After Sausagefestgate, the year ahead in feminists needing to shut the fuck up

Like most privileged cis ladies with platforms, Jessica Valenti has fucked up, big time. Haha gotcha bitch Along with other marginalised folks, I am literally shaking at the following tweet and what it implies:

As anyone who isn’t a fucking bigot knows, “sausage fest” is problematic since it suggests that being over-represented in public, political, professional and economic life is in some way connected to the ownership of a penis. This is simply not true (other than in reality, which only a TERF would take into consideration).

Yes, it’s a privileged media feminist, hence we knew not to expect much better. However, when someone like Valenti – who already thought she’d done her bit for trans inclusive feminism by dutifully slagging off Julie Bindel – can make such a massive error of judgment, it’s an important reminder that that, as allies, sometimes even we, the pure, can get it wrong. How can we know whether something we think is acceptable really is acceptable? The truth is, we can’t. But can do our best to educate ourselves and in honour of this, I present a list of the things which, according to experts, we mustn’t be referring to in the coming year. Read it, memorise it, listen, learn, DO BETTER.

September 2015 – Jessica Valenti

Sorry, Jess. You had your chance. And yes, you might have apologised and deleted the offending tweet but intent is not magic. Fuck off over to where Moran, Dunham and the rest of them are sitting while we get the ducking stool ready for you and anyone who mentions your name in anything other than jeering tones.

October 2015 – Something Special on CBeebies

Justin Fletcher may be a hero to privileged cis lady mums of children with special educational needs but Mr Tumble, Grandad Tumble, Aunt Suki and Aunt Polly can all FUCK OFF and DIAF because APPROPRIATION. During this month a campaign will also be launched to see a return of the obviously genderqueer Bod – get involved! Hashtag #bringbackbod (but no to Aunt Flo, as triggering due to possible associations with biological essentialism).

November 2015 – the phrase “male privilege”

To henceforth be known as “that privilege that comes from having an inner sense of being more like Jeremy Clarkson than Paris Lees.” Because privilege has nothing to do with how others perceive and treat you from the moment you’re born.

December 2015 – Brussels sprouts

No, I shouldn’t have to say why. I’m not here to fucking educate you, bigot. Happy fucking Christmas.

January 2016 – the prefix fe-

Since sex is a construct and there is no such thing as female, everything to henceforth be known as male by default. Like in The Second Sex which is totes in favour of that sort of thing.

February 2016 – the word “sexist”

The belief that people are discriminated against on the basis of so-called sex is fundamentally cissexist (or cis-ist). Discrimination on the basis of gender to be recategorised as femmephobia, transmisogyny, queerphobia or some random unimportant bullshit that privileged cis ladies whinge about.

March 2016 – the word “vagina”

The word “vagina” is erasing to owners of penises and ladypenises. Henceforth to be known as fuckhole or putrid demonic hell-mouth, depending on context.

April 2016 – all references to pregnancy and birth

Such references reinforce the essentialist belief that pregnancy and birth are necessary for the continuation of the human species (when anyone who isn’t a total TERF knows that you can just buy a baby from India).

May 2016 – the word “women’s” when referring to the so-called oppression of the cis privileged

History textbooks to refer to “privileged cis ladies’ suffrage.” Groups such as Boko Haram, the Taliban and ISIS will be described as endorsing “privileged cis ladies’ economic exclusion and rape.” Women’s unpaid labour to be known as “privileged cis ladies’ leisure time.”

June 2016 – all references to whoever happens to be deemed the most successful cis woman in the media at the time

Because she’s a fucking TERF who will be actively endangering the lives of everyone everywhere JUST BY EXISTING and hence needs to TAKE A SEAT and STAY IN LANE.

July 2016 – the terms “male violence,” “rape,” “suicide,” “assault” and “murder”

Currently used by SWERFs and TERFs to suggest they’re not 100% responsible for everything that’s wrong in the world. Victims of any of the above to be known as “stigma survivors” (unless they’re dead, in which case “stigma martyrs”).

August 2016 – not having a penis

The month in which we finally debunk the TERF myth that those without penises can still self-define as human beings. I mean, seriously, do people like Valenti, Moran and Dunham still think this shit? I literally cannot even.

