power and control

Sex abuse is synonymous with power

CN – Sex Abuse

Another day, another slew of reports on sexual predators facing justice in our criminal justice system, and how some of them evade it. The use of scare quotes for eg can suggest the reporter is scornful of the information being relayed or that it is has struck a chord with them, and is throwing it out there for the reader to make up their own mind. By introducing an element of doubt, by questioning the use of particular words they cast shadows on the validity of the interviewee’s opinion. The mainstream media don’t so much as report the news, or uncover grave injustices, they shape it, they can fashion it out of thin air. How would you know otherwise, unless you were there at the time? You don’t believe everything you read, do you?

20181115_183758‘Committed paedophile’ PC Ian Naude was convicted today of raping a 13 year old girl in the back of his car and filming the attack. He also pleaded guilty to 31 other offences including misconduct in public office and grooming of other teenage girls, one of whom threatened to kill herself. What’s particularly harrowing about this case is how Naude was due to start as a junior officer in 2017 but the process was put on hold when an allegation of rape was made against him. I believe them, and the authorities perhaps should have done too but no further action was taken and the recrutiment process was continued.

Thinking back to my work as a support worker for women fleeing male violence, the standards that must be satisified in order for a case to make it to the CPS are as much about whether or not a victim is telling the truth as they are about evidence against the perpetrator. Surely PC Naude would have been required to undertake a CRB check before he was permitted to interact with members of the public? They take a while to process for non police related professions, about 3 months, but the police have access to multiple systems including POVA and other registers for the protection of vulnerable children and adults they can check before the official papers come back. Odd then that the police authority failed to notice the two child grooming allegations naming him reported to Staffs and West Mercia police in 2017.

A persistent and ‘committed paedophile’, Naude was able to bypass security checks that should have flagged him up as a concern before he was ever recruited. He should never have been allowed to interact with members of the public least of all vulnerable minors who were looking to him for protection. He is not the first and he won’t be the last. The police should just stop expecting the public to trust in them when they cannot guarantee our safety in their presence.

Who can we trust? We can’t trust the police, who seem disproportionately represented in sexual and domestic violence statistics, they offend at a rate 5 times higher than the national average. We can’t trust the media, they spent decades watching and covering up Britain’s nasty treasures, and crawled out of the woodwork post Savile to confirm they had seen it all unfold but that stopped rather abruptly when we turned on them for being such useless complicit witnesses to horrific child abuse. I would suggest it’s one of the reasons they stay focused on Asian grooming gangs. The racist outrage and plots for revenge are all consuming, there’s no space to think about anything else. With propaganda focused on predatory savages, the police, media, government and all their collaborators got a get out of jail free card.

I suppose Lord Lester is so self assured in this scheme he can approach Asian survivors of violence like Jasvinder Sanghera (an inspiration to many women like myself) who founded the Karma Nirvana project in 1993 to provide culturally specific support to women experiencing domestic violence, and promise her a peerage if she slept with him. He groped her and chased her around his kitchen, after offering a place to stay when she missed the last train home. They had been working on changing the law to make forced marriage an offence, back in 2006. I remember that project, I too was involved in a small way when the Asian refuge I was working in invited members of the house of lords to come see the crucial work we were doing with women who had no recourse to public funds. I am utterly disgusted by the revelations that one of ours was being harassed and assaulted by the very people we were appealing to for social justice.


I believe Jasvinder Sanghera. I am not at all surprised however that there are people including Lord Lester himself, saying she is a liar. What kind of a world do we live in when a trusted and upstanding member of a network that protects victims is being framed as dishonest? “I was acutely aware of the power imbalance”, she said “If I’d said anything, who would believe me?” She felt all the same things all victims do, even with her CBE and many awards and accolades. She has waived her right to anonymity because she continues to stand for all women, in every way she can.

She is going to need support, especially as it seems the establishment are doubling down. How on earth do we contend with the all powerful, those with such a blatant disregard for common people, who use their punitive powers to cast aspersions on victims and survivors? Jasvinder herself has said she feels as though she “has been victimised all over again”. Power has asserted itself.

They can frame it however they like, the mainstream media and politicians, we know different. They’ll print an article here, and another there, news they can’t afford to ignore but they won’t join the dots to expose the network, not like they do with Asian grooming gangs. There’s no middle page spread on the privileged establishment old boy networks running through the centre of all public services, because they run all the papers too. They’ll throw the odd working class monster to the dogs, for balance, but won’t ever report on the pervasive and far reaching sickness of familial child abuse, the most common of all sex abuses in the United Kingdom. You are more likely to be raped by your father or brother or uncle than you are ever to come in contact with an Asian grooming gang.

The problem is too huge to take care of one sector at a time. Instead we need a class war and survivors must take the lead.

An Open Letter: To the racist next door (well, upstairs)

We haven’t met yet, I tend to avoid the stairwells at home time, in fact most of the time because I rarely go out but I frequently hear you come home after a relatively short day at work. The landlord says you’re a teacher and this was meant to prove your suitability for the flat above me, the walls are thin and I knew the last couple far too intimately, although I hadn’t met them either. Whilst it’s true there haven’t yet been any all night raves as yet, I am getting used to the drone of your very boring self important expressions. I don’t think this is your natural speaking voice but an affectation of what a teacher should sound like. You sound very male and very entitled even when I can’t make out the words, you frequently talk over your guests. When you’re not enunciating for the whole street you’re belting out Lloyd Webber classics for Britain First’s Got No Talent so it’s fair to say you like all the attention being you gets.

