IWD2020 – ‘Formless’, something, something, ‘Womxn’

‘Women have had the power of naming stolen from us’, Mary Daly, 1979

A swathe of corporations, ‘Leftist’ organisations, members of government and high profile individuals outdid themselves for International Women’s Day this year: #IWD2020 – #EachForEqual.

We women were politely, and not so politely, reminded on this ‘our day of days’ – that we are taking up too much damn space, also, stop all the shrill, er, “non-men” speaking, and most importantly, know your place.

But being feminists and all, women stood up with courage, wit, and tenacity, holding firm to an intrinsic tenet of feminism – that it is about, for, and by women – for our liberation.

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University of Leicester’s new ‘Women’s Officer’, Dan Orr, who identifies as a transwoman, rebrands ‘International Women’s Day’ as ‘International Womxn’s Day’ to be more inclusive of ‘anyone who identifies as a woman in society’… There are already separate posts for ‘LGBT+ officer’ and ‘Trans and Non-Binary’ officer… 

 

 

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And know our Place:

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Meanwhile:

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Until all women and girls are free:
Sex-selective abortions, Female genital mutilation, Girls sold as “child brides”, menstruation “huts”, period stigma, period poverty, forced pregnancy and stigma, breast ironing to avoid rape, lack of available effective safe contraception, lack of abortion rights, miscarriage, birth trauma, gynecological abuse, vaginal exams on unconsenting females while under anesthesia for unrelated surgeries, sexual abuse by male physicians, coerced c-sections, forced sterilization, racial discrimination during pregnancy and childbirth, workplace discrimination for mothers, breastfeeding stigma, increased male violence during pregnancy, single mothers stigma, coerced hysterectomies to retain employment, breast milk/feeding coercion by males, male default medical industry/diagnoses/treatment failing female health, auto immune diseases, undiagnosed illnesses, untreated pain, trauma pathologised, period pain, PMS disregard, endometriosis disregard, PCOS/uterine fibroids, fistula, post natal depression, vaginal mesh scandal, menopause disregard, rape, female refugees raped, females raped as a weapon of war, day to day sexual objectification, the male gaze, sexual objectification in media and advertising, sexual assault, pornography, strip clubs, prostitution, human trafficking, spy cams, voyeurism, body image/beauty standards, domestic violence, coercive control, femicide, “honor killings”, bulk of childcare and unpaid work, disproportionately living in poverty, female erasure in the law, “foot binding” resurgence, the “husband stitch”, surrogacy, online abuse, “revenge porn”, eating disorders, world built for male bodies from crash test dummies to medicine, the “urinary leash”, unsafe or no toilet provisions…. and on and on….

Compiled by Andreia Nobre: “Issues that only affect female bodies” – @ariana_erbon – Twitter https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1212427311083130880.html

– Her tweets continue here: https://twitter.com/ariana_erbon/status/1212427311083130880…

See also: https://twitter.com/joon_of/status/1160618388684759040?s=21

#WomensLiberation #FemaleLiberation #FEMinism

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Related:

– Suzanne Moore: Women must have the right to organise. We will not be silenced – The treatment of Selina Todd this weekend was a warning. We have to protect women’s sex-based rights – Tue 3 Mar 2020 “As Roman Polanski was being rewarded for his latest film at the César awards, [Selina] Todd was being silenced. This latest silencing of women is a warning. You either protect women’s rights as sex-based or you don’t protect them at all…… Women have the right to call out the violent men who rape. We have the right to speak and organise without being told that speech is itself dangerous. You can tell me to “die in a ditch, terf” all you like, as many have for years, but I self-identify as a woman who won’t go down quietly. There are more of us than you think.”

– Maya Forstater: “Both sides”. This tweet is rightly getting ratio’ed because the ‘both sides’ thing is bad faith nonsense. On one side: rape & death threats, doxxing, no-platforming, trying to get people fired. On the other side: some snark. Ask for receipts… nothing. Here are some:”

ForWomenScot: “The co-convener of @scotgp@patrickharvie has decided to mark #iwd2020 first by insulting women in @ScotParl by suggesting all the bad things happen because of identity. Now, he says the women who object are “boring” him. So, we thought we’d find some dull stats for him:”

Laura McNally: “Women are not ‘imagined,’ and on International Women’s Day, we should know this – What does it mean to be a woman? Perhaps for International Women’s Day we could start to trust that women are actually capable of forming an answer.”

– Jo Bartosch: “Next year let’s hope more companies cash-in on international womxn’s day, and let’s hope more amazing be-penised womxn are selected to speak up for womxn everywhere. Up the womxn!”thumbnail_DF44FB14-70E2-447A-9559-D342084FC092

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Don’t ask me where I’m from

Guest post by C.

(This article was written in response to the author’s experiences at a recent feminist gathering in Australia.)

Don’t ask me where I’m from

(or what my origins are/what my background is/where my parents are from/where my name is from/etc.)

