Category Archives: Uncategorized

No theory of patriarchy

To be sung to the tune of the Beastie Boys’ Fight For Your Right (To Party):

You wake up late for femsoc man you don’t wanna go

You ask the NUS, “Please?” but they still say, “No!”

You fluffed two pronouns and mentioned male violence

So you end up no-platformed cos people feel silenced


Cos they got no

theory of



Lindy West caught you terfing and she said, “No way!”

That hypocrite terfs two blogs a day

Man, now it’s exclusionary to object to stalking

And Laurie Penny threw away your copy of Dworkin (Busted!)

[repeat chorus]


Don’t call yourself female if that’s the clothes you’re gonna wear

You’re def non-binary if you don’t cut that hair

Paris Lees busted in and said, “What’s that schism?”

Aw, Paz you’re just jealous it’s fem-in-ism!


[repeat chorus]


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.”

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.

Feminists and gender: How you can be more inclusive

Feminists are human beings who believe passionately in liberation for all and an end to the gender hierarchy.
I hope this doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable. If it does, I’m guessing you’re a non-feminist. The correct term for this is “sexist”. Feminists prefer it if you use this term to describe yourself. It’s an easy way to avoid inadvertently erasing our beliefs and identity.
You might not realise how difficult it is to be a feminist in a society that is based around the needs and beliefs of sexists. That’s okay; most people with sexist privilege don’t. Happily, there are some simple things you can do to make our lives easier:
– Train yourself to think of all women as human beings. This is how feminists see the world. It can be hard to do this at first but keep going!
– Wean yourself off using terms such as TERF and cis privilege. Most sexists get a buzz out of knowing how distressing feminists find them. Once you start to think of all women as human, you’ll find it easier to stop yourself (don’t worry if you slip up at first)
– Read some actual radical feminist literature before holding forth about “what rad fems think”. Making things up is a lot more fun but remember, it’s deeply harmful to the feminist community (it also makes you look even more of a bigot)
– Check your sexist privilege. You live in a society set up to cater to your retrograde beliefs about gender – think about how this feels to people who don’t fit into this system! Ask yourself what you can do to make them feel more included.
Unfortunately, discrimination against feminists is rife in the sexist community. Many feminists are are threatened with rape, told to die in fires, excluded from venues, libelled, stalked and called bigots for holding feminist beliefs. This is in addition to the actual male violence all feminists experience simply for being women. You may find this surprising. It’s common for sexists to think that feminists aren’t really people so nothing that is done to them is of any consequence. It takes time to change such beliefs. Go easy on yourself.
Don’t feel ashamed of your sexist privilege. Feminists don’t want you to feel bad. As long as you’re working on it, listening and learning, we’ll really appreciate it 🙂

I am angry

The last three weeks have passed in static-filled silence. A white noise that blankets the bottom of my brain and forms a barrier between my perception and myself. I am somewhere stranded on the other side of the steady crackle, and in the meanwhile, I go through motions, and when I come to a stop, I stare.

This is not unfamiliar. When I was young, and didn’t know myself, the absence would amplify itself interminably. The strain of disconnection and the rising panic, bouncing off the walls of my skull as time slowed to a stop. The thick afternoon light falling in fat triangles as the world goes on, purposively, outside the window. The dead weight of a blank, silently-screaming eternity.

I know myself better now. I don’t panic. I soon notice the signs. I hear the crackle, and am blessedly certain that I am still there on the other side. I am not fatally flawed or broken beyond repair. I am not consigned forever to this place that time forgot. It is futile ricocheting around my skull searching for solutions. (Breathe). Stop. Remember. (Breathe). You have been here before. (Breathe). It is simple. (Breathe). You are upset.

But it is not so simple. The crackle is created because I am upset about something I have decided I cannot be upset about. Because I am upset about something I think I can do nothing about. I am upset about something that therefore, I have forgotten.

It took years of the past to find the absent sources of these absences. I unfolded my story slowly – by following the symptoms, and emotional excavation. Below the seemingly solid crust of static, a substrata of annihilating rage wrapped around a dense core of pain, which, when unleashed, was mobile enough to shock every slice of my spine out of its alignment.

This, I came to understand, is what the incessant, immoderate violence of the needs of men does to the body of child who is powerless to protect herself. It is what inculcation in shame does to the body of a young woman unable to even think resistance, who knows that survival depends only on self-contortion, and acquiescence, and denial.

