Most rapists and murderers aren’t ill. Don’t call misogynists “mad”

Swapping misogyny for mental illness in explanations for violence against women (particularly when the explanations are a clear-cut as the Elliot Rodger case) is nothing more than excuse-making. It’s inaccurate and it prevents a criminal justice system from dealing with violence. It also covers up the extreme misogyny that women experience every day and that they’re taught to re-frame (“it was my fault”), ignore (“he says he won’t do it again”), and forgive (“he’s really sorry”). We need to call this spade a spade. On Feminist Times:

An actor called him a lunatic, and newspapers and magazines called him a madman and deranged. And while it may have been tempting to use these words to describe the young man who killed six people because of his arrogant attitude of entitlement to women, Elliott Rodger’s videos and manifesto made clear that his problem was not his mental health, but rather his unbridled misogyny.

Using mental health slurs to describe people who are violent or objectionable is not only inaccurate, it also promotes stigma and damaging attitudes towards people with mental health problems. This is why describing rapists and murderers as crazy, psychos or nutters is dangerous as well as lazy.

It is these attitudes that prevent people with mental health diagnoses from getting on with their lives. They cause people in a leafy Sheffield suburb to actively object to a charity-run crisis housein their backyard on their street. The resulting prejudice prevents us from getting jobs and causes people to fear and loathe us. It makes people avoid seeking treatment because they are so afraid of the stigma that comes alongside the ‘mentally ill’ label. As an anonymous contributor to Fementalists wrote:

“For those of us who are mentally ill, however, it stays with us, stabs at us. Whenever we hear this kind of thing we’re getting the message we’re not to be accepted as we are, that we’re bad, wrong, to be mocked, or worse, dangerous. To me, it’s a constant message sent by society that we are unwelcome in it.”

Rest: Feminist Times.

Mental health, misogyny and not all men


I think this one is a no-brainer for anyone who’s seen or read any of Rodger’s views – he hated women. Anyone who says a group of people should be rounded up in concentration camps hates that group of people. Come on now. His own words make clear that this hatred played a part in his decision to attack others. How he arrived at this and rationalised it or how his mental health played a part is a whole other can of worms, and we don’t know enough right now to get into that. We may never.

(It’s worth noting that he also killed and injured men – perhaps women were a scapegoat for his resentment of society as whole or feelings of failure, as is pretty typical of hate crimes. If so, how women came to be the focus is still interesting and relevant, and important. Someone’s own perception of their motivation is not necessarily the whole story, but it’s a place to start. But I digress, and I begin to speculate as I said I would try not to, so let’s move on.)

What’s putting me and plenty of other women of my acquaintance through the emotional wringer in the wake of this story is that although this is horrifying, there is something we recognise in it. It’s shocking, but not surprising – no, that’s not quite the word. It’s not unfamiliar. Men getting angry and aggressive because they didn’t get what they want from women is something that threatens, hurts and kills women every day. For me and other women I’ve been talking to today, Rodger’s words bring back memories of being on the receiving end of an aggrieved sense of entitlement, and turn up to 11 our sense of having had a fucking lucky escape. To paraphrase Margaret Atwood, men are afraid women will reject them; women are afraid men will kill them, and this is why, writ large.

Rest: effie perine.

Excerpt from an excellent post from someone who works with violent offenders every day. Rodger’s problems were not about mental health (convenient as it is for the detractors to badge them as such and, therefore, defend him). He said himself felt entitled to women and hated them for not complying. What exactly is unclear about that misogyny?

Also, you should read Effie’s speech at Durham Women Rising. It’s transcribed here.

Sunday feminist roundup (18th May 2014)

And all else this week:

#grabbed: ‘Women are taught to accept it and not to protest.’


These are just a tiny selection of the thousands of stories that poured in when I started the hashtag #Grabbed on Twitter to document experiences of being touched, grabbed and groped without consent.

Within a few hours, according to the International Business Times, the hashtag had been used more than 6,000 times. By that evening it was the top trending topic in the UK.

As suggested by the overwhelming number of personal testimonies that flooded in, the experience of being touched in a sexual way without your consent is devastatingly common.

Rest: guardian: Too many women are touched, grabbed and groped without consent

Here’s what I want from progressives some fucking solidarity

I’ve watched my abusive ex continue to thrive in his community — join all the boards, the parent-teacher groups, spearhead community initiatives. What a guy! And hey, he didn’t abuse you, so WHO’S TO SAY. And who cares when there’s progressive work to be done! Real progressive work. Work that matters. Not just the girl shit. They’re all crazy anyway — the girls.

