What intersecting inequality means and why this model of feminism is over

There is no ‘we’. There is no homogenous feminist voice from which voices can be excluded, because feminism is about inequality that women live with. Real women. Complicated women. It doesn’t take a genius to understand what that means and why there can never be a homogenous ‘we’ that all views sit with, and why that cannot be policed by privileged young women at elite universities and in media organisations.
First of all, if you have the power to contribute to media narratives, that is an extraordinary power. An extraordinary power in a world shaped by those narratives. You do not get to play oppression top trumps when you have that power. Ever.

Secondly, people discussing inequality in their own lives do not have to audition to you because you have that power. Lets look at hypotheticals based on women I know. You may have been forced into marriage at 14, you may have gone on to have four sons, and run a business with your husband as well as being responsible for ALL the household labour and having been entirely responsible for raising those children. You may shoulder that burden in a family where your gender has meant you didn’t own your own life for one minute, ever. If you are that woman you have the right to discuss the inequality that has shaped you. You may also believe that girls who were sexually exploited by young asian males were asking for it and you may believe that homosexuality is wrong and your religious beliefs may include the belief that much of the inequality you have faced, was gods will. You do not have to consider the current academic debates being had by students you don’t know and media organisations you dont have any relationship with, to discuss it. It is feminism if you do. You are a feminist if you do.

You may head your own household, and have done so since 16, you may have lived with poverty for years as a result of early motherhood that capped your chances. You may be being evicted from your home, even though you work, because there is no way to make the rent and your housing benefit doesnt cover it. You may also believe that immigration is one of the countries biggest problems, you might believe trans women are not women, you still have the right to discuss inequality you face and it is feminism. It is feminism when you succeed at college and work, despite these obstacles and you don’t have to audition to students well versed in gender theory who have never ever experienced inequality and never will.

You may be a trans woman, living in poverty who has been abused for repeatedly because of this, you may struggle getting decent healthcare that treats you as a human being and you may find that you are marginalised, and yet you still may be islamophobic and hate religions and cultures you know create risk to you, you may believe all muslims are terrorists. When you talk about inequality you face THAT is feminism.

Feminism is about gender inequality, how we live it, how we experience it, and there are things that bind us and things that divide us, but that gender inequality still shapes us, and noone has to audition to anyone to discuss it.

Any feminism that sees itself as a ‘we’ who polices who can be ‘in’ feminism, is not a feminist. Period. That is about you wanting to control other women. Women who experience inequality they may discuss in ANY way they choose. When they discuss it, when they address it, when they succeed, when they fail, when they are hurt, it is feminism. It is not for you to decide EVER whether someone else, especially someone without the privilege of a cushy university and a media platform, is a feminist or whether they should be allowed to discuss inequality they face in the way they want to discuss it.

You are not the arbiter of what views can be ‘in’ feminism. Women who live with inequality learning to deal with it and challenge it are feminists. The women who head households and make you shudder with what you perceive as ignorance, the women who shoulder the burden of things you can’t imagine, THEY decide how they discuss that. They decide what feminism is. Personal is political.

When you recreate misogynist abuse, when you organise to silence women, when you spit vitriol and venom at women for not being who you think they should be, YOU are a misogynist not a feminist. When you declare yourself arbiter of what views are welcome in feminism, you are a misogynist. Not a feminist. Regardless of how uncomrfotable the views of women you dont know make you feel.

You dont have to be in the same social network as women you do not like., You do not have to spend time with people you believe are bigoted. But you do not get to declare that they can only discuss inequality they face in ways YOU think are appropriate. Certainly not when that understanding comes entirely from academic privilege that most women can’t access.

Understanding intersecting inequality requires understanding there is no hierarchy. There is no ‘uniform’ we. There is no elite cabal auditionining who can be considered feminist or not.

There are different facets of our lives and identities and they intertwine with gender inequality in a million ways. It is not your role, whoever you are, to decide how and if another woman can challenge that inequality. Not ever.

It is not 2nd wave feminism that is dying. It is the feminism where the very privileged appointed themselves gatekeepers to discussion of inequality. There is no requirement that women being allowed to discuss inequality in their own lives, like each other. There is no requirement that they share values, attitudes or any aspect of your identity.

