Crunk Feminist Collective posted a tweet and asked: How do you define your feminism? Share your definitions here or on twitter under the hashtag .”

In response to their hashtag and via tweets, here is how I defined my feminism: (#MyFeminismIs)

My feminism is one that acknowledges

"Femininity is depicted as weakness, the sapping of strength, yet masculinity is so fragile that apparently even the slightest brush with the feminine destroys it."
— Gwen Sharp (via littlemissconceptions)


Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton on representing the landmark civil rights lawsuit brought on against Newsweek and the importance of solidarity among the women.

Watch her tell her whole story. 


By persisting in advocating secular feminist arguments that are intolerant of important religious values, secular feminists run the risk of turning patriarchal. At its most abstract level, I define patriarchy as a hierarchical system in which control flows from the top. Thus, in a patriarchal system, men oppress other men and not only women. Furthermore, the top of the pyramid in a patriarchal system could be filled with either men or women (witness Margaret Thatcher) without its patriarchal nature being changed.

If a western feminists are now vying for control of the lives of immigrant women by justifying coercive state action, then these women have not learned the lesson of history, be it colonialism, imperialism or even fascism. After all, such feminists “think that the best community is one in which all but their preferred…[gender] practices are outlawed”


From “Is Western Patriarchal Feminism Good For Third World/Minority Women?” By Azizah Al-Hibri

Repeating for emphasis:

By persisting in advocating secular feminist arguments that are intolerant of important religious values, secular feminists run the risk of turning patriarchal.

(via kawrage)

"Men who want to be feminists do not need to be given a space in feminism. They need to take the space they have in society & make it feminist."
Kelley Temple, National Union of Students UK Women’s Officer  (via feministkitsch)



for every “feminist” out there who defends the swedish/nordic model.

Pop quiz! You are a sex worker living in a country that has adopted the Nordic model. Which of these forms of evidence-gathering would you prefer? You may pick one.

a. Condom-possession. Prepare to have your safer-sex precautions produced in court as evidence that a commercial sex act was on the cards. 

b. The police non-consensually video your sex life. Y’know, clandestinely. 

c. The police conduct an intimate physical examination. (Does this feel a bit like sexual assault? Shush there, you with your false consciousness. Your consensual sex life is rape; whereas this is for your own good.)

This is of course a trick question, because generally in jurisdictions that have adopted the Nordic model, all of these forms of evidence-gathering are used. (There’s a fun add-on to option (a) which is that, in Sweden, even distributing condoms can be seen as “encouraging prostitution”. Dodillet and Ostergren observe that this “makes it difficult for the authorities to utilise harm reduction strategies” [p4], which, well, yeah.)

If I raise these issues with someone who supports the Nordic model, I mostly get ignored, or accused of ‘scaremongering’. (Let word go forth: the new feminist response to a woman who is telling you about her fears of sexual assault, is to accuse her of ‘scaremongering’. #ibelieveher, unless she’s a sex worker or our politics differ, apparently.) So where’ve I got these preposterous ideas from?

Well, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland responded to Trish Godman’s 2010 Bill by expressing “concerns” over whether or not “intimate forensic medical examinations” (p1) would be justifiable. (I think it’s safe to say that the official ACPOS response to a parliamentary consultation is going to be the nicer, more moderate face of law enforcement – so much more friendly than the police officer who recently responded to a sex worker trying to report a rape by saying, “what you did was prostitution”, and logging “no crime”. Those are the people who’ll be translating ACPOS’ “concerns” about “justifiableness” into day-to-day conviction-hunting. I’d have concerns.)

Let’s see what happens where these laws are already in place.

Women who sell sex in Sweden are routinely filmed without their consent while engaging in sex acts (p4) – as if that’s somehow not massively fucked up a huge violation; more on this in a bit – while sex workers in Norway report that the new law makes them feel criminalised (subsection 3.3.2). In Chicago, the ‘end demand’ approach that claims to target clients sees the arrest of a disproportionately large number of transgender women of colourwho are then mis-gendered and accused of buying sex. (A particularly vile irony, given how frequently trans* women of colour are harassed in the street by law enforcement. “A report on Latin trans women in Los Angeles … found that two thirds of participants received verbal harassment from police officers. Twenty-one percent reported physical assault and twenty-three percent sexual assault“, and often this harassment is premised on the assumption that they must be selling sex. Racist trans*misogyny: where you really can’t fucking win.)

