Friday, 4 August 2017

Nevertheless He Persisted.

It isn't all about toilets. Though yes. When I am physically vulnerable and stood at a sink with menstrual blood on my hands I would prefer if I was doing that around women who know why it is there ....because they have experienced the very same. Not "felt" as if they were doing the same. I have no idea how you can "feel" a period or the many problems it can present in any valid way. It is a uterus shedding itself. Magical and clever. Biologically, you need a uterus to shed a uterus. I never thought that saying so would be controversial. I never thought that the obvious would need to be said.

If I, or any of the women or girls I know, are raped we should be able to request a woman to examine us at a rape trauma centre/investigation unit. I would prefer if the woman did not have a penis. Self-identification as a woman would mean that a biological male could examine me. He would not even have to "present" as a woman. He could simply be a man who says he is a woman and he could put his hands inside my vagina immediately after I have been raped. Where would male rapists most like to situate themselves? Within easy proximity of vulnerable women. Women who cannot legally ask that they aren't there. Abusive or violent men will love that. Access to places that they previously had no access. Not too big a leap of reasoning. Yes there are transwomen who do not, and have no intention to, rape women. But there are men who do. Men who are laughing at legislation which will remove all barriers to protect women.

CPS guidelines currently stipulate that rape requires a penis. Rape can only be committed by the penis being forced into the anus, vagina or mouth of the victim. When statistics show that 100% of rapes are committed by males - the penis is the reason.

When self-identification according to amendments to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 comes into law, as Maria Miller MP intends, then those figures are meaningless. We will be told to ignore the penis. A man will be able to self identify as a woman and the crime will be recorded with a "woman" as the perpetrator regardless of the sex of the victim. Data is pointless. Fighting for funding according to sex-based need is pointless. Fighting for women-only spaces to help women recover from rape  or other forms of male violence - are utterly meaningless and pointless.

Biological women do not commit rape. They cannot do so in UK law. Though 78,000 of them are raped a year. By men with a penis. Those figures will soon mean nothing. It will be impossible to fight for funding for those women because we will no longer be able to say "woman" in any meaningful way in the context of rape. We will not be able to keep men out of rape crisis centres if those men say they are women.  A raped woman will have to sit among biological men at the very point she needs most to be in a space free of men. I don't care what those men say about the penis they sit with between their legs, they can identify it as a fluffy kitten if they like. It is still there and in the space of a raped woman. A penis was forced inside her against her will. It is still male sperm that will be scraped from her vagina as evidence to try to commit her perpetrator to jail. If he identifies himself as a woman -the crime will be recorded as female on female according to the new law. The raped woman meanwhile still knows that it is the feel of a male sexual organ ripping at the entrance of her vagina that will not leave her until the day she dies. She knows what a penis is very clearly.

Similar problems will beset the issue of domestic abuse. Statistics show that men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of this crime. The data is already skewed since recording of incidence is capped at 5 and men will report after a single incident but women will endure repeat incidence before reporting. When they do report and report repeatedly as many abused women need to - those reports will be capped at 5 reports to the police. See the report by Walby, Towers and Francis (2015) on the significance of this and the fact that 96+ incidents (less than 2 a week - not uncommon in a relationship with a violent male partner) are also capped for CSEW recording purposes. Such vital (though limited) statistical analysis will be meaningless anyway when the Gender Recognition Act is enforced. None of this painstakingly obtained and analysed data and research will be possible, or can be used in order to target resources and funding to help victims ....who are predominantly biological women.

Homicide statistics show that 95% of the 437,000 global homicides have a male perpetrator. Intimate partner violence accounts for 64,000 of those murders. 66% of the victims of IPV are biological women. We won't be able to say that and it mean anything. 50% of the intentional homicides of biological women are committed by an intimate partner compared to only 6% of men. Targeting resources at the cause - which is men - and the result - people are mainly killed by men... will be impossible because the data won't be able to say anything relevant.
(UNODC  data 2013 from Walby et al - 'Concept and Measurement of Violence Against Women And Men' 2017)

All of a sudden it will be impossible to point to the root cause of women being harmed. The problem is male violence but suddenly it won't be possible to say that. It therefore won't be easy to stop it. Think of all the work that has been done on this? Think of all the advances that have been fought for over decades and centuries. Think of the suffragette strapped to a chair being force fed. What would she make of being told her suffering meant nothing and that one day the very term woman would be meaningless?

Once this act has been passed and you go to see your GP you will be unable to specify that you want to be examined by, or discuss your unusual smelling vaginal discharge with, a female doctor. The woman shoving a painful speculum up your vagina for your cervical smear and asking you to drop your legs to the side may have a penis and certainly has never experienced the same. If you object and request a biological woman do this you will be committing a crime of discrimination. A hate crime. A crime of transphobia. You will have to spread your legs or risk cancer. Stark choices. The Handmaid's Tale is horror. Our future is horror.

And the future is expensive. Changing the law and the inherent administration of that is costly. I have no idea how many millions of pounds will be spent rewriting public and corporate documentation to accommodate self-identification. The retraining of staff in various public and corporate bodies. The redesign of the collection of important data on crime for the Crime Survey England And Wales. The retraining of staff and redesign of data collection Office For National Statistics. Employment law. Limited examples of course. The cost of self-identification is unfathomable at a time when the resources available to women who have been victims of rape or domestic abuse have been slashed and slashed. 17% of women's refuge places have gone since 2010. Biological women are dying at the hands of biological men at the rate of 2 a week. Imagine how many women could be saved if there were adequate resources to save them?

But surely this is necessary and the cost shouldn't matter if fairness and justice for trangender people is the result? Well no actually. Gender harms all of us. We are in no disagreement there. Few of us fit a prescribed gender identity box with assigned stereotypical male or female traits. We are all served badly by the concept of gender and the way society shapes us.

However, the issue here is that if you erase the term woman and open that biological reality as an "option" or "choice" for any human then there are far-reaching, identifiable and, crucially, real consequences for the safety and lives of biological women. The funds that would go to help them and amend systems that oppress them are lost in order to appease a minority. I don't mind who wants to wear a dress. I don't care how many transwomen want to buy makeup or high heels or conform to the many patriarchal beauty norms that feminists have fought to overturn for decades. That is absolutely fine by me.

Do we feel transphobic we women who refuse to accept this? No we do not. We are no such thing. We intend no harm towards transwomen or transmen. We are not afraid of them and we do not hate them. Transphobia would require this. We are simply refusing to accept biological men into our sex-protected spaces, our statistics and our funding. Women want to stay alive. Currently 30% of us will be affected by domestic violence inflicted by a male partner over our lifetimes. We can't fight that if we can't even say it.  25% of women aged between 16-64 will experience sexual assault at the hands of a biological male. We can't fight that if we can't say it.

What we do feel is that feminists who have allowed such massive and fundamental change at such an incredible pace have let the suffragettes and our second wave sisters of the seventies down very badly. We are letting down our future granddaughters if we do not continue to fight to make sure that the word "woman" means something. Violent, abusive men can see that everything women fought for over centuries and in the areas of male violence in the 1970s and since going. Going so very fast that those of us fighting to save it are breathless and tearful with frustration. Going so fast that those men are laughing in our faces.

The t-shirt will also change.

He was warned. He was given an explanation. Nevertheless he persisted.

But so will we.

Love to ya sisters.

JH x