Listening to Sex Workers

A few years ago I didn’t know what I thought about sex work.

I’d seen Secret Diary. I knew that there were pro-sex work feminists. I thought they had an argument.

So I listened for their argument, and what I heard was “Listen to sex workers.”

So I listened, and I heard “No, not those sex workers, those sex workers shouldn’t be allowed to speak.”

And I heard “Feminists who oppose sex work are whorephobic.”

And “Feminists who oppose sex work are pearl-clutching prudes”

And “Feminists who oppose sex work only oppose sex work because they are stuck up White Feminist bitches who know nothing about suffering and don’t give a shit about sex workers.”

Hmmm, I thought, but I kept listening, I kept thinking there had to be more.

I thought there had to be an argument. An argument that dealt with why what some women thought was harmful wasn’t really that harmful.

And I heard, “Sex work is only harmful because of the stigma of whorephobia, and whorephobia is made by feminists.”

And “That’s why whorephobes shouldn’t be allowed to speak (even if they are/were sex workers).”

And “Feminists who oppose sex-work are privileged bitches with tons of money and influence and they use their power to spread nasty whorephobia around and THAT’s why sex work is dangerous.”

And above all, I heard ‘SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.”

And after listening for some time I thought:

“If you want to talk to me about harm reduction, I will hear you.

If you want to say that sex work is not harmful to all sex workers, but recognize that others with the same experience disagree with you, I will hear you.

If you want to tell me women are driven to sex work for financial reasons, but don’t insist that financially coerced consent is a super free choicy-choice, I will hear you.

If you acknowledge that harm to sex workers is not just caused by stigma, but has something to do with men, I will hear you.

But if all you’ve got is this flat-out denial of entitled male violence and an incessant drive to pin it all on other women, when I listen to you, what I hear is bullshit.”

The Caitlyn effect

Things got tense last night at the Miss America pageant, as one of the early rounds was disrupted by a small group of militant protesters shouting ‘we are sex objects too’ and hurling breast implants at the stage.

Their grievance, which has been brewing for several years, was the increasing dominance of trans women in major beauty contests. According to LouAnn Cray, a spokesperson for Ciswomen for Equal Objectification (CEO), it started back in 2015, when Caitlyn Jenner appeared in a corset on the cover of Vanity Fair and Kellie Maloney posed for another magazine in a swimsuit. ‘People went crazy about how hot they looked, and within a couple of years the pageant circuit was full of Caitlyn and Kellie wannabes. It’s like, when you’re done with your transition and you’re ready to show the world your new self, the first thing you do is enter a beauty pageant’.

And this new breed of beauty queen doesn’t just enter, increasingly she wins. The last three Miss Americas have been trans women, and two of them have been over 40.

Tanya Tosser, professor of Identity Studies at NYU and a regular contributor to US Vogue, agreed that young ciswomen have fallen out of fashion. ‘It’s trans women who are in demand now’, she said, ‘and their influence is changing the aesthetic. The ciswomen who manage to break through look bigger and stronger, and as though they’ve had a lot of work done even if they haven’t. But many of them just can’t compete, especially in underwear or swimwear, where a penis is a definite asset’.

LouAnn Cray emphasized the financial penalties women like her are suffering as a result of the trans invasion. ‘These are older, wealthy AMABs, and they don’t need to win pageants to pay college tuition’, she pointed out. ‘For girls like me, objectification was a route out of poverty and obscurity—just like boxing was for Kellie Maloney. It’s not fair to deprive us of our chance to be sexual objects—it’s taking away our future’.

But help may be at hand. The former reality TV star Kim Kardashian, who dropped out of public life in 2017 and is now rumoured to be studying for a PhD in feminist philosophy at London University, has broken her silence to announce the setting up of a United Ciswomen’s College Fund which aims to replace beauty pageants as a source of income for female students. In a prepared statement, Kardashian alluded to earlier protests at beauty pageants: ‘our foresisters did not demand the right to be objectified, they critiqued it’, she said, ‘and I am setting up this fund to honour their memory’.

