This Is Rape Culture

Absolutely disgusting –Men cleared as rape woman’s group sex fantasy revealed-(ht2 PennyRed) so if a woman has sexual fantasies that means she can’t be raped, which is what this seems to imply. That male prosecutor and judge think a woman having sexual fantasies destroys her credibility? Well we’re all in trouble then, but women far more than men because well- patriarchy. This is a really dangerous outcome for everyone who has sexual fantasies (erm all of us) and those who engage in anything other than the most vanilla -approved by conservative straight men in the legal profession- sex lives (and that doesn’t wash, ask a sex worker about their legal clientele). And if the argument is this the case would be impossible to win in the current legal system, well duh, there’s a big clue there about the failings and need for change in that legal system. But the quotes from the well paid legal men actually do not bear that out, they mostly boil down to –we don’t believe or respect her because she has fantasies– which is just repulsive and hateful, it seems to rest on a judgement and prescription of women that precludes them having a sexual existence of their own, not one pre-approved by men. This is a really offensive judgement and I hope the survivor has help to deal with it and help if she wishes to push for a proper trial in a court not run by misogynist scumbags.

Viva Mexico

For passing a basic common sense bill with simple equal language-

By a margin of 39 to 20, the Federal District Assembly approved a bill redefining “marriage” as the “free uniting of two PERSONS” earlier today.

Cue conservatives throwing their rattles out of the pram-

Naturally, Felipe Calderón is already looking for some way to challenge the bill in the courts and Armando Martinez, the president of something called the College of Catholic Attorneys is whining about El Grinches stealing Christmas. He is quoted in the New York Times as saying the Federal District Assembly “have given Mexicans the most bitter Christmas.”

We all have our right wing to bear… but I love the wording, no civil partnership bollocks, just saying marriage -if you so choose to do it- is what it should be, two people getting hitched.

The Montreal Massacre

Bina @ News of the Restless remembers the massacre of  women 20 years ago by a misogynist terrorist in a great post. 14 women were killed, 10 women wounded, 4 men wounded. The date has been made into a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. There are several men who have made a hero of the pathetic murderer who executed those women, it will come as little surprise they are right wing, libertarian, some based in the US. They call the mass murderer a Saint, they use the term ‘feminazi’. Clearly it is incumbent upon men to challenge and change such attitudes in others and themselves and not to tolerate those who proudly harbour such hate filled moronity.

As for the particular men who praise this massacre I don’t know what to say to them other than if ever their fever-dreamed of feminist stormtrooper breaks down their door and levels an assault rifle at them, I’ll be carrying her spare ammo, you dig?

Still Killing Mental Patients

Zephaniah Samuels:- Police presence on psychiatric wards is also touched on in this report. The shocking eye witness account of an elderly service users who watched while a squad of 12 heavily equipped police officers with riot armour, CS gas, Taser guns and an Alsatian attack dog went onto a hospital ward to remove just one young African man from a hospital is a practice that is largely unknown to those outside mental health services.

The final report by the now defunct Mental Health Act commission has revealed a catalogue of failings within the service, resulting in patient deaths which could have been prevented and an unecessary increase in the already high numbers of people from African Caribbean communities detained in psychiatric care.

And this is telling-

A section on ‘restraint and safety’ in this document notes that two patients suffocated after being restrained face down with excessive force, this report points out that this may have been avoided if staff ceased prone restraint earlier. Researchers also found some staff restrained patients without proper training.

Recommendations within the David ‘Rocky’ Bennett inquiry report, into the tragic death of an African Caribbean patient, who died after his was forcibly restrained by a team of up to five staff for almost half and hour while in a secure unit in a hospital in Norfolk, led to recommendations that no patient should be restrained in the prone position for longer than three minutes. A decade after Bennett’s death this new report confirms that the Government has neither established national mandatory training or endorsed a time limit on face down restraint recommended in the inquiry report.

Now that ain’t laziness or a mistake, that’s approval. Read more @ Black Mental Health, MHAC report is here pdf).

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Back Of The Class

Gender attitudes in schools have not changed since the 1960s and girls are still far more likely to be encouraged to do hairdressing, catering and childcare courses, while boys go on to do mechanics and plumbing, according to the equalities watchdog. The women’s rights movement has encouraged women to compete harder and they are now more likely to go to university, get good degrees and become doctors. But girls from working-class backgrounds have been left behind, according to the research, published today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

 Trevor Phillips, the chair of the commission, said attitudes in some schools were stuck in the mid-20th century. The research, based on interviews with 1,000 14- to 18-year-olds, found white working-class girls were four times as likely as white middle-class girls to work in childcare. Phillips said: “The majority of young women who come from working-class backgrounds believe they will fail. They believe the best they can do is to be a hairdresser or work in one of the three Cs: catering, childcare or cleaning. These are proper careers and I don’t want to do them down. The problem is we have a society where young girls who aren’t from well-off professional families can’t see themselves as successful in anything but a limited range of jobs.

