burkinis or bikinis?

I was asked for my thoughts on the burkini debate and got on a roll – i thought it might be useful to share it

 

“…..yes….we have a problem don’t we! being forced to strip by the religious police of france is a big statement as to where europe (and much of the western world) is going with this demonisation of muslims that is going on

 

for me i am reminded of the women who had their heads shaved for daring to love a nazi soldier…..zaynab and her caravan of women and children having their clothes torn from them as they were walked from iraq to damascus in the sun ….mary magdelene being marketed as a prostitute by the male version of christianity….the midwives and witches being called whores because they could survive without men and very often did ….i think on the whole muslim women are searching for peace and love and God and trying hard to be charitable with their acts and their goods for the sake of Her and that is why they are being demonised in that same vein…

 

for me a woman should always have choice and indeed many of the major religions (including the religion of secularism) have this at their core so why we should now be saying you should dress any kind of certain way – even in the quran it tells us over and again there is no compulsion in religion – covering is a choice that some make and some do not….i think we should all be free to dance along the beach in our thong or swish along it in our burka as long as that is our choice..the debate should come in about what might be better for us!

 

do they really believe that banning a certain way of dressing is going to decrease terror attacks? how many of these terror attacks are actually carried out by women? i’m betting under 1% – as my dear mentor mama tells me all the time we need to start saying male-based violence for ALL of these things….i might suggest that this sort behaviour does little but fan the flames…

 

i might add that i’m equally appalled at religious police in other countries that force women to cover up and demonise those that don’t – this goes both ways for me

 

can we also imagine for a moment if a policeman in iran for example came down on a nun like this and made her remove her habit?! i believe such an act would start a war…that nun is wearing that outfit for the very same reason that this woman had her burkini on because they want to live the tradition of mary (peace be upon her) – what on earth is wrong with that?!

 

we need muslims women’s voices on this issue of course but i am so buoyed by voices of those women that are from other walks of life – it’s a sign to me of how women are coming together to support and grow and protect one another and it is truly a beautiful thing to behold

 

for me this is an issue for all women. if we ignore this we go back to the days of men having ultimate control of women. we still have so far to go – let us not step backwards at this point in the worlds history…”

 

This debate for me is indicative of the stories i face daily with the women that i work with of being forced under duress and “law” to carry out humiliating tasks they would never choose that damage the fabric of their life forever.

 

Advertisements

feminists, tribes and complete w@$%ers

IMG_6666

i woke up this morning fairly peaceful – drinking my tea and catching up on the world i came across the news article that RooshV (google him i WILL NOT be linking to his site in any way and increasing his traffic!) is organising a tribal meeting for men who subscribe to his views this saturday at 8pm in two venues in scotland but also elsewhere in the world. they are meeting in a public place and going off to a secret meeting place.

“…any women attempting to come along will be filmed with footage sent to his worldwide “anti-feminist” network who will then “exact furious retribution”……” read more about it in the article i saw in the national here .  this to me is like a red rag to a bull – of course we have to go and make sure this doesn’t happen. i wonder what that furious retribution is? why not make this threat to any man that might come along too? its not surprising that this threat was directed at women is it? this is a man who believes that rape on private property should be decriminalised. furious retribution from a man who is famous for talking about legalising rape intimates they will be raped or subjected to some kind of sexual violence – even by words on the internet.  i have three women in my family who have been raped – two of them more than once – all on private property – every time it was non-consensual sexual violence – every time they were hurt and damaged beyond belief – every time this will impact their life and those they love forever – every time all our hearts tore apart.  rape is NEVER justified and should NEVER be encouraged and ANYONE that is supporting him is a potential rapist or enabler – we must go to these meeting points as women AND men and object and protest and be heard. sexual violence is very, very common and on the increase – lets change that.

