The Met make a rudimentary effort to tackle rape culture. Poorly.

The Met have finally noticed they have a terrible problem with rape, spotting it as figures for people reporting rape to the police have taken a dive recently. So they appointed a shiny new head of their Sapphire unit, and in an interview with the Guardian he has announced the changes he will make.

He has plans for environmental interventions to tackle rape, notably using licencing laws to get pubs and bars where rape and sexual assault are prevalent shut down, and increase surveillance of men who have never been charged with rape, but intelligence suggests they are perpetrators.

Neither of these measures strike me as particularly effective in dealing with rape culture. Are there pubs and clubs which are “rape-hotspots”, or is it more that the heterosexual “pulling” scene enables rape and sexual assault rather easily. Meanwhile, the covert policing tactics are creepy, immoral, and will increase a perception of perpetrators as “the real victims” of rape. Furthermore, how exactly will they be getting this information? What makes some men pre-predators in the Met’s book?

Basically, these are rather authoritarian and punitive measures for dealing with a problem which is societal.

The good news is, this probably won’t really be the focus of the Met’s new approach to rape, because the new chief is also going to focus on women, raising awareness about how they can “reduce vulnerability”. Yeah, so they’ve not changed at all in their stance towards victim blaming.

To sum up his approach, then, women should be a bit more careful, alcohol is definitely to blame, so maybe avoid going to pubs the Met don’t close down. Also, there’s some men who are predators, but the rest of them are probably all right.

Ineffectual, and fairly offensive.

What the Met should be doing (if they don’t go and live in the sewers and bother us no more) is looking at the shit in their own backyard. They contribute wholesale to rape culture. They’ve been implicated in huge failures to investigating rape, in ways which are criminally negligent. They have been implicated in rapes. When they actually bother investigating, it is half-arsed or downright invasive for the women.

And they just don’t understand rape and rape culture.

They have a lot of work to do themselves, but rather than focus on their own failings, they’re pointing to the nearest ghastly nightclub with a sticky floor and screaming “SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING.”

Society as a whole is fairly weak on its understanding of rape culture, and the police don’t help at all.

The war on choice and how they’ll win if we aren’t ready

I’ve written rather a lot about abortion in the last few days, from highlighting that women’s minister Maria Miller is no friend to women, to a demand for a complete removal of the abortion time limit, to a polite suggestion that Jeremy Hunt eats one of his own testicles. The reason it’s been on my mind so much is because I’m scared. It feels like it’s coming to a head, and I can see the grim future screaming towards me. I see what will happen with terrifying clarity.

Of course none of the rest of them will back Jeremy Hunt and his 12 week limit, next to it, Maria Miller’s 20 weeks looks fucking reasonable, and the Prime Minister himself backs it. Already, the conversation is about how much the limit should be scaled back, not whether it should be scaled back at all. And they’ll sit and they’ll vote; perhaps a private member’s bill, perhaps an amendment to another bill, and they’ll say “oh, isn’t Hunt a bit extreme, but let’s compromise and take it back to 20 weeks”. And nobody will be particularly outraged, because it could be a lot worse, and we’ll turn a blind eye to the women who have suddenly found themselves without an option, while the anti-choice lobby rally around what is certainly a victory, and shout for more cutting. One of them will suggest banning it altogether–maybe Dorries, or one of her ilk. And they’ll vote again and cut it back some more. All the while, the religious extremists will rise–remember, they have already been acquitted of harassing women by a legal system that does not support us. And people will start dying, going to prison, getting desperate.

It is entirely possible. The anti-choice lobby now control the discourse, and every conversation about this is entirely on their terms. It shouldn’t be a matter for debate, but they’ve made it that way. We need to be aware of this and take back the power.

It is not enough to be reactive and hold the line. We need to be proactive.

We need to demand better access to abortion: abortion on request, rather than having to fulfil various criteria. The UK is one of the few EU countries that does not allow for this. At present, women have to jump through hoops to prove they cannot afford a child, or their health will be aversely affected, to not just one, but two doctors. They then face waiting time on the NHS. These barriers must be removed. “I want an abortion” should be enough.

