Beyond Sex and Sunshine

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It’s not news that Brazilian women are used to sell plane tickets, hotel stays, tours, and whatever else there is to do in Brazil. In the last year covering Brazil, I’ve come to realize that the mainstream press is reluctant to cover anything other than Brazilian women’s sexuality – which enforces stereotypes and dehumanizes women in a way that puts them in danger.

So far I have reported on the fact that here in Brazil there are more rapes than murders, that 80% of Brazilian women have been sexually harassed in the street, how one woman dies every hour and a half in this country, how the former Human Rights Committee president was sexist and how sexual exploitation of minors is considered normal in Brazil.

While Brazilian women are depicted as hypersexual, they live in an extremely sexist and conservative society. It’s not really surprising since most women around the world live in that kind of environment, but I believe this fallacy is especially harmful in Brazil. While we, women, are viewed as sexual objects, beckoning Brazilian and foreign men alike to a ‘sexual paradise, we are also human and we support the country in so many more important ways.

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For example, did you know 25% of Brazilian households are financially supported by women? Yet, men receive, on average, salaries that are 42% higher than women’s? Did you even imagine that native indian women and black women have the hardest time getting health care in Brazil? Or that in eleven years, rape rates have risen by 88% in Rio de Janeiro – a supposedly sexually free city?

These statistics are terrifying to me. I know women here in Brazil from all walks of life, and they are so much more than sexual objects. I want to tell their stories and explore how their particular lives are affected by their nationality and its stereotypes.

This is why I have launched the project Beyond Sex and Sunshine at Beacon Reader. Although I have pitched similar projects / reports to mainstream publications they have been widely rejected – there is really no interest in selling such a humanizing project, I guess.

The cool thing about Beacon Reader is that you can back my work financially, so you will be helping me directly in making this project happen. I know a lot of people don’t have money to contribute, but I also believe writers should be paid for their work.

Here are the subjects I am planning to cover:

  • The life and stories of Brazilian women in the favelas
  • Afro Brazilian culture
  • Racism and gender
  • Transgender women and their struggles
  • Queer women and their struggles
  • Brazilian carnival, sexual harassment and the non-sexual aspects of carnival
  • Brazilian women and football
  • Native indian women’s lives in a colonized Brazil
  • Rape, rape culture and the failings of the Brazilian system
  • Women, politics and religion
  • Sex workers
  • Sexual exploitation of girls and its normalization
  • Women entrepreneurs

As I move forward with the project I am sure new subjects will come up. I also ask that if there is anything you think I should be covering you please get in touch with me through email at nicolefroio@gmail.com. I am so, so excited about it and I really hope I get the funding I need to get this project off the ground. It would be really amazing if you could fund me but I know that’s not always possible. For those who cannot fund me I will sporadically release shorter, edited versions of my work.

Things to note:
1) Any NGOs/communities I mention in my reporting will receive a donation from the funding raised on Beacon;
2) I will try my best to let these stories speak for themselves, distancing myself from privilege and biases. I want to be responsible.

If you can’t fund me, I only ask that you spread the project’s link around. Tweet and share, please please please. Thank you!

 

Politics and Sports: Why the 2014 World Cup can make or break Brazil

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Brazil: Love it or Leave it

Humanity’s competitive nature has always been an advantage to political leaders. The Roman gladiators were not only an example of human cruelty and violence, but also an instrument of political control. Centuries later, this method hasn’t changed and as the biggest sporting event in the world approaches, the Brazilian people are subject to the too well known intersection of sports and politics.

This intersection is well known in Brazil, albeit forgotten since the military dictatorship ended in 1985 because of the establishment of democracy. But while a democracy implies freedom and a people chosen government, political manipulation is present in all kinds of political systems. The clever political PR that can be drawn from the World Cup comes at the optimum time for Brazilian politicians: 2014 is presidential election year.

