The Conservative Party is doing a fine job of conserving rape culture

This week, it would appear that members of the Tory party are scrambling to imitate  apocryphal lemming behaviour, seemingly running at full pelt towards the edge of a cliff. Lansley and his unpopular attempt to murder the NHS aside, this week has been mostly all about rape.  

First, the wild-eyed fundie Nadine Dorries excelled herself. Talking on TV about her jawdroppingly sexist plans for abstinence education for girls, Dorries managed to dig the hole even further:

“A lot of girls, when sex abuse takes place, don’t realise until later that that was a wrong thing to do … Society is so over-sexualised that I don’t think people realise that if we did empower this message into girls, imbued this message in schools, we’d probably have less sex abuse.”

On Planet Dorries, sex abuse is caused by girls not saying no.

There is a curious logical somersault here, the idea that rape can be prevented entirely by saying “no”, although it plays in perfect harmony with the popular notion that rape is only rape when the victim (always a woman, apparently) says “no”. No no, no rape. Dorries has taken this to its logical extreme: that uttering the n-word will magically vanquish all rape.

Dorries fails to provide any evidence for her assertion. No meta-analysis, not even one measly cross-sectional cohort study. A cynic may doubt such evidence exists. A person with the ability to think may doubt such evidence exists.

The second Tory to say something stupid about rape was Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. Clarke floated a policy which would halve the sentences of convicted rapists who entered an early guilty plea. This idea was met with some outrage, and Clarke defended the policy by distinguishing “serious rape” from “date rape”, declaring that a “serious rape” would never end with a 15-month jail sentence. Clarke also seemed to misunderstand the nature of statutory rape.

First of all, it is highly worrying that the person who is in charge of justice in this country seems to misunderstand a serious crime: legally, a “date rape” is a rape, as is statutory rape. Secondly, it is utterly offensive that a person who is in charge of justice in this country repeats the tired old line than only some rapes are serious. It smacks of Whoopi Goldberg’s infamous comment about “rape-rape” regarding Polanski. It smacks of Assange’s lawyer using the term “sex by surprise”. It smacks of rape culture.

Rape culture is the system of beliefs which perpetuates rape. Dorries and Clarke demonstrate many facets of rape culture in their remarks.

Dorries’s assertion, that teaching girls to keep their legs shut will prevent abuse, engages in a hefty chunk of victim blaming, as this post from a survivor highlights:

Now, thanks to Dorries comments I have to contend with the idea that somehow I provoked my attacker. Was it the neon pink board shorts I wore non-stop that summer? Maybe it was the provocative way my hair frizzed in the heat? What did I do to make myself a sexual being that I could have changed? Why did I allow myself to be abused?

Furthermore, Dorries perpetuates the myth that rape and abuse are things that happen exclusively to girls. Abstinence education for girls would have no effect on stopping the systematic abuse of young boys in by their priests, even if saying “no” could magically stop a young girl from being raped.

Clarke feeds into the myth that some rapes are less serious than others, buying into the notion that “serious rape” is that stranger in a balaclava who leaps out of a bush, despite the fact that this accounts for relatively few rapes. The more common kinds of rape, those by friends, acquaintances, partners, are, according to Clarke and many other proponents of rape culture, less serious, less like rape.

The reaction to Clarke’s comments focused largely, from much of the right-wing press and commentators, not on his comments but on an authoritarian ideal: that 15 months in prison is not enough for “sickos” or “monsters”. The othering of these “sickos”, of course, tends to refer to those who perpetrate Clarke’s “serious” rapes. They are not normal, apparently. They are different from the “normal” guys who engage in boys-will-be-boys behaviour.

The Conservative Party has been doing very little conserving of late, instead focusing on systematically violently dismantling the welfare state in a series of radical policies. It is hardly surprising, then, that the thing they choose to conserve is rape culture.

Asking why the day exists shows why it’s needed

Today is International Day Against Homophobia And Transphobia, and Twitter has been ablaze with comments asking what’s the point of having a day dedicated to it.

The same happened on International Women’s Day: people asked what the point was. Surely equality had been won and so, there was no point to it all? Wrong

That people do not see prejudice is precisely why such events are needed.  

The battle against homophobia and transphobia is not won. Uganda is perpetually attempting to pass legislation allowing gay people to be executed. This would not be problematic under international law; recently the UN voted to remove sexual orientation from the resolution condemning summary executions. Even in the UK, homophobia is still rife: consider the story two men thrown out of a pub for kissing. When other people arrived to protest, the pub decided to close its doors rather than risk seeing more same-sex kisses.

