Are we inadvertently feeding the anti-abortion monster?

Content note: this post discusses abortion, forced pregnancy and rape

As the USA slides ever-closer into fascism, states are functionally outlawing abortion. There’s resistance, thank goodness, it’s not passing by unremarked. But as with every time abortion bans rear their ugly head, many of us find ourselves falling into a trap: we begin to say “but what if someone is forced to carry an unviable pregnancy?” “But what if a woman was raped?” “But what if being pregnant causes enormous health problems?”

I’ve fallen into this trap myself, too many times.

We never say “But what if someone decided they just don’t want a kid?”

And why would we? There’s nothing emotive about someone who finds themselves knocked up and doesn’t want to spend nine months with swollen ankles only to find themselves saddled with stress incontinence, stretch marks and a screaming brat. A lot of people resent that figure. That person is a bitch. We don’t raise the example of a non-binary person or a man whose dysphoria is exacerbated by pregnancy: that shit’s too complicated. So we favour the ones who sound innocent. It feels comfier making the argument.

A lot of it is internalised patriarchal bullshit, because we’re all carrying it around with us, and we find ourselves projecting it onto those vile womb-botherers, trying to come up with examples that maybe, just maybe, they’ll relate to.

We are all missing the point entirely when we bring up our most emotive, most innocent examples to try to explain why the unforgivable things that are happening are dangerous and terrible. Our point should not be that some good people will be harmed. The only reason anyone should need to give to access an abortion is “I do not want this embryo or foetus inside me.”

It’s not an argument about whether a young rape survivor deserves to be harmed. It’s an argument about basic bodily autonomy. Should you be forced to be a meaty incubator just because you have the internal gubbins to function that way? Of course not. Some people think we should, and they’re scary as fuck, and you know what? We can’t reason with them, no matter how emotive our examples may be, because at their core, most of them believe we’re skin draped around a reproductive tract.

Perhaps some can be swayed, and that’s even scarier. Imagine, for a moment, that you hit the mark. The governor of Georgia blinks in shock and says “Shit, of course abortion should be legal if someone’s been raped!” How would that be enforced? If you can think of a not-completely-horrifying way that a rape survivor could access abortion while stopping everyone else from accessing it, you deserve a Hugo for your incredible eye for fantasy. It would require so much invasive and traumatic testing – and considering how invasive and traumatic a criminal investigation of rape is anyway, and with so little chance of a successful prosecution, functionally all you’ve gained is some additional invasion and trauma.

This is the risk we run when we begin throwing around some situations where it feels most like an exception should be made. We can’t means-test bodily autonomy, and we mustn’t.

More than five years ago, I wrote this manifesto for the demands we must be making, taking the proactive fight to the disgusting creeps who think our uteruses are their business. We need to do this. We need to look at that Overton window and chuck a fucking brick through it. We need to insist on abortion access centred around bodily autonomy: if you don’t want that embryo or foetus inside you, you must have the right to end that pregnancy safely and legally.

As well as this, we need to support those who need support to access a safe, legal abortion if they’re banned from it. In the UK, consider supporting the Abortion Support Network, who help people from Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Malta and Gibraltar travel to access legal abortion. Yes, a reminder that one of the countries in the UK actually has harsher abortion law than Georgia or Alabama’s. If you’re aware of groups providing support in other countries, please leave a comment.

We all need to fight this together, and we all need to support each other. Let’s not cede ground just to try to win an argument.

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BBC Woman’s Hour: shitty journalism and transphobic bias – a backed up thread

A backed up Twitter thread, because I regularly delete my tweets (here’s why, and why you should, too).

What a fuckin surprise. Shame on @BBCWomansHour; this shows their bias as clear as day.

