Category Archives: not angry just disappointed

The Women’s Equality Party policy: is a disappointment a disappointment when you expected it to be disappointing?

Content warning: this post discusses domestic violence, sex work stigma, and detention centres.

I’ll admit I wasn’t sure about the Women’s Equality Party, right off the bat, because, well, I’m an anarchist and I don’t believe the party political model is any use in achieving the changes that we need. I’m also usually quite concerned about media-friendly feminist initiatives, as they often contain watered-down or outright bad politics.

Having now read WE’s policy launch document in its entirety, my fairly low expectations have been met.

Perhaps the biggest blow is their coming out in support of the Nordic model in their claim to be keen on ending violence against women. All the Nordic Model does is expose women doing sex work to men who don’t give a shit about committing a crime–which doesn’t exactly make women safer. A preferable and safer model is Amnesty International’s evidence-based favoured policy: complete decriminalisation. It’s notable that the WE policy document is completely unreferenced (not just regarding sex work, but in all places): in stark contrast to Amnesty’s own.

Before I go off on everything else I disagree with, I’m going to say some nice things: I think asking for transparency about media representation, board representation and gender pay gaps, provided by companies, is not a bad idea–actually, it’s quite a good one, though I doubt it’s one that could be implemented without losing a lot of friends (including those coveted media organisations). I’m quite pleased to see that consent education in schools is a priority, as well as the migrant women in detention centres, and valuing care work. I’m also pleased to see a focus on dual discrimination and reinstating its position in law.

However, even the bits I liked, I don’t think they go anywhere near far enough. It’s nice that WE care about better sex and relationships education, although there was not a peep about undoing the still-present legacy of section 28, and make education about being LGBT a priority too. After all, a lot children will grow up to be lesbians, bisexuals or trans women, and they matter enormously. Reviewing the conditions in detention centres is all well and good, as is ending the practice of detaining pregnant women, but that’s nowhere near enough to go up against the violences migrant women face: detention itself is a violence. Valuing care work is nice, but how about requiring wages for housework and care labour, even if it’s someone in your own family–after all, women bear the brunt of care work.

Then there’s the stuff I actively abjure, in particular, quotas. Quotas won’t do diddly squat for improving the conditions of most women. The only women that quotas for political posts, board positions and enterprise would help are the kind of women who are already doing fucking well out of life: the kind of women who end up in politics or business. That’s not most of us. Just having a woman in a position doesn’t make a difference: see, for example, the results of the latest election, where women’s representation is at an all-time high and yet women are still totally, hands-down fucked. Then there’s the equality quotas for teachers: WE admit that there’s more women than men in teaching, particularly at primary schools, then say, “WE will explore the feasibility of implementing gender quotas for primary level teacher training and women as head teachers.”. This sounds to me like they are advocating for quotas to ensure more men in a certain profession. Yes, that’s equality, but wow, that is very bad for women.

Of course, I have issues with equality itself. I prefer liberation. WE’s policy document shows neatly where equality rhetoric falls down, with the aforementioned quotas to lock women out of a profession and their working with organisations that centre the needs and feelings of men, such as the Fatherhood Institute. This pandering to men can lead to disastrous consequences: for example, in WE’s policy on relationship breakdowns and shared parenting, they “will work to build a general social and legal expectation of the full involvement of both parents in the lives of their children even if the parents are not together, unless there is a pattern of violence or clear risk to either parent or child.”. That sounds OK, until you think about it. A “pattern” of violence is a difficult thing to establish, without involving support services and the state, which many women will be unwilling to do. WE’s own policy on prosecuting domestic violence is completely flimsy and there’s fuck all on helping make it easier for women to report, so reporting probably won’t increase. Therefore, women will end up having to keep abusers in their lives, because of WE’s shift towards expecting to keep them in their lives.

Another key concern in terms of partnerships is how WE say “WE are proud of the policies in this document but we encourage other political parties to work with us to deliver them, or simply to steal them. We just want to see them delivered, however that happens.”. Would they go into coalition with, say, UKIP, if UKIP promised to deliver the Nordic Model? It sure as shit sounds that way. And that is not OK. Not OK at all. Sadly, to be effective, feminism has to be political. Truly political. Truly conscious of who our friends and enemies are. It’s not enough to work with just anyone who will implement things off a shopping list.

