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Category Archives: Feminism

A Reasoned Discussion of Trans* Issues. Please.

A brief summary. Suzanne Moore wrote a column in the New Statesman. In it she made what I’ll unhesitatingly call a “poor decision” to invoke the image of a “Brazillian transexual”. People objected. Instead of apologising, she doubled down, and some of the things she went on to say on Twitter were… really appalling. Abuse went both ways.

Good things came out of it. Stella Duffy wrote a post which generated a lot of useful constructive discussion. She followed it up with what I found a much better one, talking about what she’d learned. There was this response. And I found it good to be reminded that it actually wasn’t all that long ago that I didn’t know what “cis” meant, and I hadn’t heard of Transgender Day of Remembrance.

And then Julie Burchill wrote a piece [trigger warning for stunning transphobia] that would be in stiff competition for “stupidest most offensive thing ever to appear outside of 4chan”, and The Observer decided to publish it. Today they undecided to publish it, and of course this being the internet, it’s vanished without trace.

I think the Burchill piece is actually hugely useful. It’s the very simple answer to the question, “Why are these people so angry?” Why did people react so strongly to the Moore piece? Because it was written against a background where people feel okay saying things like:

To my mind – I have given cool-headed consideration to the matter – a gaggle of transsexuals telling Suzanne Moore how to write looks a lot like how I’d imagine the Black and White Minstrels telling Usain Bolt how to run would look.  That rude and ridic.

We know that everything we have we got for ourselves. We have no family money, no safety net. And we are damned if we are going to be accused of being privileged by a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs.

On the other hand, this is going to be the last website to pretend there aren’t jerks in any demographic, including trans* activists. I’m not tone-argumenting, it’s just a fact from years of experience at web moderation that the best results come when people try to express themselves reasonably even when they’re offended, and people try to listen and respond even when they’re angry.

People like Burchill and Bindell and Greer and our own Rosemary McLeod should be challenged on their transphobia. Their attitude that it’s distracting from the “real issues” and their refusal to acknowledge their own privilege is… well, it’s ironic to say the least.

But there are a whole bunch of other people, people like Stella Duffy, who are prepared to listen and to learn. We all had to learn at some stage, and we should offer others the same patience and help we needed.

Girl on the Net put it better, talking about a time when she was Called Out by a transwoman:

But I promise you this: I will never deliberately say hateful, horrible things that ignore my privilege and make life harder for you. I will always try to empathise and – if you correct me – I’ll try to clarify what I’m saying, or apologise if I’m wrong. If you tell me about my mistakes I can correct and clarify. If you call me a hateful psycho bitch-whore, I’ll never fucking learn.


It’s a fucking conundrum

I’ve seen this image floating around a lot in the past week, Facebooked, Tweeted, Tumbled and Pinned over and over again. In fact, I’ve seen it more than almost any other feminist image I can think of.

And you know, it’s a great message. It’s even one I’ve written about before. Cos, you know, I like men, and I think they are better than all the messages they (and we) get sent.

HOWEVER. I am a little uncomfortable with this message. Because, why do we have to make feminism about men? Let me insert a disclaimer here before anyone chooses to jump in and tell me that I am an angry-man hating dyke who just needs to get laid: I think men absolutely need to be part of The Movement (ironic title case) and that men’s voices need to be heard and valued.

But doesn’t this smack a little of pandering to men to make the very idea of feminism more palatable? Of saying “hey, guys, this is about you too” to get them on board? Yes, we need men to be involved, to be allies, to understand, but do we actually have to spell out that actually, Feminism Is For Men?

And even more insidiously, doesn’t it suggest that men are ‘helpless’ victims of the patriarchy? That they don’t benefit from it all the time? That the other dreaded P word isn’t something that (white, cis, straight) men have in bucketloads, and sometimes actively choose to use?

Because, you just know there are dudes out there who are thinking “well, I’m a good guy, I’m not part of the Old Boys Club, I’m not sexist, OH! I’m a victim of the Patriarchy too!” who are getting off scot free. Who are ignoring the myriad ways that unthinking privilege has helped them.