  • Don’t use the fact that I speak a particular language/attended the launch of a book by an Indian author/mentioned a Lebanese restaurant in passing/etc., as an excuse to ask me where I am from, and don’t assume I am from these places. Just like white people, brown people can be interested in cultures other than our own; sometimes these cultures have been imposed on us.
  • Don’t make a comment about some aspect of my physical appearance or tell me I’m beautiful in conjunction with asking me where I’m from. This makes me feel exoticised and objectified.
  • Don’t invent me an accent I don’t have in order to have an excuse to ask where I’m from. This is just crazy and I will lose respect for you.
  • If for whatever reason I do tell you where I’m “from”, don’t reduce my country of origin to a tourist destination (or a war zone). While this may be the only context in which you have heard of it, for me and everyone else “from” there it is a complex place which we have a complex relationship with, and we do not like to hear it reduced to a few beaches, a resort and some of our co-nationals forced into subservience by globalised patriarchal white supremacist capitalism.
  • If for whatever reason I do tell you where I’m “from”, don’t respond with further questions that pry into my family history. This information is personal and I do not want to be pressured into telling it to you just to be polite. 

I’m a woman of colour who attended your white-dominated feminist event, an event at which I hoped to feel safe and in which I hoped to participate on an equal level to everyone else.

At this event, you may have asked me where I’m from – a lot of women did. In response, I might have answered truthfully, I might have lied, or I might have refused to answer. I might have seemed uncomfortable or I might have seemed relaxed. You probably don’t know which of these was actually the case.

In fact, every single time you ask me this question it causes me significant pain.

You probably asked out of idle curiosity. For you it was probably just a minute or two of vaguely interesting conversation. You got to find out which box to put me in so that, even if nothing about your behaviour towards me changed, in your head I am safely categorised.

For me, it was probably the fifth – or the fiftieth – time I had been asked that question that day. It is a question I am asked and have been asked almost every time I have met a new white person throughout my entire life. The cumulative effect of being constantly faced with this question has been to make me feel unwelcome in the country in which I was born, whose culture I share, with whose accent I speak. It has fundamentally undermined my sense of identity and my sense of belonging, creating deep insecurities that I struggle with every day.

Every time you ask me this question, it reminds me that I am not white. It brings with it a flood of recollections of every racist aggression I have suffered or have seen inflicted on friends, family, acquaintances, and total strangers. It reminds me of the inter-generational trauma I have spent years understanding and trying to heal from. It reminds me of everything I know about the globalised patriarchal capitalist white supremacist system of colonialism and imperialism and invasion and rape and the sheer magnitude of it all and what it has done to me and to everyone else. So, when you ask me this question, I am thrown into turmoil. I feel angry and hurt. Sometimes I also feel nauseous, enraged, or sad. Sometimes I start shaking, sometimes crying. You probably won’t see this, though, as I am practiced at hiding it.

In the few milliseconds I have to decide how to answer you, I have to weigh up how much I value our relationship and what effects my answer will have on it. I am angry and upset that you have asked me this monumentally insensitive question, but I know your intentions were probably not bad. Do I want to tell you the truth because I like and respect you? If so, how do I retain my sense of pride? Is there some way I can communicate to you that this hurt me? Does my hurt and anger mean I want to lie to you? Can I get away with lying? If so, which lie? What will you do if you happen to find out the truth later? If I tell you that I hate this question, how will you respond? Do I have the time and energy to have the discussion that you will probably want to have directly afterwards? Will you still take me seriously if I start crying, or yelling? Do I want to put myself in a situation where I might start crying, or yelling, in front of you? Do I have the strength to simply walk away if I don’t want to have this discussion? If I do choose to have it, will you be able to understand? If not, will this anger and hurt me even more? What if you respond negatively? Will you be angry at me and can I cope with this? Will you talk to other women about me behind my back? How will I be labelled, by you and by others, as a result?

You cannot fix racism. What you can do is make it possible for me to participate in your event on as equal a basis as possible. This means not reminding me that I have been made structurally inferior to you and almost everyone else present by the global system of white supremacy. Reminding me of this affects my self-confidence and makes it harder for me to contribute as I usually would. It may also mean plunging me into a state of trauma in which I cannot function normally. This does not mean denying or ignoring the existence of race and of white supremacy, but it does mean not bringing it up at times when it is not relevant.

My origins are important to me and have had a huge effect on my life. If I feel safe and comfortable enough, or if I feel it is important that you know, I will probably spontaneously tell you where I am “from” at some point during the course of our acquaintance. You will find it out exactly as you would find out any other significant piece of information about me, but without making me feel terrible and preventing me from participating.

If you do ask me this question or have done so in the past and later realise you should not have, don’t apologise to me. In fact, don’t even come talk to me about it. This puts pressure on me to forgive you, which may not be what I want to do. It also puts pressure on me to help make you feel better, when in fact it is you who have hurt me. I do not owe you my forgiveness or my emotional support. If you feel bad, go talk to a white person about it instead.

You want to ask me this question because you are and have always been immersed in white supremacist patriarchy. This makes race a crucial lens through which you understand the world and allows you to unquestioningly reproduce the male behaviour of not respecting boundaries on women of colour. This is not your fault. But, please just think for a minute about where your curiosity comes from and the effects it has on others.

Letter to IWD rally organisers: Organised harassment of women at International Women’s Day rally

Guest post by IWD Rally Attendees

For the second year in a row a group of us were harassed at the International Women’s Day rally in Melbourne.terf n swerf harassment instructions

This year the harassment dramatically intensified as a throng of bystanders who’d been given instructional flyers joined a trans identified male and sex industry activists in relentlessly attacking us.

