Category Archives: rape

Let’s question why men want anonymity for rape defendants

Content note: This post discusses rape, sexual assault and rape apologism

Fresh off the back of his own trial for a series of sexual offences, Nigel Evans has called for anonymity for defendants. Evans got off as his own defence put his behaviour down to “drunken overfamiliarity”, and throughout the trial he came off as at the very least a massive creep and young people are more likely to be on guard around him in the future.

Evans’s plea is one much repeated among those who seek to protect perpetrators of sexual violence. The call comes up again and again, a repeated screech. The thing is, the evidence shows that anonymity for defendants in sexual offences only protects rapists and abusers.

Between 1976 and 1988, the UK had anonymity for rape defendants. It led to a number of practical problems, including a very major and horrific one: if a rapist escaped custody, there was no way of warning the public that a dangerous rapist was on the loose. There’s also the very important fact that when a perpetrator is named, more survivors tend to come forward. Take for example, the case of John Worboys, the “Black Cab Rapist”. Once Worboys was named, a large quantity of survivors came forward, which helped to convict him. Before this, the police had dismissed allegations against Worboys from survivors who came forward individually.

The evidence shows clearly that anonymity for defendants only helps rapists and abusers, so why are men so keen to defend it? Even as I tweeted about Evans, I was besieged by men–the sort of men who thought themselves good, rational types–saying they believed in anonymity for defendants. Two equally irrational lines of argument cropped up: first, the tired old one about false allegations, and second something about equality.

The thing about false allegations is dull and takes seconds to puncture. The rate for false allegations is low, possibly lower than most other crimes. This persistent myth calls open season on rape survivors, and makes it harder for them to come forward. Clinging to this myth harms only survivors, and it is a completely irrational belief to hold. Men should be more worried about dying from alcohol poisoning than being falsely accused of rape.

As for equality, fuck that shit. The anonymity protection for survivors is a tiny nod to the fact that the system is entirely stacked against them. Anyone who thinks adding on anonymity for defendants is equality doesn’t understand what the word fucking means. They’re calling to stack the system further against survivors.

So with these two irrational arguments punctured, we need to wonder why men are so keen to protect rapists and abusers. My own personal theory is that they know in their hearts they, too, have something to hide. They remember that night where she was too drunk, they remember that boy who was far too young, they remember that time they had to wheedle and fight for it. They remember these things and they feel afraid, afraid that one day someone might be empowered to speak out. They can pretend away that any allegations would be false, but the truth is that these things were lines crossed, and deep down they know it.

It’s the only way I can explain why men are so persistent in pursuing something with no founding in evidence. Why else would they support something which only protects perpetrators?


In which I review a book that I read: Playing The Whore

Since I heard that Melissa Gira Grant wrote a book about sex work, I’ve been desperate to get my grubby mitts on it. Having now read Playing The Whore: The Work Of Sex Work, I want to recommend that every single one of you reads this fucking book.

Weighing in at just 132 pages, I’m astounded Gira Grant managed to pack in so much vital–and radical–analysis in such an accessible format. Central to her thesis is the concept of a “prostitute imaginary”, a cobbled-together bundle of myths which occupies our minds. These myths are systematically examined and dismantled through a feminist lens. Everything you thought you knew about sex work is a lie, it seems. Did you know, for example, that among a sample of over 21, 000 women who do sex work in West Bengal, there were 48, 000 reports of violence perpetrated by police, but only 4000 perpetrated by customers?

Gira Grant has a theory as to why this may be the case. The forces of public imagination surrounding sex work run strong. Misogynists, law enforcement and feminists alike view a sex worker as always working, as nothing but a sex worker. She (as Gira Grant points out, this stereotype is always of a cis woman) is somehow deviant and subjected to stigma for her deviance. Simultaneously, focus is on representations of sex, rather than the concrete. We only see sex workers being arrested, or peek through a peephole to see what we want to see. With all of this going on, the voices of sex workers can easily be ignored, creating this situation:

These demands on their speech [in testimony in court and the media], to both convey their guilt and prove their innocence, are why, at the same time that sex work has made strides toward recognition and popular representations that defy stereotypes, prostitutes, both real and imaginary, still remain the object of social control. This is how sex workers are still understood: as curiosities, maybe, but as the legitimate target of law enforcement crackdowns and charitable concerns–at times simultaneously. And so this is where the prostitute is still most likely to be found today, where those who seek to “rescue” her locate her: at the moment of her arrest.