It is with this growing irritation that I peeked out of the peep hole when I heard your voice bellow loudly as you trudged up the stairs this afternoon. I caught the back of your head, looks like you don’t have any hair, and you seemed as tall as the door to the next floor. A shorter man with brown skin followed behind. He didn’t pique my interest as much as the words you were saying to him though. You said “whilst women in India are oppressed at least they get an education. In Pakistan they don’t even have that.”

Oh really? I’m even more pumped to meet you now, can’t wait to look at all your photos of Pakistan and hear about your best and worst adventures. Of course as an educator of future generations I assume you must have the information to make a statement so matter of factly, so I’m going to believe you when you say anything, otherwise why would you? Unless say, you were just repeating a thing you’d always heard and just assumed to be true because you’re a thickheaded arrogant racist (cos white supremacy runs deep even with the ones who don’t appear outwardly fascistic) and why should you care about whether things are factual or not, it’s not like due process is a thing poc even understand in their own corrupt countries so why would they expect it here, or something?

In my large family most of the graduates are women. My grandparents had a focus on educating the girls because they wanted us to be independent and not reliant on a husband who could do with us as he pleased. They saw education as freedom from patriarchy, which certainly confused me growing up being as my family weren’t lacking on the patriarch front. I think it was a latent desire to keep “our women” free from the clutches of western patriarchy, to increase our value as women in the western world where we are seen as servile and disposable. This attitude was prevalent in the community I come from. These were the poorest of Pakistanis and many married their girls off young but the suitors were always turned away at the door for us and my aunts. “They’re too busy with their studies” was the blanket response my gran had for anyone suggesting we were ripe. This remained the case forever, at least with regards to myself. I’m still unmarried, in my 30s, and still learning, at my own pace.

This isn’t the first time a person in a position of power has espoused dangerously problematic opinions with regards to the natives of my fledgling motherland. Another teacher, older than the racist upstairs and also a devout Christian asked me once whether it was true there was a whole village of imbeciles somewhere in Pakistan, where the IQ was nominally the lowest in the whole world. I didn’t even know what to say to that.

This kind of jarring ignorance has become commonplace in the wasteland of post recession Tory Britain, it’s breathtaking because it was not the norm for me, at least not growing up in my multicultural town with my multicultural friends and teachers. It was perhaps always there but cleverly disguised because at one time people believed in power of laws which forbid racism, I know I did. The various authorities inadequate response to racism has allowed for that attitude to seep into wider society because the racists know the cops are on their side. Whiteness trumps justice. In fact racism is condoned by the people occupying seats of power at the very top, for example when they call Cobra to deal with an unprecedented death of a white soldier on British soil even though that sentence is untrue in its entirety.

I have come to conclude there is no right or wrong in society only power and control, that is to say I believe there is a moral compass and most certainly a version of life exists for some where doing the right thing is the noblest and happiest way to live but for the majority of people it really is about what you can get away with in any given situation. These opinions white people have, where they deny the humanity of others and speak of them as aliens without any direct experience of the people in question is a narrative that is centuries old. Racism is most prevalent in the UK in the areas where there are actually no people of colour, so when you’re trying to reason with a fascist that they are wrong about all Muslims, you may as well be speaking to a shit brick wall. There is no reasoning with those who are devoid of reason, education, experience yet exist in a suit of white skin that elevates them to a state of enlightenment where they can make damaging untruthful statements about other humans without batting an eyelid or challenge.

They’re teachers and I left school at 16 so they’re right and I’m wrong, or at least that’s the version some of you allow yourselves to believe.

More slut shaming

“I wish I could assume all submissives out there were strong courageous self-thinking types. But sadly many are just weak people.”

Sigh. Ok. Y’all know me and my penchant for, er, dissent. Some people think of me as antagonistic, others are just a little frightened of the unknown. I’m on meds so that makes me an unpredictable fruitloop. What you see online is mostly me irl but there are parts of my personality that I protect, for the simple reason that it is exclusive to those I actually trust, and there aren’t many of them. It’s a privilege and something that must be earned.

My name is Sam Ambreen and I have a confession; I sometimes enjoy being submissive.

*world implodes and feminisms cease to exist*

As an eldest child it was my responsibility to keep the others in check. Naturally I was the first one to experience things and so I had a hand holding role and spent a lot of time encouraging the others, being brave and generally giving bullies an arse whupping if they fell out of line. I had to order the pizza (I still do), I had to fight back the bullies for my younger siblings (even if I was scared myself) and it’s not very different to who I am now. Here’s the thing though; I sometimes get very tired of this scripted role that was handed down to me. It’s exhausting always being in control or fighting for control and I am exceptionally privileged that I have friends and lovers around me who understand that you don’t have to be one or the other ALL OF THE TIME, that even the most formidable among us need a break.

I am not weak because sometimes I don’t have the brain space to make all the decisions. I am blessed that I can hand the baton over on occasion, safe in the knowledge that the person I am handing it over to will not use it to bash me over the head with. They recognise the immense privilege it is. In this respect, I am still in control. I don’t have to be submissive for the duration of whatever the activity is, I can switch. How does this make anyone weak? Is it not the opposite and in fact a very empowering thing to be in possession of, if you are lucky enough to experience it?

Statements such as the one above are meant to shame people, specifically self-identifying women. Well feminisms has been fighting so hard for us to behave like dominant men that we’re somehow letting the side down if we behave in a way that is considered ‘feminine’, for that makes us weak. It’s probably why, as queers we get a lot of stick from the dominant brand of white cis feminism; “porn is bad, nudity is bad, why aren’t they as focused on genitals as us, however else will we win the binary war?”

