itisiwhowillit

unadulterated ranting, it's cathartic.

Sam Gaus, The Inanimate Carbon Rod, and the gender politics of NUS.

I’m disgusted with the witch-hunt that has taken place against NUS Presidential Candidate Sam Gaus, or, as he’s more commonly known, the ‘Inanimate Carbon Rod’. There have been a number of accusations thrown at ICR, most of which I don’t think hold water.

1- It’s a phallic symbol. Yes, yes it is, I guess. Is this really the level of analysis that we’re involved in, though? Oh, it’s called a ‘rod’ so it’s about willy-waving. Except, no. It just reminds me of the fact that my flatmate’s mother wouldn’t let them have Christmas trees when they were younger because such objects are apparently phallic symbols. It’s ridiculous.

2- He’s intentionally running against two strong women. No, he’s not. Back in November, after the pathetic national demo where Liam Burns valiantly took us to South London for the glorious revolution, I had a conversation with Sam. That day had been the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of our politics. We could no longer tolerate The NUS. We felt it could not be saved, and must be delegitimised as much as possible. We decided a troll slate would be a great idea. At the time, I thought (and I think Sam did too), that Michael Chessum was going to run. Michael is a close friend and political ally to both of us, but that was irrelevant. This has got nothing to do with the candidates, and everything to do with NUS’s structures and political usefulness.

Also, there’s another man running in this election- why are we not talking about that? I feel quite safe in the assumption that it is because his presence does not challenge the orthodoxy of thought in The NUS.

Personally, I want Sam to win. I believe that student unions should disaffiliate from NUS en-masse and establish an alternative, more radical, more democratic union. I want NCAFC to be the basis of this radical new union. I do not think Sam will win, and I think his running serves to seriously delegitimise NUS, which is our primary aim. I guess, then, that if I had a vote, I would second-preference for Vicki Baars, who, over the years, has proven herself as a competent and principled activist. Running against women does not equate to sexism, and I find that accusation particularly sour considering the person running against myself and Rachel Wenstone is an SWP member, Central Committee loyalist and rape apologist. Perhaps we’re not strong women. Perhaps because we’re not running for President we are less important. Perhaps it is not in the right-wing tendency of NUS’s interests to slam Tomas as it is Sam. I’m inclined to say it is the latter two that are the issue.

3- Lots of women have put time, energy and resources into NUS. To mud-sling at it so much disrespects the hard work of those women. I just can not agree with this. Many women before me have shaped the world in which I live. There are many liberties that I take for granted that are the result of their hard work. But, I think, we can never move toward our liberation unless we poke holes in the movements they were part of. Without first and second wave feminism, it’s pretty certain I wouldn’t be writing this blog-post right now. I wouldn’t be standing in this election. I wouldn’t be at University to do so. Without third-wave feminism, my understanding of feminism would probably be white-supremacist and transphobic. I probably would not hold the anarchist politics that I do hold.

Yet, as amazing as these movements were, they had serious issues. The mainstream of the suffrage movement was dominated by wealthy white women (even more so than it is today). Second-wave feminism was lifestylist, sexually repressive and gender essentialist. Third-wave feminism has been known to engage in ableism, and, as is often the case with DIY communities, is again riddled with lifestylism. Contemporary mainstream feminism is not intersectional. We have to criticise even the most liberatory of movements in order to seek any useful insight.

This is why I, despite being a disabled, working-class woman, and so, I think, having a fairly serious understanding of liberation (but by no means without my privilege), think it is important to destroy NUS. I think that NUS structures breed kyriarchy in fact- I think they rely on it. I wish to see a genuinely democratic student movement, where decisions are made on a local basis, where mandates are concrete, where ordinary members are directly involved. I want the student movement to be a revolutionary force, not a step in people’s career-ladder. Getting to this place is of paramount importance to me- even if white men like Sam are helping to get us there.

Joke candidacy undermines the serious women running. I guess we need to redefine what we mean by ‘joke’. Sam’s campaign is tongue in cheek, but it is not a joke. The ideas he holds, and advocates in his candidacy are concrete political ideas. Sam is an anarchist. Sam, like I do, wants the NUS to cease to exist. He wants a revolutionary student movement. He feels, like I do, that whilst NUS is inert, but undeniably powerful, this is difficult to attain.

I sincerely hope that people on all parts of the spectrum take this post seriously. I think the most important thing for us to do right now is explicitly say that we do not support the SWP candidates in this election. We have to make it extremely clear that those who oppress women absolutely are not welcome in the NUS. I don’t think it is legitimate to accuse Sam of this.

Secondly, I hope we can work towards abolishing the NUS. I hope that it is evident that my candidacy is not serious. I do not want to win- I do not want to assimilate into NUS’s bureaucracy. I want us, together, to fight for a genuinely revolutionary student force- the likes of which we see in Chile and Quebec.

I believe, as Tomas (insincerely) says, that education is important to liberation. We all have the right to information. We all deserve an education. We all deserve to develop our ideas, fulfill our inquisitive side and contribute to society, not as capital dictates, but as the needs of our community dictate. I believe that the only way that we can make this happen is by achieving free education. I believe that the only way we can achieve free education is by establishing a new, radical, syndicalist union.

I urge you to vote Sam Gaus #1, Vicki Baars #2 and RON #3.

Roosh V is your comrade

Trigger warning for discussion of abuse, rape, gaslighting, mental illness.

Unless you have been living in a literal cave, you’ll be aware of pick up artist Roosh V’s global ‘tribal’ meetings, the subsequent protesting of these meetings, and their ‘cancellation’.

I don’t want to talk about Roosh V, instead I want to talk about your comrade, who has a lot more in common with Roosh V than you might know, hope, or acknowledge. I want to talk about how Roosh’s behaviours and tactics are not unique to those to our ideological right, and why if you won’t treat your Roosh V like comrade like Roosh V, I don’t want your solidarity.

 

1: Rapists aren’t just right-wing.

