QotD: “I think there are two kinds of femininity”

I think there are two kinds of femininity. Things that were created to be feminine or assigned to femininity simply because they’re restrictive or sexualizing and those sort things randomly assigned to femininity. A good example would be high heels vs. the color pink.

I think people need to take this into account when we talk about both abolishing gender and abolishing gender stereotypes. We need to destroy the things in category one and move the things in category two out of any category at all.

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QotD: “cooperation drives evolution as much as competition”

[Robert Newman] displays distinct ire towards the evolutionary biologist and omnipresent scientist Richard Dawkins. His show, “New Theory of Evolution” takes a sustained, witty swipe at Dawkins’s world-view.

“Darwin’s theory of evolution has been hijacked by quite a narrow individualist philosophy that derives from Hobbes and I think it’s having a terribly negative effect. It’s giving people a very pessimistic idea of human nature. What I think Dawkins has done is brought back a particularly virulent form of original sin. He’s actually a deeply religious thinker – ‘We are born selfish therefore let us try to teach altruism’, ‘If your genes are selfish, you are.’ Not true.” Warming to his theme, he continues: “It’s a virulent repudiation of Darwin. What Darwin says is that those communities which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best and produce the most offspring.”

“I’m arguing that cooperation drives evolution as much as competition – I’m not discounting competition but cooperation is there as well. Dawkins is a reactionary thinker and he does a lot of damage. The universe he imagines couldn’t exist for five seconds. People say “It’s the law of the jungle isn’t it?” “It’s dog eat dog.” Well dogs don’t eat dogs – very rarely. Look at African hunting dogs – if they don’t share they get rolled in the dust and made to. Kropotkin – responding to Darwin – saw how if a buffalo falls in a ditch the rest of the herd make efforts to rescue it. Contrary to what male primatologists were saying in the mid-70s about baboons, it’s not about a dominant male with his harem of submissive female. They organise around a female kinship network. If a male wants to join the group he has to know a female and even then has to serve a probationary period in which he proves his work by performing foster care – looking after offspring that are not his genetic material. You can look at sterile female ants too…” He trails off, pauses, grins.

“I’m being incoherent, sorry,” he mutters, and sips more coffee. Not in the least, Robert Newman, I want to say. You see that chink of gleaming light in the dark, overcast sky – that’s you, that is.

Robert Newman, interviewed here.

(And for those of you too young to remember the Mary Whitehouse Experience, and therefore get the last paragraph, see here.)

QotD: “my dom beats me when i mess up without aftercare”

This is one of today’s search engine terms:

my dom beats me when i mess up without aftercare

For anyone visiting this blog in this type of situation, you are being abused. It doesn’t matter what ‘contract’ you signed, what you agreed to verbally, how nice your abuser is other times, what kind of ‘pillar’ of the BDSM ‘community’ your abuser is, this is a dangerous situation, and you should leave, not just your abuser, but the BDSM ‘scene’ altogether.

You deserve love and affection and care without having to be tortured first, you deserve respect without having to agree to total submission and obedience first. You can take responsibility for your own life and your own decisions, you don’t need a ‘dom’ to do this for you.

If you feel like you can’t leave, because of financial reasons, because you have become isolated from family and community outside of BDSM, because you are afraid of what your abuser might do, there are resources out there available to help you escape.

QotD: “Rape victims to be spared ordeal of cross-examination in court”

New measures to spare alleged rape victims from facing live cross-examination in court will be rolled out as part of changes being made by the justice secretary.

Liz Truss announced that from September victims in England and Wales would be able to provide evidence in prerecorded cross-examinations to be played to the jury once a trial begins.

The rule applying to all adult sexual offences is being introduced following the success of pilot schemes using prerecorded evidence in cases of child sexual abuse.

It was found that defendants, when confronted with the strength of the evidence against them before the trial, were more likely to enter an early guilty plea, reducing the trauma for victims, speeding up the justice process and saving money.

The move comes amid changes that include a crackdown on paedophiles grooming children on social media with a new offence of “sexual communication with a child” to be brought in. It will mean those convicted face a jail sentence of up to two years and an automatic listing on the sex offender register.