In this study, women and girls in the sex trade tell researchers that the police are the number one source of violence and abuse, which isn’t that surprising given that this comes from the same state (Illinois) where ‘end demand’ campaigners succeeded in increasing the penalties for the buyers … oh, and sellers – of sex. Victim-centred! Back in Europe, police forces in Sweden and Norway have reported that the laws against clients have made gathering evidence against abusers more difficult – possibly because the Swedish and Norwegian states are so keen to ‘rescue’ (migrant) sex workers, that when these victims of patriarchy are discovered, they’re deported so quickly that their clients haven’t even come to trial (p4). Meagan Morris, a researcher specialising in law enforcement and the sex industry, notes that even supposedly “victim-centred” approaches tend to disproportionately hurt women.

Yes, the police and feminist (ha) campaigners are two different entities, and women’s groups can’t control what the police will do. But since that’s the case, it might behove those who support the Nordic model to pause and think before arguing for legislation that bestows further police power over demographics that experience multiple forms of marginalisation – much of the sharp end of which is already at the hands of the police. Actually, though, I don’t think that arguing for these laws comes from a place of privileged ignorance – I think its worse than that, and here’s two examples of why coming up next.

Let Meagan Morris’ findings about the disproportionate hurt to women even in supposedly “victim-centred” contexts steep in your mind a little, as we refresh the content of the Skarhead report (Sweden’s assessment of the success of the law). Particularly the bit where sex workers reporting that the law has increased stigma against them is registered as a good thing (“for people who are still being exploited in prostitution, the above negative effects of the ban that they describe must be viewed as positive” [p23]) … because stigma might discourage people from entering the sex industry. (‘Stig-ma, noun. That thing which hurts us, by legitimising and perpetuating the view that we are less than human, degraded, or dirty. Strongly linked to violence’.) ‘Victim-centred’ approaches seem to really lovestigma, actually, as this report from a ‘John School’ illustrates: “presenters cautioned participants that ‘drug addicted prostitutes… have stabbed their clients with AIDS infected needles‘”. Thanks, ‘end demand’ campaigners! That’s not problematic at all!

To return briefly to the issue of Scandinavian police forces clandestinely filming sex acts, I think what really fucking grinds my gears about this one is that proponents of the Nordic model often think that all pornography is violence. But apparently filming sex workers – without their consent – is fine. It seems like a microcosm of their whole analysis: in their rush to label everything as abuse, they end up causing real abuse to be perpetrated in the pursuit of prosecuting consenting sex. And also sex workers don’t matter.

I think I’ve shown fairly clearly that there are lots of good reasons why sex workers don’t trust the police, even in jurisdictions that are ostensibly “victim-centred” or allegedly focused on “targeting the client”, and therefore why the onus needs to be on those who want to eradicate to the sex industry through the intervention of the state to show they’ve thought about these issues. Y’know. At all. (I’m not the only sex worker in the UK to not trust the police, either – the numbers from National Ugly Mugs show that while 99% of reportees are happy to have their report shared anonymously with other sex workers, only 27% allow their information to be passed on to the police. Prohibitionist campaigners in Scotland wouldn’t know this, of course, because none of them could be bothered to come to the UK NSWP meeting in Aberdeen for the Ugly Mugs training session. As I said on twitter, giving a fuck so much more is the slogan of the revolution.) And that being concerned that the police will abuse their power isn’t exactly ‘scaremongering’, since it happens everywhereall. the. time.

In a sense, this is a slightly ancillary issue: most of the terrible things that the Nordic model does to sex workers are achieved by increasing our desperation and thus our vulnerability to those who pose as clients. I’m just very struck by how little meaningful response I get when I bring this stuff up. I almost kind of want someone to tell me to my face that they think this kind of police power, and these methods of evidence-gathering, are okay. Because at least that would entail acknowledging that this stuff happens, and I actually think that pretending it doesn’t – that it isn’t even a possibility – is more horrible to hear than that you sort-of deserve it (in a ‘collateral-damage-in-the-wider-battle against patriarchy’, kind-of way).