Feminism is not a noun, it is not an identity. It is something that is lived and learned from inequality that shapes real lives. If it is to have meaning it is a verb. Something that is done. That is lived. Unless you learned it at your very posh university and its just the basis of your right to create media narratives that don’t affect you.

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Feminism is over

Let patriarchy keep it. A silo women were supposed to climb into to be ignored and controlled. Useless anyway. Lets chat about equality and why it hasn’t happened, how it affects us, and I really only want to talk to people who have something to contribute to that conversation.

I am raising a daughter, and I will not be preparing her for a life in a world where her gender will be the reason she is constantly pulled down by telling her that her gender is a privilege and I will be discussing the inequality I face, with other women who deal with inequality in their own lives. I won’t be auditioning to an abusive overeducated culture of simpletons to do so.

I will be seeking to address inequality and to make sure that it ends. I have long rejected feminist as a label for fear of being associated with current vacuous media and university cultures, and I don’t feel any sadness at feminism’s passing.

I’d use the term post feminist, but really that’s been done and was a lie to tell us feminism had succeeded. It didn’t.

More on Germaine Greer and the current no platforming nonsense

Germaine Greer’s era was different to ours. Hers was a world where heresy had to be spoken to challenge the prisons women were in. The willingness of that generation to speak heresy, led to some amazingly stupid ideas circulating. Led to some really dodgy conclusions, that mostly we moved past. It also created a world where the rest of us were free to speak heresy against systems of oppression which are millennia deep at the roots. That doesn’t mean everything that wave of feminism said was right and time has shown that much of what was radical at the time, could not be sustained. The feminist wave they were part of, was distilled into a white, mainly upper class silo, and hierarchies grew. Media, professional, and academic hierarchies, which excluded many voices. Women of colour, working class women, trans women. None of these women existing as just that facet of their identity, but with complex identities that meant they had to navigate a world where the combination of their race, their class, the gender they were born with, created doors which slammed and hurt.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a feminism that ultimately failed to die, so we can move past it. The understanding of intersecting inequality that our current radical brats became aware of through twitter, is actually well developed and decades old. That understanding never piercing the primary institutions of elite universities and media organisations where homogenity of culture dominates, class, race, are ‘the other’. That world has to catch up with reality now, and in a digital world, the appointment of an elite cabal to speak ‘for’ all women has gone.

What needs to be learned from the era of Germaine Greer is the willingness to speak heresy. To challenge dominant discourse and to do so knowing you may be wrong. To identify when you are being silenced and how misogyny disguises itself to shut you down. How that interacts with class, race, and the gender you were born with.

What needs to go is the privileged tribe who have misunderstood the concept of intersecting inequality. and grossly distorted it, so the invisible ‘we’ of elite feminism is yet again the voice of all women, and has the right to abuse and silence at will, to maintain control they dont want to acknowledge. It is the behaviour of a narcissistic and controlling misogynist to want to silence women who threaten your self image. Not feminism, not ever. If you need to organise to silence and abuse women, you are a misogynist. Intersecting inequality means different voices and opinions, occasionally recognising each other as a barrier that needs to be crossed.

It is a gross distortion of intersecting inequality to believe it is about your tribe now having the right to bully, dominate and ultimately police what all women are allowed to say. Women discussing inequality in their own lives do not have to audition to elite universities WOmen’s Officers, and media poppets, before they discuss that inequality. Or the complexity of their identities and lives. Feminism as a gatekeeper to make sure only the ‘right’ women are allowed to speak(ie already connected to and wound into elite institutions where inequality is not felt) is over. Feminism as the ‘right views’ approved by this cabal, is over. It is unsustainable in a digital world and for this generation of women, raised to believe equality was achieved, and finding out with a bump their lives are the lives of the women who went before them.

There is nothing wrong with a new generation of women discovering they need to speak heresy to challenge dominant discourse, and washing away the old feminist hierarchies and the structural violence used to maintain walls around their institutions. I think the people behind the sustained bullying and harassment of female journalists and academics, the ones screaming for a ‘no platform’ because the invisible ‘we’ only they are part of has decided that only their opinions are correct, misunderstood.