Kardashian’s intervention was welcomed by veteran activist bell hooks. But leading figures in fifth wave feminism condemned it, while also dissociating themselves from the CEO protest. ‘Trans women are and always have been women’, said Zoe Stupid, founder of the think-tank Privilege Check, ‘and as such they have every right to objectify themselves in beauty pageants, if that is what they choose to do’. She added: ‘It is flagrant transmisogyny for ciswomen to demand equal anything, and if it happens in this country I will certainly picket the picket’. Asked for her reaction to Kim Kardashian’s statement, Mx Stupid replied, ‘she is TERF scum and should die in a fire’.

Meanwhile, the organizers of the pageant denounced the actions of the protesters as ‘callous and irresponsible’, and praised those contestants who bravely carried on despite being triggered by the sight of breast implants used as weapons. The title of Miss America was won by Brian Lynn/Lynn Brian, a genderfluid computer programmer from Maine who identifies as a woman in the evening and at weekends.

Owen Jones’s Diary

Feb 17th 2015

RTs: 150

New followers: 34

Dissenting tweets: 57 – v v bad

PANTS! Been asked to write a thing on Stonewall starting to represent trans people. NO IDEAS WHATSOEVER! Could always talk to trans people, I suppose, but had plans to watch some telly and hook up with Russell Brand later, which doesn’t leave much time for research… Just had an idea! Do you think anyone would notice if I pretended the drag queens who faced down the police during the Stonewall Riots were actually trans? Nah, it’d be fine, wouldn’t it, especially if I dropped in a bit of random TERF-bashing as a distraction technique (note to self: google all mentions of “female biology”). Should get it written in no time. God, I AM A FUCKING GENIUS.

Feb 18th 2015

RTs: 675

New followers: 103

Dissenting tweets: 392 – v v v bad

Cleaner late again. Thinking of sacking her. It’s impossible to spend time on twitter telling feminists they need a class analysis when I’m having to sit in such squalor … Anyhow, my Stonewall piece went up and I am like totally MR ALLY (could maybe shorten that to MRA?). Trans people are so fucking grateful for this shit, unlike those feminists who can’t be arsed to say thanks for each of my brave, groundbreaking retweets on male violence. I think the trans might be my next ‘thing’.

TERFs didn’t like my piece. BIG SURPRISE. Shows how right I am, tho. And how very, very brave.

Feb 19th 2015

RTs: 401

New followers: 98

Dissenting tweets: Lost count due to own heroism

Funny how many women turn out to be TERFs. They have this real issue with you telling them that female biology isn’t a thing, for instance. As if any of the battles for women’s rights – abortion, maternity leave, equal pay – were won by acknowledging that reproductive difference exists! It’s only when you ignore it that the world stops acting like it doesn’t exist (or something – might check this again with Paris, who knows all about this stuff). Anyhow, they’re such morons, and really shrill and strident, too. No recognition for how much of a feminist I’ve been, writing the odd piece while they’re all busy setting up shelters and caring for families and whatever else it is they do when they’re not out there TERFing. I feel disappointed in them, if I’m honest. I expected better. More agreement. And more praise. Much more praise.

Oh, and here’s the big thing: some TERF asked me if I’d perform cunnilingus!!!!!!! Actually, scrap “some TERF,” let’s say “all TERFs.” Apparently it’s some reference to “the cotton ceiling” which they then tried to explain to me with some links I’m obviously not going to read. Going to ask Paris about this, too (not sure, tho. Perhaps if I leave it as it is, I can just say this is homophobia and be done with it? I mean, who cares if it’s some comment on something or other that bothers some woman or other. Like, really? I’m the trans ally here! Leave me out of it!).

Feb 20th 2015

RTs: 700

New followers: 106

Dissenting tweets: fuck ’em, the bitches

Requests that recalcitrant women “untag me”: 37

Getting some serious abuse from the TERFs now, asking me stuff like why is female biology offensive (like, DUH!) and what language we can now use to challenge the structural oppression that drives male violence, rape and forced pregnancy (like, HELLO! Do I look like the Oxford English Dictionary?). Anyhow, can’t be arsed to answer such obvious questions. Gonna just stick with tweeting about the c********** thing. That and homophobia. And “I listen women who are trans inclusive,” which sounds dead good (might get it on a t-shirt). It’s not always easy to decide what “trans inclusive” means tho – got asked some stupid, irrelevant questions about shelters, which I obviously ignored – so I’ve decided it just means “agrees with me.” After all, I’m trans inclusive so anyone who disagrees with me isn’t. Logic, right?