Crowsa Luxemburg@quendergeer

Weirdly, @BBCWomansHour has decided to go with this story, which misgenders a woman and calls her “entitled” and a “liar” and implies she’s selfish for transitioning https://twitter.com/BBCWomansHour/status/1082720503641620486 

BBC Woman’s Hour

@BBCWomansHour

“He handed me a letter…It said ‘I’m a woman’.” ‘Michelle’s’ ex-husband transitioned after 16 years of marriage. She spoke to @bbcwomanshour about how it made her feel. Her words are read by an actor as ‘Michelle’ (not her real name) requested anonymity. https://bbc.in/2CXuSMx 

Now, I don’t doubt that we’ll be getting ~Sensibles~ defending the choice BBC Women’s Hour made here because “a story where nothing bad happens isn’t interesting”. This is bullshit, and it reflects a very bigoted and biased agenda at BBCWH. Let’s talk about why.
They chose a story which ties into negative stereotypes about trans women, and used “Michelle” as a proxy to spread these myths, they used “Michelle” as a mouthpiece to repeatedly misgender a trans woman. Misgendering is a transphobic act.
I’m going to charitably go along with Women’s Hour and pretend “Michelle” is actually a real person, rather than someone they made up internally or some bigot op submitting a fake story.
Now, there’s lots of reasons they’d choose “Michelle’s” story over any other story submitted, and all of them reflect badly on @BBCWomansHour. It’s pretty much a pina colada of individual transphobia, institutional transphobia and shitty journalism.
Let’s go back to this story that @BBCWomansHour refused to tell, which its defenders may say “wasn’t that interesting”. Even the most mediocre student journalist could wring an interesting story out of this by asking the right follow-up questions.

Libby 🧜🏳️‍🌈@LibbyLights

So @BBCWomansHour are doing a series on the impact transition has on partners and are asking for submissions. This is mine:

e.g. what did you have to do to communicate better? How did you learn to deal with conflict? Tell me more about that experience of falling in love all over again.

These are just some of the options, had they bothered to do any journalism.

There’s a lot of other interesting stories out there that @BBCWomansHour could have explored regarding partners and transition. e.g. they could have spoken to someone who went through the complicated legal situation of ending a marriage to get legal gender recognition.
But no. @BBCWomansHour made the conscious decision to run a really bigoted story playing into negative stereotypes, because they couldn’t be bothered to run an interesting story. It was a choice they made, and it tells us a lot about the quality of the programme (i.e. it’s bad)
The stories you choose to tell show a lot about you. And what @BBCWomansHourchose to tell shows us they’re biased, transphobic and terrible journalists.
“that bitch ruined my life” is the most boring, tired story ever told. It’s told about women of all stripes and experience, and this is the story @BBCWomansHour chose to tell. It’s not a novel story, it’s just lazy and misogynistic, every damn time.
Yup. The media in general has a strong preference for a lurid, negative story over one with a happy ending, which is often bumped to “and finally”, or magazine shows. Like @BBCWomansHour – the happy story is really more in line with their brand.

Louise Ferreira@frrlou

I would think that the happy story is the more interesting one, because it shows that such a huge change doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship. It’s a different narrative to the dominant one. Seriously, that’s just basic storytelling.

Ultimately @BBCWomansHour‘s story on trans parners is like if they’d run a feature on working under woman CEOs and decided to pick the story from an employee who said “my boss is an ugly, ball-breaking bitch”

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2018 in review: a holding pattern

If it felt like major sea-changes were afoot last year, 2018 seems to have been the restoration of order, the restoration of everything being somewhere between a bit rubbish and hellishly awful.

How do we even begin to measure what changed in 2018? Every time it felt like something was shaken up it all just settled back down.

Everyone’s talking about Brexit, but let’s be honest here: nothing happened. There’s been no changes there, and the discourse has probably masked some of the other stuff that went down.

Perhaps we measure 2018 in politicians’ careers: Theresa May, how many times did we think she just had to go? How many times did she actually go? Or we could look at her clone, Amber Rudd, resigning this year to take a bullet for her boss over Windrush, only to be restored to favour six months later. They’re all still there. No heads claimed.