It is they who are being washed away. Noone watching the ridiculous and absurd ‘TERF wars’ and tribes of bullying activists competing for dominance to police how women discuss inequality in their lives, could be under any illusions that that is the future. THAT is the dying days of a model of feminism that is over. That is tribes fighting for the right to control other women and its not feminism.

Germaine Greer’s views on trans women don’t stand up to scrutiny and are wrong, and can be debated as such. Those who demonstrate that feminism is now misogynist abuse and targeting of women they dont like, are demonstrating why that ‘feminism’ is dead. Not taking that torch forward for a new generation.

We can learn from Germaine Greer’s refusal to adhere to dogma and what that did and did not achieve, and the first lesson is that the radical brats who think they get to inherit the power to exploit inequality and silence and abuse women, in the name of feminism, need to go. Accusing someone of transphobia doesnt make misogynist abuse, hate speech and violent bullying acceptable or make it feminism. The gender binary disappearing in a world shaped by fundamental structural gender inequality was always going to create complex questions and no amount of bullying and abusing women is going to make those questions go away. Only debate will do that and you dont get debate by silencing people and declaring your right to shape parameters of discourse because of the university you went to or the media org you are part of.

Note to Laurie Penny

I would be careful about demanding No Platforms.

The following are not feminism. Abusing women online, targeting female journalists at home when they have children there, validating your friends and peers when they do these things.

The level of abuse and stalking and harassment you have sanctioned amongst your peers, as ‘solidarity’ with a movement which is largely the closed social network which operates in your circles, is actual abuse of women. Not pretend abuse because someone uttered an opinion that led to one of your friends believing they had the right to break the law and actually commit crimes against women.

I would be careful about demanding no platforms for journalists who contribute to abuse and violence against women. You might find yourself without the platform your private school and Oxford education granted you. Perhaps you should learn to identify abusive behaviour and misogyny before lecturing others on why they should organise and silence women whose opinions you do not like.

There is nothing wrong with a generation recognising what went wrong with feminism. The willingness to speak heresy that defined Germaine Greers era, meant they said wrong things but broke the mould so todays women could do the same and correct their mistakes. What went wrong with that version of feminism, was it becoming a silo for white, posh, overeducated women with no understanding of inequality and an ability to hijack a cause. Just because Germaine Greer’s era is over, it doesn’t mean that you and your abusive and misogynist friends inherit the right to audition who can discuss gender inequality and how it is discussed. I would get your house in order before the things you demand bite you in the arse.

You may have forgotten Weev, or the number of female journalists Roz Kaveney and Stavvers have targetted, or the people Helen Lewis has smeared, but noone else did. Glass houses and very large stones sweetheart.

Misogyny is…

”Misogyny …. is a central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and, as such, is an important basis for the oppression of females in male-dominated societies. Misogyny is manifested in many different ways, from jokes to pornography to violence to the self-contempt women may be taught to feel toward their own bodies.

I can recognise misogyny. When someone demands women change their identities to suit them, because their self image requires it, it’s misogyny. When women are made to feel ashamed of their own biology, it’s misogyny. When women are expected to change their sexual desires and punished for them, and are told their autonomy over who they are attracted to is for someone else to exercise, that is misogyny. When women are expected to pretend gender inequality doesn’t exist and to not discuss the biology at the root of it, it’s misogyny. When  women’s speech has to be policed and so do their thoughts, because someone else is entitled to do so, that is misogyny. Misogyny is not a gender. Feminism as misogyny is tiresome and stupid. The right of trans women to be free of misogyny is not anywhere near the right of a tribe of misogynist bullies to do this to any woman.

Germaine Greer and disturbing trend of misogyny as feminism

I saw a facebook advert for an event to ‘END Germaine Greer’. Apparently it was an event against hate speech. Yes, that is right, an event aiming ‘end’ a person was also an event against hate speech. We truly are in the age of doublethink.

