QotD: “When information is passed using words the listener typically weighs and assesses the believability of the message … But unlike words, pictures don’t work that way”

When information is passed using words the listener typically weighs and assesses the believability of the message. When we hear words we tend to hear them as ideas or opinions, often the listener is counter-arguing against those ideas inside their heads. You can be deciding right now that what I’m saying doesn’t make any sense and you can be challenging my verbal statements internally. But unlike words, pictures don’t work that way.

None of you are counter-arguing against the fact that I’m sitting here or that this is a table. Pictures are mentally processed as events, as facts, and are stored unbuffered and unchallenged. If you see it, then it happened and is true. Pictures are truly worth a thousand words.

The Internet is an ideal medium for the spread of sexual permission giving beliefs. The sexual Internet sites by their very nature say that sex is a commodity for sale. Anything that you can buy, you can steal.

Sexual images of women and children are entertainment, sexual access becomes an entitlement, the individuals who are in these pictures do not appear to feel degraded, abused, physically and visually invaded. They appear to be enjoying the interaction. It’s an event.

Perpetrators now ‘know’ that children like to have sex with adults, they know it’s true because they have seen it. Perpetrators show these images to children to break down the inhibitions of children. Children now ‘know’ that children like to have sex with adults. They know it’s true because they have seen it.

For both the predator and the child these images produce permission-giving beliefs.

Dr. Mary Anne Layden
(found on tumblr)

QotD: “My boyfriend sold one of my kidneys – then he sold me”

It is midday in Bhairchawa, one of the 23 official border checkpoints between Nepal and India. Each day, up to 100,000 people cross under the stone arch separating the two countries. Some are on foot, others in trucks or on bikes, mopeds and rickshaws. Amid the chaos – the people, the dust, the noise of traffic and honking of horns – are the guardians: women who, having survived the horrors of human trafficking, now spend every day trying to spot potential victims and their exploiters among the crowds.

One of the women on duty today is Pema. While we talk, her eyes remain fixed on the crowds, scanning the throngs of people moving slowly across the checkpoint.

She is right to be vigilant. The 1,750km open and porous border between the two countries is a dream for traffickers and a nightmare for those trying to stop them. It has helped this crossing become one of the busiest human trafficking routes in the world.

More than 23,000 women and girls were victims of trafficking in 2016 according to the annual report published by the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal. However, numbers could rise to 40,000 Nepalese victims a year, according to NGOs in the field. Last year, a study conducted by Sashastra Seema Bal, the Indian armed border force, said detected cases of trafficking from Nepal to India had risen by 500% since 2013.

Pema says she knows how to spot potential victims because she was herself trafficked across this border when she was 11 years old. Born in a remote village in the north of Nepal, she was taken by a friend of her parents, drugged and sold into a brothel in India. Years of rape and torture followed until she was rescued by Maiti Nepal, an anti-trafficking charity, following a raid on the brothel.

Pema lived at a Maiti Nepal shelter and has since trained to become one of 39 trafficking survivors working for the organisation as border guardians. The group work at nine checkpoints between the two countries, in collaboration with border police.

Pema spots a man trying to cross the border, holding the arm of a girl wearing a red leather jacket. She is wearing high heels, and is stumbling, unable to walk properly. “She is dressed too elegantly … One of the things traffickers do is buy women new clothes, to gain their trust,” says Pema as she approaches them and asks for their IDs. The girl does not have any, and the man says he is a businessman working in India and that she is his girlfriend. They are taken aside; Pema and the border police start to question the man.

It turns out their fears are well-founded. The man is a classic “lover boy” fraudster, a man who has seduced a young girl on Facebook and convinced her to leave her family and run away together.

“He has a record,” says Pema. “He was trying to get her out of the country to sell her to a brothel. This happens every single day.”

When the girl learns the truth, she collapses in tears. She is taken to one of Maiti Nepal’s transit homes, where she will receive help and emergency accommodation until she can be taken back to her family.

“It is hard for them to take in the fact that their boyfriend is a trafficker who just wants to sell them,” says Sirta, another of the guardians. “The same thing happened to me. My boyfriend sold one of my kidneys and then he sold me. I am only alive today because I was rescued.”

Full article here

QotD: “The royal college for family doctors has scrapped a course it says is making its members uneasy”

The professional body for family doctors has dropped a course provided by a transgender activist charity because GPs felt it pushed them to guide patients towards gender reassignment.

The course on gender variance, which the Royal College of General Practitioners had hosted on its website since 2015, has been withdrawn.

The college’s decision represents a significant response by the medical establishment at a time of growing disquiet about the surging number of children who are transitioning.

Dr Jonathan Leach, honorary secretary, said the online module, developed and paid for by the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (Gires) “risked creating unrealistic expectations for patients regarding the role of the GP in initiating treatment”.