For trans people, the situation is equally bad: violence against trans people is commonplace–to the point that websites commemorating the dead are necessary. In the healthcare system, abuse and discrimination is frequent, as is sexual assualt.

Homophobic and transphobic jokes are still frighteningly frequent, and seen by many as acceptable. If you don’t laugh, you must be part of the PC-brigade (warning: link goes to a horrifying display of utter cuntbaggery).

Homophobia and transphobia haven’t gone anywhere. The need for a day to raise awareness of its existence is still there. The need for a day for activists all over the globe to get their shit together and fight oppression is still there. The need for a day where every person can ask what they, personally, can do to help the fight is still there.

When people cannot see the oppression and hate that exists in the world, a day is needed to make it clear.

Default options

Despite being the worst book about behaviour change ever written, Nudge has a point: people tend to pick the default option. If the default option is a plain digestive and you have to work a little harder to get a chocolate digestive, chances are, you’ll stick with the plain digestive. It’s still a digestive, after all. By manipulating the default option, one can manipulate behaviour. If one wanted to stop people eating biscuits at all, the default option would be a dry hunk of Ryvita, with hoop-jumping required for digestives, plain or chocolate. Fewer people would eat biscuits.

We are bombarded with default options. Everywhere we look, we do things without thinking.

Businesses know this, and have been capitalising on this tendency of ours. Open up a phone book. Count the number of companies with names such as “A1 Cabs, ABC Cabs, Aardvark Cabs”; the ones that you will call before you ever bother reading down. Consider how shelves are stacked, with the cheap goods at the bottom so the eye is drawn to the identical, yet dearer, products placed at eye level. Think about the last time you went to a supermarket? Did you buy the special offer chocolate near the till, just because it was there?

Not everything comes so naturally and so easily. Sometimes it needs some marketing to point out a problem people never knew existed in order to sell products: many beauty products are targeting ugliness that did not exist before an advertising executive had a smart idea. Removing most body hair has now become default and automatic for women. Make-up is sold as something which does not look like one is wearing any make-up at all. It is, after all, normal and natural for women to wear make-up, so they should paint their faces to make it appear as though they are wearing none at all.

Most of us swallow this without ever really thinking about it.

We then convince ourselves that we made the right choice, and that we consciously chose the product we did.

What it is, is control. We will unthinkingly purchase products not because they are better, but because they’re there and everyone else is doing it. There is not a readily visible alternative, and our big brains are used to taking shortcuts to get things done.

A lot of what we do is based on this. Take monogamy.

There is absolutely no good reason for monogamous relationships to be the only way to have a romantic relationship or to raise a family. None whatsoever.

Yet monogamy is the default. It is taken as a given that relationships should and must contain two people: no more, no less. It is visible in formal forms: always “partner”, never “partner (s)”. It is visible in invitations: “bring a plus one”. It is visible on Valentine’s Day: a restaurant with orderly tables for two set out.

Unthinkingly, we accept monogomy to be normal and natural. Everyone else is doing it. To reinforce this supposedly natural default, a little intervention is undertaken: the institution of marriage. Here, the state validates what it perceives as appropriate ways to love. In the UK, marriage is only available to a couple consisting of a man and a woman. It is not even open to monogamous same-sex couples, who receive a similar but different state-sanctioned seal of approval on their relationship.

Many people claim to have consciously chosen monogamy. When it is presented as the norm, as the default option, how is that a choice at all?

It is a conscious choice in the same way that the slightly pricier, equally inferior noodles you chose to buy was a conscious choice. Everyone else does it, it’s right there, it is sanctioned by external forces who do not present alternative options.

The default is as normal and natural as any other choice. Think. Beware the nudges.

The view from cloud cuckooland: Dorries and abstinence

The UK has long lacked any compulsory requirements for sex education, but that changed today. A tiny proportion of MPs voted through a 10 Minute Rule BMotion proposed by the chronically batshit religious nutter Nadine Dorries. The motion proposed the following:

“Sex Education (Required Content): That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require schools to provide certain additional sex education to girls aged between 13 and 16; to provide that such education must include information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity; and for connected purposes.”

As the motion was voted through, this means that young women will now be taught about abstinence as a component of sex education. There are numerous problems with this proposal.

