28 October, 2009

A glut of links

Being an excitable wee femi, I've got some links for everyone - some of which I've put on the links bar over there, and some interesting articles.

First up, Hollaback UK, inspired by Hollaback NYC, which aims to fight back against catcallers and street harassment of women and LBGTQ people by sharing stories - and posting mobile phone pictures of the idiots who think sexual harassment is an acceptable form of social interaction.

Then The Women's Resource Centre, which apart from anything has a massive list of local and national women's groups, campaigns, aid groups and charities. And their twitter feed - @whywomen - is brilliant too.

Talking of twitter, are you following @Feminazery? That's us. We like you.

Eaves' Nothing Personal Campaign. Actually, any of Eaves' projects are excellent, from their Weekly News newsletter to their work with victims of domestic violence.

And an interesting CiF article entitled "Climate change is a feminist issue". Just don't read the comments. It suffers from the usual CiF issue of being vague but inflammatory, so can be read any way you damn well please, but the intention behind it is good - the need for all women in all countries and cultures to have safe access to contraception (and sex education) which is accepted by the men they have sex with, in order to choose how many children they have. Although it does also raise interesting notions of cultural imperialism and the need to find a way to not limit other countries' industrial (and therefore polluting) development without being massively hypocritical, as well as the need to encourage people to limit their own pollution (although I would argue that, as long as we have Trafigura and other global businesses not doing much, my energy-saving lightbulbs and recycling bin are going to do diddly squat).

23 October, 2009

No amount of bias can damage the BNP as much as Nick Griffin did.

I don't think this needs any real introduction: Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time has made front page news and even our friends over at the Stun are foregoing their usual Jordan-based headline to squeeze Jolly Saint Nick in.
Somewhat predictably, the far right backlash has started to kick in, attempting to make a martyr of hapless Mr Griffin. Let's look at their primary argument:

"Nick Griffin was victimised, not allowed to speak. The whole show was a Lefty set up"

Interesting accusation. Having applied to be in the audience, and having recieved a response from the BBC telling me they were rejecting my application on the basis of wanting a fair representation of pro/anti BNP politics in the audience (coupled with the occasional cheers for Nick Griffin heard on the show) I think it's fairly evident that the audience was not a hostile block of Guardian-reading lefty "knit your own yoghurt" types. Plenty of the aforementioned type in the audience, yes, but not the complete lefty whitewash theorised by Griffin's supporters. Griffin was offered several opportunities to speak, asked for his opinions on various matters along with the rest of the panel.
It's not the fault of the "Guardianistas" that whenever he did open his mouth a gust of nonsense escaped. It's not the fault of the 'liberals' that Nick Griffin spent more time laughing, trembling and grinning inanely than actually defend his policies and viewpoints. How can this man profess to aspire to becoming a 'mainstream' party if he can't cope with opposition? Did he expect people not to fiercely contest his divisive policies, his slapdash summary of Islam, his dressing up racism as 'immigration policy'? Really? Honestly?

The same people deriding the BBC and audience for "victimising" Mr Griffin are lapping up the same treatment of Jack Straw. Dimbleby's protestations that Straw answer the question, that he was evading the issue, were no more or less vehement than his protestations at Mr Griffin's constant refusal to properly answer any question posed to him. The same people railing at the audience for deriding and mocking Griffin are cheering at the same treatment afforded to Jack Straw. Hypocritical much?
That the audience responded by jeering was testament to Griffin's lack of coherence and the glaring idiocy of what he eventually did say. That they responded with personal remarks shows just how close to the bone the BNP's hateful policies cut. People with non-white friends and family, people with black parents or Asian partners or gay children - these are the people who hate the BNP. It's not a leftist conspiracy, it's the reasonable anger of those excluded, derided and hurt by Griffin's politics. Personal responses are entirely justified, in my opinion, by policies and statements which base themselves around the personal beliefs of the knuckle-dragging far right trolls the BNP call their support. If suggesting that gay men ought not kiss in public because it's 'creepy' isn't personal, then what is...?

