There ain’t no cis in sisters.

I’m not really sure what a cis woman is, which seems unfortunate given I am one, allegedly. I am sure what allegedly means, it’s an unproven claim. I know that word well because every time a woman is raped or sexually assaulted, the media gets that word in. Because it might not have happened. The woman might be making it up. Women do. Cis women, I mean.

Cis women have no real expectation of justice. This is reflected in the fact that only 15% of rapes are reported to police. So, those crimes you read about every day, that allegedly happen to cis women, are actually the tip of the iceberg.

Well over a million cis women will experience domestic abuse in the England and Wales this year, if last year’s statistics are an indicator.  20% of these women will see their perpetrators face criminal proceedings. That means the vast majority of these women victims will never see a man punished for his crimes against them. By inference, many of these perpetrators will go on to abuse, beat and maim other cis women. Two cis women will be killed this week by their male partner or ex partner. It’s almost as if putting the word cis before the word woman makes her no more lightly to to gain any measure of fair treatment.

Cis hasn’t really taken off in the real world, but is huge in feminist circles. Yeah, you read that right. The average woman on the street will give two fingers to the idea that she has to put a three lettered word before her sex, but self declared feminists are queuing up for a more complex way to describe their sex than plain old woman.

The fact that it is linguistically impossible to be cis and feminist seems to have gone over these women’s heads. Cis, in this context, means to be aligned with the gender that was determined at birth. No feminist ever aligned themselves with their birth gender. Whatever individual event, or series of them, took them to the door of feminism, their core motivation is always the same. An inability to accept the limitations placed on them by gender roles they were assigned, after their sex was determined. The very act of becoming feminist and standing up for women’s rights is a slap in the face to the gender expectation of women to be submissive. See?

Women are a class of people that are oppressed by another class of people (called men) under a system of oppression called the patriarchy. The patriarchy maintains its stronghold through violence and resource control. An obvious example of this is the universal obsession with birth control which leave women’s most basic health in the precarious hands of various religions and ideologies that value the seed she carries over her right to life.

Men don’t fear dying in child birth or being forced to carry a fetus they don’t want because men can’t get pregnant. There! I said it. We all know this, of course, ‘coz anyone old enough to read this started life the same way. We all had to serve our time in a woman’s womb, and whether pushed out of her vagina, or cut from her belly, we all had to sever that umbilical cord, before we took our first breath. So, lets hear it for all women everywhere, who have made the writing and the reading of this blog possible.

The cisters won’t like me now. What with the cis feminist is a paradox and men can’t get periods admissions. The cisters hate it when you talk sense. It confuses them, profoundly. This is evidenced by the censorship their ideology demands. Disagree, and we will call you TERF or SWERF  (These are real acronyms, I’m not making them up). Disagree louder, and we and we will demand your exclusion from our conversations, in the interests of inclusion, obviously. Disagree loud enough and we will get you fired, or at the very least, make sure you are never safe to speak publicly again.

In the past month, Linda Bellos has been no platformed, Julie Bindel has been harrased whilst promoting her new book and Helen Steel was surrounded by a mob at the anarchist book fair. Yeah, you read that right too.

As feminists, and as women, we need to ask ourselves what is progressive in telling women to STFU? As feminists we need to fight for all women to be heard. Even…cis ones.

 

Advertisements

TRIGGER WARNING HAPPY Trigger Warning: This blog contains no trigger warnings

The ‘Trigger Warning’ is having a moment. Much like after the bankers f***ed up the economy and ‘austerity’ went from being a word mostly found in Dickensian era literature to common usage overnight. In fact, it’s only very recently that ‘austerity’ has fallen out of favour as the blanket explanation for all the profit focused policies that have post dated it.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think ‘Trigger Warning’ is even a decade old. It is certainly very new to find it everywhere, all the time. Perhaps, it’s just the circles I frequent. The feminist ones, especially. They are just wall to ceiling ‘Trigger Warning’. Many make you agree to adding a ‘Trigger Warning’ to everything you post. Think about that, for a moment. Feminists sites that ask you to designate your feminist content potentially harmful to other feminists.

Perhaps I sound flippant? Like, I have missed the point. Trigger warnings are there to protect people, who may be experiencing P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from being triggered by other people’s stories or even opinions. So far, so sensitive. But, ultimately, not sensitive enough, because here’s the type of content that might make a traumatised individual feel unsafe. F***ing anything!

Such is the nature of unresolved trauma that a smell, a sound, a taste, or a picture may resonate with some part of our deep sub conscious – where all the bad s*** lurks – and make us feel vulnerable, alone, sad. Such is the real dark stuff that happens to people in a patriarchy, that many spent their entire life’s a bit or a lot broken. Trigger Warnings won’t resolve their conflict. Truth and affirmative action is much more plausible.