Starting to know what it feels like to be trans, as in good trans (Paris, Roz, lots of people called Sarah), not bad trans (everyone else, about whom I couldn’t give a shit). The good trans get so much abuse, what with so-called feminists not agreeing with them about the joys of being eye-fucked and suchlike. It’s like I’ve become their spiritual martyr. Their 100% male, cis, spiritual martyr.

Feb 24th 2015

RTs: 572

New followers: 208

Dissenting tweets: Jesus level of martyrdom

The good trans have all been so great. It’s so purifying, this endorsement of my own 100% proof maleness cis privilege. They’ve even asked me out for drinks. Really looking forward to it, sitting together, downing a few pints in some nice TERF-free space, away from all their nagging and whining. It’s true what they say; you just can’t have a rational conversation with females TERFs.

Sacked cleaner for failing to agree with me that class is a more relevant axis of oppression than sex. And for not picking up my pants. Will get some other woman from the agency tomorrow.

March 5th 2015

RTs: 376

New followers: 72

Dissenting tweets: Martin Luther King and Malcolm X rolled into one, with a side order of Joan of Arc

Got a bit worried about the cotton ceiling thing. It’s like some of the TERFs just wanted me to say that I disagreed with it in theory, assuming it even existed – like, of course I’m against sexual coercion, even though none of us are sexually coerced ever anyhow! – but I thought I’d wait until Paris or Roz or someone said that would be okay. Anyhow, in the meantime someone else came up with a great way around it. Just compare lesbians whinging about being pressured for sex with penises to homophobic men making shit up about gay men! Genius! Now going to use this a lot.

March 11th 2015

RTs: 109

New followers: 50

Dissenting tweets: Come and get me, fuckers! (actually, don’t worry, I’ll name search. No need to @ me in)

Have hit Peak Ally. Now responding to all tweets with “Trans people FTW”. Is brilliant!

Spent rest of day staring at self in mirror, admiring own cis-ness while muttering “trans people FTW” under breath.

Man, this is ACTIVISM.

March 30th 2015

RTs: 203

New followers: 37

Dissenting tweets: 5 from men, no longer counting those from non-men thanks to my new Human Being/Other filing system

Beat my all-time record and wrote an article in 4 minutes 46 seconds rather than the usual 5 mins! To be fair, it was on porn and you don’t have to do any thinking, let alone research, on that. I couldn’t have done it so quickly if, say, it had been about proper politics and stuff that affects people’s lives.

Did include obligatory paragraph on things that are problematic about porn, like sexism and stuff. It’d be good if there was some proper research done into it (I mean, not good for me, as in I’d have to read it rather than make shit up from stuff I’ve seen on twitter, but good in general). It just doesn’t seem like any men have got round to doing it, but then there’s so much politics we need to do first.

Spent rest of the day watching telly and feeling cross about The Establishment, apart from High Court Judges and MPs who have wanks at work, cos that makes them just like the rest of us.

Replicating patterns of disbelief

When I think of being young I think of being scared. I was scared all the time. I remember lying in bed, listening out for sounds, or watching for faces to change and if one face in particular changed, it wouldn’t change back, not soon enough.

I used to blame my brother. I thought that if he didn’t get hit, I wouldn’t get hit. I thought he caused it all. Then I blamed my mother. I thought that if only she’d let my brother get hit enough for all the hitting to be “done,” it would end and none of it would spill over onto me.

I never blamed the person who did the hitting, obviously. You just don’t. When it comes to blame it has to be women and children first.

When I had a breakdown in my teens I tried to speak about what was wrong. Unfortunately, people who have breakdowns are a bit like rape victims who drank too much, or women who’ve been called TERFs. They are not credible, not to friends, not to doctors, not even police (god knows why I tried the latter, but at least it was only the once – when I think back, my overwhelming feeling is not one of anger but embarrassment, for being so bloody naive). People did want to know “the key” to what was making me distressed but not that key; the answer I gave was incorrect. It felt like being in a dream in which you’re trying to shout and no sound comes out.