Rapists and abusers exist in all political groupings, across all sections of the political spectrum. Rapists can be left-wing. Rapists can be communists. Rapists can be anarchists. Rapists can be feminists. (I mean, they can’t actually, but they can espouse these politics and exist in these groups). And this doesn’t just mean a tokenistic nod to the SWP, the SSP, the RMT, or any other high-profile case that takes your fancy. This means your local anti-cuts group, your feminist society, or your trade union branch; the complacency that comes with the ‘at least we’re not as bad as the SWP!’ allows sexual violence to breed uninhibited.

2: Pick up artist tactics aren’t just used by pick-up artists.

As much as Roosh V might like the think he invented manipulating women into having sex with them, he didn’t; the tactics of negging, gaslighting, emotional manipulation, trust-gaining and isolation are all used by leftists. They’re not always used to coerce people into sex, sometimes these tactics can be used to establish group loyalty, to cover up stories about groups, to make people do labour they don’t want to do, and to join groups in the first place. But they are also used to force romantic and sexual relationships, usually between older male activists and younger, newer women, and that’s fucked up. I am not the only left-wing woman who has experienced these tactics, and I know these incidents are not isolated.

3: Roosh V provides the perfect cover-story.

Allowing yourself to be seen opposing someone like Roosh V allows you to be seen opposing rape culture, sexual violence, manipulation, and rape apology. It allows people who are otherwise silent in their support of survivors to opportunistically gain pro-survivor feminist points. More dangerously, it allows abusers themselves to gain credibility as someone opposed to sexual violence, and it allows them to gain trust.

4: No space for rapists.

The left seems to have been pretty united in its desire to no-platform Roosh V, and to limit his access to physical and political space. So much so, that people are even supporting him being banned from the country, or beaten up for entering a city. So why, when survivors ask much less of the people who have *directly physically, emotionally, sexually or financially abused them, personally, literally*, are leftists unwilling to comply? Why will we provide physical and political space to an abusive person just because otherwise they say “rent is too high!” and “workers deserve rights!”?

5: Roosh V doesn’t share our language.

But lefty abusers do, and they know how to weaponise it. The best defence that Roosh V has is that ‘it’s satire’, which anyone with even 3% of a working brain knows is bollocks. Lefty abusers, however, have a whole arsenal of radical language to undermine survivors, highlight their innocence, or their desire to change. Lefty abusers can weaponise mental illness; they can weaponise their own mental illness in order to evade culpability, or they can weaponise the mental illness of a survivor in order to obscure facts, gaslight survivors into changing their story, or discredit survivors as reliable sources. Lefty abusers can weaponise frameworks of accountability and reform, often pitting the two as oppositional. How can accountability help someone change because accountability just means being mean and people are never going to change if you’re just mean to them, after all! Lefty abusers can weaponise the language of carceral feminism and bourgeois justice, because safer spaces and social exclusion replicate state systems and borders, so you can’t use those! But also the police and courts are bourgeois and anti-communist, so you can’t use those either! All in all, this means that Roosh V can remain a ‘Bad Person’ whilst your abusive comrade is clearly a ‘Good Person’.

6: They both weaponise sexual liberation.
The idea that women nowadays just have sex with everyone is a staple of rape culture. If women are so ‘easy’, then raping them is pretty difficult, because they always want it. This weaponises sexual liberation against us, and just because your comrade doesn’t openly call women ‘worthless whores’ who are ‘easy’ because they have no ‘self-respect’, doesn’t mean that’s not what they think. Relating to the previous point, your comrade is just probably clued up enough to use the language of sexual liberation as code for ‘easy’. Sometimes, lefty men will portray this as a positive thing, imagine your manarchist bro talking about how much he loves how liberated you are, how free you are. Sometimes, lefty men will portray this as a negative thing, see: SWP disputes committee questioning Comrade Delta’s survivor’s story on the basis of her sexual history. Culturally, the left is a hyper-sexual place, with little space for asexual people, survivors, sex workers etc to talk about sex, sexual liberation and feminism, and whilst this is the case, sexual liberation frameworks will always be used to silence survivors.

 

Roosh V is minimally different from your abusive comrades. It is only through your own misogyny and lack of respect for left-wing women and survivors that you will see Roosh V as a threat, but not That Person in your anti-cuts group that you keep hearing things about. If you are willing to no-platform Roosh V, why won’t you tell your mate he can’t come to meetings any more? If you’re willing to sign a petition leveraging border controls against a man, why won’t you support that woman going to the cops? If you’re willing to organise, attend, or boost a protest/rally/picket against Roosh V, but remain silent when survivors need less glamorous support, why? And just because you see someone say Roosh V is bad and rape culture is bad doesn’t mean they’re not an abuser or apologist themselves. Unless you’re willing to treat every accusation as seriously as you treat those against Roosh V, you’re not my comrade and I don’t want your solidarity.

 

If you learned or benefited from this blog, please consider donating to me because I am a broke as fuck, crazy-ass survivor, and whilst I’m writing this, some dude is probably getting paid by Vice to write something shitter. My paypal is s1020828@sms.ed.ac.uk

 

#DropYourShittyFriend

Drop your shitty friend. Right now. Just, drop them.

Or don’t. But a consequence of not doing so that you have to accept is that other friends might drop you for your shitty friend. Or maybe even see you as a shitty friend.

There are a number of reasons why you won’t, or can’t, drop a shitty friend. Loads are legit. If someone cares for you, it’s kinda hard to drop that. If you’re in a relationship with someone, it’s kinda hard to drop that too. If you’re unwell and not able to take that responsibility, yeah- legit. But we can also respond to these reasons however we see fit: we can be totally cool with it and ne’er another word spoken, we can take a step back, we can promise to talk about it at some point in the future, and we can also say Goodbye. Those goodbyes can be reluctant or enthusiastic, and they can be mournful or a relief, but you have to be okay with them regardless.