First of all, abstinence-only education doesn’t work. There’s a plethora of evidence. Quite simply, teaching abstinence and only abstinence is about as good as teaching young people nothing at all.

Dorries does not explicitly call for abstinence-only education. What is worrying, is that abstinence education is now the only compulsory part of sex education.

Dorries’s attitude towards policy for sex seems to be heavily influenced by two things: a fundamentalist Christian sense of morality and either dire stupidity or wilful misrepresentation of evidence. It is not just sex education she wishes to meddle in: she is also rather fond of twisting evidence to try to reduce women’s access to abortion.

Dorries, then, seems keen on controlling the reproductive freedom of women, as her motion only targets young women. There is still no compulsory sex education for young men of the same age. Young women, meanwhile, will be taught how to abstain.

This is deeply disconcerting. Teaching abstinence to women only suggests that women are the gatekeepers of sex: that it is their responsibility to abstain. This view has damaging consequences for everyone. It teaches men that they are creatures driven entirely by their dicks, and they cannot control their natural urges. It teaches women that they must always be the ones to say “no” to these piggish men and their piggish dicks. It reinforces rape culture, fostering the “no means no” notion.

Societally, what Dorries has proposed is disastrous.

More MPs need to propose more bills making comprehensive sex education compulsory, going beyond simple birth control into education about sex and rape and consent. People need to learn that sex is absolutely tremendous fun if you do it safely; that as long as everyone involved is consenting enthusiastically, there is nothing wrong. Knowledge needs to be taught: pregnancy, STIs, contraception, abortion. Skills need to be taught: contraception use, saying no, and saying yes.

With all of that compulsory, Dorries’s motion will be unproblematic. Abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancy and STIs. However, as a good fucking is really, really fucking good, many will not make this choice, and abstinence education does nothing to address the nature of sexual consent.

Dorries needs to stop controlling women. It is for the good of everyone.

Seeing the system

The verdict was finally returned on the Ian Tomlinson inquest, with unexpected speed. As many have been saying for the last two years, Tomlinson was killed by a baton blow and shove from PC Simon Harwood. Immediately, Twitter exploded. The hashtag #PCSimonHarwoodIsAThug began to trend.

It was not until much later that people began to point out that the problem is much deeper than that.

Harwood’s behaviour was not an example of a rogue thug, behaving in a way that is at odds with policing. The only difference is that Harwood actually killed someone, rather than doling out a maiming or bruises and psychological trauma.

It is easier to follow the view that Harwood is a thug, rather than seeing the problem is systemic. It is always easier to see a problem as a personal choice rather than a broken system. This is called the just-world effect.

I had my ‘feminist click moment‘ relatively recently; it has been less than two years since I took the red pill and began to understand, fully, that I inhabited a system which was fundamentally skewed against me as a woman. Less than one year ago, my understanding of injustice broadened as I became politically active. I saw it everywhere. What had once been a vague noise, largely beneath my perception, had exploded into a scream.

The system is fucked. I could no longer ignore it. Personal choices meant very little. The system is fucked.

At the back of my mind, the cognitive shortcut I had used still splutters, ‘but, but, but…’

Its argument means nothing to me.

It is hard to suddenly see ourselves as figures playing a rigged game, that it is not a problem of bad individuals, but a fundamentally broken system. It feels like suddenly there is a fight that cannot be won.

Consider the Tomlinson verdict: it took almost two years for a jury to rule that he was unlawfully killed. The video evidence of the attack has been present for all of that time. It was only due to immense public pressure that the inquest happened at all.

It helped that Tomlinson was an ideal victim. One cynically wonders whether the charges against Alfie Meadows, another victim of police brutality are a pre-emptive attempt at avoiding another inquest into unjustifiable violence.

There are two systems that are visible to me at work in the Tomlinson case. There is the immediate, the police culture of covering up their actions. Then there is the broader culture of placing blind trust in institutions, of victim-blaming, of discomfort with political protest.

There may be more systems. I cannot see the whole picture, none of us can. My brain is a product of its environment and its biology; it will not let me see everything.

PC Simon Harwood is a thug. He does not exist in a vacuum. He is a product of a system, as is everything that came after he attacked a man selling newspapers.

To fight injustice–be it police brutality, be it oppression based on gender, race, or any other factors, be it a broken state–we need to see the system. It is a battle, but it is a battle worth fighting.

