Tuesday, 19 March 2013

"The more voices the better!" A wonderful young feminist writes

I am a young women who has always been a feminist but only recently has really started educating myself more in the history of the movement and as such am trying to read lots to better my understanding of the many issues involved.
I am trying hard to stay positive but it is depressing to find that after so many years, it really feels like in much of the world - steps backwards are being taken at the moment! 
For my age group (I am 24) the most shocking thing for me is how many of my peers don't even recognise sexism around them. They don't identify with feminism because they no longer believe it is relevant. A whole generation (and generations to come) are being brainwashed into accepting 'low-level' sexism (adverts, 'jokes') which is quietly feeding into a culture where a woman is usually blamed for the bad things that happen to her - right up to rape! The amount of women who believe some of the fault of rape lies with the victim is astonishing. How is this the case in the 21st century. 
I could go on and on but there's obviously no need to preach this you. But, well, I just want to share with you that I see there is no difficulty in getting women my age to stand up and shout and fight against the injustices they see - the terrifying issue is really that many don't see what is happening to them in the home, in work, through the media, by our government as even is affecting them let alone oppressing them. I see that as the big issue in keeping the fight for women's rights alive and kicking (and taking steps FORWARD) in my generation.

I replied:
OK, first off, the book [I recommended at an event] is by Lydia Cacho and it's called Slavery Inc. It's not quite autobiographical, more of an investigative study - but she's an absolutely amazing woman. The publishers' blurb is here: http://portobellobooks.com/slavery-inc If you ever get the chance to see her talk, she is fab - hilarious, cool, inspiring. If you read Spanish (or other languages) her previous book was called Demons of Eden, about child trafficking and child abuse amongst the Latin American elite (politicians, cultural leaders, business leaders). Again, unmissable but saddening. 
The very fact that you're writing to me and articulating everything so brilliantly gives me total hope - many, many women of all ages feel as we do and we're in the middle of a great groundswell of activism, thinking, talking about gender (and confronting the really hard stuff: rape, other kinds of violence. We just notice the ones who don't because we want to hit them over the head with a frying pan to get them to see sense! The world has only ever been changed by a small minority of people who feel strongly about things - we must make the change for everyone and our daughters and sons will thank us! But yes, of course I too feel despairing when I see complacency - because the adverts, the jokes, the casual sexism of course all create a culture where we view rape and other violence as par for the course, even natural and inevitable, and consequently we blame victims and are lenient to perpetrators.... 
...But seeing so many amazing women of all ages in the audience actually lifted my heart, Come again! And, reading-wise, I'm sure you know all this stuff but....
  • The Whole Woman, Germaine Greer
  • Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine (amazing)
  • Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy
  • The Equality Illusion by Kat Banyard
  • Anything by Catherine MacKinnon
  • Anything by Aisha Gill
  • Manifesta by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards 
I wondered if you might let me excerpt a bit of your email anonymous for my blog? It articulates your ideas so well and will I'm sure strike a chord with many readers.

She answered:
Of course you can use anything from my email. I absolutely will be getting involved in more talks, lectures etc. 
A few years ago I read From Madness to Mutiny, about the American family law system - my mother went through absolute hell through that system. She quickly learnt that the worst thing you can do is tell the truth about an abusive relationship. Divorce and try for custody on any other grounds but mention abuse and you anger the (male) judges - my mother had to go on the run. So here we now are in Britain (all legal and safe now I should add) all settled now, but my early years spent in women's refuges and living (pretty much hiding) out in countryside communes. My mother - a city girl through and through learnt to work the land; pick fruit, chop wood and get by... She is amazing! 
I read Who Cooked the Last Supper, fairly recently and that has sort of spurred me on to get cracking on further reading and really get involved. 
With the legal aid situation and how that's going - women and children are at even greater risk in many situations. It's such an important topic - but not a 'sexy' one for the media to cover! 
Police - well when you've got Scotland Yard Chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Lowe saying that members of the Sapphire unit pressurising rape victims to drop statements in 2008 and 2009 is a 'relatively historic' issue! Oh my - my jaw dropped to the floor watching that interview on channel 4 a few days ago. If someone had done a robbery, or hit and run etc but the crime had been buried - but then brought to light a few years later - the police wouldn't say - oh well that's just history now. You'd find the person who ran someone over leaving them disabled for the rest of their life! You would find them and charge them! These women are scarred for the rest of their life and a CRIME took place. Man it boils my blood. It is completely irresponsible and SICK that a chief of police in 2013 went on television to completely disregard rape victims because it took place a few years ago. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. 
When asked about the officers in charge who got promoted after and what action should be taken against them - basically nothing; 'It's an unfortunate symbol' - any other crime, if police officers pressured a victim/witness to back down from a statement this would be taken seriously. 
Sorry I'm sure you are well aware of this happening the other night but I just could not believe it. If that's the attitude at the top.... 
Also, the fact they aren't even bright enough to cover up their misogyny - oh god - or is it worse that they don't even know they're doing it. How can they possibly help women when don't even understand that anything has really happened to them. 
Right - rant over! 
I'm off to buy books and read and get motivated! 
Use anything I've said - the more voices heard the better!