When asked about his previous denial of the holocaust, Griffin replied 'I can't explain why I used to say those things. I cannot tell you any more than I can tell you why I changed my mind. I can't tell you the extent I changed my mind.' On homosexuality Griffin revealed himself both to be hideously intolerant and more than a little bit childish - "A lot of people find the sight of two grown men kissing in public very creepy" - before going on to slam "militant" homosexuals teaching kids about homosexuality (Invading a primary school near you!) It's astonishingly ill-thought out comments such as these that made Nick Griffin a laughing stock, not an 'orchestrated campaign'. The idea that Griffin was victimised by people who wanted to foster prejudice is hilariously ironic in the face of Griffin's own politics, which uses fear and misinformation to attack the "other", who talks of the evil in the Koran without stopping to consider the evil in the Christian Bible (how about this lovely quote about unbelievers?
"Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people." (Deuteronomy 13:8-9)"

Or about women?

"If however the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death..." (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)"

The point being, of course, that it is deeply ironic and misguided for this man to claim Islam to be a hateful religion based on his apparently cursory understanding of the Koran when clearly he is not aware that his own religious book preaches the same morals. And yet here he is, lambasting Islam and Sharia law without comprehending that the religion he wishes to base his society on is equally capable of throwing forth hateful, bigoted statements. Pot, kettle, indigenous.

The fact remains - and it is a fact - that the BNP are a party whose policies are not based in politics at all, but rather social commentary. A lot is being made of the manner in which Griffin was treated and yes, even I believe there could have been a little more decorum. But don't be fooled. Under the anger and the sniping it was clear that Griffin is an ineffectual racist. No amount of orchestrating from the left could have incriminated him more than he incriminated himself. What we saw, underneath the furore, was a man with a frail grasp of his own ideologies - unable to explain exactly what he meant by 'indigenous' (which is a farcial concept in itself given Britain's history of invasion and occupation spanning centuries) and ineffective in the face of criticism. He was unable to answer, when asked directly by an audience member, a key question regarding his wish to return Britain to it's 'great white roots' asked by a British Asian (of the type the BNP refutes the existence of) He repeated "I was misquoted" like a mantra despite Youtube providing primary evidence to the contrary. He was like a school bully with his pants pulled down.

It's shame the Question Time audience and panel didn't quiz Griffin on his party's policies beyond the issue of immigration and race. For seasoned BNP watchers like myself, the show just confirmed what we already knew - that Griffin is a parody of xenophobic hysteria, a one trick pony filled with hot air and soundbites and very little else. For the average viewer, tuning in out of curiosity or hoping to learn something, it was a massacre. A deserved massacre, and one which showed beyond doubt that the BNP have some truly abhorrent beliefs. But to question him about the economy, about education, about crime - these questions would have shone a torch upon the gaping hole in the BNP's manifesto. They don't have any ideas. They don't have any plans - beyond kicking out the forruns, they haven't actually thought of what to do with the country. The emperor may think otherwise, but he's definitely not wearing any clothes.

The BNP's popularity - and let's not forget that "popularity" is a very relative term - can be attributed solely to their occupation of a gap in British politics. They exploit the disenfranchisement of the working class (believe me, I am working class myself) by pretending that their problems are caused by brown people rather than the rich middle-class white man (of which Nick Griffin can count himself a member) and exploit the discontent of the middle classes, angry at the sharing of their previously exclusive privileges by telling them that when the country is emptied, they can go back to enjoying their perks. There are issues not being addressed by any of the major parties (not even you, Baroness Warsi, covering your rampant batshit homophobia under the guise of "not being quite as bad as Nick Griffin") but to believe that the BNP will address them with workable policies ("Pull up the drawbridge, shut the doors and kick out the wogs" is not a workable policy) is to be suckered in by Nick Griffin's snake oil patter. If Question Time showed us anything, it's that the BNP can't truly be considered a viable alternative, no matter what the failings of the Big Three might be.