Truss said the changes to rape trials would prevent victims facing the trauma of confronting their attackers without reducing the right to a fair trial.

She told the Sunday Times: “There is more we can do to help alleged victims in these cases give the best possible evidence they can give in an environment that is much more suitable than open court. We’ve been trialling this for children in cases of sex abuses.”

She added: “What this has led to is a much higher level of early guilty pleas. That has a huge amount of benefit. It resolves the case much earlier for the victim. It reduces the level of trauma for the victim. I want to see that being the standard offer in those cases and that will give more victims the confidence to come forward.”

Rape prosecutions are at record levels and the court system is struggling to cope with the high caseloads.

Domestic abuse, rape, sexual offences and child sex abuse account for 19% of the Crown Prosecution Service’s total caseload – more than double the figure six years ago.

The volume of rape referrals to the CPS from the police rose to 6,855 in 2015-16 – up 11% on the previous year. Of those referred, 3,910 resulted in charges and 1,300 in convictions. However, campaigners claim only 6% of all reported cases result in a conviction for the perpetrator.

[…]

Lisa Avalos, a professor of law at the University of Arkansas who has carried out comparative work on rape prosecutions between Britain and the US, said false allegations of rape make up just 2-3% of all rape allegations according to a study commissioned by the Home Office.

Avalos, an expert on gender-based violence, said: “The overwhelming problem here is rape, it is not false allegations of rape. Studies have shown the majority of false allegations of rape involve unnamed perpetrators so the concerns some organisations have about reputational damage to identifiable individuals are substantially overstated.”

She added: “Concern with false allegation masks another problem, namely that disbelieved rape victims have been wrongly accused of false reporting. Approaching rape victims with scepticism enables rape and discourages victims from coming forward.”

Avalos said that if rape cases were properly investigated in the first place, false allegations would never come to court.

She said: “There are massive failures to properly investigate rapes with police officers only referring between 10% and 30% of all reported cases to prosecutors. There are some international organisations that are putting out excellent rape investigation guidelines but such guidance is yet to be embraced by the UK.”

Full article here

Happy International Women’s Day!

“Sex education to be made compulsory in secondary schools”

Children will be taught about healthy adult relationships from the age of four, with sex education made compulsory in all secondary schools, though faith schools will still be allowed to teach “in accordance with the tenets of their faith”, the government has announced.

Politicians and charities welcomed the radical overhaul of sex and relationship education but some secular campaigners expressed concern about the opt-outs that could be available for faith schools, saying the government needed to ensure some pupils were not left vulnerable.

MPs across all parties had lobbied for the change, calling the previous guidance published in 2000 hopelessly inadequate for a modern world in which children can be exposed to pornography, online grooming and abuse at the touch of a button and at an increasingly young age.

In a written statement on Wednesday, the education secretary, Justine Greening, said existing statutory guidance made no mention of modern issues.

“The statutory guidance for sex and relationships education was introduced in 2000 and is becoming increasingly outdated,” she said. “It fails to address risks to children that have grown in prevalence over the last 17 years, including cyberbullying, ‘sexting’ and staying safe online.”

Sex education is compulsory only for secondary school pupils in local authority-run schools. Now all secondary schools, including academies, private schools and religious free schools, must make the age-appropriate sex and relationship education mandatory.

Parents will continue to have a right to withdraw their children from the lessons. Schools will have flexibility in how they deliver the subjects and they can develop an approach that is “sensitive to the needs of the local community” and religious beliefs.

[…]

The government will now make the change by tabling its own amendment to the children and social work bill, having previously been under pressure when more than two dozen Tory MPs signed their own backbench amendment to the bill, spearheaded by former women and equalities secretary Maria Miller.

Full article here

“Sexual harassment ‘at epidemic levels’ in UK universities”

Sexual harassment, misconduct and gender violence by university staff are at epidemic levels in the UK, a Guardian investigation suggests.

Freedom of information (FoI) requests sent to 120 universities found that students made at least 169 such allegations against academic and non-academic staff from 2011-12 to 2016-17. At least another 127 allegations about staff were made by colleagues.