I kind of wanted to not have to poo-pooh yet another women’s initiative. I’m fucking tired of having to do this, over and over again, and I don’t like always having to be Ms Meanypants. But there was little in the policy document for me to like, and lots for me to worry about.

Huge thanks to @rentalcustard for sending me the policy document while WE’s website was down

Further reading:

A Women’s Party? Less WEP, more like WEEP for the Mothers and Children (The Politics of Mothering)- Examining how the policy does very little indeed for mothers and children.

Sandi Toksvig’s Women’s Equality Party is a middle-class ladies’ campaign group doomed to fail (Abi Wilkinson)- Delving into the conspicuous absence of anything that could help working class women.

The Women’s Equality Party: A Surveillance State in the name of Liberal Feminism (sarahlicity)- A critical look at WE’s alternative to the Nordic model which is fucking terrifying.

Dear liberals: please stop derailing things about protest by ~condemning the violence~

Apparently someone gobbed at a journalist yesterday. And a Tory got some egg on him.

Oh, and there was a protest where 60,000 people protested the Tory choices which are literally killing people.

One would think that that would be the thing to focus on, really, but apparently it’s more important to discuss that there was some saliva in a bloke’s hair. And condemn it.

Falling over themselves to show off how respectable they are, liberals have surged to bang on about how it’s Very Bad That There Was Violence, because that means It’s All That Anyone Will Talk About And The Messages Will Be Lost. And they’re partially right. The messages are being lost. Precisely because liberals are rushing to distance themselves from a very minor incident.

We could talk about how things are so bad the UN is investigating Britain’s treatment of disabled people, that fitness to work assessments have been linked to at least one suicide, that benefit sanctions are linked to people dying. We could talk about how austerity is a purely ideological choice and has been picked because our government has decided that some lives are worth more than others. We could talk about how under austerity, even the survivors are barely living. But no. Instead there are a lot of people who probably have the best of intentions, playing directly into the media’s hands by tossing away the key issues in favour of denouncing a fucking egg.

Who cares about this, when people are dying?

That’s the message we should be going for. It’s the only message that matters really.

The media, let’s remember, are on the side of the murderers. Almost every single newspaper in the UK encouraged its readers to vote for the party with the documented track record of killing people. One of the two that didn’t, the Guardian, then went on to decry Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity politics during the Labour leadership election. The media has no interest in ending a policy that kills. Therefore, they’re never going to be particularly sympathetic for those who do take a stance against austerity.

Yesterday in Manchester, everyone could have filed from A to B with pleasant, inoffensive placards, chanting “pretty please, can we renegotiate austerity because it’s a little too much”, and the media still would have found something to bitch about them for, because they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

So, liberals, I implore you: whenever something happens and you’re worried the media might use it against the protesters, ignore it. Just redouble your efforts to get the message out there. Nobody cares what you think about a tiny bit of spittle, and it’s detracting from the fact that people are dying. 

People are being killed. That’s the thing that matters. Not your respectability, nor your hot takes on political violence. The blood on the hands of the government is the thing that matters.

The media can only hijack the message if you let them. If you participate in their hijacking of the message. Don’t give them that. Don’t serve their agenda. It doesn’t matter if there’s a bit of gob, or some scum gets called scum to his scummy face, or something gets set on fire, or the Duchess of Cornwall gets poked with a stick. If you care about the message being lost, make sure the message isn’t lost by focusing on the message.

So, the take-home message of this post? The Tories are killing people, and that’s the thing that matters most.

Occupy Sussex tried to cover up organising with rape apologists, pass it on

Content warning: this post discusses rape apologism

If you could take two minutes out of your cathartic time laughing at the fact David Cameron fucked a pig, that’d be peachy. This is important but it won’t take long.

Occupy Sussex are an anti-austerity student movement, and until recently, one of the few organisations with the word “Occupy” in the title I’ve had any time for. They seemed to be making a genuine effort to buck the trend of the dreadful misogynistic stuff groups with the word “Occupy” in the title generally get up to, by passing three motions against pro-rape party the SWP, and openly refusing to organise with the paste-tabled rape apologists. They were also pretty good on safer spaces.