I spend a lot, a seemingly inordinate amount of time, actually, explaining that feminism isn’t about hating men. It’s about seeking equality for women against this great, amorphous, giant thing that’s unfightable: The Fucking Patriarchy (dot tumblr dot com). And the thing is, we can’t fight it without men. We need agents on the inside. And we really can’t fight it when we’re giving them Get Out of Jail free cards for the ways in which they continue to uphold it.

Right? Or am I massively overthinking what will be a 5-minute meme that no one has thought particularly deeply about before re-tweeting?

[Update: As has been pointed out in the comments, this quote from a piece of the wonderful Chally’s. It was appropriated out of context, and as is the way with these things, has spread far and wide. For my part, I should absolutely have googled harder to find out where the original comment came from, so I apologise unreservedly to her.

For what it’s worth, the post that it comes from, I absolutely agree with. My post is about the recent ubiquity of this particular image, which I have seen re-tweeted by feminists I respect, and people who absolutely fit the image of the person I’ve described in this post. Context, as always, is Queen.

So…abject lesson in thinking before you blog/retweet/repost? Yes.]

Comments Bingo

Once again, my darlings, I’ve read the comments so you don’t have to. The things I do for you. You should all buy me bourbon and bonbons.

Liam Dann, whose columns I normally enjoy, wrote about the NZX requiring gender reporting from listed companies. So far, so…fine. He’s aware that writing about gender issues might “get him in trouble”, so I assume the very middle ground he’s steering is because of that. Though, why he’s mixing up reporting and actually having quotas is beyond me.

Here’s what we know. There are systemic reasons why there are few women in leadership roles in business, that involve undervaluing women’s skills, the impact of child care, and the fact that few women get mentored into senior positions. Little of this is addressed by the column, or in fact requiring disclosure, but it’s a step. I like to blame the fucking patriarchy, but you can choose your own cause. It’s worth mentioning the even tougher time women of colour and GLBT folk have, but that’s a very different column. That will never be published in the Herald.

So I have no beef with Mr Dann, particularly, which makes a nice change for Herald columnists. But the commenters never fail to live up to the lowest common denominator.

First up, Gavin believes “the number of women in the top tier of our business community is an embarrassment.” to whom? What a total non-issue.”  Well, Gavin, to anyone who believes that women deserve equality in all aspects of society, not just in name but in practice. Also, to anyone who wants our business community to be successful.

Lloyd wants “proper equality”:  “Why is there such an unfair gender imbalance in home executives. Let’s set a quota for home Dads and force 50% of home Mums back into the workforce. Fair’s fair.” I agree, Lloyd, let’s do that. And watch childcare in workplaces increase exponentially. Because no woman ever stayed home to look after children because that’s what made financial sense, not because she’s a lazy slapper, right?

BONUS ROUND: What About The Menz AND gender essentialism. Top marks for you, ‘A Dad’: “Perhaps we can also get the gender imbalance fixed for dangerous jobs too. Too many men are dying from mining, the heavy engineering and the armed forces. Yes, a very divisive subject but very important to air because of the many complexities that relate to each gender. We will never be equal as we are physically and psychologically different.”

YouKnowIt’sThe Truth can’t bring himself make an argument, except to say “The phrase “PC gone mad” is often despised by many as it’s so over-used, but I can’t think of a better one in this instance.” IT’S PC GONE MAD! Next, those uppity bitches will want, like, proper healthcare and education. GOD!

Timespider thinks successful people are special snowflakes and we should laud all of them: “When a woman makes it to the top she deserves it if she made it by herself & good on her – we need more women like this”‘ Because no man ever received assistance, mentoring, special education. EVER. They all got there through hard graft and good genes.

In totally missing the point news, along with a good old-fashioned, strawman, please come down Westiman: “Women are given opportunity to obtain skill sets- as you put it-turn the telescope around and ask the same question for men. How many men are nurses and what a kerfuffle that caused. There is a fundamental difference and as soon as you try to smooth the difference out you have total confusion on the roles/skills of both genders- Quotas are not the answer- are women some kind of “Sealord” catch?”

Speaking of strawmen, thanks Gondwana: “Should the All Black panel be adjusted genderly and when was the last Silver Ferns coach a male (I nominate myself to be the first even though I know nothing about netball). Why not leave people to live their own lives if they are good enough and work hard enough and sacrifice enough they’ll get their regardless of their gender.”

