From today’s Guardian:  Police should be harassing badly behaved youths by openly filming them and hounding them at home to make their lives as uncomfortable as possible, the home secretary will say today.

Smith will apparently say:  ” I want police and local agencies to focus on them by giving them a taste of their own medicine.”

Now, on one level, this solution is certainly satisfying.  A friend of mine is currently dealing with a gang of local teenagers shouting homophobic epithets at him and throwing things at his dogs – all of whom were rescued from abusive homes and are easily upset by such behaviour as a result.

But, then after about 5 seconds, I do what any sensible adult does:  realise that two wrongs do not make a right.  And that emotionally disturbed teenagers should not be the role model for people running the country.

All this approach proves is that bullying is a good idea – providing you are the biggest kid (or government minister) on the block.  While teenagers may be temporarily bullied into better behaviour, will they really decide to turn their lives around and become well-adjusted, friendly, adults?  Or will they just wait until they are a bit older, and then take out their emotional issues on people who can’t fight back.

There’s also some very unpleasant class and race implications to all this.  Do you think rich young men trashing hotel rooms out of boredom are going to be affected by this?  Me neither.  I bet all of the “thugs” the police decide to “harass” are on council estates.

In addition, the decision to allow cops to harass thugs comes at a time when there’s been a marked upswing in policing of Muslim communities – Gareth Peirce in the London Review of Books discusses the civil liberty violations one can now be subject to for being Muslim. Plus, lawmakers are now discussing the need to resume intense policing of Black communities – for their own good, of course.    Smith relaxed the laws on stop and search this year, and David Cameron has promised “to increase police powers by empowering sergeants to authorise stop and search of any pedestrian and vehicle in a specified area for up to six hours, if they reasonably believe a serious crime has occurred or is about to occur.”

There’s a serious problem with some – some – young people in the UK today.  When teenagers are getting drunk every day and beating people to death – to me, that suggests despair and nihilism.  No one is born bad, and if drugs and violence become a way of life for people as young as 13, I think it’s fair to say there are underlying psychological, emotional and social issues.

Rather than having police harassing thugs – and thereby proving that bullying is a completely valid tactic for dealing with something unpleasant – maybe we should be offering these kids an intensive course of therapy.  It will be a lot more successful and less expensive in the long run.

There will be a May Day March in Machester, on 5 May, assemble 11:30 at All Saints Park on Oxford Road (MMU Campus)

Health Care for All:  No withdrawal of healthcare to refugees                                                                  

Keep The NHS Public.  Defend Public Services.  No Privatisation

Solidarity with Karen Reissman

For A Decent Living Wage: No Pay Freeze

Fight for Trade Union Rights.

 

The march will be followed by at the Friends Meeting House, food provided.  Paul Mason, a BBC Journalist, will discuss his new book “Live Working or Die Fighting, how the Working Class went Global”; discussion of the Flying Pickets with authors Dave Ayre, Reuben Barker, Jim French, Jimmy Graham & Dave Harker; and Will Kaufman sings Woody Guthrie.

Organised by the Manchester Trades Union Council, Trades Unions for Refugees, RAPAR, human rights organisations working with displaced people, Manchester Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers.

 

BFP has made a final statement – read it here.  And I feel I owe BFP an apology since I focused too much on the specific issue between her and Amanda Marcotte, which was not what she wanted, instead of focusing on the larger problem of white feminists appropriating the words and ideas of Women of Colour feminists.  H/T to Sylvia at Problem Chylde

And then, Amanda Marcotte published her new bookIt’s a Jungle Out There, complete with really, really racist imagery of a beautiful white woman, fighting off “savages” in the “jungle”.  Oh. Dear. God.   Good discussion of the issue at Feministe here and here.  You can read Amanda’s apology here.  Beware:  some of the comments are really, really frustrating (the images are ironic!!  Bush is in power because lefties spend too much time criticising each other!!).  And Seal Press’s “apology” here

Seal Press, for those of you who don’t know, recently got into an argument on the blog of Black Amazon, relating to the lack of women of colour being published by them, and their inability to process this criticism.  And I would link to that, but…

BA has also quit blogging. (H/T again to Sylvia)

And I’m gutted – two of the best feminist bloggers in under a month.

Feminism is never going to be a revolutionary movement, unless it addresses all systems of oppression. That means that privileged women, like myself, have to take responsiblity for our privilege.  

Southall Black Sisters has called for a Day of Action on their No Recourse to Public Funds Campaign for April 23rd.