16 October, 2009

We are taking part in an orchestrated internet campaign to say "Jan Moir, you're a twunt"

It has taken me several attempts to write this. My first attempt looked like this:
dsfgsdfgdsafgiojhgRoiv['hnWS' IOFJNADF'IL VJNADJ' FJC'WO
accompanied by incoherent shouting, rapid twittering, and frothing at the mouth. After a few hours of calming meditation, crocheting some oatmeal, twittering, and listening to Women's Hour, I managed this:
Jan Moir is a vile, homophobic, horrid waste of perfectly good oxygen.
That's as far as I got before the frothing started again. But you've probably figured out what I'm on about. That Jan Moir article published today, previously entitled "Why there was nothing 'natural' about Stephen Gately's death" (the title has since been changed).

Moir, as far as anyone can tell, is blaming Gately's death on his "gay lifestyle" (if anyone can come up with a description of this that doesn't involved luriddigs.com, you know where the comment box is). Not, you know, his undiagnosed congentital heart condition - which, as Charlie Brooker pointed out, 12 young people die of every week, irrespective of their sexuality.

She links Gately's death to that of Kevin McGee (who had previously been married to Matt Lucas). As far as anyone with even a pinch of rationality can tell, the only thing connecting the two young men was their sexuality, and that Gately was married, and McGee had been. Somehow, in Moir's mind, this means they died of Teh Gay Marriage Disease. Nevermind all those people who die, from various causes, who are straight and married.

I'm not going to witter on about though. Anton Vowel, over at Enemies of Reason, has put it much better than I could. As has Charlie Brooker at The Guardian. There's plenty going on at twitter under the #janmoir hashtag.

Moir has since released a statement. It doesn't say much, other than a complete lack of apology, and Moir claiming a "heavily orchestrated internet campaign" (spearheaded by Teh Ebil Gays, no doubt) has resulted in people reading her article and not being overly impressed about her homophobia. She still doesn't admit that Gately's autopsy revealed a heart condition - instead insisting that going clubbing until the early hours, smoking weed and having sex was the cause of his death (in which case, I'm surprised there is anyone aged 14 upwards left alive to read this). She doesn't say much of anything really, except "no, no, you didn't read it - I like gay people but they're a bad influence on young people and would you please pass me that big shovel there as this hole I'm making isn't quite big enough yet."

I'm so looking forward to what happens tomorrow. And whether Moir gets her adverts back.

05 October, 2009

Redrawing the battlelines: I am not childless, you are not a mother. We are women.

To the naked eye, this article might almost look like it has the makings of a feminist piece on discrimination against child-free women. Almost:


A few years ago I was pleased to see articles like this pop up; after all it was rare to have someone defend the position of the child-free by choice against the barrage of both subtle and direct accusations that choosing not to procreate made you a failure as a woman.

Indeed, this article was warmly received in some femi-circles I move in. But over the years I have realised: it's a trick. A dirty rotten trick.

First of all, this article isn't for child-free women, it's against them. See the way they repeat the accusation over and over, and put it in bold in the headline that child-free women are selfish? Fair enough, this woman says a friend called her it once, but I'm not sure that justifies the emphasis the article puts on it, which is increasingly suspicious when you realise that "selfish" is the Fail's very own favourite accusation to level at women who choose not to have children.

Second of all, if this were a book it would flop, because the protagonist is so inherently unlikeable. She's unbearably smug: not having children means she and her husband can go five on luxury holidays a year. And for the author of what momentarily sounded like a semi-feminist statement, she's the perfect embodiment of the Fail's sexist attitude towards women and mothers: by not having children she is able to devote every free moment to pampering her husband; it wouldn't be fair of her to have children because her having a career would mean she would be neglecting them (wherever have we heard that before?). I'm seriously starting to think this woman may be a plant.

But more than all that, this article does women, child-free or not, no favours, for two reasons. One, it's clearly designed to set women against each other. Look at the comments (a depressing 500+ of them), an equal split of "Who's going to look after you when you're old? You'll be in a home paid for by MY child's taxes!" and "Who's going to pay for your kid's education? MY taxes!". It's classic divide and conquer; we can't fight sexism if we're too busy fighting each other. Two, drawing such distinction between mothers and the child-free only serves to encourage women to define themselves by their reproductive status, which re-enforces the belief that a woman's sole purpose in life is to procreate, and once she has done that her contribution and usefulness to the world is over (hence the blatent discrimination of post-menopausal women by just about everybody). Well, that's simply not true. All of us, whether we choose to have children or not, have more to offer the world than our uterus. We are not just mothers, or the childless of child-free or whichever label you choose to use. We are more than that. We are women.