I can sum this up succinctly; it’s none of your fucking business and before you look outwards and judge other people on their intimate practices, ask yourself why it pisses you off so much. You do not gain power by pointing out what you think are weaknesses in others, you reveal more about yourself that you cannot access consensual submissiveness where you will not be taken advantage of. I am sorry for you.

White Power and Control

Say you’ve written a piece about intersectionality or experienced yet another oversight from the mainstream white feminists and it garners the support of most of your peers, PoC or otherwise yet there is one lone voice of colour the white fems put on a pedestal as though your lived experiences can be rejected because this one says it’s not so; how to begin to understand why the person in question is so blinkered to the kyriarchal structures of power and control. It’s simple really; it comes down to self-awareness and the privilege of having white friends, ones that are completely honest with you.

As a small child I very quickly became aware of the stigma attached to my roots. The word Paki made me feel dirty which is ironic considering Pakistan means ‘The land of the pure’. Of course when they’re saying dirty paki and you’re four and don’t yet know the meaning of the word then this is how it’s going to make you feel. My mum wouldn’t cross the road at a pelican crossing if the driver was white because of the time one of them had revved his car towards her and then laughed at her when she jumped back, her four small children in tow. Once, I convinced myself that it wasn’t me the young white girl was calling a paki, but my younger sister on account of her slightly darker skin. For many years I would tell myself that I was ok, I was white enough to go unnoticed. I had witnessed racist abuse but never been victim to it myself. I just wasn’t like all the others. So much so that I thought I wasn’t even going to get periods, being as I wasn’t a girly girl. I think I became aware of my position in the world very early on and rejected it because I thought better of myself than the labels the world was putting on me. I could reject them and pretend they didn’t even exist. Of course they do and learning these injustices were still being perpetrated against me was heart-breaking and almost too unbearable to accept.

I had to stop and take note when the girls I hung out with at lunchtime called the Asian boys ‘Husseins’. The slur of choice at my school in the mid-90s was “Bosnian refugee”. I remember seeing the genocide on the news and feeling then that it was deeply problematic and inappropriate but what could I do? As an early teen it served me well to laugh along. Being one of a twin the comparisons between us went beyond the pretty one or smart one, the slight difference in our skin tone meant that I was a white wannabe. It might have been the Goth makeup as well but we’re pretty much identical, unless you’re deciding which one you’d prefer to be seen with. My friends were white, hers were mostly brown. I sometimes wonder whether I made a conscious decision (beyond anglicising my name) to only like ‘white’ things. I saw my last Bollywood film around the time I cut all my hair off and starting wearing a fashion cross, aged 13. I’d seethe in fury at the Asian kids piling on the bus home, the looks of disgust on the white pensioners faces made me feel ashamed to be part of their group. When I left Birmingham at 16 and joined a school in London I was relieved to make some new white friends, racist as fuck mind but once again, they were sure to reassure me I wasn’t like all the others, especially when I agreed they were dirty Pakis.

I met many other PoC who felt like me, secretly disgusted by their heritage. I’ve lost count of the number of South Asians who feel they have to make you aware of their mixed heritage; even if it 1/16th Greek by way of marriage. When you’ve spent your life listening to the moaning white majority about how our food smells, how our clothes don’t match, even how hairy we are (ffs) then these things become ingrained and you either reject them and become an oppressor yourself by denying the unfair systems that dominate the narrative (because you are not like the rest of them and this will serve you well comparatively) or you believe you are incapable, unworthy, disgusting. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and you deserve the inequalities you are made to suffer. So you do, without question.

I was lucky. I had some white friends who balked on my behalf. I was quite happy to sit there and listen to their parents question what kind of curry I prefer or confirm their reservations on forced marriage and that weird Islam but my friends did not like it. It was they who prompted me to question why the tone of my skin should mean anything. I hadn’t been a Muslim for many years so why was I still answering those questions, were they incapable of seeing of me as an individual with other dreams and passions? They could just as easily ask me about art or politics but they don’t because they see a brown beigey person and they assume that means Muslim. That’s racism. It took me the best part of my 20s to get to grips with that. I don’t wear a headscarf; I don’t have to leave the room five times a day for prayer. I eat and drink what I want; I haven’t had a homemade curry in years. I sometimes wear shorts. Yet still I come off as Muslim. Then they say Islam isn’t a race and Islamophobia cannot be racist.

See, the reason I believe my white friends when they say something is racist is because they are white and other white people really let themselves go in their presence. They are better placed to identify microagressions because they know where they are coming from. My white friends rejected their supremacy and fight a constant battle to remind themselves of their privilege. There are white people who are appalled at their own murderous pillaging history and cannot abide seeing it being perpetrated in this day and age. Then there are also those who have the same take on that history but positively revel in all things empire because that is all they have; seriously lacking in wit and intelligence or anything of any personal worth just the propaganda spewed out by the state every time they go an invade a country in the belief that they are somehow better because they are white. That’s power. Telling you you’re somehow the only chosen one; that’s control.

I can see why you’d want to identify with the white majority, I know I did. Heck, I was even engaged to a white man in the RAF. It was he who gave me the most valuable lesson of all; it doesn’t matter what you do, how you speak, who you love; middle England, the Daily Mail lot, the majority of white Britain might speak to you if they have to but you’ll always be a Paki to them. We split shortly after this especially when he reassured me I was alright now I was on the ‘white side’.

Racism, it’s not in my head, but yours.

Happy International Menz Day!

