Today’s word of the day is “sapphophobia”

Sapphophobia describes the intersection of biphobia and misogyny. It is named after the poet Sappho, who, despite what you might have heard, was actually bisexual.

Sapphophobia is when bi women are seen as indecisive, because all women are seen to lack a strong mind. Sapphophobia is when bi women are seen as deceptive, because all women are seen as liars. Sapphophobia is when bi women are seen as making it up for attention, because all women are seen as attention-seeking minxes. Sapphophobia is where bi women are seen as greedy, because all women are seen to be out for all they can get. Sapphophobia is when bi women are seen as sluts, because all women in control of their sexuality are seen as pathological.

It’s impossible to separate sapphophobia from misogyny, just as it is impossible to separate it from broader biphobia. It’s telling that it’s usually men who repeat this trope, although as I painfully learned last year, women can do it too and that’s rooted in internalised misogyny as well as a heterosexual hatred of queer women.

So today, I send love to my bi sisters, my pansexual sisters, my queer sisters. You are beautiful, and fuck the world. Literally, if that’s what you want.


Things I read, like, this month that I found interesting

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these round-up posts. Call it a combination of being busy and also having depression. The good news for you is this means it’s a bumper link round-up! I read some things. Perhaps you’ll find them interesting too.

Say What?: On Speechlessness, Racism and Respectability in #Ferguson (Crunk Feminist Collective)- A beautiful reaction to recent events.

What Black Parents Tell Their Sons About the Police (Jazmine Hughes)- This is fucking heartbreaking.

Rotherham’s Institutionalised Political Correctness is a despicable myth (JustinTheLibSoc)- Pretty much everything you need to read about Rotherham and racism.

Butch Please: Butch With A Side Of Misogyny (Kate)- Calling out misogyny in the butch community.

Selfcare as Warfare (feministkilljoys)- Just read this.

Prejudice at Pride (anonymous)- Comic outlining biphobia and racism at Pride events.

Don’t like the word ‘cis’? Good* (CN Lester)- CN explains the purpose of the word in some shit that shouldn’t need saying.

The New Racism (Jamelle Bouie)- Unpacking a common trope in anti-Black racism.

Suppressed again? (SWOU)- A prominent feminist conference is speaking over sex workers again. Here’s why it’s wrong.

Some thoughts about ‘recovery’ in theory and practice (zedkat)- On what “recovery” in mental health means under capitalism.

But WHAT CAN BE DONE: Dos and Don’ts To Combat Online Sexism (Leigh Alexander)- Some tips for men.

Fear of a Black Victim- Comic detailing racist media tropes.

What I’ve Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings (D. Brian Burghart)- On inadequate record-keeping and how that may well be on purpose.

30 Bisexual Women Discuss Their Long-Term Relationships With Men (Ashley C Ford)- In short: there’s a lot of bullshit.

Ten Truly Terrible Pieces of Advice Offered To and About Bisexuals (Rachel)- In short: there’s a lot of bullshit.

America Is Not For Black People (Greg Howard)- On the current state of play in the US.

breaking it down- Plan C and the Vampire Castle. (itisiwhowillit)- Calling out misogyny on the hipster left.

Sexy Loki, Queer Tricksters, And The Problem With LGBT Villains (Andrew Wheeler)- On issues with making the villains queer.

We need to talk about Richard.. (Transfabulous)- The case for no-platforming Dawkins.

This Is What I Mean When I Say “White Feminism” (NinjaCate)- A short PSA for white feminists.

Why the hell do TV producers think inside every white woman is a fierce black diva? (Reni Eddo-Lodge)- Reni challenges a popular stereotype on TV.

How to know that you hate women (Mychal Denzel Smith)- A very simple test.

Date Rape Nail Polish and Crossing The Road (Alien She)- On the nonsensicality of the “crossing the road” metaphor for rape prevention.

Why We’re Winning: Social Justice Warriors and the New Culture War (Penny Red)- A positive take on what gamer manbabies throwing their dummies out of the pram means.

5 Things I Learned as the Internet’s Most Hated Person (Zoe Quinn)- Zoe speaks out about her experience.

Black women’s sexuality has always been overpoliced (Bim Adewunmi)- The historical context of Danièle Watts’s arrest.

And finally, some jokes about male novelists which are very funny.


Murder by mistake is just as terrifying

Content note: this post discusses violence against women and murder.

