Friday, 15 January 2016

She, the hysterical herald


Dear Sirs,

Do I have permission to write?

My poem isn’t iambic –
in the literal sense.
You’ll find it juvenile,
beneath your intelligence.

In fact,

I’ll keep my prose sloppy,
and I’ll throw in a rhyme,
so you can discredit me
‘cause: “literary crime.”

This, they’ll say, is a
 *eye roll*
Sign a man’s name and it’s a
nuanced account
of a complex situation.

You see, a woman is shrill,
where a man is strong.
And if she asks a question
she must have it wrong.

Because questioning is for blokes
when they don’t wanna hear.
Discomfort breeds devil’s advocates
out of men pretending to care.

Women, you know,
we have the double red scare.
Lunar cycle, lunancy,
and the one that’s always there.

Every man thinks he’s McCarthy
and can control a woman’s mind,
women get sold out, spat out, betrayed
by every man they find.

“Don’t say this”. “Don’t ask that”.
Conscription. Incarceration.
“Blame Barbie, not Ken!”

“What about this?”
“What about that?”
Every exception.
Nothing exact.

Now ladies, BEWARE
of the horse that is Trojan.
His smile is just
the method he’s chosen.

He calls himself “ally”;
a progressive ‘humanist’.
“Now listen here Kitten,
I’m a damn feminist…”

He’ll be pro-choice.
All for the equal way.
But for his support,
he’ll make women pay.

A feminist man is a man
and demands authority.
“Sit down. Shut up.
It’s all about me.”

He has learnt from day one
that what matters is he.
His wants. His needs. His opinions.
Not we.

Practical, reasoned, phlegmatic
is the male.
But, we women,
our humours are far more frail.

We conduct a conversation
between two or three.
It gets hijacked, policed,
and mocked with glee.

“How dare these women,
these hysterical cunts,
discuss reproduction, motherhood,
their own battlefronts.”

“The audacity of women
to partake in this sphere.
Like the first coffee houses –
we won’t have them here.”

Disagreeing with a thing
(be it right or wrong)
is only okay for those
measuring their schlong.

Women, ye be warned:
Have an opinion or two,
but these opinions
cannot be held simply by you.

Find a man.
A brother, lover, or dad.
Let them sanction
assertions you might have had.

I wondered if their ‘authority’
was due to followers more,
but then I remembered,
whether twitter, street, workplace, or store…

Men’s behaviour is consistent -
that we can trust.
Power, dominance,
greed, and certainly lust.

“Don’t say that”. “You’re wrong”.
“Don’t be aggressive”. “You witch”.
“You’ll never get a husband
being such a bitch”.

“See what you’ve done” they recite
from Manipulation 101.
Then call you every gendered insult
under the sun.

And when they’ve exhausted
that plan of attack,
Mr Patronising appears
to throw shade at your back.

Tut Tut Tut Tut
And an *eye roll* too
“What do you think
that’s going to do?”

“This simply is not
the appropriate forum
for you to convene
your pathetic quorum”

But what men fail to see…

…is with their voice
they can shout
without question or fear
of being drowned out.

Women, it seems,
so frequently made silent,
can’t even talk with friends
without men getting violent.

Maybe I’m crazy.
Many men have told me so.
But the more they shhh me,
the louder my voice seems to go.

I see their McCarthyism
And Still I Rise them an Angelou.
Their manipulative, juvenile bullshit
can fuck right off too.

Because eventually, we women
won’t shout into the abyss.
You’ll be listening, my boy,
and you won’t be able to diss.

So call me hysterical, irrational,
toxic, and a cunt too,
because your masculinity is fragile

and, child, I’m laughing at you.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

This Week in Male Violence

Content warning: discusses violence, sexual violence, incest, and pretty much every other kind of violence imaginable.

We are just ten days into 2016 and already there have been a spate of horrifying examples of the toll male violence takes on women and children throughout the world. Here I have collected just a few articles detailing This Week in Male Violence. It is worth noting that these are just the news articles that have come across my timelines and it is by no means a comprehensive list of all reported violence inflicted by men. Even more importantly, we cannot even begin to imagine the number of unreported incidents that have occurred in just the last week.

Arthur Simpson-Kent with one of the sons he murdered
1. Last seen on December 16th 2015, London police confirmed a few days ago that the bodies of Sian Blake and her two children had been found buried in their own back garden. They all had died as a result of head and neck trauma. Ms Blake’s partner and the father of her two children fled the country following a discussion with police just days after they had been reported missing and has since been arrested in Ghana. Arthur Simpson-Kent reportedly has a history of inflicting domestic violence on Ms Blake and her sister has told police that she intended to leave him. Police have not sought any other suspects. 