i admit i went to his website to gather further information – he puts his points across very eloquently and articulately under the guise of rebuilding and healing the fabric of our society that has been so damaged by feminism. i read carefully the post entitled “do not have sex with feminists” including comments on how its just like not picking up fat women (for fucks sake!!!!) and how to rid yourself of a feminist if you come across them in a bar or nightclub (which interestingly he suggests you shouldn’t be picking women up in anyway) – i was particularly taken by the advice that if a woman says to you as a man if you believe in equality you are a feminist your response should be lol i don’t talk to feminists and you immediately turn your back on her. i’d like to see how this one goes down in glasgow on saturday night – please do let me know if you hear about the ensuing woman on man horrible violence that is sure to follow this behaviour! guess what rooshV? feminists generally don’t actually want to have sex with misogynistic rape-friendly wankers so i think you’ll all be safe. there was however one woman commenting asking if she could come along to the all male meeting – i like to think she’s going to let off teargas or something but i fear it may be that she has some issues she needs to work through.

i am so angry and what better thing to do with that anger than use the energy. so i wrote this and i call you all to join me at Glasgow’s George Square or Edinburgh’s Grassmarket or wherever it may be in your local city that men are gathering at 8pm to go off to their tribal meeting (don’t even get me started on the term tribal!), contact the police, call your MP’s office, do whatever you can and let your voice be heard. we really need to hear mens voices on this too – we need men to be really vocal in saying they don’t want this for their gender, for their partners, sisters, mothers and daughters. lets shut this down before its even started.

Votes for women

It’s pretty irritating how a lot of people are appropriating and selectively-remembering Suffragette resistance to support shaming people who don’t want to vote.

[See #Suffragettes on Twitter for numerous examples if you haven’t seen it on your own social media feed(s) already.]

Not voting is a totally acceptable response to what a total failure representative democracy is. 

Just because women fought for women to vote doesn’t mean that women have to vote in order to be worthy of that right. By this logic, every pro-choice woman must have an abortion.

Rights are about being able to have your autonomy recognised so you can make choices for yourself instead of being told that you can’t because of who you are.

While we’re on the subject of UK Suffragettes and people ‘fighting’ for women’s votes…

Fighting literally happened. 

When the letter-writing, petition-signing, peaceful protesting, leafletting and general campaigning pleasantries didn’t cut it they split in two groups.

One of them militarised. 

Led by the Pankhursts, the Women’s Social and Political Union burned down churches and empty properties of wealthy elite, smashed shopped windows, defaced all-male spaces like golf courses/cricket clubs/horse racing tracks, went on hunger strike, assaulted police officers, bombed public buildings including Westminster Abbey and destroyed the contents of letterboxes with fire and corrosive acids.

Would you support Suffragettes today?

This part of history is continually, purposefully pushed aside to aid the shaming and silencing of angry, vocal women who take direct action. Support for or any cooperation with the Pankhursts is erased. Davison’s death is viewed as a singular, failed militant act. The rest are remembered liked Mrs. Banks out of Mary-fucking-Poppins. Some of them may have been, but a lot of them weren’t.

Angry voices are important to remember and respect. Violent responses are important to remember and respect. They are intrinsic to any liberation struggle. All responses are worthy and justified. There is no ‘right’ way to respond to your oppression. It is your choice and it is not okay to police the responses of others.

We would not be where we are today without aggressive, hostile activists.
We cannot move forward without them. 

Game-changing militant activists are erased and/or condemned. Prominent activists who have engaged in both peaceful and more aggressive forms of activism are only be remembered in history if their militarism erased.

When Suffragette history is taught and/or discussed, the Pankhursts are criticised for ‘setting the women’s movement back’.

Please, stop.

Even today, in places like Baltimore and Ferguson, when a liberation struggle takes matters into their own hands they’re continually told they are setting their movements back. That this isn’t the correct way to respond. That they shouldn’t result to violence.

Is there any other choice? Why do we care about property more than black people unjustly killed by white, police murderers who get slapped on the wrist and sent home on paid administrative leave?

Do you think people and governments would respond like this if they were actually setting the black rights movement back? No, cos’ people are responding like white supremacy is being challenged. They aren’t responding like the status quo is being maintained.

This is really paternalistic. Oppressed people are not naughty children. They’re human beings demanding the power, autonomy, privilege and social liberation that other people are born into. You can only get so far by engaging with the system.

