Category Archives: tory scum

Why I’m not cheering for scrapping the “tampon tax”

Content warning: this post discusses Tories and menstruation

It looks like the “tampon tax”–the VAT paid on sanitary products–is going away at last. Hypothetically, this should be something to celebrate, but in my role as miserable killjoy bitch, I’m not cheering. I’m not cheering, because I have some concerns, and they’re pretty fucking big ones.

In Wednesday’s budget announcement, the sadly-not-on-fire George Osborne made a very crude attempt to appeal to women by saying that revenue raised from the tampon tax would go to women’s organisations (despite menstruation not just being “a women’s issue”!)

Less than 36 hours later, suddenly we’re hearing that the tampon tax is being scrapped. So, does this mean that there’ll less money for women’s organisations and services than initially budgeted-for? If the removal of the tampon tax comes in with immediate effect, that’s exactly what it would mean. If it’s going to be a while before it comes it, that’s little better: it just means there’ll be a funding black hole for where there was once a kitty for women’s organisations and services, there no longer is one. In other words, it’s not a problem right now, but it will be in the near future.

Either way, rather than something to cheer about, this is simply something that this Tory government are doing very well: moving money away from the public purse and putting it into private hands. Last night, I made a prediction, and I want to go on record with this prediction and spread it far and wide as possible, so I can at least feel a burn of smugness about being proved right while the world fucking burns.

I seriously doubt that the reduction in VAT will pass on to people who need to purchase sanitary products. Sellers know that people are used to paying a certain amount for tampons, etc. They make the occasional special offers, and so forth, and maybe they’ll even temporarily reduce the price when the tampon tax is scrapped, but within a few months, we’ll all be paying the same we always paid for sanitary products, except now that additional 5% is lining private pockets.

So ultimately, there is nothing to cheer about with the abolition of the tampon tax. It’s a PR exercise, nothing more, nothing less. We’re meant to be happy for David Cameron for Being On The Side Of Women while simultaneously Getting A Better Deal For Britain In Europe, but fuck him with a large pike. His government is killing women, and nominally knocking 5% off of a product that is already a massive rip-off does nothing to alleviate that


3 current freedom of speech issues which the media neglect to cry over no-platforming

Content warning: this post mentions CSA and benefits

Freedom of speech is under threat. Like, really really badly under threat. Some teenagers aren’t interested in listening to what crusty old bigots have to say.

No-platforming is a pretty hot topic in the media at the moment, as it seems to be whenever some crusty old bigot gets offended that not everyone wants to listen to their special snowflake opinions. However, what’s more interesting is the things which aren’t hot topics, which don’t get endless opinion pieces churned out, nor ubiquitous Newsnight debates. Now, of course, I’ve said before (and I’m fucking sick of saying it), that no-platforming and censorship are wholly different things. This holds.

In fact, while everyone’s talking no-platforming , they’re helping draw the fire away from some genuine and real freedom of speech issues which are going on, and are current. Your Germaine Greers and Peter Tatchells and Julie Bindels are helping the government get away with instances of censorship and suppressing free speech by simply banging on about their hurt feelings and making that the big media issue. These issues are the ones which we need to look at, because these present a real danger.

Gagging scientists and charities

The Cabinet Office wants to “muzzle” scientists whose research conflicts with government policy. Say you’ve done some research where you found that disabled people are dying at a higher rate under Tory welfare, and the research clearly points to a change in policy. If you had any government grants contributing to your research (which most academic research does!) tough fucking titties. You can’t publicly state the conclusion you drew from your research. Best hope you concluded that Iain Duncan Smith is The Best, or your science will never see the light of day.

This clause to be added to all new grant applications also affects charities. Charities which receive public funds (for example, pretty much any charity that provides any service) also can’t criticise or lobby to change government policy. This could ultimately prevent charities from functioning at all, since there’s rather a lot of government policy which directly impacts their issues.

The Trade Union Bill

The Trade Union Bill will suppress the democratic rights of workers to organise and protest. This, obviously, benefits the government, bosses and very few real people. The right to strike is hugely important, and the government would like very much to take it away, because it makes them feel sad when they have to get a bus instead of a tube. They’re also aiming allow bosses cap the amount of time union reps can fulfill their role and represent union members–which, you may recognise as something which union reps do. 

This is an enormous freedom of speech and civil liberties issue, and sadly the government is trying to force it through as quickly as they can. Near-silence on the part of the mainstream media has probably helped. There’s little that remains in terms of doing much about it, save cross our fingers and desperately hope that the House of Lords–yep, those unelected oyster munchers–manage to halt it or take out the worst. In short, workers freedoms are about to be severely fucked over, with little fanfare.

Coverups, all the coverups!

From calls to stop naming perpetrators in historic CSA cases, to demanding a public investigation into undercover officers deceiving women into sex and relationships be mostly private, the police have been helping cover up rather a lot recently. It’s weird that this goes mostly unremarked, considering usually the media hate a coverup and will do their best to dig at the truth. However, peculiarly, these issues have not been treated as the free press and free information issues that they are.

The police are covering things up. And it’s fucking working.