These are reasonable boundaries to establish, particularly if your friend’s shitty friend induces in you some kind of trauma, or actively (and maybe even intentionally) oppresses you. If your friend is a rape apologist, and another friend says ‘hey, they’re a fucking rape apologist, why are you their pal?’ you listen to that. You don’t throw that out by saying ‘they’re a good activist’ or ‘they helped me through a rough time’. Both of those things might be true, but in saying them, you’re still ignoring what you’re being told. You’re excusing shitty behaviour with unrelated information. If I had a quid for every time a rape apologist had been excused on such grounds? I’d be one rich bitch.

If your friend is shitty and oppressive and you’re silent? That’s complicity. Obviously this can be muddied when you’re calling out people with power over you, but often this isn’t the case. You’re not obliged to be a 24/7 call-out machine, but when you’re constantly silent, we notice. Complicity is, by and large, driven by a desire to avoid confrontation.

And I get it, confrontation is hard. And if there were ever an olympics for burning bridges, I’d be a front-runner. I don’t expect anybody to be quite as forthcoming with the dropping of their shitty friends as I am, but you gotta at least pretend you care about your shitty friends’ shit.

And my top tip? If someone says they’re uncomfortable with your shitty friend, agree. Sympathise. Empathise. Don’t call them hysterical, or say they’re going too far. Certainly don’t write a thinly veiled rant about parties and kebabs on sidewalks or something (yeah, this thinly veiled rant is about your thinly veiled rant).

Stop making excuses for your shitty friend. Accept that they’re shitty, and call them on their shit. Why do you want shitty friends anyway?

Fuck B10, fuck their friends. Fuck NCAFC, fuck AWL, and fuck all the other rape apologists parading around, taking up space, and sucking our fucking lifeforce. You’re shitty. You friends with these people? Your friends are shitty. Deal with it. Drop these shitty friends.

Bodily autonomy: what it is and what it isn’t.

Apparently, bodily autonomy is a tricky concept to grasp. So I’ve gone to the liberty of providing a very brief and accessible account of what bodily autonomy really means.

What it is:

A political principle that says that people have the right to define and live their lives as they so choose. This principle allows us to do what we want with our bodies (providing that doesn’t restrict the rights of another person. Note: person. not foetus).

This includes:
Defining our own gender.

Defining our own sexuality.

Making our own economic choices.

Wearing what we feel happy and comfortable wearing.

Having as much or as little sex with as many or as few people as desired.

Entering and leaving spaces, real or virtual, whenever we desire.

What it isn’t:
A catchy slogan that looks good on abortion rights placard but loses all significance in any other discussion.

If you cry that a person has a ‘right to choose’ because of ‘bodily autonomy’ when talking about abortion rights, but then deny the queerness or transness of someone else, you do not believe in bodily autonomy. If you deny the economic realities of other people and the choices they make to get by, you do not believe in bodily autonomy. If you believe people should cover up or show a little more skin, you do not believe in bodily autonomy. If you deride someone as a slut or as frigid, you do not believe in bodily autonomy. If you demand interactions with people irrespective of their needs, you do not believe in bodily autonomy.

Over and out.

Jodie Marsh, Burkha Banning and No More Page 3

Jodie Marsh, ex glamour model, current world-famous weight-lifter and all around badass has long been a critic of No More Page 3, for obvious reason. It’s what kick-started her career.

This is why I’ve avidly followed her on twitter for a while: she is experienced, insightful, and often aware of the class dynamics of the campaign and page 3 more broadly. But one of her tweets struck a chord with me earlier, and it’s left me feeling somewhat despondent.

marsh

“The real oppression”. Because women here aren’t oppressed. We aren’t raped, beaten by our lovers, incarcerated and driven to harm and suicide, struggling to feed our children, grossly underpaid or turned away from abuse shelters or anything. No, real oppression only happen in places where women are at the mercy of brown men.

It also plays into another very racist, very damaging, and sadly very common ‘feminist’ stereotype that women who wear the burkha, (or indeed any Muslim dress- the nun’s habit or Orthodox Jewish woman’s wig never seem to make the cut) are brainwashed- either by abusive brown men, their government, or their religion. It’s just another way of telling women that they do not have agency.

But, wait, isn’t this what No More Page 3 say about models? They don’t know what’s good for them? They’re only there for the male gaze? They might think they made a choice but they didn’t really? They’re just brainwashed by patriarchy? It’s not their fault if these poor women think their only value comes from sexualisation, but we have to save them anyway…

We’ve found a rationale for our racism: feminism. And it’s not new. Bush used the liberation of women as justification for the war in Iraq. We continually see war justified because ‘saving Muslim women’ – even though, in reality, civilian women and their families just end up slaughtered.

We convince ourselves that Muslim dress is so disgusting it must be stopped at all costs- even if that is *actually* a ban. We are willing to give the state the power to control the clothing of women because we hate brown people just that much. Because the state doesn’t already control our lives: the benefits our children get, our access to abortions, the availability of shelters, the convictions of rapists.

There is no real and non-real oppression of women. We are all oppressed- but we are all also different. As white women we can not delude ourselves that we’re free and the brown woman isn’t because they are too weak, too stupid, or the brown man just too barbaric to fight. Our feminism has to resist racial and religious stereotyping.

Get your tits out, Wear your Burkha. Rock your favourite pair of jeans or sit in your jammies. I don’t care as long as you don’t.

Leaving an abuser and social exclusion.

Trigger warning: Abuse, rape (culture, apologism).

I’m not going to talk about what social exclusion is, or if it’s okay, or anything like that. This will literally just be advice on how to safely leave an abusive person behind, how to practice social exclusion, and how to ask others to respect your wishes.

1) So, someone’s been outed as an abuser. It seems somewhat in vogue right now to ask ‘what abuse?’ ‘what happened?’ or even as explicit as ‘how bad?’. In asking these questions, you’re becoming a gatekeeper. You are a) creating a hierarchy of abuse, that is not only total nonsense, but is hugely indicative of rape culture. The ‘worst’, and most cared about kinds of abuse are the visible ones. As a feminist, you are fucking obligated to combat these ideas; this means don’t re-label or re-categorise abuse. Don’t argue about semantics, don’t argue what is an isn’t abuse in a situation that doesn’t involve you. If you do this you are propping up rape culture and the patriarchal bullshit that tells us it’s only rape if it happens in an alley. Largely, this isn’t a conscious process, but this is the effect of what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter whether abuse is physical, emotional, financial or sexual. It doesn’t matter if it happened once, or for thirty years. If a survivor outs their abuser, they’ve outed their abuser. That’s all you need to know, and that’s all you need to care about.

