Well, I'll go to the foot of my stairs...

Often startled, frequently amused, sometimes scared; rarely speechless. Can be found at witchywoo22@yahoo.co.uk

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Keanu Reeves set to create new fashion phenomenon amongst faux-feminists...

...with his assertion that "some of the ladies don't mind it" (being beaten). Yeah...like some women actively enjoy being hit, punched, kicked, slapped, bitten, pinched, burned, stabbed, etc., etc., - it's huge fun. Even more fun is nursing the bruises and broken bones and being in pain for days or weeks afterwards. And it feels so great to be able to show off your injuries in A&E when you need to go in for emergency treatment.

In fact, some women find the whole experience so 'empowering' it wouldn't surprise me in the least if some nutjob faux-feminist coined the phrase "domestic violence positive" and a whole new level of woman abuse was sanctioned by patriarchy pleasers with shit for brains.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

This is a general moan...

...about how services for women recovering from experiences of violence are so desperately underfunded in the UK. ( It may, of course, be different where you are. /sarcasm )

I know about this because it's what I do - both for a living and as a volunteer - in two separate organisations each with its own distinct remit around recovery services for women who have experienced violence. Domestic violence and sexual violence. Both are often one and the same and both (usually) involve male perpetrators.

Ok. I work with women who have (mainly) been abused by men.

I would guess that most people who read this blog will have an understanding of the extreme and debilitating effects of male violence on women. How it shrinks a woman. How it crushes a woman. How it negatively impacts upon her relationships with her children, her siblings, her parents, her friends and relatives, her self. How it all but destroys her confidence, her self esteem. Her self. I often think about that Frederick Douglas quote, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress" because women endure horrific tyranny at the hands of men - usually in order to protect everyone, including him. (I know Frederick Douglas said that other, awful victim blaming thing too and I do hold that against him.)

But I don’t suppose I need to expand on the reasons why services for women recovering from experiences of violence are so vital and valued by women for my regular readers but, for those who aren’t aware… Services organised by women, for women are different. For a start, they’re usually crisis based in that we need to be ‘there’ when women need us. They’re usually ‘client led’ – which means that we, as women, trust that our clients, other women, know what they need and that, as women, they can tell us. We recognise the need for an holistic service because, due to her abuse, that is usually what a woman needs.

I’ve just read that back and there’s an awful lot of ‘need’ in there…and that ‘need’ is real. Women need specialist services to enable them to recover from their experiences of violence, to move on and make lives for themselves and their children as whole people. It seems to me that, if society valued women at all, services specifically aimed at providing them/us with the means to recover from their/our experiences of violence and enable them/us to
participate as full members of the community would be welcome and whole-heartedly supported.

But they're not.

There seems to be an expectation from statutory agencies that providers of services for women manage to provide their services for nothing - like we're somehow exempt from paying the bills, the utilities are free for us. That other professionals don't charge us for their time and expertise. That we, the workers, don't actually have living expenses (oh, I forgot, we're all upper-middle class
housewives, well supported by our high-earning husbands, just doing our bit for the poor and needy...). That our client group - abused women - are somehow trying to pull one over on the system - that they're somehow lying about what's been done to them - that their recovery is not worthy of public funds.

And there's the unspoken but highly audible notion that we, the workers, are colluding with our clients in some kind of deception because it keeps us in work.

This really pisses me off. It demonstrates a total negation of the real life experience of so many women. Makes it nothing. Makes it not matter. Unless a woman turns up for her interview with a statutory agency with visible bruises or has had the foresight, strength and 'cunning' to have her abuser removed from the A&E cubicle so that she was able to tell the medical practitioner how she really got her injuries and then relied on that person's professionalism to document it properly - unless a woman can prove that she's a victim of violence then she's somehow fraudulent. Yeah. We all do that. We all lie about male violence.

There is no recognition of abuse that can't or hasn't been documented. Sexual, emotional, psychological, financial, familial... some things just cannot be documented.

