But I’m A Nice Guy

I’ve been trying to think of something to say about the terrible shooting in California this weekend, but I am consistently coming up blank. So many thoughts in my head, so little abillity to consolidate them. So I am just going to leave this here.

You are not entitled to our bodies and our company just because you are “a nice guy“. The “friendzone” doesn’t exist. If a woman you are interested in tells you she has a boyfriend (even if she doesn’t) it is because she knows you’ll respect another man’s ownership of her, than the actual ownership she has of herself. But sometimes even when we DO have a boyfriend, you still feel entitled enough to us that you will kill us if we reject you.

“I am afraid of women. And that makes me angry.”

Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.
– Margaret Atwood, paraphrased.

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If you’re mentally ill, you can’t make decisions of your own free will.

(Content Note: abuse, assault, suicide

This week, Mia Freedman clarified her position on sex workers:

“Let me lay out my position very clearly.

If you are an adult woman who is not suffering from a mental illness, addiction or sexual, physical or emotional abuse, who has not been trafficked or exploited or co-erced into sexual slavery and who is CHOOSING of her own free will to sell sex?

I respect that. I’m cool with that.”

– from MIA: No, I won’t apologies for my sex worker comments, @ mamamia.com.au

Hear that? Mia Freedman seems to believe that if you are living with a mental illness, an addiction, or have been abused, you are incapable of making your own choices.

As anyone who has, or who knows someone with a mental illness would know, mental ill-health does not automatically remove from a person the ability to consider options and consequences and then make a decision based on those considerations. Similarly, neither does addiction or a history of physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

Certainly, there are some cases where a person who has a mental illness might become temporarily unable to advocate for themselves, such as if a person is in the midst of an extreme psychotic episode or suffering from active suicidal ideation, but generally speaking, a diagnosis of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD or any other DSM-listed mental illness or disorder does NOT carry with it a caveat that the person can no longer make their own decisions.

Similarly people with a history of abuse. There are PLENTY of people who have been physically, sexually or emotionally abused in their lifetimes who remain capable of making their own choices. Additionally, there are plenty of people out there right now being bullied or sexually harassed in their workplace who remain capable of making their own choices, and who – for reasons they may or may not choose to disclose – remain employed in their jobs despite the fact their boss shouts abuse at them or a coworker touches them inappropriately. Sex work is not unique in this regard. Yes, some sex workers have been sexually assaulted by their clients, or bullied by their coworkers or their managers. But so too have some checkout operators, some secretaries, some nurses, some teachers, some accountants, some engineers. Are these people suddenly incapable of choosing their profession because they have been assaulted?

And as for people with addictions, what would you have them do, Mia? Break into your home and steal things you worked hard to earn the money to buy in order to sell for cash to support their habit, or engage in legitimate work to earn money to support their habit?

A friend of mine pointed out in a discussion on this subject that sex work provides addicts with an honest way to support their habit. She also points out that the flexibility of sex work is important for the mentally ill as well. (This friend guards her privacy so I haven’t directly quoted her in order to respect her right to her privacy – if she wishes to be directly quoted I am happy to do so.)

This is an important point. If Mia understood anything about the nature of mental illness, she would understand that keeping a regular schedule can be harder some days than others. To borrow from the Spoon Theory, some days it can take more spoons for a person with depression (for instance) to make it out of bed and to work for a 9am start than it can on other days. Some days are easy, and some are hard. Some days you wake up and you feel good, and going to work doesn’t feel like an insurmountable challenge. Some days you’ve been awake all night, stricken with anxiety, or thinking about what would actually happen if you killed yourself, or trying to ignore the voices, and then have to get up, put clothes on, and jockey a cash register or a telephone or a computer for 8 hours.

A critical element of sex work is its flexibility. Sex work allows a person to set their own schedule, to work as much or as little as they need to or want to. It allows a person to work at whichever time of the day is convenient for them. It allows a person to set their earnings based on their own requirements.

It allows a person suffering with a mental illness to continue to pay for their housing, their food and clothing, their appointments with a mental health professional, and their medication, WITHOUT having to put themselves at risk of further mental ill-health by forcing themselves to go to a 9-5 job on days when they are simply not well enough for it.

But according to Mia Freedman, mentally ill people are not able to make their own decisions. Which is HARDLY a feminist statement.

Normally I wouldn’t spend this much effort worrying about Mia Freedman’s opinion. But Freedman is a popular writer and her website receives thousands of visitors – her opinion has the power to misinform people, and to become public opinion. Public opinion sets public policy, and mentally ill people are already demonised enough without being considered incapable of making their own choices.

Mia Freedman may call herself a feminist, but her comments this week about mentally ill women, abused women, women with addictions and sex workers do not reflect any feminism I recognise.

