Laying down our weapons

Sam Ambreen:

Keep them coming, sisters, this is helping get a clearer image of what is actually happening.

Originally posted on I am because you are:

I left a comment on this post which I found very problematic and abusive. In the exchange that ensued, I asked

“[you say] ‘We would get further’ – but towards what? I feel there are different directions of desire often overlooked – this is where I think the need to listen to Women of Colour is most urgent.”

The author replied with an invitation I could not resist:

“Towards dialogue and working out strategies to chip away at the structures that we all want to resist. If you do want to say more about ‘different directions of desire’ I would be very interested to hear your thoughts. I have listened to Women of Colour – I do listen, but what I hear most loudly is the critique of whiteness as a sign (which I agree with), and of individual women as bearers of that sign (which I don’t necessarily), and…

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Why I Stopped Identifying With White Feminism

Sam Ambreen:

These are the voices white feminism tried to stifle. I don’t want to finish white people, I want to end white supremacy.

Originally posted on ofcourseitsaboutyou:

(Inspired by @SamAmbreen’s post here: We will not let white feminism divide and conquer us )

Today I’ve been talking with @HadleyFreeman about a series of posts she made to @JudeinLondon earlier in the day. Short story: Freeman wrote a problematic article, Jude discussed it on Twitter without linking to Freeman, someone emailed Freeman about Jude’s response and Freeman demanded, repeatedly, that Jude take the discussion offline. In my opinion, she abused her platform and privilege. She called Jude’s preemptive blocking of her account “childish” when it was an act of self care. Eventually, she used the same tone policing on me and I believe she has blocked my account, although I fully admit to blocking her and not checking back. Maybe later. It was yet another example of why I don’t belong in White feminism and why many other white feminists feel the same way. Today, @SamAmbreen asked for…

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We will not let white feminism divide and conquer us

Everyone knows how white people colonised the world by pitting neighbours against each other. My own grandparents wouldn’t speak about partition, all my gran would say was that there was a time when Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims lived in the same villages, they were different but they respected those differences; going into the mountains to slaughter meat for food for example, acknowledging that this practice might be offensive to Hindus and Sikhs. The only other thing I recall my gran mentioning was the horrific state in which the trains carrying respective Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus arrived at their destinations, all passengers on board slaughtered by the other side. I can understand why they didn’t want to talk about it. That said I won’t ever forget their belief that the British were to blame.

I’ve always wondered how this manipulative tactic comes so easy to colonisers, even when they aren’t drawing up borders in countries that do not belong to them but in everyday life. I have watched incredulously as the white feminists of Twitter have attempted to do the same to Intersectionality. This movement was started by people of colour, yes but its foray into the mainstream has been enabled by white folk. Black people just don’t have that power. It is white people who will ultimately change racism by educating themselves and their peers, who must learn to accept we are all human. White supremacists don’t listen to black people, they murder them. So it was with great interest and perplexity I watched as various white fems of Twitter lay into our white allies, the few white people that do recognise our humanity. This is the kind of reaction they got.

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At the time I thought it was genuine ignorance but now I’m not so sure. I think the white feminists knew that having white allies would make the transition from theory into practical change easier. At first they blamed prominent white intersectionalists like Zoe Stavri for fanning the flames in a bid to further their own agenda, she was somehow brainwashing us into giving her competition a hard time because of those column inches she’s after. This may be how the white fems of Twitter operate, manipulating the truth for self-serving reasons but I know Stavvers irl. We both belong to a diverse friendship group; black, brown, white, queer, trans*, bi, straight, able and disabled. Stavvers doesn’t need to pretend she is an intersectionalist; she lives it every day unlike the very white, very middle class people pointing their fingers at her. When white intersectionalists backed down to examine their praxis, white fems returned to attacking oppressed groups as if they were suddenly the problem.