I’d like to spend today thinking about all the special menz I have to thank for my fierce feminism. Sure the menz in my family will dominate a thought or two but there are also all of the others. I want to commemorate the dude I shared a house with once. He wanted to get in my pants, would slap my arse as I walked past. Once, when I’d made it clear I’d rather have herpes, he stood in his bedroom doorway at the top of the stairs with a pair of clippers. I needed to walk past him to get down the stairs but obviously couldn’t what with this Neanderthal threatening to shave off my hair. It was a little while before the third housemate came home. I think he deserves an extra big pat on his back for being such a strong, brave manly man.

There’s also that judge whose face I’ll never forget. He ruled that my client was sexually assaulted by her husband but he was under duress due to the fact that she had involved another man, a friend of the perpetrator’s, to protect her from the domestic abuse she had been suffering and so he could be forgiven for thinking she’d had an affair. The perp got away with it. The judge took into account his rather special job and didn’t want it to look bad on his record or something. We continued to support her post trial and defeated, she often asked why she’d bothered going through the system. It simply didn’t make sense to her that a judgement of guilt wouldn’t result in some support for her. She also felt ashamed and embarrassed at the insinuations made by the defence lawyer, that she was promiscuous and had caused her husband to react in way where he would claim what was his. I kid you fucking not. She remained married to him. I wonder where she is now and if she’s still alive. I’ll be knocking back a vodka or ten to toast the judge tomorrow. Without International Menz Day, men might stop being judges and lose all control.

But you don’t have to be a judge to celebrate #IMD. You could be the guy I inevitably have to avoid eye contact with when I leave the house today. You might be walking ahead of me and turn back every few steps so that you can look at me, your eyes sizing me up. I hope you’re wondering about the slim chance that I might be a black belt but really I’m already beginning to think the worst. You guys, you really are the best. You need International Menz Day to remind you that you need to man up, be strong, be silent, beat a guy up if the need arises, ALWAYS get the girl *chest bump* You’re the dudes that might as well be talking about corpses when it’s just you and the boys talking about how many girls you would if you could. I’ve been part of the privileged inner circle of the male world and it’s bad. I think it’s probably even worse without me there. On International Menz Day, why not go all the way and just say how you really feel. It is your day after all.

I won’t lie, the thought of all the good men, nice guys crawling out the woodwork for this momentous occasion is quite nauseating but then, it’s not like we haven’t had a day like it before.

Take yesterday for example.

A Little Respect

English was not my first language. It’s true that I was born in Marston Green but I don’t recall leaving the house much as a small child so there was probably no use for it. Any memories I have or what I understand to be memories are spoken in another language, the Mirpuri dialect my mother spoke. But as soon as I started nursery the memories very suddenly change and I remember giggling at my white reception class teacher for employing two Punjabi phrases every teacher needs when dealing with little ones; “line bunaow” make a line, and “chup kar” be silent. There were a large number of us without English as our first language but personally, my grasp of English has never held me back.

I’ve always been fascinated by the way words translate cross language and how so much of what we mean when we say a word is reliant on how it makes us feel. Certain words lack gravity in some cultures whereas in others they are taboo. Words like ‘cunt’ and ‘Paki’ for example. On a very basic level, these two words say very different things to British and American people, cunt being somewhat acceptable in Britain due to its overuse and Paki in America because their Asians are oriental. It doesn’t have the same gut wrenching impact as it does over here but then I became aware of how ‘cunt’ made my American (and some British) Twitter friends feel. I cannot knowingly use this word around people who are affected by it. I have to think of better words.

I have this focus on language because it is so important to understand the way it makes us feel and how it shapes our ideas. Language everywhere in the patriarchy is designed to make us feel a certain way. It controls us. It maintains the status quo. Take the word ‘Izzat’ for example. It means honour, respect, personal worth to some. I would push ego in there too. It’s a reflection of one’s self worth, and suggests the person has a reputation that needs protecting. The women in the family carry the burden of Izzat, although it is a thing shared by all those in the unit. As a child, I was often commanded to speak with Izzat, with respect, as were my siblings, whether male or female. But Izzat came to mean another thing too. For a while I believed it had something to do with the physical act of getting naked because of when it was said. The family sat round watching the latest Bollywood hit and then the villain would tear the starlet’s clothes from her. Amidst the scramble for the remote whilst we little ones cowered behind cushions, I was accustomed to hearing the phrase “Izzat looti”. Stole her honour. Stole her respect? Self-respect? Whose respect? Whose honour? What was I missing from behind my safety guard? Of course Bollywood cinema was heavily censored so I never understood what it was until I became a young teenager myself. Then I guess the older women would speak about it to give us some idea of what to expect. Cringing with shame they’d share stories about women who had been raped. But then the word changed in meaning again. This time it was being used in conversations about young girls running away from home. The families they’d leave had no Izzat left; their fathers too shame faced to lift their eyes from the ground.

This word Izzat has many layers and is not as simple as a foreign practice incomprehensible to the civilised West. It expresses many feelings and ties that are not dissimilar to our white brethren. Izzat or honour as the West refer to it is an emotion felt by the person in possession of it. This is usually men. 70% of the world’s population experiences violence and/or sexual abuse at the hands of the patriarchy. Perpetrators justify their actions by using a variety of excuses. At one time the defence “she made me do it” would have probably got you a pat on the back from the local police as they left you to resolve your own “domestic” (translate: not public, nothing to do with us) but with changing attitudes towards accountability and an understanding of power and control dynamics, better education and training for public authorities, we no longer buy that crap. Or at least there are some who don’t.