Oh, but wait, Gondwana has more: “This government enforced social engineering will be the death of us all. And you’ll notice it only ever goes one way! Women are always portrayed as the poor innocent little victims of male prejudice and never of their own folly and poor choices in life!” government enforced social engineering! We’re getting close to bingo here, folks.

So, that must mean it’s time for a little bit of drive-by misogyny. Wolfman sez “If you want something stuffed up, give it to a woman, plenty of examples of this around the world.”

Oh, also, we women should just be quiet and wait our turn, according to CGD: “I believe in 20-30 years from now there will be many women with the skills and experience to be in executive roles in bigger numbers than there are now. Good things take time!”

Except, that of course, it’s all our own fault, because we suck, and should probably get back in the kitchen. Right, refugee? “Women dominate in the teaching professions. Boys are failing. Badly. No one seems to have any problem with that, but answer this. Why? The London School of Economics knows.”


Look who’s talking

Cross posted

Via Blue Milk, the astonishing statistic that even on issues relating to women, such as abortion, and contraception, men are quoted around five times more than women.

Among 35 major national print publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, men had 81 percent of the quotes in stories about abortion, the research group said Thursday, while women had 12 percent, and organizations had 7 percent.

In stories about birth control, men scored 75 percent of the quotes, with women getting 19 percent and organizations getting 6 percent. Stories about Planned Parenthood had a similar ratio, with men getting 67 percent, women getting 26 percent, and organizations getting 7 percent.

Women fared a bit better in stories about women’s rights, getting 31 percent of the quotes compared with 52 percent for men and 17 percent for organizations.

I’ve been thinking about issues of representation, and voice, and presence, and diversity, of late, mostly in a recent op-ed I wrote for the Dom Post, but also in just an idling sort of way, thinking about who gets to write columns for our major newspapers. I tend to read The Dominion Post and the New Zealand Herald. In the Dom Post, I can think of two women who have regular opinion columns there: Tracey Watkins and Rosemary McLeod. Trevett is a political reporter, and Rosemary McLeod is a feminist writer in the same sense that Chris Trotter is a left wing writer (see The Dim-Post for an explication of this). The New Zealand Herald lists four women among its eleven opinion writers: Dita di Boni (parenting, politics of parenting, parenting while female), Audrey Young (politics), Fran O’Sullivan (business and politics), Kerre Woodham (life, parenting, stuff). Plus there’s Claire Trevett (politics), and Shelley Bridgeman (if you can think of a category for her let me know), though their Sunday line-up is fairly XY oriented, especially with the recent replacement of Deborah Coddington by Rodney Hide. Even so, overall, there are noticeably more men than women, especially so in the Dom Post.

Way way back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when I first became aware of feminism, and first started seeking out feminist voices, I would never have dreamed that we would still be fighting to get an equal share of the national discourse.

No, you are, dick.

Something wierd is going on at Stuff. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but in the past week, they’ve published three, count them, three not-offensive columns related to women. One Two Three.

Now, Stuff being Stuff, the usual rules apply. DON’T READ THE COMMENTS. I managed to avoid the comments on the first two – because I don’t care to read (in the case of the sexual violence column) hysteria over BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MEN and FALSE RAPE CLAIMS and LESBIANS ARE ABUSIVE TOO.

However, on the How to Spot a Misogynist column, I read them, so you don’t have to. And how you spot them? Simply look down below the column, to where the comments are.

The reason I read them is because actually, the comments are hilarious, if you have the energy. This is a group of people who really, truly, do not understand irony. Here’s a tip, folks. If you preface a sentence with “I’m not a racist/sexist/pig, but…”, odds are, you’re about to say something objectionable. Also, the OMG this chick is so angry comments? This is one of the calmest, most rational pieces of feminist writing, like EVER. (Clem’s, not mine, clearly.)

So. Let’s look at some of the choice pickings, shall we?

