Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Ride For Murdered Women 2017

In October 2017 I began to ride for all the women who were murdered during 2017 by men who are current or former intimate partners or family members. I knew that as I started to ride for Nicola Beck there were still more women who would be murdered before the end of the year. That my list would keep growing. Thanks to Claire Moore for continuing the terrible task of counting the women who die at the hands of men they once loved and to Karen Ingala Smith for the soul-destroying work of counting all femicides in the UK. I know how painful it is to see the names and the bodies mount up behind them.

Here is a list of the women I rode for previously who were murdered in 2016. Women murdered in 2016

I have already begun to ride for all the women murdered in 2018 ... and each week new bodies are discovered and new reasons offered by police to excuse the terror of their murders. It is an "isolated incident" and "no danger to the wider public". There is a risk to the wider public. There is a risk to any woman who has men in her life. Men who women know and have in their lives are statistically a bigger risk to women than bombs carried by men she doesn't know.

During the year of riding for these women I got fitter but I didn't get any less sad. Or angry. It is still devastating to read each story. It is still a shock always to hear the determination and hatred of men written in the stories of how the women died.

This year I have met some women who were relatives or friends of women murdered. I have watched as they struggled to say the name of the woman they loved deeply. Struggled to express the horror of losing them and fought back tears as they spoke of the man who killed them. I would ride for any woman whose friend or relative asked me to now if it helped a woman feel that their loved woman was remembered and honoured. That I had heaved my weary body up hills for her. That I had climbed on my bike with her name and her story in my head and my heart. That I had carried the weight of her pain on my back. Because I do. I remember every face and every name.

I remember a woman saying she could not follow me for a while because the stories are too traumatic and I felt so sorry for her. I'm sure lots of women have had to do this and I totally understand. Knowing how men who murder women hate us is very hard to accept and read about. Knowing how vulnerable we are is difficult to stomach.

This year brought new challenges. There was the time that Lily Madigan, the trans women's officer for Labour announced a charity bike ride after a series of tweets we exchanged where Madigan said that I was not a feminist. Madigan never completed the single bike ride. I completed 84. Feminists have commitment to ending male violence as well as tweeting about it.

By the time I had finished the rides for 2016 and 2017 I had ridden over 4000 miles for 178 murdered women. 

I had also started to get pain in my abdomen and swelling. I kept going thinking I might have pulled a muscle or was just eating too much. Eventually I went to the doctors and found that I had cell abnormalities in my blood tests. Subsequently this led to ultrasound which led to a CT Scan which led to the revelation that I have extensive and widespread ovarian cancer. I have continued to honour murdered women and I will continue to do so as much as I can through my treatment. It is important to me to make sure I do what I can - even in pain - to show that women have to endure so much pain at the hands of men before they die. A woman trapped in an abusive relationship is dying a little more every day. She is dragged from her own world into the darkness of his. Sometimes that darkness may lead to her murder. Abusive men are worse than cancer and harder to fight. 

We must do all we can to make spaces safe for those women to access and escape violent men and resources to try to break them free and get them there. Wearside Women in Need have accepted all the funds I have - and you have - raised so far and have used them to fund an Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) to work with individual women at high risk of homicide. I want to continue to fund this post as long as possible. I would like to raise much more if possible as funding for refuges has been slashed by more than 17% since 2010. The government have lots of words. We have lots of love for women. 

I have been targeted by trans activists determined to prove I am transphobic because I don't ride for trans women. But no trans women would be part of the demographic because none of them died. The bodies are all female. The bodies who killed them are all male.

This project is intrinsically linked to the need to establish safe space in refuges that exclude male bodies whether self-identified as trans women or not. It is crucial that women are able to recover in a space designated to keeping them safe from male violence and that space cannot simultaneously contain males. This is protected in the Equality Act 2010 and refuges must not be afraid to use that provision.

In order to fight the male violence that leads to these horrific deaths it is important to establish valid and trustworthy statistics that can clearly show the difference between the sexed bodies of the perpetrator on this list- always male - and the victim - always female. Women are targeted in this way because they are female. Statistics must reflect the sex of both perpetrator and victim accurately. 

Abusive men are responsible for the blood of women running in our streets, for the tears running down their faces, for the lost happiness of their children and the lost hope of their mothers, sisters and friends. 

Women are responsible for remembering them and honouring them. We must love our sisters when men have broken them. Never forget these women.