Julia Gillard vs Tony Abbott in Celebrity Deathmatch.

Would anybody like to see a video of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, giving Tony Abbott a serve about his disgraceful misogyny in Parliament today?

Oh you do? That’s what I thought.

You’re welcome.

Transcript behind the fold.

Continue reading

Let Me Tell You About All The Things I Do To Stay Safe (or, Jill Meagher is not a cautionary tale)

My local pub – my favourite place to drink – is really close to my house. It’s so close that, on a clear day, you can see it from my end of the street. Getting from there to here requires crossing a main road, and then walking along streets lined with residential homes on both sides. It’s quiet, and it’s familiar and I walk from here to there and back again ALL the time.

Last weekend, whilst making a trip only barely longer than mine – also from her local bar to her home – 29 year old Brunswick woman Jill Meagher was kidnapped, raped and killed. Early this morning, her remains were discovered in Gisborne, 45 kilometers from where she was last seen on Sydney Rd. The internet exploded today with condolences to her husband, family and friends, and as well as with the usual warnings from armchair concen trolls to young women to “be careful, and take precautions”.

Commenter GIW at 3AW says:

There have been so many incidents of rape, assaults, harrassment and murder but still women don’t get it. You do not venture out on your own in the wee hours of the morning especially after you have been drinking, why is it so hard for that message to sink in.

And there are many other sentiments the same. Be careful girls, don’t walk alone at night, don’t get too drunk, don’t wear high heeled shoes. BE CAREFUL!!!11!!!!1ELEVENTY!

Let me tell you about all the things I do to stay safe, every time I leave my house alone at night. EVERY TIME.

  • I carry my keys in my hand after I have gotten off the tram, because they are sharp, and because it gets me into the house quicker.
  • If I know my partner will be awake, I text him when I have gotten off the tram and he meets me at the front door so I don’t have to unlock it.
  • I cross to the other side of the road if I pass someone who makes me feel uncomfortable.
  • I check my reflection in shop windows to figure out if the man who is walking behind me is getting closer on purpose or if he just happens to be travelling in the same direction as me.
  • I promise my friends (and make them promise me) to text as soon as I get home, so they will know I made it safely.
  • If it’s not too late, sometimes I telephone someone so I am talking to someone as I am walking alone.
  • I routinely text my partner as I am on my way home, letting him know where I am at the various stages of my trip, so he’ll have evidence of where I was if he ever needs it.
  • I avoid making eye-contact with passers-by.
  • If there is a group of men on the street, I will hurry by as inconspicuously as I can.
  • If I am going somewhere on my own, I almost always wear flat shoes, in case I need to make a run for it.
  • I wear sunglasses and headphones on public transport so that people will feel less inclined to strike up a conversation with me.
  • As soon as I get off the tram, however, I remove both sunglasses AND headphones so I can see and hear what is going on around me.
  • If I can see my shadow from street lights, I keep an eye on it to make sure there’s not another person’s shadow too close to me.
  • If I am carrying an umbrella I take it out of my bag and carry it in my hand, so that if I need to use it to hit someone, I can.
  • I walk on the inside of the footpath, nearest the buildings, so that it would be harder for someone to pull me into a car, and so that I don’t have to squeeze through groups of people coming in the opposite direction.
  • Once, I was on a tram home quite late, and a man struck up a conversation with me. He made me feel SO uncomfortable that I got off the tram at a different stop than usual simply so he would not know which tram stop was mine.

I am sure there are a million other things I do that I haven’t listed here, simply because I don’t even notice that I do them. And furthermore, I would wager that many, many other women do these things, or similar things, to feel safer when they go out on their own. All that’s left to do from here is either never leave our houses again unless in the company of a manfriend, or start squarely blaming the perpetrators of these crimes against women instead of pointing the finger at the victims in an attempt to mitigate blame.

I refuse to become a shut-in. I refuse to let fear scare me into not living my life on my terms. I refuse to be blamed for the crimes committed against me and my sisters. What happened to Jill was an awful, terrible, violent crime, but urging young women to “protect themselves” absolves bad men of the blame for the crimes they commit.

Clementine Ford said today on Facebook:

Seriously. Those concern trolls publishing statuses today and tweets reminding women not to be naive about their safety need to be shamed in the public square. Jill Meagher was not raped, murdered and casually discarded because she was silly enough to believe that the street at night didn’t pose some risk for her. Those things happened to her because someone chose to do them – because some people still deeply hate women and believe they are entitled to desecrate another human being for their own satisfaction. We do not solve that problem by ‘reminding’ women that the rules are different for them and urging them not to be so cavalier about their precious, vulnerable selves. We begin to solve it by placing the blame where it is due – on the shoulders of those who think its their right to do these things to another human being. If it’s too unpleasant for people to dwell on that, the urges and actions of people who despise women so much they could do this to them, then they should shut the fuck up and leave the grown ups to talk about it.