Taking this all into account I would like to appeal to white intersectionalists to write their blogs on what they are seeing. Get involved; get your own messages out there. White fems may have their big media platforms but we are bigger in numbers and also cover most of the globe. Let’s flood the internet with our own information, let white people critique other white people without accusations of hijacking or misinformation. Here, some of you have bashed back and for that I am grateful, solidarity will get us through this.

Thoughts on Anger

Originally posted on Spider Circus (and other stories):

My weekend turned out to be very busy. I met up with some old school friends for curry and a catch-up, I went to a food festival with my parents and said hello to some piglets, and I incited racial violence against white men.

At least, that’s what a couple of people on Twitter told me. The truth is a little more nuanced, and it begins with a topic that I think about a lot. That topic is anger.

Anger gets a bad rap. It’s often viewed as a wholly negative emotion, something that should be pushed down, soothed with deep breaths and counting to ten. I don’t agree with this view. I began to change my view of anger in my early twenties, when I was in a deep, deep trough of depression. I realised that one symptom of my being depressed was that I could no longer get…

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patriarch within

We need to talk about the patriarch within..

As bloggers and activists we frequently challenge abusive behaviours ingrained in society. We do this because ultimately we would like to exist without the risk of physical and mental harm. Sometimes we have to speak in the language of the oppressors because it is the only way we can get their attention. The least we can expect is for the basic rules of consent and bodily autonomy to be respected by our closest allies but what if this doesn’t happen?

I’ve watched from the periphery of our circles for a few months now, actively withdrawing from various friendship groups; this is what I do when I dissociate because my perception of what is happening is incongruent with the way it is being presented. I am aware of behaviours that suggest a person is merely turning on the charm for me, I can usually see through the façade patriarchy has enabled by making it seem ‘normal’, like ‘banter’ for example; a socially acceptable way to be abusive as one can in a sentence designed to cut the other person down but it’s ‘funny’ so that’s ok. I am aware of these behaviours but that does not mean I can protect myself from them, they’re everywhere.

Patriarchy is everywhere. It’s inside me and in all of you. We’ve all got to this point complying and actively perpetuating patriarchy because we know nothing else and we all know by now what happens if you don’t (ostracisation for being a humourless man hating lesbian). Even the most astute and forthright among us are not entirely safe. We are not perfect, we haven’t even begun to deconstruct the ways in which WE have been shaped by society and we most certainly have. Take male privilege for example; it doesn’t matter if you’re a disabled white working class male, the other strands of identity do not invalidate the immense privilege society affords those assigned a male identity at birth. You might be a lauded activist, comrades looking up to you for your exemplary knowledge of the state or whatever, but you’re still a man. When you speak; everyone shuts up to listen. When you wash the dishes; people thank you. In fact, if you do anything that is normally considered ‘women’s work’ people fall over themselves to bestow praise. Women don’t get this kind of treatment; we just do things without anyone passing comment on how amazing we are because we are expected to and it is entrenched in our psyche. I can’t stand witnessing this sort of conduct BUT is it really my place to make the partners of these men feel weak and undeserving of feminism because they’re not doing it properly (by my reckoning)? Am I not elevating myself to a position of superiority and looking down at the people who are living that life? I simply cannot snap my fingers and expect for people to fall in line (unless of course the possibility of harm outweighs the right to autonomy, if I had serious concerns for a person’s mental health for example, if they were being coerced in any way). The crucial point is consent.

It would be so much easier if we all had the same thinking styles and tolerance levels but the simple fact is, we don’t. When I say “I believe her/them”, I mean it. This however, doesn’t come with a set of instructions on what to do next, real life is more complex than that. I know that I can never be in the presence of a rapist, if I am aware of their status. In an ideal world, we could flush them away and never have to see them again. In recent weeks, I have been made aware of various perpetrators in dangerous proximity of my immediate circle of friends. The ones I had not met irl or not spent that much time with were easily dismissed from my life. There are, however, individuals I may cross paths with and this is why I suppose I started writing this thing.

