Tag Archives: feminism

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips *Guaranteed* to Work

This has been doing the rounds in radfem blogging circles for some time, but for those of you with jobs. lives, etc.:

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

(ripped from Nine Deuce)

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Boris, keep your promise!

Funny the way politicans have a habit of mis-speaking before elections, isn’t it?

Take BoJo for example. Before he was elected Mayor of London in what could pessimistically be described as a laboratory for the nation after the next general election (it doesn’t need to happen, people! Vote Green!), he went on record as saying Ken Livingstone’s PR department was eating up far too much money from the public purse, and that if elected he would syphon off 20% of this amount to the woefully under-funded Rape Crisis Centres. For which budgetary breadcrumbs all feminists understandably rejoiced.

A year and a half later, the reality is that potential  and actual victims of rape who live in London have one solitary Rape Crisis Centre between them. Which, for the fact fans, is one small centre for 3.9 million people, and even the future of that centre is constantly in the balance. Yes that’s right, not even two Rape Crisis Centres to rub together, despite BoJo’s promise of £744,000 in extra funding. In our fair nation’s capital of all places.

All these good people are trying to do is get Boorish to keep his promise. You can support them by donating money, or checking out their YouTube video (which is worth it for the feminist eye/brain candy alone).

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Feminism and comedy: the good news

To take away the unpleasant yet inexplicably popular new Carr smell, here‘s a slice of good news: Channel 4 has commissioned an all-female sketch show, to air next month. Members of this troupe include the comedic luminary Josie Long, and other people who I haven’t heard of but am assuming are brilliant by association.

Thank you, Channel 4. This almost makes up for ten years of Big Brother.

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Feminism and comedy: the bad news

Right ladies, I won’t lie, the bad news is that Jimmy Carr has been opening his mouth near a microphone again. In this article in today’s Guardian he attempts a defense of one particular instance of his oh-so-dark, so-edgy-it’ll-cut-your-ears-like-a-hungover-barber, like-totally moronic ironic sense of humour. The joke which has rankled Middle Britain to its Daily Express-reading core (and believe me, such an offender would usually be awarded 5-star ally status) is about amputee soldiers making a good paralympics team, a punchline which apparently didn’t translate when some journalists rang the parents of the said soldiers and recited it down the phone. Funny, that. Carr’s defense essentially consists of ‘well I say plenty of other awful things and noone seems to mind’, and ‘I was trying to make people laugh’, the latter being a bit like the designer of the Titanic saying, ‘I was trying to build a ship.’

Carr does say plenty of other awful things, though. And now he’s been taken to task on offending the soldiers upholding his right to say them, the interviewer deigns to question him on another of his favourite jocular hot potatoes: rape. An example of his utter hilarity and rapier wit on this subject: ‘what’s the difference between football and rape? women don’t like football.’  Geddit? Geddit? Do you see what he did there? Yes that’s right – expose himself as a misogynist asshat! Not that the interviewer makes this intergalactic leap, though; he notes that because there are women in the queue for the after-show signing, no harm has been done. And Carr himself is even less troubled: ‘I do a lot of jokes about rape, but it’s not a discourse on rape. I do jokes for laughs.’  Call me a humourless hairy feminazi, but a joke that’s truly funny is one which could be recited by anyone with half a modicum of comic timing to an audience who want to laugh. Any joke where you have to hope a certain set of people aren’t in the room when it’s told is clearly based on somebody’s expense. Now ask yourself how many female comics would ever use that joke, either on stage, or even with friends. Now imagine Jimmy Carr doing that joke at a women’s refuge. Now imagine Jimmy Carr having a reverse-Midas problem whereby every microphone he ever touches melts into some sort of rancid liquid marshmallow and we’ll all be happy.

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Beautiful Star

Have you heard of Odetta? If you’re a fairweather folkster like me, chances are you probably haven’t. She was an American singer, actress, guitarist, songwriter, and a human rights activist, who had Carly Simon weak at the knees and Maya Angelou waxing cosmological. You’ve probably heard of some of the acts she influenced, though: Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, Janis Joplin… she is even indirectly responsible for the career of Bob Dylan, but don’t hold that against her.

Her music is joyful, playful, pissed-off, regretful, angry, and has the power to tie your bowels into knots. The folks at Wears The Trousers Magazine have had the good sense to organise a tribute album, Beautiful Star: The Songs of Odetta, featuring a selection of Odetta’s finest songs sung by a range of established indie artists (Marissa Nadler, Liz Durrett) and up-and-coming, hot-out-of-the-studio new talent (Haunted Stereo, Katey Brooks). Released on November 30th, all proceeds will go to women’s charities (The Fawcett Society and The Women’s Resource Centre), so there really is no excuse not to buy it. Needless to say this tribute to a great under-acknowledged female singer, organised by a feminist music magazine, whose proceeds are being donated to charities aimed at helping women, gets a big feminist thumbs up from EYS. Head on over to their Myspace page and pre-order yourself a good old slice of ear-nourishing feminist do-goodery. Sail away, ladies.

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Tweet Your Sherbert

We are proud to announce that Eat Your Sherbert now has its own Twitter page, so you can get updates on the latest posts as and when they happen (as opposed to the twice a week they are supposed to happen but often fail to materialise).

See you in the Tweetosphere!

To femininity and beyond…

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Every time you say ‘sex worker’, a fairy gets period pain.

