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Sarah, The Bringer of Tea - More on Reclaim The Night
22nd November, 2009
11:38 pm

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More on Reclaim The Night
My last post may have created the impression that I think events such as Reclaim the Night are a bad idea, but that's very far from the case. I have problems with the exclusionary and dogmatic brand of so-called feminism that infects the women's movement in the UK and other places, but this post, about a woman who was sexually assaulted while on the march last night shows just what women are up against, and how far we have to go.

This is very depressing sometimes. :-(

Originally posted at http://auntysarah.dreamwidth.org/215733.html - you can comment here or there.

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From:snakey
Date:22nd November, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
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It is incredibly depressing, and I agree. But reading what she writes there (leaving aside the fact that there certainly weren't two thousand of them there when I saw them....):

But whatever the reasons for their animosity, they [men in Leicester Square at the time of the march] will never know what it’s like to be scared of being humiliated and violated, in public, by people who feel they have a right to our bodies, our smiles, our time and our compliance. They will never know what it’s like to trade stories, with friends of the harrassment, abuse, assault and violence nearly each and every one of us has experienced, some of us in many different ways. They will never understand that we call these ‘war stories’ because every day is a battle and we are tired of feeling like soldiers, fighting off an enemy that has the better, more powerful weapons. They will never experience life and humanity the way we experience life and humanity because their view is unobstructed.

I was a man in Leicester Square that night, and you know what? Many of us do know that - thinking not only of many trans men but of many men of colour. We know.

And I think that's what my increasing problems with middle-class white cis feminism come down to: intersectionality fail, again and again.

Edited at 2009-11-22 23:51 (UTC)
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From:phonemonkey
Date:22nd November, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
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And wasn't there a gay man who was beaten to death in Leicester Square recently?
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From:auntysarah
Date:22nd November, 2009 11:55 pm (UTC)
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Trafalgar Square, I believe but the point stands.

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From:snakey
Date:22nd November, 2009 11:57 pm (UTC)
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Trafalgar Square, but yes. And he was kicked to death by two women and a man.
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From:phonemonkey
Date:23rd November, 2009 12:08 am (UTC)
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I got the square wrong, but I did remember that multiple women were involved.
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From:auntysarah
Date:22nd November, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
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I was a man in Leicester Square that night, and you know what? Many of us do know that - thinking not only of many trans men but of many men of colour. We know.

Completely agreed. That's why I think so much of this is dogma - "women poor victims, men evil oppressors, difficult cases are to be blamed for presenting a challenge to our faith."
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From:lisaquestions
Date:23rd November, 2009 12:26 am (UTC)
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More accurately, "cis women poor victims, men and trans women evil oppressors."

I've been told to me face that trans women shouldn't participate in TBTN marches as an act of solidarity with cis women, because trans women don't experience the same kind of predation.

I don't know how many times I've seen it argued that trans women can't be raped, or not really raped the way a cis woman can. Or that men simply can't be targets at all.
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From:ailbhe
Date:23rd November, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
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... trans women who *actually* can't really be raped the way cis women can tend to get killed for it, but I suppose that doesn't count? Not when the newspaper reports come out and they are "he" I suppose...