The book travels in a spiral, revisiting the same points over and over again to the joint problems of violence and coercion from law enforcement, and how other women, especially feminists, aren’t helping–and in fact, attempts to rescue can often make things worse, such as demonstrated in a case study in Cambodia, where attempts to “rescue” sex workers have led to many women being dragged away to “rehabilitation camps”, repurposed prisons where women have died or set to work long shifts behind a sewing machine.

A lot of what we as feminists have been doing wrong is related to “whore stigma”, which Gira Grant explains goes beyond simple misogyny:

The fear of the whore, or of being the whore, is the engine that drives the whole thing [a culture which is dangerous for sex workers]. That engine could be called “misogyny”, but even that word misses something: the cheapness of the whore, how easily she might be discarded not only due to her gender, but to her race, her class. Whore is maybe the original intersectional insult.

It is a desire to reverse away from “whore stigma”, which predominantly affects sex workers, but can also hit women who are not sex workers, which links with a lot of problems within mainstream feminism: Gira Grant theorises that it is no coincidence that feminists who are anti-sex work are also often transphobic. And, likewise, anti-sex work laws are often used against trans women and women of colour, from unfair targeting for stop and search, to disproportionate incarceration.

It makes for uncomfortable reading at times, this litany of our own mistakes as feminists, and perhaps nowhere is it clearer than in an analysis of objectification, and the feminist line that sex workers increase objectification of women. The evidence upon which these assumptions rest is dealt with in short order, and Gira Grant highlights the dehumanisation and objectification of sex workers at the hands of women, as silent props, and, often depicted in a frighteningly demeaning fashion.

In dismantling the myths, Playing The Whore offers glimpses of the reality of sex work, the diversity of all that this umbrella covers. The book explains neatly how sex work fits in among other forms of work, of how once upon a time, sex workers and housewives were sisters in arms. At times, I wish the book were far longer, as I feel as though there are tantalising hints of analysis to come which never quite develops but is merely teased. Although this book is neither explicitly anti-capitalist nor explicitly ACAB, conclusions of this nature bubble under the surface, never spelled out, for this is not quite within its scope in its current form.

This book is a must-read feminist book. I would go so far as to place it as a crucial Feminism 101 text. The first feminist book I ever read way Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs, whose ideas I am still struggling to unlearn, as it gave me a shameful attitude towards sex workers and femmes for years I will never get back. Playing The Whore casts a critical eye on patriarchy while actively dismantling the stigma many women face, and teaches the central feminist values of listening, and solidarity. For readers more versed in feminist theory and praxis, it allows us to evaluate our past mistakes and encourages us to rebuild on more solid ground. By rights, this book could and should shake up feminism for the better.

But sadly, I fear it will not, for I fear the forces Gira Grant outlines are too powerful to be brought down by this smart little book. We have had centuries of clinging to a prostitute imaginary while coming up with numerous excuses to silence the voices of sex workers. I believe that this book will largely be ignored by the mainstream with their stake in speaking for and over sex workers. A recent review of Playing The Whore by a liberal cis white feminist took umbrage to Gira Grant’s centring of sex workers in a book about sex work, and decided that she would rather read about “demand”. Mainstream feminism wants sex workers decentred from discussions directly pertinent to their livelihood, it wants to keep sex workers on the margins. It will not listen.

Gira Grant knows this, which is why she concludes with a rousing cry for decriminalisation, in the hope that the rest will follow. This conclusion, and the solidarity Gira Grant asks for are concrete things which we as feminists who do not do sex work can support.


Dear Amanda Marcotte

Content note: This post discusses rape

Dear Amanda Marcotte,

I read your piece in Slate justifying a decision to incarcerate a survivor of rape to force her testimony with a kind of slack-jawed disgust, slowly morphing to a deep and visceral sense of terror.

I was horrified to read what happened to the woman who, having survived something so vile, was arrested and incarcerated until the trial. My heart shuddered at the thought that could happen. And the bile rose up in my throat as you said, over and over again, that this was all right. You say that in domestic violence cases, a lot of survivors recant their testimony because of the abuser, and go on to speculate that perhaps this is what happened with this woman. You say that there’s nothing that can be done to heal this in time for lawyers to get what they want, as though that’s the important thing here. You pretty much out-and-out blame women who do not comply with the justice system for any future violence that may be perpetrated.

