Go Home, Barbara Hewson, You’re Drunk

I thought that everyone was pleased to have Operation Yewtree bringing justice to the victims of historical sex abuse. The victims’ mental scars will never fully heal, not just from the abuse itself, but from the people they may have told and didn’t believe them as they were just children. Yet today, a barrister has written an article for “Spiked” magazine, which has found its way from this small corner of online life into the mainstream.

The age of consent is there to protect minors from sexual abuse – from the predation of successful, much older men like those who’ve been charged in the wake of Operation Yewtree. It’s there to provide a solid line to show when teenagers would be able to make the decision to consent for themselves – understanding the potential outcomes from the situation. It has nothing to do with the age young women go through puberty. Just because you can have children, doesn’t mean you have the maturity to deal with sex and its potential consequences.

What I found most worrying about this article is that it’s penned by an extremely well-educated woman. A woman who went through puberty like the rest of us, knew the pressures from young men. Western society (where she and I are talking about) is a frankly terrifying place to go through puberty as a woman. In a small town where I grew up, it’s still commonplace for drunk guys to shout at teenagers to “show us yer tits” at 4 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. And if you ignore them, it only gets scarier. I wonder if Barbara Hewson was ever followed along a busy street with a man shouting at her, for other people to utterly ignore it.

Operation Yewtree is not about “persecuting” these well-known people in society. It’s about bringing people who raped and sexually assaulted children to justice, no matter how long it’s been since the incident, or how successful they have been. Having sex with a 9-year-old girl is not a “minor misdemeanour”, it’s rape. How can a girl that young possibly make an informed decision about sex, especially in England and Wales where sex and relationship education is not mandatory to be taught in school? Would a 9-year-old know about contraception, or even her right to say no?

In her article, Hewson suggests removing complainant anonymity – which in our Daily Mail fuelled media is nothing but outrageously dangerous. Events in America around Steubenville and the young girls who’s anonymity was not protected should make that abundantly clear. Victims of sexual assault and rape have enough problems just trying to come to terms with what has happened to them without society and the general media pointing the finger of blame squarely on them. It’s been said countless times – the victims of rape are not to blame, the perpetrators are.

Barbara Hewson’s language choice is also disturbing – claiming that “even” a deputy speaker in the House of Commons perpetuates the very ideas Operation Yewtree is dispelling. Just because a man is in the public eye, does not make him immune to committing sexual abuse and rape, and definitely should not make him above the law. The NSPCC is not a pressure group, it’s a charity there to help vulnerable children, such as those who have been abused.

Touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt, are not remotely comparable to the horrors of the Ealing Vicarage assaults and gang rape, or the Fordingbridge gang rape and murders, both dating from 1986. Anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality.

No-one is suggesting the three actions listed there are rape. They are, however the sexual abuse of a minor and should be prosecuted as such, no matter how long it’s been since they took place. To say otherwise maintains the prevalent rape culture in our society, making it appear that men in positions of power are untouchable in the eyes of the law. Late justice is still justice.

You’d think a barrister would understand that.

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Theresa May – The Ex-Equalities Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in Equality for Women

Oh, Theresa May. How you were ever named the equalities minister is beyond me, given you don’t believe in there being equality between men and women. This is shocking for a woman so far ahead in UK politics to do something so anti-feminist. I felt I had to write to her.

Theresa May, the UK home secretary, has come out in support of Jeremy Hunt limiting the time period abortions would be available. In my post from just a few minutes ago, you can see the email I sent which is mentioned fairly often in this email.

Dear Ms. May,

As a fellow woman I find myself rather disconcerted that someone in a position of power such as yours does not appear to stand for women’s rights at all. When you colleague Mr Hunt came out to say he believes the time period in which a woman can have an abortion, you should have come out in defence of your gender. A man who does not have to make the decision about going through with a pregnancy should not be making decisions on behalf of women.
I have already emailed Mr Hunt’s office and the Department of Health this morning about this issue, but frankly, your position in support of him is more worrying than anything. Your personal religious views may make you unable to support abortion – this however does not mean that you should be restricting the rights of the rest of the women in this country. To say otherwise is just wrong, given we’re supposed to now live in a Britain which has thrived due to the separation of church and state.