When did feminists become so f***ing sensitive to the needs of everyone, all the time, whilst so simultaneously desensitised to the needs of women? Seriously, what is that about?

It’s all part of a wider conspiracy to make feminism so dull that only suburban house-wife’s and aspirational career types need apply. All the thinkers, all the truth seekers, all the herstorians – nope, it’s not a typo – will be either dead, or living in some underground compound in UTAH waiting for a post apocalyptic future with a less bleak outlook.

Can we stop censoring women? Can we stop patronising women? Can we recognise that talking about trauma is not inherently traumatic? It is not even as traumatic as not talking about it. Can we stop boring each other’s pants off with long, convoluted explanations of what feminism is? Can we narrow down the definition of feminism to more realistic aims? Can we make sure the draft includes stuff about women and their oppression under a patriarchy?

So, in summary, feminism is not an ideological version of a health spa. If you want to feel good about yourself, you need to see a life coach, or an emotional freedom therapist, or even a good old fashioned shrink. If you want to fight for the rights of women you need to find yourself some like minded women who call themselves feminists, but are also interested in such matters. And that, in this current climate of schizophrenic women;s rights, is a pretty hard find.

My debut novel Nailing Jess is available now from amazon and all good bookstores.

 

Everyday Feminism – I’ll take mine to go…

So, now that I’ve launched my book, I need to get back to blogging regularly. Blogging’s hard. You have to think up stuff to write about and then write about it. You have to have an opinion and be sure where you stand on something and the older I get, the less certain I become about where I stand on anything. Take feminism, for example. I used to be so sure of what feminism was. Then I discovered twitter. Some time later, I came to realise that my own understanding of what feminism was, which had come largely from the academic writings of the second wave feminists, was no longer relevant. Feminism had morphed into something entirely different. It had been re branded so that it might appeal to a broader section of society. And in theory, that’s a good thing, surely?

Everybody knows you’ve got to de-radicalise to maintain viewing figures. Remember New Labour? But, at what point, do you lose all credibility? At what point are you looking from the misogynist to the feminist, and then from the feminist to the misogynist and scratching your head? ‘Course it could be simply that the movement has evolved too fast for me, and I’m stuck in the rigid thinking of a by-gone era when feminism was all about fighting for women’s rights. Most especially, their right to control of their womb. Their right to live free from male perpetrated sexual and physical violence. Their right to protect their children from male perpetrated sexual and physical violence. Their right to an education. Their right to be self defined autonomous individuals, with control of their own destinies. Their right to live free of oppression and fear. It was a very rights based time.

And these sisters got shit done! Between all the toking and the dancing around naked and hairy in the gardens, coz body hair is a very political thing, they achieved practical, massive stuff. They got us divorce and abortion and contraception and women’s refuges. They got us better pay and working conditions and opportunities. They radically changed our lives. Then, as far as I can tell, they packed up and moved back to suburbia, in time for rush hour at the fertility clinic. There endeth the second wave. Now, we’re in the third wave, I think, it’s hard to keep up. Some even talk of a fourth, so it could be like a tsunami soon. Only, that’s not the feeling I get. This third wave seems very sketchy to me. I’m not even convinced it’s a wave, more of a series of ripples. Okay, enough with the ocean metaphor! But you get my point. Feminism is having a moment.

Everybody’s feminist right now. It’s not just Emma Watson. Teresa May is a feminist, she literally bought the t-shirt and that Canadian prime minister bloke, and of course Obama and also Ryan Gosling, though that could be an irony thing. There’s even talk that Kim Kardashian is a feminist. They are f**king everywhere! So, here’s the thing? How is it that the patriarchy can withstand the force of their numbers? ‘Coz latest update on the patriarchy is, it’s still standing strong, holding its own, making gains in many areas. Globally and locally it continues to win a war many feminists on the ground will tell you no longer exists. So, what’s up with that?

If I was a conspiracy theorist, which I’m not, I’d say that patriarchal thinking had infiltrated the feminist movement to such an effective degree as to render it neutral. The movement is now so lacking in threat that it is allowed to grow, wild and without nurture, in the corners of the most feeble brains.

Feminism is an ever evolving concept, we are told. There is no need to know its history before you sign up. Only, there is, and it’s there in those very words. His Story. And he owned the words. And as long as he didn’t educate her, she might always believe he was smarter than her. ‘Course these days she’s educated, in some countries, and in many she can get her hands on the internet. And how must he play her now?