Below is a list of the women I honoured with a bike ride...murdered in 2017 by men they once loved.

Ride #1 for Nicola Beck husband murdered her with a massive head wound + 10 other scalp wounds over money/divorce

Ride #2 for Kerri McCauley beaten to death by ex who broke her phone so she couldn’t call help +her mother to find

Ride #3 for Victoria Shorrock - killed with cut to back of Head +significant bruises - partner jailed for “assault"

Ride #4 for Kulwinder Kaur stabbed 3 times in the neck until dead by jealous ex-husband - murder is dark + cold

Ride #5 for Kiran Daudia whose ex husband murdered her, stuffed her in a suitcase and left her in an alleyway

Ride #6 for Amandeep Kaur whose partner feared she would leave him so he slashed her neck before she was able to.

Ride#7 for Anita Downey whose partner slit her throat in front of his own son who then had to call 999.

Ride #8 for Chrissy Kendall - strangled to death by controlling ex partner who left her body for her son to find

Ride #9 for Gillian Zvomuya husband struck her 40 times in her car inc with axe. Then drove body to Lidl car park

Ride #10 for Anne Forneaux who was murdered by her husband who battered her around the head with a hammer and stabbed her in the neck.

Ride #11 for Tina Billingham stabbed through heart +liver with sword stick by partner who dumped her body in GP’s

Ride #12 for Hannah Dorans whose ex partner allegedly raped her and then strangled her. He also sent messages to her parents via Facebook causing them distress. He had behaved in an abusive and threatening way towards her before the alleged murder.

Ride #13 for Catherine Kelly - murdered by her son who doused her in petrol and set her on fire

Ride #14 for Karina Batista-partner stabbed her through the eye, cut her throat, stabbed her in the heart+lungs

Ride #15 in fog again for Humara Khan - husband bludgeoned her to death with a hammer for not making him a meal. I hope every meal from now on tastes like death. I hope he vomits often. I hope he dies hungry

Ride #16 for Hazel Wilson-Briant stabbed to death by partner in front of kids screaming for someone to call 999.

Ride #17 for Margaret Stenning stabbed to death by her husband in Spain where they had retired. Abusive men often isolate their victims by moving them to a home away from family and friends.

Ride #18 for Avis Addison suffocated by her husband who refused all help for her during her descent into dementia

Ride #19 for Beverley Hudson - stabbed by ex partner 22 times. He broke 2 knives and stabbed her daughter 5 times

Ride #20 for Sarah Pitkin. Husband stabbed her in the neck multiple times - after previous abuse suspected

Ride #21 for Justene Reece who killed herself as a result of an ex’s obsessive stalking and coercive control

Ride #22 today for Anne-Marie James stabbed in the chest until dead by her brother who also stabbed their mum

Ride #23 for Sabrina Mullings whose partner stabbed her through the heart and liver after asking her to marry him

Ride #24 for Vikki Hull strangled to death by father of her child in her father’s home.

Ride #24 for Kanwal Bernice also as I miscounted. It is unclear exactly how she was murdered as her husband had placed her in a storage room wrapped in cloth with a bin liner over her feet. She had been there up to 14 days when found.

Ride #25 for Carolyn Hill - punched in face by boyfriend resulting in brain haemorrhage - he got drunk +bragged

Ride #26 for Katrina Evemy stabbed +bitten to death by jealous boyfriend who left her toddler covered in her blood

Ride #27 for Megan Bills. New “boyfriend” strangled her acting out a snuff fantasy then wrapped her in cling film

Ride#28 for Karolina Chwiluk - Ex-Boyfriend stabbed her 26 times in the face +neck cos she was dating a friend

Extra Ride #29 for Tara Newbold whose partner was, unfathomably, disgustingly, not charged with murder. Her family seek justice. 

Ride #30 for Jane Sherratt beaten to death with a training weight by husband - she lived 17 weeks before dying

Ride #31 for Tracy Kearns-husband inflicted 40 separate injuries, strangled, smothered and dumped her in a trailer

Ride #32 For Megan Bannister
Extra ride #33 for unnamed woman bullied to take her own life by vile rapist. She cannot be named as her anonymity is protected so I called her Ms Sheffield as that is where she was killed. 

Ride #34 for Sinead Wooding- Was stabbed multiple times and hit repeatedly with a hammer by her husband. He then attempted to burn her body before dumping it in a wood to be found. He had been harassing another woman just days before and was a serial abuser.

