Friday, 4 August 2017

Nevertheless He Persisted.

It isn't all about toilets. Though yes. When I am physically vulnerable and stood at a sink with menstrual blood on my hands I would prefer if I was doing that around women who know why it is there ....because they have experienced the very same. Not "felt" as if they were doing the same. I have no idea how you can "feel" a period or the many problems it can present in any valid way. It is a uterus shedding itself. Magical and clever. Biologically, you need a uterus to shed a uterus. I never thought that saying so would be controversial. I never thought that the obvious would need to be said.

If I, or any of the women or girls I know, are raped we should be able to request a woman to examine us at a rape trauma centre/investigation unit. I would prefer if the woman did not have a penis. Self-identification as a woman would mean that a biological male could examine me. He would not even have to "present" as a woman. He could simply be a man who says he is a woman and he could put his hands inside my vagina immediately after I have been raped. Where would male rapists most like to situate themselves? Within easy proximity of vulnerable women. Women who cannot legally ask that they aren't there. Abusive or violent men will love that. Access to places that they previously had no access. Not too big a leap of reasoning. Yes there are transwomen who do not, and have no intention to, rape women. But there are men who do. Men who are laughing at legislation which will remove all barriers to protect women.

CPS guidelines currently stipulate that rape requires a penis. Rape can only be committed by the penis being forced into the anus, vagina or mouth of the victim. When statistics show that 100% of rapes are committed by males - the penis is the reason.

When self-identification according to amendments to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 comes into law, as Maria Miller MP intends, then those figures are meaningless. We will be told to ignore the penis. A man will be able to self identify as a woman and the crime will be recorded with a "woman" as the perpetrator regardless of the sex of the victim. Data is pointless. Fighting for funding according to sex-based need is pointless. Fighting for women-only spaces to help women recover from rape  or other forms of male violence - are utterly meaningless and pointless.

Biological women do not commit rape. They cannot do so in UK law. Though 78,000 of them are raped a year. By men with a penis. Those figures will soon mean nothing. It will be impossible to fight for funding for those women because we will no longer be able to say "woman" in any meaningful way in the context of rape. We will not be able to keep men out of rape crisis centres if those men say they are women.  A raped woman will have to sit among biological men at the very point she needs most to be in a space free of men. I don't care what those men say about the penis they sit with between their legs, they can identify it as a fluffy kitten if they like. It is still there and in the space of a raped woman. A penis was forced inside her against her will. It is still male sperm that will be scraped from her vagina as evidence to try to commit her perpetrator to jail. If he identifies himself as a woman -the crime will be recorded as female on female according to the new law. The raped woman meanwhile still knows that it is the feel of a male sexual organ ripping at the entrance of her vagina that will not leave her until the day she dies. She knows what a penis is very clearly.

Similar problems will beset the issue of domestic abuse. Statistics show that men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of this crime. The data is already skewed since recording of incidence is capped at 5 and men will report after a single incident but women will endure repeat incidence before reporting. When they do report and report repeatedly as many abused women need to - those reports will be capped at 5 reports to the police. See the report by Walby, Towers and Francis (2015) on the significance of this and the fact that 96+ incidents (less than 2 a week - not uncommon in a relationship with a violent male partner) are also capped for CSEW recording purposes. Such vital (though limited) statistical analysis will be meaningless anyway when the Gender Recognition Act is enforced. None of this painstakingly obtained and analysed data and research will be possible, or can be used in order to target resources and funding to help victims ....who are predominantly biological women.

Homicide statistics show that 95% of the 437,000 global homicides have a male perpetrator. Intimate partner violence accounts for 64,000 of those murders. 66% of the victims of IPV are biological women. We won't be able to say that and it mean anything. 50% of the intentional homicides of biological women are committed by an intimate partner compared to only 6% of men. Targeting resources at the cause - which is men - and the result - people are mainly killed by men... will be impossible because the data won't be able to say anything relevant.
(UNODC  data 2013 from Walby et al - 'Concept and Measurement of Violence Against Women And Men' 2017)

All of a sudden it will be impossible to point to the root cause of women being harmed. The problem is male violence but suddenly it won't be possible to say that. It therefore won't be easy to stop it. Think of all the work that has been done on this? Think of all the advances that have been fought for over decades and centuries. Think of the suffragette strapped to a chair being force fed. What would she make of being told her suffering meant nothing and that one day the very term woman would be meaningless?

Once this act has been passed and you go to see your GP you will be unable to specify that you want to be examined by, or discuss your unusual smelling vaginal discharge with, a female doctor. The woman shoving a painful speculum up your vagina for your cervical smear and asking you to drop your legs to the side may have a penis and certainly has never experienced the same. If you object and request a biological woman do this you will be committing a crime of discrimination. A hate crime. A crime of transphobia. You will have to spread your legs or risk cancer. Stark choices. The Handmaid's Tale is horror. Our future is horror.

And the future is expensive. Changing the law and the inherent administration of that is costly. I have no idea how many millions of pounds will be spent rewriting public and corporate documentation to accommodate self-identification. The retraining of staff in various public and corporate bodies. The redesign of the collection of important data on crime for the Crime Survey England And Wales. The retraining of staff and redesign of data collection Office For National Statistics. Employment law. Limited examples of course. The cost of self-identification is unfathomable at a time when the resources available to women who have been victims of rape or domestic abuse have been slashed and slashed. 17% of women's refuge places have gone since 2010. Biological women are dying at the hands of biological men at the rate of 2 a week. Imagine how many women could be saved if there were adequate resources to save them?