 

The harassment was so bad we decided to write to the organisers to be sure they know the full extend of what happened and ask them what they will do to ensure our safety next year.

This is the letter we wrote:

ATTN: Melbourne IWD March organising collective

 

Tuesday 12 March 2018

 

To the organisers of the Melbourne International Women’s Day 2018 rally,

 

In the wake of the #metoo movement, women all over the world have been rising up and speaking out against male harassment and violence. We are a group of about 15-20 radical feminists who attended the IWD rally on March 8th, 2018 in Melbourne with the aim of continuing this struggle. We are of varying ages, class backgrounds and ethnicities; some of us are currently or have formerly worked in the sex industry; some of us are lesbians; two of us were accompanied by young daughters. We had prepared a number of signs to display at the rally with slogans including:

  • Safe streets for women
  • Women’s safety before men’s feelings
  • Safety for refugee women and girls
  • Name the problem: male violence
  • Porn hurts women
  • Radical feminism is back (never went away)
  • Womb-yn unite!
  • $$$ =/= consent
  • Porn is racist
  • Lesbians exist, lesbians resist
  • Biology = biology. ⅓ women experiences physical violence (Our Watch). Trans ”women” are men.

 

We expected that our signs would meet with some disagreement from other attendees of the rally. We know that our views are controversial and that not everyone agrees with us. We expected, nonetheless, that we would be able to express our opinions in a peaceful manner in a public space, to listen to the speeches, to participate in the march, and to enjoy spending time together and meeting other women.

 

This was not what happened. Instead, before the rally had even begun a young man seized and ripped up two signs held by an older lesbian in our group. Soon afterwards, while we were standing peacefully and silently holding our signs, individuals began to encircle us, obscuring our signs with their own, yelling and screaming at us, jostling and invading our personal space, attempting to rip our signs out of our hands, repeatedly calling us “fucking bitches”, telling us that we do not know what lesbians are and that we “deserve to be degraded”. A bottle was thrown at us, and a woman who was filming had her phone knocked to the ground. One or more bystanders attempted to help and also fetched a small number of women – presumably marshals – in union t-shirts who stood between us and the main aggressor but this was not sufficient to prevent the harassment as they remained largely silent. The crowd around us quickly became very dense, making it claustrophobic and overheated. It was impossible for the women under attack and those immediately surrounding to hear the speeches and to fully participate in the rally. The women accompanied by young girls were forced to move away as the girls were scared.

 

Subsequently, a number of men from the CFMEU joined the crowd around us, waving their flags in our faces and jeering. One of the women in our group overheard them discussing the fact that they had been asked by the organisers to attend in order to get between the radical feminists and our opponents. These men were all significantly larger than average in build. When the women moved to a different spot to get away from the CFMEU men, other harassers simply surrounded them.

 

We were peacefully expressing opinions that are important to us as well as to many other women. It is unacceptable that such intimidation and harassment was allowed to take place without intervention from you, the organisers. You had a responsibility to ensure the ability of all present to express their opinions without being faced with intimidation and harassment. Why did the organisers not intervene to prevent the intimidation while it was taking place? Why have you not responded to our questions and concerns since the rally, instead deleting our comments made to your facebook posts and blocking us from posting?

 

It is highly concerning that the organisers’ solution to the possibility of conflicts arising between radical feminists and others during the rally was to ask men to attend to separate the two groups. Quite apart from the fact that the men did not actually do this, instead crowding around us and contributing to the intimidation and harassment, it is extraordinary that supposedly feminist women could think it appropriate to deal with the possibility of conflict at a women’s rally by inviting men, and in particular men who were unusually physically intimidating due to their large build. Such a “solution” suggests a complete ignorance of the nature and history of women’s struggles against male violence and a total disregard for the physical and psychological safety of the radical feminists present.

 

We believe that the organisers we encountered were trying to do as little as possible in order to maximise the intimidation and harassment we received. They were trying to appear neutral but were biased from the start against us in favour of our harassers. Some woman in our group heard a female Marshall holding a pro-trans and sex work sign tell the CFMEU men to get between the two groups. Further, we saw leaflets being circulated at the march, advising how to “stand up to” “SWERF n’ TERFs” (a copy can be found here). The existence of this leaflet suggests that the attacks on us were not simply a spontaneous response to our signs from individuals in the crowd, but were planned. The organisers owed a duty of care to all attendees, including our group of radical feminists. The decision by the event organisers to place men of larger than average build between us and other groups, directly led to women feeling unsafe, intimidated and harassed. The decision to surround us with the CFMEU men cannot, in the circumstances, be classified as a reasonable step taken to discharge your duty of care obligation to us. Thus, it is likely that the requisite standard of care owed to us was breached.

 

The attempts of the harassers to prevent us from participating in the rally succeeded: apart from being unable to hear the speeches, we felt too unsafe, afraid, exhausted and upset to participate in the march that followed the rally. This outcome was a result of the consistent infringement of our right to peaceful protest throughout the rally. You as organisers had the responsibility to protect our right to protest, and you did not. Women’s voices were silenced by male violence, facilitated by women’s complicity.

 

We expect the organisers to affirm the right of all women to feel safe and to express their opinions at future International Women’s Day marches and all other feminist events you organise, and to send a message that intimidation and harassment are not acceptable tactics in the women’s movement. More concretely, we expect organisers to ensure the safety of all participants at such future events, and we expect to be able to march safely next year. Please send, by return letter, a list of actions that the organisers will put in place for 2019 to ensure our safety and the safety of all women and girls in attendance.