Ride #35 for Concepta Leonard stabbed to death by partner who also stabbed her son. She had a non-mol order

Ride #36 for Gemma Leeming whose partner strangled her to death and wrote “no brain” on her face in mascara. He desecrated her body+wrote on her in her own blood so that it would look like he was having a psychotic episode

Ride #37 for Emma Day. Ex partner stabbed her repeatedly over child maintenance as she took her kids to school.

Ride #38 for Sobhia Khan murdered by partner of just a few weeks - he had previously set a woman on fire in 2010

Ride #39 for Arena Saeed and her children. Husband suffocated her and drowned her 2 children

Ride #40 for domestic violence worker Alyson Watt stabbed in neck repeatedly by ex - he also attacked her son

Ride #41 for Sarah Jeffery -was planning to leave husband when he choked her+strangled with hair straightener cord

Ride #42 for Jean Chapman. Husband battered her over the head with a vase made by her son. Then strangled her.

Ride #43 for Molly McLaren who ended a relationship-always the most dangerous time for women with abusive men.

Ride #44 for Vera Savage - aged 89 was found stabbed to death and her son found alongside her. Police said she was murdered but he was not. They weren't looking for anyone else. Why on Earth can they not just admit when men murder women? It is not unusual on these lists to find sons are the murderers and it is the ultimate betrayal.

Ride #45 for Celine Dookhran uncle slit her throat after kidnapping and raping her.

Ride #46 for Olivia Kray whose father strangled her and then went to kill her mother -but failed.

Ride #47 for Betty Jordan - murdered by her estranged husband who drove to her home and stabbed her to death because he thought she was having an affair. Reports focus on the fact that he was wrong. Firstly, a woman who is not in a current relationship cannot be "unfaithful" to a man she has split from. Secondly - infidelity is still not a reason to murder a woman. Men do not own women.

Ride #48 for Leanne Collopy whose ex stabbed her to death +set her house in fire with her 2 yr old daughter inside

Ride #49 for Rikki Lander - husband read a text and was jealous so beat her round the head and strangled her. He then hanged himself leaving their 3 kids in the house

Extra Ride #50 at the request of friends of Shabnam Bhardwaj who was murdered a few days ago in Himachal Pradesh in by her husband who it is alleged hung her body to look like suicide. The police initially didn’t act

Ride #51 for Hannah Cohen - Murdered by her brother who suspected he had been cut out of the family will and business. Men cannot murder women who don't do what they want even if they are family.

Ride #52 for Leah Cohen whose son allegedly stabbed her to death because annoyed about a family will. He also allegedly murdered his sister.

Ride #53 for Beryl Hammond murdered by her son after many violent assaults reported and sadly retracted. He broke 10 ribs and left her to decompose - the pain of love she must have felt for a son who finally killed her.

Ride #54 for Asiyah Harris. Her ex-partner stabbed her 3 times in the neck finally severing an artery. He had arranged for her 2 children to be out of the house.

Ride #55 for Jessica King. Jealous ex partner strangled her to death with her children in the house. He told her “if I can’t have you no one can!” Many women will recognise this phrase. Other women. Fear it. 

Extra Ride #56 for Rachel Slack at the request of her friend - she was stabbed 32 times in the chest and back by her ex along with her son Auden after significant police failuresHe also asked her “What do you think I’m going to do?” And she replied “I know what you’re going to do. You’re going to kill me.” We always suspect they might. Long after we are free. Every time you see them or hear their voice. A lifetime of fear.

Ride #57 for Linda Parker stabbed 12 times by an ex partner who had stalked her relentlessly after she ended a coercive relationship that had kept her from friends and family. She had a restraining order

Ride #58 for Nasima Noorzia whose husband stabbed her more than 20 times in the neck before putting her body in bin bags and dumping her in woodland because she wanted to end the marriage

Ride #59 for Katherine Smith who was stabbed 33 times in the heart, neck + chest by an obsessive partner she met online who lied about his name and forced her to have a tattoo of those initials and stalked her movements relentlessly.

Ride #60 for Leanne Mckie a detective constable in the serious sexual offences unit strangled by her police officer husband and dumped in a lake as he callously tried to cover up crime including sending “loving” texts to her phone post-murdering her

Ride #61 for Jane Sergeant smothered with a duvet by her husband who took her from a care home where she was being cared for alleging “compassion”. Men don’t get to decide to kill women for ANY reason.