Sometimes the anti-choicers point to EU countries that have 12 week limits as proof that we should cut the abortion time limit. They’re being disingenuous. What actually happens in most of these countries is the 12 week limit is for abortion on request. After this, in many cases, the law shifts to being like UK law.

The time limit argument itself is something of a trap. It centres around viability, which automatically forces us to talk on anti-choice terms. The focus is on the foetus, not on the woman. It allows them to frame this thing inside a woman’s body as a person. We shouldn’t engage on this level at all. At the very least, we must hold firm on the current limit: a simple, dismissive “the legal limit is based on scientific evidence”, and then refuse to rise to non-scientific stories of foetuses punching their way out of the uterus or something they heard somewhere about a baby that was born at five weeks of gestation and grew up to win the Nobel Prize.

Better still, demand the complete removal of the abortion time limit. As long as it’s inside a woman’s body, it can be aborted. Point out it’s unlikely to result in a rise in abortions, because the vast majority are conducted fairly early on anyway, but that the benefits to women would far outweigh any harms.

And when the religious extremists our out on the streets, we need to be prepared to help escort women safely into clinics to access abortion, to physically stand in front of the extremists so they cannot be seen or heard. We need to go to their churches and express our disgust at what they are doing and hope this spurs the rest of their community into disowning these views.

They have controlled the debate for far too long already, and we cannot let them gain any ground. Instead, let us take ground for ourselves. Let us fight for women and for bodily autonomy. It’s a battle we can win, as long as we have the will to fight it.

Dear Jeremy Hunt

Trigger warning: frighteningly real risk of a return to back-alley abortions, coathangers and violence against women, and demi-castration fantasy.

Dear Jeremy Hunt,

I was really interested to read your opinions about lowering the abortion time limit to 12 weeks, based on scientific evidence that you didn’t bother citing, and I’d like to offer you a little bit of advice. This will help you a lot in the long run.

Basically, I feel like you should remove one of your testicles. Now, there’s a trick to this. What you need to do is take a bottle of your favourite alcohol–I’d recommend Buckfast, but that’s a personal preference–and smash the bottle. It needs to be a glass bottle, obviously. Now, take a shard. Take a shard that looks particularly pointy, and apply it to your scrotum. Feel the coldness of it. Do you feel that, Jeremy? Do you feel it?

I bet your penis is shrinking slightly at that vague chill. Don’t worry, that’s only natural. But I promise what I’m telling you will help you.

Now, this bit is going to be tricky, and I imagine it’ll probably hurt rather a lot. So to help with the pain, maybe drink the Buckfast before you break the bottle. Sorry, I should have told you that before. I forgot. I hope you’ve not been following my suggestions in real time. If you have, go to the shop, buy another bottle of Buckfast, chug that shit, then break the bottle and see if you can get hold of anything a bit pointier. Pointy is good.

It’ll probably also help if you can bite down on something.

Now, Jeremy, I don’t know what your dominant hand is, so I’m going to assume you’re right-handed like most people. Take your right testicle in your left hand. Hold the glass in your right. With your left hand, really feel where the ball is, feel that strange, squishy sensation. Hold your thumb just above the top of it, towards where it meets your cock. Now, holding the glass, cut just above where your thumb is.

It’s likely there’ll be a bit of blood at this point, but hold firm. This is for your own good, and there’s scientific evidence on my side. Loads and loads of medical evidence. I don’t need to cite it, just like you don’t need to cite yours when you’re telling me what to do with my body.

You’ll feel a pop as the skin breaks, a gentle pop as it gives. It’s a surprisingly thin layer of skin, really. If you’ve got the stomach, take a look. You might see something stringy inside. That’s your epididymis, Jeremy, and I’d like you to cut through it too. I have absolutely no idea how that’d feel. From diagrams, it looks like the glass could take it, but if it doesn’t, a pair of scissors will suffice. On the other side of the epididymis, there’ll be a bit more skin. Cut through that. You’ll be a pro at withstanding pain by this point, and that makes you strong.