The outcome of the Roman Polanski debacle showed us two of our more vomititious cultural mores:

1)  the law (specifically rape) is secondary to some indefinable and subjective notion of ‘art’;

2)   a) some celebrities are rape-excusing idiots;

b) the opinion of said celebrities makes the excusing of rape more valid than the legal obligations for it to be punished.

So we learn the power of celebrity, of selective justice, and the depressing fact that those who have platforms to be role models for young women are using such a privilege not to empower women by reminding them of their status as human beings, but instead to excuse forced sexual intercourse between an adult man and a drugged female minor as, y’know, ‘not rape rape‘. Whoopee.

I’m reheating the morning leftovers of this story not because it has lacked any media attention (though it didn’t receive the lambasting one would have hoped for), but in order to demonstrate how normalised we have become to rape culture, specifically when it comes to the rape of young girls by rich, powerful men. This wasn’t rape, some libertarians will imagine; this was the timeless erotic trope of a robustly nubile artist being hopelessly seduced by his Lolita. He just had to ignore the inconvenient bit where she said ‘no’ and drug her with Rohypnol first. Is it cynical to imagine that, had this been, say, a bishop and a young boy, the outcry would have taken quite a different turn, and that the flimsy exuses of ‘but he has suffered enough by having to live in Paris and make films’, or  ‘but he is a great artist’ (whatever that means), could then quite rightly go piss in the wind?

I bring up this story because the normalisation of rape culture matters. There isn’t a single female person who isn’t affected by it. If you’re lucky the worst you will get is the threat of violence from a pack of chest-beating sub-primates who have somehow comandeered a Vauxhall Nova and think it is their born privilege to slur vague sexual threats as they speed by with Daniel Beddingfield pounding out of their sub-woofers. If you have a little less luck than average, you’ll be asked or coerced by your partner into performing sexual acts in the same manner as people who are paid to pretend they are enjoying sex. If you’re pretty damn unlucky, you will be forced into sexual intercourse against your will by someone who thinks they are somehow entitled to your body.

At the very worst, you will have to endure the hellish, soul-destroying, downright dangerous ordeal of repeated industrial rape which is the reality of most prostituted women.

Besides being often the people in society who are the most marginalized and the most oppressed by poverty, drug dependence, mental illness, and other positions of social disempowerment, prostituted women are the people who pay the real price of rape culture. They are the ones on whose bodies the whole sick fantasy is acted out again and again, in ways too brutal for any of us who are lucky enough not to have resorted to prostitution can imagine. They face misogyny, violence, and hatred every day they work, and know that they will face the same again tomorrow, assuming, that is, that they’re not killed or don’t kill themselves first. It’s enough to make the lairy sexist boy racers suddenly seem like Stephen flipping Fry.

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to catch a talk by Rebecca Mott and others, who were sharing their experiences of prostitution. Anyone who thinks that prostition is a free choice, can be empowering, or just needs unionising to make it all alright, should read Rebecca’s blog and get the truth first hand. Then they should pass it on to the next misguided liberal intellectual type who, like, totally supports women’s rights to be sex objects, and then reel them back into planet Earth too. As Denise Marshall, Chief Executive of Eaves Housing for Women and speaker on the panel, pointed out: ‘prostitution can be considered a valid career choice the day it turns up on the careers list at Cheltenham Ladies’ College.’  Which, for any readers unfamiliar with the specific bastions of British privilege, will be when hell freezes over.

There is an avalanche of bullshit from both the right and the left on the issue of prostitution, to navigate through which would require one to have more free time than the whole staff of the Gary Glitter fanline. The cultural assumptions propping up the whole sorry affair are that women’s bodies are a commodity which can be bought and sold, and that men have some kind of fundamental right to sex which women, as members of the sex class, do not possess (translated: if a man is too odious to succeed in getting laid, he can expect the ‘right’ to go out and pay for sex; if a woman is too odious to succeed in getting laid, she can go buy a vibrator and…er, that’s it. Not bother, exploit, or pay to rape anyone.) We need to strip society of the illusion that the ‘right’ to sex – and the ‘right’ to buy it – are somehow fundamental. In short, we need to get the men who would use prostitited women wanking back into their socks.

When we as a society excuse rapists like Polanski, or anyone else who violates another human being against their will, we are actively enabling rape culture and denouncing the seriousness – and indeed the criminality – of the act (and with conviction rates already lower than a snake with vertigo, that is hardly a state to be desired). We are also allowing the privilege of our indifference to be paid for by every prostituted woman who has to face the real, painful, bodily consequences of  a social system which tells her she is no better than property, with no agency of her own. Anyone who thinks that the exchange of coins either provides full agency, or proves that the women enter this trade fair and square, would do well to spend a night in Soho talking to the 9 out of 10 prostituted women who can prove otherwise, or to their pimps.

All of which is roughly why so-called ‘liberal’ newspapers like the Guardian who use the term ‘sex work’ and ‘sex workers’  in a bid to show how edgily cool and accepting they are can sit and swivel. ‘Sex work’ is to ‘prostitution’ what ‘collateral damage’ is to ‘dead citizens’; a contrivedly neutral reconfiguration of a term, which has been sanitised to protect the interests of a party who you can bet is someone other than its referee. Without pornification and rape culture to keep women in the habit of being viewed as sex objects and not fully valid human beings, the workforce for prostitution would haemhorrage away, and so, in an ideal world, would its clientele. It’s time we listened to the experiences of people who have endured the daily abuses of prostitution and declare finally that enough is enough. To those who argue that men will and should always objectify women, on account of being from Mars and having ten heads, I offer the humble suggestion that they go and perform some ‘hand work’ in a sock.

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