Through psychoanalysis, and feminism, and feminist psychoanalysis, I learnt the words to speak what had happened to me. I learnt that it was not okay, and that it was not my fault. I learned that the contents of the once-impervious black box at the core of my story was both comfortingly, and horrifyingly, mundane. I learnt that I was not crazy, or hysterical, or broken, or monstrous. I was not a snake-haired gorgon, or a chasm of need which would consume everything it encountered. I was not self-loathing-torpor, or abnegation, or striving or perfectionism. I was a person with needs raised in a world where persons like me are not allowed needs (unless that need is to service the needs of others). I learned to say what I wanted. I learned to say no.

And so finally I remember, that three weeks ago, the internet TERF-war reached, for me, its apotheosis. There are many formulations and intricacies, but it comes down to this. On the one side, the need of women-born-and-socialized-as-men to have their identity affirmed by women-born-and-socialized-as-women. And on the other, the need of women-born-and-socialized-as-women to say no, to anyone, but especially to those who refuse their right to do so, those who usually (and non-coincidentally) happen to be people born-and-socialized-as-men

This is fucking feminism ground zero. I know you think you are going to bring the whole thing down with your half-arsed deconstructing binaries (newsflash, you ain’t getting out of metaphysics) and your magic queering pixie dust. But you misunderstand the whole fucking problem. The problem isn’t that your brain makes distinctions between things that are actually not entirely distinct. That’s just how concepts work, and it’s a damn good job they do, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to brush you teeth in the morning, or make it to the other side of the bedroom without stepping on your cat. The problem isn’t that we’re more or less sexually dimorphic animals (with a few exceptions, and fuzzy at the edges, like all schematizations). The problem is – as has been said innumerable times, and apparently cannot be heard – that GENDER IS A HIERARCHY.

Gender is a class, not an essence. People are put into that class on the basis of their potential reproductive capacity (viz. the fact that that capacity may or may not be (able to be) exercised does not determine whether you are placed into that class). This is done because this class-system – which us old-fashioned types like to call patriarchy – is designed for the purpose of the dominating class appropriating the reproductive labour of the dominated class. Because it is a class, and not an essence, you a free to join that class if it will make your life more livable, but it would, at the very least, be respectful, to recognise that entering that class at some point in your life does make you different from those who were put there at birth and socialized to internalize beliefs and manifest behaviors which serve to perpetuate their oppression.

So, the way this works. The people in the dominated class are subjected to systematic violence from the moment they are placed in that class. When they are children, if they are lucky, that mostly consists of them being informed in more of less subtle ways that their needs are shameful, dangerous, monstrous, and that in order to be loved they must put other people’s needs – especially people in the dominant class – above their own. Their capacities for self-directed action and expression are punished and coerced, they are reprimanded for being too noisy, inquisitive, intelligent, demanding, attention-seeking, talking too much or taking up too much room. They are not allowed to move freely in and occupy space. They are taught to fold their limbs and avert their gaze and not get dirty and speak in a tremor and not notice being constantly interrupted.

And this is before puberty. Puberty is the real breaking in. A hitherto lifetime of inculcated passivity and shame is compounded a hundred-fold from the moment a girl-child shows the first indication of sexuality. From then on it’s a more or less incessant twenty-year gamut of fondling and cat-calls and stone-throwing and being forced up against walls, and pushed down on the ground. Of strange men sticking their hands between your legs, and shoving their fingers down your throat. It is having your insides clench so tightly that when you open your eyes in the morning the only way to stop the vertigo is to pretend it never happened. You exit the train carriage and as the doors close you wipe it from you mind. This is the world. There is nothing you can do. Just pretend it never happened.

And then, after years struggling with the static, you learn to remember. And you realize that you don’t have to accept. That there are words that you can use, and women you can talk to, and finally, finally, a way to resist. Together, holding each other up against the swell of the pain, we open our mouths, and we say one single word. We say NO.

Three weeks ago, after battling through the endless pretzel logic and name-calling one more time, I hit a wall. I have spent my life on justice. I care that people suffer, and I want them to have all and every support that they need in order to alleviate that suffering. But in a world in which women are bent and broken from birth in the service of the needs of men, and where, since time immemorial, we have been considered nothing but the mirrors of men’s egos, I cannot acquiesce. In a world in which we have to struggle for years to find a shred of belief in the legitimacy of our own needs, and still have to cling together to have the courage to say NO, I. Will. Not.