But scores of alleged victims have told the Guardian they were dissuaded from making official complaints, and either withdrew their allegations or settled for an informal resolution. Many others said they never reported their harassment, fearful of the impact on their education or careers. This suggests that the true scale of the problem is far greater than the FoI figures reveal.

“These numbers are shocking, but sadly, from our experience, are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr Ann Olivarius, senior partner at the law firm McAllister Olivarius. “Sexual harassment of students by staff members has reached epidemic levels in British universities. Most universities have no effective mechanism to stop staff from pressuring students into sexual relationships, and when it happens, any sort of disciplinary action is pretty much nonexistent. Those in charge are often colleagues who have many incentives not to intervene.

“Young women are often terrified about the consequences if they make a complaint about a staff member. So often, when they do, the university’s chief concern is to downplay any wrongdoing and protect its own reputation by keeping the whole thing quiet.”

Anna Bull, co-founder of the 1752 Group, set up to address staff-student sexual harassment in higher education, said: “There is evidence to suggest that the actual figures in the UK will be staggering. The Association of American Universities undertook a detailed survey of sexual assault and sexual misconduct in 2015 (student-student and staff-student). Surveys were completed on 27 campuses, with 150,072 students responding. The survey found reporting rates for sexual harassment – staff and student – [were] 7.7%, and only 28% of even the most serious incidents are reported to an organisation or agency.”

Full article here

From Clytemnaestra to Hillary Clinton

Really interesting programme on BBC Radio 4 this evening, available on iPlayer now.

From Clytemnaestra in the tragedies of Aeschylus to Hillary Clinton on social media – Professor Mary Beard explores the image and reality of women in power. A chance to catch up on her prestigious London of Review of Books Winter Lecture, exploring timely questions such as what’s so ‘funny’ about the idea of women being in charge and what does ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ really mean?

As with Proessor Mary Beard’s first LRB lecture (Oh Do Shut Up, Dear: The Public Voice of Women), the Cambridge classicist’s starting point will be her profound knowledge of the ancient world. As previously, she will explore not only the facts surrounding women in power but also the depiction of them in the media past and present.

She’ll begin by unpackaging the ways in which apparently powerful women in ancient Greek drama are often depicted as ultimately undermining their own entitlement to power: tragic figures such as Aeschylus’ Clytemnaestra or comic ones such as Aristophanes’ Lysistrata may appear to be powerful, but an audience only had to witness Clytemnaestra’s blood-thirsty wielding of an axe or the frivolity of Lysistrata and friends to have their belief in the patriarchy reaffirmed. In other words, myths which depict women abusing power may simply justify the reality of a patriarchy.

In the second part of the lecture, Mary Beard will discuss the idea of the “glass ceiling” and investigate whether it is perhaps our internalising of the fates of figures such as Clytemnaestra and Lysistata which has had a more significant impact on the challenges which women of power encounter today, whether Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Marine Le Pen or our own Theresa May.

QotD: “please stop talking about the human body as if it is a morphing vague undefinable accidental mass”

please-stop-talking-about-the-human-body-as-if-it-is-a-morphing-vague-undefinable-accidental-mass

like if we were to start saying “humans don’t have five fingers because some humans have less or more” then you erase the fact that these abnormalities become disabilities. you don’t help people who are born missing fingers by ignoring the fact they don’t have the amount of fingers they should. these people grow learn and adapt but the fact that they must do so is a unique experience because of their disability, and something most people don’t have to do.

please please please PLEASE I am begging you please stop talking about the human body as if it is a morphing vague undefinable accidental mass. The human genome took thousands of years to evolve and will continue to evolve but now at this time humans have a set of characteristics that define them as humans and not as dogs or trees or bananas or birds or whales. They are primates, they are apes, they have two legs two arms ten fingers one stomach and one heart and also for the love of the moon the stars the depths of the sea and my sanity TWO SEXES

From always ask who benefits

Sexual Offences Bill criminalising purchase of sex passed in Republic of Ireland

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Legislation which criminalises the purchaser of sexual services rather than the seller has been passed in the Dáil by 94 votes to six.

There were three abstentions.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill also strengthens laws to combat child pornography and prevent the sexual grooming of children. And it amends provisions on incest and indecent exposure.