Can we measure in the arguments we had? Dear god, it’s just been the same shit over and over, hasn’t it? Nazis just farting out the same talking points about freeze peach, rapid onset gender dysphoria, lobsters, all that junk. I cycle between bothering and just fucking going to bed. They don’t seem to have recruited more, despite their concerted effort to sabotage a consultation on gender recognition, thankfully, but I wish they’d just go away.

This has been the major theme of 2018. We’ve been in a holding pattern, like drones over Gatwick Airport are not. It’s as though this is a filler episode in the annals of history, we’ve just gone through cycles, but everything just settles back down. Is it because the order is impossible to tear down? I’m an optimist, so I don’t like to think so. I think this may have just been – and it happens sometimes – a dud year. A year where we’re all tired from the constant parade of death that was 2016, then the constant parade of rapists that was 2017. Our enemies, too, are probably exhausted from doing all that evil.

Maybe we measure in memes: the progress from eating tide pods to put your hands up to surgery on a grape. Don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it but there have been some decent memes this year, a little bit of weirdness in a world which, unfortunately, as unpredictable each event seems, turns back to the same old shit. Alexa, that’s so sad, play Despacito.

Can we break out of the holding pattern? I think we can. It can’t stay like this forever. It’s not sustainable. Something’s got to give.

So my friends, this is what I ask you: be kind to yourselves. This is going to be a long fight, but as the She-Ra theme song (one of the small lights of 2018) said, we’re going to win in the end.

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Thread: gloomy predictions about the charity sector following bigot interference

A backed up Twitter thread, because I regularly delete my tweets (here’s why, and why you should, too).

Look, this is a massive concern for *everyone* here, that trolls can organise against grant-making bodies to cut of funding for charities. It sets a chilling precedent for the entirety of the charitable sector.

http://attitude.co.uk/article/big-lottery-fund-reviewing-decision-to-give-transgender-charity-500000-following-concerns/19914/ …

In the interest of “fairness”, grant-making bodies are now more likely to bow to orchestrated campaigns. For example, MRAs pissing and whining about breast cancer funding can now point to funders and say “see? You review funding decisions here.”

This is legitimately an enormous concern for the entire charity sector, who rely on grants from bodies like the BLF, that if some bigots online take umbrage to their charitable aims (which, let’s be honest, most charities piss someone off) they could be defunded.

It’s not like bodies like the BLF hand out money like sweeties, either. The amount of work and evidencing of their programme work to get a grant charities must go through is enormous, and the amount of due diligence the grant-maker does in turn is significant.

So these grants are already a result of hard work on both sides, where only the best-evidenced projects from charities that have been well and truly vetted to death are funded. So it’s a DANGEROUS precedent that grant-makers can turn round and go “nah” in response to trolls.

It’s Mermaids today. Who will it be tomorrow? I suspect that same hateful mob already have other LGBT charities in their sights. But other mobs, too, will have other targets. Women’s charities, anti-racism charities, disability and health charities are all hugely at risk.

In a world where poverty and need is too often seen as some sort of moral failing, this campaign against funding a children’s charity is deeply frightening for any charitable organisation who piss off an internet forum of bigots.

But of course the trolls behind this appalling campaign don’t care, or worse still, gleefully want to watch the world burn for all charitable work.

Update 19/2/19: Thankfully, funding continues. https://twitter.com/Mermaids_Gender/status/1097867934750396418

 

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Usually this is where I ask for money. Today, I’m not. I’m asking you to make a donation to Mermaids UK, the first victims of this new bigoted approach to choking funding. 

What they mean when they say “their sacrifice”: remembering the centenary of the Armistice

This morning, I have been contemplating what I don’t doubt many of us have: the end of the First World War. I’ve been thinking about the senseless horror of it all: 17 million dead, and more than double that wounded and disabled. For what?

There was no just reason for the First World War: it was a perfect storm of imperialism, nationalism, and having lots of shiny new gunny toys that all these powers wanted to play with. It resulted in an international massacre.