I cannot demand or expect people to end friendships/relationships because I gave them an ultimatum or shamed them into feeling like perpetrators themselves. I say this for the same reasons I will support any woman who cannot leave an abusive relationship. There are a myriad of reasons for why and if I reacted in a negative punitive way, I would also be isolating her. However, it is absolutely my human right to protect myself from harm and remove myself from situations where this might be likely, regardless of whom it might upset. We can call out abusers, we can call out their supporters, and we can let them know we are watching, but can we hound them into doing something they do not want to do? Can we affect another’s autonomy in this way? No, but we can turn our backs on them and they’ll get the message all the same.

Of course saying all this doesn’t mean I have all the answers, it is just what speaks to me as an individual but also as member of a wider cohort covering people from so many different walks of life. We need to keep our judgments in check so we are not coming down harder on the survivors who have no choice but to remain than we do on the abusers perpetrating these crimes.

Mean White Fem.. Women

Ever since the wealthy white feminists of The Internet discovered the reach of intersectionalists, they have been on a self-serving mission to destroy the progress we have made. When they realised they couldn’t steal it from right underneath our noses, that it was too late to change the definition or the recourse to people it sought to protect, the cognitive dissonance has been excruciating to witness. Are they really that ignorant? How entitled must one have to be in order to suggest aborting trans* foetuses and then claim you are the victim of bullying? You see the Gias of the world quite like it on top of the pedestal with their famous science-y husbands and privilege which they worked SO DAMN HARD FOR. They are better than you with their baby popping vaginas, they are simply more woman than you. This apparently gives them the right to mock the pain of vulnerable people. Gia doesn’t engage women who disagree; whether they are trans* or AFAB women of colour, we don’t matter. However, white men calling her body too graphic (gross) get a defeated smile and wink!

whitepower

We cease to be women because we stand up for our rights. She’s just one of many white women with white male publishing platforms to control the rest of us so that they can keep the power between them; white women don’t give a shit about ‘feminism’, only themselves.

Moving onto Burchill; as the plans to break intersectionality are thwarted, this one’s not afraid to go full on bigot in order to assert her kyriarchal supremacy. What these white women are demonstrating here is that it doesn’t matter that we are making advances in our own communities, when it comes to power and control in a white supremacist country, they are still very much in control of the strings. So you got your evil shit published in a national newspaper/magazine run by white men, we’re well aware of how the white majority will receive it. Of course, they’re going to agree with you, they have the same interests to protect; namely the preservation of a culture that usurps the creations of non-whites, demonises them and their right to life and tells us it was for our own good all along. What good is a ‘feminist’ voice when it’s snarling at you from an old boys den? When will these grown women realise that to refer to us as ‘girls’ over and over without a hint of awareness, to reduce us to our vaginas and their stretching capabilities; they are doing to us what men of all colours have always done?

Their circle jerk of privilege, the Praxis of Evil that is white feminism, it’s self-sustaining. “Moore – a woman of style and substance”. I’m not sorry but ‘performing’ Wurzel Gummidge with verbal dysentery springs to mind. Get a comb through it love, don’t just wash and go, get some leave in conditioner on it (can I touch it?). It’s no secret, the bullying these matriarchs of white supremacy subject less compliant white women of the commentariat to, for daring to breathe a word against their prejudiced white cis gospel. Some are so desperate for acceptance, they toe the line, never coming right out with the fact they are also transmisogynist because everyone needs to belong right? Burchill is not a good source for information; this self-proclaimed militant feminist is nothing more than a snivelling bully supported by the worst kinds of menz in power who KNOWS her privilege which is why she won’t check it for you. So she was born into the English working class (those historically unwavering supporters of black working class people), does she still live in a council flat? I fucking doubt it. Why is she so obsessed with dick? Can someone fashion one out of play doh and tape it to her head? It’s where it surely belongs.