But surely this is necessary and the cost shouldn't matter if fairness and justice for trangender people is the result? Well no actually. Gender harms all of us. We are in no disagreement there. Few of us fit a prescribed gender identity box with assigned stereotypical male or female traits. We are all served badly by the concept of gender and the way society shapes us.

However, the issue here is that if you erase the term woman and open that biological reality as an "option" or "choice" for any human then there are far-reaching, identifiable and, crucially, real consequences for the safety and lives of biological women. The funds that would go to help them and amend systems that oppress them are lost in order to appease a minority. I don't mind who wants to wear a dress. I don't care how many transwomen want to buy makeup or high heels or conform to the many patriarchal beauty norms that feminists have fought to overturn for decades. That is absolutely fine by me.

Do we feel transphobic we women who refuse to accept this? No we do not. We are no such thing. We intend no harm towards transwomen or transmen. We are not afraid of them and we do not hate them. Transphobia would require this. We are simply refusing to accept biological men into our sex-protected spaces, our statistics and our funding. Women want to stay alive. Currently 30% of us will be affected by domestic violence inflicted by a male partner over our lifetimes. We can't fight that if we can't even say it.  25% of women aged between 16-64 will experience sexual assault at the hands of a biological male. We can't fight that if we can't say it.

What we do feel is that feminists who have allowed such massive and fundamental change at such an incredible pace have let the suffragettes and our second wave sisters of the seventies down very badly. We are letting down our future granddaughters if we do not continue to fight to make sure that the word "woman" means something. Violent, abusive men can see that everything women fought for over centuries and in the areas of male violence in the 1970s and since going. Going so very fast that those of us fighting to save it are breathless and tearful with frustration. Going so fast that those men are laughing in our faces.

The t-shirt will also change.

He was warned. He was given an explanation. Nevertheless he persisted.

But so will we.

Love to ya sisters.

JH x

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

I'll never have another you.

People always ask how it started. "Why didn't you get out? Why didn't you spot it? How could he have said and done things and you not get help? Or not tell your family or friends?"

As though it's easy.

There's no set of reasons. Often there is very little a woman could have done. Whether she is aware of domestic abuse or not. Many times a woman knows some things and is ready.... "if he EVER hits me I'm out of there!" "I would NEVER stand for a man telling me what to do!". She means it. She just never sees it. It is slower. It is more brutal in its creeping and creepy ability to drop us to our doom while we think it isn't even happening.

I know that writing anecdotally seems self-indulgent and pointless regarding change. I defend myself with the fact that some woman always tells me it helps them. So. Once again. Forgive me if you hate this kind of writing.

I knew my abuser already as someone I encountered in pubs occasionally. I have no idea whether he hated me from the start. Probably though. He hates most women. Openly. The phrase ...."All women are nutters!" is common with him. He made me feel quite special even before we became involved. I would encounter him and he would be charming and funny and complimentary and..... dangerous.

I was a bit bored. He was a bit "different".

"Different"-  I could now rephrase as "psychotic".

A friend and I discussed our abusers the other day and how they lured us in. We discussed the tactic of offering excitement. Of offering the feeling that we were doing things the "ordinary" people and relationships weren't. Falling for a "bad boy" is a romantic trope. We are having a fabulous time and later, if we need to, we can change them. At least they aren't boring right?

No. Being hurt is never boring. Living with trauma could never be called dull. Being brainwashed is disorientating and soul-destroying but not predictable.

When an abusive man begins his quest it is often in the gentlest and loveliest of ways. Love bombing is a tactic you will have heard. If I pinpoint it to one moment that sealed my fate it would be this.

In the early days. When I thought he was falling in love with me. This....

We had been out drinking and gone back to his flat. He had told me he had no furniture in the lounge. He had one chair. I asked why and he proudly said... "I don't want anyone to feel comfortable enough to stay long." He is a control freak. He had a big leather chair like a throne and anyone else had to sit on the floor. He always has to make himself feel more special and important than anyone else. It stems from deep insecurity. At the time I thought it made him more interesting and quirky. He is only quirky in that he hates women. He hates anyone he thinks is better than him. He needs to hate a lot of people. His hatred is dangerous. 

But this particular night he offered me a glass of wine in what he told me were very expensive wine glasses. A present from his parents. I took the glass and began to drink. He had a balcony. There was music playing. It seemed rather romantic. Even sitting on the floor whilst he sat on his "throne". I read nothing into his power/domination techniques then. I later told this whole story to friends as though it was incredibly lovely and a sign of him really caring about me. 

Unfortunately for me... in ways I could not judge then... I dropped the glass and it shattered across the floor. 

I know what you are thinking. He hit me? He shouted? He called me names?

Not at all. He smiled. 

I cried actually. I was embarrassed and felt really bad. I had smashed something important to this new man on whom I wanted to make a good impression. So what did he do?

He walked over and took my hand. Picked up the glass and cleared it away. I was very upset. He walked to the balcony with his own glass and grandly, and with force, deliberately threw it over the balcony. I gasped. I heard it smash on the driveway below. He turned and smiled and said...

"I have another four of those. I'll never have another you."

And that was it. I was in. One romantic gesture for a working class girl brought up on the myth of Prince Charming. The one who would sweep you off your feet. The one. Surely this was the thing such a Prince would say? This was probably the one I'd been waiting for? I'd been groomed for?