The bereaved always wish to make sense of their loss. Nobody wants to believe that their son, their husband, their father, their boyfriend, that cheeky lad who delivers the milk and always has a smile on his face, were killed for nothing. Nobody wants to believe these brutal deaths and this generational scar could have been prevented if just once, someone sat back and said “this is a little bit much, maybe let’s chill.”

And so it was processed as “their sacrifice”.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that phrase, and started to believe there is a point to it, that perhaps “their sacrifice” is a correct way to describe what happened – just not in the way that it’s taken to mean.

Those who were killed in the First World War did not sacrifice themselves. They were sacrificed.

It was an act of human sacrifice, the ruling class feeding children to machine guns to hold on to lands far away, to make themselves slightly richer in the future. The First World War was a mass slaughter in the hope that from the blood could grow a stronger nation: something which would be of little benefit to those whose blood was spilt, but very handy to those sending them through gas and guns. Their guts – their literal internal viscera – were intended as fertiliser for an empire.

They were a sacrifice, a tribute, a prayer sent up by the rich and powerful so they could stay rich and powerful, and maybe even grow a little more rich and powerful.

One hundred years later, we say we’ll remember, but those same rich and powerful, who made their pact with a bloodthirsty devil and many of them made out like bandits, now want to see us forget.

They want to see us forget because they are still committing that same act of human sacrifice to the altar of greed, over and over again. We have had a hundred years of wars motivated by imperialism, militarism and nationalism: that very same motive for the war that they said would end all wars.

Today, I’m remembering the sacrifice of 37 million people, in fury at those who decided to slaughter and maim them.

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Usually I ask for money here, but today I’m asking you to make a donation to the Peace Pledge Union, who educate for pacifism and agitate to see an end to the cycle of violence. You can also buy a white poppy for next year. 

A quick reminder to fill out the GRA consultation

Hi everyone. I’m sure a lot of you have done this already, but if you haven’t, this is a huge opportunity for fighting back against an aggressive wave of bigotry in this country. The government has launched a consultation into reforming the Gender Recognition Act to cut red tape for trans people.

https://consult.education.gov.uk/government-equalities-office/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act/

It’s minor tweaks to existing legislation which would make life a lot easier and not affect a single cis life.

Unfortunately, it’s provoked a tidal wave of horrific bigotry. Chances are, the government will chuck their green ink into the bin, but on the off-chance they don’t, it’s really important that pro-LGBT voices are heard. Can you fill out the consultation? Stonewall have helpfully provided some guidance for what you can say

http://www.stonewall.org.uk/our-work/campaigns/come-out-trans-equality

As with any e-campaign, I strongly recommend you fill out the consultation via the government website, and change the wording slightly if you’re copy-pasting Stonewall’s answers: they filter and dismiss identical answers.

It should take you about 10 minutes, and doing this is a very real opportunity to create positive change for trans people – as well as sticking two fingers up at the bigots!

Just asking questions: Some key questions about the Metro and Fair Play For Women

Content note: this post discusses transphobia, transmisogyny and violence against women

Yesterday, the Metro ran a full-page bigoted ad. It remains to be seen whether popping a question mark at the end of an outlandishly bigoted and non-factual statement violates advertising standards. However, in the spirit of Just Asking Questions, I have some questions about the Metro’s decision, and Fair Play For Women, the bigots who took out the ads. I’ve asked some of these questions in this thread on Twitter (archived for when I delete old tweets), and some have been updated in the light of information emerging.

1. How much, exactly, did FPFW pay for the package they received? 

According to a statement from the Metro, “our commercial team did consult with them carefully on its content and language before agreeing to the final creative in today’s Metro”. In other words, editorial support was provided, on top of a service which according to their rate card is more than £40,000. Are the Metro giving away advertising space at massive discount? They remain tight-lipped on that, but it certainly sounds like a favour was done by the Metro.

Also, can you imagine the absolute state of the ad before some poor sod had to edit the language? Bile is still dripping from every word, I can only imagine how spiteful it must have been before.

