How the West Undermined Women’s Rights in the Arab World 15:33 Feb 02 0 comments
Erotismo y miseria mercantilizada 14:58 Dec 22 0 comments
Oklahoma IWW Statement of Solidarity with #YesAllDaughters 11:30 Nov 24 0 comments
Desmontando el relato neoliberal desde una perspectiva feminista 02:44 Mar 10 0 commentsmore >>
Recent articles by Sovietpop and others
Recent Articles about Ireland / Britain Gender
Talking about Sexual Violence
ireland / britain | gender | news report Thursday September 14, 2006 20:00 by Sovietpop and others - WSM - personal capacity
Report from womens dayschool in Dublin
Report from a WSM member on a women's only day-school on sexual violence recently held in Ireland.
In June, the women members of the WSM hosted a dayschool on Women in Revolutionary Struggle. Following on from this, RAG (Revolutionary Anarcho-Feminist Group) decided to host a women's only day-school on sexual violence. This was held in the in the new Seomra Spraoi space in Dublin.
I have to be honest; I wasn’t looking forward to it. Sexual violence is a difficult, emotional and disturbing issue. Spending a Saturday talking about it just wasn’t my idea of fun. It was something important, that had to be done, but not exactly a barrel of laughs.
But I was wrong, there were lots of laughs, and it was fun (who’d have thought it!). RAG are to be complimented for creating a relaxed and easy going environment in which to discuss this most difficult of issues.
The first thing we did was get to know the person sitting beside us – we asked them about what they liked and didn’t like, what they were good at and what they were bad at. Then we went around in a circle, each introducing the person we had been talking to everyone else. I discovered that Clair likes Organising and that Eve likes Rossport Solidarity Camp and hates Shell. I like cats and have a bad memory. It was an easy start to the day, but things were about to get more difficult.
We then wrote down ‘power imbalances in society’ both between men and women and the other hierarchies that exist. We discussed sexual violence as being about exerting power over others. Rape also happens because of physical imbalances between people. Rape is also an instrument of war. A woman from Italy talked about how there, a man might rape a women to get revenge on her partner.
We moved on to think about the lack of sexual education that most of us received; people don’t talk about sex or about what consent means. There is often a basic mis-understanding about what is meant by yes and no. This isn’t helped by the masculine and feminine role models in society (and the media depiction of these role models, particularly in the porn industry). We talked about how there were very limited sexual role models within society – women were encouraged to be passive, men aggressive. We also thought that men were under considerable peer pressure, particularly as teenagers, to be aggressive sexually. Coercion is seen to be normal.
All the other groups then discussed their questions and answers. Looking at them we thought, that perhaps we hadn’t been given the most difficult question after all.
Q. Are there misconceptions about rape?
Briefly, here are some of the answers people came up with.
Misconceptions about rape: It’s not rape because – she kissed me; it was my boyfriend, husband; it was someone I know and not a stranger; she was a sex worker; she put her self in a dangerous position and should have known better; she dressed sexy; I was drunk or on drugs; he was drunk or on drugs; it didn’t involve genital penetration; because rape only happens to women; because he was educated, middleclass, left-wing, an activist, he couldn’t be a rapist. The final two mis-conceptions outlined were that women lie about rape to blackmail men and that rape is about sexual desire.
What is rape? It’s rape if there is; emotional or physical force; intimidation; invasion; violation; when someone is unconscious or asleep; when sex hasn’t been consented to. Men can be raped too.
What is sexual harassment? When someone does not respect your boundaries; inappropriate sexual behaviour; lack of sensitivity to others body language; an abuse of power; it can be subtle; it can be sitting too near person, invading their personal space, it can be making unwanted sexual comments or overtures to people. Sometimes we feel embarrassed and don’t want to make a fuss so often town don’t say anything. Sometimes sexual harassment is passed off as a joke so we don’t say anything because we don’t want to make a big deal. Sometimes it is a friend and we don’t want to upset the friendship or don’t know what to say to tell them we are unhappy with their behaviour. All agreed that sexual harassment was difficult because what is appropriate in one context for one person isn’t for another. It was important that we know ourselves what are boundaries are and are able to let people know what they are. But it isn’t easy.
Why isn’t rape/sexual violence reported? Because there is a lack of faith in the justice system, there is a low conviction rate; there is fear of the police or the trial; fear of being shunned by family and community; fear of being put on trial; being intimidated by the legal system; because someone is dependant economically on the attacker, or works for them, or doesn’t want to have to leave their home. Rapes aren’t reported when people don’t have the language to express what has happened to them, or are afraid that they will be blamed; they might face homophobia; Among teenagers there is a fear of sex and of talking about it; its difficult for children to access services.
We were all dived up into pairs, and each pair was given a particular scenario. We were also given a little information about the character we were playing. We were then asked to write down a piece of dialogue between the two and think about how they might respond to the situation they were placed in. My partner and I both hate role-playing, and although initially it was a bit weird and embarrassing, strangely enough, it actually was also a bit of a laugh. The situation I had to develop was one in which the woman in a new relationship tries to convince the bloke to have sex without a condom, though he didn’t really want to. It didn’t take long. When the group was brought back together, volunteers were asked to actually act out their scenarios.
