Tuesday, 29 May 2018

One Step Closer: Safe Access Zones for Clinics in NSW

A year ago, in May 2017, the Abortion Law Reform bill–spearheaded by Greens’ MP Dr Mehreen Faruqi–was sadly defeated in the upper house. The bill was attempt to provide safe access zones and ensure removal of abortion from the NSW crimes act, allowing women (and of course non-binary and trans men, all affected by our patriarchal laws) to access necessary medical care without judgement or harassment.

Though community opinion polling revealed the people of NSW overwhelmingly behind the removal of abortion offences from the NSW crimes act, a majority male parliament voted against the bill.

Credit: Twitter

Dr Faruqi said at the time:
“I am disappointed that the NSW Legislative Council has voted to keep abortion a Crime in NSW, a position that is completely out of step with modern medical practice, community expectation and laws in almost all other states…  But the genie is out of the bottle now, more people than ever are awakened to this injustice and I am confident that under a less conservative parliament, less dominated by conservative men, abortion will be taken out of the Crimes Act and women will be able to access reproductive health clinics without harassment in future.”

She was right.

Now, only a year later, we’ve had an incremental win. Labor’s Penny Sharpe co-sponsored a bill with Nationals Trevor Khan. Not attempting to remove abortion from the NSW Crimes Act this time, but instead focusing on 150m safe access zones or ‘exclusion zones’ around abortion clinics. This bill, as you’ve probably heard this week, passed the Upper House, where the previous Abortion Law Reform bill was defeated.

This bill, if passed, would bring NSW in line with Victoria, Tasmania, ACT and Northern Territory.

The bill, which amends the Public Health Act, proposes establishing 150-metre safe access zones outside clinics. Currently, anti-choice abortion protestors can harass women and people around the entryways to the clinics.

Paul Nattrass, practice manager at The Private Clinic has opined to The Sydney Morning Herald that the harassment is meant to “increase the emotional cost of having an abortion”, which I would believe. He states: “on days when the protestors are outside it’s common to see every fourth or fifth woman upset or emotional.”

This bill would make it an offence to harass outside clinics.

“This bill makes the important distinction that what is happening outside clinics in New South Wales is not protest, it is the targeting of individuals...” MP Penny Sharpe said, “who are seeking lawful medical treatment.” (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-24/abortion-bill-passes-upper-house-banning-pro-life-protestors/9797464)

Co-sponsor Nationals MP Trevor Khan said of the bill:
“Women should not be interfered with, they should not be intimidated or harassed anywhere, but certainly not near reproductive health clinics…Nor should people communicate with women by giving them distressing material or calling them baby murders or child killers.”

As shown by the footage in this article by Gina Rushton, the anti-choice protestors try to exploit people of colour, telling them they can help them with “immigration problems” if they keep their baby.

In this article, you can see the anti-choice protestors punching the partner of a woman inside the clinic.

And in this piece, Bridget Dominic recounts being harassed on her way to access a clinic, where she was just having an IUD inserted.

“It’s hard to overstate how confrontational it is to have people block your way and shout at you on the street.”

This bill would make it illegal to obstruct or interfere with people accessing the clinics. It would make it illegal to communicate, in relation to abortions, in a manner that could cause distress or anxiety to a person accessing the clinic and this bill would make it illegal to record people accessing the clinic or to distribute visual data of people accessing the clinic.

This week, Ireland also voted to repeal the 8th Amendment, which for all intents and purposes was an abortion ban. Having this bill pass our own Upper House marks the changing tide of public opinion on abortion.

If the bill passes the Lower House, it will become law, and we will be one step closer to removing abortion from the criminal code and bringing NSW more in line with most of Australia and the developed world. It would enshrine a rejection of abortion stigma into law. We need to end the stigma so the women of NSW have agency to make decisions about reproductive health.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said of the bill: “I appreciate the intent of the bill and for that reason I'm likely to support it”

Let’s hope she’s in good company.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Why Being a Feminist Takes Guts

There are some jobs in life that require you to stand up to attacks, some of them for a sustained period of time, and master both defensive and offensive strategies to survive.  The military comes to mind, as does the police, security forces and government.  If you are in one of these positions, you need to brace yourself for attacks either on your person or against your character.
Feminists also have to be prepared, all day and every day, for attacks, both physical and emotional.  The difference is that people doing the aforementioned jobs get paid and respected, whereas feminists don’t get paid and are rarely valued or respected.  They also don’t get taken seriously.  For example, a military General’s knowledge of battle strategies is considered superior to the layperson’s knowledge of this subject, but when a feminist states a learned fact, every Tom, Dick and (sometimes) Mary has a more “valid” opinion on the topic (frequently based on a tabloid article they once read or snippets of a TV show they once saw).  When the social issues that feminists research, write about and study get brought up in conversation with others, that feminist better be prepared for stubborn, ill-informed views, patronizing comments, eye rolling, derisive laughter or abrupt dismissals.  The mindset is that feminism isn’t a “real” job, so it doesn’t deserve respect or recognition.