Now, at this point, you’ll have two things: a disembodied testicle in your hand, and a bleeding wound between your legs. The priority, I suppose, is disposing of the disembodied testicle. Pop it into your mouth. Scientific evidence suggests Paul Burrell did very well at eating a kangaroo testicle, so I’m sure you’ll do well noshing down your own. Be careful for the bit where it bursts, and white fluid dribbles down your chin. I hope you’re not doing this in company.

As for the bleeding wound, try a chef’s blowtorch. It’ll hurt like bejesus, but it’ll cauterise the wound. Be careful not to singe your knob. That’d be a disaster.

So ultimately, thanks for your evidence-based concern about my uterus, Jeremy. I hope you appreciate mine, too. I only have your best interests at heart you understand.


Stavvers xoxoxo

P.S. If you get someone pregnant following this usually-f0olproof procedure, I recommend repeating it for the right ball.

Related: Let’s scrap the abortion time limit altogether, me on abortion time limits in the NS.

For anyone who wants to send Jeremy Hunt a picture of their reproductive system, here’s how to photograph your cervix. Remember to CC in Maria Miller, as she’s also really interested!

Happy National Mansplaining Week!

Just kidding. Every week is National Mansplaining Week. This week I’ve just noticed it a bit more than usual.

The first example that pissed me the fuck off came from Graham Linehan, which was fairly disappointed as I’m a big fan of Black Books and Father Ted. Now, Graham reckons that sexism and misogyny aren’t the same thing, and it really gets his goat that people use them interchangeably. Now, I called him up on this, pointing out that he wasn’t quite right, and he got a bit arsey.


Despite my better instincts, I did engage on his terms, and dictionary definitions of the two were sent his way, but strangely he didn’t reply after even on his own terms he was pointed out to be wrong. And then he decided that his own opinion was far more important anyway, and blogged this, where he decided to use very cropped definitions of the words which meant what he’d decided they meant, and–literally–said Page 3 couldn’t be misogynistic because the people who like it must like women.


Our second instance of mansplaining this week comes from columnist Martin Robbins, who wrote about the No More Page Three campaign. The vexing part of this is that in places, Robbins was completely right, and to save time I’ll quote those bits.

The most disturbing thing about Page 3 isn’t the fact that there are naked breasts on it; it’s that every pair of naked breasts looks the same, expresses the same opinions, and exists in a context where the owners of naked breasts are casually belittled and dehumanised.

Personally I can’t stand Page 3, but I say the answer is more nudity in newspapers, not less. Put more boobs on Page 3, and add some cocks too. Show people of every size, shape, colour, gender and sexuality; let them speak in their own voice, and celebrate them all. That, rather than self-censorship of adult-oriented content, would be a progressive tabloid revolution worth fighting for.

For what it’s worth, I have similar reservations about the campaign, and would also like to propose that it might be nice to just get rid of The Sun entirely.

But the rest of Robbins’s article has the supercilious tone of “explaining things to the ladies” and telling us how to fight our own battles. It seethes with privilege. And had a similar argument been put across by women, it would have been much, much better. I don’t see why the New Statesman didn’t ask a woman to write about it. They’ve got a fair few on staff.

Now, I expect in the comments I’ll get a lot of men mansplaining to me why I’m wrong about mansplaining because this has happened rather a lot in the last few days. So I’m not going to let those comments out of the moderation queue, and they can scream into the void about censorship.

You might think I’m being harsh, or that I’m picking the wrong targets, or that I clearly haven’t read this one thing written by a man that explains why I’m wrong, or that there’s things far more important than calling out mansplaining to do. But do you know what? Every time a man decides to tell women what their experience is, to patronise about women’s issues from a position of relative ignorance, a woman is silenced.

No matter how much men think they’re on our side or being good allies, if they can’t pull back and say “You know what? You’re right, I don’t actually know anything about this”, they are perpetuating patriarchy.


Thanks for @FunnyGrrrl for the cap!