I outlined in my email to Mr Hunt the time period of twelve weeks is impossibly short, given by the time the most regular woman in the world would be four weeks along by the time she missed her first period (that’s already a third of the window away).
What of the women who don’t have regular menstrual cycles, and assume the missed period is due to it just being another irregularity? If women like this missed the window, it would not be their own fault, there’s simply no way of telling.
Some women have regular menstrual periods throughout the entirety of their pregnancy (including one nursing student I know personally, who didn’t know she was pregnant until she went into labour in her own flat). What of those women?

To come out in support of Mr Hunt is anti-feminist. And I mean feminist in the purest sense in the world. You (despite being inexplicably named the equalities minister) clearly do not believe in equality between men and women. It’s honestly shocking to see someone in your position come out in support of something so restrictive towards your own gender.

I believe it’s my body, so the choices about what to do with it should belong to me. It’s obvious you don’t feel the same.

Yours,
Hannah Welsh.

Ah, Jeremy Hunt. You Utter, Utter Cunt.

Jeremy Hunt, Weymouth, 11 June 2010

Jeremy Hunt, Weymouth, 11 June 2010 (Photo credit: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport)

For those of you not in the UK and not up to date with the latest cabinet reshuffle. The man pictured above is Jeremy Hunt, who did such an awful job as culture secretary (yes, he’s the man who was more than close with Rupert Murdoch before all the allegations of phone hacking resulted in the Leveson enquiry), that our genius of a prime minister, David Cameron thought there was no-one better to be in charge of one of the most important departments of the UK Government. This man is in charge of our beloved NHS. This man also believes abortion time limits in the UK are too long and wants them to be halved.

Today, he told an interviewer that he believes the time limit placed on NHS abortion to be a miserly twelve weeks. A time period in which a large proportion of women are not aware they are pregnant.

Like I did with Rep. Todd Akin, I have written Mr Hunt an email (and have sent it to his constituency email and through the Department of Health’s website).

Dear Mr Hunt,
I’d like to take just a moment to congratulate you on one thing: the British public thought you couldn’t be any more loathsome. Today, you proved them wrong. Great job! It honestly makes the mind boggle that you gave such an opinion, having clearly avoided actual evidence from scientific studies or having actually talked to the women of your constituency and beyond.
On one hand, after everything you’ve done I’m pretty glad you and the rest of your privately educated brethren are in power because it assures me that you’ll not be voted in again. The entire Conservative/Liberal Democrat government has been an utter shambles.

Anyway, I am writing to you today to discuss your views on the abortion limit being too long at 24 weeks. Are you being serious?
I mean, really.

By the time a woman misses her period she is already technically 4 weeks along, and if a woman is not regular in her menstruation, this can easily be written off as just being a longer cycle. Some women continue to have periods throughout their entire pregnancy – how do you propose those women (who will notice literally no change in their body until the baby reaches a significant size enough to produce a bump) find out about their pregnancy within 3 months?
For one, the strain on the NHS you are in charge of will be increased by an unknown margin. Home pregnancy tests are unreliable and expensive, so where are all the women worried about missing this, frankly ridiculous, margin going to go? To their GP to be given a free pregnancy test!
And what about those women who miss your margin because they haven’t noticed any changes in their body? They have two options, really. To continue their unwanted pregnancy to term, for the unwanted child to either be resented by the mother, or be placed into the care system where it is unlikely to ever be adopted into a family. Think about the cost of these women’s antinatal care, all the extra hospital beds in bigger maternity wards which will be necessary to accommodate all these extra pregnant women giving birth.
Put simply, twelve weeks is far too short a period to give women to discover their pregnancy, then have an abortion if they do not want a family.

You, Mr Hunt will never have to go through pregnancy. You will never have to worry about the possibility of getting pregnant because a man can just walk away with no consequences. So why do you think you should have a say in what women do with their own bodies? Why are the rights of a non-sentient featus (which it is until the 24 weeks limit, by the way) deemed by you to be more important to you and other members of your party than the woman being forced to carry it?