 

Signed:

The women who attended (not all have signed due to fear of retaliation):

  1. J. Harbinson
  2. M. A.
  3. C. O.
  4. M. R.
  5. M. C.
  6. L. R.
  7. Rebecca Kennedy
  8. Sarah Morrigan
  9. C. E.
  10. M. Parker
  11. B. Clarke
  12. Nina V
  13. Katherine H
  14. Beth Smith
  15. Chris Wilding

 

The letter was also signed by 100+ other women who did not attend the march.

At the time of writing the organisers have not responded to our letter.

Planned Parenthood USA calls Women “Menstruators” – Women say “hell no!”

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*See: Non-men of the world unite to mock #GreenPartyFeminism, Feminist Current

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But Planned Parenthood USA didn’t stop at menstruators, according to PP we should also be referred to as pregnant people:

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Purvi Patel was released from an Indiana prison yesterday after her feticide conviction was overturned and a judge resentenced her to less time than she’d already served.

“In 2015, Patel was found guilty of conflicting charges feticide and child neglect and sentenced to 20 years in prison for allegedly self-inducing an abortion with drugs two years earlier.

“Last month a judge overturned the feticide conviction, a ruling the state did not appeal, and on Wednesday the judge sentenced her to 18 months for felony child neglect. She’s already been in prison that long and was released yesterday.

“Compare Patel’s original 20-year prison sentence for an abortion to the 6-month jail term handed to former Stanford University student Brock Allen Turner for raping an unconscious woman. Turner, by the way, was released from jail today after three months.”

Project Respect doors closing unless something miraculous happens

Project Respect is a Melbourne based support service for women trafficked for sexual exploitation and women in the sex industry. On March 16, Project Respect released this statement with “a heavy heart” via email and a social media post, informing their community and supporters they will be closing their doors in a month unless “there is a miraculous response to this letter.”

“Project Respect has survived by hard work, good will and financial support by many organisations and individuals (for 17 years) however, without funding which is sustainable, we will have to close on the 15th April 2016.”

In a 2015 interview with Emma Alberici on Lateline, Kate Connett, who before becoming an outreach worker for Project Respect, was a sex worker on the streets to support her heroin habit from age 17 to 23, speaks of how vital these services are for women and why they are so desperately needed,

“I think nearly every single woman I have worked with at Project Respect has gone into the sex industry because of financial hardship. All women are there for the money, they’re not there for the sex, they’re not there because they enjoy having sex with men, they are there to get the money… Homelessness is a huge issue. We find many women that are homeless. We find a lot of women that sleep in brothels which is illegal, so I guess it’s kind of hidden homelessness in women.”

(Every month Kate visits legal brothels, offering support to women.) … and says it is “quite typical that in all Asian brothels one woman will speak for all the women and just kind of take over, and it’s very hard to kind of get in and speak to individually to women in Asian brothels. Outreach can be really difficult, actually, because sometimes you are met with really volatile people.

“We meet women constantly who have been either raped or beaten. Currently working with a woman at the moment who is pregnant due to a client raping her. I don’t think legalisation works. I don’t think decriminalisation works either. Again, it hasn’t stopped the incidence of violence.”

The Nordic model which looks at criminalising the buyers which are predominantly men and making it legal for people to sell sex which is predominantly women, I think so far that’s the best option that I’ve seen come out. What girl, what young girl goes, “I want to be a prostitute when I’m older”? What young girl ever has that aspiration? What mother ever wants their child to become a prostitute when they are older? It’s not a dream job for anybody.” (Transcript and Video here)

The work of organisations like Project Respect is vital to the Nordic Model of prostitution. Vital to supporting women in the sex industry with the availability of exit programs.

Project Respect works in three ways:

* One, we assist women one-on-one and help them access essential services – such as healthcare and legal representation. We support women in making police reports, gaining child custody, even applying for jobs in a new industry. While many community organisations become targeted, offering just one service, Project Respect remains broad. Led entirely by the needs of women, we place no limits on the length or type of support offered. At the centre of our support work is regular outreach, where we visit brothels in Victoria. We do this so women know we are available to them – without judgement – should they need us.

* We also connect women together, supporting them to support one another, in their shared experiences. Intense stigma around the sex industry means it can be isolating. Through community lunches and weekends away we nurture a safe, non-judgemental and supportive network. For many women, Project Respect is simply and powerfully about belonging. It their place to be. Outside the mainstream, in these rare spaces, women are understood, welcomed, and finally treated with respect.

* Lastly, we advocate for women’s rights against violence, trafficking and exploitation. To improve life for women in the sex industry, we must improve the status of women overall. That’s why we work directly with all levels of government, lobbying for broad policy change. We argue for better conditions for women while they are in the sex industry. We argue against the trafficking of women. We help expose violence against women, and push for solutions to eradicate it. In all of this work, we ensure women’s voices are heard. We offer women a platform to write, speak and meet directly with decision makers. We know that their voices and leadership will create the positive change we seek.

At Project Respect, we believe that all women have the right to feel safe and respected. We are fundamentally for and about women – supporting their entire life and future potential. To achieve a world free from sexual exploitation we are committed to doing what others can’t.