From (probably not our) Emma:

….you need to do what every other sucessful and happy woman and man I know does, and ignore the remaining few imbeciles who make such assertions and instead, highlight the successes of the present, celebrate the fact that women are different from men (and that this is a great thing for both women and men) and focus your efforts on spreading the love, rather than refreshing the hate.

Gosh. I am sorry. I forgot that we successful women are to have nothing to do with “other” women, and should just focus on ALL THE GOOD PRETTY THINGS. And dudes. Forget the massive inequalities women face, reproductive rights, gender-based violence. Just shut up and love everyone. OMGAMIRITE?

From: Alan_Wilkinson

I’ll believe women are oppressed when I don’t hear them complaining.

So, because we have voices we can’t possibly be oppressed. See #1 one of the article, If you want to see real oppression, go to the Middle East. The point, I think you missed it.

From Joseph:

I was raised to be “a gentleman”. That probably reflects the age in which I grew up – chivalry doesn’t seem to be fashionable these days. I was told that I should open doors for women and let them go first, offer them my seat on the bus, pull out their chairs at the table, remain standing until all the women in the room were seated, all that stuff. It was my mother who taught me these things. Obviously she was a misogynist and passed these tendencies on to me.

Nah, it’s called politeness, loser. That’s really what your mother was teaching you.

From Unfair:

 “I have always found it interesting that the English language has a word like misogynist but not for the gender reversed noun/adjective.”

Um. You mean misandry?

From Peter Ashford:

Take item 3 about domestic servitude. Some people have attitudes like that for religious reasons (God tells them that women do dishes, men do hunting or some such). That may be an archaic or misguided point of view but I’m not sure if it constitutes hating women. An old fashioned woman who sticks with an undeserving husband and accepts outmoded gender roles is just old fashioned, not a hater of women.

Yes, because no religion could ever be accused as being misogynist. And OH! It’s just that they’re old fashioned. Oh, well, that’s OK then. I didn’t know. I thought that living in the 21st century meant I wouldn’t have to put up with 19th century attitudes. Fuck. I’ll just go get into my corset. At least my tits will look amazing.

Waldo wants us to know that this thing we’re fighting for isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Equality means you get just as much BS & mocking as everyone else without complaining about it.

Cos, shut up ladies, and stop your moaning. Being a man, or part of any dominant group is hard, what with walking all over the backs of the oppressed. I turned my ankle on one of them the other day!

Michael, says

I am suprised that the rantings of a misandrist are still being published

Could you talk to “Unfair” and explain the meaning of misandry? Also, could you explain it to yourself? And then explain to me where in the column it says “This applies to all men.”

Jabu is a peach. He’s worried about us ladeez and the man drought.

Women are definitely equal to men in all aspects of our modern world. Just without the benefit of reason and accountability….But sometimes its worth reflecting on why some traditional values were deemed approriate at certain times, before throwing your man to the lions. I certainly hope the next time you have a burglar banging round down stairs, if infact you have a man CLEMENTINE, you let him sleep soundly while you pop down and see him off. I suspect your attitude and the fact that helen clark was the face to our nation is partly responsible for the influx of internet brides in a country faced with severe man drought

Course she doesn’t have a man, dude. She’s clearly a hairy-legged lesbian. All feminists are dontchaknow. How’s that for reason and accountability. Also, you totally stole that line from As Good As It Gets. Way to be original. Dick.

Speaking of, here’s Thomas.

This is the sorta clap-trap that gives women a bad name in the first place. Why is it something that has worked comfortably for millions of years has to change just because some chick learns how to wear a pair of pants with a fly in the front? Things are good as they are, if you want more pay, work harder. If you don’t want to be a stay at home mum, find a new partner with life-views that align closer to your own, if you don’t want to get raped, don’t walk down dark streets at night by yourself while drunk. ez pz

Did you even read the column, Thomas? Because you’re the poster child for MISSING THE FUCKING POINT and inadvertently proving it.

Dave was doing so well until the last sentence:

All of these points are moot points. The point is women are still begging men for equality. The only reason women have any kind of equality at the moment is because men let them. This will always be the case until they take charge of their lives themselves and stop relying on misogynist men.