Damian Little with the sons he murdered and their mother.
2. In Australia, this week, a man shot himself and both of his young children before driving their car into the sea. All three died. Almost immediately a narrative of Damien Little as an ordinary bloke and doting father was painted by news media prompting some to question why family annihilators are portrayed as anything less than murderers. Police have disclosed that a history of domestic violence will be included in their report to the coroner.
Queenie who was murdered
by her grandfather
3. Also in Australia, a 2-month-old baby has been stabbed to death while her mother and grandmother were left fighting for their lives. The baby’s grandfather is in custody. Video footage taken by witnesses has emerged of the grandfather stumbling from the house covered in blood before being detained by police. Once again media drove the narrative of the accused as a “doting grandfather”.
4. Pittsburgh police are searching for 23-year-old Billy Damon Williams in relation to a charge of attempted homicide. Williams is accused of squeezing his 2-month-old daughter so tightly that she suffered four broken ribs and ruptured blood vessels in her eyes and face. He has already spent time in jail for inflicting similar injuries on his 5-month-old son in 2013. The son sadly died soon after.
5. News reports have stated that more than 100 women have come forward about sexual assaults and robbery by gangs of men in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. The reports detail the women being surrounded by gangs of 20-30 men who ripped the women’s clothes off before groping and robbing them. There has been widespread condemnation of the handling of the incidents in which women of the city were advised to “keep men at arms length”in order to prevent further attacks.

Louis Richardson
6. 21-year-old Louis Richardson appeared in court this week to answer a number of charges of rape and sexual assault. Richardson was the Secretary of Durham Union Society’s Debating Club at the time. The court has heard that he mocked his victims following assaults even saying, “I bought you dinner, it’s the least you could do”. A victim has told the court that students at Durham University regularly joke about rape.

7. A police officer, Richard Jones, in Chicago, has been accused of raping a pregnant woman and threatening to arrest her if she resisted. Jones remains on the police force despite having a history of accusations of raping another pregnant woman in 2011. The young woman, who was 17-years-old at the time, miscarried as a result. As a result of the negligence in these cases and others, large changes to Police personnel and the Independent Review Board have been made. The U.S. Justice Department had already investigated the city in 2008 after finding dozens of rape kits had been unprocessed and some of the men who’s DNA was found on the kits had raped again in the meantime.
The image Amour posted on her Instagram account following her rape
8. Reports emerged this week of the rape of American anti-rape campaigner and activist, Amber Amour. Amour who developed the awareness campaign #StopRapeEducate following a previous rape in New York a year earlier, was on an awareness tour in South Africa when she was raped in a hostel shower. Amour has documented her experience immediately following the rape on her Instagram account as well as the negative, victim-blaming comments which have inevitably followed.
Michael McMillan
9. A police officer from a Family Crime Investigation Unit in Liverpool has plead guilty to five counts of neglecting to perform his duty and misconducting himself. Michael McMillan faces a “significant” jail term after making sexual advances on vulnerable victims of domestic violence. 
According to the charges, he “willfully and without reasonable excuse or justification” misconducted himself “in a way which amounted to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder by persistently making contact with victims of crime for your own sexual purposes”.
CCTV imagery of one of the attacks

A man has been arrested in Chelsea, New York, for slashing the faces of two women with a knife in separate incidents both occurring in the days since New Year’s Day. The accused, Kari Bazemore, has 32 previous offences including an arrest for punching a woman just days before the first slashing attack.

11. Just days ago, Domingo Bullicio was arrested in Argentina for holding his daughter captive for 22 years during which time he repetitively raped her and fathered her 8 children. The abuse is said to have started when his daughter was just 9 years old after her mother left him taking their other three children. Her uncle also took part in the rapes. Bullicio’s victim has reportedly received death threats from her own aunts and uncles demanding she withdraw her accusations.

Bullicio being detained by Argentinian authorities
12. Finally, just kilometres from where I live, a terrible murder was committed this week. 41-year-old Joanne Marie Pert was slain while out on her regular run through Remuera on Thursday. Her body was found on the front lawn of a house where it is believed she crawled looking for help. A 24-year-old man handed himself in to police on the same day as the attack and has been charged with her murder. He has name suppression. Police have asserted that the victim did not know her attacker and that it appears to have been random. Joanne is survived by her two young children.

Police at the scene of Pert's murder (left). Joanne Marie Pert (right).

A family annihilator, a murder/suicide, a grandfather, several fathers, two police officers, a privileged university leader, gangs of sexual assaulters, rape slavery, incest, random attacks, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, murder, and several abuses of power. All of these men attacked women and children. These stories were all in the news in this first week and a bit of 2016. This is the violence women fear and face on a daily basis. These examples tell us women aren’t safe in their homes and they aren’t safe in public. It tells us women cannot trust the men closest to them, they cannot trust strangers, and they cannot trust police.
Men tell women “not all men”, they get angry when we point out the violence women face. Then they nostalgically remember family annihilators and murderers as “doting” dads and grandfathers. Women are told to “keep men at arm’s length” and blamed for not being careful enough to prevent their own attacks, but then criticised for seeing male violence. Women cannot win.  This is male violence.