At the moment, women (like myself) who are in the UK on a spousal visa are not allowed recourse to public funds, including housing benefit and income support.   If these marriages become abusive, this means these women have nowhere to turn.  Most women’s refuges collect housing benefit on behalf of their inhabitants in order to remain open – they literally cannot afford to take in women who are not allowed access to benefits. 

From the Southall Black Sisters Website:  

The plan for the Day of Action is to assemble at 11.00am for a demonstration at 11.30-12.30 on the Embankment opposite Portcullis House, Westminster, London (nearest tube Westminster) we were not able to get permission to gather in Parliament Square. A big, bold and beautiful banner is being made by an Amnesty artist. Please wear black on the day.

The public meeting will begin at 1pm in Portcullis House, details of the speakers will follow shortly.

For those us in the North, action is being co-ordinated by Roshni Asian Women’s Aid in Sheffield.  You can contact them on on 0114 250 8898 or admin@roshnisheffield.org.  (Thanks to Alice from Feminist Fightback). 

More information on the No Recourse Campaign from Southall Black Sisters, here

I’m hoping to have a post up about the Feminist Fightback Reproductive Freedoms teach-in later today or tomorrow, but the link between the No Recourse Campaign and Reproductive Freedoms was discussed at length.  How can a woman have control over her reproductive organs if she can’t get out of an abusive marriage, because the government would happily see her starve?  She may abort a wanted child out of fear of what her husband will do to her baby, or be forced to have an unwanted child by her husband.  Attempting to control a woman’s reproductive capacity is a key feature of many violent relationships; the abusive husband may be forcing the woman to use to abstain from birth control. 

The No Recourse Campaign is of crucial importance – I hope that as many of you as possible come out on the 23rd.

Anyone who reads BFP regularly knows that she has done a lot of writing on immigration and particularly the racism and sexism faced by immigrant women in the US during the current climate of hysteria.

And now, she is understandably upset that Amanda Marcotte from Pandagon has published an article that happens to make all the same points BFP has made time and again and her blog – and yet, at no point has BFP been linked.  Sylvia at Problem Chylde has a post up showing the eerie similarities; she links to a BFP post for every point Marcotte makes.

Intellectual theft is still theft – Marcotte is, by her own account a regular reader of BFP’s blog.  Even if she genuinely believes she came up with the ideas in her article completely on her own, (which, I personally doubt given how widely BFP has blogged about this, and the fairly damning evidence of Sylvia’s), she must realise the extent to which BFP was an influence, and at the very least should have made mention of the fine work BFP has done on this issue.

It’s all too easy for white women to get away with stealing the ideas of women of colour.  Women of colour often have less access to the mainstream media or mainstream academia, making it harder for them to become known to a wide audience.  Adding to the temptation is the fact that white women will get credit for being remotely anti-racist in a way that women of colour will not.  A white woman with an Audre Lorde quote for every occasion can build an entire academic or media career out of being an “intersectional” feminist.  A woman of colour who raises any of these points is just “angry” (ironically, the same thing that men say about feminists).

I would also like to raise, however, the opposite issue – white women citing women of colour as an alibi, without actually engaging with any of the ideas, or letting any of the ideas influence their actions.  Not only, as I pointed out above (and as BFP says in her post) can you build an entire academic career around this, but the Audre Lorde quote for every occasion is also used to avoid ever actually discussing racism.  I’ve witnessed this first hand – try to bring up racism in a predominantly white feminist group, someone will quote Audre Lorde and then the entire conversation comes to an end.  Because surely no one who has read Audre Lorde could possibly be racist!

At this point, BFP is thinking of rejecting the label feminist.  Hell, I’m thinking of rejecting the label feminist, and I’m about as white and privileged as you can get.

WE WILL NEVER BUILD A REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT IF WHITE PRIVILEGED WOMEN CONTINUE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE AND GENERALLY MISTREAT WOMEN OF COLOUR AT EVERY AVAILABLE OPPORTUNITY.

So the question is – do you want an Academic Career?  Or do you want a Revolution?

Sudy has also written about this, as have Belledame, and Questioning Transphobia, all of whom reinforce the theory that Marcotte did not come up with her post independently.

From The Angry Black Woman:

Nothing Says Internet Popularity Like

Being linked to from a White Supremacist website. Happy Monday!

ETA: Wow, if you all could see my moderation queue right now.

This is the kind of thing that makes people leave the Internet. It really is. I went through a good chunk of my early life never encountering any blatant racism. I’m sure there was some, but my young, naiveté, and probably my parents shielded me from most of it. No one ever called me a Nigger, or said I couldn’t do something because I was black, or anything like that.