Like, be proud of your politics, and their effects, then. Go on. Defend them. I’m listening. I’ve been listening for a while, but apparently no one’s got anything to say on this.




  1. Lena Dunham veiled herself as a joke about “fundamentalists” and tweeted a photo. In one weak apology, she asked if this was “a bad time” (because it happened right after the shootings at the Oak Creek gurudwara).

  2. In another weak apology, she apologized if people “thought” that was offensive, and then followed it up with a joke about Isabelle Adjani. 

  3. Uh, there are basically no people of color in any of her films or her television show, unless they are the help.

  4. When she got called out for this, she said: “We really tried to be aware and bring in characters whose job it was to go ‘Hashtag white people problems, guys.’ I think that’s really important to be aware of. Because it can seem really rarified. When I get a tweet from a girl who’s like, ‘I’d love to watch the show, but I wish there were more women of color.’ You know what? I do, too, and if we have the opportunity to do a second season, I’ll address that.”

  5. There’s a satirical article circulating tumblr as “truth” that really invalidated a lot of arguments against Dunham. In it, she says “I don’t know any black people.” The trouble is that her actual statementsaren’t so far off from that satire: “It was a complete accident that it happened this way, I wish that we were representing the population of New York in a more accurate way – and hopefully if we get to do a second season we will.” It was a complete accident, according to Dunham, that her show was 100% white.

  6. In response to the criticism that Girls doesn’t represent enough people of color, Lesley Arfin (who is a writer for the show, and a professional The Worst Person), tweeted: “What really bothered me moth about Precious was that there was no representation of ME.” Her tweeted non-apology was “Without thinking, I put gender politics above race and class. That was careless. The last thing I want is girls vs girls.” Because, to white women like this, black women don’t count as women. The politics of black women don’t count as “gender politics.” Could they make it any more obvious?

    (In defense of Arfin, Street Carnage wrote a piece called “The Lynching of Lesley Arfin.” Take care if you choose to read that, it’s one of the more racist pieces among racist pieces.)

  7. She went to Tokyo and then wrote this Orientalist nonsense. She describes a Japanese woman as having “hands like paper cranes.” She uses the phrase “yellowish fever.” She says: “I know I said I could never imagine a Japanese affair, but I’ve changed my mind. Kazu, the art handler hanging my mom’s show, is gorgeous like the strong, sexy, dreadlocked Mongol in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon(causing my sister to email the instruction: ‘Yeah, girl. crouch that tiger, hide that dragon. P.S. That’s a Chinese movie’).” and “Being the only Caucasian in a room, you almost feel invisible because you are so visible. When you’re in Mexico or someplace, at least they want your paper dollars.”

  8. In defense of Lena Dunham, Feministing said “she’s essentially a comedy writer and comedians say racially offensive things all the time.” (We’ve spoken about this before.) In the past, Feministing spoke against Daniel Tosh’s rape jokes, saying “this conversation should be about holding public figures accountable for the impact they have on larger culture.” 

    In case you guys haven’t figured out why Lena Dunham is a problem, this is it. Lena Dunham is an important symbol of white women’s upward mobility. She is an important figurehead of white feminism. Lena Dunham needs white supremacy to succeed, and white feminists need Lena Dunham to succeed. Women of color (much less not-women of color) are not relevant to the white feminist project. They do not count as women, and their rights are not valued.

    Defending Lena Dunham’s dignity over the personhood of the women of color that she and Lesley Arfin need to threaten in order to exist means that you are choosing your position as a white person (or a white feminist) at the expense of women of color.

  9. This is a sentence that came out of her mouth: “The world’s getting more and more full. Our generation is not just white girls. It’s guys. Women of color. Gay people.” (What??)

Why I can’t get behind Girls. Also, I hear it’s boring as fuck. Two strikes, and one of them is HUGE and constant and disgusting and makes it easier for me to be worse as a person. Pass.

People who don’t think shouldn’t speak. Or have tv shows. 


When people bemoan and cry about the “feminization of our young boys and denigration of masculinity”…do they realize they are showing their true colors by associating “feminine” with badness and ickyness? Do they realize they are making the problem worse by defining “masculinity” as rage, physical strength, and violent behavior? Do they really think that helps young boys?