 “Within education and careers services, the expectations for these girls are pretty low. Even well-meaning teachers and careers advisers are saying … ‘you could be a very good hairdresser’. They should be saying, ‘why don’t you want to be a doctor or lawyer?’ It’s wrong if girls are told they can only do certain things.” The research found that four times as many boys as girls believed they would go into engineering, with similar percentages of boys over girls choosing building, architecture, trade and IT careers. There were also strong class differentials for boys. White middle-class boys were twice as likely as white working-class boys to become a teacher or police officer.

Criminal Justice System- Institutionally Sexist

The criminal justice system is condemned as an institutionally sexist operation that lets down female victims, fails to help women offenders out of a cycle of crime and prevents professionals reaching the top jobs. A five-year investigation by the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, found that discrimination against women pervades the system in England and Wales at all levels, from the police forces where women officers are still forced to wear men’s uniforms to the way frontline staff doubt the credibility of victims reporting rape and domestic violence, with a gap seen between equality policy and its implementation.

Self-harm among women in custody, which Fawcett said was a product of the effects of being in a system designed for men, increased by 48% between 2003 and 2007, with women committing around half of all self-harm incidents, despite representing only 5% of the total prison population. At the women-only HMP Styal the number of incidents of self-harm have risen from 376 to 1,324 in the last five years, according to figures obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Last night justice minister Maria Eagle said: “While we recognise the challenges we face we reject the central tenet of this report. … We have long recognised the specific needs of women in the criminal justice system… But there is still more to be done and the government equality bill contains positive action measures.”

Shock horror, New Labour acts like conservatives. Anyway Fawcett Society report here

Key Statistics:

Female staff

• In 2008, only 12 percent of police officers at Chief Inspector grade and above were women; less than a quarter of prison governors were female and less than one in four prison officers were women. (4)

• Only 15.9 percent of partners in the UK’s ten largest law firms were women in 2008 and there were only 42 female compared to 479 male silks. The number of female applicants for Queen’s Counsel was at its lowest level for ten years. (5)

• In 2008, just over 10 percent of the 109 High Court Judges were women and just 3 out of the 37 Lord Justices of Appeal were women. There is only one female law lord. (6) In contrast, the Supreme Court of Canada is 44 percent female and the High Court of Australia is 43 percent female.

Female victims of crime

• An estimated 3 million women across the UK experience rape and sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual harassment, forced marriage, trafficking, or other forms of violence each year.

• Only 15 percent of serious sexual offences against adults are reported to the police and of the rape offences that are reported only 6.5 percent result in conviction. 

• One in four people still believe that a woman is partially responsible for being raped if she is drunk and one in three think she is partially responsible if she flirted heavily with the man beforehand. (7)

• Over a quarter of local authorities across Britain have no specialised VAW support services. (8)

Female Offenders:

• On 3 April 2009, the female prison population stood at 4,309 compared to a mid-year female prison population of 2,672 in 1997. Population projections released by the Ministry of Justice in January, indicate at best the female prison population may decrease by 200 by 2015, at worst it will increase to 5,100. (9)

• Too many women are being imprisoned for short sentences for non-violent crime, including the non-payment of fines and television licences. In 2007, 63.3 percent of women were sentenced to sentences of six months or less.

• Imprisoning mothers affects children too – almost 18,000 children are separated from their mothers each year. Between April 2005 and July 2008, 283 children were born to women in prison.

• Prison does not address the causes of women’s offending. More than one in three have histories of sexual abuse and over half have been the victims of domestic abuse. 

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Heddlu Raise The Flag

North Wales Police, getting better-

North Wales Police came second in a survey published by campaign group Stonewall, which surveyed nearly 7,000 workers across Wales. Employers were ranked according to criteria ranging from implementation of an effective equality policy to demonstrating how they engage with their homosexual staff and customers and service users.

And now the rainbow flag flies over the cop shop for a bit-

A rainbow flag has been hoisted outside a police headquarters to mark a month-long event celebrating gay rights. North Wales Police staff will be attending a series of activities as part of the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual history month. The ceremony, held at North Wales Police’s headquarters in Colwyn Bay, was organised by the Gay Police Association (GPA) North Wales. Gay rights organisation Stonewall Cymru are among those supporting the events.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Shannon said: “I hope that this event sends out a clear message as we continue to strive for inclusivity and equality.”