Fear can. As a professional person, working with women recovering from experiences of violence, I'm an expert. I can document evidence of fear. I don't document what I don't see. I'm a professional and I value my reputation. They use my expertise in trials of men accused of child sexual abuse or violence against women but they doubt my word when it comes to asking for funding for projects for women and children overcoming experiences of violence. How does that work, then?

I know this scenario is repeated in almost every Local Authority in England - possibly thoroughout the UK. Us ordinary women who run recovery services for women overcoming experiences of violence are held up as beacons of PC... as 'Best Value in action'... as boxes ticked by the LA who have Central Government targets to meet. We're doing our job and we're doing it well. But when it comes to funding.....

There is little or no recognition of how recovery services can reduce the cost to the national economy. According to this report domestic violence costs the state £3.1billion a year and employers £1.3billion. I contend that services provided for women by women are a damn sight less expensive than that - and not just in monetary terms, though monetary terms seem to be the most popular indicator of 'worth'.

I want women to be believed. I want women who experience violence to be believed and I want those women who run organisations dedicated to their recovery to be believed. And I can't stand fucking tokenism.

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's been a difficult few weeks...

First there was South Dakota. Then the Sentencing Guidelines Council recommending a reduction in the length of sentences for rape just days before the Home Office released it's 'consent awareness' campaign material that effectively removes women and girls as people from the entire issue....and then the expectation that they'll recommend men who abuse their partners should escape prison altogether if they can convince the court that they want to change their attitude to women....and Telewest showing Deep Throat and not paying the slightest bit of attention to the complaints they've received....and the news that pimps will be trafficking 40,000 women and girls into Germany for use by football fans during the World Cup - they're even putting up purpose built fuck-huts close to some stadiums...

And on and on and on and on......

It all contributes to that feeling of, if you're female, you Really. Don't. Matter.

It could actually get really depressing...if, as a woman, one felt alone with it all - and I'm sure there are many women out there who are keeping their heads even further down, feeling powerless to change things, feeling alone. But I'm not.

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed a veritable explosion of feminist thought on the internet? It's global! Women everywhere are saying what they think about the shitty deal we get from the patriarchy - and there are a lot of angry women out there. Over here, that anger is being harnessed. Laura at i'm not a feminist, but.. started an action network six days ago and already there are 36 members and 82 posts - in six days!

So I don't feel powerless. I feel like I'm part of a growing movement and this post is really just to say a huge 'thank you' to all those radfem bloggers around the world who keep my spirits up with their wit and wisdom, their rage and indignation, their humour and strength, their creativity and passion.

Oh, and it's for Kaka, too....

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ok...a day late, but...

Have you seen this? A blog-a-thon against street harrassment.

Me? I was offered a tenner for a shag by a determined car load of men when I was a 13 year old child walking alone on the street one afternoon. They meant it. They scared me. That's my worst example of street harrassment but I'm pretty elderly and have many, many more minor examples.

My best one though... I used to have a dog - a G.S./Lab cross - she was a magnificent beast. Huge and hairy with a definite sense of herself. Little children would ride horsey on her for hours and, when she'd had enough, she wouldn't snap at them or anything unfriendly like that - she'd just get up and move away. Go somewhere else. More human than some humans I've known, that dog.

Anyway, one time when I was walking with my dog in the street at dusk we passed a couple of men who made 'comments' about me - you know the sort...assessing my regard and what they'd like to do to my physicality... My dog, Sadie, I'm sure couldn't understand what they were saying but she sure as hell knew what was on their minds. And that dog barred her teeth for me, she growled and snarled at those men to the point that they were scared.

Totally put them in their place. I loved that dog.

I have been sexually assaulted on the street though. Does that count?
International Women's Day...

...and I'm blogging against sexism.

I've been thinking about what to post for this momentous day since I signed up on vegankid's blog - let's face it, there's so much to choose from it's kind of hard to decide. And it's all nasty and oppressive and limiting and dangerous and abusive and insulting and infuriating...and others will tackle the topic with much more aplomb than me. I just lose my cool in the face of injustice.