2) Being asked to exclude. You do not respond by asking why, nor do you ask ‘but are they a threat to me?’. Neither of these questions are relevant. You are not entitled to a survivor’s story, no matter how much or little information you want. In terms of the second question: abuse isn’t about opportunity, it’s about power. Many abusers are repeat abusers- whether that be the same person, or different people. It’s standard behaviour, so don’t expect that your buddy is any different, they’re probably not.

Having been asked by a survivor to exclude an abuser does not mean that you seek the abuser’s side of the story. You do not negotiate and mediate behind a survivor’s back. Exclusion means exclusion, not pretending to exclude until people aren’t looking.

3) Asking for exclusion. This is difficult, social exclusion is still seen by many in radical, feminist and libertarian circles as authoritarian, unjust, and vindictive. Be sure of yourself that it is not. If an abuser is welcomed into a space, then those who have been abused at their hands, those who are aware of and fear their abuse are de facto excluded.

Talk to those close to you- seek out people you know who have been good about this before, whether that be in physical or virtual spaces. There will always be somebody who will listen and who cares- ‘formal’ collectives such as abuse shelters and the police are of course options, but they may not be the best option; especially if you are not white, cis and hetero. There are millions of wonderful people and resources on twitter, tumblr and facebook, and there are feminist collectives in practically every town and city. Remind yourself of this. You are not alone.

But remember: discussions of abuse, even of a third party’s abuse can be traumatic, if someone says they can’t talk- don’t push them, you don’t necessarily know a person’s history or their triggers.

4) When you can’t exclude. Sometimes, though we may want to be part of an exclusion process, we can’t be. An outed abuser may also be our abuser, they may be a carer, someone you live with, or excluding them may put you in danger for other reasons. This is okay, but try resolve it. If you’re the person asking for an exclusion process and someone tells you they can’t for x, y or z reason- try and understand. We all have to look out for our self-care and safety first. Note: this doesn’t mean you don’t enter a process of social exclusion because it’s ‘hard’ – of course it’s fucking hard. Someone’s previous nice behaviour, friendship, or ‘contribution to the cause’ is an excuse either.

5) If you are supporting a survivor, don’t expect them to share your opinions on a course of action. Don’t pressure a survivor into a course of action, and don’t dictate the situation.  Some people will be out for blood, and others want to forget it ever happened. All ways of dealing with abuse are legitimate.

6) Excluding people is hard. But it’s not as hard as dealing with a history of abuse and trying to reclaim your life, your friends and your spaces as a survivor. Don’t make these processes about you- they are not about you. Solidarity takes effort, because all revolutionary politics takes effort. Dismantling patriarchal structures takes effort. But the hard work is worth it, because in the end we will create spaces where oppressed voices matter, where abuse is not tolerated and where we all have each other’s backs.

A-Z of dealing with and recognising abuse.

Trigger warning: This post discusses abuse, violence, sexual predation, harassment, the police, rape culture and that kinda thing. This is also a fairly hetero-focused blog as the vast majority of my experiences with survivors, abuse and the subsequent processes have been in situations where the man is a perpetrator and the survivor is a woman and so it is what I am most comfortable writing about. Finally, I want to make clear I recognise that there are problems with the word survivor, and not all of those who have been abused identify as such. I’d also like to say that I did not write this blog alone but with the help of a selection of the world’s finest combabes I’m lucky enough to count amongst my friends.

A: Abuse.
It manifests itself in many different ways: abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, even financial. You don’t have to be black and blue to be in an abusive situation. We need to break down these tropes in order to really recognise and fight the many faces of abuse.

B: Believe the survivor.
If your first reaction to an accusation of abuse is disbelief, you’re doing it wrong. Less than one percent of rape allegations turn out to be false. Outing yourself as a survivor is incredibly difficult- your abuse is compounded with abuse. The entire world becomes the judge, jury and prosecution. You are constantly cross-examined. Whether you drink, how many people you fuck and how many shits you had this morning somehow become important. You are called a liar, a whore, a life-wrecker. This experience is not fun, and we do not do this for shits and giggles.

C: Character assassination.
This is a commonly used to discredit those who out abusers. Survivors of abuse are told that they are just out for vengeance, that they’re just trying to ruin the life of a respectable, good man. It’s character assassination, it’s defamation, and it’s only to be expected from manipulative harlots. Because that’s all that we are as women- tropes.

D: Divisive.
Following from character assassination, often those who raise instances of abuse are told they are dividing the movement. Destroying the credibility of sound activists for the sake of feminism. Which isn’t important. Because it’s not as if capitalism relies on gendered abuse and exploitation- it’s not as if the courts and the police are systematically against women. The ‘good’ work of an ‘activist’ does not render them incapable of abuse; in fact the converse is true. Popularity and reputation breed power, and power breeds abuse. It is those we most respect we need to watch most closely.

E: Evidence
Never, ever, ever demand evidence. Placing the burden of proof on a survivor makes it virtually impossible for them to instigate any kind of process: be that one of transformation, justice, or retribution. Further, in demanding evidence you are suggesting you know what constitutes evidence- is testimony of the abused not evidence enough? Do you want cavity inspections (excuse the hetero-ness of that)? CCTV footage? What the fuck is evidence and who the fuck are you to ask for it?

F: Forgiveness.
Abusers have no right to be forgiven. And survivors are under no obligation to forgive abusers. Often, seeking forgiveness can be a form of emotional manipulation and it’s important to recognise that.

G: Gaslighting.
Gaslighting is text-book abuse. Gaslighting means to manipulate someone into doubting themselves, their memories and their experiences. It is used to re-write abuse and escape accountability.