Women born after the Suffragettes are encouraged to believe that it was not at all to do with those efforts but only the well-behaved, easy-to-swallow ones that made all of the progress all on their own. By following the rules! By keeping the system intact!

I see you, women’s activists, ignoring Baltimore… and I’m side-eying you for it.

This selective history teaches women activists that they’re supposed to be palatable to make progress. That they should exclude angry, radical people and their voices from their spaces.

But instead we should go *all guns blazing* against the Sanitary Product Tax? 
We are still fighting to for the world to recognise and support full reproductive autonomy for women.

But instead we should focus on campaigns like Emma Watson’s UN-backed HeForShe campaign?
Cos’ really, it’s men’s marginalisation in a movement that really isn’t for them that’s important. Not the black women, queer women, trans women, sex working women, working class women and disabled women still purposefully excluded from the women’s movement.

The point of a liberation movement is not to be palatable to your oppressor.

It is to challenge them.
It is to make them uncomfortable.
It is to take their power away for yourself.

Most importantly, it is crucial not to act like your oppressors or aspire to gain the same exploitative, oppressive status of your oppressors within the current system. 

If people like you, you’re doing liberation activism wrong.

So, go ahead…

Remember the Suffragettes, but remember them correctly and don’t think for a second that they’d support vote-shaming tactics.

That is setting the women’s movement back.

This fabulous post was originally posted by the fabulous wysewoman hailey 30th april 2015 Here

don’t bring this 50 shades bullshit to birth work

this morning i woke up and along with millions of others began scrolling my facebook feed. i’ve been following the coverage of the 50 shades movie release with some interest.  i joined #50DollarsNot50Shades and have been happily promoting this fantastic initiative to send $50 to your local womens refuge rather than buying a ticket to watch what the reviews are telling me is a really poor film regardless of the subject matter.

so as i scrolled down past cats pushing glasses of water off desks, coverage of the terrible chapel hill shootings and beloveds holiday shots this morning there was a very distasteful presence of memes made by midwives suggesting all  the birthkeepers better prepare for a spike in the birth rate come november after the release of this movie. it has turned my stomach.  i believe birthkeepers have a responsibility to be feminist and woman-centred always fighting for women to be kept safe and flourish, to be empowered and to protect them while they realise and actualise their own strength and power. more than anyone else we know the impact of sexual trauma on a woman – i have held so many women while they wept and broke in half with the pain of their sexual abuse in my role as birthkeeper.  this smacked of those same women trivialising something that can be so damaging, demoralising, haunting and often times deadly – i am despairing – i am crestfallen and i am really fucking angry!

now i’m all for everyone getting DOWN in whatever way they want – seriously i have no hang ups about what people get up to when they are being consensual. thing is with this book and this subsequent movie is that it’s not hot sex in a safe context – it’s hot sex in a very dangerous context.  this blog post however isn’t to pull that apart as many, many others have done so in a wonderful way.

this blog post is about how on earth women who are supporting women around birth can think its appropriate to joke about this! since when is it okay to joke about stalking, domestic violence and sexual abuse? i grew up in a home with a very charming, handsome, rich, charismatic and horribly abusive and controlling man – i know how this goes down and i know how far it permeates – female members of my family have read this book and found it hot regardless of the trauma they have suffered. you know i really hope lots of people have some great really hot sex this weekend and i hope that some of this sex results in babies or i’d be out of a job but what i want more than anything is for us all to THINK about this for a minute. is it about hot sex or is it that the mainstream have now decided that this kind of abuse is hot ? many abused women stay remember and have sex and express love and still find their man hot – it’s a very fine line that is easily crossed – as a dear facebook friend said and i quote “.. replace Grey with that creepy guy working down the road in tesco, and the whole thing would not be regarded as quite so harmless and hot anymore. so as long as you are a hot guy, abusive is ok….women should probably just count themselves lucky….”

please, please birthkeepers i emplore you to take down any jokes that have this distasteful subject at its heart – please, please i beg you do not bring this 50 shades bullshit to birth work!

fifty

nicola mahdiyyah goodall is a revert muslim who grew up with hip hop based in edinburgh, scotland and london, england. she works with women trying and mainly succeeding to build circles of knowledge and community primarily with birth.

she is also the director of wysewomen publishing and facilitates wysewomen workshops and red tent doula courses.