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Ways to help:

Donate – “Just like you, we aren’t ready to give up without a fight! If you feel the same way about Project Respect, then please donate to us via our GoFundMe campaign.
Share – “Please spread the campaign as far and wide as you can, and Help Save Project Respect!” – Project Respect

 

See also:

* The Government must fund services like Project Respect for women trafficked for sexual exploitation and women inside the sex industry in Australia.

* Expunging prostitution convictions essential for those exiting the sex trade – Simone Watson, Director NORmac

#ThankaFeminist Australia 2015

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*BRISSC celebrated 40 years of ongoing work and support for victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and incest along with Women’s House in Brisbane in 2015, with their work extending into the community. We would also like to thank BRISSC for:

*Caroline Norma, lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. Many thanks for:

*Celeste Liddle, “Arrernte, feminist, hard left, trade unionist, with a taste for protopunk”, a big thank you for:

*Collective Shout, grassroots campaigns movement mobilising and equipping individuals and groups to target corporations, advertisers, marketers and media which objectify women and sexualise girls to sell products and services. Many thanks for:

*Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence celebrated 25 years of service in 2015, a big thank you also this year for:

*Janet Fraser, National Convenor of the Australian Homebirth Network, Joyous Birth, committed to community birth education, birth activism, supporting women and families in healing from birth trauma, blogger and feminist activist, big thanks for inspiring #ThankaFeminist 2015 and many blessings for:

  • Her social media campaigning, writing and feminist analysis
  • Her home birthing advocacy and Anti-obstetrics violence campaigning, including being a speaker at the Mother of all Mothers of Rallies in Canberra in June 2015
  • Speaker and attendee of grassroots protests for women’s liberation, including the Sydney leg of the global women-led protests against AI’s ‘sex work’ policy, October 2015.
  • Her continued support of other feminist actions to end MVAW, and liberate women, including being feminist queen of the sharpie pen.

*Laura McNally, a psychologist, researcher, author and PhD candidate, chair of the Australian branch of Endangered Bodies and provides social commentary on issues related to gender inequality, many thanks for:

*Liz Waterhouse, founder of listeningtolesbians, member and contributor of Women Shout Out Australia and Reclaim The Night Perth. A big thank you for:

*Mairi Voice, writing and sharing articles and interesting news with radical feminist analysis, a big thank you for:

  • Writing and advocacy for the Nordic model of prostitution, including: Why the Nordic Model is Safest for Women, addressing a number of issues raised in the ‘prostitution debate’.
  • Critiquing the downfalls of liberal feminism in Australia: Liberal Feminism and the Prostitution Debate, drawing from the reading of ‘Freedom Fallacy: The Limits of Liberal Feminism edited by Miranda Kiraly and Meagan Tyler (2015).
  • A supportive, informative Social media community and continued support of other feminist actions to end MVAW, and liberate women.

*Meagan Tyler, Research Fellow, RMIT University. Member of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia (CATWA). Many thanks for:

*Paula Orbea, founder of Questions for Us and the Wicked Campers campaign, educator, blogger, feminist activist and co-founder of Boycott Wicked Campers , A big thank you for:

*Radfem Groundhog Day, “Rather than re-invent the wheel, this passage by Mary Daly (from a talk at UCLA in 1987), pretty much says it all…” Many thanks for:

*Reclaim the Night Perth, For a world without male-pattern violence and control over women and children, a big thank you for:

*Simone Watson, director of NORmac; survivor led advocates for the Nordic model Australia, and feminist activist, many thanks for:

*Wicked Pickets, A community action to extend anti vilification law to include ‘sex’ as a ground for complaint. Race religion sexuality gender identity are already covered. Many thanks for:

thankafeminist

Women Worldwide Tell Amnesty Int: #NoAmnesty4Pimps & Johns – Women are #Not4Sale

London protest - photo by @r2Ph

London protest – photo by @r2Ph

In London, police estimated the number of women outside Amnesty International’s headquarters at 200. There were exited women there, with activists, researchers, journalists — all in sisterhood. The youngest were in their twenties, the oldest were in their eighties.

They were later joined by a few men, one of whom said he’d heard about the protest in an Italian Facebook group two hours before and apologized for not having got involved sooner.

The protesters stood alongside the busy road in London’s rush hour and chanted: “Lock up pimps and johns!” “Women’s rights are human rights!” “Women’s bodies are not for sale!” – Janie Davies, Feminist Current

No Amnesty, global day of action, London 23rd October 2015 by Pam Isherwood

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The first time zone to protest was Australia, with women gathering outside AI head offices in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

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Brisbane women protesting outside the Brisbane Amnesty Int. head office QLD

Brisbane women protesting outside the Brisbane Amnesty Int. head office QLD

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Global Protest Against Amnesty International on Prostitution Policy #NoAmnestyForPimps – Washington DC

“We are gathered here today [DC], in solidarity with groups around the world, to voice our opposition to Amnesty International’s support of full decriminalization of prostitution. Full decriminalization of prostitution in no way rectifies the conditions of inequality, abuse, violence, and dehumanization which animate all forms of prostitution—it tragically assents to them…”

“…We are assembled here today: because something effective must be done to protect and restore the lives of those destroyed by the commercial sex trade; because people deserve better than prostitution… Amnesty: it’s not too late to admit that as an institution you’ve made a mistake. It’s not too late to stand up for “The Forgotten Prisoners of Prostitution.” endsexualexploitation.org