H: Handling a call-out.
Whether you have been accused of abuse, or whether it’s someone you know, you fucking deal with it. You are not the victim. If you are the abuser, you apologise (and don’t expect it to be accepted), and you acknowledge your wrong-doing and you follow any process demanded of you. You leave social spaces you are asked to leave. You do not contact people you are told not to contact. If someone you care for has been outed as an abuser, it can of course be depressing, but loyalty is not a virtue. 92% of survivors are raped by people close to them- lovers, friends, family members and colleagues- this means that people close to you are absolutely capable of abuse. Recognise that.

I: Intersectionality.
The abuse we’re taught to care about is the abuse of pretty, wealthy, white, cis-gendered women. Women of colour face a greater risk of domestic violence than their white counterparts. Being a trans woman means simply walking in the street is a danger. Disabled people are more likely to face domestic abuse, and often less able to protect themselves. Abuse does not just happen in hetero relationships, nor does it just happen in mono relationships, or even just relationships. An intersectional approach to abuse is vital. This is also not to say that those who are oppressed cannot be abusers, or that their oppression justifies abuse. I guess this is most commonly seen with disability, where disabled perpetrators are let off the hook, or are not expected to be held accountable because of their health. This is bullshit and it is ableism cloaked as progression- don’t buy it.

J: Justice.
Often survivors are told that they must seek to rehabilitate their abuser, or shut up. Firstly, rehabilitation comes in many different forms and nobody possesses a magic rehabilitation wand. Sometimes transformative processes really are the way forward- but they are not necessarily justice. If a survivor seeks a process of exclusion, of retribution, even of violence, it is not your place to judge them. Nobody said survivor-led processes are pretty, but they are necessary.

K: Keeping boundaries.
If you’re an abuser, respect the boundaries not only of the people you have abused but of those who no longer want to remain in contact with you. If you’re a friend of a survivor, respect their boundaries: don’t talk about their experiences publicly if they don’t want you to. Don’t name them or their perpetrator. This is their situation to deal with and whilst you might think you know what’s best, you aren’t the one that lives with the repercussions.

L: Leaving.
Whilst leaving an abusive partner might seem like the obvious thing to do, and, I’m sure anyone who speaks in hypotheticals would say ‘OF COURSE I’d leave my partner if they ever abused me’ that’s not actually how leaving abusive relationships works. Abuse is about power dynamics, and you don’t just walk away from someone who has power over you. They may have financial control, meaning leaving places you in destitution. You may have children and other loved ones an abuser will threaten to hurt should you leave. If an abused person does not leave ‘in-time’ they can be judged and disowned by the very people they need. Austerity means that shelters are turning women away by the thousands. Abusers can control all means of contact with others- your phone, the internet, and your mail. Asking for help is not always safe. If you know someone is being abused and they haven’t left the relationship, DO NOT FUCKING JUDGE THEM. As safely as you can, ask them what will help- do they need money? A place to stay? Childcare arrangements? Leaving an abuser is complex, don’t paint it as an easy decision, you’re not helping.

M: Men.
Abuse is gendered. Get over it. Men are overwhelmingly the abusers- not just of women, but of people of all genders: queer relationships are not free from abuse. As a man, you need to recognise that you have power- often financial, often physical, often social. As a man you need to be vigilant of all abusive behaviour and you need to respect women’s boundaries. If a girl says she’s not interested, don’t act like she’s playing some coy shit- you fuck off and leave her alone. If you’re a man, and people are talking about the gendered nature of abuse, DO NOT DERAIL. If the words ‘women abuse too’ or ‘not all men’ are in your vocabulary, you need to shut the fuck up and own your shit.

N: No excuses.
It doesn’t matter whether you drink. It doesn’t matter whether you take drugs. It doesn’t matter if you’re hetero. It doesn’t matter what you wear. It doesn’t matter if you’re married. It doesn’t matter if you’re poly. There is no excuse for abuse, there is no behaviour or back-story that can justify abuse. Don’t even go there- ever.

O: Organise.
If you know someone is an abuser, be pro-active about that. Obviously, the wishes of the abused come first, and you should never assume any kind of process is wanted. Talk to the survivor, offer them your unconditional support, and ask what you can do for them. How can you make them happier? How can you make them safer? Speak to people in your communities- make clear that abuse can not be tolerated. Ensure you have safer spaces policies that are rigorous and you abide by them. Do not defend an abuser or apologise for their actions. Take collective responsibility.

P: Police.
‘Why don’t you go to the police?’ Because the police don’t care. In England and Wales, over 85,000 women are raped each year. A further 400,000 are sexually assaulted. Globally, 1 in 3 women experience violence at the hands of a man. Yet just over 1000 people are prosecuted in the UK. Because ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is more important than safety and justice, the burden of proof is placed on the abused. This means that women who do go forward to the police are cross-examined, their story prodded for inaccuracies. They are subjected to dehumanising examinations- of bruises, of their genitals. They are swabbed and measured and dissected like a fucking frog. Usually, for nothing. Further, police are often perpetrators of violence. They rape and harass women in custody. They raid the workplaces of sexworkers and assault, threaten and manipulate them. And you expect us to go to the police?

Q: Questions. The only one you ever need to ask is ‘what can I do for you?’. End of.

R: Responsibility.
Often survivors are told they have a responsibility to others to disclose their experience- this is victim blaming, it is traumatic, and it’s not fucking feminist. Responsibility lies primarily with the abuser to not abuse again, rectify their behaviour, and respect the wishes of survivors. But responsibility also lies with communities around survivors: their families, their friends, and the political communities they are a part of to ensure that abuse is challenged wherever it crops up- no matter who the perpetrator is. Responsibility lies with the perpetrator and a community to rehabilitate: a perp won’t do it alone, and a community can’t force an unwilling person to change. A survivor only has responsibility to themselves, to care for themselves, to heal, to remain safe.