The truth is, feminism is hard work, and it’s hardcore work.  In some ways, it’s more hardcore than being a soldier or a police officer.  At least when you’re an officer you get to go home at the end of your shift and forget about the day’s activities.  When you’re a feminist, you’re aware of how you’re being condescended to, threatened and misrepresented pretty much ALL the time.  When you’re active, you come into conflict with Men’s Rights Activists who declare feminism to be the enemy of all men and source of all their woes; you encounter trolls on your blogs and websites who threaten you with rape and/or murder; you hear disparaging remarks from media icons (like radio hosts) and you even get attacked by other women for challenging gender stereotypes (“Oh but all girls love to wear pink!  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a Disney princess!”).  When you’re “inactive” you’ll go home, switch on the TV and get bombarded by sexist advertising and stereotypes in nearly every sitcom and program.  You’ll notice subtle sexism in virtually everything you read, see and hear.  What has been seen cannot be unseen.

Image source: https://imgflip.com/tag/exasperated?sort=latest

Feminists make it their mission to bring light to important issues that are negatively affecting our society.  They expose the horrors of sex-trafficking, modern-day slavery, gender-based violence, extreme misogyny in advertising and media and other confronting and unpleasant things.  They challenge an oppressive social system that benefits middle-to-upper class straight, white males while the rest of us suffer varying degrees of prejudice and discrimination.  Depending on what country and political system she (or he) lives in, a feminist runs the risk of being locked up, punished or silenced for asserting her rights and stating her views.  She does all this because she believes it is important, that it is necessary and that it is right; the same reason is often cited by the police officer, the solider and the politician.  The major difference is, despite its proud history (Feminism has started no wars, taken no lives and tortured no one in its struggle for women’s rights), feminism is treated with disdain.  The smear campaign started and sustained by the far-right has changed feminism into a dirty word that many young women now reject.   So it’s a pretty hard job to do, when few people recognise the value of it, including the very people you’re trying to support.  We award soldiers, officers and politicians for the work they do, but most of the work of Australia’s pioneering women goes unnoticed or unreported.

Despite the often severe subject matter these brave women (and some men) deal with, they still manage to express themselves with wit, humour and finesse.  (Feminist comedy is some of the most spiriting and hilarious you’ll encounter.) They are open to discussions, dialogue and debate.  However, sometimes they get cranky, because when you’re attacked from all sides, nearly all of the time, it can put you in a bad mood.

So next time you feel like telling a feminist that she is overreacting to a sexist remark on the radio, or to a joke based on stereotypes, just remember that she has to deal with this shit day in and day out and that she’s doing a thankless job in a hostile environment.   That takes guts, and a little recognition of this fact can go a long way towards reinvigorating a weary soldier.

By: Tessa Barratt. 
First published August 2013 on DiscordiaZine.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Lazarus Trial and a Case for Changing the Laws Around Consent

You probably heard that Luke Lazarus was found not guilty of sexual assault this week. What you might not have heard is that he was found not guilty despite a jury and two judges determining that the complainant, Saxon Mullins, had NOT consented to sex with him. Upon finding that piece of information out, most people are confused.

If someone doesn’t consent, isn’t that rape?

Well, the answer to that question might depend on where you live.

Saxon Mullins’ identity has been protected for five years because she is a sexual assault complainant. Five years ago, Saxon Mullins was eighteen and had the first sexual encounter in her life. I don’t want to detail that encounter here. It’s Mullins’ story. If you aren’t familiar with this case, here are Mullins’ own words, but if you can’t read them, for brevity I will point out that the sex happened within four minutes of the pair meeting and it was anal.

Mullins calls the encounter rape.
Lazarus states it was a misunderstanding.

Lazarus’ defence to the allegations was generally that Mullins followed directives during the encounter and did not leave, and this was enough to convince him she was consenting. Mullins has explained her actions as being alone with a stranger she just met, and being scared. She said she went into autopilot.

This is something many rape survivors recognise: shutting down/freezing.