It calls to mind a recent article published in the Gaurdian about a feminist that attacked a life size statue of Trump during its unveiling ceremony in Madrid.  She was one of that femen crowd, so she was topless. Femen, you may remember, was the topless women’s rights movement, set up by a bloke. And yes, origins matter, as anyone who is familiar with the tale of Adam and Eve, can validate. What I want to know is why?

I know that makes me a philistine, ‘coz art, especially performance protest art speaks for itself. And also, to be fair to her, she was very clear. She wrapped her fist around Trumps plastic, clothed crotch and painted ‘grab patriarchy by the balls’ on her naked back. I still want to know why? To what effect? For what purpose has she stripped and risked arrest? Greater purpose that is, than five minutes of twitter notoriety and a story to bore her dinner guests with in a decades time. And, when you break it down, what was her real, exposed body, groping a plasic effigy actually saying? Her slogan echos very hallow against the stark portrayal of her powerlessness. And, I don’t think that was the look she was going for.

I’d like to compare the lone wolf femen agitator for social change with the more logical, considered and ultimately liberating Irish feminists, who in 1971, took a train from Belfast, carrying contraceptives where they were restricted but legal, to Dublin where they continued to be completely illegal for another eight years. In fact, it wasn’t until 1993 that condoms became freely available. Picture that, folks! A world without johnies! This huge publicity stunt co-existed with the underground provision of contraception, thus the grassroots and the political, working together, created meaningful social change. And he quaked in his boots, ‘coz she created laws to stop him kicking her.

And that takes us the full circle back to what is feminism for? Take this Everyday Feminism, and after a quick scan of their vision, I’d rather leave it. Wtf are they selling? Seriously, it reads like a cross between a brahma kumaris leaflet and an early draft of some HR speech on political correctness for octogenarians still in the workplace. See, I like my feminism a bit more feminist, you know? I mean, its all well and good to save the dolphins and recognize the rights of indigenous people to self identify, but what are you doing about the rapists and perverts and the paedos? What’s your plan to keep the refuges open? When they close, more women have to remain living with violent men, and it’s really hard to find your zen when you’re not sure if you or your kids will make it though the night without a beating. How’s the fight for reproductive control going? ‘Coz if we lose that, on top of the refuges, and the legal aid, well then it’s going to take a lot more than a spot of yoga to redress the balance, don’t you think?

So, to summarise, yoga is great if you want to detox and re energise, but has proved singularly ineffective when used as a weapon of war, as the exiled Tibetan monks would surely testify. Feminism is a movement to agitate for the rights of women. When working properly it can change laws, create new laws, allow women autonomy over their own bodies, generate finances and power, facilitate education, free women’s minds and empower them to self realize beyond the confines of their patriarchal jailers. When defunct, it can’t do much, except spit out mindless art or intellectually warped philosophy and distract. And oh, how he laughs, but these oh so clever people, they don’t get the joke….

My debut novel Nailing Jess, published by Cranachan, is available for download for 99p on Amazon for the month of July.

Patriarchal Rumours

I’ve decided to splash out on some professional photos to aid with my metamorphosis from unknown writer to global brand.  I got them done yesterday, it only took about half an hour. That was the camera stuff, obviously. The pre shoot hair and make up took an awful lot longer. It’s not, I must say because I’m in particularly bad nick for my age. In fact given that I’ve never been a mistress of what theses days we call ‘clean living’, I reckon time’s been quite kind to me. It’s just I do look my age and that in our youth and image obsessed times is utterly unforgivable because I’m a woman. If I was a man, it would be absolutely fine because everybody knows men age.

Given that I’ve written a book where feminism is a major theme, then my look becomes even more important. Yes, I do hear the irony but with the rise of ironic sexism, feminism needs to catch up. Of course eventually we will reach a point where everything is ironic and the word irony shall cease to have meaning but people say we’re not there yet.

As a writer I spend a lot of my time in comfortable clothes, face bare, hair in scunchy, chipped nails pressing keys on a computer and I have to say, it’s a good look. Without getting too biblical it’s how God intended me to be, and given we have so little common ground, I want to give him this one. It’s not even that I’m a natural slob, it’s just that life is short and netflix is vast and there feels like so many more meaningful ways to spend my time than in front of a mirror painting out hard earned living. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m low maintenance, itself a sexist phrase but only when not used in an ironic context.

