You can’t sit with us

http://www.womeninprison.org.uk/research/key-facts.php
http://inquest.org.uk/statistics/deaths-of-women-in-prison
http://www.open.edu/openlearn/society/the-law/criminology/doing-prison-experiences-women-the-uk-prison-system
http://www.poverty.org.uk/87/index.shtml

You’ll find a few links above. Before engaging with what I tell you please read at your leisure. I know what I’m speaking to be truth. I also know so many won’t accept truth unless “objective”. That usually means it comes from someone they believe to personify objectivity. I don’t jump through those hoops but you can keep reading till you feel ready to listen.

So women’s space. Sex segregated space. Single sex services. It’s easy to portray feminists concerned about females, as mean girls obsessed with where trans people pee when you frame a debate on women’s space as a bathroom panic. Funnily enough I don’t know a single working class woman who hasn’t seen a man having a piss. The dirty buggers do it anywhere they want after enough to drink. This isn’t hysteria about a penis hidden in a cubicle privately urinating. We’re genuinely not sat clutching pearls at the idea of non-op transwomen having a whizz and leaving after washing their hands. Sex segregated spaces and services extend beyond public bathrooms, even if most are fortunate enough to never need to use many of them.

The sex segregated spaces most likely to be used by women who are working class, and vulnerable because of male violence, are prisons. And we need to talk about prisons.

Women in prison are more likely to have experienced domestic violence, childhood emotional, sexual or physical abuse and/or to have been through the care system than women in the general population. These women are most likely imprisoned for non violent offences (84% of all women in prison are not there for violent offences). We’re talking about women having been through terrible trauma, trying to heal from abuse and being imprisoned for committing offences, that are not violent, while trying to survive. These are the women who are expected to make concessions and forgo sex segregated space for the comfort of male offenders undergoing transition. And these are the women being ignored while left wing men shout about nasty women being bigots and creating a bathroom panic.

Are you fucking kidding me? The women these left wing men made a living off telling their stories to demonstrate their right on credentials. The women used to show who is hurt by inequality, picked up to strengthen a socialist argument as if their lives are nothing more than compelling filler to sit between statistics, then dropped when no longer useful. These very women, working class, lone parents, benefit claimants, survivors of poverty, abuse, the care system and domestic violence. The women on the front line of the war on the working class. These women still need to give more. To concede, to give way, to accommodate and to comfort transgender offenders wanting access to women’s space.

And if they don’t give way, and if the women arguing they shouldn’t have to don’t give way then transgender prisoners will kill themselves.

Well fuck that. I’m done being told women’s boundaries are responsible for other people’s suicide. That’s abusive, coercive bullshit. It should not even be entertained. It especially cannot be entertained in the context of females already experiencing disproportionate levels of mental health struggles in prison. When suicide attempts are at a rate twice that of men in prison and seven times that of the general population. When deaths of women in prison are at their highest levels in 20 years. No.

We can do more to care about women dying in prison. Women born female, raised as girls and living as women shouldn’t be dying in prison anymore than men or trans offenders. Women matter. We are not a barrier to overcome, a nuisance to talk over and responsible for everyone else’s comfort and safety. Women can fight for women.

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We need to talk about toilets.

This is not a post about who gets to use female toilets. If you want a gender debate move on to the next cunt, I’m not buying today. This is a post about female space, or lack thereof. It is about public bathrooms and male architects. It is about this ridiculousness everytime we need to piss in public. Share your own foolish lack of design in the comment section. Female space as an afterthought in public space tells us something. Are you listening?

This is as wide as we can get

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Yes i must almost stand on the toilet in order to shut the door

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The good Lorde graced me with thick hips. No I do not have a thigh gap. Yes I struggle to sit without touching the bin with my fat, female body.

If you read, you can learn to think for yourself

“A public library is the most democratic thing in the world. What can be found there has undone dictators and tyrants: demagogues can persecute writers and tell them what to write as much as they like, but they cannot vanish what has been written in the past, though they try often enough…People who love literature have at least part of their minds immune from indoctrination. If you read, you can learn to think for yourself”
– Doris Lessing

I’m passionate about libraries because they’re weaved into the fabric of my life. My early childhood memories include going to public libraries, with my mother and siblings to borrow books we couldn’t afford to buy. Reading kept the kids quiet and libraries were free. It was a win win scenario for a single mother with three of us to feed, clothe, house and entertain. If we hadn’t access to libraries we wouldn’t have known much further than ourselves, the small estate we lived on, the families whose kids we “played out” with and our own home. Because of libraries other lives were known, countries and cultures completely alien to us, actual aliens, monsters, heroes, whole universes of magic and adventure. Access to books gave us access to other worlds.