I did, for three weeks. I went away, sad and hopeless and defeated. We are used to defending ourselves. Against charges of hysteria. Of whoreishness and prudishness. Of blue-stockinged unfuckability. But this. This incessant stream of vitriol. This dogged insistence that my need to name my oppression is a hate-crime. That the nourishment I draw from the occasional spaces where I can freely speak that oppression is akin to murder. That my ever-contested, and hard-won, ability to say no is now, in looking-glass land, the exemplification of domination.

My will was crushed by the thought-terminating tautologies and by the hate, and by a familiar sense of violation still too painful to stare at squarely. I went away and the static set in. But I know myself better now. I look for the signs. And after a spell of staring I remembered to look inside. And there, below the crust, was the old, familiar fury.

I hear you say you are winning. And if that victory means better medical care, and more quotidian tolerance, and greater visibility, and more self-acceptance, then it can only be a good. But it cannot come at the price of erasing the violence done to the people you claim as your sisters. You cannot take our language and our space and the tools made over many years to make our lives livable in the wake of this violence and expect us – as good woman are taught – to acquiesce. You cannot demand our welcome when your own pain blinds you so utterly to why, in this world, a woman must be able to say no. And if winning means a final and decisive annihilation of our no, believe me, you will not win.

























You say that you are us.

To be us

Is to understand why we say no,

And why we must be able to say no.


We can only move forward from here.



On becoming a TERF

You’re not quite sure when it started. It was a creeping hysteria, progressing inch by inch, breaking down the boundaries word by word and phrase by phrase.

When the ground is being pulled from under you, you try to make the best of it. You think “well, how much space do I need anyhow?” You shuffle your feet, stand on tip-toe, say “no, it’s fine, I can live with this”. You are, you tell yourself, being practical and considerate. It might militate against what you believe yourself to be, and the space to which you feel you are entitled, but you’ve been used to this since the day you were born. You are, after all, a woman, or so you used to allow yourself to think. Continue reading On becoming a TERF

What Would You Do?

Imagine you were someone who consistently lied, betrayed, distorted and caused trouble constantly.

Imagine you attempted, on at least two known occasions, to take down and discredit a well known database for women.

Imagine you were friends with two women who trusted you, cared for you, believed you, supported you. And you stabbed them in the back.

Imagine you’ve spent the past year defaming and libelling them on twitter.

Imagine that you have stalked and harassed them. Imagine that you implied (and in some cases suggested outright) that these women ‘outed’ you, when actually you stood as a local councillor in your area & outed yourself.

Imagine you continually blamed everything that happened to you on those women, but they’d done NONE of the things you accuse them of. Imagine that you accused them of all sorts of things that never happened.

Imagine no one questioned you, despite you being found out as a liar on several occasions. Imagine that no one defended these two women, no one challenged you, or asked the women if it was true.

Imagine that you relied on the fact that those two women had integrity and would never do anything about your hurtful and destructive behaviour.

Now imagine that those two women, who have not contacted you, spoken of you or done anything to harm you, reach their breaking point.

Imagine that they have got every screencap of every lie, every defamation, every libel you ever said about them.

Imagine that, despite warnings, you continue to lie about them. Imagine you lied about them again just yesterday morning.

What do YOU think those two women would do?

Well I’ll tell you.

Those women know that anonymity online is not guaranteed. They know that people are not as anonymous as they think they are.

Those women know that police forces are starting to take stalking and harassment online more seriously.

And all they need to do is provide the evidence.

Now imagine.

What would YOU do?

On the vexed question of front bottoms

 When I was 13 or 14, I was sitting with a group of friends and we were talking about our bodies; you do, at that age. Things change so quickly then, sticking out, getting bigger, running away from the smooth control of childhood. I don’t remember how the conversation got around to vaginas, but one of the girls says “I don’t know what it is about it, but I don’t like mine. Every time I put my hand down there it smells stinky”. And without even thinking, I jumped in with “really? Mine smells amazing!”