The Bellend effect

It is gratifying to see that a shift in public attitudes means that more Americans support marriage equality than oppose it. This would be better news if the figures weren’t ~50% in favour, ~46% against; there is still a long way to go.

I was more interested, though, in the graph of poll data surrounding support for marriage equality.

It looks like a willy. Let’s all giggle and get it out of our systems.

It looks exactly like a cock.

The reason it looks like a cock is due to a spike in opposition–in combination with a decline in support–around 2004. This statistical trend just happens to make the rest of the graph, where the trend holds fairly steady, look like a bellend.

What happened in 2004 to create the bellend?

It could be that in 2004, pollsters began asking the question differently: how a question is asked will have a great impact on what the answer is. As this graph combines data from several surveys, however, it seems that something else is contributing to The Bellend Effect: the effect of question framing declines when synthesising results from several sources.

2004 was a big year for same sex marriage in the States. Same sex marriage was briefly legal in San Francisco, theorised to be an entirely politically-motivated PR stunt. In Massachusetts, too, same sex marriage was legal.

The conservative Right lashed out, and referenda were launched in Massachusetts to overturn the marriage. In San Francisco, it was doubtful as to whether the marriages were ever legal in the first place.

In the face of all of the rhetoric in launching referenda, in combination with a huge, all-pervasive right-wing media, is it any surprised that The Bellend Effect occurred? In 2004, Americans were bombarded with propaganda informing them that marriage was only for heterosexuals.

The Bellend Effect, therefore, reflects the success of the right in affecting public opinion.

Due to this, I will now call right-wing propagandists bellends.

Equal pay now: a small feminist action

 

When I am behind a megaphone, something quite magical happens. I become the message I am conveying: there are no insecurities or fears, it is just pure dissemination of information. It is intoxicating and empowering.

This is perhaps part of the reason I protest so frequently.

Yesterday I was part of a tiny action aimed at raising awareness of the gender pay gap. We chose the City, as for doing the same jo

We met at Holborn and unfurled the banner which bore the stark, simple message ‘EQUAL PAY NOW’. There were five of us, all pa We shouted and leafleted, then began to march through the City towards Liverpool Street Station, pausing briefly to spread the word on the steps of the Bank of England. Some faces lit up in understanding. Others sneered.

At Liverpool Street, we draped our banner over a clock and shouted from above, like angry feminist gods, to puzzled commuters below. Some faces lit up in understanding. Others sneered.

At this point, Liverpool Street’s security asked us to leave. We politely ignored. The police arrived. We told them calmly of our message. The manager arrived. As she asked us to leave, we complied, not having the numbers to risk arrest and dearrest.

We left, shouting, and stood outside the station until all of our leaflets were exhausted. Some faces lit up in understanding. Others sneered. A young man joined our small, lively group.

‘You are being ripped off,’ we told the women in the finance sector, talking to them in a language they could understand.

Many did. Many sheepishly accepted leaflets.

‘Surely this can’t be true?’ we were asked frequently. We explained that it was, and they should check out the extensive set of references on our leaflets.

There was support, delicious, glorious support. Many women and some men cried, ‘Good on you!’. One woman walked with us for a while.

‘Well done,’ she said. ‘You’re not preaching to the converted here.’

And we were not. I counted seven instances of outright misogynistic abuse. Then there were those who victim-blamed, declaring women were paid less because they chose to be, or that they worked differently, despite our repeated assertions that the pay disparities we were highlighting were for doing exactly the same job. Then there was the mirth: so many men laughing and sneering that people had the gall to be angry and take action.

I was annoyed. We were there to point out unfairness and oppression, and we were greeted at times with stark evidence of women not being taken seriously.

Megaphone in hand, the empowerment it bestowed flowing through me, I would, at times, shame those who detracted us.

The man who said that women were paid less because women had smaller brains got a public scolding outside Holborn. Passers-by turned and stared. He slinked off briefly.

The man who, while laughing, said, “We work in the finance sector, and I can tell you that she earns more than me,” was greeted with sarcasm. I said, “The plural of anecdote is not data. With a grasp of numbers like yours, I’m not surprised there’s a financial crisis.”

The men who laughed from the concourse of Liverpool Street were greeted with a shout of “shame”. E was on the megaphone at the time. She shared the feeling of power. The men blushed.

The young man who stood and sniggered, finally plucking up the courage to utter the height of witticism, “Get back in the kitchen, love,” received the apex of my ire.