We have entered a strange world where discussion of your biology as a woman, and the choices it creates and removes for you, is an affront to feminism. Where who lesbians sleep with is apparently a civil rights issue, and where the organised and sustained bullying and harassment of female journalists is not misogynist hate speech and trying to terrorise women and organisations into silencing women. To protect activists from the violence of hearing opinions they dont like, any type of violence and pressure is acceptable. Women refusing to describe themselves in terms prescribed by bullying misogynist activists are committing acts of aggression and should be forced to do so.

Misogyny is the central tenet of feminism in 2015, and if you are not into organised silencing and harrassing of women you are not in the in crowd.

Luckily have never given a fuck about being in the in crowd and I know misogyny is not a gender and can recognise it when I see it without needing a vacuous pseudo feminist to tell me what it is.

I don’t care that someone interpreted the concept of intersecting inequality as their right to attack and silence women, and police their environment. They misunderstood. My freedom of speech is not theirs to take. A space where speech is free and women dont find themselves at the centre of organised misogyny threatening to ‘end’ them is  safe space.

Why Patrick Butler didnt see a problem with Kids Company and why it matters.

Less than a year ago, Kids Company was brought to my attention. Someone I knew wanted to know if some of the things she saw going on there were ‘normal’ and safe. She was worried. I hadn’t paid much attention to the flamboyant ‘leader’, Camilla Batmanghelidjh, but it took a matter of minutes to realise this was worrying.

Camilla, on the advisory board of think tank the Centre for Social Justice was doing several things. She provided ‘evidence’ for government initiatives designed to deliberately create maternal poverty, and remove options for mothers who need to leave abusive relationships under the banner of ‘family breakdown’ being the cause of society’s ills. Abusive family environments creating intergenerational patterns of abuse. Her racist rhetoric about black single mothers and their cruel rejection of men being transferred to their children, was accepted publicly and a figleaf for some of the most toxic social policy in decades.

The rhetoric claiming South London was akin to a war zone, and the psychobabble  nonsense of brains being smaller in her client group(dangerously close to eugenicist doctrines which claimed the brains of ethnic minorities were smaller’), the fanciful depictions of poverty and inequality, and dangerously misleading descriptions of the abuse represented in her client group, all clearly nonsense.

I spent some time looking at the model they used. They sought to create an attachment so strong that in practice it would undermine existing attachments, and destabilise children who were vulnerable and undermine the things they needed. Their family relationships. Noone who has worked with vulnerable people is in any doubt of the danger of this approach, creating dependence which undermines the attachments that are any childs best hope of stability. When you are a professional?

There were descriptions on the website of encouraging children to disclose abuse in therapy sessions, and all their rhetoric was about undermining families and enveloping the child at the centre of it with a love ‘bond’ that was deeply concerning. Not for kids with severe attachment difficulties, where assessment has been done and there was a need, and where work was properly supervised. For kids who were self referring and being bribed to do so.

I heard stories of professional work with families being undermined, cash being doled out, and an aggressive and violent environment in which girls were unsafeand sexually predatory young men were coddled and told they were not responsible for their behaviour. Girls disbelieved if they alleged harm. Giving young people the type of money that removed them from the control their parents were legally obliged to exercise and which being gatekeepers to money facilitates. You dont give a kid whose mum is on 146 a week, 200 quid for trainers or a 400quid coat. It destabilises families. As does giving kids money to spend on drugs etc.

Of course kids self referred.

The organisation put the blame for families where domestic abuse had been a feature on the mother, the victim of the abuse. Yesterday Camila claimed to have worked for Women’s Aid, which shocked me.

The key problem here was not financial mismanagement but an organisation exploiting deliberately created poverty to destabilise families, create dependence and then using the problems that result to decorate philanthropic identities. This was a charity who viewed ‘the poor’, and overwhelmingly people whose poverty was inextricably linked with race and motherhood, as a sub species. To be ministered to in such a way that all involved felt good. Regardless of the consequences. THis was an abusive enviroment where this bond could be withdrawn at a moments notice  on the whim of Camila. A woman who commanded her many assistants with a noise similar to that of a dolphin.

Jay Rayners descriptoin of poverty when he visited was fanciful. Completely pulled out of the air and bearing no relation to the very distinct environemnt poverty actually creates. All descriptions of structural inequality laid as parental failure, at the door of the mothers the charity exploited for their own gain. The same mothers the think tank Camila sat on the board of, wished to create poverty for.