He added: “We understand that access to specialist gender reassignment services in the NHS is inadequate, and that this is incredibly frustrating for trans patients and their families.

“But GPs should not have to bear the brunt of poor access to specialist services by being put in a position where they are being asked to prescribe treatment that they are not trained to prescribe or monitor safely without expert support.”

Gires said it developed the course to help GPs assessing young trans people and adults. Gires paid the college £7,837 to host the course on its website.

But the two fell out after the college made changes to the course without informing Gires. The college objected to the charity Mermaids, which supports transgender children and their families, being recommended for referrals, saying: “Delete Mermaids from the list of people to use for support and just use Gires. Mermaids have become very controversial.”

Full article here

QotD: “Decriminalization is just a different shaped cage”

I worked for a decade under decrim. But before that, for a little, I was a stripper so we’ll start there.

One night, let’s call her Stacy, came in for opening and was extremely distraught because she’d been raped a few hours earlier, she came in to talk to me because she didn’t have anyone else. Our manager told her she could either work her shift or be fired. The only reason she was allowed to leave was because I said I’d leave too and I was making them too much money at that point for him not to cop it from the owner if that happened. She didn’t go to the police because she knew they wouldn’t care.

Then when I was nineteen I switched to working in brothels. People like to think drugs come before that but usually they don’t. Most of the time that comes after you start, to cope with it.

I routinely worked with trafficked women in legal brothels because under that system, it’s actually way easier to traffic them in. Most of them were South East Asian and I know at least three of them are dead, I’m fairly certain a lot more of them are now.

I’ve seen men come in and leave because they wanted ‘younger’ girls, despite there being girls working that were 18 and looked 15.

The night a john tried to choke me, I slammed his head into the mirror. I was warned by police after that next time I would be charged with assault.

I don’t feel the statistics accurately portray the history of abuse most if not all of us have experienced. I met maybe five women who said they hadn’t been abused in some way during childhood, whether it be sexually, physically or emotionally. In ten years.

Literally no one was there because they wanted to be. It was because if not, you starved or worse. I’ve never met any of us who was in the girl’s room between “”“clients”“” preaching about how great it was. We talked about what we would do if we had a choice and what we hated about johns and management, and every level of horror you can imagine that we’d experienced in our lives.

Decriminalization is just a different shaped cage. It’s still designed to trap and commodify women and girls as sex toys for men. I’ve seen women raped and beaten, I’ve known women who have been killed or who have ended up killing themselves.

The reason it’s not okay to people to exchange money to kill someone but it’s okay to exchange money to rape someone, is because the world we live in perpetuates that women and girls are lesser, and that our worth is based in fuckability to men.

And you could ask anyone who is exited the same and their stories don’t vary from ones like mine. But we’re called liars by people who have never set foot in a brothel in their goddamn lives, for challenging the bullshit notion that there is a class of women it is okay to exploit.

Destroymales on tumblr

QotD: “Teen suffers life-changing injury trying to imitate porn”

The ‘neutral’ language here is obfuscatory, ‘group anal sex’ rather than ‘subjected to multiple, simultaneous anal penetration’ makes it sound like it was equally her idea, when I’d bet my life it wasn’t.

In a tragic case illustrating the sinister effects of online porn, a 16-year-old girl’s bowel was so badly injured during group anal sex that she needs to use a colostomy bag for the rest of her life.

The teen reportedly suffered the life-changing injury while copying scenes seen in violent porn, according to an Australian Broadcasting Company News investigation.

But, sadly, Australia’s national broadcaster was told that the girl’s horrific experience was just one in a string of serious injuries to result from porn-addicted Australians trying to imitate aggressive sex they’ve watched online.

Australia GP and former Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Dr. Bastian Seidel told the ABC he has seen first-hand how copying behavior seen on porn videos can go dangerously wrong.

“We have seen anal fissures more and more. I’ve seen that more in women, so that’s caused by men having anal sex with women,” he said.

The ABC’s hard-hitting investigation also revealed the horrendous experience of a woman, “Sarah,” whose former boyfriend forced her into having anal sex.

The 41-year-old was left with nerve damage to her bowel and can no longer cope with hugging her mom because she was so traumatized by the rape.

(full article here)

QotD: “Maria Miller called me a fake feminist over gender self-ID. Now she says I was right all along”

One of the really, truly, enormously irritating things about writing on “women’s issues” is that people often think you’re talking a load of cobblers – because you’re a woman talking about women, so, duh, partisan – without looking into the subject at all. You get laughed at, called hysterical, accused of making a fuss about nothing.

Then, sometimes, the issue gets wider traction, or someone properly looks into it. And then they discover something incredible. Hang on, this is a big deal! Why didn’t anyone tell us?