Libraries to teenage me were a place to keep up, to get my head down and do more. Constantly learning, working to understand who I was, to find people who led lives like mine and left something of themselves to teach me. They were where I first discovered dystopian fiction and critiques of systems of power.

Now as a mother myself with a daughter who loves libraries they’ve always been safety for us. A place we could go just the two of us. Quiet and safe, full of books that we can share, and free. 4 million children in the UK do not own any books. I’m lucky enough to be able to provide books for my daughter, I’m working class and a single mother and I do what I can. But I can’t provide her new books every day, every week or even every month. Libraries can. And they’re even more important to those children who don’t have any books at all.

Finding formal women only space has brought further understanding of the power of libraries to me. Meeting women away from men has allowed me to value women more, to seek out women’s work and to recognise how absent women are from mainstream culture. Because of the dedication of women I, and so many other woman, have access to women’s libraries. My local women’s library has given me a knowledge of my history as a woman, of shared struggle and ongoing growth. A history I would struggle to find picking through a general library dominated by works written by men. Starting to learn more of our liberation movement, and also stories of just being a woman in all the ways we are women, has given me the tools to organise as a feminist. Knowledge of our past gives direction for our future and libraries provide that.

Those attacking libraries understand their power, and so should we. I am a working class woman and so proud of the history behind me. Working class solidarity and struggle, sisterhood. Constant work, together, to move forward. 2017 has already seen attacks on the Working Class Movement Library in Salford and now on the Vancouver Women’s Library. Online organising across both sides of the Atlantic have united those who wish to deny people access to tools which educate, empower and radicalise. It’s important to ask why they target these democratic spaces for free education. Read the books detractors don’t want us accessing, see the evidence of past successful working class organising, seek out women’s voices when you’re being told you shouldn’t. Support libraries.

“Libraries are places where exciting, radical and sometimes dangerous ideas are born. There is nothing staid about a library or a librarian. We need them now more than ever”
– Professor Mary Beard

The Working Class Movement Library Is Literally Trying To Kill Me

Double Plus Good

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Like most members of the Woke Community, I am aware of the impending talk being given by mass murder advocate and arch TERF, Julie Bindel, at a venue named the Working Class Movement Library, in a place in England called Salford. Now until recently I had never heard of the Working Class Movement Library, or Salford for that matter, and I still have only a vague idea of what this Library’s purpose is. I know libraries are for storing books that you can’t buy and have to give back and that they tell you off for using highlighter pens (even when they’re pink), but that is not the issue here.

Now that I know Julie Bindel is going to be speaking at this library on the 4th of February as part of TQBGL History Month, the very existence of this building is causing me fear, pain and…

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I am not in an abusive relationship with Julie Bindel. And neither are you duck.

What do you stand for? Who do you stand with?

I could never stand with someone who makes false claims of being in an abusive relationship (with a woman they’ve never met) as a protest tactic.

I am a woman who has survived intimate partner violence and then blamed myself for being so thick to allow it to happen.

I remember feeling powerless as my mum continued to stay with a man who beat her violently every time he drank. Swearing that could never happen to me. It didn’t happen in the same way. I found the strength to end my own abusive relationship after being raped “only” once and weeks of minimising it then having to call for help because I was scared for my safety. But it might have happened that way and it wouldn’t have been because I was thick or allowed it. As an adult survivor who has tried to learn about societies attitudes to intimate partner violence and especially the gendered reality of it I now accept we leave when we can. My mother left when she could. Just like I did.

Julie Bindel may not be your cup of tea, you may think she chats shit. Whatever. She isn’t raping you, screaming in your face, throwing things at you, sabotaging your friendships and family relationships, chipping away at your sense of self till you feel what’s happening is normal and you probably could do more to prevent it. You’re not in an abusive relationship with her. And your hyperbole is distasteful, hurtful and dangerous.

If you can stand alongside individuals who use such odious techniques to express their dissent at Julie Bindel being allowed to speak you cannot stand alongside me.

If you stand with those who seek to silence Julie ask yourself do you stand by such tactics? If you stand with neither these people nor Julie know that silence is an action. Fence sitters only end up with a splintered arse.

I stand with Julie not because I agree with her on everything (like she won’t agree with me on everything obviously) but because we must stand up. She has stood up to this bullshit for 14 years, now her critics feel confident in labelling her as an abuser and belittling the experiences of those of us who know what an abusive relationship is. This is where silence has enabled them to progress. It’s long time she stopped standing alone.