We are struggling to identify abuse and inappropriate behaviour because of racism. Physically harming a person, regardless of the excuses the perpetrators dream up is unacceptable in all its forms. When a white man knocks back 10 Stellas and beats his wife/girlfriend for winking at another man, he is responding from his own bruised ego, his own honour. He feels he has been disrespected and the only way to claw back respect is by force. Every action has a reaction and fear in the victim can be interpreted as respect by the perpetrator. How is this different to brown men abusing brown women? It isn’t. It is merely used as an excuse to avoid helping often the most vulnerable and marginalised women in our society. Because racism.

Whether in the East or West, women are property. They are required to adhere to a strict code of conduct. Deviating from this results in coercive force to intimidate the woman into behaving in the way patriarchy sees fit. Now, whether this comes in the form of forced marriage or alienating a woman from her friends, the intention is power and control. They are essentially the same. The only difference is the way in which we view colour. Black/brown, they are already viewed with suspicion. Throw in a cultural practice that is not unlike our own a century or two ago (and really, how old are the former colonies? In their infancy) and you have an unknown entity threatening the very fabric of our society. It’s a creeping Shariah. The fear this evokes in people is not a gender issue but one of race.

We can only move forward once they acknowledge this.

There’s no point in online feminism if it’s not intersectional

Since we’re looking for the least privileged woman in the world I’d like to nominate my mother. True, she lives here in the West and has never gone hungry (well, at least for no more than a coupla days) but I think she’s somewhere near the bottom and a good a place as any to start.

My mother was born in a village in Kashmir. She was the fourth of 10 children and 1 of 8 girls. Her father was a community doctor and so earned a reasonable enough wage but with that many children they were never what we might think of as well off. So much so that Granddad worked hard to save enough money so that he could give his daughters a decent enough dowry. The plan was to marry them off as soon as they hit puberty thus lessening the burden on the family as a whole.

She was barely 16 when she was packed onto a plane ready to begin her new life in Great Britain. She had barely enough of an education so that she could read letters sent to her in Urdu by her mother, my nan. She was just a child. But one my grandparents couldn’t afford to feed. And so she was palmed off on the first willing man to take her on. My father was 10 years her senior and didn’t want to get married. Or at least he did, but not to her. He was in love with a woman of mixed heritage and his mother, my paternal gran was determined it wouldn’t happen, she hadn’t brought her boys to this new land only for them to mix it up. She and my grandfather had a way of ensuring their children did as they were told, mainly through violence and coercion. My great grandparents had been Muslim scholars, feared and revered by the community in Pakistan. They had a reputation to protect and this came at any cost. My grandparents were the product of an extremely insular and strict manifestation of Islamism. As a child I heard my paternal great grandmother was beaten to death barely a few months after the birth of my granddad’s younger brother. This, because she had sat on her brother’s bed, whilst he lay recovering from an illness. It was too much for great granddad’s male ego and honour. “That’s just the way they did things” was the reply I got when I protested my family legacy through tears. “I’ll show them,” is the mantra I’ve had my whole life. I will be a feminist for all my foremothers; I will take back what was stolen from the women who came before me. A life, namely. An education. Bodily autonomy. Sexual freedom.

But my mother, now divorced and estranged from me, still suffers. We don’t speak because I am alien to her. From a very young age, I believed my emancipation would come from allying myself with the white feminist. I wanted what they had. As a very small child this meant the freedom to dress as I wish and associate with boys. That’s as far as my struggle got through my teens. But as I got older, I continued to behave as my white peers did and this widened the gap between my mother’s hopes for me (she really wanted me to be an air hostess) and my desires for equal rights in a man’s world. She won’t speak to me because she is afraid of what I have become. She won’t give me the opportunity to explain I did this for her.

As soon as I was old enough to hit the men back (15), I dragged my mother away from the community she knew and set into motion the process to divorce her from my father. During this time, I gullibly confirmed to the white workers who were trying to house us in temporary accommodation that the men in my family were savages, bringing with them the patriarchal controls they had back home. When fleeing domestic violence the local authority has an ‘interim duty to accommodate’ and as I rolled out the reasons we were presenting as such, it suddenly dawned on me, I was lucky to be alive. Domestic abuse, child sexual abuse, poverty, homelessness, religious/cultural demons, immigration issues (read racism), disability, isolation, self-harm, eating disorders.. This was not an exhaustive list but my small family had been victim to them all. Sure, I had internet access at the time but I didn’t see it as a privilege, more of a necessary escape. That’s a very silly thing to say Sadie. And it is your privilege that allows you to think like that.

I wish my life had been a little easier. I wish my mother had the right to an education so that she was self-sufficient and might have kicked my dad to the kerb with her dignity intact. But she didn’t. After 20 years of unfaltering duty, irrespective of the abuse she suffered, my father granted her a divorce and gave her £6000 for the trouble. That’s how much she was worth in the end. Her body ravaged by pregnancies she did not consent to, her children traumatised and displaced. She put the miserly amount he’d afforded her towards my younger sister’s nuptials. Because, despite the living hell she’d endured, she was still afraid the community would judge her for her unmarried daughters. This is also where I fell short in my duties as a daughter.  I don’t believe in marriage and who could blame me? But my mother doesn’t see it like that. The patriarchy has controlled her life since forever and although she suffered as a result of it, it still governs her thoughts, she doesn’t know any better.

If I’m a bit mean, frankly, it’s because I’m fed up. Suzanne Moore blocked me on Twitter a little while ago. I can’t even remember what for but I was reminded of it when I tried to RT the fuck outta her tweet asking for James Delingpole to admit he’s a misogynist cock. I joked that it was a shame because even though I had my issues with her, united we would stand in the face of patriarchy. I’m assuming it got back to her because later on that evening I was able to RT with abandon. Why couldn’t Sadie Smith leave well alone? By writing her piece all she’s done is pander to patriarchy. Hell, she even admits to wanting to behave like a misogynist. How is that EVER ok Sandie?