So I was at a bit of a loss, wondering exactly what kind of contribution I could make, when I stumbled across the item pictured above. This, my friends, is some nutjob fashion designer's idea of haute couture on display during Paris fashion week that came to my inbox in a Google news alert on feminism. Apparently two designers had covered the faces and heads of the women wearing their designs.

The article says of one of them:

Viktor & Rolf exhibited their exquisite tailoring and their penchant for extravagant couture flourishes in an ode to Greta Garbo. They hid each model's face behind a catcher's mask woven from satin or strands of hair.

and, regarding the 'designer' of the ridiculous piece of crap you see here:

And at the presentation of the presciently named Undercover collection Monday evening, models stepped into the spotlight with their heads wrapped tightly, unforgivingly and, one must admit, artfully in fabric with all the translucence of a pillowcase.
Could the models in Undercover even see where they were walking? Several of them wandered just a bit off-track, bumping shoulders and even meandering into the audience seating area until redirected by a handler. Each model's entire head was bound in fabric -- black, brown or white -- with only tiny pinholes for air. The fabric was knotted in back -- or at what one assumed to be the back of the head -- in the manner of a tight chignon.

Click on the 'Bride of the Mummy' link under the picture in the article to see the man's full collection - all belts and chains and very restrictive clothing.

The article ends in a somewhat whimsical fashion with:

Given the collective weight of these disconcerting masks, camouflaging shapes and unnerving expressions of rootlessness, one can't help but think that feminist outrage or humanistic anger would be misguided. The fundamental sadness in these clothes is not their oppressiveness or anonymity, but in the way they underscore a sense of universal loneliness.

"Misguided feminist outrage"? My arse! As if women aren't invisible enough unless we're naked! Another designer, a Mr Yamamoto, underlines the obvious with his use of super-sized clothes that make the (female) body 'seem that much smaller and insignificant'. Can't you just tell he doesn't have to live in one? Unless we're naked and on display we take up far too much room in this man's world and, rather than underscoring a 'sense of universal lonliness', I posit that by completely covering a woman's face there's even less reason to acknowledge that what you're looking at is a human person. This is confirmed by the fact that the women wearing these monstrosities had 'handlers', just like animals do. Not 'minders', you'll note. Not 'guides'. 'Handlers'.

If there is any 'sense of universal lonliness' I'd argue that it stems directly from the oppression of women and our 'anonymity' to men that is fostered and fed by patriarchy. The divisions created and fostered by patriarchal ideology can only serve to isolate individuals unless they fight tooth and nail to stay true to themselves (and even then...). There's something about "show your face" and "stand up and be counted" that is being both highlighted and negated by the images of women's heads being bound. The Chinese bound women's feet and as a consequence they could barely walk. Is binding women's heads an attempt to stop us thinking? To restict our consciousness?

But just imagine if this type of designer headgear caught the sartorial imagination of the masses the way the mini skirt did in the sixties (even the Queen of England wore a mini skirt, you know). Women all over the western world would totally bind their heads, having only tiny pinholes so that they could just about breathe, for the sake of being 'with-it'.

Obviously we'd be expected to continue to contribute to men's daily life as much as we do now. We'd have to go to the supermarket to shop; though fuck knows what we'd be putting in our trollies - we wouldn't! There'd be collisions in the aisles as we 'wandered a bit off-track' until some bright (male) spark developed a supermarket trolly with a sonic warning system. Babies would get dropped left right and centre and accidental damage from nappy pins would soar. Cleaning would be very much a hit and miss affair because we wouldn't know where the dirt was but, hey, it wouldn't bother us that much - we couldn't see it! And if we were to go out with a man we'd have to be kept on a leash in case we meandered off into the road...how blissful for them. And as for sex, well...it kind of brings home one of their quaint little sayings - "I'd give her one, if you put a bag over her head".

Christ on a bike though, can you imagine that kind of shit being designed for and worn by a man on the catwalk? No? That's sexism for you. So bollocks to 'misguided outrage'. This feminist is outraged.