Intersectionality isn’t a thing happening in one tiny corner of the drowning island that is ‘Great’ Britain; it is an international phenomenon irrigating the raising of a consciousness that is not white supremacist in nature. Admittedly it is possibly working better in some areas that in others but of course we are contending with a whitewash and this was always to be expected. As minorities we are taking on Goliath in the form of our former colonisers. Cis upsets the white women of the west so, but in countries far from our own cultures are embracing what they have always known but could not celebrate because of the impeding pervasive nature of white supremacy and its rule. There is a war on white women, it’s called justice.

Until we achieve that, there will be no peace.

Britain’s Bitter Culture of Rape and Violence

A close friend of mine packed her life up and relocated to Norway recently. She has Norwegian roots but the reason for making the move was one borne from fear of things to come, here, at home in the UK. Tory Britain was one of the contributing factors but it wasn’t the motive. She moved because her 5 year old daughter was slut shamed for wearing a vest during PE. Little one looks like most five year olds, a round-faced baby with an impressive vocabulary but this seemed to have escaped the attention of the teaching assistant at her school in the London Borough of Lambeth who decided, for whatever reason, she would make a 5 year old child cry for exposing her shoulders. Little one didn’t know why she was crying, she just knew she’d been accused of doing something wrong. I hoped she was upset because she could not understand and not because she had internalised the feelings of shame as something she was guilty of, that her body is disgusting or she is asking for it, whatever ‘it’ is. When the school were challenged about this they denied it had ever happened. This was the last in a chain of events that prompted my friend to withdraw her little girl for her own safety. She wept at the time that it was only another 6 years before her baby would be openly harassed on the streets, remembering how it was for herself aged 11. I remember that time too.

Can you recall the first time a boy called you a slag? I was still very much a virgin. I was used to that word already; it was commonly thrown about when referring to women; in my home, on the television, in the street. It meant they thought you slept around, that you were easy, loose, diseased. This, before I’d even kissed a boy. I can remember my grandfather spitting at the TV and accusing Princess Diana of being one, despite the fact she’d been cheated on for the duration of her marriage. It wasn’t Prince Charles who was accused of being an adulterer, there was no scarlet letter for him, no, long-suffering Diana was the nymph to blame for the Royal family’s bad image. It is easy to slander a woman in this way when as a society we do not trust them. It is easier to blame a woman for having breasts, for wearing makeup, a short dress than it is to admit that men violate because they desire not us, but control. Patriarchy controls even the most privileged women of all; we cannot be so surprised when it affects the rest of us in this way.

Why don’t we trust women? Why is it our word against theirs? Watching the film Lolita, it was stomach churning to witness paedophilia through the eyes of a perpetrator. The rapist reads sexual messages in every one of her actions. As a teenager I was frequently told that I was too nice and I ought to watch it as I might be giving people the wrong impression. I was admonished for being too tactile by my male friends. I internalised this. So much so that when I once woke to find one of these friends attempting ‘non-consensual sex’ with me as I lay inebriated, I believed it was my fault for sharing a bed with him. Men are so used to reading everything as a come on, because they are entitled to feel this way through male privilege, we blame ourselves for being too tempting. We are taught this from a very early age; we are not autonomous.

As children, we won’t get the same rights to express ourselves as our brothers do. This is not something exclusive to only some non-white cultures; the same is true in the West. When boys fight, when they leave a mess, they are being unruly and boisterous and we love them for it. We make excuses for them when they develop at a slower than little girls, from whom we expect so much more. We dress our daughters up in little frocks and put things in their hair. Anyone who has ever made a trip to a children’s clothes store will see aisle upon aisle of pink frilly stuff with which to adorn our girl children. We objectify them from the very start. We coo at little girls and throw boys up in the air. We train girls to be conscious of their looks. When they misbehave we respond with disbelief and the punishment is more severe.  We don’t react in the same way to boys. It doesn’t matter if we do, they may behave in a certain way at home but then we have to let them go; exposing them to secondary socialisation in a rape culture where pop culture presents men as strong, courageous and intelligent, the world is his oyster, there for the taking and women as submissive, in supporting roles (manic pixie dream girl, mother, whore, virgin). I’ve listened to mums cry that they fear having to raise boys because of the way they are swept away in the pervasive narrative, that they are not born ours, patriarchy claims them. Of course, how could they possibly resist when conforming has so many rewards? The admiration of peers for being a stud, the kudos of being the alpha male, it is no wonder they respond to this conditioning because the alternative is being thought of as a wuss, a girl, and isn’t that a disgusting thing?