I was groomed. By my upbringing. By society. Finally .... by him.

Months later he broke my rib. I had 23 more of them. But I'll never have another him.

JH x

Monday, 12 June 2017

Women are still dying for their vote.....

Last week we saw how powerful and empowering voting can be. People began to hope for something better than there had been. We voted with a desire to see change. We voted against a backdrop of biased media reporting combined with a carefully-nurtured political disaffection and in the face of increasing political cruelty and arrogance.

As the snap election wore on, and a newly-invigorated Corbyn campaign emerged, things began to change quickly. The morning after the election people were, if not elated, at least glad that it wasn’t worse. The prospect of a rampant and unfettered Tory party crippling the poor with yet more austerity measures was just too painful to consider.

As election anticipation grew and excitement at the prospect of rebellion against Tory dominance flourished with the clear signs of Tory wheels coming off, some women still sat at home and did not vote. Not because they were disinterested. Not because they were not eligible to vote. Many of them will have sat at home with a polling card somewhere on a pile of mail. They knew it was there. They knew they could not use it. Or which is really the same - that they could not use it as they would like to.

I tweeted, as did many, about how hard suffragette women had fought for us to vote. This is true, however clich├ęd. The desire in saying it is that we can encourage women out to the polls. Women who are politically active may try to vote for issues that concern women and children. They will probably choose parties that represent women. In many cases that will not be the Conservatives. But….sometimes they will choose right wing parties. Sometimes women will vote for parties whose policies will harm them directly. That is the point of this blog. Yes, the Suffragettes did starve and die for our political rights. Sadly that alone did not free women to vote.

What stops them? Men stop them. The men with whom they are in intimate relationships. Husbands, brothers, partners, sons, grandfathers. The men in their homes and the men in their heads.

Free women can vote freely. Trapped women cannot. They may not be physically trapped.

If a man wants to control a woman he can isolate her from her family. If he wants to control her finances he can isolate her from work. If he wants to control her effectively beyond hurting her and creating fear, the easy ways are by limiting her movement, her financial independence and her access to help via friends, family and outside agency.

Abusive men love to take things from the women they abuse. Calling a woman names takes away her self-esteem. Hitting or raping a woman takes away her belief in personal safety and bodily integrity.

Telling a woman that what she thinks or has always believed is stupid can be really damaging too, as part of his “scheme” of abuse. A man constantly telling a woman that what she thinks is wrong, when he makes what he says and believes sound like “what everyone thinks”, is brainwashing. Many abused women are subject to attempts to brainwash them. Fighting to keep your ideological integrity is just one more fight in many fights. Some fights come before that one. Sometimes it is suffocating to see through the small every day battles and the bigger battle can seem remote. 

A woman may have very strong political views when she meets her abuser. If those views disadvantage or disagree with those of her abuser, he will need to destroy them. If they are feminist views, they will need stomping on firmly.

Many abused women are outspoken and strong when a man targets them for abuse. They are confident and successful. They present a challenge. Skilled abusers need a challenge. Some seek vulnerability, but many also seek a strength that they can destroy.

When people say “Never discuss politics or religion” the suggestion is that it will lead to discord. In a household where disagreements escalate fast from such simple things as the content of a meal many women would never dream of challenging what a man says about the economy or immigration. If they do they soon learn not to. If they are fighting to survive, mentally and or physically, it is almost Pavlovian to learn to say the political things that chime with him. To parrot a political mantra he agrees with is like seeking a pat on the head. Women may support EDL marching bigots of the highest order - because how would you tell a man like that - his views are unacceptable? When he returns home full of fight and alcohol and the certainty from marching with a hundred other thugs that he is right how would you tell him he is wrong? If he has been kettled by police all day as he marched then where might the fight he did not achieve go? What might his partner need to say to defend herself from anger. Create a scale of political views down from the extremist and you will find women agreeing with fracking, NHS cuts, Brexit and more when they would previously have stood against those things. Some women of course are simply not “allowed” to vote. Some women are not allowed to leave the house.

Free women wake up quickly. Free women soon realise that part of reclaiming themselves from him physically and mentally is also about reclaiming yourself politically. Free women run to the polling booth.

I think of the woman who no longer knows what she thinks. I want that woman to finally vote again. Think of how different things might be today if all the abused women last Thursday had been able to vote for things that are good for women like them? Think of the women still dying without a vote.  

JH x

Monday, 22 May 2017

You can't beat a woman to death because she wants a man who won't.

I rode number 37 of the rides in #Ride4MurderedWomen for Natalie Hemming on Sunday.

I read about her before I set off. The details are horrific. All the details of all the women I ride for are horrific because at the end of their stories a man kills them. A man they knew. A man they knew better than any of us. The thought of what they endured before he did kill them is nearly as bad. For those of us who have our own memories - we know that she was dying a bit faster and harder every day she spent with him anyway.

Natalie Hemming's ex partner beat her to death in their living room. He beat her severely, causing a fractured skull and damage to her arm (consistent with defending herself) and then wrapped her in a blanket. During this one of her two children, her son, came down and peeped through the door because he had been woken up by the frenzied attack. He was afraid of what he saw, he thought he might have been in trouble. Natalie Hemming's ex-partner then dragged her naked body out and took it to a wood. He dragged her through the ground by her ankles and left her face down to be found by whoever came by.

He them returned home and took his children to the zoo the next day as though nothing had happened.

3 weeks later her body was found by a man doing some work on the wood.