I think I hate the world a little bit.
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From:danaelaurm
Date:23rd November, 2009 01:31 am (UTC)
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I am glad I haven't had the misfortune of meeting people like this yet - having been assaulted and raped (two different events) in my borough the same month a year back, these kind of things bring me back in fight/flight mode (it probably saved my life with the rapist already at the time :/ )
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From:parmonster
Date:23rd November, 2009 09:20 am (UTC)
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At the risk of being an apologist, what I get from the context of that post is that the author is referring to the hecklers and the outright violent men who were booing the protest, not all men present and certainly not all men everywhere.
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From:snakey
Date:23rd November, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)
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I do see that reading, but she's also talking about the guys who were "rolling their eyes", and having just come from TDoR into that, i was rolling my eyes pretty damn hard, so I guess technically I'm in there too...
From:(Anonymous)
Date:23rd November, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
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Hi. I'm the woman who was attacked on the RTN march on Saturday and who wrote the post you're dissecting. I just wanted to clarify that the men I was referring to were the men who were openly mocking us or making threatening or disapproving gestures, not ALL of the men in Leicester Square or ALL of the men we saw along the way or just ALL men in general (including trans men and men of colour). I didn't specify that they all appeared to be cis, white men but then, I wasn't intending for it to be read by a wide audience and be reposted on various blogs around the femininst 'sphere. I was writing it more for myself, as a form of catharsis and to process the event and vent my anger. So I apologise if I exhibited a huge intersectionality fail but I was thinking of nothing and no one besides how *I* felt about my experience, less than 24 hours after it happened.
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From:snakey
Date:23rd November, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
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Hi, thanks for clarifying! I'm deeply sorry that happened to you and I totally understand venting on your blog.

(FWIW, I may have been a man making disapproving gestures - having, as discussed elsewhere in this thread, having just walked out of TDoR.)

Thank you for elaborating on what you meant.
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From:auntysarah
Date:23rd November, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
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Hi. Thanks for commenting. I'm appalled by what happened to you on the march, and I think you have every right to vent your anger in the way you did. I know that if it had happened to me, a precise analysis of the situation would not exactly be my first priority - I'd mostly be upset and furious.
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From:jessie_c
Date:23rd November, 2009 12:19 am (UTC)
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I have no words vile enough to express the magnitude of my contempt for the man who did that and the men who harassed the marchers. That such behaviour is still considered "acceptable" among some men is heartbreaking.
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From:lisaquestions
Date:23rd November, 2009 12:26 am (UTC)
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Not just acceptable, but mandatory. Some men see women creating a space for ourselves, they think they have to destroy it, put us in our place. :(
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From:jessie_c
Date:23rd November, 2009 01:17 am (UTC)
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The Patriarchy fights to protect its interests. We threaten them so we must be suppressed. It's the Manly thing to do.
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From:auntysarah
Date:23rd November, 2009 01:20 am (UTC)
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Can't have women getting ideas now, can we?
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From:jessie_c
Date:23rd November, 2009 01:25 am (UTC)
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I remember reading a book in which one of the characters quotes his grandfather "The mistake wasn't giving women the vote, the mistake was teaching them to talk." Said character really didn't approve of his grandfather's dinosaurian ways but that didn't stop him from claiming his share of Grandfather's Trust Fund : (
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From:lisaquestions
Date:23rd November, 2009 01:24 am (UTC)
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Yeah. If you want to see it in its most benign form (which isn't very benign) just start a thread on a video gaming forum asking if there's any other women posting there. You won't be able to breathe for all the men taking all the oxygen and going off about how there's no women on the internet like it's the funniest joke in the world.

And the things they say, I wouldn't bet that any of them wouldn't rape a woman if they thought they could get away with it.

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From:jessie_c
Date:23rd November, 2009 01:29 am (UTC)
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I'll pass. Something similar happened to me in another forum.
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From:lisaquestions
Date:23rd November, 2009 01:34 am (UTC)
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That happens to me at least once a week. :(

I had one guy mansplaining to me about how women are supposed to think and react to certain situations, and describing women who don't as "girls gone stupid" while protesting that he's trying to protect women's reputation and be feminist... and then later on, he loses his shit over Morena Baccarin's short hair on V being "too masculine," and how all women are supposed to be feminine as he defines femininity.

I'm bitter. These are relatively mild slings and arrows, but they're relentless, and they feed into the whole rape culture thing, by positioning women as existing primarily for men's titillation and gaze.
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From:jessie_c
Date:23rd November, 2009 02:00 am (UTC)
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Methinks it's time to try Lysistrata's tactics...
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From:lisaquestions
Date:23rd November, 2009 02:11 am (UTC)
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I also like it every time a guy says online, "I don't need to know you're a woman, I'm not here looking for a date."