Stat according to victimfocus.org.uk

During his first trial in 2015, Lazarus was found guilty by a judge and jury. He served 11 months in prison. His legal team appealed the court and due to media saturation, he was granted a retrial alone with Judge Robyn Tupman. While Judge Tupman agreed with the previous judge and jury that Mullins didn’t consent, it was not clear - beyond reasonable doubt - that Lazarus knew she didn’t consent.

In Judge Tupman’s judgement, she said: “Whether or not she consented is but one matter. Whether or not the accused knew that she was not consenting is another.”

Judge Tupman decided the prosecution in the 2015 trial didn’t prove that Lazarus didn’t have reasonable grounds for believing Saxon consented. This was because Mullins had lacked resistance. Judge Tupman also referred to “contemporary morality”. What this seems to relate to is that Lazarus had friends testify, that they had anal sex on first dates, therefore it might not be unreasonable for Lazarus to believe a virgin 18-year-old would want to have anal sex within literally four minutes of meeting someone. (note: this is my understanding of it and I am a layperson, not versed in legalese).

The general idea of Tupman’s judgement was that Mullins didn’t consent, but because Mullins did not physically resist, there is doubt that Lazarus truly knew she was not consenting.

So, how did this situation come about? How did Saxon Mullins’ justice get stuck in a grey area?

Crown prosecutors are the public prosecutors in our legal system, but Australia’s states don’t have common consent laws. In NSW, when someone is on trial for sexual assault, the crown has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the complainant did not consent.

Anthony Whealy QC, a former Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW, explained what effect this phrasing has within trials:

“(this creates) the unfortunate consequence of focusing almost exclusively on the complainant ... and so the trials tend to excoriate the complainant, unfairly in many cases, and when you have a jury there, they can’t help but be affected by that sort of cross examination which can be very powerful and very damaging (to the complainant).

…(in trials, the crown must also prove)… that the defendant knew that consent was not given or was reckless as to whether consent was given. Or if he had a belief that consent was given, that it has to be on reasonable grounds.”

Other states and territories have different wording in laws in regards to what consent is. The best practice example is said to be either Tasmania or Victoria, wherein (according to Anthony Whealy):

“the crown must prove that the complainant gave free agreement to sexual intercourse taking place ... and the judge is asked to direct the jury that if the complaint said or did nothing at the time of the sexual intercourse, that means she did not give her free agreement.”

This is an important difference. This wording change means that instead of trying to prove that complainant did not consent, the crown must prove the complainant gave free agreement. This switches the focus from the complainant to the accused. In this case, instead of focusing on the ways the complainant didn’t consent (i.e. when did Mullins say no, why didn’t Mullins leave, why did Mullins follow directives) the trial can focus on the ways the accused thought they had free agreement to the sexual intercourse taking place. The burden of proof, in a way, shifts from complainant to accused.

Mullins has endured two trials and two appeals. She has endured where so many women would have given up or never even started. And we should recognise her bravery, in taking this to court in the first place (many women wouldn’t) and enduring the trial and now, sacrificing her anonymity to talk to Four Corners about her ordeal.

Because Mullins has continued to push for justice, and talked to Four Corners, NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman has questioned if the law in NSW is adequate

“What this shows is that there’s a real question about whether our law in New South Wales is clear enough, is certain enough, is fair enough. That's why I’ve asked the Law Reform Commission to look at the whole question of consent in sexual assault trials.”

NSW Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward says: “The key message the investigation drove home was the need to explicitly ask for permission to have sex … If it’s not an enthusiastic ‘yes’, then it’s a ‘no’.”

Changing the laws brings the need to discuss enthusiastic consent, what it looks like and how to obtain it. Enthusiastic consent not only offers greater protection for, especially, women, it also offers a new world for women where the bar for our sexual encounters is not as low as “well she didn’t move away from me, so I assume she wanted it”.

Our laws seek to enshrine what we believe as a society. Ensuring sexual encounters begin as an enthusiastic yes is a starting point that shifts all parties to actively pleasure seeking people, instead of one aggressor and a motionless body. It removes assumption. It forces us to be clear and to seek input from our sexual partners about what they do and do not want. It forces us to need interest, and excitement from both partners.

If Lazarus had been tried under the Tasmania/Victoria laws, would he be guilty? We can’t say. But if we can review our laws and bring them in line with best practice, maybe we’ll see for the sexual assault trials in future.

This review may be a way to move our laws surrounding consent, and our justice, out of the grey area.