I worry that my attitude to my image will prove a barrier to global domination, but I can’t see me changing much at this stage in life. See, I know they say women can have it all only I’ve never been convinced. I’m not even sure who they are and where they came by their definition of ‘it all’.  It obviously wasn’t in a dictionary. Because of the elusive nature of ‘it all’ and in the interests of only producing, quality, researched blog material I typed ‘what does the ‘it all’ in the phrase ‘women can have it all’ mean?’into google and I have to say I didn’t find a lot of consensus. The general theme for ‘it all’ seems to be striking some kind of harmonious balance between professional and family life, and I feel compelled to point out that as a definition of ‘it all’, it falls far short of even a very broad one.  There are many more things in life that belong under the umbrella term of ‘it all’. What about stella artois? What about scented candles? What about pirated copies of the award winning ABC network show ‘How to get away with murder?’ What about the search for existentialist truth and the core connectivity of all living things and all inanimate matter?

The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get at the phrase ‘women can have it all’. Bet I know where it comes from to, it’ll be one of those patriarchal rumours. Think about it – The sum of a woman’s desires reduced to working,nurturing and fucking, it’s got to be the patriarchy. For those unfamiliar with the term ‘patriarchal rumour’ – It’s a rumour, spread by the patriarchy, that is completely at odds with all scientific data and known information about the same subject. Other well worn examples include ‘Hell hath no fury greater than a woman scorned’ or ‘The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.’ Even the scantest amount of thought employed very quickly reaches the conclusion that the above statements like the aforementioned ‘have it all’ theory have no basis in fact whatsoever. Put simply, they are all utter bollox. I must say I’ve had it up to here with misinformation spawned by the patriarchy passing as truth. In fact, I think I’m going to drop them a line and tell them just that. If anyone is inspired by my bold move and wishes to follow suit then I shall provide an address for the patriarchy at the end of the post.

Dear Patriarchy,

Re: ‘Women can have it all’ rumour.

I don’t believe you and furthermore I, and I’m willing to wager, many women don’t want ‘it all’. In fact, were there to exist greater awareness that the sum of ‘it all’ equates to not very much at all, then I’m willing to further wager, even more women wouldn’t want it. Can you please desist from clogging up consciousness with ill conceived  gender generalizations and perhaps instead spend your time redressing the gender imbalance within the hierarchical structure of the workplace and the institutionalized misogyny in the legal system that leaves us struggling to get our hands on close to half of it. In layman’s terms – Stop stealing all the good stuff and most of the all right stuff and leaving us with all the shit stuff, when you leave us anything at all, and then maybe you wouldn’t have to make it up to us with empty promises and past their sell by date roses from a twenty four hour Tesco garage.

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter.

Sincerely,

Triona Scully

Address for the patriarchy : The Patriarchy, F***ing Everywhere.

My debut novel Nailing Jess is released by Cranachan Publishing on June 26th.

We need to keep talking about Sam.

Anyone who knows me, or who has ever met me, or who has had the misfortune to share my space at a bar counter ten minutes past last orders, knows I’m obsessed with family law. There’s a reason for this. I have a family. What I struggle to understand is why everyone who has a family isn’t obsessed with family law, especially mothers.

Family law affects mothers deeply. It is one of the few bastions of power the patriarchy have not relented at all. Law in general is still a man’s game, as is evidenced by the lack of successful prosecutions of crimes that women are disproportionately victims of, and the continued framing of women as unreliable in the narrative about these crimes.

According to The Rape Crisis centre only 15% of victims of sexual violence report it to the police. This suggests the vast majority of rape victims, a group that is overwhelmingly female, do not trust the criminal justice system. If we do not trust a system that is open and accountable, at least in theory, to deliver justice for our women then how in hell can we trust our family law system, which is closed and lacking in anything but the most cosmetic form of accountability, to deliver justice for our children? We can’t! We can’t! We can’t!

Forgive the dramatic repetition, if we were in the pub now you’d be backing away! It’s just so obvious to me, that as a society, we need to be having this conversation. We had a chat, for about five minutes last week, when absconded mother Samantha Baldwin hit the headlines. ‘Why has she run?’ normal people asked, by normal I mean – not by nature family court obsessives. ‘Because family law courts are dark places run and staffed by deviant, dangerous people,’ the obsessives replied. ‘You would run too if it happened to you.’

There’s a great deal of confusion around family law, as befits any system that’s run in secret. In fact, unless you work in it or live in it, which is what it feels like if you’re involved in a family law dispute, you will most probably have no understanding of it at all.  And that’s the way the establishment would like to keep it.

It’s for the good of the children, we are told, but that makes no sense. The children, like all other sections of society, would benefit more from an open and accountable system. In its absence, how can we protect them? Seriously, if we don’t know what’s going on in these courts, and if when we find out, we are not allowed to print it, then how can we insure the safety and well-being of the children whose lives are determined by it?