Freedom

Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.
Coretta Scott King

I am very blessed to spend much of my working life around women and this weekend I have been surrounded by brave, intelligent and beautiful women. Women who are open to learning, building and exploring their inner and outer worlds. The predominant theme it would seem was freedom. Not the expected external feminist, post-modern woman-struggle misogynist-battling freedom but the internal struggle for liberation or rather lack of it. How can we expect to save our world as its soul if we are internally incarcerated?

I have heard woman after woman tell me that their goal this year is to silence the sabotaging side of their inner dialogue. The need to carefully dissolve the incredibly intricate and convincing story their minds are creating about whether they are good enough…fair enough…..too milky white….not dark enough…..pretty enough……a failure……an under-achiever…….stimulating enough or not……successful……a terrible decision maker….a bad mother….you know the lyrics to this song – all women do. Sometimes this list feels endless!

I spent a wretched new year’s eve in bed with flu listening to the sounds of my family having fun, receiving messages of frivolity and celebration, woken again and again by messages, revellers and fireworks – Edinburgh really knows how to celebrate New Year’s Eve! By 2am I was completely convinced the entire world was having a good time without me – on purpose! I soon realised how ridiculous this place was my mind had taken me as the threads all slipped away in the morning and I got the real story from the world via WhatsApp, FaceTime, Facebook and all the other streams of virtual consciousness we allow to infiltrate so frequently. One by one the reality began to unravel my phenomenal story of world joy while I suffered. Tales of mediocre events, bad hangovers, disappointed evenings as well as a good times showed me just how much we torture ourselves with our imaginal realities. Our capacity to have someone stealing, cheating, lying, rejecting or loving us is incredible.

Again and again I have gathered story after story of blame. The template for this sabotage is made over the years by our mothers, our societies, our cultures, our media, our education systems, who we allow to influence and teach us, organised religion and endless other threads. These may also be the positive and strengthening influences we can harness to lift ourselves but many times they are whispering and cajoling us to think until the 90’s our backsides were too big and now seemingly they cannot be ever big enough! There are no doubts that these threads inform our inner world but should we allow them to have the power to pull the puppet strings of our self-esteem, our direction, our satisfaction with life and how we value what we have achieved thus far.

This last season I have also been asking myself the same questions over and over again. I am playing with process to figure out what they are? Are they true? Where do they come from? Is there any basis or hard evidence for what my mind is conjuring up? Some of the women around this weekend had some fantastic suggestions too ….talking back to the voice….”No, thank you, not now” “Thank you for that – I will deal with it later” “Fuck off!” “Are you sure?” “Do I really believe that?” “If that is true then what shall I do about it?” It was really powerful for some to write down the beliefs they wanted to discard on a piece of paper and burn it. I believe all spiritual traditions try to silence this sabotaging inner voice in order to let the higher voice rise. Often working with the breath, the body and the voice – the yogis have the so and the hum, the Sufis have the Al-lah, the Buddhists the chant and as that inner stillness is achieved we can really go to work on what we can do to rise up and better ourselves.

How about when we hear that story start up we yell STOP!!! Not now!!! Thank you for your opinion now get the hell out of here!! How about we stop judging ourselves first and surely this leads to the cessation of our most damaging sin as women – judgement of other women? How about we raise ourselves up so that we can really be in a space to elevate others? How about we be a sister to ourselves first before we expect to foster sisterhood with others? How about we look at how much we love ourselves before we try to share our love with others? How about we look at ourselves naked in the mirror and truly and authentically say we are beautiful because you are beautiful – we all are. All the wrinkles that mark the passage of your life, the stretch marks that mark the passage of your babies, the grey hairs that show your wisdom, the teenage spots that show that change is afoot and you are finally becoming a woman, the big lips, the thin lips and the freckles. How about we free ourselves from these chains and how about before we even attempt the external revolution we cause the internal one so that we can truly lead as strong, whole women. Then truly this is how we find our freedom.