It does not really matter "why" he killed her. He killed her because he was an abusive woman-hater and had been for many years. He was controlling and violent and bullying.

Yet, when I read the details there were details which bothered me. The details which are constantly thrown around male circles to justify abuse.

She was embarking on a relationship with another man. A colleague. It had begun as "flirtation" and "developed into something more" so she was planning to leave her violent, controlling, manipulative partner with whom she had endured a controlling and coercive relationship/hell on Earth. In her view they had already split up. In his head - she was his possession.

I realised yesterday, whilst believing absolutely none of it, that some men hearing this would secretly say..... "Ah. She was unfaithful. I can see where he was coming from." Or worse, the men who say, "If my wife cheated on me I'd kill her and then I'd kill him" or "He has every right to smack her about, she's a slag."

I could hear some women absorbing those time-established judgement from within themselves thinking..... "oh but... she was seeing another man behind his back. That's not really allowed. It was bound to make him angry."

Over the years many women have sought refuge from an abuser by entering a friendship or relationship with another man. At the time they have been utterly destroyed. In all kinds of ways. They are not used to seeking women to help them. They do not know about feminism or refuges or escape plans. They feel intrinsically that the way to escape one violent bully is to seek another man who may be able to protect them from him. Women who are used to relying on a man who makes them totally reliant only see the escape route in yet another man.

It makes sense no? This man is hurting me. Who can help me? Where will my escape route be? Ah. A better man. A stronger man. A different man.

When another man shows interest in them it may be the only kindness they have had from anyone in years. A man saying "your hair looks nice" is like a thousand diamonds strewn at your feet after a man who makes it his life's mission to make you feel ugly and worthless.

She will have heard.... "Who on Earth would look at you? The state of you! You've got fat. You're old. You're ugly. You'd never get a man like me again. " She has heard this a lot. Her esteem is ridiculously low. I have seen the loveliest women with personalities like sunshine and eyes like oceans convince themselves they are as unattractive as gravel. They get new clothes. He says they make her look like a tart. She cuts her hair... he likes it short. They grow their hair. He thinks they're letting themselves go and trying to act "like mutton dressed as lamb". They wear perfume to make themselves feel prettier. He says the smell turns his stomach. They cook nice meals straight out of the cookbook. He says it makes him sick. What a waste of his money. They try to share details of their lives. He says they bore him and he's tired because he doesn't have the easy life they do.

In their heads they fantasise escape routes. One where he dies. They live a better life. They win the lottery. They leave him and live a better life. Or they meet someone who offers to save them and take them away from all this.

They are terrified. A man can get them killed. They know the rules. And yet.... a word of kindness and a smile can break their pain for a day. A gesture of care can lift their eyes. A simple offer of basic help or a sharing of emotion can lead them onto a fantasy world where they are free. A text returned can be the rope that hangs them or leads to freedom. Women faced with unbearable choices make unbearable choices. The man they turn their face to for the sun may also be an abuser sniffing out their vulnerability. Or he may be a good man. He may genuinely think he can help. He may unwittingly place her in danger.

She will cling to him. What trapped prisoner would not want the man with the key to their prison to befriend them? We women have grown up with fairy tales. We do not always realise that other women have the key too. That we have the key in ourselves. We are too weakened and beaten and lost.

If Natalie Hemming clung to a man... and I don't know if he was a good man... or if he was a man who would not have saved her.... I don't care the judgement about "adultery". You cannot commit adultery or be unfaithful in a relationship where you are already deceived. Abuse is deceit. It is one man convincing you he loves you whilst he steals your soul. You owe that man nothing. None of us do.

She may also have heard the words that Natalie Hemming did. "If I can't have you no one can." He was right. No one ever did again. Including her children and her friends and her parents. Never judge a woman for her escape route. Her escape route is the thing that she needs to stay with us in this world.

Let's keep women in this world.

JH x

Monday, 15 May 2017

Dear Tommy Robinson - Open Letter

Over the last few days I have been the target of a number of your "supporters". They are very keen to tell me how little I care for women rape complainants. Apparently you have suddenly become the saviour of said rape complainants. I therefore need to address this. Mainly because your concern, and theirs, seems woefully and transparently inauthentic in its intent.

Might I ask what statistics you are aware of regarding rape? Are you aware that the conviction rate for rape generally is so terrifyingly low that women spend years of their lives campaigning to improve it. Some women, like Jill Saward, died trying. The statistic hovers around 7% but with adjustments can be as low as 3%. The HMIC report of November 2014 ( Crime Recording - Making The Victim Count) states that 3.1% of reported crime is deemed "no crime" but for rape that statistic rises to 7.3% and the total for all crimes of sexual violence is 26%. I'll repeat, 26% of crimes where - and it is predominantly male on female crime - the result is that police don't proceed to court. You know this surely? No? Just this one case that you thought was valid? Because this kind of injustice happens to a lot of women. Roughly 76,000 of them per year achieve no justice at all.

Whilst I have massive sympathy for Chelsey - and should she seek feminist support it will be here in bucket loads and more - then it is important to see this as a systemic failure of women as a sex class.

In fact it can be seen as a male crime of violence which is routinely overlooked. Of course if you factor in the statistic that only 16,000 rapes out of 78,000 are actually reported to police and that only 1500 of them approximately proceed to conviction then .... you can sort of see why feminists get angry.