It’s true. I’ve always loved my vulva. I used to stroke and cup it in my hand when I was a little girl, long before it ever occurred to me to masturbate. It took my parents a lot of anguished tutting to get me to stop doing it in public. Later on, when I started finding out about the women’s liberation movement, I used to take out a hand mirror and examine it, with a frisson of anticipated trepidation: will I hate it, like those women in the books? Will it disgust me? Does it look strange? But it never did. It looked pink and soft and familiar.

I tried to find fault with it, I really did; even as a teenager I was dimly aware of the fact that my adoration for my honeypot was not normal. I’d read those advice columns in teen mags: “I have a funny discharge”, “my inner labia are uneven”, and I’d try to relate those to my own body, but it never stuck: everything down there just seemed to be pretty awesome.

I’ve no idea how I got to be that way. God knows I’m not the norm. Woman seem to have a hate-hate relationship with their genitals that is matched only by the disfunctionality of the relationship with our weight, except even more secretive and shame-ridden.

It’s not as if I didn’t have the same indoctrination as other girls. Maybe more, who knows. My grandmother, who brought me and my sister up, was a bit obsessed with what she called “under-washing”. She had a pitcher in her toilet and kept on in ours too, and we had to wash after going to the loo. She’d interrogate you, too: have you washed? Loudly and everything. It should have been shaming, but I just found it tedious.

I did used to worry about people being able to smell my period at school, but if I’m honest that was only because if they did, the boys would bully you to shreds. Mind you, they did that even when no detectable smell was present and you weren’t even on your period, because they were abusive little shits; but somehow if you really were on your period, that made it worse. But I didn’t worry about it as a thing in itself. I had no problems putting a tampon in, pushing it in with my finger, touching myself, penetrating myself. Again, not sexually – just, touching. Like it was a foot or an elbow. No big deal.

I don’t think I truly grasped how abnormal I was until recently. I was out with a friend and she went to leave the ladies’ room without washing her hands. I expressed surprise (for all my vulva loving ways, I am a judgemental clean freak), and she said “well, I didn’t wipe, so it’s ok”.

That stopped me dead in my tracks. First of all, because eww, damp. But also: this is a public toilet. Hundreds of people walk through here every day, and they touch the taps and the door handles with hands that have picked noses, stroked stray cats, changed nappies… Every inch of surface in this room is covered with minute droplets carrying the faecal matter of strangers, and you think you noony is the dirtiest thing in here? That as long as you haven’t touched that, you’re okay?!

Of course it’s stupid of me not to have thought of it before. It’s not the first time I heard that, even, it’s just that the penny had never dropped before. And if women didn’t already think their vadges were toxic, the presence of those obligatory hazmat bins in every women’s toilet would tip them off. I really resent those fucking things, with their foot pedals and isolated compartments and special disposal bags. It’s a goddamned fanny mate, not fucking Sellafield! PSA: menstrual blood is sterile. It is the cleanest, least bacterially infected fluid to come out of any of our bodies at any time. It represents absolutely no health hazard to anyone, and despite what toilet designers have obviously been reading in 17th century witchifinding manuals, cannot be used to enchant or poison men. I mean, really.

Then there’s Vagisil. Oh God, Vagisil. The continued commercial success of this brand alone should have informed me that not being disgusted with one’s hoo-ha is Not On. Not to mention all of that scented panty liner bollocks, like knickers were not there to absorb discharge in the first place.

There’s something really foundational about this business of hating, fearing and being disgusted by a body part that is so multi functional and so personal. I was talking to a feminist friend one time, about the different standards of cleanliness between men and women, and whether this is something that is just a product of laziness of men or a more fundamental (acquired!) gender trait. She said that for her, the need to keep her environment and clothing clean all stemmed from the anxiety of keeping her sexual organ clean – when it’s already clean, dammit! Vaginas, in case you didn’t know, are self-cleaning! And yet here we are, modern feminist women, tacitly falling in for this oldest of patriarchal myths: that filth (and therefore sin) has its origins in the female sex.

I wish I could sit every woman of my acquaintance down and somehow infect her with my love for my own vulva, its smell, shape, taste (mmm, post-oral kissing…) and feel. I don’t know what nascent insensitivity to indoctrination helped me dodge this bullet, but if I could pick just one feminist thing about myself and bottle it for distribution to the masses, this would be it. I think if we could all somehow magically wake up and be simply deaf to the messages that tell us our very cores are dirty, smelly, ugly and misshapen, the revolution would be half made, don’t you?