Why are there bruises down her back?

She doesn’t eat enough and she drinks too much. They just appear.

 “You need to cover up,” my mother said, “it makes us look bad.”

So I stopped talking and carried on drinking. You can’t fight for validation forever, even if that feels like the thing that would make you safest. You swallow it all down and a bit of you won’t be the same but perhaps the rest of you can be preserved.

Ten years later I was sexually assaulted by a stranger when I happened to be extremely drunk (as I often was back then). When I went to the police (I know, stupid) it was the same feeling of opening my mouth and no sound coming out, even though there were words, real words. Not being believed is an empty feeling. You might as well not exist. Another bit of you goes.

These things – physical violence, sexual assault – are more than mere words but it’s the words that hurt too. I don’t believe you can be the worst phrase of all. And sometimes it doesn’t matter whether what they don’t believe you about is an online rumour or a fist in the face.

Over the weekend The Washington Post featured a piece by Michelle Goldberg arguing that feminist writers are “so besieged by online abuse that some have begun to retire.” It offers a great deal of insight into just how hard it is to be a feminist voice in a misogynist world. However, it makes the mistake of treating online abuse and real-life misogyny as either/or, as though female commentators are, as if by magic, in a position to choose:

.. stories today about Internet abuse inevitably elicit cliches about heat and kitchens — demands that women toughen up and grow thicker skin. Punditry and activism, after all, are relatively cushy gigs. […] … the creator of Feministe, Lauren Bruce, no longer has an online presence at all. “I had to completely cut that part off in order to live the rest of my life,” she says. “In order to work, have a nice family and feel like I was emotionally whole, I could not have one foot planted in a toxic stew.”

Many of us have sought refuge from and understanding of real-life abuse within feminism itself. There is no real distinction between those who write about misogyny and those who experience it because most of those writing about it are women. Many of us are still in the “toxic stew” or still recovering from the trauma of having been there. This is why the current backlash against feminists who complain of online abuse is nothing more than misogynist bullshit. It’s the replication of patriarchal patterns of disbelief. Contrary to what some would like to suggest, there are no women to whom you’ve earned the right to say “we don’t believe you, your experience of misogyny is imaginary and you’re not really oppressed.” If a woman says a word is a slur and a threat is a threat, it’s for you to deal with your knee-jerk disbelief, not her “phobia.”

Online rape threats don’t cancel out real-life experience of rape.

Tweets threatening violence don’t cancel out real-life beatings.

The “privilege” of writing about male violence against women doesn’t bring with it the real-life privilege of never having experienced it.

Online misrepresentations and lies don’t cancel out all those times you complained about real-life abuse and no one believed you or, at worse, dismissed your voice as sick, hateful or vindictive.

No-platforming doesn’t replace all those other experiences of being literally left outside.

Using words that misogynists describe as “violence” does not grant you superpowers to fend off actual violence. It doesn’t stop you feeling afraid, not just about what you might read but of what might break your bones.

It’s not just that all this is triggering (although quite obviously it is), it’s that it is the very same dynamic, the same entitlement, the same dehumanisation, the same disbelief when you try to make your case. It’s the same dreamlike speaking without being heard.

When women are disbelieved online or are told that their complaints are motivated by sickness (***phobia) or spite (bigotry), it’s a replication of the way in which people in the “real world” might accuse them of lying about rape or emotional abuse. You’re vindictive, you’re unreliable, you’re not well. And the chances are women have faced not one or the other of these, but both. It’s how male violence sustains itself and online discourse surrounding “mistrustful” or “unaccountable” feminists is seeping back into the real world, endorsing the age-old view that women are pampered princesses who lie about their fears and make up stories just to spite men. It’s a view that hurts all women.

I think it is fairly safe to assume almost every woman who has faced online dismissals of her ideas, false accusations of bigotry and crude acronyms has also been a victim of some form of male violence and/or assault and/or sustained emotional abuse. If speaking out against male violence made us magically immune to male violence then there’d be no need for refuges at all. Just say the sort of things misogynists dismiss as “violence,” become magically privileged and that’s it sorted. Alas, it doesn’t actually happen like that because guess what? Women have been trying that for years.