I got to wait until I was all grown up for things like that to happen.

But even still, I don’t think I ever encountered the kind of raw, ignorant, stupid, dangerous, and hurtful hate due specifically to my heritage and skin color until I started this blog. I have been called a Nigger 47 times today. TODAY. And it’s not fucking over yet.

This is the kind of thing that turns people militant.

This is the kind of thing that makes people scared for their well being.

This is the kind of thing that silences voices, and I cannot lay any blame on anyone who chooses silence in the face of this.

This is the kind of thing that makes me a FUCKING ANGRY BLACK WOMAN

Everyone: Go over and show your support in the comments!!

I’m really, really excited about this, and will be reporting back via this blog as soon as I can afterwards.

Feminist Fightback presents…a Teach-In for Reproductive FreedomsDiscussing ideas and planning action for a woman’s right to choose
12 April, 12-5pm, Clement House Building, London School of 
Economics, Holborn (Holborn tube)

 

www.feministfightback.org.uk
rebecca.galbraith@yahoo.co.uk

12.00pm
Registration

12.30pm
Opening speech by Sofie Buckland (NUS National Executive)

1-2.15pm
a) Imperialism and Motherhood
Speaker: Anna Davin (founding editor of History Workshop Journal)
Facilitator: Gwyneth Lonergan
b) From Abortion Rights to Reproductive Freedoms
A panel discussion with Charlotte Gage (Abortion Rights), Cathy Nugent 
(Workers’ Liberty), Rosie Woods (NHS worker)
Facilitator: Anna Longman

2.20-3.35pm
a) Getting your message across
Jill Mountford (former organiser of the Welfare State Network) and 
James House (TV documentaries producer)
Workshop facilitator: Rachael Ferguson
b) How to campaign
Workshop Facilitator: Anne-Marie O’Reilly (trade union organiser)

3.45-5pm
Planning for a National Day of Action
Facilitators: Laura Schwartz and Rebecca Galbraith

* Food: cheap vegetarian food will be served from 12 noon
* Free creche: Please register with rebecca.galbraith@yahoo.co.uk for 
a free creche place
* Social with X-talk: 7pm @ The Ivy House, Southampton Row, Holborn
* The teach-in is free to attend but a suggested donation of £1.50 
unwaged and £3+ waged is encouraged.

Hello out there!!

A bit about me: I’m a 27-year-old Canadian who has been living in the UK for the past 3 years. I originally came to do an MA in Gender Studies, met The Composer, got married and stayed. I’m a feminist activist who firmly believes that all forms of oppression are intersecting, and I do my best to ensure my activism reflects that.

That last sentence also serves as a statement of purpose for this blog. I’m a very privileged woman – white, middle-class, heterosexual, able-bodied. This privilege is sometimes – maybe often – invisible to me. Yet, I’ve been convinced by the books and articles I’ve read, and my own experience of activism, that it is absolutely crucial that I decentre whiteness and privilege from my feminist politics.

It is impossible to sort out sexist oppression from racism, capitalism, homophobia, transphobia, abelism, or any other form of oppression. Modern ideas about gender roles, for example, the idea that women should stay at home while men go out and work, are racialised and classed. Working-class women and women of colour were expected to work, not only because the capitalist system demanded their labour (wouldn’t want to have to pay a man enough to support a family), but because the ideal of “domestic motherhood” for middle-class white women could only exist in opposition to a constructed “other”. If every woman stayed at home, then domestic motherhood would not longer be a marker of class and race privilege , and as such, would no longer be so highly valued.

Therefore, sexism cannot be fought effectively if we are not simultaneously fighting racism, capitalism and other forms of oppression. There is no such thing as a “women’s issue” separate from “race issues” and “class issues”.

Furthermore, it should be obvious to any who is paying attention that in the UK, at least, our basic liberties are increasingly under threat. Women (and men) who experience multiple oppressions are at particular risk – look at the way in which it’s become completely acceptable to lock up asylum seekers. But, once it has been decided that, for example, someone’s national origin can deprive them of their basic human rights, what other groups may find themselves in a similar situation? Feminism must fight against all forms of oppression today, because if privileged women such as myself remain silent while asylum-seekers are persecuted, we may one day find ourselves arbitrarily deprived of our liberties.

I hope that my blog will reflect this statement. I’m sure I won’t always get it right (privilege works by being invisible), but I pledge to do my best.