Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Feminist Times – a response to Taboo Corner.

Today, with much anticipation, a new feminist Magazine was launched. Feminist Times – Life, not Lifestyle.  I was expecting a mix of news, interesting women, issues that aren’t reported in mainstream media and generally something that would fill the gap since the demise of Spare Rib. Incidentally, the founders of Spare Rib had not wanted to be associated with this project, and looking at the content, I think I can see why.

I stumbled upon ‘Taboo Corner’ – which, as the name suggests, will be discussing taboo topics. I'd expect these to be related to feminism, or women’s issues in general. Today’s issue actually contains an article so full of victim blaming and woman-hating nonsense, I am surprised the editorial team thought it acceptable to publish.

‘Sterilise her’, is the title. My first thought was this might be about a woman who didn’t want children, and was struggling with the medical profession taking this seriously. We know women find it difficult to be respected by medics when they choose sterilisation as a form of contraception, knowing that they don’t want to have children.  When I requested a hysterectomy to cure my fibroids and endometriosis, my medical team repeatedly sent me home to ‘think about it’ and questioned me incessantly about whether I would want to have more children – despite me saying that I didn’t want any more children. They even asked me how I would feel after a hysterectomy if my existing child died, as if I would want another child to replace her.

As I read through this article, the crux of the matter became clear.  The author believes in forced sterilisation for women, like this doesn’t happen already. She knows someone who gave birth to a child, and then ‘decided to neglect the child’. Now I don’t know about you, but neglecting a child is something I feel we should all be concerned about. Having a professional child protection background means I have seen child neglect, and I know that it does not happen in a vacuum.  Parents don’t just ‘decide’ to neglect a child.  They are caught up in behaviours that are damaging and have root causes, which need to be attended to in order to solve child neglect.

I read on, incredulous that someone has decided to tell half a story – after all, the mother who ‘decided’ to neglect a child isn’t able to share her experiences.  Neither are the social workers, who ‘became more of a hindrance than a help’. This comment was next:

“Does the mother seek help? Want to get her child back and earn the right to be called her mother and look after her? No she doesn’t.”

It’s no wonder that the mother didn’t seek help from the writer.  After all, regardless of my circumstances, I’d not seek help from someone who was so judgemental about me, she thought it OK for me to have a life changing medical procedure without consent.

How did the woman in question get pregnant?  Was this a mythical act, without a male partner? Or do fathers not count? Why isn’t he responsible for child protection?  Where is he, when the child needs looking after?  Why isn’t he ensuring the child isn’t neglected?

Or maybe she was raped, and that’s how she became pregnant? Maybe she couldn't appropriate termination services? Maybe she decided to take the pregnancy to term and the trauma impacted her too greatly, and she couldn’t care for the child, as it deserved?

Telling women to ‘seek help’ and yet ignoring the decimation of women’s services and the barriers to accessing these is victim blaming.  Making women wholly responsible for a pregnancy, without reference to the circumstances of the pregnancy or the father is victim blaming. Writing a piece about child protection and erasing the father is victim blaming. Women are not wholly responsible for pregnancy and child bearing.  It is not possible to get pregnant without sperm. Making women wholly responsible for these things is woman hating.

The end of the article contains possibly the most ignorant and offensive quote I have ever read:

"Instead she continues to sleep about with men, picks an ex convict, gets pregnant again and surprise surprise the cycle continues."

I am too angry to analyse this comment fully. Needless to say, ‘Sleep about with men’ is judgemental and uses an unnecessary euphemism – we know the writer means ‘have sex with’. ‘Picks an ex convict’ is judgemental both of her choices and shows ignorance about those who have criminal records. ‘Surprise surprise’ is patronising, unhelpful and judgemental. I am too busy banging my head off the keyboard to look at this comment in more depth!

Reading this article, I felt like I was playing ‘woman-hating bingo’ via a Daily Mail article, not an article in a magazine purporting to be supportive of women. This victim blaming, woman-hating nonsense has no place in a ‘feminist’ magazine, no matter how many clicks they are aiming for.

I am glad I saved my money and didn’t join as a member.  I do, however, know many women who did.  I will be sending this piece to them, and will ask them to reconsider their membership.

After all, who wants to pay for woman hating when we can access MailOnline for free?

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3 thoughts on “Feminist Times – a response to Taboo Corner.

  • Admin says:

    Thank you very much for writing this! We were also waiting with anticipation for Feminist Times, and feel disappointed that they published this without really thinking about what the response was likely to be.

    Hold the front page – some women are hateful about other women. We’re not sure that this is news, and we may all hold views that others may not agree with. However, internalised misogyny in this form should not have passed the Editorial Team without comment.

    Allowing such blatant disregard for the issues behind the ‘decision’ to neglect a child is wilfully ignorant, in our opinion.

  • Admin says:

    Feminist Times have responded to the concerns about this piece, and have now removed the original article & apologised.

    http://preview1.namesco.net/~feministtimes.com/?p=75

    Thanks to Feminist Times for listening, and hearing, the concerns of women.

  • […] sterilisations after activists took to Twitter to express their outrage. Online campaign group Everyday Victim Blaming led the protest against the piece that was on the site’s “Taboo Corner”: […]