Posts Tagged ‘IWD’

Back in the last century, 1980 when Margaret Thatcher, that bastion of women’s rights, first came to power, I did a little street theatre piece, called the Invisible Woman. Fairly simple concept – me wrapped in bandages to highlight that the official figures did not show women’s hidden unemployment. Invisible Woman, geddit?

It looks like the bandages with have to be dusted off again.

Not just because women’s unemployment and poverty is again on the rise, thanks to Coalition austerity policies. You probably already knew that. And some good people used International Women’s Day to draw it to widcr attention. Just as others pointed out that there are 7 million women refugees worldwide. Good on both of those campaigns. I’m right behind you, sisters. That’s what International Women’s Day is supposed to be about, solidarity with working (class) women worldwide.

No, this time the Invisible Woman has another purpose: to highlight the invisible women in radical feminist discourse. That’ll be about 3.5 billion of us, all but their tiny but media-dominating clique.

Yesterday I got pretty irate at the hijacking of International Women’s Day by radical feminists to attack other women. In particular, an article by Julie Bindel in the Daily Mail. For readers outside the UK, this is a Hitler-supporting, immigrant-bashing right-wing rag. I found this article bi-phobic, misogynist, and potentially damaging to the “Impressionable young [women]… questioning their sexuality” whom Bindel professes to be so concerned about.

It mocked two celebrity women, because they’d previously had relationships with men. The words ‘bisexual’ or ‘bisexuality’ were never mentioned in the article. It was never suggested that this was a possible sexual choice. That’s what it means to be invisible. ‘Bi-phobic’ is probably not the best word: phobia would be a step up from non-existence. We don’t even fucking exist!

I got mad, I ranted, I posted a link to this article on Facebook. I was going to move on to other objectionable attacks by radical feminists – on sex workers, transwomen, women who like porn. I felt better having got that off my chest.

So, this morning, I find on my thread, that I posted: “more men telling us how to do feminism”. One glance at my profile pic, read one sentence of my post, and you couldn’t be in any doubt: I AM A WOMAN. But that can’t be. I don’t agree with the radfem analysis, so I can’t exist. QED

Enough is enough. All my conscious life, I have fought for women’s rights, and for those of workers, poor and oppressed people. I have so had it. You will not make me invisible, you will not shut me up, ‘sisters’.

And for those of you who say, lets deal with our differences in private: I didn’t start this. I didn’t use a fascist-supporting millionaires’ rag (Julie Bindel) to attack bisexual women. I didn’t go on CNN Freedom Project (Robin Morgan) to attack Amnesty International and sex workers. I didn’t use my university professorship in gender studies (Sheila Jeffreys) to compare transwomen to racist black-face entertainers.

I didn’t start this war, ‘sisters’, but you sure as hell aint going to win it.

pornography — a genre that, incidentally, exclusively titillates men — LOL

I thought I’d mellowed, lapsed into a benign detached bemusement, thought my ranting days were over. But even the mellow me has limits. One provocation too far and I’m up shouting: “E-fucking-nough!”

It’s IWD and I’ve celebrated it for 40+ years. I’m broad-minded: if liberal hippies want local authority-funded face-painting and crystal healing, who am I to judge? Each to their own nonsense, I say. But there are limits.

When the Daily Mail – that bastion of women’s human rights – chooses to run a blatantly bi-phobic slut-shaming article by ‘feminist’ Julie Bindel, I think: WTF? It’s International women’s Day ffs! International Working Women’s Day of Solidarity, get out of my face you hateful bitch. And I choose those words advisedly.

In her article “Why I loathe lesbian chic,” Bindel choose to comment on model Clara Delavigne and her ‘lover’ actress Michelle Rodriguez. (Nice use of scare quotes there: always a good pointer of rational argument. “Delevingne, 21, has dated men such as One Direction’s Harry Styles but has been portrayed as inseparable from Rodriguez, who is 15 years her senior and who has also been out with men in the past.”

I know nothing about either of these women, but what a hateful piece of bitchy sniping – worthy of the worst celebrity gossip mag. Why the scare quotes? Has she less right to be her actual lover because she’s previously dated a man? And what’s with the “Delevingne, 21” and “ 15 years her senior”? Is she implying the older woman is a predator? Great bit of sexist stereotyping, sister! Or is it just he vacuous, gratuitous detail beloved of lazy journos?

Does any of this matter? They’re celebs, they’ve got PR, surely they can look after themselves.

Well, it does matter, precisely for the reason Bindel herself points out: the “impressionable young audience — some of whom are at an age when they may question their own sexuality”. What kind of message does her article give them?

Well, for starters, that there is no such thing as bisexuality. If you’ve dated a man, you can’t have a valid relationship with a woman; you can’t be lovers, only ‘lovers’ – phoney lipstick titillation for men. How fucking dare you, Julie Bindel? Did you think, for one second, the effect would have on the impressionable young woman who finds herself attracted to both men and women, or who, after dating a man, falls in love with a woman?

Do you know what it feels like to have your sexuality blanked and denied? Try to take that leap of imagination, Julie. Try to imagine being that young woman who come to question her desires, being told: you’ve got it wrong, there’s no such thing as what you’re feeling. What, you fancy boys and girls? No, you’re just doing it to tease your boyfriend.

Go on, Julie, search back in your memory. You were young once, you were uncertain, perhaps even a little shameful? How would it have felt to be told you don’t exist? Your love is only ‘love’, a pretend copy of the real thing. I hope you’re capable of feeling shame for what you told those young bisexual women.

And while we’re on the subject of shaming, what’s with the the Katy (“I kissed a girl”) Perry stuff? So she was briefly married to serial shagger Russell Brand? Does she deserve to be told about her actions – “such a sexual merry-go-round makes sex look temporary and trivial.” That’s slut-shaming in spades. And come to that, are we not allowed to have temporary sexual relationships? Is it Marriage-for-life with your first partner, or be damned to the hell of harmful, trivial stereotypes?

Now lets get to the most hilarious claim in the whole piece: “pornography — a genre that, incidentally, exclusively titillates men.” I’m not quoting this out of context or by sneaky clever selection. That remark, delivered with a throwaway incontestable assurance, should have her laughed out of any sane gathering. Porn is enjoyed “exclusively” by men. No woman likes pornography.

Are you mental, woman? I could produce dozens of women I know personally who do. And no, we aren’t all forced to look at it by our boyfriends, pimps, tyrannical husbands. This is the 21st century ffs. We can look it up all on our little ownsome. In fact, one change that I would note is that more women are accessing porn now from their own computers, now that they don’t have to venture into sleazy sexshops. Though some of us like the extra frisson we find a sleazy Soho den confers.

And what about those impressionable young women? Lets imagine, it’s easy if you try, a young woman who likes to look at pictures of other young women kissing. (I know I do.) imagine she finds other pics of them doing other things, and she finds these even more exciting, and she seeks them out. What will say to her? Get back, you slut, these are male fantasies of lesbians, you mustn’t like them, you mustn’t be aroused by them. What are you some kind of freak?

I’d be the first to admit that most porn is crap. Most everything is crap – books, films, newspaper articles. You’ve got to seek out the good stuff. It takes effort, and sometimes you’ll settle for the McDonalds’ meal the cheap supermarket chocolate: it’s better than nothing. It’s an unfortunate fact that the inexperienced will come across more crap. It takes a certain amount of discernment to wade through to the good stuff.

But if you humiliate them for even trying, if you tell them they’re freakish pseudo-men (because no woman likes porn), then you’ll deepen their confusion and silence their sexual self-expression. By all means point them to the good stuff, warn them to exercise some judgement, but stop with the shaming, eh?