Not any more, it seems. Occupy Sussex have invited the SWSS (the SWP’s student group) to a Free Education meeting tonight. According to an anonymous source who is a survivor,

“Some people essentially decided to run the campaign and took the liberty of inviting the SWP members. This wasn’t announced to anyone and three previous votes had banned the SWP, so survivors would have went in to the room and been faced with the SWP without any warning. Someone pointed out how devastating that would be for survivors but their argument was essentially that there are survivors on both sides, others in the campaign got hurt too, and people were uncomfortable with banning. Ultimately they prioritise having more members over having a safe space. After everything the campaign have dragged survivors through over the past two years, to just disregard that hurt and the three votes, they have given survivors the option of either working with rape apologists, or leaving.”

The Occupy Sussex Twitter account has been taken over by someone who protests the decision, and locked out those who think it’s perfectly fine to invite those who welcome rapists to meetings, despite the consensus being against that.

There’s two key points to why the decision to invite the SWP to Occupy Sussex’s meeting is very bad, which I’ll just spell out quickly:

  1. The SWP are rape apologist scum who shouldn’t be invited anywhere.
  2. Occupy Sussex literally democratically passed motions against inviting these fucking rape apologist scum to anything.


There is only one survivor willing to defend the decision to invite the SWP, and surprise surprise, she’s SWP. This is a pretty classic tactic: just because one survivor is comfortable organising with the SWP doesn’t mean everybody is. In fact, given Occupy Sussex’s previous track record on survivor-led motions against the SWP, it looks like the general consensus is that these rape apologists should fuck off.

It’s disappointing to see some individuals within Occupy Sussex trying to reverse the consensus on organising with rape apologists, and unfortunately it will lead to a smaller movement, not a bigger one. Yes, they’ll have opened up to crusty trots selling newspapers, but they’ll have lost the support of a lot of people whose significance they have probably underestimated: women and survivors.

The individuals in Occupy Sussex who want to invite a pro-rape party into the fold would rather this remained quiet. They were hoping their spitting in the faces of women and survivors would go unnoticed, uncommented upon. It shouldn’t. It mustn’t. This is an enormous fuckup which can be fixed–all they need to do is prioritise the will of survivors against the desire to include rape apologists.

And now back to your regularly-scheduled giggling at the fact the Prime Minister fucked a dead pig. I don’t think my pun got nearly enough love.

Don’t publish women’s sexual details: An open letter to @RHRealityCheck

Content note: This post discusses misogyny, attacks on reproductive rights, harassment and sex shaming.

Dear RH Reality Check,

Let me start by saying, I broadly support your aims. It’s important to provide news about reproductive justice, especially when our rights to safe control over our own bodies are so constantly under attack. Now that I’ve got your attention by being nice, let me tell you to go and fuck yourselves because you’ve done something practically unforgivably dickish.

Yesterday, you ran a piece by Sharona Coutts about Holly O’Donnell, an anti-choice scummer. I’m not going to link to the piece because of the personal details it contains, but this picture of the headline should remind you what it is:


Coutts’s hot journalism was in fact just a misogynistic attack on O’Donnell. Coutts had decided her time was best spent not discrediting the anti-choice bile O’Donnell was spouting to discredit her, but rather choosing to discredit O’Donnell based on her sex life.

Coutts identified O’Donnell on dating websites through her pictures. This is pretty much the kind of creepy stalkerish behaviour we expect from the anti-choice lobby, that we pro-choicers are above.

Coutts then decided to publish details of O’Donnell’s sex life that she had posted about. Again, this is pretty much the kind of creepy stalkerish behaviour we expect from the anti-choice lobby, that we pro-choicers are above.

Coutts even published the usernames O’Donnell was using on various dating websites, exposing her to online harassment. Guess what? That’s the kind of creepy stalkerish behaviour we expect from the anti-choice lobby, that I would have thought we were above.

Coutts even kind of attacked her for supporting LGBT equality, acting as though that’s some kind of thing her peers should be horrified by. Yeeep, smacks of anti-choice lobby bullshit.