When you decide that a woman is “too privileged” to talk about feminist approaches to sex, gender and violence, what are your criteria? Were her bruises not dark enough for your liking? Do you need more evidence that she has experienced sexual assault (perhaps a male witness who is a pillar of the community)? Is she just not credible, what with other people telling you she’s a slag/slut /TERF/SWERF/[pick your own one-syllable female credibility eraser]? Would you believe her if you hadn’t seen her hanging out with “the wrong people” and hence asking for it? Is an opinion the short skirt of the internet unless it’s the wrong opinion, in which case it’s all a grey area and she might have provoked it, you never can tell…? What would make her lived experience of misogyny credible: more rapes? more beatings? death? Would you need to be on hand to watch, just to make sure? (Or would you merely interpret the very act of dying as passive-aggression on her part?)

Because if these are your criteria – if you replicate the aftermath of real-life violence in your attitude towards online abuse and public misrepresentation – then you are re-traumatising women due to your own misogynist assumptions regarding female authority and credibility. You have decided that female experience is either/or, helpless victim or privileged bitch who deserves taking down. You can’t imagine that a victim might not base her whole identity around victimhood and could instead have the strength and perspective to discuss the structures that perpetuate it (you might use the word “survivor” yet when women show signs of actual survival, empathy evaporates). Online abuse is not the great equalizer, doling out shit to women who you’ve decided aren’t getting enough misogynist abuse in real life (and the same goes for the harassment and misrepresentation of female academics and feminists speakers. If that’s your idea of activism – spreading shit around and adding to it, rather than trying to clear the whole think up – then you don’t like women. And you’re certainly not speaking truth to power in any way whatsoever).

Despite what men do to women again and again, women are not either utterly crushed or in need of a good crushing. We stand up again. That is, I think, what offends misogynists the most and forces them to create the myth of the real-life-abuse-immune feminist with no right to speak. How can we have done that to you and still you’re able to talk back? You must have been missed off our list.

No, we weren’t. We were always on your list. You never miss anyone out.

And if you’re the kind of feminist who doesn’t like women who don’t appear sufficiently crushed, you’re no feminist at all. Stop making us swallow your shit.


What if the left wrote about radical feminists in the same way it writes about trans women?

Can you imagine a world in which women who assert their basic humanity were believed? It’s difficult to picture. A world in which female people were not seen as whatever male people think they are, but in which their pain actually had some value and meaning.

Responses to the Bristol LGBT “they know best” posters have shown such a world is a long way off. For women even to express fear and pain is for them to be accused of violence. But is it possible to imagine another way?

Take this, for instance, in response to one attempt by feminists to challenge the rape victim-shaming original posters:

In going to university, young trans girls doubtless hope to make a fresh start. There they will leave behind traumatic school days and make new friends, none of whom will ever have known them in childhood, or will even have any idea that they were once thought to be boys. It will be their big chance to make a new life as the women they know themselves to be.

Instead a small group of TERFs at Bristol University decided to make them feel unwelcome. They wanted them to live in fear, not just of discovery, but of being accused of being potential rapists bent on victimising their fellow students. It is no wonder that the rest of the student body has denounced this vicious campaign.

You could, if you thought females were actual human beings, write this instead:

In going to university, young feminists doubtless hope to make a fresh start. There they will leave behind traumatic school days and make new friends, none of whom will ever have known them in childhood, or will even have any idea that they were sexually assaulted in Year 11, with photos of the attack being shared on Facebook, or that their father expressed daily disappointment that they were not born male, or that their brother took it upon himself to police their comings and goings, calling them “slag” and “slut” whenever the mysterious standards were transgressed. They won’t know about the beatings or the constant “you’re not good enough” or the shame at having breasts that apparently made them deserve whatever they got. It will be their big chance to make a new life as the women they know themselves to be.

Instead an enormous group of leftist bigots at Bristol University decided to make them feel unwelcome. They wanted them to live in fear, not just of another rape, but of being accused of being “TERFs” bent on victimising their fellow students. Yet somehow is not all that surprising that the rest of the student body has not bothered to denounce this vicious campaign.

Or what about this?

Research suggests that two thirds of trans people will be subjected to some kind of sexual assault over the course of their lifetime.