We even name the problem. We name it men. That includes men of all races, religions, immigration status and umm.... political motivation. There will be men among your own ranks who have raped women I don't doubt. There will be men among your own ranks who are keen to make it "othered" as a crime - (See Jock Young - The Vertigo of Late Modernity - 2007 would be invaluable to you on the concept of "othering"). However... it is dangerous to women and girls to do this. Yes, grooming gangs are a problem. Yes, there have been horrific institutional failures at every level from police to government and the judiciary, and yes... we must hold them to account. We cannot do this proceeding on the basis that only immigrant men or muslim men are to blame or that only white women are victim/survivors. This is narrow, naive and foolish. Or racist. Shall we stick to narrow, naive and foolish? Because as soon as you point a torch on a very small percentage of those 78,000 rapist men, as you are doing, then that allows a massive amount of men (including those white British men in gangs, or as individuals, who groom)  to slink off into the shadows quietly and continue their evil.

In the interest of sharing expertise which I don't think you currently have I will link the HMIC research document here.

That was my way, not too subtly of saying that you are a little under-informed and have wandered into an arena with a grudge against a specific section of the community and actually you don't have the correct weapons or the correct target.

Systemic injustice for women subject to sexual violence is not new. Resistance to it is not new. Local government collusion and police corruption in this area is not new. Neither is the opposition to it.  Infact.... nothing you are doing is new. The only supposedly novel angle is "muslim grooming gangs" and this is not new either. Andrew Norfolk highlighted the atrocities many of us knew were occurring in Rotherham years ago. This led to a major government inquiry in the form of the Alexis Jay report. This led to a greater awareness among the public and following investigations and revelations. I was alerting anyone who would listen to me about the dangers of the negligence of former Police Commissioner Shaun Wright many years ago. As were many other feminists. Feminist organisations have picked up the pieces of those atrocious crimes. For years. They are still doing so.

Marching through streets shouting about muslim men does not put women back together after the trauma of rape. You will find that it is feminist women who do that. You will find that it is women who fight for funding. It is women who give their time voluntarily to helplines which are often the first point of contact when a woman has been raped. You will find that it is a feminist organisation that is campaigning to educate juries on rape mythology to ensure better justice for women.

Rape Crisis funding has been, and continues to be, slashed under government austerity measures. More specialist sexual violence trauma units are desperately needed in hospitals. Juries are woefully under-informed/misinformed by judges. The entire law around past sexual history and Section 41 of the Youth and Criminal Justice Act needs reform so that no such devastatingly painful and questionable testimony is allowed to deliver such a terrible lack of justice as that for the complainant in R v Evans occurs again. Women need fair access to justice from first point of entry into the criminal justice system which begins with the police. You might be surprised to know that feminists push for this all the time. Rape Crisis England and Wales. EVAW, and many, many, many other women are keen to see improvements. Funnily enough, despite the recent incoming Twitter attacks I have seen relatively little declaration amongst your political affiliates that they will fight for justice for all raped women?

And yet, here we are. Standing accused of inaction by men. I would laugh at the ridiculous lack of awareness - but it seems more sensible to politely point out the staggering arrogance and comic delusion in such attacks.

You will find that, contrary to the accusations your followers level at me, I am more than willing to name those responsible for the failures on muslim grooming gangs in Rotherham. The last time I properly wrote on it was in 2016. Here.;postID=5473051222306346921;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=44;src=postname

It was not just the predominantly pakistani heritage males who were to blame. It was also powerful white men and a woman, who have all conveniently evaded any accountability. The Pakistani heritage community in Rotherham are mostly just as angry about the lack of justice and accountability as anyone else. They are the majority. The male perpetrators are a minority.

I raised £27,000 ( a tiny amount I admit) last year to support rape victims and complainants. I'm still proud of that. It will help to support women of all religious, racial and political backgrounds. Because there is not a designated rape demographic. Other than - predominantly female victim and entirely male perpetrator. Are you aware that Rape Crises England and Wales statistics for 2015/2016 revealed that 27% of service users were from black or ethnic minority backgrounds. This is a rising figure. up from 23% in 2014. I am aware that male on male rape occurs. Are you? Do you know those statistics. Do you know how male violence sweeps through lives? Do you not think that perhaps challenging a culture where men raise other men to see females as sexual objects is problematic? Do you watch porn for example? I would like you to think about where the attitudes to seeing women as disposable humans for sexual gratification comes from? If you watch porn - you collude. Women are raped on camera in that porn. Men take that message into real space and enact it upon women. The sex men watch is violent. Rape is a common scenario.  I'll ask again... do you watch rape on screen routinely? Do you think it is "ok because she likes it"?

So, back to Chelsey Wright. I think this poor woman may have been treated appallingly by men. I think those men have subjected her to sexually violent atrocities and I think it does look as though the criminal justice system is failing/has failed her. Unfortunately I have little knowledge of her case as I do not accept Rebel Media as a trustworthy or truth-validated news source. I have been waiting for more credible information.

I am keen to distance myself from you and your band of followers. Most feminists will do that. We see that you are using a young woman, who appears to have been exploited in the most vile of ways, for a politically motivated agenda. What feminists will do if Chelsey approaches us is take care of her. We would offer her signposting to specialist services and we would demand justice if a lack of justice is shown to be the case.

Crucially, male sexual violence against women and girls is not an issue we can confine to one victim or a small group of perpetrators. The problem is much more extensive than that. If you really want to help Chelsey you will hope that she picks up the phone that will link her to women with specialist counselling knowledge. I don't have it by the way. I am not a trained Rape Crisis counsellor. Largely, I'm just a gobshite like you. Just more adequately informed.