In 1970 Brazil was prosperous but violent. While the economy was growing by 10% every year, the military dictatorship leaders unceremoniously silenced the press, tortured, murdered and exiled members of the opposition. President Emílio Garrastazu Médici was one of the cruellest politicians in Brazil – hundreds of people were killed during his term.

Go, Brazil!
Go, Brazil!

The middle class was growing, but Brazilians lacked basic human rights such as freedom of speech and press freedom. The people were becoming richer, but many didn’t like this lack of rights. Médici created an image of a populist, soccer crazed president who resonated with Brazilians. He claimed to be ‘a man of the people’ and often said he was passionate about football.

This might not seem like an efficient tactic of political control to outsiders, but in a country that has been used and abused by European colonizers and then further explored by the USA, the people often need some help with their self-esteem. Back then, Brazilian football was still golden: we were the best in the world and that’s really all we had. Médici’s image combined with a growing middle class placated the naysayers.

Brazil’s 1970 World Cup win provided Médici with the best kind of political propaganda. Nationalism was the norm, and slogans like ‘Brazil, love it or leave it’ and ‘Nobody can hold this country down’ increased the people’s self-esteem and distracted them from the dictatorial reality. Brazil became the first country to win the World Cup three times.

President Médici holding up a Brazilian flag
President Médici holding up a Brazilian flag

Maybe this is why Brazilians rely so heavily on winning the cup. When we lost in 2010 the value of our country went down in the streets. After watching the match in Copacabana’s FIFA Fan Fest, walking home was incredibly sad, people were throwing Brazilian flags on the ground and street sellers were letting their Brazil-themed products go for much less than a dollar.

The current climate in Brazil is mixed. I’ve met people who are excited for the soccer matches and people who have nowhere to live and complain about the government’s negligence towards the poor. Some people are in the street yelling ‘There won’t be a World Cup’ and burning FIFA’s official sticker albums, while others quite happily buy the stickers until they complete it.

In 1970 the intersection of politics and sport was very significant, but in 2014 it might be even more so. Social media and a globalized coverage of the World Cup and the issues surrounding it have given unhappy Brazilians an opportunity to be heard by the rest of the world. The huge difference is that in 2014 the championship is interfering directly with internal policies on housing, health and education. It is emphasizing the negligence the Brazilian people suffer. The clever plan to control the people in this way might have backfired.

Yet the danger of it working out for the current government is still present. If Brazil wins, public approval will sway towards the party that is currently in power, despite its negligence. In history, we can refer back to instances where this type of political propaganda has worked: the 1936 Summer Olympics in Germany was used to ‘prove’ the superiority of the Arian race and it succeeded. It played a significant part in the holocaust.

Of course, this intersection can be used for good. In the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised a black gloved fist in a Black Panther salute, a gesture in opposition of white supremacy and for civil rights. And just last year during the Winter Olympics in Russia LGBT rights activists and supporters made a point of boycotting and speaking out against Putin’s anti-gay policies – and journalists made sure the Russian Olympic Committee got laughed at around the world by tweeting photos of their unfinished rooms and disgusting running water.

The real consequences of the 2014 World Cup will only be seen by the end of the year. It’s innocuous to think the result of the championship will have no political bearing in the choosing of future leaders. But I sincerely hope that the global focus in Brazil will be used for good and that the big political dogs will not win. Maybe a win for Brazil will mean Brazilians recognize they deserve better.

On happiness after depression

[Trigger Warning: mental illness, suicide]

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If you read my blog regularly you will know I have struggled with depression and anxiety for about two years now.  This blog only has a few really personal posts and this is one of them. I don’t like posting personal blogs because I am supposed to be a ‘serious journalist’ who works on reports and opinion articles and ‘grown up’ things. But I guess I can be that and a blogger with feelings.

In the last eight months of my life I have seen a steady improvement in my mental health. I always hesitate when saying ‘now I am happy’ though because it implies I wasn’t happy for most of these two years which just isn’t true. It is hard to talk about happiness after depression because the default antonym of ‘happiness’ is ‘sadness’ and that’s not exactly what depression is.