2. Why aren’t FPFW spending their money on causes which actually benefit women?

Yesterday I pointed out what could be bought with the amount spent on a full page ad in the Metro. I’m not going to do that again. Instead, I’m going to have a peek at the £33,715 which appears to have been raised by FPFW’s crowdfunders, which have the stated purpose of supporting their campaigning activities.

A sum of around £33k could provide:

440 nights at a refuge.
255500 menstrual pads to be distributed to schools. The fancy ones. Bought at cost price.
£48 to every single one of the 700 people who travel from Northern Ireland for an abortion.
440 local support sessions for survivors of domestic violence
1369 emergency packs for women who fled domestic violence with nothing
938 fun days for children staying at a refuge with their mums
292 weeks of childcare for a single mother
165 mammograms for women aged 40-49 who are ineligible on the NHS

So, why spend money on spiteful campaigning when one could use that money for causes which benefit women in need?

3. Who’s funding FPFW?

FPFW claim to be an organic grassroots organisation, but I’m calling astroTERF here. There are inconsistencies with their funding model, and apparent bankrolling and laundering from the evangelical right. Let’s have a look at a genuinely organic grassroots crowdfund from FPFW back in March. (HT @wendylyon) You’ll note they raised £595, which is a lot less than the big bucks they’ve been rolling in since then, although that £595 could still cover travel expenses and accommodation for a woman or two coming from Northern Ireland for an abortion, or five stays in a refuge for a woman and her children.

Tweeter @caseyexplosion has been investigating funding of transphobic groups and ties with the US evangelical right, and spotted a pattern of large anonymous donations to crowdfunds calling for bigoted ads to be put out, their close relationships with said US evangelical right groups, and the sudden proliferation of very similar groups. Factor in that “high profile advertising campaign” is a tactic beloved by the megachurches with the megabucks, and there’s a lot of questions.

4. Why aren’t the media interested in asking these questions?

We know the media loves to ask questions about funding of campaigns. I volunteered in the Yes To AV campaign back in 2011 (off-brand, I know), and I remember the media collectively losing its shit because one organisation involved in the campaign owned a property which had once belonged to a communist party. Moscow gold funding the fluffy democratic reform campaign, apparently.

There’s more than enough eyebrow-raising with the funding of FPFW going on, and they’ve raised their profile. So, where’s the investigative work? Where’s the media attention? It’s newsworthy. Heck, it’s super newsworthy in a world where it’s emerged that political process has been influenced by paid advertising with false claims. I hope something will break soon, rather than this work having to be done voluntarily by people on Twitter.

5. Who’s signed off the ad in the Metro?

It’s almost immediately being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority. They must have guessed this would happen.

6. Do you remember ever having seen a full-page full-colour ad in the Metro on women’s or LGBT rights?

I sure as shit don’t. Admittedly, my relationship with the Metro is usually putting it on my tube seat if the seat feels a bit dank and I don’t want to sit on it, but sometimes I open it up for the “to put in the ass” if my phone and book are out of batteries. I do not recall ever having seen an ad of such prominence highlighting issues affecting women, or issues affecting LGBT folk. The Metro may cry fairness and balance, but that sounds rather false when they just whack a rainbow on the Landrover ad during Pride season.

There’s an antisemitic conspiracy theory floating round that Soros is funding some shadowy trans cabal who control the media, but let’s be honest here: first of all, that’s antisemitic as fuck, and secondly, I’ve never seen a full page ad in a commuter rag raising awareness of transgender rights.

7. Since the ad was influencing a political process, will the Metro be supplying equally prominent ad space to alternative perspectives?

The FPFW was directly targeted to influence a political process, a government consultation. This was its purpose. The Metro itself acknowledged this. So, given their endless bleating about balance, will they be equally prominently raising voices of alternate perspectives on the consultation?

I’m just asking questions here.

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Usually this is where I ask for money. Today, I’m not. I’m asking you to make a donation to Refuge or Abortion Support Network since they’re being cut out of the transmisogynistic megabucks and need money to support women.