By: Tee Linden

Friday, 11 May 2018

Why Chronic Illness is a Feminist Issue

When people hear of conditions like Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, Endometriosis and Lupus, they are often only vaguely aware of what they are and almost always ignorant of how they affect individual sufferers. There are so many different illnesses out there and no one person can know of all of them.  But the above mentioned are in fact quite common, and I bet you know of someone who has at least one of these syndromes/diseases.

You might assume that, given their prevalence, a great deal of research and funding has gone into these illnesses, but the opposite is true. These conditions primarily affect women, and medicine was and still is a largely male-dominated field, from almost all-male animal studies to majority male human studies. The gatekeepers to the profession are also mostly men, meaning they are less likely to study illnesses that especially affect women. Indeed, non-life threatening illnesses dominated by female patients often lack funding and research and are poorly understood by GPs and specialists alike.

In Maya Dunsenbery’s new book, “Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed and Sick”, the historical reasons for this stark gender bias in research are laid out, along with the long-reaching consequences that affect women to this day.  While some progress has been made in recent decades to address the problem, serious issues remain, right from the preclinical start.  On the topic of animal models, she writes:

“The persistence of male animal models is especially troubling when it comes to conditions that are more common among women.  As the authors of a 2009 review of the male bias in basic pain research concluded, given that women are disproportionately impacted by chronic pain disorders, ‘one could argue that preclinical research that excludes females is incomplete at best or invalid at worst’. Nevertheless, a 2005 study found that nearly 80% of animal pain studies published in recent years had used only males”.

The argument most often given for all-male models in rats and mice is that females have hormonal cycles that could muddy results.  The same argument was used to exclude women from studies, and still is used to exclude menstruating or pregnant women.  But think of how ridiculous that argument is.  If the problem is that the female physiology is different in that it’s affected by hormonal cycles, then isn’t it essential that we do all-female studies on a new drug or treatment?  Shouldn’t we investigate how a dose of medicine could have different effects on the female body than the male (we do this for alcohol) or how symptoms of say, a heart attack differ in men than they do for women?  I could go on and on with examples, but the fact remains that women are dying because sex-based differences are NOT being explored, because male is assumed to be the default.  You can’t have it both ways.

Dusenbery writes, “…if the results of the study do vary significantly due to fluctuations in ovarian hormones, that’s all the more reason females needs to be studied, no matter the cost”.

feministing.com writer Maya Dusenbery's new book on the poor health of women's healthcare

The reality is that right from the get-go, women are left behind in medical research and therefore treatment, and it’s even worse for women of colour and low-income women. There are also persistent attitudes towards women’s pain and suffering, stemming from long-held myths surrounding hysteria (now known as “conversion disorder”) and that women are just delicate beings who suffer more from imagined problems (the “it’s all in your head” argument has pernicious roots).  Women with Fibromyalgia and other similar ailments are often dismissed or given the wrong treatment.

In her piece, “Chronic Pain and the Denial of Care for Black Women,” Alexandra Moffett-Bateau writes, “In an article for the New York Times, Laurie Edwards, author of In the Kingdom of the Sick, argues that women are sent to therapists, instead of provided pain management, in large part because they are frequently assumed to be overly emotional and hysterical by emergency room doctors. When the patient is young, Black, and feminine-of-center, her assumed lack of believability is compounded by the intersection of her identities.”

 There are few, if any areas in life, that aren’t affected by sexism and discrimination. As a woman-identifying person navigating this world, you can’t be thinking about how the patriarchy is affecting every facet of your life – it’s too exhausting, and depressing, to continuously contemplate. But we DO need to think about how gender bias in medicine is affecting our healthcare. Women are falling through the cracks and many are dying as a result of this criminal lack of care and understanding. If the system doesn’t fail them and lead to their suffering or death, some simply give up after a long, fruitless journey, and take their own lives.

Chronic illnesses that primarily affect women are being underfunded and under researched and that needs to change, not just because it’s unjust, but because this bias against properly investigating and understanding women’s health conditions is something that negatively affects us all. As feminists, we need to advocate for better rules and policies governing the way medical studies are performed, analysed and taught.  Advocacy groups around the world have been fighting hard for better inclusion and representation of women and other groups within mainstream medical research, but they need public support in order to be successful.

 “It’s important to remember the role that grassroots advocacy played in getting the knowledge gap on the radar to begin with, Pinn says. ‘It was advocacy by individual women, groups of women and then women in positions of power’ – within the biomedical community and Congress – ‘who really brought forward the concept of women’s health’. They challenged women’s exclusion from clinical research, demanded greater attention to neglected women’s conditions, and raised the concern that there may be important sex/gender differences that ‘hadn’t been considered important enough to study’”. [Doing Harm, pg 57].