So keep starting your startups and having your protests and your meetings and keep writing your articles and having your very important discussions about climate change and poverty and union politics and Donald Sterling is such a racist, isn’t he. We’ll all support you, I guess, because we have no other choice. Because where do we go? Where is our community? Where is our Next Top Progressive Website? Where’s our Jacobin? When we launch it will we get profiled in The New York Times?

Oh. No. We don’t get one. We aren’t serious enough. It’s just women’s issues after all. Not Serious Politics. Oh. Because you still want your buddies and your porn and your class of women to fuck and ogle and to listen to your fucking baby-child emotions and to comfort you and support you and be there for you while you work through your fucking damage even though we had to work through ours all on our own. When is it our turn? When will you listen to us?

We’ll keep telling you our stories. Because we keep thinking you’ll care. We keep hoping that this time you’ll believe us. That this time you’ll get it.

- Meghan Murphy on Here’s what I want from progressives (some fucking solidarity)Feminist Current.

Why Your Cat Calling Makes Me Scared to Wear Summertime Clothes

It’s difficult to describe what it feels like to be cat called if it has never happened to you. You feel sick and exposed. You feel violated, worthless, and degraded. You feel as though your intellect and your personality have been entirely squished, flattened and run over by a truck. All of the accomplishments you’ve made in life – in school, at work, in relationships – they don’t matter. You are not a human.

If when you walk by a group of teenage boys or the classic group of construction workers and “please don’t say anything, please don’t say anything” runs through your mind, you’ve experienced one cat call too many (quite literally, one cat call is too many). It begins to creep into your life to the point where good, genuine compliments from trustworthy people can feel cheap.

- Laura Anderson (her twitter and her blog)

On feminspire.

Not Happily Ever After” Campaign Shows Disturbing Twists In Fairytale Endings

Caption: The fairytale never said anything about Prince Charming using sex as a weapon to exert his power over the beautiful princess, or demanding it from her even when she said no.

Not Happily Ever After” Campaign Shows Disturbing Twists In Fairytale Endings

“Not Happily Every After” is a new campaign launched on May 8th in Ireland, featuring this uncomfortable and eye-catching image.

The venture is a joint project between Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Women’s Aid, after a recent survey that found that 6% of women in Ireland reported experiencing sexual violence within relationships.  The campaign aims to highlight that sexual violence can and often is experienced within intimate relationships, at the hands of violent partners.  Shockingly in Ireland, marital rape was not criminalized until 1990 (in the USA it was criminalized state-by-state in the 1970′s). Given the very recent nature of the change in law, it is not surprising that women refrain from speaking out, or remain uneducated about the nature of sexual violence from intimate partners. [Rest on bust.]

Really important stuff. Wonder if this is the first, concerted campaign to address intimate partner violence and abuse in Ireland?

Sunday feminist roundup (11th May 2014)

Here’s what else I’ve been reading this week. (Warning: there are 1000s.)

- My tiny tyrant? Feminism and attachment parenting by @lulasticblog (aroomofourown)

- The Triple Burden of Working Motherhood by @jesschivers (aroomofourown)

- Motherhood is a Feminist Issue by @Firewomon (aroomofourown)

- Nearly Three Hundred Girls Were Kidnapped in Nigeria. So Why Isn’t It Front Page News? (bitchmagazine)

- The Most Sexist Product Ever Is Removed From Stores After Boycott Goes Viral (bust)

- Controversial Photographs Of Fathers And Girls Who Have Promised Virginity Until Marriage (bust)

- The Pew Survey On Stay-At-Home Mothers: Problems of Definition and Data For Comparisons (echidneofthesnakes)

- The Women Who Mapped the Universe And Still Couldn’t Get Any Respect (elegantgatheringofwhitesnows)

- We need to stop using the word rape because it hurts men’s feelings (elegantgatheringofwhitesnows)

- What is missing from the coverage of Boko Haram. (content note) (elegantgatheringofwhitesnows)

- A New Masculinity: Why I Need Feminism as a Man (everydayfeminism)

- Top 3 Signs You May Need a Break from the Feminist Blogosphere (everydayfeminism)

- The uncomfortable reality of Jaime Lannister’s sexual violence (feminaust)

- bell hooks will save us all from the long, slow death that is popular feminism (feministcurrent)