Oscar Pistorius has been found not guilty of the killing of Reeva Steenkamp. Apparently, he could not reasonably expect that shooting several times through a door might kill someone.

Let’s pretend for a minute that Pistorius’s line–that he’d thought there was a black man in his house so he blindly shot through a door to protect himself and Reeva–was true. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe it was.

And that in itself is perhaps more chilling than the idea of a murder driven by hate, and anger and abuse. That suggests that Reeva died due to carelessness, indifference. That suggests that Reeva Steenkamp was collateral damage in a racist system.

It suggests that the lives of women are not valued at all, that nobody cares if we live or die, and it’s as easy to kill us by mistake as it is to accidentally tread on a snail on a rainy day. Nobody cares enough to keep us alive.

Hatred of women, I can understand and deal with. But where can one even begin when it comes to just carelessness?

The fact that this is an accepted legal defence and formed the verdict lays bare a structure that protects white men while casually ignoring everyone else.

Reeva Steenkamp died in a world that just doesn’t care. Her name will be forgotten, just as it is for all the others. Her fate will blur into all the others, because whether this indifference is true and real, or an excuse set up to protect men who hate women, it’s there.

Her name was Reeva Steenkamp, and she should still be here with us.


Fragile precious manfeels

Over the couple of weeks, #GamerGate has been raging. As far as I can discern–from the men trying to mansplain in to me–it involves men feeling sad that games they liked got bad reviews due to some sort of Evil Feminist Conspiracy, and also sometimes women who write about games have sex and somehow this is bad. It’s possible there’s an actual real point to be made about the cosy relationship between games journalism and the gaming industry (as there is with any marketing of consumer goods), but these chumps aren’t making it because they’re a little bit overexcited about getting all misogynistic to respond to complaints about misogyny.

Evidence has emerged that this “movement” is a hell of a lot less organic than it purports to be, with 4chan steering away behind the scenes, although of course those involved deny this. And maybe it’s true. Maybe some of them really have been played, and they truly believe in a shadowy feminist illuminati coming to take away their toys. Whether there’s anybody who truly believes this to be legit or not is beyond the point, though. What #GamerGate shows is something a lot of us have known for a while:

Men are pathetic, fragile creatures who massively overreact to the tiniest things.

Men are pretty fond of saying that women have “hysterical overreactions” to things, but ultimately, look at how these men are behaving when video games are critiqued. They swarmed to try and smear the women who did this, they tried and tried to make it into a political cause on a par with Ferguson (yes, seriously), they screamed and shouted and stamped their feet… all because a lot of people were mean about their favourite computer games.

I remember once upon a time, when I was innocent, and I used to get bees in my bonnet over trivial shit. Like, once I wrote a fanfic where Tonks got it on with the entire Holyhead Harpies Quidditch team because she was so clearly a massive slutty lesbian despite what JK Rowling would have us believe. However, even in my disproportionate reactions to things which are ultimately pretty petty days, I didn’t behave in the way men do when they have things they liked challenged. There was far less of the RAGE, far less of the OH MY GOD WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING.

Let me be clear on this: pop culture isn’t completely irrelevant: it means something, and it’s a reflection of the society that created it. That absolutely means that we as fans should be critical of it, to want it to be better. And that is the exact opposite of what #GamerGate and similar outcries are about: those are men wanting to keep things as they think they’ve always been.

People who face oppression have to grow a thick skin. We need to, to keep ourselves safe. We need to, to keep ourselves alive. It helps us deflect the daily blows that are dealt to us. The demographic to whom the gamer identity is sold, the ones who proudly wear that mantle and flip a shit every time something looks like it might change, they don’t have this armour, because they never needed to develop it. They’re the ones who are playing life on “easy” mode, and still suck at the game. So I don’t doubt that to a lot of these men, this feels like an attack, because they’ve never been attacked before.

They’ve thrown their dummies out of the pram because their precious little manfeels have been hurt.

I am anticipating a lot of whiny comments from men on this post, so I’m going to say right now that I won’t be approving them, because this is another special snowflake feeling men get. They feel like their tedious, limited opinions are important and that therefore everybody should listen to them. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just the same old boring thing, again and again, and each one of them thinks he’s a free thinker when he’s just parroting the same old shit society spoonfed him without any critical thought at all.