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“We cannot and will not stand by whilst a human rights organization supports, encourages, and lobbies for the prostitution of women and by extension girls. This flies in the face of the available evidence and we call for human rights organisations to review their position in the light of emerging data from areas that have implemented the model of legalization with appalling consequences,” Lisa-Marie Taylor, chair of UK women’s rights charity Feminism in London told Feminist Current

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Meet a 21st-Century Slave

“Plenty of well-meaning people back Amnesty International’s proposal for full decriminalization of the sex trade, including of pimps and brothels, and it’s certainly true that some women (and men) work in the sex trade voluntarily. Yet in practice, approaches similar to Amnesty’s have ended up simply empowering pimps. And while under these proposals human trafficking would remain illegal, the police would no longer have a reason to raid brothels to search for girls like Poonam. Both Poonam and Koirala think that full decriminalization is a catastrophic idea; if it were in place, Poonam might still be enslaved.”

“There is no protection to the powerless,” Koirala said of full decriminalization. “All the benefits go to the perpetrators and exploiters.”

“The blunt truth is that no strategy works all that well against trafficking. But maybe the most successful has been Sweden’s, cracking down on traffickers and customers while providing social services and exit ramps for women in the sex trade.” by Nicholas Kristof, Human rights, women’s rights, health, global affairs for The New York Times, October 24, 2015. Read more Here

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Dear survivors of prostitution… “WE BELIEVE YOU” ❤️💛💚💔💙💜❤️ #ibelieveher#NoAmnesty4Pimps#ListenToSurvivors#EndDemand#YesAllWomen — WomenCanSee (@WomenCanSee) October 23, 2015

Further reading:

– Amnesty sells out women for men’s orgasms and profit

– #NoAmnesty4Pimps hashtag on twitter here

– More images from the protest here

 – Are we hearing ‘sex workers’ when we listen to them? Penny White – Feminist Current’

Prostitution Industry

Amnesty sells out women for men’s orgasms and profit

Amnesty sells out women for men’s orgasms and profit

Human rights group Amnesty International’s (AI) 2015 policy on ‘sex work’ advocates for pimps and johns rights to buy and sell women for ‘sex’ by calling on countries to decriminalise all aspects of the sex industry.

This is as opposed to the Nordic model of prostitution, which implements the full decriminalisation of prostituted people hand in hand with support services and exit programs, while criminalising the pimps and johns who create the demand for, and profit from, this highly gendered and inherently violent and degrading ‘industry’.

Amnesty money does not equal consentIn 2014, an AI draft policy was leaked revealing AI’s future intentions to endorse the full decriminalisation of the sex industry, including the pimps and johns. During a Q & A that followed, the Director of AI UK said, “in an imperfect world many women end up in ‘sex work’ as an economic last resort“. As an economic last resort, there is no choice, choice implies other choices to choose from. As an economic last resort Money Does Not Equal Consent.

The most vulnerable women and girls will be the ones affected by such policies because they are the ones being funneled through the sex industry. Poor women, abused women, addicted women, homeless women, women of colour.

Why is AI endorsing vulnerable women and girls being prostituted as a means of survival, instead of the Nordic approach with support services and exit programs; rehabilitation, mental health services, housing, educational and job training, etc, to give these women real choices and a supportive environment to succeed in?

AI’s 2014 leaked draft policy gives us a bit of an idea, showing a lot of concern for the men who buy prostituted women and girls for ‘sex’ (removed from the 2015 policy): Continue reading

Brisbane Rally against Male Violence Against Women July 2015

Glosswitch wrote a piece in January called ‘Choosing between misogyny and feminism: A practical guide, where she says;

“Here are some things which will not happen if you speak out on behalf of women as a class: you will not get loads of people listening to your carefully worded, nuanced thoughts and saying “hmm, interesting, let me think about this some more”; you will not get people who disagree with you saying “sure, I think that’s one angle, but perhaps we could discuss it a little more?”; you will not get hordes of women eager to express their support and gratitude in public; you will not find people making connections between the problems you’ve highlighted and the surface-level examples of sexism they’ve noticed elsewhere.

If you expected any of these things to happen, then really you shouldn’t have spoken out in the first place. This is because such things would only happen if the class-based discrimination you are describing didn’t actually exist. If you have failed to consider this rather obvious point, assuming instead that since we’re all “basically in support of equality” it would therefore be fine for you to broadcast your important and valuable thoughts with impunity, then you still don’t get what “being oppressed as a class” actually means.

People don’t want to hear about how women think and feel. They don’t want to picture women as people whom others might actually have to negotiate with. They want “equality” insofar as they want the erasure of all measurable signs of women’s oppression (because let’s face it, these get a bit embarrassing). They do not, however, want this to come at the expense of being allowed to see women as whatever they want them to be at any given moment. We just don’t have space to accommodate the humanity of women as well as that of men.” Posted on her blog.

Our current paradigm of a masculinized culture and rigid gender roles that are imposed on us by sex, are so deeply ingrained along with male violence and male sexual entitlement, that even the media often fail to name male violence when reporting fatal male violence against a woman. We hear ‘domestic incident’ or ‘domestic dispute’ a lot, minimizing this male violence, the same male violence that if perpetrated against another man on the street wouldn’t be reported so lightly.