Patriarchy hates femininity. It hates our ability to create life. It can’t do the same so it controls it, claims ownership. I can’t be the only one who feels disgust at the role of the father who plays gatekeeper to his daughter’s vagina; the one who vets boys for suitability, the one who loses face if his baby girl becomes pregnant as a teenager. Where is her autonomy? Why aren’t mothers as fussed about it as fathers? Mums probably do get in on this sort of parenting but I bet it’s largely down to what the father thinks “wait till your dad gets home”. Perpetrators frequently seek out women who do not have a father figure in their lives. They have no one to prove their worthiness to, they can control these women as they see fit. What does it say about us as a species that we are only safe if we have a man to protect us? If not our fathers, then our spouses? Why do some countries have rules around chaperones? Simple, men make the rules, they know what it is to rape but they don’t want you to rape ‘theirs’. It is where the concept of hijab comes from; if you can’t see the ‘goods’, then they can’t be spoiled. It is the origins of female genital mutilation too; if the vagina is not open “like a gaping sleeve” then they cannot gain entry. We know this is nonsense because rapists don’t care what you or your vagina look like, they only care about raping you cos control. Still, it helps them to exercise their patriarchal control in other ways. Males cause war, war means rape, impregnating the women by force so they can conquer and claim property and patriarchy loves war but it doesn’t want you to take what is not yours, especially if you’re not the right colour. The practices against women on both sides of the planet are a response to the fear and paranoia men have for each other. Women are a commodity, vessels for furthering the bloodline of people that were born on the same patch of soil as them. Pathetic, really.

When rape is used to control and shatter the lives of the people it affects (of all genders, ages, etc.) how can anyone claim that it is humorous and the problem lies with the victim/survivor traumatised by the ‘joke’? Are men that entitled they can elevate their need for ‘dark humour’ over the suffering experienced by real people in real time? People who are probably suicidal. When you challenge these pricks, they dismiss you as man hating feminist who is always trying to change people. As a woman and an aunt, a sister, a daughter and maybe a mother someday, I will never stop trying to change this rape culture we are in. My nephews are too precious to send out in a world where they will either become victims or perpetrators themselves. I do not want our boys or girls to face the consequences of living in a patriarchy they have absolutely no control over. I do not want them to cut themselves, self-medicate (like I did) because a few fuckhead ‘comedians’ think their pain is funny. I want them to step out into the world empowered; with a sense of autonomy and consent. I want them to recognise the apologists (perps by any other name) who are so forceful in their defence because they possibly exert some of these behaviours behind closed doors.

From the Yewtree operation, the insufficient sentencing, ‘rogue’ sexual offences officers at Sapphire to the music we listen to and the comedians we worship; as survivors, we are under constant attack. I cannot be the only one sometimes afraid to leave the house on my own.

There are no grey areas with rape. You can’t be a gentle non-abusive human being and find sexual violence funny. There are only those who are for it and those who oppose. Let this inform your interactions and act accordingly.

*Clothes, looks, booze, nightlife, the number of sexual partners you’ve had, mental illness, shoddy housekeeping, “didn’t make the sandwich”, the company you keep, your sexual orientation, the natural state of your vagina, the hair on your head, the size of your breasts, your bank balance do not cause rape. Rapists do. Also, minors cannot consent and therefore can never be a ‘willing’ party. The only way we can end rape is to end misogynistic perceptions of entitlement. We know Britain has a huge problem there.

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