You can thank me for the information. Just don't do it in person.

Kind regards,

Jean Hatchet.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Pay up. It's election time.

I am always asking for cash for feminist causes these days. Cash for women so that women can be helped after men have hurt them. "Please donate to Rape Crisis"..... "Please donate to women's refuges" ...... "Please help me to help women".

Feminist women asking for cash is like a broken record. Scratched and slashed and being carved up with a broken needle if we want to extend the imagery. Working for women is hard because getting those with power, mainly men, to care about the damage their sex has done to our sex is just standing up for attack and often ridicule. They won't just give us the money. We have to get it for ourselves. Feminist women have been doing this for a very long time. Governments have been neglecting their responsibility to tackle male violence against women in a meaningful and properly resourced way for a very long time. They continue to do so at both local and national level. Hand-wringing rhetoric and vote-winning promises are not refuge beds and sanitary towels.

I feel no embarrassment in asking people to give me cash for women. I am heavily criticised online for doing so. I ignore those criticisms. A man this week said of my attempts to raise £50,000 for Wearside Women In Need... "she's only doing it because she has egg on her face over the Ched Evans acquittal and she is selective over who she rides for!"

Well yes. Yes I am selective. I want to raise money for women. Just women. Because the funding for women's refuges has been slashed by 17% under this government. The cuts in funding for Rape Crisis centres sees half of them threatened with closure. (N.B. Ched who?)

The brutal bulk of government cuts has hit women and children hard. The loss of refuges, rape crisis centres, domestic violence provision, Sure Start centres, cuts to legal aid to help them access justice after domestic violence, tax credits, bedroom tax, benefit cap, DLA cuts, reforms to the child support agency, on and on go the policy moves that hurt women and children financially.

On just one day, at just one refuge, 95 women and 72 children were turned away according to Women's Aid Survey 2016.

Politicians salivate like hungry dogs over the meaty bones of Politics. They love Westminster and the buzz of the power. They feed to bursting from the shmoozing and boozing and fundraising lunching and the thrill of knocking on doors with a campaign team and talking to the press and the election counts and the drug-style euphoria of catching the whiff of a rosette is dizzying.

So here it is. The Election. Their hearts are beating fast. Their columns are whizzing out. Their campaign teams are stuffing inboxes as we speak. Twitter exploded last Wednesday. The frenzy is upon us.

Me? I feel sick.

Here is the spend from the general election in 2015 for all parties.</strong>

Unsolicited Material to Electors ............................£15,182,584.62



Overheads and General Administration.................£2,048,782.86

Rallies and Other Events.......................................£2,512,589.83

Market Research and Canvassing..........................£7,646,660.90


Manifesto or Referendum Material........................£318,880.76

Campaign Broadcasts...........................................£896,010.11

That is a grand total of £37,560,039.27

Wearside Women in Need provide 4 refuges. They save women's lives. They face losing all of those refuges. This refuge provision in Sunderland currently costs £560,000 a year and it looks like whatever domestic violence provision may remain will be severely hacked at and left bleeding. Just like the women who will be turned away. We genuinely fear for the futures and the lives of abused women in Sunderland.

Last Wednesday Katie Russell of Rape Crisis England and Wales revealed that a fund linking to the show Broadchurch aimed at raising money for victims of sexual violence had raised a mere tenner. £10. That has now started to climb. Thank goodness. But she talks of the apathy of the public for supporting rape victims because of persistent myths that are believed about victims. I raised £27,000 for rape victims earlier this year and received death threats online as a result. It is not an easy gig asking for money for women who have been raped. I applaud everyone who asks and everyone who gives.

Between 1st July and 30th September 2016 the Conservative Party received £2,861,788 in political donations. The largest donor was Michael Davis, a powerful businessman, who donated £269,000. Michael Davis was knighted in 2015 in the Queen's honours. He had at that point donated £1.47 million to the tory Party. He was closely followed by Alexander Fraser who gave £260,000. Labour receives donations from Trade unions. This is done mainly by the collective donation of individual member subs by unions. It isn't quite the same as dipping into your one dinner jacket pocket for a quarter of a million pounds.

When women, and men, donate to the Ride For Murdered Women that I'm undertaking for women's refuges, they give what they can. They give £5 that would have fed their kids. They have to wait until payday they tell me. They are saving up. One friend has said he will donate at the end of all my rides. I have 92 rides to do. I wish it was less. I've completed 21 and a total of 500.8 miles. I'm totally exhausted. I do it mainly to point out that figure. That women are dying at the hands of men they love or have loved, and they are dying every year.

Today I rode for Jodie Betteridge. Her ex partner stabbed her to death. He stabbed her 132 times. 30 times in the head and 45 times in the torso included in that. He stabbed her minutes after murdering his current partner Lynne Freeman. He stabbed her on her front lawn in front of her children. One of the children was running around the garden screaming, covered in his mother's blood. His attack was so frenzied that he only stopped when his knife blade broke off. Such was the ferocity of his hatred for the women in his life. 

Women are dying right now. Their bodies are not between your election headlines yet. Behind a closed door in this country a woman is being told she is stupid. A hand is closing around her throat and she doesn't know if it will stop before she chokes. She has been torn from the connections with all who have loved her. She has been made to feel that everything that is happening to her is her fault. She has been beaten, burned, stabbed and strangled. She lives. She hides it. She waits and she hopes. She dreams that one day she will not suffer this. She wonders why the man she loves hates her so. She wishes someone would help. Oh....we should help. The man putting his hand in his pocket for a silver service lunch and a dance with Theresa May should help. He really should.