- “I break hearts & faces”: Women fighters forced to be sexy (feministtimes)

- The ‘Model Minority’, like the ‘Virgin/Whore’ dichotomy, is man-made (feministtimes)

- “Whose Islam? Whose feminism?” (feministtimes)

- Plenty of problems but no solutions in Kirsty Wark’s ‘Blurred Lines’ (feministtimes)

- Juries need to be taught about the reality of rape, says DPP (independent)

- Violence and Masculinity Threat (thesocietypages)

- Misogyny not a thing, say misogynists (glosswatch)

- To All Of The Girls Accused Of Just Wanting Attention (glosswatch)

- America Is Declining at the Same Warp Speed That’s Minting Billionaires and Destroying the Middle Class (alternet)

- Woman Films Her Own Abortion to Show Procedure Isn’t Scary (alternet)

- Why Is Pope Francis Throwing Nuns Who Share His Beliefs Under the Bus? (alternet)

- My Personal Walmart Nightmare: You Won’t Believe What Life Is Like Working There (alternet)

- Nigeria is mired in violence and inequality. It’s the girls who suffer (theguardian)

- The story of Nigeria’s stolen girls fell through the gaps of western journalism (theguardian)

- Barring Northern Irish women from NHS abortions is an atrocious anomaly (theguardian)

- Why it’s OK to be a ‘bad feminist’ (theguardian)

- Mums’ absence from marriage certificates shows we’re still wedded to inequality (theguardian)

Sunday feminist roundup (6th April 2014)

- In Brief: American school district preaches sexually active girls are like ‘dirty chocolate’ (lipmag)

- “Why doesn’t she just leave him?”: The result of false narratives on women’s lives (everydayvictimblaming)

- Consent in Institutional Sexism (everydayvictimblaming)

- Study suggests police systematically undercount rape reports (feministing)

- A Bechdel Test for Philosophy Papers (feministphilosophers)

- Womb with a View: Bounty – I’ve got my best “fuck-off face” ready. (feministtimes)

- What Does a Feminist Art Show Look Like in Russia? (bitchmagazine)

- Is This The End of ‘Lads Mags’? (tokenfeminist)

- Sluts and geeks: ‘widespread’ sexism in student club promotion (theguardian)

- How Convenient (fanniesroom)

- Girls weigh in on “bossy” (feministe)

- Cultural Femincide?! What’s that? by @schoolsexism (aroomofourown)

And the best of the quickhits this week:


“Crying wolf”: Why don’t the police believe women?

On Feminist Times:

In December 2012 Naomi Oni was attacked with acid on her commute home from work by a jealous friend.

The fear, pain and panic of this horrific attack are difficult to comfortably contemplate. Unfortunately for Naomi, this was only the start of her ordeal. Painful medical procedures, a prolonged hospital admission, and a traumatic police investigation added to her distress.

Naomi alleges that the Metropolitan Police Service accused her of throwing acid in her own face, as a histrionic self-harm, motivated by a desire for publicity and fame. Although one can understand the need to explore all avenues of enquiry, as the Met have stated, this seems like an incredibly unlikely scenario. I have worked as a Psychiatrist for many years, and such severe and maiming self injury for secondary gain is exceedingly rare. How then did such an outlandish theory escalate to the point where the victim was not only accused but told that no assailant was seen following her on the CCTV footage?


Could the ‘canteen culture’ of sexism within the police force lead to such disastrous practices as victim blaming and a loss of empathy, with the potential of ultimately alienating the victim and causing further psychological damage? This case highlights a wider problem of gender bias. In a damning report on police response to domestic abuse, published last week, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary reported:

“HMIC is concerned about the poor attitudes that some police officers display towards victims of domestic abuse. Victims told us that they were frequently not taken seriously, that they felt judged and that some officers demonstrated a considerable lack of empathy and understanding.”


Feminism and the expectation of martyrdom

Jan Dark on the challenge of overcoming female social conditioning and standing up to abuse from not just men, but other women. On the F-Word

Since time immemorial, women have been taught that male violence and abuse are inevitable; we are expected to learn to either avoid it or live with it. Male violence against women and girls is so normalised that decades on from the beginning of the second wave, feminists’ voices are still not being heard. When our voices are heard, rather than being listened to, we experience a backlash.