Your article is sickening and frightening to me, a rape survivor who never reported what happened to me to the legal system. I’ve had to deal with many shades of bullshit from rape culture in my time, but you’ve given me something new to feel horror over. It had never occurred to me that some people might decide to blame me for any other things that might be perpetrated by that man. It had never occurred to me that the state could lock me up if they wanted to for not wanting anything to do with them, and self-professed feminists would cheer them on. I know that men who rape often don’t stop at one. And yet, what happened to me was deeply personal and I chose to deal with it in the way that made me feel safest. I feel like, for the most part, what I needed to happen, happened: all I wanted was him out of my life and to not have to talk about it in great detail to anyone.

As a feminist, I believe that the needs of the survivor are the only thing that matters in any instance of sexual violence. The way of starting to heal a deeply personal violation is also deeply personal, and deeply individual. For some survivors, this might be the route through the legal system. For others, it might be making sure everyone knows the name and face of the perpetrator as a warning. For others, perhaps recognition of what happened and reconciliation with the perpetrator is possible. For others, maybe setting the perpetrator on fire. It’s individual, it’s unique, and all of these are valid if that’s what the survivor wants.

Under rape culture, the wants and needs of survivors are ignored twice. First, in the initial violation, and second, in the response. We have our autonomy completely stripped of us by a state which supports and enforces rape culture, by peers who support and enforce rape culture, and, apparently, by people who consider themselves prominent feminist commentators who are also doing their best to sweep the wants and needs of survivors under the carpet when they get a little inconvenient.

So fuck your “greater good” guilt trip. Any greater good which involves kidnapping and incarcerating women is not worth it at all. Fuck your decision to ignore the wants and needs of survivors; you are just as bad as the rest of the rape culture which spawned your ideology. Fuck your supporting a move which will only put survivors off speaking out about what happened.

There is only one thing that matters, Amanda Marcotte, and that is what survivors want. Our role, as feminists dismantling rape culture, is to support each individual survivor unconditionally, in whatever course of action she chooses. Any other course is just rape culture, rebranded.


Why #ibelieveher is so vital

Content note: This post discusses rape, child abuse and rape apologism

It happens every time a famous man is accused of sexual violence. A torrent of rape apologism as patriarchy gets in gear to maintain itself. The steps to this dance usually the same: the tango of smearing and blaming and conspiracy theories goes on. Those of us who seek to overturn rape culture are getting better and better at advocating for an ethos wherein survivors are believed. We say “I believe her”, because we know that it’s more likely for a man to be hit by an asteroid than it is for him to have been falsely accused. We say “I believe her” loudly, proudly and publicly to oppose the status quo.

And it looks like we have made great headway in publicly expressing our support for survivors, because the backlash has begun.

Obviously, there’s the standard drivel from the standard misogynists, the well-choreographed dance of “no evidence” which misses the point entirely, but Suzanne Moore has stepped up to the plate with an attack on the very core of “I believe her”. In a confused piece surrounding Dylan Farrow’s brave public words about the child abuse she experienced at the hands of Woody Allen, Moore decides that those tweeting in support of Dylan are a “mob” and a “kangaroo court”. While Moore says she is inclined to believe Dylan, she thinks people should not be tweeting publicly that they believe her and fixates on some sort of putative superiority of the justice system. It’s already been explained why Moore is flat-out wrong in comparing mass gestures of support and solidarity for a survivor with a kangaroo court, and it’s also worth noting that Moore might have a bit of an axe to grind regarding Twitter which has blurred her judgment and stopped her from understanding the very basic ethos of “I believe her”.

First and foremost, “I believe her” is a reaction to the way rape culture is stacked. When it comes to sexual violence, too often there is no physical evidence, the smoking gun that “proves” that it has happened. Traditionally, under patriarchy and rape culture, this works in favour of the accused. It is their denial that is believed, rather than what the survivor has said. “I believe her” takes into account the balance of probabilities and turns it on its head, starting from a position of believing that what the survivor says happened is true, because statistically speaking, it is overwhelmingly likely to be the case. To speak out about an experience of sexual violence is not a thing taken lightly: we all know that when we do this, in the court of public opinion we will be, for the most part, utterly eviscerated, because rape culture is a juggernaut.