RH Reality Check, you thought it was a good idea to publish 1700 words of salacious attacks on a woman for her sexual behaviour and sexual preferences, outing her and exposing her to a high amount of harassment. You claim that you’re exposing hypocrisy, but it is you who are the hypocrites here. You’re sex-shaming a woman. You know that some of the religious types she organises with might attack her for it, and you’ve decided to open her up to that attack.

I fail to see how you could not know what you were doing with this, so I can only conclude you’ve done this on purpose. You’ve decided to act like the anti-choicers you claim to despise, to out a woman and declare open season on her. It’s no coincidence you’ve put it on your front page, you want everyone to join in the puritanical shaming of a fallen woman.

What you’ve done is not OK, it’s never OK. It’s the very opposite of OK. You’ve proved yourselves as gross and misogynistic as those you’re ostensibly opposing.

Get fucked,


Update 14.45 21/8/15: It appears that RH Reality Check have taken down the post, although they so far have not mentioned why. This is not good enough. They need to address the issue and apologise to Ms O’Donnell for their misogynistic, sex-shaming harassment. 

Update 18.00 21/8/15: RH Reality Check have run a piece taking responsibility for running the piece, and saying it was wrong. The words “sorry” or “apologise” don’t factor in, and neither do they appear to understand that they basically used the exact same tactics as the anti-choicers. I also remain concerned about RHRC’s management, considering it doesn’t address the fact their fucking Vice President wrote the original hit piece.

Update 20.50: RH Reality Check have added the phrase “apologise unequivocally” to the above post. Also, I see this post has been linked through a right-wing opinion site. If you’re coming from there, hello, you’re mangy, poxy shitcanoes, and I hope you all die alone in pain. 

It’s 2015. Why the fuck are men still being hired to run women’s publications?

Feminism has already won, say people with no fucking clue whatsoever.

Even the gains made by the cishet white middle class feminists aren’t really that strong, despite what the clueless might have you think.

One would imagine that, in the year 2015, even without the hoverboards and instant food, it might be considered common sense for a new head of a women’s publication to be a woman. That those hiring would think “oh, well, obviously this role is best suited to a woman, since she’ll have the additional qualification of a cursory knowledge of issues that affect women, so won’t need so much training or finding her feet.”

Alas, even such a fucking basic concept still seems to be beyond the grasp of many. Vice have launched their new women’s section, and decided that, of all the people who applied for the job, the best-qualified was some bloke called Mitchell Sunderland. As far as I can tell, this isn’t some elaborate practical joke, the only possible explanation for this which doesn’t lead me to seriously question Vice’s recruitment strategy.

Maybe Mitchell Sunderland was the only person who applied. Maybe not a single woman applied for the role. Maybe… nope, I got nothing.

So, what has Mitchell Sunderland managed to cobble together so far? There’s a strapline, which is based on a catchphrase from a 90s comedy show, and it isn’t exactly particularly funny when Broadly has flat-out shown that it doesn’t think women are qualified to run a section when a man has applied. He also appears to be a bit of a bellend, and not exactly “get” women’s concerns.

There will be the inevitable bleating about “baaaaaw equaaaaality” to try to defend Sunderland’s appointment, but I refuse to believe that of everyone who applied for this role, Sunderland was the most qualified. Indeed, if anything, his appointment looks rather a lot like playing favourites: he seems to have had rather a strong content-producing relationship with Vice so far.

Women know how shit things are when men are telling them what they want. It’s why ads catering to women are so bad. It’s why the government is fucking women over so viciously. It’s why Broadly will probably manage to limbo beneath the rest of Vice as the lowest that journalism can go.

Broadly doesn’t need to be feminist, but a woman’s section should be run by a woman, and I refuse to believe that there are no women qualified to run such a section. I refuse to believe that there are no women who applied for the job who were equally, if not more qualified than Mitchell Sunderland.

It’s still a man’s world, and even the fucking tiniest wins were never won at all.

Mad Max > Game of Thrones IDST

Content warning: This post discusses rape and violence against women, and contains spoilers for Mad Max: Fury Road and Game Of Thrones S05E06.

Why yes, this is the second post in a week about what Mad Max: Fury Road is doing right, so right. Or, at least, more right that a hell of a lot of the shite that’s on our screens these days.