The first ‘speak out session’ within the anti-rape movement in the USA took place in New York in January 1971. Over 300 women attended and at least 30 courageously spoke of their experiences of male sexual violence in front of a mixed audience. Some were subjected to verbal and physical abuse from the men present (including being urinated on) when they disclosed. Not surprisingly, a consequence was the recognition for the need for women-only spaces. How much has changed? Very little. Fast forward to the digital age and the abuse also happens online. What has changed is that is our women-only spaces and services are constantly under threat from male intrusion. [Rest.]

Thousands Pose Nude In Powerful Protest Against Rape Culture And Victim-Blaming (SFW)

The answer to the question “If women knew how to behave, there would be less rape: agree or disagree?” seems painfully obvious, but in a world dominated in part by victim-blaming and rampant rape culture, a tragic number or global citizens are inclined to select “agree.” A recent survey by the Institute of Applied Economic Research in Brazil revealed that 58.5% percent of those interviewed (both male and female) agreed with the aforementioned statement; a shocking 65.1% agreed that if a woman is dressed “provocatively,” she “deserve[s] to be attacked and raped.” Read the rest.

It’s time we stopped using the ‘boys will be boys’ line

From the Guardian:

When writing about how men treat women, every female columnist has been told at some point that “boys will be boys”. I’m not overly prickly when it comes to responses to my writing, but nothing goads me quite like those four little words. There’s a tiny kernel of truth to the statement, but the sentiment is too often used to normalise men being violent, aggressive, predatory and sexist. Us women are routinely told we just need to accept that. It’s both a distortion of the masculine experience, and a subversion of the female one.

Earlier this year, the US Department of Justice uncovered “substantial evidence” that sexism in a Montana county attorney’s office led to prosecutors dropping rape cases and humiliating victims in the process. Following an investigation, it was found that rape victims had been “treated with disrespect, not informed of the status of their case, and re-victimised by the process.” When a mother had asked a county attorney why the adolescent boy who had assaulted her five year-old daughter had only received two years of community service, the attorney responded, “boys will be boys.”

The case of a US warehouse worker, identified only as John Doe, went to court with claims of sexual harassment and abuse in an all-male warehouse. When he was then dismissed, he believed this was part of a retaliation for his complaints. The case was ruled in favour of the employer, as Doe was retrenched with 11 other workers. The court did find however that the language and behaviour of those involved did “cross the line of social responsibility”, but they were unwilling to assist in a general rule that would make employers liable for “bad language” and “boorish” behaviour, presumably because “boys will be boys”. [Rest.]

We’re Not “Hysterical” for Talking About Rape Culture

A follow-up to this - Rape Culture is Very Real; We Are Not Hysterical – is this: We’re Not “Hysterical” for Talking About Rape Culture (bust):

Why does rape happen?

Because a rapist chooses to rape someone. Because someone felt so entitled to sex, they didn’t care whether their selected partner was able or willing to consent. No one is disagreeing there. But why does that choice happen? Where does that sense of entitlement come from?

If you ask RAINN or TIME magazine, they wouldn’t be able to give you an answer. Or, perhaps, they would say it doesn’t matter why. Earlier this month, RAINN—the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization—wrote recommendations for a White House task force on sexual assault that included a line about how in recent years, there has been an “unfortunate trend towards blaming ‘rape culture’” for sexual violence on college campuses. “While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important to not lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime,” read the recommendations. TIME followed up with an article announcing, “It’s time to end ‘rape culture’ hysteria.”

If you ask me though, or many people working to end sexual violence, we’d tell you that the choice to commit rape happens because we live in a world that supports and condones non-consensual sex in many ways every day.  We live in a culture that makes sex a zero-sum game—something women are expected to perform, and then protect. Something men are expected to relentlessly desire, and then take.

The theory of rape culture gives us a way to understand why sexual violence happens. It tasks us not with pointing fingers at false problems, but with working together to change our society.

We may very well live in a culture were almost everyone—outwardly, at least—agrees that rape is wrong. But we also live in a culture that doesn’t understand, on a very basic level, what rape really is. And apparently, one of the best-known anti-sexual violence organizations doesn’t have the ability to understand the nuance of why that’s true. [Rest.]

Rape Culture is Very Real; We Are Not Hysterical

Don’t read the Time article unless you are particularly strong of stomach.

I think I can speak for many people when I say reading the Time article “It’s Time to End ‘Rape Culture’ Hysteria” by Caroline Kitchens felt like a punch of fire to the stomach. Reducing a traumatic and life-altering crime like rape to “hysterics” is harmful and dangerous on so many levels, not to mention it is just plain insulting.

