Sisterhood above reason.

On CBB, supporting any woman above reason and my feminism…

They put all women into the house to mark 100 years of voting for women. It’s not 100 years of voting for women like me. It’s 90. So personally I don’t give a shit about it. If they repeat the format in 2028 ask me then and I’ll have watched it. Now I don’t like Ann Widecombe. From what I have heard of this show she has behaved how she normally does. Judgemental and disdainful of her fellow women. Her vagina doesn’t make me want to cheer for her. I would have opposed India Willoughby because their personality is worse than Ann’s it would seem. I have no issue with Shane (sometimes performing as Courtney) winning even though I’m not a big fan of drag. 1918 was a year of gains for working class men and middle class women so if this year isn’t all about “women winning the vote 100 years ago” I don’t care. It was a step. Worth marking but also continually painful because of which kind of women always get to take the first step. As is the way today.

But back to Ann. I grew up under the spectre of section 28 which she opposed the repeal of. I was educated in a church school where it was actually illegal, in effect, for teachers to talk about homosexuality. There was such fear from adults! It was terrible. Truly.

As a feminist I have learnt about complusory heterosexuality and about female socialisation and I recognise how, where and when they’ve most harmed me. I look on women like Ann who wanted women like me to be celibate and silent or closeted and reproducing with a man I had married and I think fuck you. I’m a bisexual woman with a child born “out of wedlock”. Many of my friends are lesbian. During my teen years I asked repeatedly about gay relationships as I was utterly confused, there were so few visible women who were not heterosexual. I was stonewalled at school. God I remember once a physics teacher actually saying “I have to stop this conversation as potentially I could be breaking the law”. Can you imagine hearing that as a child? Thinking that the thoughts and questions about who you are, are so bad they could get your teacher put in prison for taking to you? And of course I saw gender non conforming girls (who I know went on to be out lesbians) punished by our peers. When I was sectioned at 13 the one person I asked for to come to the hospital to see me was the only adult lesbian I knew and a woman I felt safe with. Though once I was “better” or rather quiet enough to be released I threw myself into performing femininity (and soon after heterosexuality) even harder than before. Until I lived with another (at the time) bisexual young woman and I realised there was another way. She’s still a dear friend and has been openly lesbian for at least a decade. Whereas I am bisexual still. In spite of currently loving a man of course I look at how things could have been had I not gone through that time with such rampant homophobia woven into the very fabric of our society by laws like section 28 and attitudes like Ann Widecombe’s.

This is before you even consider her views on reproductive justice.

Tl,dr. Ann Widecombe’s homophobia isn’t just a problem for men and no I won’t overlook it so “a woman, any woman” triumphs over a man. She also opposes bodily autonomy for women so that her bearded man in the sky can see unwanted babies born to unwilling mothers. Miss me with that shit.

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The traumatic orgasm

I have survived more sexually coercive experiences that I can count. I actually have never spoken with a woman who hasn’t experienced either rape, the coercision they can’t quite name to themselves as rape, sexual assault and/or sexual harassment. Literally not a single woman who has survived girlhood and is living their womanhood under patriarchy who has escaped sexual violence entirely. Not. A. One.

And this opening is important. Because without women only space I would never have realised I wasn’t alone. Without feminism providing the bones of solid theory for me to contextualise my experiences within, the flesh of my life would still be disconnected from the body of sisterhood, but more importantly my physical female body would remain disassociated from the humanity of myself.

The personal is political, has been political and will go on being political.

I have been raped. Twice. This is the first time I have admitted that second rape I’ve endured, chronologically the first. And I admit it into a world in which I know it is mine to admit, my cross to bear, my burden to shoulder and my shame to confess. Yet I too know another world is possible in which it isn’t my crime to admit to having suffered, rather a violence enacted by someone who choose it and should be the one in the business of admission and shame. I know and see and taste and hear and live this alternate world in women only space. In sisterhood and in healing with women and by women.

