they have travelled from further afield and had settled in the refugee camps in Libya before Libya descended into chaos. They will have come from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Gambia, Senegal… the list goes on. They have nowhere else to go and most of them speak a European language, so Europe must seem like a good choice, if you can speak the language, you have fewer problems fitting in, getting a job, don’t you? Don’t you?

Many displaced persons are in enormous camps in Jordan. The numbers in Calais are minuscule in comparison.

In past periods of history, there have been huge upheavals, people have fled war zones, famine, drought, disease, Pogroms and pillaging and Britain has always soaked up it’s fair share of those people. The Huguenots, Ugandan Asians, Vietnamese boat people and so on, and so on. What has changed? What has happened to the British psyche, that means that, instead of welcoming these people, we are turning our faces away from their pain? There is more than enough room here, the only people who say there isn’t live in the South East, and even there there are abandoned homes and brown field sites. Refugees from the Suez crisis were housed in Richmond Park among other places.

Every day we see pictures of men, women and children in tiny boats trying to get to Europe, and we have the usual suspects in the press telling us that they shouldn’t be here, that taking them in just encourages human traffickers and other criminal elements, but let’s have a look at that too. Imagine for a second, that you’re living your life and going to work, the kids are going to school, seeing friends etc etc. Then one day, all that changes. The schools close, people are carrying weaponry, you can’t go to your job, there’s no money, and the shops, even if they have anything on the shelves, will only accept cash. Your neighbour is killed. The electricity is cut off, as is the water supply. The hospital shuts, and anyway, there are no drugs there. What would you do? Stick around to see if things got better? Or grab every penny you could get your hands on and run, dealing with traffickers, criminals and all sorts to get your children to safety?

Have we learned nothing from history at all? The following paragraph from The Independent today chilled me to the bone:

In the Czech Republic, some 200 refugees with valid train tickets were hauled off a train bound for Germany and given registration numbers, in permanent marker, written on their arms.”

In the mid 20th century, people were hauled off trains as well. They were marked on their arms. They were non-people. Britain hadn’t done enough to take in those people when they were begging for escape, are we going to leave people to their fate again? In our failure to act last time, 6 million men, women and children were murdered, how many will it be this time?

Too dramatic? They probably said the same right up until 1945 when the full horror of the Holocaust became apparent.

Dear Chrissie Hynde

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Dear Chrissie Hynde,

I am so sorry you were raped by those criminal men. No matter what you were wearing, no matter why you went to the fictitious party, you did not deserve to be raped. I hope that, some day, somehow, you find healing.

Now that’s done, I have to take exception to your comments, which were victim blaming in extremis.

You said:

If I’m walking around and I’m very modestly dressed and I’m keeping to myself and someone attacks me, then I’d say that’s his fault. But if I’m being very lairy and putting it about and being provocative, then you are enticing someone who’s already unhinged – don’t do that. Come on! That’s just common sense. You know, if you don’t want to entice a rapist, don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him.”

Being modestly dressed means nothing. Being lairy also means nothing. I have been modestly dressed and not been raped, I have been as lairy as it is humanly possible to be, dressed in almost nothing and being provocative and not been raped. That is because on those occasions I wasn’t in the company of a rapist.

In fact, the first time I was raped, I was modestly dressed and with a trusted family friend. Does this mean that I should tell women not to dress modestly and not to accept lifts from trusted friends? No, of course it doesn’t, so what about your situation gives you the right to give women such poor advice?

Rape is always the fault of the rapist. Always. There are no exceptions to this simple rule. Criminals, and make no mistake, rapists are criminals, choose crime. Rape isn’t a crime of necessity, it’s not a parent feeding their starving child or a person getting much needed medication for a loved one, it’s a crime of violence. A crime of control. A hate crime.

You went on to say:

If you’re wearing something that says ‘Come and f*** me’, you’d better be good on your feet … I don’t think I’m saying anything controversial am I?”

This view that men can’t stop themselves raping women who are in some way asking for it sets a ridiculously low bar for men. It tells them that they can’t be expected to control their animal instincts. It tells men that they are incapable of behaving like human beings, and that society will excuse them for raping women because women deserve it.

I think men are better than that. I think they are more than capable of controlling themselves. I think they are able to call out rape myths for what they are. I think they are capable of empathy and know when women haven’t consented to what they’re doing, I think they are then able to stop doing whatever it is they are doing without sulking.

We have to stop peddling rape myths like these. They do a huge disservice to the vast majority of men who aren’t violent criminals. They do an even greater disservice to those women who have, through no fault of their own, become the victims of violent criminals. They are magical thinking, designed to betray society into ‘othering’ victims of the crime of rape by making assumptions about those victim’s levels of blame for the crime perpetrated against them and thereby keep themselves safe from harm. It sets up a narrative whereby society looks on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ victims of rape, and treats them accordingly. 

‘Good’ victims dressed demurely, fought fiercely, were sober, were dragged into a dark alley, didn’t know their attackers, were virgins and a raft of other ‘nice’ women things. ‘Bad’ victims were raped by someone they’d been flirting with, dressed provocatively, acting provocatively, had slept around or even had slept with a single person, were drunk or had taken drugs, the list of what women do to ‘get themselves raped’ seems endless.

You are wrong, Chrissie, I understand and empathise with your reasoning, we all try and find explanations for the awful things that have been done to us, but you are wrong.

To put it simply, there should be nothing a woman can do that leads us to assume that rape is a reasonable result of that behaviour

Crime, Football and Ched Evans.

As I write this, yet another football club is deciding whether or not to pay a convicted rapist to play for them. There are lots of people loudly saying that this shouldn’t happen, and on the other side, there are a lot of men who think it should. A lot of these men are so adamant that they should be able to pay to watch a convicted rapist kicking a ball about that they are sending truly abusive tweets and messages to people who think he should maybe not be paid to play.

I suspect that, had Ched’s victim been their daughter, wife, mother, friend, sister or colleague, they would be less keen to tell me that he’s done his time, and to tell me that I’m a bad bad person for thinking that the prison part of a sentence doesn’t constitute someone ‘doing their time’. I further suspect that these men saying that now he’s done his time, he should be allowed to slot back into his lucrative profession without comment, won’t be saying the same when Rolf Harris is released and asks to return to the BBC.

The only ‘commentators’ I have any common ground with are those who ask why Ched is special (he’s not) and why football has welcomed back Lee Hughes and other convicted criminals. Which is a question I’d like to reflect back to them. Why have you, as football clubs and fans welcomed back men who have killed, raped, beaten their wives, beaten their partners and committed all kinds of other crimes? Why has there not been more widespread censure of men in football who have committed violent crime. What is it about football culture that says to men who have committed crimes, “It’s ok, you’re welcome back here, have a huge paycheck and the adulation of thousands”? I really find it difficult to believe that the young men who have committed violent crimes are the only ones who are capable of playing football to a professional level, so what is it about football that wants to cleave to their violent criminals?

If the whole Evans affair has shown me anything it’s that rape culture is alive and well, and supported by a disturbing number of young men. And that football needs to clean up it’s act.