Megaphone in hand, I followed him up the street, informing him and a group of commuters that he had a tiny penis. His friends hooted with laughter.

It was perhaps misjudged, to cast aspersions on the size of his genitals. There are implications to that. I was not thinking of the consequences. Just once, I wanted him to feel what women feel every day: the sense of powerlessness in the face of harassment, of gendered abuse, of humiliation. I think it worked.

Reception of the action was largely somewhere between neutral and positive, though.

The support we received was exhilarating. The interest shown by those who did not know about the magintude of the problem was uplifting. I truly feel as though we may have changed some minds rather than merely preaching in an echo chamber of saved souls.

We should do it again, we decided, with greater numbers, and a more audacious form of action.

On the way home, buoyed by such a wonderful day, I encountered a completely novel form of street harassment. Just when I had thought I had seen all the patriarchy had to offer, I saw something new.

A man leapt out from behind a lamp post and shouted “Boo!”

I had no megaphone.

I gave him an angry scowl.

He looked sheepish. He blushed, chastened.

I smiled to myself. The strength does not have to come from a megaphone. It is only a conduit.

Why I’m marching tomorrow

Tomorrow, 26th March 2011, up to a million people will take to the streets and march against the government’s ideological austerity measures, raising awareness that there is an alternative: taxation and promotion of new jobs and green growth. I will be one of these people.

I will be marching for the future generations of children who will not receive the same opportunities in life that I did. They will face crippling debt of up to £40000 if they decide to go to university like I did. Those from poorer backgrounds may not even be able to do their A Levels.

I will be marching for women, who are disproportionately affected by the cuts. My sisters will be more likely to lose their jobs in the public sector. They will lose numerous benefits relating to childcare. They will be unable to leave abusive relationships; marriage or poverty. Pension reforms mean many women will spend their retirement in poverty.

I will be marching for all of the valued public sector workers who face losing their jobs due to the cuts. These people provide us with things that we need–security, advice, care–for what is often a very small salary. They will lose their jobs as the government has chosen to look after their rich private sector friends instead.

I will be marching for all of the people with disabilities who face heartbreaking cuts to the support they need. Many will lose living support, transport support, mobility support, the roof over their heads, their very independence. They will lose everything which allows them to live a life of dignity, ostensibly to save a few quid.

I will be marching for the people who might, possibly get ill at some point in their lives. Our government is will restructure our precious NHS, allowing vast swathes of basic care to be outsourced to their rich private sector friends. All the while, up to 50000 NHS workers–doctors, nurses, midwives–will lose their jobs.

I will be marching because I am outraged by our government’s complete lack of thought for their fellow human beings. I will be marching for my own future, and the future of others.

These cuts will affect me. These cuts will affect you.

See you on the streets.

 

Fierce roast.

The following post is about an episode of America’s Next Top Model that has yet to air in the UK, so if you’re a die-hard ANTM fan, this will contain spoilers. If you loathe and despise ANTM, I apologise for mentioning it. I enjoy really naff American reality TV. Be grateful I’m not blogging about Jersey Shore (which is fascinating from an anthropological and sociological perspective and you should TOTALLY watch it)

The video linked above is a segment of the most recent episode of America’s Next Top Model. The Next Top Model franchise involves young women competing for the chance to win a modelling contract by leaping through a series of humiliating hoops in the hope of achieving their lifelong dream of being photographed wearing clothes. There is already a lot of good writing on problems with the franchise, and so I am reserving my ire for one specific incident.

The women are briefed to shoot an advert in which they are to be “flirty, fun and seductive” in a way that is “retro yet current”. This translates to writhing like the face of a late night premium-rate phone line while dressed as Betty Draper. The women are informed they are even expected to utter lines, as though this is the thirteenth labour of Heracles.

The concept of the advert is promoted as one would expect: a little bit of charming retro fun in which women use a very narrow definition of sexuality in order to challenge oppression. As they put on their costumes, filling out their fashion-industry approved bodies with socks to create breasts, the women discuss this notion. The general consensus is that it is empowering. It is how to get ahead: by using boobs and bums and the nebulous hint of sex (never given, for that would make you a whore!).

One woman differs from the rest. Earlier in the episode, Sara mentions that she is a feminist. while dressing, she looks uncomfortable with the false breasts stuffing her bra. At 3.10 in the video above, she says:

My whole life I’ve just been trying to get away from the stereotypical, subservient, docile woman, and I’m really embarrassed to have my fem-core friends back home see this.