Most of us don’t want to engage with the legal system, because we know what it’s like. We know that it is these beliefs lurking in the back of people’s minds, codified. And we know how that is instrumentalised by rape apologists, that if we cannot engage with the legal system, or if we the legal system fails us, that means that we as survivors are the ones lying. It is no coincidence that so much of Moore’s piece focuses on how Dylan Farrow’s case was thrown out of court, or that we should focus on a better legal system, because the notion of starting from believing survivors and how the legal system works are diametrically opposed.

The aim of “I believe her”, then, is not to directly work within the legal system to make it better, because the legal system is but one manifestation of rape culture. The aim of “I believe her” is to throw down a challenge to a notion as old as patriarchy: that the accuser, not the accused is the liar. From a position of believing a survivor, it is easier to speak out, to intervene however the survivor wants, and to start to dismantle the millennia of social conditioning to which we have all been party.

I was silent for years about what happened to me, afraid of not being believed. Then I learned about how some people start from a position of “I believe her”. It was interesting: the woman being believed was not me. All there was to go on was her words. What had happened to her was nothing like what had happened to me. But it empowered me to speak out nonetheless, to tear through the silence.

And this is why it’s so important to make loud and public declarations. Survivors see and hear it. Survivors see that society is no longer a monolith of blame and wild accusations of lying based on no evidence whatsoever. Survivors see hope, and are more likely to come forward.

Silence is the biggest weapon patriarchy has in keeping rape culture alive, and “I believe her” starts to tear down this wall and encourage and empower survivors to speak out.

Because of this, it is crucial that we resist the attacks on this notion, the slurring it as “mobs” and “kangaroo courts”, because it isn’t. It’s solidarity in the face of patriarchy, and we should be proud that it is starting to terrify those who would rather we shut up.


A bra that springs open for true love? Nope.

Content note: this post discusses rape culture

Good afternoon. Have you felt like your day was devoid of pseudoscientific sexist bollocks? Well worry no more. Let me tell you about some fresh nonsense: a bra that will only spring open if the wearer is experiencing true love.

The promotional video opens by demonstrating the sort of men this product is supposed to protect us from, those awful gropey creeps. Fortunately for us, they will no longer have access to our norks, because this bra will not unhook for them–as demonstrated by footage of awful men trying to yank the thing open. You see, SCIENCE informs us that there is some sort of physiological marker for true love based on brain chemicals and heart rates and there’s a graph and everything, so we don’t need to worry that our baps will fly out every time we go for a run (not that the product looks like the sort of bra one should run in, ever). And so we can rest easy. Our tits will only pop out if we’re in love. Hopefully that won’t happen while in the middle of a date, because it would be profoundly awkward finding oneself suddenly topless in Nandos.

I’m going to pretend this is a real product, because the media are treating this as though it is, and even if it were just a conceptual joke, it’s still mostly fucked up for the exact same reasons.

Conceptually, this device is basically a high-tech chastity belt. The key is replaced by some pseudoscientific waffle, sure, but the principle remains the same: we can only be sexual when we are in love. Even the patronising protective language is the same as the underlying ethos of the chastity belt: rape and sex outside of “true love” are constructed as the same thing, and something that we must be defended from with a fortress.

I don’t think anyone needs to point out that a bra that won’t unhook for unwanted attention is hardly going to deter potential rapists, but it also probably won’t deter general creepers because, bluntly put, a guy harassing you in a bar probably isn’t expecting your bra to spring open and whap out your norks right there and then. The problem is more one of entitlement rather than keeping visibility of tits to a minimum. Like a chastity belt, the wearer is provided no means of getting out of the bra (although I reckon a cheeky wank would probably do the job). It subscribes to these two conflicting notions: that of an imaginary true love, but that we’re all sluts who cannot be trusted.

But let’s imagine for a second that we do live in this dystopic world wherein Fort Knox-style breast protection is required to deal with the hordes sacking all available boobies. This thing, as far as I can discern from the Highly Scientific graphs presented, pops open in response to a sustained elevated heart rate which is lower than that caused by exercise. Yes, that can be caused by pleasant social interactions, or being really turned on, or kind of getting giddy over someone. You know what else can cause it? Fear. Anxiety. The gut instinct telling you to get the fuck away from this creep as soon as you possibly can.

