Category Archives: Uncategorized

Guest post: The Fuck Off Fund–all right for some

Content warning: this post discusses domestic violence

This is a guest post from an anonymous woman. It is a response to the article A Story of a Fuck Off Fund, which has been widely shared and praised by middle-class white feminists. This guest writer has written a response to the article. 

Sometimes the mother and the feminist in me find themselves at odds. It shouldn’t happen but it does. As a feminist I want to tell my daughter to wear what the fuck she likes, say what the fuck she likes to do what the fuck she likes, but the mother wants to counsel her against the risks of getting too drunk or wearing shoes that mean she can’t run fast, or walking alone late at night in dark deserted places.

This is what it means to be a woman in this world -this constant battle between what should be our right and what is safe.

For this reason I can see why this article has been such a hit with some people. This is the advice I would give to give my daughter, before she goes out into the world. To be careful, not to take risks, not to be too trusting. To always have a get out plan. In an ideal world we would all always have a get out plan, but we don’t live in an ideal world.

Let me share something with you that I haven’t told many people yet. On Boxing Day I fled an abusive relationship, I took the children and we crept quietly out, in the dark of the night. We took little more than the clothes we were standing up in and we ran.

As it happens I did have some money saved, and I have many supportive friends, and my parents have been great and most importantly I have a secure place to live within my community and every day I am thankful for these things and more -that I was able to buy a washing machine (because of course we don’t have many clothes right now) that I could afford to pay for a bunk bed so they have somewhere to sleep, that there were school places available in the local schools. I know how incredibly lucky I have been and yet still it hasn’t been easy.

When I read the article I started crying. It is true that I’m emotional these days and it doesn’t take much to trigger a round of tears, but I haven’t stopped all day. I am horrified to realise that there are people in the world can write this shit or share it without appreciating the wider implications of what is actually being said. It is sensible to always have something saved in case of an emergency, to not max out your credit cards or take out loans, of course I agree, who wouldn’t agree? But to say that with no awareness that sometimes we are forced to this, to get through christmas, to pay the colossal gas bill that always comes in spring, to replace the broken laptop so your children can do their homework or to find the money for the school trip.

I live in the UK, and despite being one of the richest countries in the world it is a place where the majority of under 30’s are spending more than 50% of their income, not on halterneck dresses, but on paying rent to private landlords. Where visits to food banks are routine. Where until the government redefined what it meant to live in poverty more than half of all children lived below this line.

Britain is a country where some of us have to choose between feeding our kids and switching the heating on at night. I might have had a fuck off fund a few weeks ago, but I certainly haven’t got one now, and unless some kind of miracle happens I won’t be replenishing it any time soon.

Arguably financial independence is a good thing to strive towards, a good thing to teach your kids, I get that. But having savings is simply not an option for a large proportion of the world’s population. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to pull themselves up by their boot straps, many people but more commonly women don’t do jobs that are valued enough by this patriarchal capitalist society to make any more than just getting by a possibility. Being able to put a little aside every month is not something everyone can do. That doesn’t make them feckless and short-sighted, that makes them victims of an unforgiving world.


A short rant on communication and all girls’ schools

Doing the rounds today has been a headteacher of a mixed-sex private school trying to promote his school by saying that girls who go to single-sex schools don’t learn to communicate with men in the real world.

I went to an all girls’ school and I’d query that massively. I had a short rant, which I’ll collate here.

(though, to be fair to the lesbian drama, it was significantly superior to the hetero drama at sixth form)

 

Adding to this, at my current workplace, it’s mostly women. It’s a great place to work because I never get men talking over me, and I can make my points and get on with my fucking job.

 

The reason I used “much” here is because it’s not completely absent. Yes, you won’t have teachers calling on the boys more than the girls. Yes, you won’t be a direct witness to patriarchy in action among your peers. However, you’re still living and growing up in a patriarchal society so it’s kind of still coming in.

A “bitch” here clearly defined as “a woman who pisses off men”, by doing Terrible things such as not quietly standing there and nodding while he speaks, not accepting everything he says as right, arguing, talking back, saying no, etc etc.

If anyone can get hold of the paywalled article, please do send it my way. I believe it was in the January 2012 issue of Science, although I didn’t actually have much to go on: all the headteacher said was it was an article in that magazine, never specifying a date, or anything.

 

 

This bears repeating again and again. Single sex schools are fucking shit for a lot of kids. They’re probably not the best thing for anyone, really, in an ideal world. Nonetheless, do they make it harder for women to communicate with men? Yes, probably. But only because men are entitled pigs.