The first woman to take to the floor provided a show stopping performance as she pestered her tired and uninterested partner to have sex. Next up was a situation in which two friends are in a social situation, and one keeps coming on to the other, despite the fact that she isn’t interested. This scenario was played too ways, in the first, the woman clearly said ‘listen, I know you’re a mate, but I’m not interested, please respect my boundaries’. The second group dealing with the same scenario had a more difficult task as the character in question shy and only gave non-verbal indications that she really wasn’t interested. In another scenario, one partner in a couple had to ask the other partner to be less clinging and to allow her more independence, while the other partner had to be insecure and anxious. One of the things that came up in the discussion was that when we had given the scenarios, most of us had assumed that a one character was obviously male and the other obviously female. We found that if we thought about changing the genders, the scenarios played very differently. It also made us think about how consent operates both ways between men and women.
The facilitators drew up a chart of verbal and non-verbal signals that indicated consent and non-consent. These ranged from consent doesn’t exist is someone says no, if someone is crying, if they turn their back to you, if they are asleep and unconscious. However someone commented that while these were very clear signals, the issue of consent could contain lots of grey areas. People can give out contradictory signals, particularly when there is confusion within their own head about what they want. This then lead onto a discussion about people’s own experiences. A common theme that emerged was how many of us had quite negative sexual experiences as teenagers, we done things or been is situations that we would never been in now that we are a little older and more confident. Many spoke about having sex when they were younger (or even not so young) because they felt a sense that they were ‘obliged to’ or to save a bloke from the embarrassment of being rejected. Someone asked was this ever going to change?
Finally the facilitators handed us all out a piece of paper and asked us to note down what our own boundaries were, so that we were sure within ourselves what our lines were. Some people found this useful; others found it more difficult, saying that boundaries are too dependent on context (who you are with, when or where) to make it possible to decide in abstract what they were. I think it is fair to say that this session was very thought provoking.
4. Safer Spaces Policy
A common problem seemed to be that while it was fairly easy to establish a positive statement such as ‘sexual harassment shall not be tolerated’, it was much more difficult to work out procedures to deal with instances of sexual harassment and accusations of sexual harassment.
It was said that any policy had to be continually open to negotiation and change as over time we face new problems and learn from our experiences. It was also said that a safer space policy could only work if people agree with it and are willing to implement it. While there was a general willingness to have a policy, there wasn’t a similar willingness to go through the thought processes necessary to see how these policies are implemented in practice. We have no guidelines or agreement on how to deal with sexual abuse or assault within our community, we have no way of dealing with these types of conflicts when they emerge. This session ended with a commitment from those that attended to begin the very important process of developing our safer space policies.
5. Closing circle
With that it was agreed to have a further meeting, open to all genders, on how safer sex polices might work in practice.
The ladies of RAG are to be thanked for putting so much effort into the day. It was I think a very important contribution to the development of the anarchist and libertarian community in Ireland.
Lunch was lovely too.
Fri 29 Apr, 18:07
Emergency protest for abortion demand held in Belfast 19:07 Wed 02 Dec 0 comments
Somewhere in the region of 70 people attended an emergency protest yesterday outside Belfast City Hall.
Amnesty International is holding its International Council Meeting in Dublin 17:07 Mon 10 Aug 0 comments
Amnesty International is holding its International Council Meeting in Dublin this week and earlier today many of the delegate attending staged a protest at the Dail (Irish Parliament) against the criminalisation of women under Ireland's anti-choice laws.
Dublin protests in solidarity with the Belfast mother charged with supplying the abortion pill to he... 19:35 Thu 23 Jul 0 comments
A couple of hundred people came to the pro choice solidarity rally in Dublin, Ireland last nigh organised by the WSMt. It was called to protest against the prosecution of a women in Belfast for supplying her daughter with the abortion pill.
Belfast woman charged for helping daughter procure an abortion 17:44 Mon 20 Jul 0 comments
News broke on the 19th June that a Belfast woman is to stand trial for helping her daughter procure an abortion. In response on 24th June a letter was handed in signed by 215 abortion activists admitting that they are guilty of breaking the law by either taking or helping someone procure the Early Medical Abortion (EMA) pill.
Ireland - Migrant X refused an abortion and forced to have a C-section 22:31 Thu 21 Aug 0 comments
This is as complete a story about what happened to 'Migrant X' that we are aware of. Migrant X is a young migrant women who it emerged was refused an abortion by the Irish state despite apparently meeting the grounds of the X-case legislation and instead forced to carry the pregnancy and agree to a C-section. The pregnanacy itself was the result of rape, Migrant X attempted suicide after being refused the abortion and later went on a hunger and thirst strike. Once what had happened to her became known there were sizeable pro-choice solidarity demonstrations called across Ireland and at Irish embassies overseas. We have been given information that the migrant woman at the centre of the current forced pregnancy was 'committed' to a psychiatric hospital following her initial request for termination. It’s already known that the initial request was made when she was 8 weeks pregnant. It was this crucial period in which she was being held incommunicado which led directly to the Caesarian option being possible to impose as an ‘alternative’ to allowing her to access the abortion she had asked for.