Responsible reporting of male violence against women by the police and media helps to show the pattern. 47 women have allegedly been murdered by known or suspected male violence in the first 7 months of this year in Australia. 1 woman every 4 and 1/2 days. 2/3 of these women were allegedly murdered by their current or former partner, we need to end the myth that domestic violence is a “gender neutral” phenomenon, This is male pattern violence, it needs to be called what it is so the pattern is clear and we know where to start for implementing solutions. Words have power.

We also have the right to name what has been done to us, at the very least, and not have to pretend, as an Australian writer noted, that these rapes, abuses and murders must have been committed by elves, for fear of saying male violence.

WE hear Not All Men, A lot, it’s a silencing tool, we know not all men. We also know that men kill other men at a higher rate than they kill women, we know. We know 90% of all murderers are male, whether they are killing women, children, or other men. This current paradigm of social “norms”, this masculinized culture,  is toxic, and it’s affecting everyone. But when a vulnerable class of humans, half the population, women as a class, are repeated victims of fatal male pattern violence, this is femicide.

names of women

As Women’s Aid UK state;

“Gender is fundamental and the relationship between gender roles and violent behaviour is obvious in the data. Unless we accept that this is a fact, and that it’s a fact we no longer want to tolerate, we will get nowhere.”

We are females in a world where the default human is male, and male privilege, male sexual  entitlement to our bodies and male violence in general is the norm, just turn on the news daily, just talk to a woman. There’s not really anything I can say that hasn’t already been said by many great women, hence my quoting some of them, and I don’t have more statistics and numbers that we don’t already know.

Soraya Chemaly noted;

“More than 40 years ago, anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday, professor of anthropology an extensive cross-cultural study of rape involving more than 150 human societies around the word. She found that 47% of societies she studied had no rape, 36% had some incidence of rape, and 17%, of which we are one, were definitively rape prone. What marked cultures where rape was missing were that women had authority in the community that was not related to reproduction — they were political or religious leaders and made valued economic contributions to society; feminine qualities were valued by communities; the relation- ships between men and women was not defined as hierarchical; boys were taught to respect girls and women (something altogether different from learning to protect them); these societies were stable and peaceful, making reliance on brute male physical dominance less likely; divinities were not uniquely male; and, lastly, these cultures had great respect for their environments and did not destructively exploit them.’

It’s not inevitable, it’s not just the way things are.

We need to Name the problem, that is, male violence. We need institutional education for police and front line services, proper enforcement of DVO’s and the absolute connection of women with the appropriate support services when they need them. We need funding for these support services for women. No more slaps on the wrists for perpetrators of male violence, along with proper rehabilitation services to change these men’s attitudes at the root. And we need to get rid of gender stereotypes and ideals of femininity and masculinity as innate, they aren’t. We need to be aware of the language being used in a default male culture. And we need to challenge the representation of women, everywhere! Ask, ‘how is that woman being represented compared to that man?’ We also need funding for a new form of sexual education for children in schools to help them navigate through a culture that constantly sexualizes, therefore dehumanizes, women while enabling male sexual entitlement and male privilege.

Aswas Photography

Aswas Photography

Glosswitch also addressed this recently, writing;

“I am a mother of sons and the thought of them growing up within a culture of rampant male sexual entitlement terrifies me. Right now they are six and seven – still innocent, still able to see their female peers as fellow humans – but as adolescence approaches, I fear that a deluge of misogyny will engulf them as they encounter the adult world and so-called “normal” attitudes to sex. I am very much in favour of them being granted access to as much accurate, open-minded sex education as possible. Nonetheless, I doubt such teaching will ever be effective as long as we are in denial about the real problem: the widespread, culturally sanctioned dehumanisation of women as the price for male sexual gratification.

There is no point in explaining consent to boys, as though it is some peculiarly complex social exchange. It isn’t. What confuses them is the fact that our pornified, misogynist culture treats female bodies as soulless objects. They witness this everywhere: on TV, in the news, online, on the streets, in the words of their peers and elders. They can sit in a classroom and be informed about the rights and wrongs of it. They can be en- couraged to think, in abstract terms, about the Woman as Person. But that is not how they encounter her in the media, nor in the minds of fellow men. Deep down, they know that their “right” to access hardcore pornography and purchase female flesh is inviolable. The Woman as Person narrative is subordinate to the one telling them that the ultimate human right is a “real” man’s right to fuck.” Published in the Newstatesman July 2015

By Kirsten Lovejoy for Brisbane Central

By Kirsten Lovejoy for Brisbane Central

Today we also need to acknowledge the harms of the sex industry. We need to adopt the Nordic model of prostitution in this country and recognize that the sex industry is built on male sexual entitlement, male privilege and male violence, built on the very foundations of gender inequality. As Sheila Jeffreys stated;

“in Norway, Iceland and in Sweden, where brothel prostitution is banned in a violence against women sense, because it’s recognised to be for the degradation of women and affects the status of all women. Iceland interestingly has this year not only banned brothel prostitution and penalised the male clients, because all of these countries penalise the men who can potentially end up in prison as a result. But in Iceland they have banned strip clubs too on the same grounds that it’s about vio- lence against women and degrades women and degrades the equality of women. I think that in Australia this is hard to understand, it’s a very masculinist culture, and I think that prostitution and the sex industry generally and the privileges men have to abuse women in this way is so accepted that people are outraged to think that they’re actually might be other values, but believe me there are, and in fact Australia is quite low, very low in the index of oeCD nations on gender equality, and it’s because there’s a very masculinised culture.” a transcript from an interview on ABC radio Australia.