S: SURVIVOR LED PROCESSES.
I could very easily write an entire blog about a) the importance of survivor-led processes, b) the times they’ve been fucked up, and c) how they’re misrepresented. But, for brevity, I won’t. Instead I just want to say how fucking important they are. Survivor-led processes are not witch-hunts, they’re not vendettas, they’re not abuse. They are genuine attempts to gain closure for a survivor and to keep them safe. Survivor-led processes are a necessary part of decolonizing abuse, of moving away from bourgeois court systems and creating radical spaces where feminism is not an after thought.

T: Trauma.
Trauma is not made up. It’s not political capital. It’s not some edgy post-structuralist Judith Butler loving myth. It is a thing many survivors live with and it is not to be ignored, dismissed or mocked. Use trigger warnings where appropriate, avoid traumatic conversations where they’re not wanted, look after those who experience trauma.

U: Understanding.
Learn about abuse. Be vigilant. Abuse is not always easy to spot and easy to solve. As feminists we have a responsibility to familiarise ourselves with abusive behaviours so that we can understand when they arise and fight them. Gaslighting, manipulation, outreach to ‘neutral’/’uninvolved’ people should all raise red flags.

V: Victim-blaming.
Victim blaming is a cultural phenomena that places culpability on the survivor, not the perpetrator. It is a phenomena that questions the legitimacy of survivors and is fundamental to the functioning of patriarchy. Victim-blaming isn’t always as transparent as ‘Don’t walk alone at night’, and sometimes it’s pretty well disguised. Don’t ever tell a survivor what they should have done, what they should have said, or how they should have acted. Don’t tell them they could have avoided abuse. Don’t do anything but lay blame at the feet of the perpetrator.

W: Women.
Women are overwhelmingly the victims of abuse. Whilst abuse affects everyone, it is a gendered issue and to treat it as otherwise completely erases the reality of the lives that women and gender oppressed people who are targeted as women even though they are not lead.

X: (E)Xclusion.
Okay, I cheated with the letters, so sue me. Exclusion is a legitimate part of anti-abuse politics and intersectional praxis. Exclusion is not just a formal thing, and those who have experiences oppression, survivors included, are excluded from political spaces wherever their oppressor or abuser is welcomed. If you don’t exclude the abuser, you exclude the abused. Exclusion is not about punishment, and exclusion is not, I repeat IS NOT authoritarian.  Think about who is more important- who do you need in your space? Whose experiences can really help you dismantle oppression? The answer should be easy. I’ll even give you a hint: It’s not abusers.

Y: Young people.
Young people are disproportionately abused because power dynamics are not in their favour. This doesn’t disappear in radical movements. It’s pretty common for established, respectable authority figures in social movements to sleep with and date younger, newer activists. Of course this in itself is not abusive, but be wary of the dynamics at play. Are younger members doing more of the leg-work? Are they made to shut up more? Are they sexualised more than other members? It might not be quite as repulsive as your stereotypical frat-boy shovelling shit stuff, but this is hazing. Don’t let that shit fly- fighting ageism is part of our struggle as intersectional feminists.

Z: zzzzzzzzzz.
Look after yourself, look after those around you. Self-care is a political act. In fact, it’s political fucking warfare. Your body is a battleground and abusers and their apologists will always try and destroy you, which is why you always put yourself first. If you can, talk to people. Survivors are often forced into isolation, taught that you are alone, nobody believes you, and that you are hated. This isn’t true. There are always folks who got your back. I’m one of them.

Bitch Slut Cunt

Lesbian bitch cunt needs a shag,
I see that hag but I see no fag,
What’s a hag without a fag and a fag without a hag?

I’ll break in your back door,

Have you begging for more,

And you’ll beg and you’ll beg,
You fucking wet whore.

Lesbian bitch cunt needs a shag,
I see that hag but I see no fag,
What’s a hag without a fag and a fag without a hag?

In this moment I am euphoric,
And bitch my dick is historic,
Spin my fucking fedora on it,
Lucky girl, give it a lick.

Lesbian bitch cunt needs a shag,
I see that hag but I see no fag,
What’s a hag without a fag and a fag without a hag?

But here’s the twist:
I’m a bitch and a cunt,

And a whore and a slut,
And I still wouldn’t touch your dick,
And you’d be so lucky as to dine on my clit.

Three course fucking meal you can’t afford,

You Reddit wanker super shit lord.

Lesbian bitch cunt needs a shag,
needs a shag like a hole in the head,
So you can fantasise about flopping on me,
like a fish almost dead.

Sorry, but if you don’t mind,
This bitch slut cunt has her rabbit to find.

7 lessons from a continually alienated feminist student activist.

The lack of awareness within student politics is one of its great pitfalls. Every year women must restate that they should be able to freely and safely fight for their liberation. So, as I continue to struggle to engage with activism, here are seven lessons I would like to pass on.

1- Women are important, and including them matters.
The popular impression of feminism amongst men is that it is ‘toytown politics’ – and this is true to the extent that men don’t give a flying fuck about us.

2- You cannot escape the macro-political climate in which you swim, but you do a very good job by continuing to not recognise the destructive forces of patriarchy.

The experience of being at the mercy of huge social and political forces on one hand, and being witness to the power and desire of left-men to keep up these social and political forces is something that almost any feminist will recognise. To the extent that feminism is a left-wing or anti-capitalist endeavour at all, feminism is inextricably bound to the fortunes of the labour movement and the ‘wider-left’ who are also completely fucking ignored – to the cycles of rapists in Occupy, abusers on picket lines, and big shifts in political culture, like the now widespread habit of denouncing intersectional politics from national platforms (see also: Caitlin Moran, Lily Allen, SWP).

3- You are not too cool for school: get involved in existing groups.

JOIN NCAFC! Or don’t, because they refuse to listen to the voices of women raising concerns about our safety regarding sexual assault and emotional manipulation. Join a group if you want to, and if you share politics with a group, and feel safe in said group. Do not join a group because it is the ‘done thing’. Organise locally, build strong links and solidarity, and then we might be able to organise nationally. Make sure you local spaces are safe places for the oppressed to enter- challenge abuse wherever it arises.