The children have a right to privacy, it is argued, and they do. When children are either victims or perpetrators in criminal law, we can report on them and protect their identity simultaneously. It gets slightly more complicated when we have to protect the identity of the adults involved as well, which is the only fool proof way to protect the children on the ground. But it’s not an insurmountable challenge. It’s certainly not a valid reason for keeping the courts closed.

Samantha Baldwin’s five minutes of reluctant fame is over and I mean that in its most literal sense.  It is now illegal for Samantha Baldwin to talk about why she did what she did. It is illegal for anyone to talk about why Samantha Baldwin did what she did. Mumsnet, who have removed their thread on Sam due to reporting restrictions, are a very pertinent example of how effective the state’s censorship of Sam has been. In a nutshell, Samantha Baldwin has lost her children and her right to free speech in one fell swoop. She has been forever silenced.

To be clear, this isn’t the draft notes for the plot of a play set in some repressive foreign regime. This is Britain in 2017. This is how a democracy treats some of its most vulnerable citizens, namely children when they disclose abuse, and mothers when they believe their young. Where’s the public outcry? It’s hard to be outraged when your access to information has been cut off, it’s like what am I outraged about again? ‘I can’t tell you,’ a family court obsessive might say, but that itself should be a source of outrage. Censorship is outrageous, especially when it’s sold as a benevolent child protection measure.

Now I know, as you sit in your safe suburban semi, with a good man and an even better postcode, you truly believe it couldn’t happen to you. But here’s the thing, just like no kid ever dreams of one day being a junkie, no mother ever imagines standing before a family court judge pleading to be allowed to continue to raise her children.

In an extract from what is described as a summary of the courts principal findings in the Samantha Baldwin case Judge Lea says the following, with regard to the allegations that Sam raised, namely that her children’s father, and multiple other persons drugged and abused her children.  ‘I also found that the mother genuinely believed that he had done so, but that her belief was irrational and that the evidence of abuse was unreliable.’  What’s really important about this statement is how it exemplifies the damned if you do, damned if you don’t approach to allegations of child abuse in family law. Sam believed that her children were being abused. Therefore she was morally, and more importantly, legally obliged to protect them. To not do so puts her at real risk of losing her children to social services if anyone else discloses the same concerns.

But she drugged her own kids! ‘I also made a finding that in order to try to prove her case against the father the mother had caused the boys to ingest substances that would give rise to a positive testing for benzodiazepine products and zolpidem.’  Drugging children, as we all know, is a criminal act and there is no clear reason why such an issue would be dealt with in a family court. The statement also implies that it was Sam who introduced the drug evidence, which again feeds into the damned whichever way it plays analogy.  The suggestion, alas now ‘fact’ that Sam drugged her own children in order to prove they had been drugged is akin to the rapist explaining the victim’s bruises with the well worn and often accepted defense that ‘she liked it rough’.

In the middle of delivering my judgement on that morning, the mother abruptly left court. It is now apparent that she picked up her sons from an unknown location and disappeared with them. This put her in breach of the Court order. The police are investigating how she did this and I make no further comment save that it is my assessment that was plainly pre-planned and carefully executed.

Unlike much of Judge Lea’s statement, which is not open to any level of scrutiny and relies on a few self chosen extracts delivered sparingly and without context, this opinion can at least be independently questioned. Sam and her boys were found fifteen, count ’em, fifteen miles from her home in Newark. By any measure of what good planning might be, trapping herself at the epicenter of the search base isn’t it. Either she was very stupid or very desperate, but she most certainly was not very well organised. Unlike the tracking team that were looking for her. You’d be forgiven for thinking she was the most dangerous person in Britain so extensive and rigorous was the search, so limitless the resources spent locating an unarmed mother with no previous history of violence.

It begs the question, if the original police force investigating the original allegations raised by Sam, details of which are now subject to a gagging order, had been even half as thorough, had used even quarter of the manpower, or even a tenth of the resources to fully and completely investigate Sam’s claims, might this story have had an entirely different outcome?

Savile should have fixed it but he didn’t.

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’ A bloke called Edmund Burke said that. Of course, it would have to be a bloke ‘coz he did that men meaning people thing. But that was probably because of the times. In those days men were people. Women were less than that. Tied to domesticity. Excluded from playing any shape or form of meaningful role in society. Unable to vote. Uneducated. Lacking any autonomy over her identity, her body or her destiny, women were most definitely not whole people. Part mirror, part vessel. To reflect his greatness. To satiate his desires. To carry on his blood line.