Readers of this blog will likely be aware that the most recent episode of Game of Thrones, “Unbroken, Unbowed, Unbent”, featured a rape scene which was not in the books and seemed to serve little purpose (although I’d argue it did serve a function, and a fucking horrid one at that). Defenders of the scene, and defenders of the show’s attitude towards rape in general tend to follow a similar line. “But it’s accurate that in a medieval setting, women would get raped!” “Would you rather they just ignored the issue?”

First of all, the historical accuracy argument is fucking bullshit in a show where dragons and zombies gad about doing dragon and zombie stuff, the climate produces seasons that last for decades, and everybody has a full smile of straight white teeth. Let’s see it instead for what it is: a fantasy setting where, along with all of the above things which didn’t really happen in medieval Europe, it’s also a dystopian world where women are treated as chattel and therefore rape and violence against women is commonplace. Here, the “would you rather they just ignored the issue” argument has slightly more traction.

The thing is, if that is indeed a conscious part of the world that has been built and is being explored in the show, the writers and producers are still doing a fucking terrible job of pulling it off. If they want to explore these issues and show this horrible world they’ve created, they can look to Fury Road to see how it’s done.

Fury Road takes a look at violence against women in a dystopian world, and it does this without a single rape scene–hell, there’s probably only a few seconds of screen time dedicated to showing any violence against women. Instead, they explore it through competent writing, realising that we do not need to be shown these things to appreciate that they are bad and that they are a very real problem for the victims. Instead of being shown women being victimised, we are shown the impact it has on them, their desire to get away. We see instead their feelings, scrawled in paint across the room in which they were kept. We see them angry, we see them sad. We see its perpetrator, and we despise him without having to have every little detail of his violence rubbed in our faces.

It is entirely possible to address and discuss these issues on screen without subjecting the audience to the horrors. In fact, it’s easy to write a blow-by-blow rape scene. It is perhaps more challenging, but infinitely more rewarding for the audience to use some fucking subtlety and actually delve into what this means rather than what happened. Fury Road went to the length of employing a feminist to consult on the handling of violence against women, and it shows, because what emerged was a far better and more nuanced exploration of a world rife with gendered violence than much else.

We live in a ridiculous world full of dreadful writing if I have to call a fucking Mad Max film subtle and nuanced.

No, Helen Mirren, Thatcher wasn’t an “incredible role model”

Helen Mirren has said that Margaret Thatcher was a role model to young girls, because “she was a role model for a little-three-year old girl [to think] that she could become the Prime Minister of England.”

I was a little girl under Thatcher. And let it be known that I never thought that. From a very young age, Thatcher instilled me with a sense of disgust at mainstream politics, a persistent sense that they were out to ruin my life and take things from me. Thatcher took away my ability to believe I could be anything, she took away my hope of ever living stably. It’s what she did to my generation of little girls. It’s what she did to kids of all genders who grew up under her.

Us millennials are often criticised for our apathy, but we grew up thinking nothing was worth it in the face of an all-powerful system intent on keeping us in poverty or shit jobs (and all too often, both), living precariously. That was Thatcher’s fault. She started it, and we watched it metastatise as we got older. She empowered some, it’s true: those determined to destroy the lives of others. The rich, the bigots, they’re probably quite happy.

So she wasn’t so much a role model as somebody who crushed a whole host of kids like me into thinking we could never become anything, let alone Prime Minister. And even if we had dreams, what were these dreams? We could no longer be Britain’s first woman PM, because Thatcher had stolen that chance, too. We’d live in her shadow, constantly compared, and have to rebuild what was ruined, or be complicit in her destruction.

There’s a pervasive thought, and one which is absolute bollocks on scrutiny: that when a woman occupies a position of power, she is automatically doing good by being inspirational. It is an absolute nonsense. Thatcher could have been of any gender, and she still would have been a force of evil. There is little inspirational to the people who need to be inspired about seeing someone who happens to be the same gender as them ruthlessly slicing up the present and grinding the future into dust.

Young girls are not just malleable lumps of clay, ready to be shaped by whatever rose-tinted vision is plonked in front of them. Young girls think critically. We see monsters for the monsters that we are. Little girls are cleverer than you think, and most of us drew little positive from Thatcher.


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