4- Fight to change your collectives, because without that groundwork, we’re doomed.

Some ideas are intolerable and can only be met with scorn, confrontation and ridicule. Sadly, the majority of white men activists don’t agree on these things. Having abusers and their apologists amongst your ranks makes your organisation exlusionary to huge numbers of women and survivors whose contributions are vital. They are single mothers forced out homes due to benefits cuts. They have crucial links to the abortion movement. They are those fighting to eradicate patriarchy from capitalism and anti-capitalism alike. Do not fuck with us. In tiny activist circles and islands it is possible to forget that this is the case – and most do.

5- You are not too cool for school (again): take ideas seriously.

Ideas come in a multiplicity of formats- your conversations in pubs, your lived experience, the blogs you read and the tweets you tweet are an important part of political resistance. Sadly, not all of us have the resources, conventional ‘intelligence’, ability and time to read Das Kapital, whilst I’m sure it’s a crackin’ read. ‘Intellectual culture’ is used to silence those who are not able to learn from and challenge ideas within the format. We are derided as residing in the ‘dark corners of the internet’, when in fact, that’s where we feel safe, where we can create our own abuser-free safe spaces, and genuinely engage and learn. The internet certainly is a Marxist response.

In student activism, so much is done not on the basis of ideological conviction, but on the basis of what can get you a solid career in the labour party, and perhaps most importantly what particular people in positions of power are doing and thinking. Perhaps the most stand-out example of this in recent years is the growth of absolutely fucking clueless derision of anarchism. The portrayal of anarchists as simultaneously authoritarian circle-jerkers who seek purity, control of political spheres, or maybe just safe spaces for organising, and also as shit-smearing monkeys who are just so against structures, man is a perfect example of this bullshit misunderstanding of anarchist praxis and spaces. For example, fighting the SWP, their support for Martin Smith (don’t fucking hide his name, you coward), and pointing out the nature of the SWPs structures’ tendencies to close down dissent and cultivate abuse- whilst not forgetting their similarities to other centralised organisations *cough* – somehow then means you are against all political structures. A++ would logical fallacy again.

But seriously- take ideas seriously! Accept criticism, recognise that you *are* oppressive by the very nature of you existing in such a heteronormative, white supremacist, patriarchal ableist capitalist state, and listen to the wishes of those below you in kyriarchal structures. Another top-notch idea is this thing called ‘survivor-led processes’. If someone in your organisation has abused another person, ask the survivor what they want to happen, what will make them feel safe, valued, and that some kind of transformative justice has been pursued. Do not laugh at them, dismiss them, ignore them, or call them liars. That’s not a good idea.

6- Sabbatical officers: they aren’t all that great, and being one isn’t all that healthy.

Sabbs can do great things, they can pour money into existing projects, they can take advantage of national platforms, and they can take the fall for activists who are in a more precarious position than they. But, they’re really not all that important. Resistance existed before sabbaticals, and the annual drainage of the health, time and money of activists into elections is, truly, one of the student left’s greatest pitfalls. Year upon year new people are elected to sit at tables with management and appease those in power. Year after year radicals liberalise their politics in order to look electable. Fuck this. We need backbone if we’re going to get anywhere, comrades.

Further, many sabbaticals who leave without being consumed by the liberal establishment, or with a shred of integrity find their mental and physical health destroyed. Let’s not make out like being a sabb is a great thing, it really hurts a lot of people.

 

7- He who is tired of student activism…

should have probably left the reins to others a long time ago. 4 more years!

7 lessons from a continually alienated feminist student activist.

The lack of awareness within student politics is one of its great pitfalls. Every year women must restate that they should be able to freely and safely fight for their liberation. So, as I continue to struggle to engage with activism, here are seven lessons I would like to pass on.

1- Women are important, and including them matters.
The popular impression of feminism amongst men is that it is ‘toytown politics’ – and this is true to the extent that men don’t give a flying fuck about us.

2- You cannot escape the macro-political climate in which you swim, but you do a very good job by continuing to not recognise the destructive forces of patriarchy.

The experience of being at the mercy of huge social and political forces on one hand, and being witness to the power and desire of left-men to keep up these social and political forces is something that almost any feminist will recognise. To the extent that feminism is a left-wing or anti-capitalist endeavour at all, feminism is inextricably bound to the fortunes of the labour movement and the ‘wider-left’ who are also completely fucking ignored – to the cycles of rapists in Occupy, abusers on picket lines, and big shifts in political culture, like the now widespread habit of denouncing intersectional politics from national platforms (see also: Caitlin Moran, Lily Allen, SWP).

3- You are not too cool for school: get involved in existing groups.

JOIN NCAFC! Or don’t, because they refuse to listen to the voices of women raising concerns about our safety regarding sexual assault and emotional manipulation. Join a group if you want to, and if you share politics with a group, and feel safe in said group. Do not join a group because it is the ‘done thing’. Organise locally, build strong links and solidarity, and then we might be able to organise nationally. Make sure you local spaces are safe places for the oppressed to enter- challenge abuse wherever it arises.

4- Fight to change your collectives, because without that groundwork, we’re doomed.

Some ideas are intolerable and can only be met with scorn, confrontation and ridicule. Sadly, the majority of white men activists don’t agree on these things. Having abusers and their apologists amongst your ranks makes your organisation exlusionary to huge numbers of women and survivors whose contributions are vital. They are single mothers forced out homes due to benefits cuts. They have crucial links to the abortion movement. They are those fighting to eradicate patriarchy from capitalism and anti-capitalism alike. Do not fuck with us. In tiny activist circles and islands it is possible to forget that this is the case – and most do.

5- You are not too cool for school (again): take ideas seriously.

Ideas come in a multiplicity of formats- your conversations in pubs, your lived experience, the blogs you read and the tweets you tweet are an important part of political resistance. Sadly, not all of us have the resources, conventional ‘intelligence’, ability and time to read Das Kapital, whilst I’m sure it’s a crackin’ read. ‘Intellectual culture’ is used to silence those who are not able to learn from and challenge ideas within the format. We are derided as residing in the ‘dark corners of the internet’, when in fact, that’s where we feel safe, where we can create our own abuser-free safe spaces, and genuinely engage and learn. The internet certainly is a Marxist response.