Fast forward a few centuries and it’s quite a different picture! Women are whole people now. We’re everywhere. Running economies. Throwing general elections. Throwing referendums. We’re in boardrooms and law chambers and university facultys. We have most definitely arrived. This is optimum time in pockets of the West to be a woman. Or so it would appear.

It’s actually a bit more complex. It’s probably not a bad time to be a certain type of woman, I’m just not certain which type. Not poor. It’s absolutely a bad time for women to be poor as is evidenced by the #sexforrent. Some argue that swapping a few sexual favours for a pad in the city is an entirely valid arrangement. I’m sure even they wouldn’t disagree that it’s not as valid as a lease, a third party deposit holder, and a yearly safety inspection.

It’s also not a great time to be a woman fleeing domestic abuse given that they are closing women’s refuges and reducing their access to related support services.

It’s a pretty crap time to be a woman who ages because they are clamping down hard on that. Fighting the signs of aging is not only a legitimate pastime of the aging woman, it’s her moral imperative. Her face a battleground. Her hard earned living a mortal enemy.

It’s absolutely the worst time ever to be a mother. Whilst we wage futile war on our waist-lines and our tits, there is an actual ongoing all out assault on motherhood, and we are indifferent, if not complicit. Whether the British Medical Association is trying to take the woman out of motherhood, or the Women’s Equality Party is trying to sell equal parenting as a feminist objective, or the men in capes are banging on about the golden uterus. For the record, mine is not golden but it is functional making it one hundred percent more effective than the male uterus which does not exist.

No-where is the war on mothers more obvious than in our family courts. No-where is the war on mothers less obvious than in our family courts. It’s that behind closed door thing. We can only imagine what actually happens. For some reason, most people imagine things are ticking over just fine. The absence of free flowing information, combined with the presence of one authoritative narrative seems to be enough to allay most fears. North Korea, anyone?

Samantha Baldwin, and yes I am still banging on about her, is a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with our family law system. The single narrative that now exists about her case comes from the mouth of one man. Not just any man, an important one. A wig wearing high flyer who could site powerful and influential people as referees. Someone who we should trust, solely because of his standing in society.

Then, it starts to sound a bit more like the seventies. Do you remember that time? And anyone who has had access to British media at any point in the last five years will “It appears to me that the culture of the times both within and without the BBC was such that incidents of this kind were not treated seriously.” explained establishment figure Dame Janet Smith. She was referring to the B.B.C’s willful complicity in sex crimes including sex crimes against children over the course of four decades, but especially the seventies. They were real bad. We should all feel real good that it’s not like that now.

Before we reach our hands the whole way round and pat ourselves firmly on the back for our speedy evolution, we should take a moment to reflect. The so called seventies culture existed straight through till 2012, when the Saville story broke. Right up to that point, the establishment, across multiple including very high levels, had protected a paedo.

The Rotterham child abuse scandal didn’t reach public consciousness till a year later. That’s four years ago. As in not very long at all.

What the Saville and Rotterham and every other type of vaguely related inquiry have in common is that no-body believed the victims. They were liars. All of them. Hundreds of them. Thousands of them. Until we realised they weren’t. Turns out we were just really crap at believing them, recording their crimes, investigating their crimes, prosecuting their crimes and offering them any chance of meaningful justice, often within the lifetime of their perpetrators.

So we don’t know the ins and outs of the Samantha Baldwin story. But we do know from the state approved narrative that she made a number of very serious allegations against a number of men. I want to know how that initial investigation proceeded. Was it with the speed and precision of an episode of ‘Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit?’ Were there mobile phones and laptops seized at the earliest possible moment? Given that there were allegations against multiple perpetrators in a potentially small geographical area, what special measures were taken to prevent potential suspects disclosing information to each other? How were the children treated? What level of expert training and support was offered to such young potential victims of such a potentially huge and heinous crime?

Now, I know all these things cost money, but what price the protection of our young? Also, we’ve got money. If there’s one thing the hunt for Samantha Baldwin taught us it’s that. If we are happy, as a society, to throw maximum power and resources at anyone who dares violate the orders of a civil court then we should be equally as happy, dare I say happier, to throw everything we got at anyone who is suspected of being involved in a paedophile ring?

When people say they want justice for Samantha Baldwin, what they mean is they want mothers to be able to safely report sexual abuse without fear of losing their children. Which is what most of us assume happens anyway.

Everyday Feminism? I’ll take mine to go….

So my new years resolution is to blog more regularly and so far that hasn’t exactly gone to plan. Blogging’s hard. You have to think up stuff to write about and then write about it. You have to have an opinion and be sure where you stand on something and the older I get, the less certain I become about where I stand on anything.