Sara is the only one of the women who points out the problematic concepts within the advert, and she words her reservations articulately. The fact that she mentions the F-word twice in one episode of America’s Next Top Model makes me love her a little bit, and I do hope that her fem-core friends forgive her for her participation due to her excellently succinct critique of the task. Never before have I heard the F-word uttered on a Next Top Model franchise.

The women perform the image of the stereotypical, subservient, docile woman to camera, many relishing in the empowering nature of being “flirty, fun and seductive”.

Sara, meanwhile, struggles. The other women smugly smile, believing her unable to deliver the dull, narrow “sexy”. The director is disappointed and declares that she “did not believe in it”. Too right. As Sara says,

I’m finding it really hard to fake any sort of sexual energy and emotion. I mean, I’ve never had to fake anything like that in my life. Doing it for a commercial was just really difficult.

Of course it was. Sexual energy is not something that should be faked. It is not something that needs to be faked, and it is certainly not something which should be performed in the coquettish, cutesy, teasing manner which is commercially acceptable.

Yet this is what sells. Coffee, we learn from America’s Next Top Model, is sold by a hint of cleavage flashed at a man. Coffee is sold by a whisper in a man’s ear. Coffee is sold by competition between women for the attention of a man. Coffee is sold by playing subservient, vaguely suggesting sweet submissive sex with a man.

The whole concept of the advert was problematic as hell, and Sara was not comfortable with playing ball.

There is no room for an understanding of the problems with this sort of advertising message in America’s Next Top Model. Sara’s reward for her beliefs and reservations was a sympathetic cocked-head from Tyra Banks, a message to “believe in herself” and a bus ride home.

There is no room in this modelling competition for feminists. There is only space for those who will perform dull clichéd cartoons of what a sexy woman should be.

“The way things are”: fight the status quo

I am a white, middle-class British woman, and my privilege is sticking right out as I write this. However, I wish to highlight that even for someone of my privileged status, feminism’s work is not yet done. On International Women’s Day, I send solidarity to my sisters all over the world. I will fight for them wherever I can.

Women in the UK have come a long way. Nominally, we’re equal now. Legally, we’re supposed to be equal now. What women lack is now invisible and counted by many as a gender essentialist ‘this is how things are’. Apparently, any residual inequality exists because men and women are fundamentally different and that women must have chosen differently.

Women are  severely under-represented in the sciences and engineering because our brains are better suited to empathy rather than analysis. There’s science to back that up, and everything!* It’s just the way things are.

Sex is something that is sold to women as part of a long game to please a man. Try typing “how to please” into Google. Autocomplete provides “how to please your man”, “how to please your man in bed”, “how to please your man sexually” and so on. Sex still isn’t really for women, or else we’d be sluts. It’s just the way things are.

The end game for sex is to get a ring on your finger. The end game is always marriage, evidenced by countless jokes and supposedly amusing t-shirts. It’s just the way things are.

Walking along a street while appearing female is enough to merit catcalls, overt sexual messages and unwanted touching. It’s supposed to be a compliment, we’re told. It’s just the way things are.

Some of my sisters from other countries in Europe tell me that British men are better. They’re more polite, apparently. There’s less groping and what they say is less sexually aggressive. As women, of course we should expect harassment, and British women are lucky that our brand of harassment is marginally less noxious. It’s just the way things are.

You might think I sound like some kind of angry radical feminist. That would be because I am some kind of angry radical feminist.

I refuse to accept “the way things are”. I want better. I think we women deserve better. I dream of the day where women are not objects, not punchlines, not walking wombs or disembodied tits. I want to bury, once and for all, that “the way things are” is as good as it will ever get. Women deserve better. Women deserve to be treated as people. Just people. Ordinary people who are not in any way different.

Perhaps some of the lack of fight against this status quo, the blind acceptance of “the way things are” lies in the fact that the word “feminist” is seen to be a dirty word: an irrational woman fighting an imaginary battle, when really she just hates men. Surely our work has been done, because we aren’t automatically packed off to the poorhouse if we can’t find a husband?

I don’t think our work is done. Discrimination has taken on a covert form, and we are sold the myth that this is what equality looks like.

That is not what equality looks like.

If you agree, you might just be an angry radical feminist, too.

*The “evidence” for this assertion is completely demolished in this rather fantastic book, which I would thoroughly recommend.