So, whilst the posters profess to care about protecting students from trans attackers, they gloss over the fact that the inverse is very much true and, in so doing, deny the experience of many trans survivors of rape.

For many trans students, an already vulnerable community, the vitriol of these posters preys on ignorance and transphobia and attempts to make trans’ students experiences even harder.

It is bizarre to think of the sustained hatred and self righteousness whoever behind this felt as they took the trouble to craft a logo, recreating a font and committing to ink their loathing of and disrespect towards their fellow students.

If you thought all human beings actually mattered, you could instead write something like this:

 Research suggests that a third of female students will be subjected to some form of sexual assault while still at university. A woman has a 1 in 6 chance of being raped in her lifetime and 9 out of 10 victims of rape are female.

So, whilst the original posters profess to care about protecting students from shame and fear, they gloss over the fact that the inverse is very much true and, in so doing, deny the experience of many female survivors of rape, who are being told “your cannot even set the boundaries of your own fear”.

For many female students, an already vulnerable community, the vitriol of these posters preys on ignorance and misogyny and attempts to make female students’ experiences even harder.

It is bizarre to think of the sustained hatred and self righteousness whoever behind this felt as they took the trouble to craft a logo, committing to ink their loathing of and disrespect towards all female students who dared to express the fears based on daily experiences of sexism, aggression and assault.

It’s funny, isn’t it? The people who wrote the feminist-bashing posts had two choices:

  1. listen to a cry from the heart from women who have repeatedly had their boundaries breached, both physically and mentally, due to male supremacy
  2. think “nah, they just want some pointless, never-ending fight because they’ve got some obsession with vaginas and men in dresses, or somefink. Fucking bigots.”

If you thought females were human beings, you might just go for the former. You might even feel ashamed at the shitty behaviour of those claiming to be inclusive while ridiculing and vilifying victims. But most people don’t think like that. Most people would find it far too arduous and messy to make space for another 52% in what we think of as “the human race”. Shit, that would mean actually being an empathetic human being rather than pretending to be one! You can’t have female people being victims unless they’re silent ones! That messes up the whole system! There’s no way we can accommodate so much humanity in one world. It’s so much easier – and so much more satisfying – to yell “bigot” at a rape victim.

That’s liberalism for you.

Dear trans women

Dear trans women who are also feminists

Inclusion is a huge issue in feminism right now, particularly in relation to trans issues. Here are some handy tips on making your feminism more respectful and inclusive:

Merely existing as a woman — any woman — is hard. But it’s not, in and of itself, a form of activism. It doesn’t make you a hero to the feminist cause. It doesn’t give you extra special insights into gender or power or oppression. It doesn’t mean other people should fall at your feet, desperate to hear each precious word of wisdom. Feminism involves listening and giving (as does womanhood, too much of it at times. But if you want to be treated as a woman, don’t expect a free pass).

Non-trans women don’t exist to define you. They’re not your foils. They’re people in their own right and their inner lives, experiences, thoughts and memories are not accessible to you. Respect their self-definition and their boundaries. For millennia men have been positioned as The One, women as The Other. When you demand that non-trans women call themselves cis, you demand that this dynamic be replicated within feminism itself, placing another weight upon the people who’ve suffered all their lives because of it. Please stop doing it.

If you are angry because you think people aren’t treating you as a woman, consider the fact that perhaps it’s because they are. Feel ignored, talked over, dismissed, your whole identity denied? You’re being treated as a woman and that’s why feminism matters.

Femmephobia might work for you as a concept, but consider the fact that for women and girls who’ve been smacked down whenever they’ve tried to be assertive, aggressive, self-confident, visible, non-submissive, the whole thing falls apart. Gender is about power. Read something other than Serano. If feminism matters to you, make the time to immerse yourself in female scholarship and activism.

In a country where women are denied an education, the right to work, the right to vote, the right to say no to sex — would you still demand to be treated as a woman? If not, where does the political definition end and the internal one start? And how are you so sure that what you think of as cis privilege isn’t just male privilege that you’ve lost? Think about that then imagine what it’s like to know that wherever you’d been born, you’d always have been shoved into this shitty class, no questions asked.