Yeah, cos you women, you should shut up and be happy with your lot, or Take Action. But don’t Take Action against us, cos we’re really nice, honest. it’s those other guys. I’m not one of them!
On the other hand, Antipodean is:

Sucks to be you!! Too bad arguments against misogynists won’t stop them or there influence. You’ve been relegated to spewing out your anti-man penis-hating diatribe in an electronic advice column on a news website that services a tiny country on the backside of the world. Way to influence things!! Surely that level of relegation and irrelevance has to be evidence of misogynism in action.

Nah, it’s not. You are though, dick.


International Women’s Day on Stuff: All you old hags should wear make-up

Cross posted

Today is International Women’s Day, a celebration which takes different forms in different countries. In New Zealand, it serves as a day to consider the progress that women have made, and the progress that is yet to come.

The New Zealand Herald focuses on the biggest concerns facing women, with various facts and stats, and an interview with Rowena Phair, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. The issues are… interestingly framed, in the way that Sheryl Sandberg’s analysis of why we have so few women leaders for TED is interestingly framed (video at link). Sandberg is Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, and her advice for women about how to get to top positions is all about how to behave like men. She pays no attention to systemic problems that confront women, and instead offers advice for individual women, not contemplating even for a moment that it might be better to look at the whole way our society structures work and work expectations. See Julie’s post at The Hand Mirror for a discussion of the Sandberg talk: Too few women leaders.

The CEO of Women’s Affairs tells us that the top five issues facing women are:
1. Balancing home life with paid work
2. Staying healthy
3. Getting the right reward for their skills
4. Backing themselves as leaders
5. Feeling safe in relationships.

All good issues to focus on, of course, but look at the advice that is given for each issue.

1. Balancing home life with paid work:
“A big issue for women is managing those responsibilities.”
2. Staying healthy:
“New Zealand women need to make sure they leave space in their busy schedule to take care of themselves.”
3. Getting the right reward for their skills:
“Women are concerned about their financial future, especially in their 20s, and Phair said one way this can be dealt with is by considering all the options available to them in the workforce.
4. Backing themselves as leaders:
“Women are really active in their communities, they’ve got opinions to contribute, but they’ve really got to have the confidence in their convictions…”
5. Feeling safe in relationships:
“It’s very unusual for men to be physically violent without some behaviours that lead up to that so women can keep themselves safe by being very alert … and to get help as quickly as they can.” She said young women are particularly vulnerable to abusive relationships. “Woman really need to keep their eyes open in relationships.”

With the exception of the first, it’s all about what individual women can do to change things. No discussion of systemic factors that might work against women. For example, it sounds like the easiest thing in the world to find a bit of time to stay healthy, but if you are trying to care for small children, and trying to work, then just finding the time to do anything extra can be difficult, even when it’s home based. As for trying to get to the gym, well, you have to sort child care first, so the cost can be considerable. Getting up and going for a run in the mornings might do, until winter darkness closes in. And even then, someone has to be a home to care for the children.

Getting the right reward for their skills? The evidence is that even when women don’t take time out for child care, and do push just as much for higher salaries, they still don’t get paid as much as their male colleagues, because it’s not nice for women to negotiate, so women who do negotiate are punished for it. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. More recently, Catalyst found that:

When women did all the things they have been told will help them get ahead—using the same tactics as men—they still advanced less than their male counterparts and had slower pay growth. (Source)

Being a leader in your community – it’s up to you to be confident in yourself. No mention of the constant put-downs that women are subject to, from on-going commentary on their appearance and what they wear (vide Helen Clark and Julia Gillard) to being spoken over, to the dispiriting experience of saying something insightful and helpful, only to have it ignored, until a man two seats further along the table says exactly the same thing, and the point is taken up with enthusiasm.

And the last one – that’s a real doozy. It’s up to the woman to keep herself safe in violent relationships, and the person who perpetrates the violence is not responsible for his, or more rarely her, violence at all.

We are hearing the CEO through the filter of the NZ Herald reporter, so we can’t be sure that Phair herself framed those issues and responses in exactly that way. Even so, it is at least disconcerting to find no attention paid to the systemic issues that women face. Instead, it’s all individualised, and the remedies are all focused on what individual women can do.