Extra Ride #61 for Shaeen Akhtar - husband stabbed her to death in front of her children after she asked him to leave due to his drinking and gambling. She couldn’t push him out of the door in time to stop him. He’d stored a combat knife in his trousers

Extra ride #62 for Barbara Francis whose husband murdered her in 1995 and then committed suicide. As these cowards often do. She was according to her friend a wonderful Jamaican woman who was hoping to return there one day and open a cafe

Ride #63 for Moira Gilbertson stabbed to death allegedly by her ex who hid her body and carried on texting her friends as though she was still alive

Ride #64 for Sophie Louise Brook strangled with electrical flex in 2015 by her husband who then wrapped her body in plastic and hid it in communal bins. This was an extra ride at the request of her friend who I met in Truro on Saturday. Her friend asked me not to use her married name and could not control her tears as she spoke of her love for Sophie. She shook as she told me. The devastation of losing a friend in this way will never leave her. I’ll never forget hugging that poor woman

Ride #65 - for Anne O' Neill. Battered to death around the head by her son in the garden as neighbours heard him shout "I will find you". The priest at her funeral said it was a "double tragedy" though only she was dead. The priest said "we've made bad choices or made mistakes, or sometimes we are victims of circumstance, life seems to have thrown us a raw deal".... and yet only the woman is dead. She didn't get to make poor choices. She was murdered. 

Ride #66 for Elizabeth Merriman estranged from her husband who stabbed her many times with a samurai sword when he found she had begun a new relationship.

Ride #67 for Janet Northmore strangled to death by her son in his home. He never stood trial because he killed himself in jail. Always after the poor woman ...not first.

Ride #68 for Jillian Howell- murdered by a colleague she invited to dinner who had developed an obsession with her. She rejected him so he stabbed her 15 times. He wrote "bully" on her forehead and posted a cartoon on Facebook afterwards which read "stand up to bullies and then kill them". She was not a bully. He is a murderer.

Ride #69 for Mary Steel stabbed a number of times by her own son. There are a number of women killed by their sons that I have ridden for. Women raise men and they kill them as reward. The ultimate betrayal.

Ride #70 for Simone Grainger whose husband hit her with a saucepan and then strangled her to death. He hid her body in a rug so her daughter didn’t see her. She described her marriage as “worst mistake of my life” poor woman. She wasn’t to blame

Extra ride #72 for Deborah Ruse at the request of her friend. Her jealous husband hacked her to death repeatedly with an axe including her face, head and neck. He carried on while she was on the floor bleeding and dying

Ride #73 for Patricia McIntosh whose ex-husband smashed her in the face with a saucepan and then repeatedly kicked her until she was dead because she wouldn’t sell her home.

Ride #74 for Lisa Chadderton whose partner strangled her and punched her before stabbing her 5 times in the neck and once in the eye in a jealous rage.

Ride #75 for Monika Lasek - after years of violence and coercion -husband stabbed her repeatedly including as she crawled along the floor trying to escape the attack. The police had been called just the week before.

Ride #76 for Ruby Wilson. Her grandson brought many knives to kill her in her care home. She was 94 when he slit her throat at both sides. Terror and betrayal are still felt by elderly women with dementia. Murder isn’t merciful.

Ride #77 for Susan Westwood whose son stabbed her multiple times because she complained that her tea was too milky. Her family said she loved him very much.

Ride #78 for Janine Bowater strangled to death by her ex-partner who then raped her while she was unconscious

Ride #79 for Jodie Willsher. Her mother’s ex-partner stabbed her repeatedly in the chest and stomach as revenge because her mum had ended the relationship with him

Ride #80 for Beverley Bliss punched repeatedly then stabbed to death by her son who left the knife in her throat afterwards as he sat drinking tea at her kitchen table - excused made for him. There are no excuses for murdering women

Ride #81 for Jayne Reat stabbed to death by her partner’s son as she prevented her own daughter from being murdered by him too as she shielded her. This is what mothers do. We die for our children. Women are mighty

Ride #82 for Pauline Cockburn who was stabbed to death by her violent partner. He had previously had guns removed by police. But he found a way. They should have removed him.