In student activism, so much is done not on the basis of ideological conviction, but on the basis of what can get you a solid career in the labour party, and perhaps most importantly what particular people in positions of power are doing and thinking. Perhaps the most stand-out example of this in recent years is the growth of absolutely fucking clueless derision of anarchism. The portrayal of anarchists as simultaneously authoritarian circle-jerkers who seek purity, control of political spheres, or maybe just safe spaces for organising, and also as shit-smearing monkeys who are just so against structures, man is a perfect example of this bullshit misunderstanding of anarchist praxis and spaces. For example, fighting the SWP, their support for Martin Smith (don’t fucking hide his name, you coward), and pointing out the nature of the SWPs structures’ tendencies to close down dissent and cultivate abuse- whilst not forgetting their similarities to other centralised organisations *cough* – somehow then means you are against all political structures. In the words of a fellow evil feminist friend “quote”. Logical fallacies, whodathunk a cutesy little woman like me would understand.

But seriously- take ideas seriously! Accept criticism, recognise that you *are* oppressive by the very nature of you existing in such a heteronormative, white supremacist, patriarchal ableist capitalist state, and listen to the wishes of those below you in kyriarchal structures. Another top-notch idea is this thing called ‘survivor-led processes’. If someone in your organisation has abused another person, ask the survivor what they want to happen, what will make them feel safe, valued, and that some kind of transformative justice has been pursued. Do not laugh at them, dismiss them, ignore them, or call them liars. That’s not a good idea.

6- Sabbatical officers: they aren’t all that great, and being one isn’t all that healthy.

Sabbs can do great things, they can pour money into existing projects, they can take advantage of national platforms, and they can take the fall for activists who are in a more precarious position than they. But, they’re really not all that important. Resistance existed before sabbaticals, and the annual drainage of the health, time and money of activists into elections is, truly, one of the student left’s greatest pitfalls. Year upon year new people are elected to sit at tables with management and appease those in power. Year after year radicals liberalise their politics in order to look electable. Fuck this. We need backbone if we’re going to get anywhere, comrades.

Further, many sabbaticals who leave without being consumed by the liberal establishment, or with a shred of integrity find their mental and physical health destroyed. Let’s not make out like being a sabb is a great thing, it really hurts a lot of people.

 

7- He who is tired of student activism…

should have probably left the reins to others a long time ago. 4 more years!

The student movement.

No More Page 3 think modelling and child abuse are the same thing.

Content note: This blog will discuss child abuse, rape, sexual assault and harassment.

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of No More Page 3, but I’ve yet to contribute to the debate in this format, largely because I find the responses of NMP3 supporters dripping with radical feminism, whorephobia, and find middle-class respectability politics forced onto me. But NMP3’s latest contribution is so bad I just can’t help myself.

A few days ago (August 31st) the official No More Page 3 facebook page posted a comic of a man reading ‘The News’ (The S*n), and being outraged at the Rotherham child abuse scandal, but then flicking to page 3, and looking at this week’s model, an 18 year old named Kelly.

It might not seem damaging from the outset, but scratching the surface of this cartoon, its implications and its intentions reveals not only deeply problematic politics, but politics that seriously endanger sex workers, who are, whether you like it or not, part of our fight for gender liberation.

1- This comic makes a comparison between sex work, paedophilia and child abuse. It says that those who enjoy pornography or are clients of sex workers are the same as child abusers.  Child abusers are child abusers and should be recognised as such- all else gives them a defence, a mechanism by which we can relate to them, and an excuse. 

2- It paints sex workers as survivors by virtue of their work- after all, they are paid for by child abusers, and as money = power, that means they are controlled by child abusers.

3- Treating sex workers as survivors minimises any abuse they may have experienced separate to their work (which might also include child abuse!) whilst simultaneously saying that any abuse they do experience as part of their work is an inevitability. In short: you’re saying they’re destined to be abused, so why even bother fighting with and for them?

4- It removes agency. It treats sex workers as children, and is part of a rhetoric that infantalises sex workers so that middle class white feminists can continue to denounce them. It says that they are unable to give consent, but fails to recognise that consent to *all* work – not just sex work- and sexual relationships are manufactured within the confines of capitalism. It says you cannot consent because we disagree with what you do, but of course we can consent to whatever we want to do, because we’re not you.

5- It completely erases the severity of child abuse by comparing it to a line of work that human beings can and actually do find fulfilling and worthwhile. Do we really believe that women like Jodie Marsh and Katie Price have no agency, no intelligence, and are merely victims? Child abuse is not pornography, it is not work- it is child abuse.

6- It places complicity on the shoulders of sex workers. It tells them that they are in some way responsible for the structural abuse of children, rather than laying blame at the feet of the actual perpetrators: those at the top, not the bottom, of kyriarchal structures. Considering that inevitably, some sex workers will be survivors of rape, domestic abuse, and child abuse, this attitude also tells them they are complicit in their own abuse- we have a name for this, and it’s called victim blaming, and it’s not feminist.

7- In traditional NMP3 style, it continues to erase all of the horrible things that The S*n has done and continues to do, like inciting racial hatred, humiliating benefit claimants, and taking photos on semi-naked women *without* their consent. More explicitly tied with child abuse, The S*n have run countdowns to when people turn 16. By ignoring this, you’re saying that what creates *actual* abuse is secondary to bashing women whose job you don’t like.

I want a feminism that stands with sex workers and doesn’t humiliate and vilify them, a feminism that stands with those in poverty and accepts structural relationships between race, gender, sexuality, class and work. A feminism that, rather than ‘protecting’ sex workers and stabbing them in the back, seeks to help in any way possible with unionisation, destigmatisation, and with these things, an increase in pay, an end to police brutality, and safer working conditions,

Pornography is not evil, child abuse is.

No More Page 3: fuck you.

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