So, instead of commenting, why not maybe play some of those computer games you claim to love so much? Instead of moaning about generalisations, why not spend a bit of time trying not to be the sort of guy this pertains to? Instead of stagnating, why not learn and live a little?


A brief overview of everything that’s wrong with that anti-rape nail polish

Content note: this post discusses rape and rape culture

Some male students have decided to ride in on their white horses and protect women on their campus. How? By developing a nail polish which supposedly detects date rape drugs. I have so many problems with the concept, I have to split them down into reasons. In no particular order, here are my issues with the product.

1. Shifting responsibility: Under rape culture, responsibility for rape is shifted from the perpetrators to the victims. What could we have done to prevent it? Do that, or it’s our fault. Unless we behave like saints, rolling around in our rape-proof bubbles in the safety of our own homes, we’ll be blamed. Such safety products frame rape as something women need to prevent rather than something men need to stop doing. Four men together could have set up an initiative to help stop their fellow men from raping, but instead they chose to develop a fucking nail polish that changes colour in the presence of certain date rape drugs.

2. The method of testing is ridiculous: The nail polish works by sticking your finger in your drink and seeing if your nail polish changes colour. Now, people who have ever visited a university bar might spot a problem with this: university toilets are absolutely disgusting, and usually lack the washing facilities to get your hands sterile for fingering your drink. So, hooray for maybe not drinking something that’s riddled with rohypnol, but the safe drinks are going to be swimming with piss-bacteria and the sticky Jagermeister that just won’t come off..

3. Rohypnol and GHB are not the only drugs: These drugs are reasonably commonly-used in drug rape, but are far from the only ones available. In fact, given the great public awareness of these two drugs as date rape agents, existing testing kits are on the market, and some dealers are switching their game up to drugs you cannot detect this way. I was once spiked with MDMA to “loosen me up”, meaning rape drugs aren’t even limited to downers. Unless this nail polish were to detect anything that wasn’t booze and sugar, I somehow doubt it will be much use in a vast quantity of cases.

4. Gimmicky nail polish is almost always crap: I have bought a lot of new nail polish in my life, getting excited over advertising campaigns that tell me that my nail polish will be two-tone, or not require a top coat, or can be peeled off without nail varnish remover when the night is over. Almost every time I have done this, the process of painting my nails has gone Horribly Wrong. The texture of gimmicky nail polishes is usually weird: too loose, too thick, requires about a million coats, somehow manages to coat your entire hand in indelible red goop. I can only imagine how inadequate a nail polish with a built in chemistry lab will be. And on the off-chance it went on just fine, I’ve a feeling I’d spend half my night trying to source some GHB because colour-changing nail polish would be cool. 

5. It’s really not appropriate for men to be developing anti-rape products: For two broad reasons, men are the worst possible candidates for developing safety products for women. Firstly, because they don’t know what it’s like and what we need. What we need, as I outlined above, is for them to stop raping us, please. And secondly, more chillingly, since men are overwhelmingly more likely to be perpetrators, it’s kind of chilling. Tweeter @Sarah_Wolley pointed out the fact it’s four men making the product, and some statistics put perpetration rates close to one in four.

6. There are a lot of products that serve as drug testing kits already: Nail polish is a somewhat ridiculous one, in a world where you can get a little strip of paper you dip in your drink, or a glass that changes colour, or a little nozzle you put over your bottle to prevent anyone dropping anything in.

7. Will women who don’t wear nail polish become targets? As a woman, I’m fucking paranoid about getting raped. I think most of us are. This thought may, therefore, be catastrophising, but in a world where fucking catastrophes happen, I don’t think it’s an invalid concern. If rapists want to spike drinks undetected, they could easily go for the women who aren’t wearing nail varnish. Since I often cannot be arsed to wear it, particularly because of the short lesbian nails on one hand, would that make me more of a target to them?

8. Not that that matters anyway: The thing is, your rapist isn’t as likely to be a rando in a bar, spiking whatever drinks he can drop a roofie into. He’s more likely to be your friend who walks you home when he realises you’ve been spiked, your boyfriend who you stayed in and ate pizza with instead of going out to the big wide rapey world, the policeman who you report your spiking to.

9. Would you buy a fashion product from these guys? Really, would you?

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Raping women is legal if it’s a policeman doing it

Content warning: this post discusses rape and police violence

The CPS today explained that they’ve decided it’s not illegal for policemen to pretend to be real people, insinuate themselves into the lives of women it’s literally their job to try and incarcerate, and trick them into sex and childbearing. Their full justification for this is pretty grim reading, riddled with rape apologism and a soupçon of cissexism, and you can read it here.