Now this next testimony is where dear reader we test the full capacity of our hearts and ability to hear and see each other. I enjoy sex. Still. Regularly, thoroughly and shamelessly. It is a testament to the power of women that any of us can and do. But we do. And we don’t. And when we do it is ours and it is a testament to our courage and our strength and our capacity for joy and love and life. And when we don’t it is ours and it is a testament to our courage and our strength and our capacity for joy and love and life. I actually enjoy sex with men, I share my body with the bodies of those similar to those who took without care what was not given freely. It is astounding that in this world so many women do enjoy sex and share that joy with men. But many of us do.

I have known and loved women who will only know and love women. I have known and loved women who will know and love women and men. And I have known and loved women who will know and love women but only share sexual love with men. And I have known and loved women who will love many people but sexual connection will never be what they seek or desire. There is yet one more woman I have known and loved, and her truth was not unique. Sexual connection with men was consistently sought and consistently impossible. Painful. Physically impossible. Dismissed and ignored by doctors. Painted as frustrating and hurtful by men who had only so much patience and care. This dear loved one never experienced sexual pleasure in the years I knew her. She felt love and closeness, and fear and pain. Again and again. And was blamed for her body. And blamed for her pain. And she was told we have words for this blame. Words like vaginismus, vulvodynia, endometriosis, candidiasis, pelvic inflammatory disease. Others will have been given an alternate history of blamed pain, episiotomy and a husband stitch or two. Mutilation. Various cancers of the cunt which are always our fault for having been infected with those diseases women who aren’t pure are at risk of.

I do not want an accountant with a box of expensive dildos exploiting trauma, pain and women in the spaces we thought were our own. I do not want an accountant with a box of expensive dildos playing mind games with us in the spaces we thought were our own. I do not want your journey from accountant to trans lesbian kitten and Lolita in training to include our orgasms in the spaces we thought were our own.

I. Do. Not. Want.

I do not know how to eat a fig

I do not know how to eat a fig,
And this I am told is shameful.
I do not understand to peel, slice or bite,
And this I am told is disgraceful.

I have eaten figs, squished with sugar
Fat. Fat. Fat. Fat

I do not know how to eat a fig,
Without process and package, a plateful.
You know how to eat a fig so
You snap it, share it and claim it.

I do not know how to eat a fig
Fig eating is not in school schedules.

“You look me dead in my face, Then act like you don’t see me”

Paris Lees learnt how to be a woman the same place I did. A council estate. Her’s was a little whiter than mine, Clifton rather than Radford, but it was Notts, and it was working class and it was not easy.

My role models for womanhood wore colourful lipstick, and gold hoops. Went drinking with their mates, shouted obscenities when they saw fit, and struggled to get by. Some of them used the sex industry to support survival. Some of them the checkouts at kwiksave. I remember one woman driving a van, her earrings were the biggest of everyone’s. All the mothers needed some form of welfare too. I knew we were poor but so was everyone. Until secondary school I didn’t know we were to be hated for being poor. It never occurred to me that not everyone got free school meals and so the ones who did should be made visible with a plastic token to denote their class.

20 years later and we still hate poor children, we really hate poor mothers and we hold a special form of hate for working class women who defy middle class expectations of female empowerment. Never mind that our foremother’s were working to support the family out of necessity before the first wave of feminism started to find out how their buttons were made and by whom. Never mind that the power to organise has been known and utilised by working class women as long as we have existed. There is still a special kind of arrogance from a certain subset of feminism, that feels our culture defies their standards. That our way of being is not feminist enough. That our refusal to stab our brothers in the back denotes a lack of sisterhood that must be radicalised out of us. That our enjoyment of harmful cultural practices denotes a lack of understanding of what a harmful cultural practice is that must be patronised into us.

Self deprecation is the default setting for the “funny woman”. It’s seen as acceptable to laugh at your fat, to belittle your own intellect, to make yourself small to make everyone else in the room feel large. This is a result of female socialisation that garners a lot of sympathy. It isn’t threatening to men but nor is a threatening to individual women. Collectively it does us no favours.

Self objectification is another result of female socialisation. It too does nothing to threaten men, nor is it a threat to individual women. Collectively it does women no favours but when ones primary goal is to survive that is what one must do. Coming hard for the women who use patriarchal constraints to survive, who wear the femininity that is policed so heavily as a shield, who objectify themselves to get paid but know reality, that isn’t sisterhood.