Take feminism, for example. I used to be so sure of what feminism was. Then I discovered twitter. Some time later, I came to realise that my own understanding of what feminism was, which had come largely from the academic writings of the second wave feminists, was no longer relevant.  Feminism had morphed into something entirely different. It had been re branded so that it might appeal to a broader section of society. And in theory, that’s a good thing, surely?

Everybody knows you’ve got to de-radicalise to maintain viewing figures. Remember New Labour? But, at what point, do you lose all credibility? At what point are you looking from the misogynist to the feminist, and then from the feminist to the misogynist and scratching your head?

‘Course it could be simply that the movement has evolved too fast for me, and I’m stuck in the rigid thinking of a by-gone era when feminism was all about fighting for women’s rights. Most especially, their right to control of their womb. Their right to live free from male perpetrated sexual and physical violence. Their right to protect their children from male perpetrated sexual and physical violence. Their right to an education. Their right to be self defined autonomous individuals, with control of their own destinies. Their right to live free of oppression and fear. It was a very rights based time. And these sisters got shit done! Between all the toking and the dancing around naked and hairy in the gardens, coz  body hair is a very political thing, they achieved practical, massive stuff. They got us divorce and abortion and contraception and women’s refuges. They got us better pay and working conditions and opportunities. They radically changed our lives. Then, as far as I can tell, they packed up and moved back to suburbia, in time for rush hour at the fertility clinic. There endeth the second wave.

Now, we’re in the third wave, I think, it’s hard to keep up. Some even talk of a fourth, so it could be like a tsunami soon. Only, that’s not the feeling I get.

This third wave seems very sketchy to me. I’m not even convinced it’s a wave, more of a series of ripples. Okay, enough with the ocean metaphor! But you get my point. Feminism is having a moment. Everybody’s feminist right now. It’s not just Emma Watson. Teresa May is a feminist, she literally bought the t-shirt and that Canadian prime minister bloke, and of course Obama and also Ryan Gosling, though that could be an irony thing. There’s even talk that Kim Kardashian is a feminist. They are f**king everywhere! So, here’s the thing? How is it that patriarchy can withstand the force of their numbers?

‘Coz latest update on the patriarchy is, it’s still standing strong, holding its own, making gains in many areas. Globally and locally it continues to win a war many feminists on the ground will tell you no longer exists. So, what’s up with that?

If I was a conspiracy theorist, which I’m not, I’d say that patriarchal thinking had infiltrated the feminist movement to such an effective degree as to render it neutral. The movement is now so lacking in threat that it is allowed to grow, wild and without nurture, in the corners of the most feeble brains. Feminism is an ever evolving concept, we are told. There is no need to know its history before you sign up. Only, there is, and it’s there in those very words. His Story. And he owned the words. And as long as he didn’t educate her, she might always believe he was smarter than her.

‘Course these days she’s educated, in some countries, and in many she can get her hands on the internet. And how must he play her now?

Yesterday the Gaurdian ran a story about a feminist that attacked a life size statue of Trump during its unveiling ceremony in Madrid.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/17/topless-feminist-protestor-femen-donald-trump-waxwork?CMP=twt_gu

She was one of that femen crowd, so she was topless. Femen, you may remember, was the topless women’s rights movement, set up by a bloke. And yes, origins matter, as anyone who is familiar with the tale of Adam and Eve, can validate. What I want to know is why?

I know that makes me a philistine, ‘coz art, especially performance protest art speaks for itself. And also, to be fair to her, she was very clear. She wrapped her fist around Trumps plastic, clothed crotch and painted ‘grab patriarchy by the balls’ on her naked back. I still want to know why? To what effect? For what purpose has she stripped and risked arrest? Greater purpose that is, than five minutes of twitter notoriety and a story to bore her dinner guests with in a decades time. And, when you break it down, what was her real, exposed body, groping a plasic effigy actually saying? Her slogan echos very hallow against the stark portrayal of her powerlessness. And, I don’t think that was the look she was going for.

I’d like to compare the lone wolf femen agitator for social change with the more logical, considered and ultimately liberating Irish feminists, who in 1971, took a train from Belfast, carrying contraceptives where they were restricted but legal, to Dublin where they continued to be completely illegal for another eight years.

http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1666-women-and-society/370226-contraceptive-train/

In fact, it wasn’t until 1993 that condoms became freely available. Picture that, folks! A world without johniees! This huge publicity stunt co-existed with the underground provision of contraception, thus the grassroots and the political, working together, created meaningful social change. And he quaked in his boots, ‘coz she created laws to stop him kicking her.