Jesus fucking christ.

You hate women. Just fucking say it. You hate us. You hate us.

"What happens when men enter women’s feminist spaces? Dale Spender did an experiment to find out, and published the results in Man Made Language:
Present at the discussion, which was a workshop on sexism and education in London, were thirty-two women and five men. Apart from the fact that the tape revealed that the men talked for over 50 per cent of the time, it also revealed that what the men wanted to talk about – and the way in which they wanted to talk – was given precedence." (via sisterresister)

THIS is precisely why men should not be a part of the feminist movement! So important

(via wretchedoftheearth)

Or if men ARE self-indentified feminists, then they should def. take a back seat and realize they are no longer the most important, most valid, people in the discussion

(via lightspeedsound)

THIS. I’ve found that male feminists rarely, if ever, confront their own sexism and privilege. It’s usually all about criticizing that shit elsewhere, not confronting the actively oppressive shit they do. 


For the past two weeks, women’s rights advocates in Nicaragua have been watching with sorrow and frustration as the news about Savita Halappanavar has been unfolding. Savita, an Indian national living in Ireland, died of septicemia following a miscarriage—a miscarriage that was undeniable and unpreventable, and yet doctors denied her appropriate medical treatment rather than end a doomed pregnancy.

Here in Central America, women are denied life-saving treatment every day.

In Nicaragua and El Salvador, abortion is outlawed under any and all conditions—two of only four countries in the world to do so. And while the laws of other countries in the region may allow for abortion under certain, very narrow conditions, in practice very few women can receive an abortion under such “exceptions.” Women who have suffered from pregnancy complications are accused of trying to “murder” their unborn children. Women with life-threatening illnesses are denied treatment because to do so might harm their pregnancy—just the same explanation that Savita’s husband received from their doctors in Galway.

At Ipas, we saw this firsthand with a young woman called Amalia. Amalia was 27, and eight-weeks pregnant with her second child when she was diagnosed with cancer—an aggressive recurrence of a cancer treated 10 years earlier. Because she was pregnant, the public health service denied her treatment because it might harm the fetus. Ipas and other human rights groups brought the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to seek a precautionary measure that would compel the state to provide treatment—a request that was quickly granted. Under public and international scrutiny, the state then provided Amalia with the gold standard of care—treatment received by few others in Nicaragua. Under this treatment, the government maintained, the fetus would survive and thrive.

Sadly, the government was proven incorrect. Amalia delivered a severely malformed baby at seven months. She lived another 17 months. Throughout the case, the government maintained that an abortion was not necessary. The result of Amalia’s case speaks for itself; women undergoing cancer treatment still need the option of therapeutic abortion.

In El Salvador we met Karina, a woman with three children who was arrested after she was found hemorrhaging as a result of an unsafe abortion. She had become pregnant after receiving a tubal ligation (a procedure that is almost, but not entirely, 100 percent effective). Her mother had told her she would not be allowed home if she became pregnant again, and she was so ashamed that she told no one. Police determined that she’d induced an abortion, and she was prosecuted and sentenced to 30 years in prison without ever being allowed to speak to a lawyer, or testify on her own behalf.

After we learned about her, Ipas, the Center for Reproductive Rights and a number of other NGOs worked with Karina to bring a review of her case. With the legal representation and fact finding that she had been denied eight years earlier, we were able to win her freedom. But other women continue to face scrutiny and harassment over their pregnancy complications: Approximately 600 women in El Salvador are under investigation or being prosecuted for suspected abortion.

Women and doctors alike live in a culture of fear in countries that outlaw abortion. Doctors are afraid to provide any medical treatment that might harm or end a pregnancy. And women who have pregnancy complications are afraid to seek treatment for fear that they will be accused of inducing an abortion. The result? Women, like Savita, who are unnecessarily injured or die.

What is more frustrating is that numerous human rights bodies have ruled that to deny abortions to women whose lives and health are endangered by their pregnancies is a violation of their human rights. Ireland was told directly by the European Court of Human Rights that they must provide mechanisms to provide abortions under the law (abortion is legal in Ireland if a woman’s life is in danger). Nicaragua has been questioned repeatedly by international human rights bodies about its total ban on abortion, which runs contrary to multiple international agreements.