Ride #83 for Anne Searle strangled to death by her husband after posting on her Facebook that she hoped to be around in 2018 but “we will see”. Despite what has been said at trial she knew her life was at risk because she lived with a murderer.

Ride #84 for Melanie Clark murdered by her husband who stabbed her because of her love for another woman. He felt she was laughing at him. It is not an excuse to murder a woman because she ridicules your penis.

Friday, 3 August 2018

My body is a woman's body. This is how I know.

There isn't an easy way to begin this.

Some of you women have been aware of this for a while now. Thanks and love to all of you who have offered love and support to me. You are amazing and fabulous women.

So here goes....the science and the hard bit.

I have cancer. The doctors are reasonably sure it is ovarian. I'm still waiting for a full diagnosis after a biopsy to stage the cancer and identify the primary site. It has spread. There are metastases on my liver and omentum. There is a tumour surrounding my whole uterus. There is another mass behind my bowel, ceacum and possibly in my appendix. It's a party of cancer in here. I only went to the doctors with a tummy ache and a bit of swelling and I'd put on a few pounds for no reason. But here I am. 6 weeks later I have no idea what sort of future awaits me.

My daughter is numb. Sidekick is devastated.

When I got the diagnosis - as elusive, unfathomable and uncertain as it is at this point - Sidekick asked what I wanted to do.

I had just the one answer. "Let's get out on the bikes. I'll ride for a murdered woman. Let's do something positive." He nodded. So I did.

Here is the picture of that. Inside me is cancer ... on the outside I am a woman honouring the life of another woman.

The first frightens me. The second terrifies me. Men are still killing women at an average rate of 2 a week in the UK. After today I will have ridden for 84 women murdered by intimate partners or family members in 2017 - (this does include 3 women not murdered in that time frame but I rode for them at the request of their friends/family).

Women have volunteered to continue the rides for me. That is very kind. I don't want that though. I need a reason to keep focused. Honouring women on my bike is what I do. I intend to do it for as long as I can. If I have to stop it will feel like I failed the women. I can do this. I can get through this. I may not be riding as far or as fast. I may need to take a break for surgery and chemo. But I will be back on my bike and I hope you will support each ride by continuing to retweet and spread the love of the lives of these women and their terrible stories. If you want to help ... donate to the fund and help other women get free before they are added to these shameful lists.

What I still have is a love of life. I love the countryside. I love the sky. I love my daughter. I love my beautiful, kind, gentle, funny sidekick. He put his hand on my back as I rode the other day to push me up the hill. He is my lead out man. I just have to keep pedalling. The night before last he bought some chairs to take me to sit on a hill I love. He has called it a mobile pub and will seek out the best views to take me to. With a glass of wine of course. He will see me through this. And if I don't come through it he will make sure he helps my daughter onwards towards the glorious woman I know she will become. With or without me. They will love each other even if I'm not there.

Please don't come to tell me that a man can be a woman. If I was a man who simply said I was a woman because I feel that way.....I wouldn't be facing death. The cancer is in the very part of my body that only a woman has. I can't identify out of this disease. Being a woman has been and will continue to be a magical and wonderful thing.

I am a woman. This is a woman's body. It has not failed me. It gave me a beautiful girl. It has taken me through abuse and delivered me to the door of sisters who healed me and continue to inspire me. It brought me towards the arms of the man I love. A man who loves me quite beautifully in return. Now why would I not love such a body?

And lastly a poem.... Life doesn't frighten me.......

Be fearless my sisters. Love to you all. Let's keep fighting and let's keep loving.



Saturday, 3 March 2018

When girls can't hear feminist voices....

I raised my girl single-handedly. Even when her father was “around”, I still raised my girl alone. We all three know that.
She, like many girls, declares that she is not and will never be a feminist. Every time she says it I wait quietly for the “but”.

“But ...” she tells me... she admires my work. She knows all the things I say about sexual and domestic violence are true. She knows of the statistical data and she knows the bodies of dead women murdered by men they knew are mounting up behind the two of us. She respects that I ride my bike to raise money for refuges with Ride For Murdered Women, and she knows I volunteer my time elsewhere.

Yet she cannot and will not say she is a feminist.

So why? Why is it that young girls, even those raised by feminists, are afraid to name themselves feminist? Loudly. Openly.