Jenny Porter from Stonewall Cymru said the event was a sign to lesbian, gay and bisexual people in north Wales that the police had changed. “It is encouraging that people have confidence in the police to report homophobic hate crime,” she said. “The flag signifies that we are celebrating the fact that the world is full of people with differing sexual orientations and that everyone should be treated equally and with respect.”

Now if we can just get them to bin the Tasers and chillax on the traffic fines, but keep Brunstrom’s progressive ideas on drugs.

World Aids Day

Oops, I am reminded it is/was World’s Aids Day. Religious fools still insist on abstinence programs and even fund false information against condom use as being effective. And as the bailouts show money for research into treatment could easily be found if the political will could be formed (if you like- a disease that affected elite wealth got immediate action one that kills people…nah, no biggie). So a ways to go yet, there is always struggle, so be good to one another, have fun & stay safe peeps.


Noreena Hertz:- How anachronistic. At a time during which we as a society are collectively suffering from the greed and misdeeds of tens of thousands of bankers – almost all of whom would have taken home at least £100,000 and many more than 10 times that – shouldn’t we be rejoicing that perhaps at least a few of those people who choose to care for the most vulnerable as a profession might not be going to struggle this Christmas?

The nurse in question seems to have earned £100,000 by, in effect, taking on two jobs – half her income was earned in overtime – and having reached the pinnacle of her profession. So she saves, lives and works incredibly hard. Good for her. But as far as nurses in general are concerned, the majority still earn so little that many have to take on third jobs, and most cannot afford to buy their own home. This is no nurses’ pay bonanza. And it prompts a bigger question: how should we determine what is valuable in society today?

Up until a few weeks ago, this seemed straightforward. Apart from the public sector, where the state sets pay rates, we essentially left value for the market to decide. And the market not being an instrument of equity, justice or fairness, but a mechanism for wealth creation and distribution, rewarded bankers and hedge fund managers far more highly than almost anyone else in our society – despite the fact that the actual value they added to society was, it turned out, at best limited. At worst, it’s now clear, their net value was negative – a huge pinata filled with paper money.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance

Thanks to Nezua who posted about this, I think it is worth marking, not just to memorialise but to show a united front against hatred and bigotry and solidarity with transgender people-

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.

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The Sins of the Father

Kyle @ Citizen Orange caught this, I think you could also say it about imperialism & colonisation by any nation generally and the hatred stoked against migrants, the human evidence of our overseas crimes-

I’m reading Legalizing Moves: Salvadoran Immigrants’ Struggle For U.S. Residency, by Susan Bibler Coutin, for a class I’m taking here at Harvard with Dr. Sarah Willen.  I can’t comment on the whole book, since I’m only reading the first two chapters, but I came across this powerful metaphor for mass migration to the U.S.:

Jorge Lima, a Salvadoran who had been active in opposition groups in both the United States and El Salvador, attributed [denying asylum to individuals] to the lack of responsibility regarding the consequences of U.S. policies that destroyed lives in El Salvador.

Jorge told me that the situation of Central American immigrants “is like when a woman has been raped and is pregnant, see?  Then there’s a reality! Understand? She has conceived, and however you try to exterminate that fact, it’s a reality!  You can’t keep it a secret.  You may not register it in your structures, as though it never existed.  But yes, it did exist!”

In this graphic image, El Salvador is a raped woman, the United States is the rapist, Central American immigrants are the illegitimate child, and U.S. immigration law is a means of denying the child’s existence.
Susan Coutin – Legalizing Moves (2000 : pp. 40-21)

Concentrated Stupid

Madison County, Idaho was once dubbed “the reddest place in America” by Salon, but that didn’t make it any less shocking when elementary school children started chanting “assassinate Obama on the school bus.

According to an article which appeared in Salon in 2006, “You’ve heard of Jesusland, but Rexburg, Idaho, is something more. It’s not just a small town in rural Eastern Idaho. It’s a small town in rural Eastern Idaho completely dominated by a fast-growing Mormon college, Brigham Young University-Idaho.”

“Through this conservative convergence,” the article continues, “Rexburg and surrounding Madison County may well be the rosiest place in all of red America. Need numbers to prove it? In the 2004 presidential election, 93 percent of Madison County’s votes went to George W. Bush or minor-party conservative candidates — arguably the reddest result of any county in the entire country.”

The population of Madison County is not only heavily Republican but also 97.7% white. One of Rexburg’s lone Democrats, a professor at the university, told Salon that “she remembers the time when a group of classmates followed her third-grader home, shouting out ‘baby-killer’ all along the way. She took it up with the teacher, who didn’t seem to mind.”