Could it be that privilege allows you some control? The privilege of having a voice or a face that fits so that you can use a platform whichever way you want. “Feminism is not bullying and beating up other women.” Haven’t you done exactly that, Sadie?

As a result of my life, I take pills. There are the ones that keep me on an even keel and the ones that work directly on my spinal cord and brain. When I accused Mary Beard of racism, I was horrified and immediately apologised, but I was made an example of when privilege politics go wrong. I’d unwittingly caught the tail end of a Twitter storm and was held up as an example of ‘stupid’ intersectional feminists using the race card at will. I wish I had the privilege of a clear, sharp mind. I wish I could pick the days when the fog takes over; I could plan my life a bit easier.

If I’m mean or angry, couldn’t you at least try to understand why? That’s what we intersectional feminists do. We understand that some of the stuff that happens in life has profound and lasting effects on people. None of us ask to be born for if we did, I’m sure we’d all tick the white cis gendered box. Nobody would choose an existence where you are overlooked/beaten/murdered for the colour of your skin, or choose to be disabled or *trans.

It’s just how we were born and all we mean to ask is, why am I not as worthy as you?

From an angry feminist to the men up to no good (TW)

It’s a simple world where the good man dwells. He has ideas about the role he plays in society and he works hard to maintain the way he is perceived. He loves his children and brings breakfast to his wife’s bed. He talks to other men about their balls because men don’t talk enough about their balls so he seeks to redress this, and for all his endeavours, he expects a pat on the head. What’s the point in being so damn good if nobody notices it?

The Good Men Project falls short at its name. We all know a ‘good man’ or a ‘nice guy’ who is keen to point out their goodness and niceness from the first time they speak to you. They’re so good, EVERYONE takes advantage and they always finish last. They’re just waiting for the right woman to come along and it will have all been worth it. But the reality being what it is, she doesn’t exist to please him (and why the hell should she)? This is when good men go bad. Much like teh menz over at The Good Men Project, good men have an idea of what they need in their lives to enable the good man to flourish from within.

Good men like a good woman. Don’t be angry now wimminz, good men don’t like it when wimminz shout. Or have an opinion for that matter. Actually, a good woman is allowed an opinion because ‘naturally’ that opinion will echo that of the good man. In this way, the good man is free to work out his biceps whilst the good woman is happy to play wifey to her man. It’s not like it’s his fault 1 billion women across the world are experiencing violence or oppression because of their sex. And just because there are billions of men beating and humiliating those other women, doesn’t mean we have to be angry at the other billions of men who are not abusive, we just need to be better at seeking the good ones out. Oh wait, which ones were the good ones again?

To paraphrase: “I was really angry right, cos some men sexually abused me once but I got over that cos these other men do these lovely things for me”. Nondescript men, or decent people, do nice things for other people cos it’s being human. Many men have been nice to me but I tell you what, they didn’t make the pain of being violated more bearable.

Oh, thank you for my perfect birthday weekend nice man, it really made up for that time the mosque teacher slid his hand up my 9 year old thigh. All better now.

Gosh, those flowers are amazing! I don’t think I’m ever gonna think about the time I was gang raped EVER AGAIN. I can stop being angry now; I know not all men are the same. I love all teh menz!

Are you fucking kidding me?

The Good Men Project published this piece in all seriousness. As if sexual violence was the only thing spurring on billions of women to fight against the oppression they face, they found a poor soul with an all too familiar story and a warped sense of her role in a patriarchy, so much so she believes these minor gestures of love and affection (that are her RIGHT and a bare minimum of human decency) are somehow to be commended, and ran with it as their answer to the angry feminist threatening their male goodness.

Feminism exists for more reasons than a good man can fathom, evidently. As feminists we are fighting for bodily autonomy. We are angry for the demands put on our bodies, from puberty through to pregnancy we are controlled by the patriarchy. Our breasts aren’t big enough or they’re so big we tempt strange abusive men into having a go. Pubic hair is more often than not groomed to please the eye of the beholder; we have very little choice over how we look down there. Teh menz invented labiaplasty for those whose vulvas resemble that of a grown woman. I’m not a big fan of porn (ahem) but in the interests of research, I’ve seen the patriarchal ideal shift. Women’s bodies have changed drastically from the 70s to present day, in appearance and also the ways in which they are used. Newspapers and magazines bombard us with images of ridiculously tall white cis gendered wimminz with tans in ridiculous suggestive poses (legs akimbo/shaking a tail feather) and anyone falling short of this ideal just isn’t worthy. We are constantly fighting the battle for the right to choose what happens to our pregnant bodies. Some of cannot be pregnant, some of us will be forcibly impregnated and many more will break their backs working right up to the birth for fear they will lose their jobs in this patriarchal man’s world. And before Junior cracks his first smile, we’ll be leaking breast milk at work, crying in a toilet cubicle, torn between needing to be with our young and needing to work in order to survive. But wait, patriarchy has an answer! You need a manz to provide! He’ll be earning more than you for a start. Even if he beats you, cheats, uses your body at will. Know your place woman; pregnancy is vulnerability and teh menz like the sound of that. Good Men will even do the hoovering, cos they’re good like that. Just keep your gold stars handy and they might even do it again.

“I certainly had a lot of reasons to be angry. I was sexually assaulted”. That’s one reason, Good Men Project writer. Where were your words regarding the systematic control of women in the workplace, the streets and at home?