02 October, 2009

The Polanski Debate - Some Corrections and Responses

Since I seem to be unable to comment on Slummy Mummy's blog, I'm writing this quick note of my own to address some of the confusion in the comments after.

Number one - it has NOT been proven in court that the sex was consensual. Polanski was convicted of unlawful sex with a minor - aside from the fact that this is a crime because a minor cannot legally consent - they did not rule on whether the girl consented, only that sex occured.

Number two - Polanski was originally charged with rape, sodomy, providing intoxicating substances to a minor and a few others I don't recall right now. The reason he was only convicted of unlawful sex with a minor was because the victim could not face the trauma of facing her attacker at trial, hence he was offered a soft plea bargain he would be foolish to turn down, on the grounds it was better to get him on *something* rather than let him walk. He has NOT (and I'd double underline that if I could) been cleared in court of rape or any of the other charges, because he has NOT faced trial for them. Since he pleaded guilty there was never a full trial, only a plea hearing and a scheduled sentencing hearing, which, I'm sure you'll recall, he didn't attend because he was too busy absconding from justice.

Number three - I'm frankly apalled that anyone is questioning the issue of consent, in the face of the evidence heard at interview and in the face of common sense. She was 13 for crying out loud. When I was 13 I wanted my parents to take me to see Boyzone, and to get my ears pierced. I didn't want to have anal sex with an ugly 44-year-old midget. Now obviously, I'm not the victim here, but I do think the taste of 13-year-old girls worldwide is fairly universal. And anyway that's all academic, because she was 13 and couldn't bloody consent by law!

Numer four - expand your mind with some research - Polanski has admitted in interviews to what he did. He's just too much of a coward to accept his punishment.

But why let any of that get in the way of a spot of victim blaming, which our rape apologist friend obviously likes to indulge in, eh?

01 October, 2009

Because stopping women getting cancer is wrong - according to the Fail (sometimes).

Pop along to the Fail's website, and there's an almost daily stream of articles on the evils of the cervical cancer vaccine.

Apparently it will encourage promiscuity and bring numerous health problems.

Now, sadly, a fourteen year old girl has died. Unsurprisingly, the Mail were quick to blame her death on the cancer jab she'd had two hours before - either "an extreme reaction", or a dose from a "rogue contaminated batch".

Neither of these turned out to be the case, and it turns out that Natalie had a tumour in her heart and lungs. Her death shortly after receiving the jab was just an unfortunate coincidence, but one the Daily Mail were all-too-happy to blame on Cervarix.

Out of one million girls, 4,657 have reported side effects "including sore arms, dizziness and swelling". I, and many of my friends, had these after being given a meningitis jab at the age of 11/12, yet the Daily Mail seem to have no qualms about children being immunised against meningitis.

The Daily Mail's major concern seems to be these fears of "promiscuity". The argument that a vaccine will prompt a nation of 13-year-old girls to go out and have sex is just astounding. Despite what the Mail seem to think, teenage girls aren't all complete idiots. Yes, some do get pregnant. But the vast majority of 13-19 year old girls DON'T. Having a cancer vaccine isn't going to change these facts.

Their stance against the jab is even more shocking when you consider their constant coverage of the death of Jade Goody. This woman's painful and traumatic death was front page news for months. I do not want to go through that. I don't want anybody to go through that. I'm amazed that some parents are still denying their daughters the innoculation, when we've seen first hand what cervical cancer can do to a young woman.

But what's this?

"The Irish Daily Mail launched a campaign in November calling on the Government to reverse its decision to axe the cervical cancer vaccination programme...The Irish Daily Mail will not relent and will continue to urge the roll out of the vaccine"

Words actually fail me. I didn't think even the Fail could be quite THIS hypocritical.