And now imagine, when you’re in this horrible situation, that your bra just pops open, and everyone in the room cheers because you’ve found your true love, the key to emancipating your mammaries.

As I said earlier, I have no idea if it is a real product or a satire which perfectly fits in with capitalist patriarchy. It feels somehow inevitable, nonetheless.


Lucifer, literally. Or, yes, I am jealous. Yes, I do want to drag you down.

Content note: this post discusses rape, transphobia, disablism, racism and abuse. 

There are a lot of women who I can say make me feel jealous. And there are a lot of women who I would like to drag down to my level of misery.

I envy the women who think a few tweets with four-letter words in them telling them they’re wrong is abuse. I know abuse, both online and offline. Online, even the death and rape threats, the sustained harassment and the attempted doxxings fade into insignificance next to what has happened to me in the meatspace. There’s only one thing that happened to me that I “count” as rape, because it was violent and it involved the word “no” being ignored a lot, but I wonder if internalised rape culture myths have left me discounting other very coercive sexual experiences. There was the emotionally abusive relationship wherein my head was being so fucked with I couldn’t even consent. There were the attempts to somehow correct me. I’ve been manipulated into sex I didn’t necessarily want more times than I can count.

And beyond the physical stuff, there’s all the verbal assaults, the slutbitchdyke stuff which is supposed to keep me in my place, and keep me down. I am simultaneously frigid and fucking too much. These slurs based on my sexuality and on my femininity serve to support and enable the sexual violence.

So yes. I’m deeply jealous of anyone who thinks that a couple of rude words on the internet are in any way comparable with all of this.

I envy the women who believe certain oppressions cannot possibly exist. The ones who believe biphobia isn’t real, so can’t possibly hurt. The ones who believe that I cannot possibly have a disability because I have a job and am capable of articulating my opinions, blissfully ignorant of the fact that if I didn’t have the former I’d starve and die, and if I didn’t do the latter the silence would gnaw away at my soul, and that I’d rather be able to focus on taking care of myself than grind away to survive and defend myself.

I envy those who think transphobia isn’t a real thing, or those who think it’s just a little intellectual squabble, a petty parlour game. I have held someone I love in my arms more times than I care to count, comforting against the vicious assaults. I have dried tears of people I care about as their very existence is questioned, and spent long hours reiterating that mere existence does not make one scum, or a rapist.

I find myself in similar situations with my sisters of colour, talking through racism that has been too often denied, providing support where I can, because there’s a lot of lucky women out there who believe that the only manifestation of white supremacy is a KKK hood or an EDL flag.

I find myself wishing I could be like those other women, the ones who don’t have to see this, the ones who can sit comfortably and believe that nothing is wrong. It must be so nice, having so little to worry about. It must be lovely, not having to check oneself at all, with no knowledge of one’s own complicity in this oppressive power structure. It must be absolutely fucking brilliant, being able to feel like they can actually do things and achieve things because the magnitude of the problem is largely invisible.

And it makes me angry, and it makes me want for them to see what I see. It makes me want to prop open their eyes with matchsticks and scream “LOOK AT IT. FUCKING LOOK AT ALL OF THIS.” It is a miserable thing, seeing all of this, and I want them to be down on my level of misery so we can actually begin to maybe solve these problems.

I am Lucifer, literally. The light bearer, illuminating the injustices that they do not see. And it’s not just me, it is all of us who see it, all of us who have had enough and want to point it out. We shine a light in the direction of just how deep the rot goes, and just how much of a battle we have left to fight.

And of course, this is not a popular position. Nobody wants to see it. I sure as shit wish I couldn’t, but because I do, the only option left open to me is to oppose it, fight it, hope that perhaps one day it will shift and do all that I can to help this on my way.

I want you to see what I see. I know it will hurt. But you need to see it to destroy it.

__

Thank you,  @veidtlemania, for calling me Lucifer. <3


“I see it too”

Content note: this post discusses gaslighting, a form of emotional abuse

One of the films I find myself revisiting from time to time is Gaslight. It tells the story of a young woman–played by Ingrid Bergman–who marries a villainous man who is out to steal some jewels left in her family home. His search is noticeable, so he tries to convince the woman that she is mad so she will not notice. His evil plan almost succeeds, except it doesn’t, which is why I love this film rather than it being a horrible, miserable experience to watch.