Westminster should hang its head in shame as it feels the giddy thrill of election fever. Each and every donor currently reaching for a cheque book, should look at what is happening to women in this country and point the power of that pen in a different direction. Point it at women. Help women save other women. Let the political parties pay for their own damn lunches.

Here is the link to the fund if you feel you want to donate. …

JH x

Saturday, 18 March 2017

A childhood defined by appearance.

I am a mother. I have handled my daughter's naked body since it first came from my own. I have been aware of every change and every growth. The lengthening of her limbs. The rounding and then the flattening of her stomach. The curves of her thighs as they emerged and then slimmed and stretched. I have kissed her and hugged her and worshipped her body for 15 years. I adore my child as many mothers do. We have nothing to fear in the way we handle our children. It is natural and beautiful and full of nurturing gentleness. I have stroked her face as it evolves from the cocoon of her youth on a daily basis.  Her features are still emerging. They are still transforming into the butterfly she will become. She is beautiful. I cry sometimes at how she will be handled less carefully by others.

And today I see men, and it is not solely men I admit, parading an unknown 12 year old body before me with their words of cruelty. Some of them are clever men too. Men who have access to law courts where they will help to deliver judgements in cases where men have handled those 12 year old bodies. Places where they will see details of a man who has put his penis in a 12 year old girl and left his sperm behind. Where that court will subsequently say that it was ok for him to have done so because the case is "exceptional".

Here is the case

Well. If the circumstances of this case were "exceptional" then my daughter could have been handled similarly and a similar result given. I would have to accept that the decisions she made and the way she dressed and the things she agreed to at such a naive age were "exceptional" from a law that would provide that she was raped. The man who handled her body would walk away from it and on to his next. Her body would be left behind with me to continue maturing into an adult body. Her 12 year old mind would be left to deal with this too. That is something that a mother cannot do I'm afraid and men should stop telling that mother to suck up this judgement because they know better. 

3 years ago my daughter was 12. Oh how she has changed in those three years. The things she said then... as we watch back footage of her on her iPad playing on her bike or dancing...make her both cringe and roar with laughter. The things she wrote in total earnest into little books she made. Her drawings of pop stars and classmates. We giggle at. She sees herself back then as naive and silly. I see her as wonderfully childish. In 3 years more she will laugh at her 15 year old self that she now sees as wise and mature. 

Even children know that children of 12 and 15 are very different. They don't commonly choose each other as "dates" or "relationships". They often stick within rather rigid boundaries and turn their noses up at the thought of "dating" outside their year group or immediate, and rather strictly defined (age wise), peer group. 

Some do seek relationships with older boys or girls. That is ok. Children experiment. They seek out risks too. The law is there to protect them from those risks. It did not protect the girl in this judgement. She was trying to push boundaries, and that is the desire of many children. Someone was waiting to take advantage of her when she did. Someone should have been protecting her. Someone should have offered a safety net for her curiosity or rebellion or anger or trauma. Or whatever it was that led her to that flat and that bedroom. Someone should have intervened before a man raped her. The fact that they did not is when the law should have stepped in and stepped up as a warning to other men to be utterly certain of the age of girls you encounter on a street before you stick your penis in one. The onus should not be on a girl to "look her age" in order not to be raped. 

What I see here, in this judgement, is a stranger. A chancer. A man who has encountered very much younger children than himself and is claiming to have been "duped" into believing they were older simply because they said they were. That man subsequently handled the girl naked. He talked to her at length. He chatted to her. 12 year old girls have an entirely different frame of conversational reference to 19 year olds. Even as adults - you know that when we encounter someone older/younger than us.. we talk about different things. As children we rode different bikes, laughed at different shows, had different music idols. These things date us. These differences are even more starkly evident for younger ages where they quickly appear worlds apart. A taxi driver on a short journey might read a situation solely by appearance. A man in a bedroom with a naked 12 year old he has been talking to for a while is faced with quite a different prospect and a very different choice. 

This man is also the only one with "evidence" as to her "apparent" age who saw her naked. He handled her body in a way no one else that night did and that no one in that courtroom did. He was able to see as she undressed that her skin and her hips and the entrance to her vagina were very young. This is unavoidable. It isn't something you can hide with a Boots 17 lipstick and a high heel. A young body is what many child sexual abusers covet because it is so very different. Child sexual abusers and groomers seeking children to abuse can quickly spot one they deem "too old". 

I don't care that he put his head in his hands and cried. I don't care that the police spoke to her. I don't care that the girl was out late or drinking vodka or behaving in a way that suggested she was older. I don't care that she allegedly consented at the time. The law does not provide for such consent. A child below 13 cannot consent to sex. To my mind a child cannot consent to sex at all with a much older man as the power imbalance is too stark. But the law states 13 and the law must be applied. She was 12 years old with no clothes on in a bedroom with a man who should have said no even if she begged him. If a court hears that he did not it should make sure to apply the law provided. 

If it does not then it is guilty of making a judgement not only about the man but about the girl. It is guilty of providing an application of a clause of the law - and no I am not a lawyer or a judge - to excuse an act of rape. That application has been based upon her consent and her appearance to others. It is based upon a variety of witness testimony about her appearance. It is based upon the fact that no "harm" was done to her physically. It allows for a girl who is desiring sexual experience and drinking and dressing in the clothes provided for her by a society that sexualises very young girls, to be raped. 