While we have made progress over the decades, there is still a long way to go. So next time you see a fundraiser for a woman-dominated illness, please consider donating. Write to your representative about the importance of stronger rules that force medical institutions to include women and minority groups in their research. Support your local women’s health centre or advocacy group.  Get active and get out there. Without pressure from the people, things aren’t going to advance any further. It’s time to stop leaving women behind in healthcare.

Image from the excellent website butyoudontlooksick.com

Tessa Barratt is the President of The Sydney Feminists. She is also a sufferer of Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain Syndrome and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Like most people with chronic pain, she is tired of the endless carousel of doctors and specialists who appear to know nothing about her illnesses, and is on a quest this year to advocate for better research in women’s health.
May 12th is International Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Should We Remember ‘Rosie The Riveter’?

The ‘Rosie the Riveter’ poster is a cultural and historical feminist icon. The image first emerged during World War II as propaganda to promote women’s involvement in the workforce while men were at war. Controversies such as women’s wage, celebrity involvement and ‘Rosie’ as a white feminist symbol are covered in this article. Although the image was not initially intended as a symbol for the women’s liberation, the political dissemination of the image and powerful social reception are worth looking into. This article will use Doerr & Milman’s (2014) method of visual analysis. This involves a content and iconographic analysis of the image as well as a contextual analysis of its emergence. This article will additionally explore how the image is still used and responded to in contemporary society.

Content Analysis and Iconography
‘Rosie the Riveter’ is an image of a white woman wearing working man’s uniform with rolled up sleeves staring directly into the camera under the speech bubble “We Can Do It!”. This body language and costuming is used to symbolise masculinity and male power in women. The flexed arm alludes to upper body strength, again communicating the message that women are equal to or as strong and capable as men. The blue collared shirt communicates the message of the poster that women are being recruited for work. The words “We Can Do It!” are capitalised, bold, white on a dark background followed by an explanation mark. The text works as an extension of the visual meaning of the poster, by further creating an audience-poster connection, increasing feelings of empowerment hence, encouraging female workplace involvement. The colours in the image: yellow background contrasted by blue uniform and text “We Can Do It!”, allow for juxtaposition of the actor and messages in the image. These bold and direct signs in the poster demand female audience attention. By studying how these signs and cultural symbols work together to create an image, one can see how effective imagery can be in social movements.

Contextual analysis
The original poster - illustrated by a man, J. Howard Miller in 1944 (Catrina, 1995) - was not initially intended as a symbol for women’s liberation. It was used as a propaganda tool for the War Advertising Council (WAC) to hire women as replacements for male workers whom have gone to war. The poster was disseminated all over cities on magazines and newspapers and used in advertising campaigns to hire women and to sell products (Catrina, 1995). The reception of this poster was astounding; thousands of women joined the workforce which resulted in a permanent increase in female employment till this day (Bellou & Cardia, 2016). But controversy surrounding ‘Rosie the Riveter’ leaves feminist scholars debating if Rosie should be remembered as a symbol of feminism. Firstly, women whom were hired during the war were paid half as much as men were (Catrina, 1995) and when men returned to work after the war, the women were fired with minimal compensation (Catrina, 1995).
Rosie’s character – a white, young, seemingly-abled and average sized woman – is often critiqued as portraying and celebrating a white brand of feminism. Kimble & Olson (2006) critique the poster as visual rhetoric for the brand of white feminism. They argue the illustrators used a white, attractive female character to capture audience attention, presumed (preferably) white, although, many of the women whom seeked work at the time were migrants and people of colour. By featuring white women for the name and face of feminism, this deflected attention from racial minority women further disempowering those who experienced both gendered and racial layers of marginalisation (Kimble & Olson, 2006).


Contemporary analysis
Today, ‘Rosie the Riveter’ is still used as a symbol of feminism in schools and in culture. Celebrities such as BeyoncĂ©, Demi Lovato, P!nk, Kendall Jenner and Patina Miller [4] have all recreated images of themselves dressed as ‘Rosie the Riveter’. This has critics and academics debating the nature, purpose and the effects of ‘celebrity feminism’. Social activist scholars criticise this as a commercialisation of feminism which the capitalist elite use for their own economic gain, with little regard of negative effects if the wrong messages are put forth. But, most can agree that having powerful social influencers – diverse in ethnicity, gender, age and ability – can only add visibility, inclusiveness and strength to the social movement.