Depression is pain and walking through a hazy life. It’s trying to see through a fog that seems impossible to dissolve.  What I’ve come to learn is that in the hardest parts of life, happiness is certain moments where you feel better. Looking back to the last two years I can remember many lovely moments that I would define as ‘happy’. I treasure them dearly because they contrasted so vividly with my daily numbness.

But in the last eight months the numbness has been fading, and I’ve been happy (or at least not numb) most of the time. I am looking forward to the next few months, as good things are coming up in my professional and personal lives. But it’s not just that the future looks bright.

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Although I give credit and thanks to all my family, friends and boyfriend who were my incredible support system during this illness, I am proud of myself.

I picked myself up from the ground when all I really wanted to do was dig deeper and bury myself alive.

Dusting off the dirt after you get up can be hard in itself: I had to learn how to walk again. Professionally, I had to start from nothing and build myself up as a freelance journalist because of the lack of jobs in my city. Personally, I had to relearn how to be a whole person because my personality and psyche were broken into little pieces. I stumbled through and I cried a lot. Sometimes I walked straight, others I just sat down and waited to feel better.

This week I lowered the dosage of my antidepressants. In two months I will lower it again, as it’s a slow process to go off really powerful medication like the one I am taking.

I feel happy. I feel fulfilled. I feel proud.

And after a year and a half of not feeling, of crying, of feeling intense pain in my chest I value a smile, a laugh so much more than I used to. Happiness is often taken for granted – when we are sad, we are conscious of it while happiness seems to be just a given.

Happiness after depression feels stronger because I no longer take it for granted. I am submersed in it and I often remind myself of harder times.

I hate saying ‘it gets better’ because to many people it doesn’t. Many people suffer depression for years and even decades, I don’t want to be dismissive of that. I’ve been really lucky in my recovery and although I know that’s not the case for a lot of people I hope this blog gives you a bit of hope. Even if your depression doesn’t get better, maybe you can notice the little moments of happiness I used to feel and grab onto them.

Who wore it better?

Who wore it better?

 

MEET THE ELITE COPS CHARGED WITH CLEANING UP RIO’S FAVELAS

A group of men dressed head to toe in black scoff down their daily serving of rice and beans, talking over one another like they’re at a family gathering. Rio de Janeiro’s Special Operations Battalion (BOPE) spend every lunch like this, the hour or so providing a brief respite from the dangers of their job.

The Caveiras (or Skulls in Portuguese, a nickname based on the battalion’s sinister logo) are the elite police force called into Rio’s favelas when conflicts become too heavy for the regular cops to handle. “We’re the last resort,” one of the commanders says.

Continue reading on Vice UK.

On foreigner’s privilege during the World Cup

Last week Danish journalist Mikkel Keldorf Jensen left Brazil after deciding he could not participate in the coverage of the World Cup because he felt complicit to how the Brazilian people are being ignored by the authorities. He could not, in good conscience, perpetuate what is happening in Brazil.

This attitude is interesting because, while his intentions were good, his position reeks of privilege. Mikkel is a freelance journalist who spent five months in Brazil, reporting and selling stories internationally. He doesn’t have anyone to pay for his travels as he was not tied to any particular publication.

Brazilians suffer with poverty, lack of education, racism, sexism, exploration and a thousand other issues every single day and the needy are daily ignored by authorities. Seeing this suffering is hard and sometimes even maddening. Mikkel has a pretty huge privilege over low income Brazilian families though: he had the means to come, see and leave. Maybe he feels that by leaving he is not helping FIFA – but the truth is that his ability to flee is the biggest show of privilege of all.

During the World Cup, tourists will come to Brazil and will do the exact same thing: they will come, see, shake their heads in disapproval and leave. Brazilians will be left behind with the same lives they have always had and the same corruption that has stalled social mobility for generations.

I write this not to make tourists feel unwelcome, but to point out the incredible privilege they have in coming to Brazil and not having to stay if they don’t want to.