When I ask her this she says that some feminist action is “stupid”. I ask for examples and she tells me of a feminist demand that traffic lights sometimes feature a female figure crossing instead of a male. It’s a fuss over nothing she tells me and makes feminists look silly. I consider myself a feminist. I never even saw this action. "Oh no", she tells me. "I'm proud of the stuff you do. That's real. It's just the other feminist stuff that puts girls off."

Misogynist males distribute these examples in the hope that it invalidates objection to more insidious forms of oppression of our sex class. Examples of the actual extent of male violence against women and girls, just in the UK, include the 85,000 male on female rapes a year. Or the fact that one in four women will experience intimate partner abuse. Or that two women a week are murdered by men in the UK. Or that between 2009-2015 936 women were killed by men and 598 of those women were killed by a current or former intimate partner and a further 75 by their sons. Or that more than a quarter of rape is “no crimed” by police. There are no alternative statistics that will suggest a parity in these figures. None. 
Yet other women, frequently young, are quick to leap in with "but women are violent too" or "women kill men" or "men are victims of domestic violence and have less help when they are!" In 2017 I rode my bike for 93 women who were murdered in 2016 by men they knew. There were 5 men murdered by current or former partners who were women. In 2 of those cases there was clear evidence that the woman had endured prior and prolonged domestic violence from the male who died. 
Why do women and girls jump in so quickly with this challenge to any discussion of domestic violence led by feminist women in the sector? One of the reasons is that if you google anything about the topic you will find male voices. Men who are in power sometimes abuse that power to drown out the voices of women. Literally. Phillip Davies MP uses his position to silence women by deliberately preventing them from speaking during important debates in the House of Commons. He uses the Parliamentary debate system to interrupt and then keeps talking, not allowing a woman to interject,  until a debate is timed out and no woman can speak further or move the motion to a vote.

The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 3 million girls at risk of female genital mutilation every year. FGM 

Most are are "cut" before they are 15 years old. To be cut involves a some of the following:
1. Clitoridectomy - : partial or total removal of the clitoris
2. Excision : partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora,, with or without the incision of the labia majora.
3. Infibulation : the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.
4. Other; all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterising the genital area. 

(Hibo Wardere, Cut -2016)

Do our young women hear about this? No. It is often considered to be too graphic and too distressing to speak to girls of the reality of how they are targeted because of their biological sex organs. Men don't talk about this unless it is to demonise and "other" men from minority ethnic backgrounds. Farage was "keen on" discussing FGM. Men often care about feminist issues when they can use it to advance their own power base. Tommy Robinson formerly of the EDL is "keen on" rape. He enjoys finding rape cases where the perpetrators have a specific ethnicity. He is quite prepared to sacrifice the protected anonymity of female rape victims to do so as he did this week when appealing for anyone on Twitter to identify a woman and "get in touch". This backfired when the woman herself contacted the press to say that her attackers had been white. Men like these care nothing for women. 

Male voices, misogynist voices, are all over the internet with views for those young women to find instead of the voices of women working in the fields of sexual and domestic violence. Those male views are not backed by the data I link to above. Or any alternative data that is credible, peer-reviewed or statistically robust. But... young women are used to listening to male voices tell them things. They are not used to saying... "hang on a sec... is that credible research from a peer-reviewed source?" 

Demonising feminism and preventing women from accessing it is not new but it has accelerated quickly in some sinister corners of society. One culprit is the right wing “manosphere” often to be found thrusting itself loudly around the internet. Those misogynist views are amplified by other male voices in the lives of our daughters and are dragging them back into the shadows of a pre-feminist past. The whispers in their ears are the same as they have ever been. “No boy likes a feminist. You will never have a boyfriend. Feminists are ugly. Hairy. Lesbian. Man-hating. Stupid.” It is basic, but effective. It’s message is simple ... “you will never successfully oppose our oppression of you so shut up and sit down”. Girls are sitting quietly all over the UK right now.

Or they are saying they are feminists and therefore need access to feminist space and debate or it is "sexist". Girls and women acquiesce. Girls and women defend the right of males to be there because they are very used to yielding way to demanding males in their physical space. They have been socialised to do so by the patriarchal system in which they were born. Girls are therefore frequently unable to discuss issues pertinent solely to their sexed bodies because it is not "inclusive". More importantly, even the most confident young girl might struggle to vocalise her experience of difficult menstruation or worries about contraception or abortion in front of boys. Girls and women are often not afforded the same time in debates about their rights as they would be in women's space that was free of males. 