I am being told I am not equipped with the legal expertise to challenge that judgement. Well I do challenge it. I have read it (though of course I'm accused of not doing so) and I do challenge it. Because a Judge says something does not ensure it is shrouded in a shield of respect. The judge was wrong in my opinion. This is a terrible decision. It favours a man's right to stick his penis in a vagina if he "reasonably believes" that the vagina is old enough. It suggests that she was "nearly"old enough anyway. I am told this is not precedent. I assume because of the witnesses? That no witness will ever come forward again to say a girl's vagina looked "old enough". Even though they never saw it. Well.... I think we have seen before how easily witnesses can be provided to rape trials with a little effort, money and misogyny. 

Current media amplification of this case will perhaps ensure that such witnesses will be sought by the defence barristers of child sexual abusers in future. There must be a kebab shop owner to say "she looked 18 to me" or a taxi driver to say "her vagina was hanging out of that short skirt when she paid and it looked 17 alright... she was well up for it". If witnesses are sought, perhaps with incentive, then they might be found. If they are looked for. Accused rapists do remember judgements like this when they are subject to media amplification. Barristers could, and possibly will, find those witnesses. 

Some girls at 12 years old might think they are consenting to sex.  As Dr Gail Dines reveals she has been told by porn producers.... "young women come to the porn set porn ready". They do not need to be taught how to act in a porn film, or on a street corner in Glasgow, because the sexualised swamp our young girls are drowning in has made them feel "ready". It does not mean they ARE ready and the law should tell men who would abuse them that they are not. 

This also smacks of class snobbery. Girls who are on the street late at night are "easy". Girls who are drinking with older teenagers are "asking for it". Good 12 year old girls are safely tucked up in bed with cocoa and a Zoella biography after a supper of hummus and a discussion about biology grades. The "bad girls" dress up and go out. The bad girls lead to "exceptional case" judgements. They are bringing it on themselves. "Naughty girls" deserve rape? Really?

This particular 12 year old child sought to be on a street late at night and drinking and later desiring to have sex - perhaps. That should be a cause for concern not condemnation. It should not mean that deserves to see the man who raped her walk away free. Even if she thought she was consenting at 12 - what she thinks about that in later life may be very different and the law will have failed her. How will she feel then? 

What was happening in this poor girl's life that she felt the need to seek out such escape? Class-based poverty, and the lack of nurturing that can result, can lead young girls into risky or sexualised behaviour. Young working class girls are dispensable? Is that the judgement here? Because something is making this sound "ok" when normally an adult male having sex with a 12 year old would be soundly condemned by all. 

I think two things here. Firstly, girls are being exposed to porn from a very young age and are becoming sexualised as a result. They are viewing underage sex as routine and expected. They are made to view their bodies as disposable and available receptacles of male sperm. They see it and they are conditioned and primed by it. Some girls may take that to the street and drink vodka down on top of it. They are then raped. This is heartbreakingly sad. Girls do develop sexual desire as young as 12. They should not be encouraged to see it as normal to have sex with older men. Sadly the easily available porn they view does not allow them to position their view of themselves in a real sexual encounter in any empowering way. Porn empowers no one. Least of all the women exploited in it. 

Girls need educating that they don't need to have sex at all until they feel emotionally and physically ready to do so. Experimenting alone is good. Getting to know their own bodies before considering handing them over to porn-infused older males is a good idea. Men viewing porn, where girls often appear young, are becoming immune to the boundaries of the law because they see them, apparently, crossed so frequently on screen. Our girls are becoming victim to a culture which encourages them to leave their childhood behind early and before their bodies and the law are ready for them to do so. The law should stand as guard to that. The law should stand between them and men who will rape them... whatever those men "reasonably believe" ....when they contravene a law then the law should be applied. If a man has sex with a young woman it is his responsibility to ensure she is old enough to do so. If he has based that on appearance, he is a fool and a dangerous one. It does not excuse his lack of accountability. 

The second is the arrogance of those in the legal profession.  Yes I have read the judgement and I find Lady Scott's comments and her application of it, not to be in the interest of young girls. I am allowed to say that despite not being a barrister or similar because when the conviction rate for rape of around 7% is so appalling I am not going to doff my feminist cap when they pop along to tell me I know nothing and should let them get on with it. You self-congratulatory lawyers ought not to be parading around Twitter dispensing your patronising dismissal of the concern of the rest of us whilst you are still presiding in courts that repeatedly let female victims of sexual violence down. If you aren't doing your job then expect the plebeians to say so and say it loudly. 

Many of the men throwing their opinions on 12 year old girls around Twitter don't seem to have looked at one lately. Or at least they have not acknowledged that what their clothes and makeup does not reveal is a childish insecurity and desire to be valued by the world. Indeed to be protected from its dangers a little whilst they wobble their way towards adulthood by slicking on eyeliner and pouting for Snapchat. 

I for one will be protecting my girl as best I can from predatory males hyped up by a porn industry and a rape culture which would leave her vulnerable. Don't tell me to suck up judgement which lets men rape 12 year old girls and skip off down the road with a nothing more than a "phew". 

I have no respect for you, your profession or the courts where you practice it until you start to lock up our rapists, murderers and domestic abusers. 

Do your job.

My job was to raise a girl. I realise I have to do more. I now have to raise a warrior because you fools presiding over our justice system won't go into battle on her behalf.