As a privileged woman in Brazil, I know how fortunate I am when having the ability to leave. In reporting human rights violations in Rio de Janeiro I have been able to walk away from misery and poverty after I finished writing. That’s privilege. And that’s something I have to recognize to properly understand the world around me.

So what does it mean to be extremely privileged in a third world country? It means you can leave when things get ugly.

It might be that the Brazilian government thought tourists would bring more prosperity, and perhaps that’s true. But since the World Cup and Olympics were announced, the cost of living in Brazil has soared – without any increase in the minimum wage. Unemployment in Rio de Janeiro has declined, but with the rise of living costs people’s social status remain the same – and it’s a given that once the event is done with, there will be a rise in unemployment.

Thousands of people have been removed from their homes in the last four years to get the country ready for tourists and for football. Poverty is rampant, violence is commonplace. And Brazilians are forced to live with it.

And of course, as foreigners, there’s virtually nothing you can do about it – it’s not your job to do anything, but it is your job to leave with a better understanding of what Brazilians go through and the toll that the World Cup has taken on them. As writer Eliezer Yudkowsk has put it; ‘You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.’

It’s important not to live within the illusion that we are all equal. The human race is very distant from equality, and denying it by claiming to be ‘colour blind’ or any such excuse is counterproductive. It is better to think that we all should  be equal. Whether we like it or not some of us benefit more from the status quo than others and that’s not about to change in a second.

Why ‘exposing’ food banks is not okay

I know how being a journalist works. You have to dig around and find stories, otherwise you’re simply no good. There’s a lot of pressure for you to find something worthwhile, something people will actually care about enough to click on a link. If you can’t find stories, chances are you will be fired. That’s the job, take it or leave it.

I’m a freelance journalist and I know what it’s like to sit in front of your computer and realize you’ve got nothing to write about. It sucks because if you don’t write, you don’t earn. If you don’t find stories, you don’t get paid. I understand this kind of desperation.
But as difficult as being a journalist is, there is no excuse for a journalist to pose as a low-income father and use it to generalize the poor in the UK. This is exactly what Mail on Sunday reporter Ross Slater did. He pretended to be a person in need of food to feed his family and got some food from a food bank.

Despite the incredible work food banks do every year (which has been increasing because of the Tory government’s cuts in benefits), the MoS used this fraudulent ‘investigation’ to write a sensationalized report about how easy it is to fool the food banks. There are countless reasons why this is completely unethical and I am being nice enough, Ross Slater, to list them below.

The ‘investigation’

This report is essentially a non-story. Man pretends to be in need for food, food bank questions him about his unemployment, food bank gives him £40 worth of food to feed his family. So food banks are basically doing their job – what Slater is ‘proving’ is that there is a minority of people who might take advantage of this system. Which we already know.

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In an attempt to destroy Trussell Trust’s reputation, presumably because of the MoS’s historical opposition and sensationalization of benefits or any aid to poor people, all that Slater managed to do is prove food banks are essentially doing their jobs. You’re the scum here, mate.

The language

The language in this report is absolutely appalling. It is a far cry from impartial – subtly, every line implies that food banks are lying when they say people genuinely need emergency food. Hey, Simon Murphy and Sanchez Manning, I am looking at you.

“The charity, which runs more than 400 of Britain’s 1,000 food banks, acknowledged that a third of the food was given to repeat visitors, but insisted the rise was based on genuine need for emergency food.”

They insisted because they want to convince us of something that’s not true. I get is, MoS! Thank you for revealing what awful gargoyles food banks are! Let’s make this 100% clear: there is no way the MoS can know the reasons for the repeat visitors to come back to food banks with more pleas. Although they seem completely okay with implying they’re all fraudulent criminals, just like their own reporter Ross Slater.

The headline is perhaps the most telling bit of all:

“No ID, no checks… and vouchers for sob stories: The truth behind those shock food bank claims”

MoS is directly preying on the poor who need food by calling their situation ‘sob stories’ and generalizing people who are in need as criminals who fraud their way through the system. Vilifying a system that helps needy people is disgusting and immoral, especially in the way this was done. Low income people, unemployed people, people on the dole – they do not need any more stigma and prejudice.