And who can whisper back for and at our girls that they are being manipulated and duped and cheated out of the women's movement they deserve? Not feminists. Because feminists are locked in fierce and bloody battle elsewhere about how to define what a woman is and what her rights should be. Respected feminist voices are being suffocated and their extensive and tireless work against male violence is being dismissed. Hands are being placed over screaming mouths. This is The Handmaid's Tale. Not in a fictional dystopian future.This is now. 

Feminist women are being erased online and elsewhere. The left wing media previously, and ostensibly still, supportive of feminist aims are simultaneously demonising the radical feminist fight to retain rights for women that are enshrined in law. Gaby Hinsliff’s article, in The Guardian on Friday 9th February, Hinsliff - 9th February. resulted in Victoria Smith, a well-respected gender-critical, feminist journalist, leaving Twitter because Hinsliff was unable to accept criticism of her article. Feminist women are being removed from the Labour Party via suspensions and possible expulsions while other women are being placed on a “transphobic hit list” led, in part, by the trans gender self-identified woman Lily Madigan. Labour Party Hit List. Lily Madigan allegedly took part in an extended bullying campaign to evict lifelong Labour activist Anne Ruzylo from her role as Women's Officer. Madigan Bullies Ruzylo Lily meanwhile has become the first trans-gender women's officer. Madigan now has a prominent voice in declaring which women are and are not feminist. I asked Madigan last weekend to declare whether I was considered a feminist. I was blocked for asking. Just for asking. 

Feminists are being refused access to court hearings which directly affect them as happened recently in the hearing of the trans activist who attacked humanist Maria McLachlan. Maria was attending a debate on self-identification. Attack - video embedded. Seasoned feminists like Linda Bellos and Julie Bindel are routinely no-platformed. These are women who have spent the majority of their lives working in the field of women's rights. This week Bristol University Students voted to "ban" speakers they deemed as "transphobic" after a debate in Bristol by 'A Woman's Place UK'. These were women who simply wished to debate the issue of gender self-identification and how it might affect women and girls and their safety. They are not women seeking to offend or impose their view. Simply to widen a vital debate. Debate is a crucial part of the learning process of University students.  The "party for women" - Women's Equality Party - dismissed Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans, a research fellow at King's College London, and their spokesperson because she took part in a debate on gender self-identity featured on the BBc's 'Moral Maze'. Dr Brunskell-Evans had raised similar concerns about the effect on children of self-identification and associated medical interventions. She was therefore summarily silenced. 

Females who speak about their knowledge of their own bodies and the rights they have to protect those bodies are being told to shut up and shut up fast. They are being excluded from feminist societies. They are being disciplined in their jobs and removed from their own political parties. Their fingers hover above keyboards paralysed at the thought that if they speak/type or even think about their biological bodies and ideological/philosophical/feminist beliefs they will suffer the physical and financial consequences. Women running refuges are terrified that if they voice concerns about issues of women's space proposed amendments to the Gender Identity Act their funding may be affected. Women helping women are being affected by this silencing most of all it seems. Women who desperately need help will end up dead as the voices of women who established those services, radical feminist women, are smothered and extinguished. 

Men’s voices meanwhile remain ungagged. Men are using those voices loudly and silencing feminist women with the acronym TERF. This was not a term ever utilised by radical feminist women (though some have tried to reclaim the insult by using it to refer to themselves - much in the way feminist women have previously tried to reclaim insulting terms for her genitalia to lessen the sting of the insult). This is a term invented to insult and undermine feminist women who object to the redefining of their bodies, their protected safe spaces and their legal protections. It is name-calling and we must not afford it any greater respect than the technique of an abuser. It is no longer used as an acronym. Merely uttering the word demonises a woman. It points her out as a "bad" woman and a bigot. Other women and other men can then vilify that woman. They can harass her from her job and her political party and all other areas of her life that they think she "deserves" to be expunged from - solely for wishing to debate how legal change may affect her rights. Only women sanctioned by males, or concurring with the views of dominant males may openly express feminist views now. Women are very afraid and rightly so. If they are targeted for their views about their own oppression and their own bodies they may lose their homes, jobs, children. This is a time as fearful for women as any in our history. 

Saying that female biology is real and immutable and that women are oppressed because of their sexed body is currently a revolutionary action that many women are too fearful to take part in. It is costly. 

One day our girls will look for feminist voices. They will find only the voices of men.