Mormonism is sort of the Scientology of the 19th century (one guy makes up some stuff->gullible people succumb->religion ensues), but as an older religion it of course has had time to do what the big names do, kill people. Together with their interference in California’s Prop 8 vote they really are on course to join the big boys of fundie idiocy.

The fever for killing Obama is openly flaunted by rightists who revel in the murder of anyone not white, conservative, christian and capitalist. To be optimistic, let’s hope a brilliantly effective secret service keep Obama safe as this period brings the racism and eliminationism out of the woodwork and it can be confronted and defeated. This is beyond the policy let downs, Emanuel, Summers etc represent, if the forces of bigotry cannot be stopped from killing the most well protected man on earth then what is left? Open warfare? Many rightists claim to welcome such a breakdown but geniuses that they are they fail to realise they are outnumbered many times over, can it be impressed on their tiny minds- challenging their own bigotry is in fact their only survival option. It would be nice to be able to appeal to some higher rationale but they repeatedly indicate such higher thought is beyond them, so we’ll just have to keep it to that real simple selfish argument.

International Women’s Rights Prize

(IPS) -United in their fight against discrimination and inequality, three women from crisis-struck countries received the 2008 Gruber International Women’s Rights Prize — Yanar Mohammed from Iraq, Sapana Pradhan Malla from Nepal, and Nadera Shalhoub-Kervorkian, a Palestinian woman living in the state of Israel.

In contrast to the oft-repeated assertion that the increased number of U.S. soldiers deployed to Iraq in 2007 — an operation known as the surge — has significantly improved security there, Mohammed spoke of the worsening situation for Iraq’s women.

“[Even] in the times of bloody dictatorship, life in the big cities had more of a civil appearance,” Mohammed told IPS. “Women almost had a situation of equality in terms of education, in terms of work and in some terms of civil life — although I am not saying that they had their full social rights.” Read the rest of this entry »

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I was glad to read this about Stonewall’s climbdown of awarding Julie Bindel a Journalist of the Year prize, I dont think she’s a supervillain (yet…) but when she comes to transgender & queer issues you kind of read her stuff aghast, it’s like Mel Phillips has broken in and seized the keyboard. Laurie Penny sez-

Thursday’s event was the largest trans demonstration in British history. One hundred and fifty transsexual, transgender, transvestite, intersex, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queerfolk and allies gathered in front of the Stonewall awards, yelling ‘Stonewall: hyp-o-crites!’ as wonks in spangly dinner jackets made their way up the steps. A fantastic evening, although I did feel a little sorry for the seven to twelve members of the ‘Julie Bindel fanclub’ that gathered on the other side of the steps before leaving early. Early press reports seem to be firmly on the side of the protest, with even Stonewall award-winners lamenting the exclusion of the trans community.

Bindel was not, in the end, named ‘Journalist of the Year’ by Stonewall – the honour went to Dr Miriam Stoppard of the Mirror. But will someone please take Julie’s pen away before she pokes her eye out with it? Today, in the Guardian, in a piece which contains not one scrap of research but a great deal of bile, she’s having a little tantrum, telling the whole queer spectrum to go ‘way and just leave normal people like her alone:

‘It is all a bit of an unholy alliance. We have been put in a room together and told to play nicely. But I for one do not wish to be lumped in with an ever-increasing list of folk defined by “odd” sexual habits or characteristics. Shall we just start with A and work our way through the alphabet? A, androgynous, b, bisexual, c, cat-fancying d, devil worshipping. Where will it ever end?’

Whoa there Bindel, cat-fancying, what’s wrong with that? Ok, now you are a supervillain.

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Justin Webb Continues To Give Morons A Bad Name

Never one to leave hitherto undiscovered shallows alone the Beeb’s own emissary to Washington Justin Webb (nice but dim, actually not even that nice but makes up with extra dimness, bless) latches onto the stupidest right wing scam since Obama won, wingnuts are suggesting his victory means people of colour can no longer claim ‘victimhood’ or racism has aflicted them. Yes, because a black president means all racism has instantly been extinguished throughout American society… The stupidity is breath taking, you expect it of the hateful right but what does it tell us about a BBC hack bringing it up? He’s an idiot? We knew this. He’s a conservative? Well duh! His appreciation of the complexities of race and culture is roughly that of a mouldy brick? Bingo! At least though he posits this foolishness on his BBC ‘blog’ (and yes he does the Fox thing of chucking on a question mark at the end and quotes! –An end to “victimhood”?–  y’know he’s just asking, about a quote, he didn’t say it, he’s just saying is all…no need to get upset at his blatant right wing idiocy folks, he’s not a racist, he just disseminates their talking points “victimhood” ). So I say set Hazel Blears on him, what better than having two idiots scrap with each other, you can’t lose.