I’m used to this happening from, say, lofty columnists who find it all very amusing that politicians go on Mumsnet and talk about their favourite biscuits. (Forgetting that they usually get grilled pretty hard about other issues too, and that “mothers” is a group that encompasses four out of five women by the end of their lives.) But really, I expected better from the chair of the bloody Women & Equalities Select Committee.

Maria Miller has today accused the government of “mishandling” its approach to transgender issues, saying that many trans people cannot access healthcare, which is a bigger issue than being able to self-define your gender. (Currently, the gender recognition certificate process involves two years living “in role” and a medical diagnosis of dysphoria, although it’s easier to just change your passport and other documents.) Service provision, she says, “seems to have been somewhat eclipsed by an announcement by the government on the Gender Recognition Act – that was one of our recommendations, but only one of 33”. Reform of the Gender Recognition Act of 2004 “was not the most pressing issue for trans people that we met as part of the inquiry”. She is now advising ministers to “focus in one getting their services right first and foremost, and also be clear that there is no threat to single-sex services, they are clearly protected in law”.

Well, now. This is a stunning rebuke to… Maria Miller of 2017, who said the only backlash to her report was from “individuals purporting to be feminists”.

As I wrote when the report was released, Miller dismissed feminist concerns “about the erosion of single-sex provision in, say, rape shelters as ‘extraordinary’ bigotry; the Tory dinosaurs weren’t getting upset about it, after all. An alternative explanation is that those dinosaurs don’t give a tuppenny toss about rape shelters either way”.

[…]

It is still shocking to me that Miller could be so little versed in feminism that she could sign off a report advising a change to the Equality Act, replacing “gender reassignment” with “gender identity” as a protected characteristic, without realising the profound public policy implications of that change. At a stroke, she advised changing our concept of gender from something that is partially socially constructed – how you are treated – to entirely a matter of internal essence. She entered the realm of metaphysics, asserting that everyone has a gender identity, something which no instrument can measure. That isn’t the kind of thing you can casually toss out in paragraph 4.108 and expect everyone to nod through, unless you have no idea what you’re proposing.

Helen Lewis, read the full article here.

I will let Janice Turner have the last word here:

QotD: “Trigger warnings OK but no-platforming may be illegal, universities warned”

Consistently no-platforming people could have a chilling effect on free speech on university campuses and should not take place, according to government guidance.

While student unions are free to choose whether or not to invite individual speakers, placing blanket bans on groups that hold a particular political view is likely to breach English and Welsh free speech laws, according to the guidance released on Saturday.

“Free speech is a value integral to the independence and innovation that embodies the higher education sector in the UK, fuelling academic thought and challenging injustice,” said the universities minister, Chris Skidmore.

The release of the guidance, which was drawn up by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), with help from the National Union of Students, the Home Office and a host of other bodies, comes amid a growing debate over free speech on campuses.

While it makes clear that a student union choosing not to invite a speaker because of their views is permissible, it says they should not ban such people from using their facilities altogether. And universities must not allow student complaints to censor course content. Exceptions are made for speech that breaks the law, including stirring up racial or religious hatred.

It reads: “Any decision about speakers and events should seek to promote and protect the right to freedom of expression.”

The guidance makes clear that people have the right to protest against speakers within the law. But it adds: “Protest should not be allowed to shut down debate or infringe the rights of others.”

Full article here

“Monuments across Wales and the UK have been dressed up as part of a new campaign against the erosion of women’s rights”

Monuments across Wales and the UK have been dressed up as part of a new campaign against the “erosion of women’s rights”.

The early morning rush hour crowd were surprised yesterday morning (Monday, January 29) as they came face-to-face with female statues dressed in black t-shirts or draped in banners emblazoned with “woman. Noun. Adult human female.”.

In the past 24 hours, South East Wales Resisters, known as SeWReSisters, alongside ReSisters United, have carried out a campaign across the UK using the hashtag #WomenStandUp. Statues of women all over the country are now dressed in similar attire.

The sculptures in the heart of Newport commemorate the Chartist rebellion.

SeWReSisters claim: “It is fitting that SeWReSisters honour this working-class movement which fought for the rights of the common people.”

ReSisters United, has co-ordinated this campaign across England, Wales and Scotland, to kick off a global week of feminist action called to protest what it claims is “the censoring of women on Facebook and Twitter and the gradual erosion of women’s rights”.

A spokeswoman for ReSisters United commented: “In today’s climate of hyper political correctness, the factual definition of woman has become taboo.

“The dignity, privacy and safety of women is at risk.

“With this action we send the message that women have the right to speak about our biology without shame, fear or retribution”.

“We’d say that we are not positioning ourselves against trans issues, we are standing up for the rights of women and girls.

“We’re not anti-trans, we are pro-women.”

ReSisters United proclaim that they are “committed to speaking out to protect the right to sex-segregated spaces, without the presence of men”.