And that takes us the full circle back to what is feminism for? Take this Everyday Feminism, and after a quick scan of their vision I’d rather leave it.

http://everydayfeminism.com/about-ef/our-vision/

Wtf are they selling? Seriously, it reads like a cross between a brahma kumaris leaflet and an early draft of some HR speech on political correctness  for octogenarians still in the workplace. See, I like my feminism a bit more feminist, you know? I mean, its all well and good to save the dolphins and recognize the rights of indigenous people to self identify, but what are you doing about the rapists and perverts and the paedos? What’s your plan to keep the refuges open? When they close, more women have to remain living with violent men, and it’s really hard to find your zen when you’re not sure if you or your kids will make it though the night without a beating. How’s the fight for reproductive control going? ‘Coz if we lose that, on top of the refuges, and the legal aid, well then it’s going to take a lot more than a spot of yoga to redress the balance, don’t you think?

https://www.verywell.com/do-these-10-yoga-poses-every-day-to-feel-great-3567179

So, to summarise, yoga is great if you want to detox and re energise, but has proved singularly ineffective when used as a weapon of war, as the exiled Tibetan monks would surely testify. Feminism is a movement to agitate for the rights of women. When working properly it can change laws, create new laws, allow women autonomy over their own bodies, generate finances and power, facilitate education, free women’s minds and empower them to self realize beyond the confines of their patriarchal jailers.  When defunct, it can’t do much, except spit out mindless art or intellectually warped philosophy and distract. And oh, how he laughs, but these oh so clever people, they don’t get the joke….

First world problems #FeministAFilm

The irony of protesting the Ocean 11 remake, on the grounds of it being an all female line up, cannot be lost on anyone who thought thought the last remake was shit. Seriously, if you’re going to protest something, why not protest that?  Hollywood’s pathological fear of the original, untested idea, #MakeNewStuff.

Instead #FeministAMovie sprang up round the Warner Bros press release. In a nutshell, angry men, with large egos and low self esteem, venting their spleen, because that’s like, the second major movie to be female led this year. I think it’s important to clarify that Ghostbusters ,the other one, has been released and Ocean’s 8 is in pre-production, so there hasn’t been and won’t be a whole two female driven, major Hollywood movies this year. But such absence of imagination is ever prevalent in the twitter mens’ rights warrior, otherwise known as the troll.

There’s a very good reason for this. What the f**k do they actually have to complain about?

See, men’s rights is actually an oxymoron. It’s also clumsy English with the additional, unnecessary word ‘men’s’ in the term. There is no elusive set of men’s rights that need to be fought for, over and above the rights they already have, which form the blueprint  for the rights all oppressed groups, including women seek to obtain.

Let’s briefly review a small but telling amount of the evidence. Women still do more, women still earn less, women still own less, they are still underrepresented in all positions of power and over-represented in all domestic fields. Women are still being harassed, assaulted, abused, raped and murdered, and not just by the Hollywood stable of the stranger at the door, but by members of their own families. In the overall scheme of stuff that actually merits complaining about, women still have the absolute monopoly.

No-where is this fact more self evident than in Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

Domestic abuse and the persistence of excuses.

So twitter’s on fire with the news that Amber Heard, soon to be ex wife of Johnny Depp has been granted a restraining order, because she alleges he hit her on the face with an i phone and she’s got the bruises to prove it. ‘Course the bruises aren’t enough for the naysayers who reckon they’re self inflicted, ‘coz that’s what women do when they leave their partners, walk into the nearest door and cry domestic violence. It’s not that some men routinely beat their spouses, and this tendency towards violence escalates when she leaves or threatens to.

Heard’s got an uphill struggle if she hopes to prove that she’s the victim here, for many reasons. The first being that it’s always a struggle to prove you’re the victim of domestic violence. If you want to be taken seriously as a victim, you need to get yourself mugged, or your house robbed, or your car stolen, or if you’re going down the assault root you need to hope it’s a stranger, in daylight, in a public park, where all the present witnesses are willing to acknowledge you didn’t do anything to provoke it.

In Heard’s case there’s the further problem of making these allegations and an application for spousal support simultaneously, and that’s a big no-no. Victims of domestic abuse should never care about anything as crass as money. Also  Heard has committed an even bigger sin by filing for divorce three days after Depp’s Mother’s death, which according to twitter is morally repugnant. But then I’m guessing twitter’s never lived with an unstable man, because if they had they’d know intense emotional occurrences rarely bring out the best in them.

As Heard is taunted and vilified over the coming weeks, by strangers on twitter and by some of Hollywood’s most elite, because like night follows day she will be, she should know that there is nothing she could have done to prevent this from happening, other than to not speak out at all.