“HOW MOS REPORTER GOT 3 DAYS OF GROCERIES… NO QUESTIONS ASKED

(…) The woman, called Katherine, who was in her 60s, asked our reporter a series of questions about why the food bank vouchers were needed.”

Nothing beats a controversial sub headline, I guess. Honestly, no comment.

Also, why does it matter that Katherine was in her 60s? Are they implying she’s gullible because of her age? Oh.

And then, of course, Ross Slater told his ‘sob story’.

“He explained he had been unemployed for a few months and had been caught out by higher than expected winter fuel bills and was strapped for cash and food. He added that his wife had left her job and was not earning and that they had two children to care for. After asking for details of how much Jobseekers’ Allowance was received, the assessor’s questions turned to the dietary requirements of the reporter and his family.”

Posing as a needy person to get free food is disgusting in itself – doing so to get a story out of it is a disgrace. Although many Slater defenders might say he is just doing his job and that he later returned the food, he still took advantage of his privilege to stereotype and stigmatise those who need food, simultaneously trying to destroy the Trussell Trust’s reputation… to push the MoS’s political agenda against the poor. In telling these lies, Slater was minimizing the needs of hungry people who cannot afford to feed their own families. I don’t really see how committing this crime in the name of ‘journalism’ is any better than the crime Slater claims to be ‘investigating’.

What the MoS and Slater seem to ‘forget’ is that there are people who are unemployed and can’t afford heating. There are people who have ‘sob stories’, as patronizing as that is, and they are straight up living them, with difficulty. Slater is fortunate enough to have a job, be white (can’t wait for people to cry racism on this one – having white privilege is a fact. Educate yourself) and write for a newspaper with incredible reach.

But obviously, it seems Slater and his counterparts (who actually wrote the article) are incapable of using privilege for good.

The image

Here is a photo of Slater posing as a needy person. The imagery is impossibly offensive: he’s sitting on the ground, looking miserable, with hand out spread on the floor around him.

MoS
If the language and ‘investigation’ failed to enforce low income people stereotypes, this photo certainly does it. Posing as a needy person obviously means sitting on the ground with your food, with an unshaved face and an unhappy look. Needy people do not need this kind of image representing them.

So congratulations to the Mail on Sunday, Simon Murphy, Sanchez Manning and Ross Slater for preying on the poor. That’s what the world really needs right now, to discredit those who can barely survive.

ETA: The MoS report on Trussell Trust has resulted in a surge of donations to food banks

‘How I Met Your Mother’ and the Hollywood Love Fantasy

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It’s safe to say most How I Met Your Mother viewers were disappointed by the final episode. For me, this show had been going downhill for a long, long time and the convoluted writing of the last episode just confirmed that the writers lost control of the plot several seasons ago. Although I am pretty irritated that Ted and Robin ended up together, the fact is that this show had been failing in my eyes because of its ridiculous portrayals of relationships that weren’t Lily and Marshall’s.

While Lilypad and Marshmallow were a model couple, Ted was a complete mess in regards to dating. That’s completely fine – and a hundred percent realistic. It’s hard to get a grip on dating and choosing a partner while building a career and figuring out who you are. The problem with Ted though – and the women he dated – is that he very much perpetuates the idea of the knight in shining armour and the damsel in distress. Ted also suffers from Nice GuyTM Syndrome, often complaining that he will never find the one because no one is good enough to fit his mail order wife box.

Read more on BlogHer.

Bringing an army into Rio is more damaging than scattered, bloody bodies

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Last week President Dilma Rousseff called on the Brazilian army to contain the most recent favela wars. The plans to pacify the favelas seemed to be going well up until now but since the beginning of 2014 Rio has seen 19 murdered police officers. The number is larger than that of 2013, when the number stood at 11.