Hysteria. Hmmm, where have we heard that term before?

The term “hysteria” is defined as a state in which emotions (such as fear or anxiety) are so strong that individuals or groups of people behave in uncontrolled and irrational ways.

As women we are constantly being told that we are in hysterics. When we speak out about an injustice, suddenly we are “hysterical,” “crazy,” “bossy,” or the ol’ standby, “a bitch.” The concept of Female Hysteria goes back to Ancient Greece, with the “wandering womb,” which reappeared in the late 1800s as a so-called mental illness. Although Female Hysteria is no longer a recognized mental illness, the ideology behind the idea has not gone away, but has become more implicit. We are still getting told to shut up and take a chill pill, insinuating women are hysterical and therefore cannot be taken seriously. [Rest.]

[research] Victim Blaming Others: Rape Myth Acceptance and the Just World Belief

This is an interesting study published in the journal of Feminist Criminology recently. It’s the about the extent to which rape myths are accepted (i.e. rape is normalised and excused) if individuals subscribe to a “just world belief” whereby people “get what they deserve”. It’s a grim outlook, particularly in relation to rape, and it is a disgusting way to excuse rape (or, worse, argue that someone deserved to be raped) but as the study indicates, it is prevalent (though not necessarily as clear-cut as it first appears). I have the full PDF, by the way, if anyone wants it.

Feminist Criminology, July 2013 issue.

Abstract: Rape myth acceptance which are false beliefs regarding the incidence of sexual assault, and are more prevalent among males, may influence how victims are treated. Acceptance of the just world belief (JWB), which argues that individuals believe that people get what they deserve, may be a predictor of rape myth acceptance. The present study examined the relationship among gender, belief in a just world, and rape myth acceptance. Findings suggest that while gender remained a significant predictor of rape myth acceptance the relationship between just world belief and rape myth acceptance was more complicated than hypothesized.

From findings: These findings may be understood through several possible explanations. First, gender, especially in the context of rape myth acceptance, remains a significant predictor because of society’s insistence on the normalization of sexual violence due to patriarchal attitudes toward the construction of gender (Schwartz & DeKeseredy, 1997). Second, it is possible that victim blaming, even within the context of rape myths, needs to be separated out as victim blaming-self versus victim blaming-other. Third, it is also possible that JWB is a unidimensional construct and JWB-other is unnecessary. [Link to PDF.]

“As a culture we have incredibly low standards for male behaviour…

As a culture we have incredibly low standards for male behaviour. If we want to change this, we need to raise the bar considerably. As women, we are grateful if the men in our lives do not kill, beat, rape or other wise molest us. If those of us who have male partners are treated kindly by them they are thought of as ‘good men’. If they assist with the rearing of their children and are kind to them and help provide for them they are deemed ‘great fathers’. If they listen to us, support us, denounce prostitution and pornography, engage somewhat with feminism, and try to be accountable for their mistakes, they are seen as ‘exceptional’. We consistently compare the men in our lives to the worst of their kind and not the best. We are happy with mediocrity and not excellence. I look forward to the day when we all, women and men, will expect these these things and not view them as exceptional. I look forward to the day when men expect these things of themselves and we as women demand them. I look forward to the day that men do not expect a standing ovation for behaving like human beings. This is the culture I hope we can cultivate in DGR.

- DGRWomensCaucus, facebook (via zeeblebum)

A Very Sick Irony: Women’s Anti-Violence Demonstration in Sweden Turns Violent

According to multiple left-wing Swedish news sources, the group of feminists were attacked at 1am, leaving a “Reclaim the Night” demonstration on March 9th. It is unknown exactly how many individuals were involved in the attack, but six were taken to the hospital. Of the six, two were attackers and four were victims. The attack took place in central Malmo, in a square known as the heart of the multicultural and left wing district of Malmo.

In a recently confirmed update, which reads like a sensational fiction thriller, Police in Malmo have confirmed that Nazis are behind the attack.

The three men in custody are “known Nazis holding membership with the svenskarnes parti (Swedes party), a party that claims that ‘only people who belong to the western genetic and cultural heritage… should be Swedish citizens.’” It is obvious that this was a planned attack, and is similar to the Nazi attack at an anti- fascist demonstration in Stockholm, less than 3 months ago, which also lead to serious injuries and a murder investigation. [Rest.]

(Images courtesy of  Facebook and Sydsvenskan.)