We’ve told you before, I’ll tell you again: don’t hate the player hate the game. That’s class politics. When your sex as a class politics do not even include all of your sex class you are setting yourself up for a terrible fall.

“Forgive but don’t forget, Girl keep ya head up”

They set up their “charities” in our communities. They cherry pick our brightest and our best.

They break up our families and they give our kids to “nice families” to give them a “chance”.

They step into our kids lives when against all odds we raised a fucking belter and offer to mentor, or to accommodate or to sponsor a scholarship.

They harvest our pain and make it into the all lives matter of feminism.

They consume our accounts of poverty and abuse and sexual violence and sell books about it.

They send their artists into our estates to film us and paint us and caricature us.

They invite us to the races and then make a sport of mocking our heels and our tits and our skin tones and our hair.

They take all our good jokes and sour them with their hate.

They criminalise us. Imprison us. Fine us. Lock us into the cycle. Then ask us why we won’t break free.

You’re not clever. You’re not funny. You’re not artistic. You’re not compassionate. You’re not kind. You’re not special. You’re a monster that needs to stop feeding on us. All of you.

I don’t believe it’s Suzie an all de other girls I meet…

This is not a long thing. I’ll come to the long thing in time. And best be ready. But for now… This is necessary because it is central to our current conversations

First off this is not a “Becky thing”. Like I’m not so loving my whiteness I gots to sing it from the roof tops. I am not Katie Hopkins.

Secondly WoC I use when women who sell identify as such ask me. Generally I say black to mean from Africa or the African diaspora… Like that’s including the Caribbean. If I need to explain why please pick up a book and come back later. Liverpool has good museums too. Mixed black heritage is usually read as black in the UK too. I say asian to mean from Asia or the Asian diaspora. I know in the US folks think south east when they hear asian but in the UK they usually think Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi… Anyhow I’m saying like generally the continent like same as Africa is a continent. When I capitalise Black it’s to refer to “political Blackness”, non white without centring white. It’s quick.

So back to me. I’m white. I’m not doing the white person thing of breaking down what percentage of what country my great grandfather’s are from… I don’t even know. I know I’m white.

So I am not a WoC. I am not Black. I am certainly not black. Something about being grouped in with “WoC” is bothering me. It’s because other white women see me seeing race and they racialise me as minority ethnic. As a woman of colour. As Black. There is an assumption that white women can’t see or articulate when racism happens so I can’t be white. That is a part of why racism isn’t being addressed in white dominant spaces.

I look as white as Julia Stiles in save the last dance. I am not a racially ambiguous woman. This is coming from perceptions of what whiteness does not how whiteness looks.

I need white women to see we can be white anti racists. We can and we must.

The makings of a perfect bitch

“One is not born a woman, but rather becomes, a woman.” – Simone de Beauvoir, “The Second Sex”

Having been recognised of the second sex at birth my becoming a woman has been a lifetime of action and reaction, socialisation and surviving socialisation. I have never once come out as a woman. I have always been treated as such regardless of what I have said or have not said.

The ability to decide that you’re not out in your chosen gender identity is a luxury rfab* women never got and currently do not get. Come at me.

The dominance of gender identity in so many feminist spaces is pure gaslighting for too many of us. Typically the conversation will go yeah I look like a woman and sound like a woman and describe myself online as a woman but I might not be a woman it might not be safe for people to be out as their chosen gender in work or in life.

Get. To. Fuck.

Because it’s safe for me to be “out” as a woman? It’s safe for me to apply for jobs and be read as a woman of childbearing age who might go off and have babies and cost loads of money? Yeah totally safe. Safe for me to walk pon road in my female body with a cunt any next man feels he’s entitled to comment on at best and invade at worse? Fully secure.

Safety? Fuck safety. Everyone’s just trying to survive this. And I’m fully annoyed at the audacity of some people. Go fuck yourself for real. This isn’t you woke. This is you acting the twat mate.

*rfab, recognised female at birth