Trans Day of Remembrance: even one death is too many

Content warning: this post discusses transmisogyny, suicide, murder and prison

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, and this year we are remembering 271 trans people who were murdered. Read the list of their names.

Of the victims, the overwhelming majority were trans women of colour. They were killed in brutal, vicious ways: stabbings, stonings, beheadings. We live in a violent world, and trans women of colour are more at risk of visceral violences than many others.

On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we mourn them, and each year we hope that the list will be shorter in the future.

The list only counts those who were directly murdered by the hand of another. This means that many other deaths are not counted: trans people are at a high risk of suicide, as well as HIV, addiction, and many other factors which cause one to die young, far far too young. It is perhaps not even possible to count these deaths.

One sticks out though. The day before TDoR, a news story broke. Vicky Thompson, a trans woman, was sent to a men’s prison. She had said she would kill herself if this happened. A week ago today, she was found dead in a men’s prison. Vicky Thompson’s death comes mere weeks after advocacy and action helped get Tara Hudson moved to a women’s prison. Vicky Thompson was just 21 years old.

The justice system have Vicky Thompson’s blood on her hands. Ministers Michael Gove and Andrew Selous have Vicky Thompson’s blood on their hands. The judges who sent Vicky Thompson to a men’s prison have her blood on their hands. Those who argue that a woman belongs in a men’s prison have Vicky Thompson’s blood on their hands.

Vicky Thompson’s death was as good as a murder. Vicky Thompson did not need to die. Vicky Thompson could have been easily saved, but there are too many who would rather see her dead than lift a finger to ensure that nobody ever dies like her again.

There is a culture of violence against trans women, and it is propped up and enacted by our government. Transphobia and transmisogyny demonstrably kill, and these bigoted, murderous views must die. It is not just words, just an opinion. Transphobic views kill, and they help the murderers get away with it.

Each Transgender Day of Remembrance, I boil with anger and sorrow. Even one death is too many, and trans women are killed in droves. The violence must end.


Protect our poor white boys from the evils of trigger warnings

An evil stalks our white men, threatening them with seconds of mild awkwardness and the possibility they might have to think about others briefly. I am talking, of course, of trigger warnings. The usage of a short textual warning above content, equivalent to allergy or seizure warnings but relating to mental health, is new to these white men, just catching their attention.

It scares them. It scares them shitless. For many, it is hands down the biggest threat they are facing. And this cannot stand: this historically-cossetted group is finally encountering some adversity: imagine! They may have to think about other people’s feelings, something we have wrapped them in cotton wool to avoid. They may have to take thirty seconds of their time to type a short warning about what lies within an article… or even a book, fancy that! And worst of all–this is something we have tried for millennia to shield the poor souls from–people might, upon reading a trigger warning, choose not to immediately read what they have written.

This cannot stand. Nothing hurts white men’s feelings more than being able to blart their opinions everywhere while everyone smiles and nods. We have trained them into this, they know no different. They must be cushioned against this frightening change that has come upon them.

Of course, the little darlings are not completely defenceless. They have been bravely writing articles everywhere about how they are being censored, frequently getting paid to write about just how censored and silenced they are. They have been compiling “scientific” evidence: did you know “exposure therapy” works? It does, that’s why it’s used so often on chat shows like Maury! And, also, it shows up, like, all the time in films and fiction, where the character “faces their fears” and suddenly it’s no longer a problem. Science!

However, despite their best efforts, it isn’t enough. We are facing perhaps the biggest epidemic of Hurt White Man Feelings since Jeremy Clarkson got sacked. The warm duvets of blissful ignorance may be unwrapped, revealing that some people have experienced far worse than having to summarise content. This cannot be: white men’s problems are obviously the biggest problems.

And so, avoid trigger warnings. They may help survivors, and people with phobias, people with all manner of mental health problems, but let’s not forget the realest of real victims: white men who might have to do something. It is they who must be protected at all costs, because they never had to grow coping mechanisms like the rest of us.


I love you, please give me money

Hi everybody. Regular followers will know that my financial situation hasn’t been brilliant of late, and in terms of sustainability it’s just got a mite worse, because I lost one of my two jobs. I can survive on what I’m making, but I can’t really live.

If you’ve read this blog at all, you’ll probably know how many bridges I’ve burned by criticising publications for their awful business models, and hurting the feelings of some of their pet bigots. I regret nothing, but unfortunately this means I can’t do the standard thing of farting out any old thinkpiece and getting paid for it. I’m an independent blogger, and it looks like it’s going to stay that way.