I cannot even begin to imagine the slap in the face this is for the survivors, who have worked hard to drag the violations they experienced into the light. It is revolting that what happened to them is not considered an act of violence, when it so patently is. The law, as always, is all backwards, set up to protect the powerful and allow them to perpetrate acts of violence against women with impunity.

The fact is, these men lied. They lied about who they were, about what they did, about what they believed. They built a castle of lies, and tricked women into building intimate relationships with them, for the purposes of information gathering. The endgame of this deception was to lock up these women, and everyone these women knew, to silence them and to stop them. There is probably not a woman alive who would actively consent to what these policemen had in mind. This is why we discuss what happened in terms of rape: because of the lack of consent. The legal system, for the most part, defines what is and isn’t rape around what they want their chums to get away with, so by their standards, of course it isn’t rape.

It’s not that the legal system isn’t fit for purpose, because it is. It’s just that the purpose it serves is not in our interests.

There’s a knock-on effect of all this, trickling down to women like me. Under rape culture, we’re paranoid about getting raped–and it’s a just paranoia, because it’s phenomenally likely to happen to a lot of us at some point. Under this state-sanctioned rape culture, there’s this additional retroactive paranoia for those of us who aren’t good girls, who make likely targets for a predatory cop. I find myself flicking through the comrades I have slept with, wondering desperately to myself if any of them were cops. There were those I let myself get close to, and then they disappeared. Were they undercover policemen, who got what they wanted and fucked off back to base?

To my knowledge, they were all just arseholes, and while all cops are bastards, all bastards aren’t cops. However, the niggling, wearing anxiety is still there, and I suspect this is precisely what the pigs want. Ultimately, they want us frightened and ground-down, as it positions us as unable to resist.

I’ve said before that being deeply critical of the police is a very important feminist position to hold, and I’ll say it again until I’m blue in the face. These men are a gang of perpetrators, who will gladly inflict sexual violence upon us to suit their needs. Never forget that.


Things I read recently that I found interesting

Hi. I’ve been a bit lax on these round-up posts recently, so here’s a crop of stuff I read recently. Enjoy.

The Abortion Ministry of Dr. Willie Parker (John H. Richardson)- Amazing article about Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, and the state of play over there.

On the “dispute” between radical feminism and trans people (Juliet Jacques)- This article is so good I actually linked to the New Statesman.

Mentalism and Motherhood (Being Mentally Interesting)- On the issues affecting women with mental health issues who want to have kids.

I Tried Cosmo’s Lesbian Sex Tips and They Were Terrible (Samantha Allen)- Hilarious. Very, very hilarious.

Darling, We Don’t Play With Our Vulvas At The Table (Lea Grover)- On the complex line one needs to walk with kids and their body curiosity.

My Last Two Partners Died, And Three Years Later I’m Trying To Date Again (Kelli Dunham)- Sweet, sad personal story.

ABD Company (Rebecca Schulman)- Glad to see the issues of not finishing a PhD are getting more mainstream attention.

London evicts. Women and children first, thanks (Kate Belgrave)- On the gendered violence of evictions.

White hipsters, not black looters, are now threatening post-riots London (Pauline Pearce)- Gentrification is destroying communities, and here’s how.

A Brief History of the Jobcentre (Gabriel Bristow)- A digestible article about the history and function of the Jobcentre.

This Is What Disability Binarism Looks Like (That Crazy Crippled Chick)- On a disablist meme that is still doing the rounds, and how this line of thought is very prevalent.

Transgender Women in New York State Prisons Face Solitary Confinement and Sexual Assault (Solitary Watch)- A horrifying glimpse at conditions.

Take off the cape: Why using the word “rescue” is harmful to anti-trafficking efforts (CCASA)- Good intentions. Road to hell is paved with them.

It’s scary not shaving your armpits, but I’ll never pick up a razor again (Reni Eddo-Lodge)- An excellent article on body hair.

My Thoughts on the Block Bot, as a User and a Member of the Blocking Team (Sarah Brown)- How a simple tool can make the Twitter experience better.

This is what dysphoria feels like (A gentleman and a scholar)- A rather heartbreaking post, well worth reading.

And finally, lukewarm girl-on-girl action. Mmmm, tepid.


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