FFS. Don’t insult her memory, or that of other women who’ve endured sexual violence, by making the take-home lesson that women need to be more careful. You know what would really help women? Living in a world where their fucking rapes and murders weren’t turned into cautionary tales.

RIP Jill. I will remember you.

She is exactly right. What happened to Jill Meagher is not, and should not be a cautionary tale. It is a tragic, violent crime, perpetrated by a bad man. That man is to blame. Not Jill, not the drinks she had on Friday night, not her high heeled shoes, or the time of night that she decided to walk home.

I wish to extend my love and best wishes to Jill’s husband Tom, and her family and friends both here and abroad. The coming days and weeks will be very trying for them and I hope they will be able to draw strength from one another and from all the good people of Melbourne who banded together this week to help the Victoria Police and the SES find out what happened to Jill.

May eternal light shine upon them all.

#destroyingthejoint

ginvincible:

Yay destruction. 

Sorry Alan Jones, you’re now irrelevant!

ginvincible:

Yay destruction.

Sorry Alan Jones, you’re now irrelevant!

Gentlemen: This Is Your Rape Culture

In mid August, two news stories broke. In both, a man was asked to move from his allocated seat next to an unaccompanied minor on a short plane flight within Australia. On a Virgin flight from Sydney to Brisbane, firefighter Johnny McGirr was asked to swap seats with a woman passenger, and on a Qantas flight from Wagga Wagga to Sydney, nurse Daniel McCluskie was asked the same thing.

The reason given by both airlines, was that of child protection: adult male passengers may not sit next to unaccompanied minors under any circumstances. Adult female passengers may, but men may not.

Statistically, a child is more likely to be sexually assaulted or victimised by someone already known to the child – a family member, a family friend, a close associate – than by a stranger. And the likelihood of that happening on an aeroplane – one of the most highly monitored, paranoid spaces in the world, is ASTONISHINGLY low. But despite that, several airlines share the same discriminatory policy.

Gentlemen: welcome to rape culture. Here’s a cup of tea, get comfortable, you’ll be staying a while – and read the article at that link, if you like. Melissa McEwan has written a brilliant treatise on the rape culture which should be required reading for anyone curious about the subject at all.

I have been amused by the opinion articles I have read in the last couple of weeks on this topic – not as in “ha ha”, but as in “this is peculiar”. We all live in the rape culture. We benefit from and are hindered by it, in varying amounts and degrees depending on our gender, the colour of our skin, our sexuality, our income, and a whole host of other fixed and changeable variables. There are some groups who are more aware of the rape culture, of their place in it, of the oppressions and expectations that the rape culture puts on them. There are some groups who, try as they might, simply cannot ignore the disadvantages that rape culture serves them with, and some groups who are so completely ignorant of the myriad ways in which rape culture privileges them above all other groups that they end up in positions of power, making decisions for these other groups without ever having to question what it’s like to be in one of those groups.

But now that most privileged group, the white male, is learning what it’s like to be pre-judged by the rape culture. Women, transgendered people, queer people, people of colour and many other minority groups notice the prejudice that happens against them every day. If I was to sit here and write about every single incidence of prejudice that I notice, I would be a profoundly unhappy person. So watching as a group of white men (traditionally the most privileged group on the planet) suddenly discover the ways in which the rape culture disadvantages them, and become outraged at it, has been curious for me. Women, queer people, transgender people and other minority groups have been trying to tell you this for years!

In December last year, I wrote:

“Rape culture doesn’t only diminish and disadvantage women. It diminishes and disadvantages men too. It positions men as sexual predators, as insatiable creatures who only exist to pursue their basest desires, to leer and jeer at women on the street, as creatures who can only see women as prizes to be won. It positions the woman as the prey and the man as the hunter, and gives no consideration to anyone who is outside of the heteronormative paradigm.”

The same applies here. The rape culture has cast all men as dangerous predators, out to attack children and women indiscriminately. Now, by no means do I wish to diminish the real and lasting damage that paedophiles do to children every single day around the world. But treating every man as a paedophile is as dangerous as treating every man as a rapist. It prevents children from forming meaningful relationships with the men in their lives, risks teaching young boys that being male is somehow a deficiency (in much the same way as the rape culture has spent the last thousand years teaching young girls the same thing), and creates a world in which men must check their behaviour each and every time they interact with a child.

The two men who were asked to move seats are both men who do work involving the welfare of children. One is a firefighter who, presumably, has rescued children from certain disaster, the other is a nurse with the Wagga Wagga health service who, as a condition of his employment, must undergo regular criminal background checks to ensure his suitability to work with children. But simply by deciding to Fly While Male, they have both been treated like criminals by a company they are paying for a service.