“The truth is that most men are not rapists.” That is not what my male friends tell me. But then I guess this depends on your definition of rape. Do you mean rape or ‘bad sexual etiquette’?

“Of course, I had a right to be angry at the men who hurt me. But I didn’t have a right to hold all men everywhere responsible for what happened to me. And by being angry, I was shutting down the possibility of love”. I have every right to hold patriarchy responsible for the ways in which it controls women. Unfortunately the patriarchy is mostly made up of men. I am angry but there is love in my life. It surrounds me and supports me. Anger at the patriarchy is one of my redeemable features and shock horror; there are men that get why! And totally dig it.

“For example, my brother steadfastly believed what happened to me and validated..” STOP. Were your experiences more or less validated because he is a man?

“And so did the mac and cheese he made me when I was sad, and the hours of Nintendo-playing we did when I was too down to do anything else.” This is why I love my girlfriends. I don’t need to thank them for providing me with distractions; it’s just how we roll. All of the time, and mostly with little significance.

“He turns up the heat when it’s cold. He walks the dog when I don’t want to go outside. He puts gas in the car.” He basically functions as humans do. Respect.

“Men love survivors of sexual violence every single day” Can you believe it? Have they no shame..? I’m sorry, but what exactly does this line mean?

“Most men are horrified by sexual violence and its impact on those they love.” Unless you’re asleep and it’s the second insertion of the day, you’ve already given consent and it can’t be violent if there weren’t any bruises.

“They want to help, but feel powerless – and afraid to say or do the wrong thing.” They feel this way because they are aware of how big patriarchy is and they know they can’t battle it alone. They stay silent because it’s too risky.

“If we want men to join the movement to end rape and sexual violence, we have to stop talking about all the things men do wrong, and start talking about all the things that men do right.” I know a few honest men who deserve genuine praise. Generally they read, retweet and shut the fuck up. They don’t dare to presume what women need in order to achieve equality. They are there to support us, not take over (take note you fucking good men). They have an appreciation of what thousands of years of subjugation has done to womankind. As our allies, they are happy for us to take the floor.

Unlike the good men and the nice guys who, under threat that the wimminz might take over (we’re a few hundred years off that sonny jim), use every vulnerable/disillusioned woman (who may or may not have listened to angry feminist folk music..)  they can find to undermine our crucial movement.

Feminism isn’t fun and sexy, it’s angry. Fighting oppression and for our basic rights does this to us.

May your anger over floweth and the good man/nice guy fadeth away. A-wo-men.

The Atheist Delusion

I was 5 years old the first time I entered a mosque. As with every other situation in my young life, I wasn’t given a choice or informed about this new experience, I was simply led to this new building and I did what I was told to do. I learnt Arabic and Urdu, I wore a burqa and I memorised the last 30 surahs of the Quran. I didn’t exactly pray 5 times I day but my early years were spent in preparation for this. Even when I was asleep I would dream that one day I would do a pilgrimage to Mecca and all would become clear, I was somehow chosen and enlightened and my faith would get me through this, my living nightmare, because God knew and only He could make it go away.

My grandparents were staunch Muslims, or at least their definition of it. When I think about some of the cautionary tales told to me as a kid and how hungrily I lapped them up, I am amazed at myself that I am now a ‘non-believer’. Hellfire was a common feature. For the first decade of my life, I believed I had an angel on each shoulder, documenting all deeds good and evil. I was told we had to cover our hair was because otherwise Satan would urinate on it. I was told I couldn’t cut my hair because our religion forbade it. There were a million and one reasons to control every aspect of my life and I guess this is why I rebelled.

One of the first things to occur to me was the number of non-believers destined for Hell. I couldn’t understand why God, all knowing and omnipresent would condemn a large portion of his creation to destruction, in this way. What a waste of His time.  And if they merely existed to serve as reminder to us, the Chosen Ones, of how we must not stray, well, how is that even fair? Born to die for our sins. That’s just weird isn’t it? And the worse my life got, the more my innocence was chipped away, the less afraid I was to challenge God and seek answers. If it was God that created me then He created this desire for the truth and I didn’t believe God to be so tempestuous as to admonish me for needing to know. Anyway I was angry, he’d made me a girl and apparently girls weren’t worth a helluva lot.

I left my faith at the door of the last mosque I would ever attend. Aged just 10 I’d had enough of the Imam and his inappropriate use of my body. I was glad to be free. I would endure weeks of hurtful comments and physical abuse because I’d rejected my teaching, my family were none too happy about this. I was expected to memorise the whole of the Quran and bring praise on my family but I’d done the opposite. But I didn’t care. I was beyond all of it.

As an early teen, I’d sneer at the Muslim boys. I’d happily feed the little racists group about how I was more in control of my life as an atheist (though it was many more years before I would actually feel this way). That period of my life reminds me of Richard Dawkins. Smug, free, privileged, hurtful, bullying. I had this new found feeling of superiority, I’d cracked the God code and I was gonna laugh at everyone too stupid to figure out the truth. Except, I was a kid and I grew out of that phase. I met more people and realised the world was too big a place with too many different shades of everything to just conveniently slap one label on them all. I met Muslims I actually liked! And get this, Catholics! And all the other religions and ways of life. Because people, all the people on this lonely planet, are full of good and bad. Being atheist doesn’t give you a get out of jail free card, like somehow you can’t be hateful and controlling because it’s righteous hate and control, check yourself and your privilege and take it down a notch or ten.