Freedom of speech is under attack. Usually that sentence leads to some bullshit whining, but it is actually true. While the bores at the media continue to spill column ink about sad baby boomers being deemed irrelevant, let’s talk about what’s actually going on, because it’s more frightening than we think.

 


Bernard Hogan-Howe probably would have let Rolf Harris get away with it

Content warning: this post discusses child sexual abuse, sexual violence and police

It was reported today that Rolf Harris will be charged with seven counts of indecent assault, with one of the seven complainants being just 12 years old at the time the offence occurred. This follows his conviction in 2014 for twelve counts of indecent assault, with one of the survivors being just eight at the time it happened. Rolf Harris is a predator. A convicted paedophile. So, why is it that one of this country’s top police officers would have let him get away with it?

A few days ago, Bernard Hogan Howe, head of the Metropolitan Police, wrote an article outlining what he reckons should be done about sexual abuse investigations (warning: if you click this link it contains discussion of CSA and sexual violence and is absolutely viciously infuriating). Hogan-Howe advocates a two-stranded approach which will have a devastating effect on encouraging survivors–particularly survivors of historic sexual abuse–to come forward:

  1. Making it clear to survivors that they will not be automatically believed if they report to the police.
  2. Offering anonymity to those accused.

Both of these affect reporting sexual violence to the police. A lot of survivors don’t report because they’re scared of not being believed anyway. The man in charge of the capital’s police force making it explicit that the police might not believe you isn’t exactly going to alleviate these concerns.

Anonymity for the accused sounds nice and fair in theory, but it, too, has an impact on reporting, particularly for serial rapists and abusers. We see the pattern again and again: one or two survivors stick their head above the parapet and speak out about what happened to them, and it encourages more and more survivors to follow, knowing that they’re not alone. It happened with Savile (although, unfortunately, after he died, so he was never brought to justice). It happened with Bill Cosby. It happened with Greville Janner (although, again, he died before being brought to justice). And yes, it happened with Rolf Harris, which is presumably why further charges are being brought 18 months after he was convicted.

In his nasty article, Bernard Hogan-Howe describes what happened after Savile as “a dam burst[ing]”, as though it’s a bad thing that more survivors come forward. He acts as though a senior police officer telling historic abuse survivors, “Come forward, we will believe you,” is a bad thing. It isn’t and it wasn’t.

So why has Bernard Hogan-Howe laid out a roadmap for helping serial rapists and abusers like Rolf Harris get away with it? Again, Hogan-Howe is kind of clear about this in his article: it’s been more than a little inconvenient for some powerful men who have been accused, but there isn’t enough evidence to bring charges.

The right-wing media have been all over Hogan-Howe, baying for his blood. Not because Hogan-Howe is proposing measures that will help serial child abusers like Rolf Harris get away with it, but rather the opposite: a high-up army man and a Tory peer got accused and weren’t charged because of insufficient evidence. Lord Bramall’s case is getting ugly, with him calling for an investigation into his accuser, and today’s Sun front page headline outright calling the accuser “a serial liar“. Meanwhile, Lord Brittan was implicated in dossiers on the Westminster paedophile ring  being ignored, allowing child sexual abuse to go on.

I have no opinion as to whether Brittan or Bramall committed the crimes they were accused of or not. It’s worth noting at this juncture that a lot of historic abuse cases are dismissed because there’s not enough evidence. Even in recent cases of sexual violence, there’s often not much of the sort of evidence which will likely secure a conviction through the courts. With historic abuse, the case may be investigated over 40 years after the incident took place. In a way, it surprises me that there have been any convictions of historic sexual abuse at all, especially ones for abuse which happened decades ago. Again, I am not saying that Bramall or Brittan raped anyone. Rather, the point I would like to make here is that what helps these convictions take place is more victims coming forward. Indeed, one of the things which contributed to the lack of evidence against Bramall–and indeed the media frenzy over how unfair it was to investigate him–was it was based on only one complainant’s testimony.

So, the way things are set up, for historic abuse claims to stand a chance of seeing the inside of a courtroom, plenty of survivors need to come forward. It’s probable that if just one person had come forward to accuse Rolf Harris, he would have got away with it. It’s probable that if other survivors didn’t know an investigation was taking place, they wouldn’t have come forward. It’s probable that nobody would have come forward to accuse Rolf Harris if they’d felt they might not be believed.

Bernard Hogan-Howe would have let Rolf Harris get away with sexual abuse of children and adults alike if he’d decided to say what he said a couple of years ago. In pandering to right-wing media outcry over the poor powerful old white men, Hogan-Howe has achieved only one thing: making it easier for rapists and paedophiles to never be brought to justice.

The media are of course complicit in this, and I am sure they know exactly who they’re helping and who they’re hurting.

I’m sure it’s incredibly inconvenient for the police to be investigating powerful old white men, but this doesn’t mean they should try to discourage reports that they have to investigate. I don’t know, maybe if they stopped harassing BME people using stop and search powers, they’d free up some resources to investigate complaints.

The fact is, under Bernard Hogan-Howe’s ideas, Rolf Harris would have got off scot-free. Think about what when talking about how historic abuse investigations are handled, rather than Bramall and Brittan.