Text from the South Wales Argus, image from Manchester ReSisters.

An Open Letter to Lunapads

Lunapads is a company I would like to be able to support, and to recommend to other women, but I am appalled by your recent behaviour on social media.

Calling women and girls ‘menstruators’ ‘bleeders’ and ‘womb-owners’ is dehumanising and degrading. Putting ‘content warnings’ for ‘gendered language’ (whatever that actually means) on articles about women and girls is turning femaleness into a taboo subject – the tweet (from November 2018) that upset me the most was about Girl Scouts on the International Day of the Girl Child, about “girls lifting up other girls”, apparently that article needed a ‘content warning’.

In a tweet (from September 2018) about ‘patriarchy-free periods’ you talked about ‘all bodies’ being ‘covered’. ‘All bodies’ do not menstruate, only female ones. Obfuscating female biology is not progressive, it’s reactionary, and you do women and girls no favours by making them feel like bigots for talking about their female anatomy.

It’s great that you make ‘gender neutral’ products (but does a woman have to identify as trans or ‘non-binary’ to be allowed to use them?), but if you want to be inclusive, why not just say ‘women and trans men’? It seems obvious to me that this has very little to do with including trans men, and everything to do with pandering to trans women by not using the word ‘woman’ in any context that naturally excludes them.

That this is pandering becomes even more obvious when looking at a photo you posted on Instagram (in December 2018) of a card with a picture of a toilet and the text “Feeling confused or maybe a little upset? Don’t worry! My gender has nothing to do with you and I am supposed to be here.”

Dismissing women’s reasonable concerns about safety in public toilets (and changing rooms, and locked hospital wards, and homeless shelters, and prisons, and overnight accommodation for school trips) as ‘confusion’ or ‘being upset’ is patronising, condescending, and arrogant; the card may as well have said ‘don’t worry your silly little head about it sweetie!’

Do you care about the safety of women and girls at all? You must be aware of the case in Canada of Jessica/Christopher Hambrook, a paedophile and serial sex offender, who assaulted two women while living at a women’s shelter in 2012. Do you think it’s a good idea to tell women and girls to ignore their instincts when they are in close proximity to a potentially dangerous male?

What exactly do you hope to achieve with this mindless virtue signalling? Are there really that many trans men to buy your products? Trans women have male bodies, they do not have uteruses, they will never menstruate, and your products will never have the same fetishistic attraction as scavenging for used tampons and towels from the bins in public toilets.

Have you noticed an improvement in sales? Is alienating your core demographic really a good business strategy?

How do you justify advocating body positivity and self-acceptance on the one hand, but on the other, promoting an ideology that says some women are born in the ‘wrong body’ and that those ‘wrong bodies’ need extreme medical intervention in the form of radical surgery and a life-long dependence on synthetic hormones? What message do you think you are giving to girls who are going through puberty, and all the natural difficulties that major life-change involves, when you put up aesthetic photos of mastectomy scars on your Instagram account?

But what really tipped me over the edge and got me writing this letter to you was a re-tweet (in December 2018) about ‘SWERFs’. ‘SWERF’, like ‘TERF’ is a thought-terminating cliché, designed to shut down debate and critical thinking. Are you aware that many of the women fighting the sex industry, like Rachel Moran and Fiona Broadfoot, have direct, personal experience of being commercially sexually exploited while minors? Are you aware that SPACE International (Survivors of Prostitution Abuse Calling for Enlightenment) have organised a conference in London for this February called Women of Colour Against the Sex Trade? Will you be listening to these women too?

I also found a 2016 post of yours on Instagram where you discuss a potential project with Buck Angel, a trans porn performer. Is collaborating with the sex industry part of your ongoing business strategy? What kind of message do you think you are giving to young women and girls by helping to normalise the sex industry?

Your Pads4Girls program (where you again refer to girls as ‘menstruators’) is designed specifically to help keep Global South girls in school and out of poverty. One of the undeniable purposes of keeping girls in school and out of poverty is to help keep them out of the sex trade, or situations where they need to get an older ‘boyfriend’ who can buy them basic essentials like sanitary towels. What impact do you think the normalisation of the sex industry as ‘just work’ has on the life chances of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women and girls?

I look forward to hearing back from you,
Abi

Lunapads can be contacted via hello@lunapads.com. Screen-caps, of everything described above, in the comments

Front Row: Germaine Greer

As she turns 80, Germaine Greer reflects on her career as a Shakespeare academic, public intellectual, feminist and provocateur.

Germaine Greer discusses her passion for Shakespeare and how reading his comedies influenced her thinking for The Female Eunuch; her work championing the work of female writers and painters; how much things have really changed for women; and she shares her thoughts on censorship and pornography and why being outspoken is the best way to provoke change.

BBC Radio 4’s Front Row