Towards the climax, someone else sees the gaslight dim. Bergman’s acting in this scene is beautiful, going from certainty of her own madness to relief–and almost joy–at reality finally breaking through. From this point on, she is empowered to take down her villainous husband. And, my god, she does it gloriously.

The moment where someone says “I see it too” is often all too precious. I’ve written before about how differences of opinion under an unequal power structure often result in gaslighting, but the problem often goes beyond this. Microaggressions so often mean that someone’s very experience is completely trivialised if they dare draw attention to what is happening. It’s all too easy to be made to feel as though you’re imagining something when all around you people are refusing to acknowledge it.

Yesterday, I blogged about a level of biphobia which is considered acceptable in feminism. I was anxious about posting it, imagining a pile-on of people saying that it was all in my head, that there was nothing wrong with the comments made about me, that biphobia isn’t real anyway. It felt so good to hear that other people saw it too. Indeed, with the exception of literally one comment saying “I’m bisexual and this isn’t my reading”, what happened was overwhelmingly supportive. Other women like me had been feeling this too. Other women like me had been feeling this too, and thought it was only them.

Likewise, sometimes someone will put into words a problem I have experienced that I felt like I was alone in feeling. Another person saying “Yes, I see this. No, it’s not OK. No, you’re not imagining it” always fills me with a rush of relief. It gives me the strength to keep on fighting, knowing I’m not fighting something completely imaginary.

Pointing out that the gas has dimmed is a small act, but one which is deeply meaningful. We spend too much time being told that the truths we perceive are not there, and this is a profoundly draining experience. We are made to feel as though we have lost touch, when in fact it’s not us at all. It shouldn’t be a radical act, saying “I see it too”, but it is, because in doing this we are jamming the system and forming rich bonds of solidarity and sisterhood.

I pay it forward, because I have no way to pay back the gift that others have given me. I make sure I tell women that I see what they’re seeing, and I think it’s awful. I know just how precious it can be, and I want you all to know just how much I need to hear those words occasionally.


I’m bored and I’m tired

Let me tell you something about me. I let you see the flashes of rage, incandescent anger which invigorates me. It comes, it builds, it explodes like an orgasm and I collapse into momentary catharsis. It’s not a good feeling but it’s better than the alternative.

Most of the time I’m bored. I’m bored and I’m tired. It is grindingly wearing simply existing in oh so many spaces. It’s exhausting and tedious having the same fucking arguments time and time again, not managing to chip away at the immovable force.

It happens a lot in anarchist and radical spaces. The men don’t like it when you challenge their supremacy. A few weeks ago, all of this happened, and it was dismissed as nothing. Now we’re being told we should listen to some sort of TV celebrity because he made some vaguely supportive noises on some issues. From microaggressions to outright misogyny, it goes and goes and goes and it repeats and it repeats and it’s just fucking tiresome.

Social justice circles are no better. Too many feminists think they can get away with kicking down, not up and we’re expected not to challenge this because they’re making some vaguely supportive noises on some issues.

It’s a sinkhole of solidarity, that’s what it is. Unidirectional. I will pour my solidarity behind their causes and yet, do they ever have my fucking back? No. I am a trouble-maker, I am a monster, I am a liar.

There are so many privilege metaphors I could think of. I am Ginger Rogers, backwards in high heels and I want to kick off my shoes and sit down. I am being told the game is easy by someone who is playing it on easy mode and I want to throw my controller at their fucking stupid smug head. I am being attacked by an evil invisible zombie horde who are all armed with chainsaws and also invisibility lasers and I am too tired to make up a metaphor which actually makes sense.

I have goals in common with a lot of awful human beings. Why should I be expected to dash myself against the rocks repeatedly to support them while they would never do a thing for me? Why is it that I am expected to undertake so much thankless emotional labour, and if I don’t then I am the unreasonable one? Why is it me who has to do the heavy lifting?

And I know I’m better off than some. At least I’m white. At least I’m cis. At least my disability isn’t too bad. At least I have a livable income. And I try to do what I can to help with the heavy lifting in the struggles of those who get more shit than me. And for some reason, I have more energy for this than I do with the banal struggles of my own. It’s easier to direct my own limited resources into people who need my solidarity rather than the solidarity-suckers with all of their privilege.

What I need is something that I cannot foresee happening. I need for what I am fighting for to be understood. I need to be able to move freely, not to be constantly hampered by the same petty squabbles over what should be a tiny amount of ground. I need those with the capacity to take up the heavy lifting, I need support and to know that others have my back when I challenge the terrible or even just the mundane.