As stories started to emerge of financial mismanagement, from Alan White at Buzzfeed, Chris Cook at Newsight and the Spectator, as well as ex employees, it became apparent why this charity was above scrutiny.

Bought ‘research’ and high profile media luvvy names sufficient protection that no matter how much harm this charity did, they were above question.

As August’s events snowballed, it emerged that not only did this charity seek to create dangerous and overwhelming(cult like) attachments so young people would be dependent on them, but that the self referring and encouragement to disclose abuse came alongside massive bribes. Generous and astonishing bribes to kids from families often headed by the women Camila had used dangerous racist rhetoric to justify poverty creation for.  The charity had no reserves with which to keep this work going and would frequently use the depedence they created to hold government to ransom. Going direct to Ministers. Using the chronic defunding of real child protection services and child and adolescent mental health services, as the reason they needed to maintain an exploitative and dangerous slush fund.

The Guardian continued with their uncritical coverage, as events unfolded. This charity was being targetted, shouting about the mean old Tories and crying that we must ‘think of the children’. Of course thinking of the children did not extend to protecting them from exploitative and dangerous work, they and their families a sub species, in an area which would descend into savagery without Guardian sponsored saviours.

The reason Patrick Butler continued with his uncritical coverage of Kids Company stems from the culture he exemplifies. Fundamentally ignorant about the vast knowledge accrued in social policy delivery over the past century, this the return of the liberal class. This is a class of people who cannot recognise dangerous racist and misogynst work, cannot recognise when dangerous work is being done with vulnerable kids, because to this class of people, those children are a sub class. A different species.

It is important to see the Guardian in context. This is a political newspaper with a culture hostile to criticism, with no accountability who have happily kept social policy reporting in a silo where it doesnt contexualise political narratives. Where complex accountable social policy is not needed, because all that matters is the culture within the Guardian and their concern for ‘the poor’. We evolved as a society past this a long time ago, and in their role shaping parameters of debate for the Labour Party, the Guardian have assisted ably in pulling us back to a pre-welfare state mentality. Where ‘the poor’ can audition for democratic representation by writing on Cif, and where they should be grateful for abusive work which makes Guardianistas feel good.

Stories were spiked about Kids Company and whenever it was needed Patrick Butler rolled out the Guardian as free PR.

You have to place Patrick Butlers ignorance in context. The Guardian are inextricably linked to a culture of policy making, think tanks, and charities, who are benefitting from us reverting to a pre-welfare state society and charities like Kids Company are the result. Patricks recent response to cries from adoption agencies that the baby supply was interrupted after a 26% rise in adoptions was stemmed by intervention from Sir James Mumby, another example of his dangerous levels of ignorance. Social policy is power and power over millions of people with huge consequences.

We need proper analysis of the relationship between social policy, inequality, financial instability and that analysis needs to be grounded in a thorough understanding of the need for accountability and understanding of the complexity of the society that we have. Patrick Butler and the staff at the Guardian want the ego boost of a faceless savage ‘poor’ auditioning to them for attention. The Guardian are happy to attempt to drag us into the 19th century by the power of newspaper and scandals like that at Kids Company demonstrate what that looks like and how far they are from entering the 21st. A boy was apparently murdered, because without the streem of income Kids Company provided he ‘couldn’t pay his dealers.’ Yentob and Camila apparently believe this boys life is vindication of what they did. That is the only value it has.

Until the silo of Society Guardian is addressed and the Guardian ups it’s game we will continue to be dragged back in time to a very dark age many of us truly understand. Unless Kath Viner does something about the structure of her newspaper, the silo of the Society section, and the standard of social policy reporting(or dossing on twitter as I prefer to call it) she will find people dont look to her paper at all.

You cannot drag a 21st century society back to the 19th century by the power of newspaper comment alone, and the attempt is making the Guardian look dangerous. There are plenty of people out there capable of coherent and rational social policy analysis, people who understand the issues at stake. Patrick Butler is clearly not one, and his enjoyment of the company of the charities and reliance on twitter has real consequences for the very real people disenfranchised by the debate the Guardian sells.