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George Lawlor looks like a rapist

Content warning: this post discusses rape and rape culture

There’s not really a specific look to a rapist. They’re not born with the word RAPIST emblazoned across their foreheads, nor do they glow faintly in the dark. There’s no visual markers of a rapist. Would that there were, it would all be so much easier to just set the fuckers on fire before they have a chance to hurt someone.

Warwick student George Lawlor missed the memo that there wasn’t a specific rapist aesthetic, and was mortally offended when, like loads of other people in his year, he was invited to a workshop on consent. He reacted in the most point-missing way possible.

georgelawlor

“I love consent,” he bleats, calling the very notion of consent workshops “incredibly hurtful”. He writes screeds about how everyone totally understands consent while not demonstrating this in the slightest, boiling it all down to–and I quote–“Yes means yes, no means no. It’s really that simple.” George Lawlor reckons workshops talking about what consent really, actually means is a waste of everyone’s time, particularly those who organise such events.

In doing all of this, George Lawlor has achieved one thing, and one thing only: he’s made himself look like a rapist. His short article and selfie have worked wonders in demonstrating a lot of the little hints I look out for, after years of the unfortunate experience of having encountered rapists. Men who display these behaviours, I now avoid. Here are the ways that George Lawlor has made himself look like a rapist:

  • He prioritises his own feelings above those of anyone else. At length, George Lawlor bangs on about how hurt he is that someone invited him to a consent workshop and how selfish it is that such workshops are happening without a thought for his own wounded feelings.
  • He manifestly does not understand consent, thinking it a simple matter of a yes or a no. Sadly, it’s a fuckton more complicated than that: a yes can be coerced, a yes can be withdrawn, a yes can be drunkenly slurred by someone who is in no fit state to understand what this word means.
  • You know who is usually most insistent that they are not a rapist? Rapists. False denials of rape are so common as to be banal.
  • He displays absolutely no willingness to self-examine the gaps in his own knowledge, or to reflect upon past experiences and see that maybe he should think about doing things differently in the future. Those who think they have nothing to learn are those with the most to learn, and a safe person should always have the capacity to admit that they could be wrong.
  • While he does not squawk out the mantra itself, the notion of “not all men” hangs over his article like a fedora. Those who want to protect their own self-concept are often fucking dickheads.
  • He clearly doesn’t understand why feminists are starting to organise consent workshops to teach consent universally. Spoiler: it’s to kick back against a culture that helps rapists, by arming everyone with an understanding of how not to rape.
  • Those who get sneery about feminist initiatives and organising are almost always misogynistic dungheaps of the highest order.
  • He clearly doesn’t understand what a rapist looks like: how it’s more likely to be the guy you know than some random stranger in an alley, how it’s more likely to be a guy who thinks he did nothing wrong than a monster chuckling about how he’s totally a rapist, how rapists don’t have horns or something like that.
  • He clearly hasn’t a fucking clue as to how to end rape culture, suggesting “campaigning, volunteering and caring for other people” would be a better use of our time. Well, we’ve been doing that since fucking forever, and it has its place, but that doesn’t exactly work on its own (and volunteering and caring usually works best after the fact).

For a Tory, George Lawlor sure is waving a hell of a lot of red flags.

Are consent workshops a panacea, a means for hitting the nail on the head and ending rape completely? Of course not. But are they a useful tool for chipping away at rape culture? Absofuckinglutely. Everyone should discuss what consent is, really think about it, and get to the difficult truths about their own histories. Awareness is absolutely crucial: both self-awareness of what you’re doing, and awareness of what other people are doing and whether that’s OK or not.

In resisting this preventive measure, George Lawlor is helping rapists, and only rapists. He’d do well to begin by asking himself why he wants to do that.

Update 16/10: You should all read this excellent piece from Warwick’s Women’s Officer, explaining why consent workshops are vital. It’s especially important you read it if you’re a man who’s come here to clutch your pearls at the thought that women are creeped out by behaviour such as Lawlor’s.


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.


We’re fucked. Now is the time for solidarity.

We could talk about this election until the whole country falls into the sea as it rightly deserves, but there are more pressing things to address.

I hate to go all Sorting Hat on you, but things are probably going to get very bad, and we need to pull together. What we’re going to need is a lot of fucking solidarity to get through the next five years.

The real politics isn’t in the murderers at Westminster, but it’s the little things close to home, the things we need to do to survive, the things we shouldn’t have to.

Check in regularly with vulnerable people: those of us who are disabled, those who are migrants, the young and the elderly, those who find the means of survival ripped away. Resist, loudly, the lies and the blame thrown towards those of us who find ourselves suddenly much more open to attack. Help those around you to survive as much as you can, and do not be afraid to ask for help yourself.

Let’s try to recentre the discourse, and challenge the narratives that got us here. Let’s build our own power outside of Westminster, in our communities, in our homes, and yes, out on the streets, too.

They succeeded because they made their victims into scapegoats. It is absolutely crucial that we reverse this by any means necessary.

Under the Tories, our very survival is a radical act. Each breath we draw is an affront to them, and each sound we make chips away a little more.


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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