Poor turnout in Ireland for Vigil for 'Life' despite massive spending 03:18 Wed 23 Jan 0 comments
Saturday in Dublin saw another desperate attempt by the anti-choice coalition to prevent legislation coming to the Dail (Irish parliament) to allow abortion where a women's life is under threat. Despite months of preparation, a spend that must have ran close to a million euro, and the parish priest at every mass in the country telling catholics they should attend, less that 15,000 turned up. Compared to the 150,000 women who have had to travel to obtain abortions in the last ecades this amounts to almost nothing, a handful of bigots bussed in from all over the country. [Italiano]
20 years on X case to finally be legislated 17:40 Wed 19 Dec 0 comments
This afternoon the government had finally confirmed that it is to legislate for abortion access under the conditions of the X-case. While we can welcome the failure of the anti-choice movement to stop this announcement, despite frantically spending a quarter of a million dollars euro in ten days, this is so little so late that it is almost meaningless.
Irish parliament blockaded by 100s after 3rd refusal in 6 months to legislate for X-case 22:59 Fri 30 Nov 0 comments
Last night saw hundreds of pro-choice activists blockade the gates of the Dáil after TD's once more refused to pass X-case legislation. Twenty years after the X-case and one month after the death of Savita Halappanavar women in Ireland were told once more that the politicians had not had enough time. The political parties, in particular the Labour Party, were once more engaged in a cynical game of playing politics - a game that leaves pregnant women at continued risk in Irish hospitals.
Countering the Irish "Pro-Life" Rally - Pro-Choice Counter Demonstration 20:50 Thu 07 Jul 0 comments
WSM and other pro-choice activists took place in a counter demonstration to the “Rally for Life” which took place in Dublin on Sunday 3 July 2011. The anti-abortion rally was organised by Youth Defence (including “The Life Institute”(previously Mother & Campaign – an outgrowth of Youth Defense) and Belfast Based "Precious Life". Approximately 2,000 people seem to have attended. The pro-choice counter demonstration, organised at short notice was still attended by around 300 people. Many attending the anti-abortion rally came from all over Ireland and even included a small group of migrants from the Philippines. There were some tense exchanges between pro-choice campaigners and anti-abortion marchers.
NI Women sold out by Labour on equal access to abortion 21:22 Tue 02 Dec 0 comments
The hopes of women living in Northen Ireland for the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act were dashed when an amendment to extend the act brought before Westminster on 22nd October was not debated because of a procedural motion put by Harriet Harman, leader of the House of Commons and the Minister for Women and supported by many New Labour ‘feminist’ MPsmore >>
Next week will see the promotion of Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA (Member of Northern Ireland Assembly), Arlene Foster to the position of DUP leader and the North of Ireland’s First Minister. Foster is a woman who was once described to have “learned a lot from the likes of Thatcher when it comes to dealing with men in politics."
Over 1000 early medical abortion pills seized by Irish customs Sep 29 0 comments
Over 1,000 abortion pills were seized last year at customs, a figure that represents double the amount seized the two years previous. This fact is very much in contradiction with the myth of the anti-choice side that there is no demand for abortion in Ireland.
Save on Child Care: Smash the Patriarchy! Aug 21 0 comments
Child-care in Ireland is so expensive because it is so undervalued. Only through care-workers’ collective withdrawal of labour will those who rely on us realise how vital our work is.
Anarchist in Ireland on todays Marriage equality referendum May 22 1 comments
Southern Ireland is voting toward on whether to allow Marriage equality, that is to extend marriage to couples of the same gender. Young migrants have flocked back to the country in the last 24 hours to help insure the referendum passes. If it does Ireland will be the first country in the work to introduce Marriage equality by popular referendum yet it was one of the last countries in Europe to decriminalise sex between men. In that sense the referendum is about much more than the issue of Marriage but it also a battle against the 'old Ireland' of clerical control and an authoritarian state that sought to control all aspects of the lives of those under its control. The articles that follow are some of the many that the Workers Solidarity Movement have published, for the most part via their Facebook page.
Despite spending in the region of a million euro and getting the backing of the catholic church its now clear that the anti-choice extremists of Youth Defence & the Pro Life Campaign were resoundingly defeated when the Dail finally voted though legislation implementing the X-Case judgment of 21 years ago. This time last year they were confident that they already had enough Fine Gael TD's on board to block the required legislation but they reckoned against the wave of public anger that followed the death of Savita Halappanavar after she was denied a potentially life saving abortion in a Galway hospital.more >>
Cork Queer Pride 2005: What are we Proud of? & who can we rely on? Aug 03 WSM 0 comments
So what are exactly are we proud of? Is it just that we are attracted to a particular gender or genders? Or, are we proud of our courageous history of struggles as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered/ LGBT/ Queer people for our rights, and against bigotry, oppression and hatred?