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From:jessie_c
Date:23rd November, 2009 02:16 am (UTC)
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My stock reply for that kind of situation is "That's okay, you don't meet the physical requirements to date me anyway."
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From:lisaquestions
Date:23rd November, 2009 02:20 am (UTC)
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Oh, I have my own stock replies. But it's just the whole "We'll assume everyone here is a man, and if you identify yourself differently, you're bad for reminding us that we don't have a complete monopoly." I have been called an "attention whore" for correcting someone else's pronoun use in World of Warcraft.

But this is really just one of the ways men try to exert their presence to dominate women, just as they do everywhere else. Face-to-face, they start grabbing women's breasts and worse, or mock women for daring to have a voice.
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From:jessie_c
Date:23rd November, 2009 02:51 am (UTC)
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It's the Manly thing to do, after all. Victim blaming is still fashionable : (
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From:danaelaurm
Date:23rd November, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
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Moments like these make me wonder why I didn't stick to being an AC on slashdot, or read it at all sometimes...
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From:parmonster
Date:23rd November, 2009 09:15 am (UTC)
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Ugh... I just had a flame war like that on a work mailing list. Their complaints of "what's the big deal?", wrt a poorly chosen promotion involving female lap dancers, being answered by silence from HR (this mailing list is seen as "voluntary" and "off the record").

And here I am, not filing a complaint because I'm a people pleaser...

Muppets.
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From:ailbhe
Date:23rd November, 2009 12:26 am (UTC)
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I'm really quite cross at the commenter who said that the man was more afraid of her than she of him. The old (het/cis normative, but pithy) line "Men are afraid women will laugh at them, women are afraid men will kill them" popped unbidden into my head when I read that.

I think it all boils down to "You are afraid I will challenge your narrow, entitled view of the world, whatever your privilege is. I am afraid you will kill me."
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From:auntysarah
Date:23rd November, 2009 01:22 am (UTC)
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"Men are afraid women will laugh at them, women are afraid men will kill them"

Hell yes! It's like an injury to ones pride matters as much as, you know, being killed. This thinking is so toxic, and if society collectively got over this, there'd be no such thing as "gay panic" or "trans panic", for a start.
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From:emperor
Date:23rd November, 2009 01:23 am (UTC)
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I struggle to comprehend why those men behaved like that :(
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From:auntysarah
Date:23rd November, 2009 01:36 am (UTC)
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I think I can understand why someone might be motivated to do something like that. Perhaps they don't see the women's points, think it's that "man hating feminist nonsense", think the women need to "lighten up". Grabbing some woman's tits is a way to convincingly "win" the argument, to show the "silly" woman how ridiculous her point is, and how little power she has. For him it ends the debate in a single action. She gets to spend the next few days, or more processing the assault which she was powerless to prevent, he laughs, congratulates himself on his cleverness, and walks on.
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From:cmcmck
Date:23rd November, 2009 12:12 pm (UTC)
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It also makes you realise why women of my grandma's generation (I have a pic of her with friends in, as it happens, Trafalgar Square in the twenties when she was very definitely a 'flapper' :o) had hat pins to hand and knew how to use them! When you are only 4'11" tall as she was, I guess you need to know how to protect yourself.......
(Deleted comment)
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From:ailbhe
Date:23rd November, 2009 01:01 pm (UTC)
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Rapists will have them too.
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From:cmcmck
Date:23rd November, 2009 01:10 pm (UTC)
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It's a bit of a pointless debate on Sarah's blog anyway. She like me is a UK citizen and carrying guns concealed or otherwise is illegal here.
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From:parmonster
Date:23rd November, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
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Pfft, that's downright unamerican!
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From:cmcmck
Date:23rd November, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
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Stiffens upper lip (anything else would be SO unbritish :o)


Don't forget that you're talking to a Quaker pacifist military historian here! Confused? So am I! :op
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From:maellenkleth
Date:24th November, 2009 07:45 am (UTC)
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Well, the airlines won't let me take hatpins across the pond. Lacquered chopsticks, though?? Grand for holding one's backknot, ne qua?
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