By: Patricia Chaar

Bellou, A., & Cardia, E. (2016). Occupations after WWII: The legacy of Rosie the Riveter. Explorations in Economic History. 62, 124-142.
Catrina, E. (1995). Rosie the Riveter: Fashion and the factory. State University of New York. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Doerr, N., & Milman, N. (2014). “Working with Images” in Donatella ella Porta (Ed), Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research, Oxford Scholarship Online.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Are men entitled to sex?

Following the Toronto attack, where Alek Minassian drove a van into a crowd of people, killing 10, many people have been questioning exactly this. Because before Minassian turned a van into a weapon, he called for an Incel Rebellion.
People are questioning this because they aren’t quite sure what to do with Minassian. What he did seems like a terrorist attack, but mainstream media is struggling to come up with how it is. What was his goal? I see narratives shifting towards Minassian as mentally disturbed. I’m sure he was. But he was also a terrorist. His goal was to terrorise women and “normies” under the banner of male supremacy and entitlement. Because Minassian felt he was entitled to female bodies, and he felt he was being denied, he decided to enact violence.
Incel means involuntary celibate – and the people in the community take this title on themselves. It means they feel they are forced to be celibate, because society is unfair.
When people make a scrape at the first layers of the incel community, they come away with the idea that incels are just men who can’t get dates. It’s when you enter further that you see the sickness in this community. Incels don’t just bemoan their lack of sexual encounters – they blame women for what they see as an injustice.
People experience dry spells, a lack of dates, all the time when it comes to relationships. Women and men. But incels don’t seem to have an analysis on this. Most people, upon finding themselves in a dry spell and actively looking for a relationship, would try picking up a hobby or going to the gym. Incels seem to believe there is nothing that can be done to improve chances of getting a date as the deck is stacked against them, that there is a vast conspiracy and that women (or gold digging femoids as I’ve seen us called) are only interested in a minority of men. They too, seem to only be interested in a minority of very ‘traditionally attractive’ women.
Reddit shut down its ‘incels’ board back in November 2017 because it was seething with posts promoting rape and violence against women. I’m not going to link to any of the incel posts because they can be distressing to read, but many revolve around their anger that women have agency to have sex with whoever they want. I’ve read bizarre rants about how feminists are controlling the government, how the sexual revolution created an imbalance in sexual equality (I suppose because women can choose who they want to have sex with), and that makeup should be banned because it allows women to become “7s or 8s”.
It’s hard to take it seriously at first. But this is at least the second radicalised incel to wage an attack, resulting in multiple deaths. The first would be Elliot Rodger. Not all incels are murderous, far from it. But the community they've created and the misogyny they contribute is literally dangerous. Lonely, depressed men getting fed a toxic worldview that offers a reason for their circumstances and 'taking the black pill' as they call it, is not uncommon.
The idea that internet misogyny can radicalise lonely men with low self-esteem would not surprise most feminists.
Screen capture from "Women as Reward - Tropes vs Women in Video Games." Originally found at Feminist Current.

But entitled men don’t just exist in incel subreddits. Incels are just one possible conclusion to this issue we have in a society where men feel like women owe them something. I’m not saying a man calling you a sexist slur because you won’t talk to him on the train is the same as incel posting about or enacting violence against women, but to me it’s all part of the same beast. It’s all misogyny.
We need to confront this idea in society that men are owed something from women. Because women don’t owe men our time, our emotional or physical labour, our bodies. Nothing.
I observe how deeply embedded this idea is, that women owe men something, when I see people opining that Minassian should have just visited a sex worker. Even this allows for the insidious idea that male access to female bodies is inevitable. It isn’t.
I need to point out as an aside that we, as a society, shouldn’t expect sex workers to have to deal with violent and disturbed men so that the rest of us don’t have to. I know it will shock some when I say this, but no one is entitled to sex workers either. Sex workers have the right to turn away dangerous men and so they should, and it’s obvious that Minassian is dangerous.
There’s no human right to sex, not for men – or women. Not being able to have sex is not oppression. Women don’t have to be attracted to anyone, and no woman has to spend time with dangerous men just to make them feel better. Women don’t owe men anything. Our push towards equality has always been met with the furious anger of the entitled. They are angrier each time we make progress, each time we close off more access.
It’s not all darkness, not even in the shadow cast by this hate-filled attack. Because while the internet allows space for this misogyny to fester, you have to remember: it allows women to connect and thrive too.
By: Tee Linden

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