Acknowledge the fact that whatever words we use, power dynamics can transcend them. You can call cis women whatever you like, but if you are treating them the way they’ve always been treated — as non-people, relevant only to your self-definition — you’re not a feminist. You’re a misogynist (even if you demand a different word be applied, that is what you are).

Shut the fuck up about reproductive justice.

Do all these things and then, perhaps, females will give you some time. But don’t ever think you’re owed it.

Female bodies matter

Isn’t it great when males tell you that fertility is totes irrelevant to definitions of womanhood? Sure, it might discount pretty much all of your own lived experience in the class marked “potential breeder” but still, one can’t blame them for trying. It’s total nonsense but if you squint a bit and don’t think too hard, it sounds great.

Back in the real world, women’s lives are defined by their perceived reproductive capacity. There, I said it. Cue charges of essentialism, cissexism, ableism etc. Nonetheless, this is a fact. From the moment you are born, whether or not you are identified as a potential gestator will have a profound, lifelong effect on your status (or lack of it) as a human being. This will be the case regardless of whether you can bear children or not.

It has been suggested by some that simply not commenting on potential reproductive difference offers a way out of this conundrum. A recent Slate article sought to reposition the identification of male or female genitals on babies as “infant gender assignment”, as though a gender hierarchy is an inevitable consequence of acknowledging the existence of male, female and intersex bodies (hint: it isn’t). Gender is an unnecessary but deeply embedded follow-on from this. We know that when baby girls are abandoned and left to die, it is not because of any misreading of their inner gendered selves; it is because they have female bodies and are therefore felt to be worth less than male babies. This is not gender as identity, but gender as hierarchy: the application of an oppressive ideology on human beings who are deserving of more. Challenging this hierarchy involves far greater social and political upheaval than proclaiming that even to discuss it is “cissexist” but it’s a damn sight more effective.

These people – these females, these women, with their bodies which could possibly gestate – will always exist, whether we acknowledge the meaning of these bodies or not. And they will suffer, not because of what these bodies do or don’t do, but because of the system which positions owners of these bodies as less human than their male counterparts. The mummy class (many of whom will never become mothers) will be trained up for their subordinate role. Their intellect will be devalued. Their labour will go unrewarded. Their voices will go unheard, or when they are finally raised loud enough, the response will be derision. Men will assume that these bodies and minds exist only to serve their needs. They will assume access to everything: body, mind, identity. To view discrimination against the assumed-to-be-womb-owning class in terms only of workplace discrimination against those who have babies is incredibly short-sighted. What happens to females starts much earlier than that and without feminism, there is no way of avoiding it.

You can’t identify your way out of other people’s perceptions of you based on your sexed body. You cannot, as an individual, create a narrative which transcends “biology is destiny” if your biology has already placed you in the subordinate class (regardless of anything your body actually does). You cannot assume other women, but not you, are deserving of this subordinate status (well, you can. But you shouldn’t). You can talk about gender and identity and your own special sense of self and feel that you are being listened to, but none of this will grant you access to the badge of humanity bestowed on men for something so pitifully insignificant as having a penis. And this is what it comes down to: under patriarchy, ownership of a womb does not mean “someone who will definitely give birth”. It does however mean “someone who is not male and is therefore not quite a person”.

Women’s lives shouldn’t be defined and limited in this way but they are. When males hold forth on how irrelevant this is, we shouldn’t listen. Ironically, if it wasn’t for their equally irrelevant piece of equipment, they’d never have been conditioned to believe they had a right to hold forth.

An apology to Paris Lees

This blog has hosted various pieces from a range feminists, all of whom wish to remain anonymous while exploring the implications of what it means to be a woman in a violent, exploitative patriarchal society. Some pieces have been angry, some confessional, some satirical. Today however we read a piece by activist and writer Paris Lees which made us realise we’ve been taking the wrong approach. We would therefore like to apologise.

Paris, we’re sorry. It’s only because we’re frustrated old harpies who aren’t getting enough cock and weren’t ever invited to parties while we were at school. We’ll try to change, starting from today. To prove this to you, here is a demonstration of our new approach:

You’re a sexist prat with bad eyeliner. And you smell. Probably. Lucky for us we’re having too much fun to care about any of this, you utter wanker.

Thanks for listening.