Some men are paedophiles. Some paedophiles are men. But it does not automatically mean that all men are paedophiles.

This is why we need feminism. Because dismantling the damaging ideas that have sprung up around sex and gender and sexuality is everybody’s business – not just work for women, or trans people, or queer people. Feminism teaches us to question why culture is the way it is, to question why and where our ideas come from, and to work together to construct new ways of relating to one another – ways that respect and understand our differences and similarities instead of shoving us into boxes.

Gentlemen, this is your rape culture. It is my rape culture. It is up to all of us to reject it, absolutely.

Reblog: I had an abortion

maehemsez:

I had an abortion.

I’m not going to tell you how old I was when I had it.

I’m not going to tell you what the circumstances around the pregnancy were.

I’m not going to tell you whether birth control was used or not.

I’m not going to tell you whether it was a wanted or an unwanted pregnancy.

I’m not going to tell you how far along the pregnancy was.

I’m not going to tell you whether there was a genetic abnormality, or whether my life was endangered by the pregnancy.

I’m not going to tell you any of those things because I think answering those questions, creating the situation from which my experience unfolds offers someone, everyone, anyone, the chance to say, “She deserved to access abortion,” or “How dare she get pregnant and have an abortion,” or find some pity in their heart for whatever piece of my situation offers them the opportunity to justify their judgment, or their sense of false safety.

When I was in high school (so many years ago) we had a speaker come to talk with us about HIV and AIDS. He told us about what living with AIDS was like. What it was like to defecate in his bed at 3am and be unable to move by himself and having to call for his parents to come clean him. To live with the stares that people gave him when they saw the sores on his arms. To be asked, over and over and over, “Well, how did you contract the disease?” He said it was a question he never answered. Because the answer would muddy his message with pity or feelings of false safety. How he contracted the disease was irrelevant to the fact that he had it.

This is how I feel about my abortion. None of the, “How did it happen?” matters. It’s irrelevant.

What matters is that I was able to access abortion when I needed to. When I wanted to. When I was pregnant and had the need to no longer be pregnant. When I was desperate to not be pregnant.

I walked past anti-choice protestors with their signs, and listened to their shouting, “Don’t do this! Think of your baby! We’re praying for you!” I pushed past them as they blocked the sidewalk.

The facility that did the abortion had, what I’ve come to understand is, an abortion doula. She held my hand, asked me if I was okay. If I needed anything. She tucked the stray hairs from my ponytail behind my ear and told me that everything was going to be all right.

When it was over, I threw up.

I have never regretted my abortion. For a long time I didn’t talk about it. In fact, I’m only just beginning to talk about it. I’ve always felt that my experience was just that, my experience and didn’t need to be shared. (I will admit, I did fear negative repercussion. I feared facing hostile judgement.) But I’m learning that things we don’t talk about – abortion, miscarriage…are things that we NEED to talk about. *I* need to pipe up when I hear someone struggling and say, “I’ve had this experience, too. This was how it went for me.”

Silence equals shame. And I am not ashamed.

Currently slut-shaming

Girls, have a great time, you know, dress how you want, just be really really careful and know the risks that you may take.
Australia’s Next Top Model judge Charlotte Dawson, on A Current Affair tonight. What risks are you talking about here, Charlotte? I don’t think you’re worried that one of these girls might fall down and skin her knee. Did you know that wearing clothing isn’t an inherently risky action? One does not invite danger by getting dressed to leave the house.

If you’re implying that “loose, slutty dressing” leaves girls at risk of sexual assault and rape, you’re dead fucking wrong. Rapists leave girls at risk of sexual assault and rape. And rapists don’t care what you wear. They care about power. (Trigger warning at this link for remorseless accounts of sexual assault.) Victim blaming and slut shaming is SO NOT COOL, Channel Nine.

Geraldine Hoff Doyle

<br />
Geraldine Hoff Doyle, was a 17 years (in 1942) while she was working at the American Broach &amp; Machine Co. when a photographer snapped a pic of her on the job.<br />
That image used by J. Howard Miller for the “We Can Do It!” poster, released during World War II. </p>
<p>Mrs Doyle died on December 26, 2010, aged 86. She will be an icon forever.

Geraldine Hoff Doyle, was a 17 years (in 1942) while she was working at the American Broach & Machine Co. when a photographer snapped a pic of her on the job.

That image used by J. Howard Miller for the “We Can Do It!” poster, released during World War II.

Mrs Doyle died on December 26, 2010, aged 86. She will be an icon forever.

(Source: stangefruitandwildthing)

Had it up to here.

I am sick and tired of people who claim to be progressive spouting some of the most vile racist and misogynist rubbish I have ever heard, and then claiming it’s “just an innocent joke”.

No joke is “innocent” when it’s at the expense of a marginalised group.