We need a revolution, but before that happens, we need to clean out the shit in our own back garden, because if it’s a tiresome struggle to simply exist amid fellow revolutionaries then it’s not my revolution.

So please, please can we start with the banal, before we expand to the grand? I am aware that for a lot of people, this will be unpleasant, and will require taking on a higher degree of emotional labour than they have ever tried before. But this is how so many of us live day to day, simply to negotiate spaces. It is this dynamic that needs to change, needs a complete inversion.

I know this can happen, because those who I can trust do so. There are some who fight at my side who are supportive and make the fight feel winnable. These few who have my back are unquantifiably precious.

I have seen so many people fall  from sheer exhaustion, from being hounded out of spaces. Voices silenced and bodies taken out of the fight because some would rather maintain and replicate hegemonic power structures within spaces rather than challenge them. I haven’t succumbed yet, mostly because I’m fucking stubborn and I don’t want to let the bastards win. But it hurts. It hurts my soul and it hurts my body, and I’m bored and I’m tired.

Further reading:

Activist Burnout Part I and II by Alice B. Reckless


Your periodic reminder that the system still fails rape survivors

Content note: this post discusses rape and rape apologism

The latest figures suggest that the police are getting increasingly bad at referring rape cases to the CPS, despite the fact reporting is on the rise. This must be absolutely devastating for the survivors who chose to report, finding this route to justice the best.

For me, the official route has never been particularly appealing. I’ve written before about why I feel that way. I feel for those who felt that reporting and the court system was what they wanted; they have been failed so much. Why have the police suddenly decided that so much isn’t worth prosecuting, after gaining the trust of more and more survivors?

The answer is, of course, rape culture. It’s worth noting that this is alive and roaring from the establishment in this situation. Take a look at these two juxtaposed headlines:

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This was likely accidental, inasmuch as these things are accidental. Certainly, I don’t think anyone set out this page thinking “I want to associate rape reporting with lies”. It’s just that these associations exist in our minds, because we were all born and raised in a rape culture.

And very few of us see that everything we thought to be true about rape is wrong. So we end up here.

Their intent is not magical, and I do not trust the police, the media, the justice system to deal with rape adequately. They have too much power and too little understanding. Remember just how much they fail us.


Kill the SWP inside your head

Content note: this post discusses rape and rape apologism

Another woman has come forward with an account of her experience of sexual violence within the SWP, and how the disputes committee handled it. My heart goes out to her, as it does to all of the survivors.

Once again, I am filled with rage that this organisation with its inbuilt mechanisms for avoiding accountability for sexual violence continues to exist. I am fucking furious that people continue to be members of the SWP. Once again, I must state that I will never organise with them, or any of their front groups. This is both in accordance with the survivor’s wishes, and is also very much in accordance with my own personal feeling. I want to see them hollowed out and rotting then burned atop a pyre of their own shitty, shitty newspapers.

I will never organise with the SWP, and if you care a jot about sexual violence and its location within a broader liberation struggle, neither should you.

In a way, it is easy to see how the SWP found themselves in this position, and how easily something similar could happen within any radical circle. The ingredients are all there. We were all born and raised into a system wherein even those of us who are not cops absorbed a hell of a lot of cop lies about rape. That the survivor is possibly making it up and it requires investigation. That rape allegations will ruin a man’s life, and therefore ought to be investigated thoroughly. That there must have been some reason, some mitigating factor that made this happen: was the survivor drunk, or giving mixed signals, for example? That evidence is required to conclude the investigations. That the survivor doesn’t know best about what will begin the process of healing, it is a decision for someone else to make.

These lies and myths are ingrained. They are why so many of us will not go to the police, but they are also why so many of us would not report our rapes to our own friends.

These lies and myths need unlearning as a matter of urgency. For things to get better they can be and they must be. They need to be as forgotten as the charred skeleton of the SWP. All of this can happen again if we do not tear the rot out at the roots and let go of these rape apologist beliefs.

So kill the SWP inside your head. Identify which of these beliefs you have swallowed, and unlearn and undo them. Make sure you will not be another disputes committee. Challenge these beliefs in your community. Make sure your community is not just another SWP.

And remember the wishes of the survivor. Do not organise with rape apologists.


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