This blog is a labour of love, and I will continue writing it for as long as I can, because it means a hell of a lot to me to have a space to vent my thoughts and feelings. However, I’ve noticed something in myself over the last year or so, and that’s that I just haven’t had the time and space for it that I previously have, because I’ve been working myself to the bone and basically been devoting far too much time and energy to just existing. I feel like financial support for my writing would help with both the practical and emotional barriers to my being able to even think. 

I can’t offer you anything in return for your money, except the knowledge that you are helping me and that means the world to me. I’ve set up a Patreon page, where I’ll probably be putting out some content before I put it here. If you fancy donating to me regularly, that’s probably the easiest way of doing it. I’ve explained a little more fully what your money could help me do.

If you’d rather use paypal for a one-off donation, please email me and I’ll give you my paypal details.

Anyway, basically, please please help me with my finances, and help me get better–as a writer and a person. Instead of patronising me in the comments, patronise me in a constructive way!

Become a patron!


A picture which inadvertently says it all about privileged voices

Untitled

I don’t usually image-dump like this, but this was from the front page of the Guardian website today. The Guardian literally placing the voice of someone with no lived experience of sex work and a fuckton of hostility towards sex workers above a sex worker making a plea to listen to sex workers. If you can’t see something kind of fucked up about this, you’re probably part of the problem.

Anyway, fuck Bindel. Give Molly Smith’s article a read though, it’s dead good. Hell, just give it a click, and show the Guardian you’re more interested in listening to sex workers than bigots.


I support Amnesty International’s draft policy on sex work

Content warning: this post discusses whorephobia and violence against women.

If you’ve been following the news, you’ll know that a bunch of Hollywood celebrities who are not sex workers have recently started attacking human rights campaign group Amnesty International. You see, Amnesty have taken the very welcome step of considering sex workers human and prioritising their human rights by supporting decriminalisation of sex work.

In their draft policy, they say that the purpose of this is to “prevent and redress human rights violations against sex workers” as well as pointing out that policies involving criminalisation “make those who sell sex vulnerable to human rights violations”. This succinctly sums up a position which current sex workers have been advocating for.

Despite wilful point-missing by those who wish to attack Amnesty for understanding that sex workers need to be protected from human rights violations, Amnesty are explicitly against trafficking, and make some fairly basic suggestions which are Too Hard for those who’d sooner throw vulnerable women into prison than make structural changes. From Amnesty’s list of underlying principles of their document:

5. Amnesty International’s longstanding position that trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation should be criminalised as a matter of international law; and, further that any child involved in a commercial sex act is a victim of sexual exploitation, entitled to support, reparations, and remedies, in line with international human rights law, and that states must take all appropriate measures to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse of children.
6. Evidence that some individuals who engage in sex work do so due to marginalisation and limited choices, and that therefore Amnesty International should urge states to take appropriate measures to realize the economic, social and cultural rights of all people so that no person enters sex work against their will, and those who decide to undertake sex work should be able to leave if and when they choose.
7. The obligation of states to protect every individual in their jurisdiction from discriminatory policies, laws and practices, given that the status and experience of being discriminated against are themselves often key factors in what leads people into sex work.
8. States have a duty to ensure that sex workers from groups at risk of discrimination and marginalisation enjoy full and equal protection under relevant international instruments, including for example, those pertaining to the rights of Indigenous Peoples and ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.

I am quoting this here, because Amnesty’s decriminalisation draft policy has been misrepresented repeatedly in the media.

I support decriminalisation because current sex workers say it would make their work safer, allowing them to self-organise in unions for labour rights, facilitating access to health and safety measures, and allowing involvement of the police in the unfortunate situations where they do face sexual or physical violence.

I have taken two actions to support Amnesty’s draft policy on decriminalisation on request of sex workers.

Firstly, I have signed this petition–this takes two minutes, and you don’t really have an excuse not to!

And secondly, I have sent the email below to Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty:

Subject: I support AI’s draft policy on sex work

Dear Mr Shetty,

I am writing to support Amnesty International’s Draft Policy on sex work. I myself have never worked as a sex worker, but like your organisation, I have taken the time to listen to current sex workers talking about what would make their work safer, and reached the conclusion that decriminalisation is the best route towards accepting their dignity and humanity, as well as increasing safety.

I am aware that your organisation has faced a lot of pressure from high-profile individuals who do not respect these principles, and I am writing to express my support for what you are doing. Struggles for human rights often meet with stubborn resistance with those who would rather things remained the same, with some groups pushed to the margins. I have long respected Amnesty’s stance of pushing against this resistance, and I hope that your organisation will stand firm in the face of this and continue to maintain your evidence-based and human rights-focused approach towards sex worker rights.

Many thanks for what you are doing.


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