On the other hand, the Herald’s reporting is several light years ahead of what Stuff has come up on International Women’s Day. You can find out How to look 10 years younger! In a transparent piece of advertising for a book masquerading as editorial content, women are told that they need to use the right make-up so that they can look younger. The book’s author says that she loves, LOVES! working with older women, aged over 35, because they can look 10 years younger with the right make-up. And of course, it is a woman’s duty to look as young as possible, because older women are simply socially unacceptable.

This 46 year old woman declines.

For a much more inspiring analysis of International Women’s Day, take a look at Scuba Nurse’s post, where she writes about all the good things for women in New Zealand, as well as noting where there is still work to be done: International Women’s Day 2012. And over at Hoyden about Town, Mindy has some Sobering thoughts on the eve of International Women’s Day, reviewing the international statistics on violence against women.

Welfare “reforms”

The National Government is no friend to women. They cancelled the pay equity research into social workers and school support staff within the first few months of their election to power. They dissolved the Department of Labour unit that oversaw that research. They reduced the Ministry of Women’s affairs into a tiny, cloutless office (that despite their meagre staff and budget still produces incredibly important work). They have continued to ignore the Education Review Office’s recommendations to improve sexuality education in this country.

They appointed Pansy Wong as their first Minister for Women’s Affairs (her pet project was getting more women into trades. Not, you know, paying women more in the roles their already doing). They appointed Jo Goodhew as the next Minister for Women’s Affairs, who voted against the abolition of force as a justification in smacking, for defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and for appointing a strongly anti-choice doctor to the Abortion Supervisory Committee. And now they’re “reforming” benefits that are primarily used by women.

These new “reforms” are aimed at the poorest of families, aimed at mothers raising children alone. And they’re masked by the rhetoric of “those who can work, should”. Because apparently, raising children doesn’t count as work.

For many sole parents in this country, if you want to raise your child full-time, then the DPB is your only option. Oh sure there’s parental leave, if you happen to be employed. Of course that’s providing you’re not self-employed, and you’ve been at your job long enough, and there’s no restructuring at your workplace. If you pass those requirements, then after the pitiful partly-paid three months that one parent is afforded by the parental laws, your job will be held for 12 months. Then you’re on your own. So you better have a shitload of savings.

For couples, on the surface our parental leave laws appear gender-neutral, with the ability for one parent to swap their 12 months leave with the other. If you don’t, your partner gets 2 whole weeks unpaid leave to be with you. But given that mothers are ideally their child’s source of food for the first 6 months, and not very many workplaces allow for infants to be present, mothers tend to be the primary carers at home. Even for couples, you either need to have savings, or one partner who earns enough to pay for you, your child, rent, food, utilities and everything else that comes with starting a family.

So our workplaces and social constructs tell us that women should stay at home and be caregivers, and our maternity leave tells us that you must have savings (or a partner to support you) to take the full allowance, and even more savings (or a partner to support you) if you want to raise your child full-time after that.

If you don’t fit that very narrow criteria, and need state assistance, our new welfare “reforms” will ensure your family planning is decided for you. And if you don’t play ball, you’ll be punished.

The changes involve parents on the DPB being made to find part-time work once their child turns 5, and full-time work once their child turns 14. Because remember, caregiving isn’t work. But the real kicker is that if you get pregnant while on the DPB, you have to find work when your youngest child turns 1.

Don’t even think about expanding your family. Unless you want to be forced back into work. Work that might not suit you or your family’s needs. Work that might not fit your skills or experience. Just work, any work at all, because you’ve broken the rules.

Despite the fact that we’re at crisis point with a lack of jobs in this country, your expectation to find work trumps your family planning decisions. Because supporting families is not a good investment for government money, apparently. And you should have known better than to get pregnant while taking money from the government.

The government dabbling in family planning decisions extends to the point of the Ministry of Social Development investigating long acting reversible contraceptives for women receiving the DPB. I know this through a few sources, and it was also recently mentioned by Jan Logie.

On the surface this actually seems really great. It would be amazing to see the government invest more in sexual health and contraception. Except, hold on, why are they only investigating providing this kind of support to people receiving welfare? And why is the contraception they considered providing, the kind that doesn’t rely on people remembering to take it? On top of their new “reform” to punish beneficiaries who breed, it kind of seems like they’re trying to stop poor people from having babies, doesn’t it? Oh hang on that’s exactly what they’re fucking doing.