Muslims slaughter their animals by slitting their throats? That’s common practice in non halal UK abattoirs. Yes, the animal is stunned first but stunning isn’t always accurate and are you telling me those animals don’t know they’re going to die? (Watch the series Kill it, Cook it, Eat it). And how dare one person killing and eating an animal tell another person their method is not to their liking? They’re all killing and eating animals, why is one worse than the other? Is it so convenient to tell half a truth to a sycophantic audience? It’s downright dangerous and he knows this.

I don’t like Richard Dawkins because he is just as bad as the fundos with their beards. He is in a position of great power and he uses this to control. How dare he try and define trauma for victims of sexual abuse? I’ve never heard a single survivor use the word ‘icky’ to describe a sexual violation. They haven’t just trodden in dog poo; they have been physically/sexually harmed. He is the voice of patriarchy and patriarchy is white and middle aged.

I don’t want him to speak for me.

Violence against women is pandemic (TW)

Whilst Sunny Hundal points his finger at the whole of India for its burgeoning rape epidemic, Jim Davidson has been arrested for sexual offences. In what seems to be a never ending spectacle of horror, Britain’s ‘National Treasures’ are being outed one by one for their abuse of women and children. The lead singer of The Lost Prophets has been charged with conspiracy to rape a child under 13, conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child under 13 and making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children. Rape Crisis Scotland responded to 12000 calls in the space of 12 months. End Violence Against Women revealed 41% of women aged 18-34 have experienced unwanted sexual attention. Meanwhile a New York police officer is accused of plotting to kidnap, rape and EAT women.

On doing a Google news search for rape, I went as far back as the 20th December only to discover that rape seems to have vanished from our streets. There were a couple of local reports of women being attacked by strangers in parks but the first 12 pages speak of India’s fall from grace. The whole world is rightfully appalled at the horrific way our sister met her end. But it seems to have had a magic effect on rapists the world over. Have they stopped raping?

I would love nothing more than for this to be true. But I feel it is unlikely when, on New Year’s Eve I stood waiting for a friend to collect me from Aldgate East station. It was 2am, I’d left one set of friends to meet another. As it drizzled, I stood under the canopy of the entrance, rolling myself a cigarette, hoping I wouldn’t be noticed. A group of lads exited the station and immediately gravitated towards me. I braced myself, angry that they would dare to do so. The leader of the pack stood in my personal space, less than a foot between us and stared at me square in the eyes. He had a sick cocksure smile planted on his face and leaned towards me. “Happy new year” he sneered. Of course all hell broke loose and I told him to fuck off in as many ways I could muster but he stood fast, my words barely making an impact. His friends were either side, all staring at me as they thought things and I felt sick. I remembered the woman from Delhi and I thought of whether she’d felt the same, did she think the approaching group of men were ‘just being a nuisance’? Did she know what they would do to her? Who could predict such a thing? It felt like they were there forever but then a male friend showed up. He saw me shouting at them and rushed over. I babbled at him, and he turned to them “if a girl tells you she doesn’t want to speak to you, you fuck off!” The whole party started shouting their excuses, denying their part, with no intention of backing down. A man passing by joined us and stood shoulder to shoulder with my friend. He threatened the other boys. So they skulked off.

I was shaken by this. I am no match for a group of men. My friend wasn’t much of a threat to them either. It was only as my situation drew attention they appeared to lose some of their power. Later that evening another group of strange men would surround my young friend and tell her she was a slut and should cover up with one of them stating Allah had granted him the right to put her in her place for being an apostate. This man was white with a ginger beard. Crowds of people stood around as they threatened us. Nobody spoke up.

Patriarchy is controlling each and every one of us right now. It’s telling us that the Indian rapist is a new breed of perpetrator, so horrific in his methods that we need to focus our attentions on sorting THAT country out. An epidemic suggests a rash of incidents, as if it’s a new problem or that somehow it has gotten much worse. That’s what patriarchy wants you to believe. India has always had a problem with rape. Just like the UK has always had a problem with rape. That’s how patriarchy works. And it keeps you battling the very same problems because it tells you it happened elsewhere. By pointing the finger at India and referring to the woman from Delhi as the Indian girl, it has become someone else’s problem. Instead of the global virus that it is. Rape is very widespread in India. But it’s widespread here too.

Damini’s rape will change India. It already has. Women are taking to the streets in solidarity. Global pressure and bad press will force Indian to review its penal code. If the mobs are successful, rapists will die. We hope. But when this happened to Mary Anne, what did we do?

It was 2006. Mary Anne was 16. She and a friend were abducted and then raped and tortured for several hours. The perpetrators had forced them to take drugs and they were repeatedly told they were going to die. Mary Anne eventually died from her numerous stab wounds. Her friend miraculously survived a bullet to the head. Where was the outrage for Mary Anne? Why are we not still angry?

Patriarchy minimises rape: “Do you honestly think a woman is treated the same in India as in the UK? REALLY?”. It defines it for you. When something like this happens to a woman, the menz trip over themselves to mansplain it to us. Instead of thinking, fuck those Indians need a telling off, why not think, fuck, rape is an evil thing and rapists need taking out? And then do something about it. Make it unacceptable to laugh or joke about rape lest the rapist thinks he’s got a friend in you. Raise your boys and girls with a clear understanding of consent. For a start, reason with your children why they must brush their teeth instead of forcing the brush into their mouth. Show them why it’s good to ask for permission.

Smash male privilege.

Smash the patriarchy.

Don’t feed the trolls.

This is not a race issue (which is one of patriarchy’s more evil inventions); this is about power and control of women by men. The only way to change things is to highlight them and keep the pressure on ALL governments. Let the rapist know we’re watching.

We’re watching the Indian ones right now.

Who’s watching ours?