And we need to let women speak, and really hear what women are saying, Our voices do matter, and our inclusion is fundamental for women’s liberation. We need an equal part of the platform, an equal part in decision making, from business to government. And not just the voices of women who have come from a place of privilege in this hierarchy who have had to conform to the boys club, from the rest of us.

It’s exhausting, and lonely, and it does feel hopeless a lot. But just like the women before us, from the suffragettes, through to all of us who are working towards women’s liberation today, we won’t be silenced, we won’t be shut down, we will keep taking a stand, even in the weariness of ‘are we still really protesting this crap’. And we will place the onus on men in general, men in power and the government, They know how they benefit from this culture. There’s no more playing innocent or holding up your hands and saying not me and going home to watch the latest Hollywood degradation and sexual objectification and vilification of women. As Betty Taylor said yesterday at the Wicked Pickets rally, it’s time to stick your necks out.

Aswas Photography

Aswas Photography

It’s been ten years since Andrea Dworkin died, and her work is as vital as ever. On addressing a men’s conference and asking them to work against rape, she said;

“I don’t believe rape is inevitable or natural. If I did, I would have no reason to be here. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is. Have you ever wondered why we [women] are not just in armed combat against you? It’s not because theres a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.”

Robert Jenson wrote that;

“Dworkin wanted to help men claim our humanity, not just for our sake but because she wanted to stop men’s violence against women… she challenged men to take that responsibility:

Dworkins continued in the same speech, saying;

“[Women] do not want to do the work of helping you to believe in your humanity. We cannot do it anymore. We have always tried. We have been repaid with systematic exploitation and systematic abuse. You are going to have to do this yourselves from now on and you know it.”

There are no safe spaces for women from male violence and sexual entitlement in this country; not at home, not at work, not in parks, not walking our dog along a street path. There are no safe spaces for women even when we are not alone, If men want to attack, rape or kill women – being chaperoned doesn’t protect us. There are no safe spaces for women anywhere when media is everywhere, as Julie Bindel states;

“Women walk around seeing images that tell them they are lesser than men on a regular basis. What is a safe-space for women? Our own bedroom with the door locked?” 

Men it is up to you. All of you. All of your everyday actions and words. All of your everyday entertainment.

Andrea Dworkin also asked this of men.

“What’s involved in doing something about all of this? The men’s movement seems to stay stuck on two points. The first is that men don’t really feel very good about themselves. How could you? The second is that men come to me or to other feminists and say: “What you’re saying about men isn’t true. It isn’t true of me. I don’t feel that way. I’m opposed to all of this.”  And I say: don’t tell me. Tell the pornographers. Tell the pimps. Tell the warmakers. Tell the rape apologists and the rape celebrationists and the pro-rape ideologues. Tell the novelists who think that rape is wonderful. Tell Larry Flynt. Tell Hugh Hefner. There’s no point in telling me. I’m only a woman. There’s nothing I can do about it. These men presume to speak for you.They are in the public arena saying that they represent you. If they don’t, then you had better let them know.

Then there is the private world of misogyny: what you know about each other; what you say in private life; the exploitation that you see in the private sphere; the relationships called love, based on exploitation. It’s not enough to find some traveling feminist on the road and go up to her and say: “Gee, I hate it.” Say it to your friends who are doing it. And there are streets out there on which you can say these things loud and dear, so as to affect the actual institutions that maintain these abuses. You don’t like pornography? I wish I could believe it’s true. I will believe it when I see you on the streets. I will believe it when I see an organized political opposition. I will believe it when pimps go out of business because there are no more male consumers. You want to organize men. You don’t have to search for issues. The issues are part of the fabric of your everyday lives.”

So I guess the question right now is this, who do you want to be as a man in this world?  Where do you want to stand? What do you want to stand for? And who do you want to stand with? – The everyday men of our culture who justify the exploitation of women as “just the way things are” and “just a bit of fun”, or “mother nature”. Are you going to stand with the men who say “hey not me” while partaking in a culture that exploits and degrades women. Are you that man?

Where do you stand? Who are you in regards to the mass exploitation and degradation, rape, assault and murder of women? what does your masculinity look like? What kind of a man do you want to be for the women in your life and the women, the female human beings of our world?

I know the men I would want to stand with if I were a man in this world, I would proudly and publicly be standing with the Robert Jensons, Jimmy Carters and Tom Meahers.

murdered women Australia

Many thanks to the Brisbane organizers and speakers:

Australia Against Male Violence Against Women Brisbane

Reclaim the Night Brisbane

Fight Like A Girl Brisbane

REAL for women – Lily Munroe

Questions For Us – Paula Orbea

Queensland Greens – Kirsten Lovejoy

Prostitution Survivor – Kat Pinder

Aswas Photography

Girls don’t cry wolf – Madison Douglas Music

Madison Douglas Music – Facebook and twitter

“Society breeds a mentality that girls lose their worth when they lose their virginities, yet hypocrites preach abstinence is key leaving sex ed to be taught by MTV Continue reading