How many Amalias, Karinas or Savitas must there be before nations take women’s human rights seriously?


1) Say we are too “involved” or biased in regards to the subject, and claim that you are more “objective”.

This is frequently done to silence people who are trying to tell their own story. Academia is famous for this, but it happens outside academia as well. For example, who are the acknowledged “experts” about our cultures, religions, and lives? Why are there white upper-class men teaching Women’s studies, white upper-class women teaching African or Latin American studies, and white upper-class Christians or atheists teaching Islamic studies? Why does the media go to people outside the group they are speaking about to ask their opinion and views on a subject? The claim is that people of color and women are not “objective”. Especially in regards to religion, this is frequently thrown out there when discussing “Eastern” religions like Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism; we are viewed as too biased to speak about our own history, culture and beliefs.

2) Say we are ignorant of the subject, even though the subject is our own life, history, culture or religion, because we have dared to speak to our own story and question the way outsiders have portrayed it. This includes questioning our academic background (or lack of), our writing style/ability, and whether or not we cite “accepted” texts to prove our points.

So called “experts” are the most obvious examples of this, and this ties in with
number one above, but it is also enacted regularly by non-experts. The blogging world, for example, is full of people who think they know about something because they read it on-line or have a friend of a friend who experienced xyz, and then they use this as a means to say that this is the only version that is valid. Rarely are women of color allowed to speak to our own experience, to say that we were mistreated or discriminated against without someone else claiming that we are “reading too much into it”. Similarly, if we speak of the beauty and empowerment we have found in our own culture or religion, there is someone quick to dismiss it as an anomaly or us not knowing enough about where we come from to realize the intricate workings of oppression inherent in what we have stated we are not oppressed by.

3) Speak condescendingly towards us. Tell us we are too young or too old, naïve or bitter, and that we are angry or emotional, etc.

This is one of the most offensive things done by other women. We all recognize it when done by men, and we all rally around the anger and hurt that it causes then, but some of us experience it more frequently from our fellow women. Women of privilege regularly say these things to women of color as a way of silencing our questioning of their intentions, goals, and strategies. Rather than engaging why we are angry, we are dismissed for expressing deep emotion. Rather than accepting the opinions of a woman that differ, it is said that she is “old school” or “out of touch” or that she is too cynical because of past experience and therefore not giving the new guard a chance. Young women who come full of energy and new ideas are discouraged from changing the way things have been done and told that they are ignorant of the big picture. Act as though you are protecting us, mentoring us, looking out for our good – basically patting us on the head and telling us to pipe down.

4) Pull out your “credentials” to show that you have more support and legitimacy than we do.

This ties in with the idea of “experts” but goes one farther. If writing for a large feminist blog, the offending woman will say that the size of the blog is proof of her legitimacy. She will claim to have many followers, and her followers can’t be wrong, so she must be saying something right. She will point to a woman of color’s blog and say that it is small, or accuse her of the bad grammar, unprofessional writing, and “hating” to show that her blog and writing is more appropriate, thereby her ideas must also be more correct. If the white feminist has been published in magazines or has published books, she will point to these as further proof of her credentials and acceptance from the larger society, mocking the woman of color who has not attained this sort of approval even if the woman of color doesn’t want to be published.

5) Say we are hurting the cause of feminism, or that we aren’t really feminist at all.

This one is perhaps the most damaging of all. First, it presumes that we consider ourselves “feminist” at all and thereby implies that there is something wrong with us if we don’t. Then it attempts to define what feminism is, what counts as feminism, and tells us that we aren’t really part of it, while trying to shame us and discount anything we have to say because it is “not feminist”. It does not allow that feminism could have different forms and faces, but limits it to what serves the white woman and nothing more. If, as women, we cannot set our own goals, speak to our own needs, and create our own agenda, then how “feminist” are you? Ignoring us, pushing our concerns to the back, this is what is really hurting the “Movement”. It is arrogant for certain women to sit in judgment of other women and whether or not they should be allowed into the ranks or allowed to use a label. But then, that’s probably why so many women of color are throwing away the label of our own accord. We don’t want to be confined to your self-serving definition.