[…] Provisions in the Bill also include prohibition of the wearing of wigs and gowns in proceedings involving children and the prohibition on the cross-examination of victims of sexual offences by an accused, which will apply once the Bill is commenced.

Irish Times, continue reading here

Today a historic precedent was set when the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, which includes laws to criminalise the purchase of sex and ensure vulnerable women, children and men in prostitution can access support, passed its final hurdle in Seanad Éireann and will now be part of the Irish Statute Book.

The 70+ partners of Turn Off the Red Light, which have been tirelessly campaigning in support of this crucial legislation are united in their welcome for
the new legislation, which will better protect vulnerable women, children and men who are being sexually exploited.

Denise Charlton, Chair of Turn Off the Red Light,said: “From the very beginning this Bill has been about protecting and supporting those most vulnerable to sexual exploitation, violence and abuse. It focuses on the perpetrators of sexual crime
– the pimps and traffickers who enable abuse and exploitation to continue, and who benefit from it financially.

“We commend the Tánaiste, Minister Frances Fitzgerald, for championing this Bill as it progressed through the Oireachtas. By supporting it, the Irish Government is making a clear statement that it will stand up for the most vulnerable in our society.

“The inclusion of a review period in this legislation affirms the Government’s commitment to making sure the legislation has a real impact for those it seeks to support. We look forward to working with the Government in the coming months to ensure this happens.”

Statement by Turn Off the Red Light, continue reading here

The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD this evening welcomed the passage of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 through both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Speaking this evening the Tánaiste said –

‘This is one of the most comprehensive and wide ranging piece of sexual offences legislation ever to be introduced and has been a priority for me as Minister for Justice and Equality. It is an essential piece of legislation that brings additional protections to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. It contains the right laws for these times, laws that will protect victims of the most vicious and depraved crimes.

The provisions of this Bill enhance and update laws to combat the sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children. It widens the range of offences associated with child pornography to ensure that no one who participates in any way in the creation, distribution, viewing or sharing of such abhorrent material can escape the law.

Also, the Bill provides greater clarity in relation to the definition of sexual consent for the first time.’

The Bill contains:

· New criminal offences to protect children against grooming;

· New measures to protect children from online predators;

· New and strengthened offences to tackle child pornography;

· New provisions to be introduced regarding evidence by victims, particularly children;

· New offences addressing public indecency;

· A provision in relation to harassment Orders to protect victims of convicted sex offenders;

· Provisions maintaining the age of consent to sexual activity at 17 years of age and for a new “proximity of age” defence;

· A provision to criminalise the purchase of sexual services.

· A statutory statement of the law as regards consent to sexual acts

Concluding, the Tánaiste said, ‘I would like to acknowledge the support and invaluable contributions from my parliamentary colleagues and from civic society, in particular from those people and organisations who made submissions and representations to me and my Department.’

This Bill brings Irish law into line with a number of international legal instruments and implements the recommendations of a number of Oireachtas committees.

Tánaiste welcomes passage of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 through Oireachtas

SPACE International is delighted to join its voice with the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Ruhama, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Children’s Rights Alliance, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Men’s Development Network, Irish Nurses and Midwives Association and all of the other organisations that make up the seventy-two members of the Turn Off the Red Light campaign, in welcoming the passing of the Sexual Offences Bill in the Republic of Ireland.

SPACE International’s Irish members, both publicly known and anonymous, have worked extraordinarily hard alongside many others to campaign for the passing of this Bill since 2011, and it is with great joy that we can finally welcome the criminalisation of the demand for paid sexual access to human beings.

We are relieved and gladdened that the Irish government has finally fully recognised the abusive reality of prostitution and committed to criminalise those who exploit others for their own sexual gratification. This is an important and historical moment for Ireland. We have, for the first time since the foundation of the state, recognised the legal rights of prostituted persons to live free of sexual exploitation.

SPACE recognises the highly gendered nature of the sex trade and welcomes the societal change that this legislation will bring about, in particular its positive effect on the goal of gender equality, and is committed to continuing the conversation with regard to social supports for prostituted persons so that they may exit prostitution if they so wish with the full support of the State.

SPACE International welcomes Irish Sexual Offences Bill