Parents on the DPB (which, in case I haven’t made it clear enough, could be pretty much anyone who isn’t lucky enough to have a partner and/or fuckloads of savings when they have a child) have the added bonus of raising the child alone if they don’t want to go back to work. If they meet someone and get into a relationship with them, they lose their welfare. Have I mentioned they also live on fuck all each week? Oh and this all occurs within a society which is lead to believe (often by right-wing politicians) that beneficiaries decide to have children as some life investment so they can milk this amazing lucrative system we have.

When people like the National Council of Women put out press releases that state these “reforms” are a “move in the right direction”, and when people are iffy about the punishment part of the changes, but not welfare-recipients being forced to get a job when their child hits 5, then we have work to do. If caregiving isn’t seen as legitimate work, then everyone is going to continue to have to meet that narrow, incredibly privileged criteria in order to have the family lives they want.

When are we going to start investing in our families? Really investing. Not just Working for Families schemes, not just minimal paid parental leave, not “flexible, family-friendly workplaces” in principle, but tangible support for people who don’t happen to have investment accounts. Support that doesn’t come with a close-your-legs-clause, or a time’s up countdown, or an allowance for only one parent to take time out of work. Support that says hey if we’re going to suddenly get really worried about this country’s children we should probably invest in them and their families, huh?

You’re fucking right I am fucking angry.

If you can read the following paragraph, and not be angry, you’re not a feminist.

Women still don’t earn as much income as men in comparable occupations and there is still a tendency to think that women belong in the kitchen, but the feminists that have fought for equality over the years have had a huge effect on gender roles in our society.

Oh, fuck off, AskMen. I’ve spoken to you before. You don’t get to invoke feminism. Ever. Because those gender roles you talk about up there? You actively participate in maintaining them. In fact, you exist to maintain them.

You don’t think we should be angry? Fuck you, and the shiny little horse you rode in on. Let me introduce you to the words Tone Argument. And while I’m at it, Intent. And also, can I introduce you to my foot? It would like to meet your balls. Your patronising arguments on “how to deal with” us can bite me. Back off with your arms raised all you like, but I am still going to call you a group of misogynist shits.

No, I don’t agree with Solanas and Dworkin and Jeffries. At all. When it comes to the matters of sex, I couldn’t be more opposed to what they have to say. That’s pretty much why we call them radical and militant. You know what those words mean, right? It means they’re extreme, different from the norm, revolutionary. But, you know, way to handpick the women who have views about hating men to undermine all feminism. Despite your back-handed “some feminists are great!”, thanks for painting the whole movement as misandrist. For the record, I’ve been doing feministy things for years now, and I’ve yet to meet a woman who actually hates men. I like people to be polite in conversation, and here on this website. That doesn’t mean I’m not occasionally furious with the world. You can tell. It’s when I write in all caps.

But you bet your ass I am angry. Not about sex, as a general rule, but I’m angry about being called a slut because I like sex. I’m angry about old white men wanting to control my reproductive health. I’m angry that I can’t walk down the street without wondering whether my cleavage means I am “asking for it”. I’m angry about political representation and wage gaps and child care and meaningful work and the way women of colour are massively over-represented in US jails. I’m angry that I have to fight so fucking hard to be taken seriously by people like you. Because what’s frustrating is that I could not give less of a shit about what the editors and writers and advertisers of AskMen think. But if you’re going to perpetuate this kind of bullshit to your readers, then I do care.

So, AskMen, take your misogynist, woman-hating crap, and shove it somewhere painful. Women have every right to be angry. Your tone arguments are meaningless, please stop using them. Or just fuck off, that’d work too.  No, the vast majority of us do not want to wipe out men. Some of us love them. But yes, sometimes we want men to shut up and listen. Because that’s how you learn and empathise and be a good ally. Which is not to say men can’t be feminists, or part of the conversation about equality. In fact, we can’t do it without you. It’s just that maybe, every once in a while, and especially if you’re going to talk about women’s issues, you could AskWomen.