Yours,
Hannah Welsh.

Theresa May has also come out in support of this frankly ludicrous opinion. Surely a woman wouldn’t want her own reproductive rights legislated against, so why does she support restricting other womens’ right to an abortion after discovering they were pregnant too late for this tiny margin? I sense another email coming.

It Appears I May Be Turning This Blog…

…onto what appears to be Feminist Highway. This wasn’t always the intention of mine, though recently, the men who’ve come to my attention in the past few days appear to have all lost their minds, and I couldn’t keep from writing about them.

It’s actually infuriating.

On certain nights on channel 4, they show a little five minute segment after the national news which is supposed to be informative and current. Last night was somewhat different. At just prior to 8pm last night, Reverend George Curry appeared on screen to ask whether showing skin is a sin. As he said “My naked body is for my wife to see, and her naked body is for me to see”, which seems like a reasonable enough statement to make (if he had stopped talking immediately after that). However, Rev. Curry went on to talk about how immoral it was for a woman to go out showing skin “baring skin is a sin”.

I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on that.

As I posted on twitter during this man’s railing against women wearing skirts (OH MY GOD), I bet that Rev. Curry goes out without a shirt when it’s hot outside and shows off his burger nipples to the rest of the world.

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to walk around topless (I actually quite happen to like wearing pretty underwear and nice clothes, they make me feel more attractive, and thus I think I come across more confidently), but if women are expected to walk around covered from head-to-toe all the time, shouldn’t men? If it’s hot outside, I’m going to wear short shorts and floaty skirts because I like it and it keeps me cool. I’m not trying to attract a man or make him think about “impure” things. If I go out at the weekend with my female friends (albeit, not that often at the moment), we all go out dressed nicely, in short skirts, shorts, dresses and high heels. None of us are “inviting rape”, contrary to the opinions of several men who’ve crossed my twitter feed/TV screen/wordpress timeline have said. I honestly can’t believe the culture of rape apologists, “slut” shaming and victim blaming.

As I have said in my previous blogs, and in my letter to Missouri senate candidate Representative Todd Akin, no woman ever deserves to be raped. It’s nothing about the clothes she wears, it’s not about a woman flirting and giving the wrong impression. Guys can give the wrong impression too, you know? “I’ll call you”. Does that sound familiar, men of the one night stand game? Is the woman right to force herself onto you? No, right. So why the fuck can it possibly be a woman’s fault that you’ve taken advantage of her because she’s not strong enough to fight you off?

I think, with the weather taking a nice turn to sunshine for the first time since May, I’ll be taking full advantage of being able to show off my milky white flesh. Fuck you, Reverend George Curry, I’ll be wearing what I want.

 

Oh, Come On Now

Limited edition B cover

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve put up with my fair amount of crap in my life, but this year is just taking the cake. My boyfriend has been away since June, my dad has been diagnosed with a brain tumour, started having seizures and has now been through major surgery, yet I’m being some sort of glutton for punishment as I’m still trying to help others out.

The main part of my online life is the forum I’ve been running for the best part of 3 years now. I’ve been a member for around 6 as well, and have met some of my best friends through it. Older people I know think it’s fucking mental that I can share intimate details of my life that I wouldn’t dream of sharing with my best friends I see often, but it’s all based on trust. I don’t run off and tell Chris or anyone else about what the girls have been saying, and I trust they would do the same, so I don’t mind looking to them for help, considering that’s what the forum is for. I’ve leaned on them more in the last 6 months than I ever have before, although I haven’t been able to actually post much, I keep in touch with a good few of my staff members, and they’re always there to help me out. It’s amazing.

My problem is that although I run Girl Support, I still don’t feel like I’m helping out other people much and I always want to do more, but right now I find myself needing to take the advice, rather than giving it. I just need someone to take me in their arms, tell me it’s all going to be ok, and just be there to listen to all my worries, no matter how daft they are.

It’s fucking tiring sometimes.