With less than three months until the World Cup the drug gangs that were expelled from the favelas by the pacifying units are now fighting back to re-conquer their territory. Recent incidents in the favelas of Complexo do Alemão, Rocinha (the largest favela in the world, home to around 70,000 people), Parque Proletário (in Complexo da Penha) and Vila Cruzeiro have brought back the feeling of unsafety in Rio.

The pacification of the slums had been relatively smooth until now. The first favela to receive a Pacifying Police Unit (UPP), Favela Santa Marta, has grown economically in incredible ways in the last six years. The urbanization of the area has benefitted 8,000 residents who can come and go as they please without being afraid of extreme violence.

But it seems that, while Santa Marta is often used as a model for the UPPs program, the reality in other slums is much more violent. President Rousseff’s decision to send 4,000 army men to occupy Complexo da Maré is most likely necessary as a temporary measure. Known as one of the most dangerous and poor parts of the city, the complex of favelas is home to two drug factions that are in constant war with each other. Promises to pacify the area are years old and until recently it seemed that Complexo da Maré would only receive some real attention if it magically moved next to the Maracanã since the 34 (of thousands) already pacified communities in Rio are mostly located in areas that will be used for the event.

The occupation of Maré took place this Sunday without resistance from the community. Most residents stayed home, as they had been previously warned about the occupation. Images show war tanks roaming the favela’s mud streets and policemen looking for weaponry and drugs.

When I visited Complexo da Maré I was greeted with men who were guarding the slum at its entrance. They observed my taxi when it passed by them and decided I was not a menace or a drug buyer. Unscathed, I proceeded to visit a school that educates children of the community who live with daily violence in that community. Speaking to the teachers I learned that the children who are exposed to extreme and constant violence suffer from anxiety, depression, PTSD and other mental illnesses that critically impair their learning skills. The children in the favela are witness to shootings, heavy weaponry, violent deaths, drug addicts, unpunished crimes and desperation.

It might be that sending 4,000 men to Complexo da Maré is needed, but in doing so President Rousseff is once again ignoring how deep the violence in the favelas is. It is not only those who get shot, murdered and dragged by a police car who are damaged by it –entire generations have been suffering for the last two decades because of it. This measure is one made out of an emergency, and it might contain the violence for a few months – but then what?

If Rocinha, Complexo do Alemão and other favelas who have been pacified are any indication, the drug factions will attempt to take their territory back as soon as they can.

And despite the uninterrupted, non-violent pacification a 15 year old boy was shot dead on Sunday when two drug factions were fighting. Relatives of the boy complained that the community was supposed to be safe now – where were the authorities when this young teenager died?

I have to ask – which people is the government protecting? Is it the people in the favelas? Is it the families of the 19 policemen who were killed this year? Is it the football fans? Is it the Brazilians who don’t live in the favelas?

The study Map of Violence: Homicides and Youth in Brazil, published in 2013, reveals that in the last three decades the number of homicides of people between the age of 14 and 25 in Brazil has risen by 326,1%. The Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Pública y Justicia Penal, a study group from Mexico, listed the 50 most violent cities in the world (that are not at war) and of those, 16 are Brazilian. Fortaleza, João Pessoa and Maceió are in the top ten. And the young people who don’t become statistics don’t have many chances to get out of that environment.

Bringing in an army that carries heavy weaponry is psychologically disturbing and damaging to those who live in the favela. All of these slums have been abandoned for generations; they are only given attention when a global event is put at risk. While the army will contain the violence, the question has to be asked: what’s next?

Brazil is relying on a temporary solution that has more to do with the World Cup than actually ensuring the people are safe throughout their lifetime. The violence and crime might be contained for now, but what will contain it after the army and the tanks are gone?

 

Feminist Times should not cover trans-exclusive events

A few weeks ago I saw a report on Feminist Times about the Rad Fems UK event FemiFest. After thinking “Wow, this is just a copy-paste job”, I noticed a few people (not many) had complained about the report being published in a website that trans* inclusive.

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As you can see, it says Feminist Times is a trans-inclusive website. However, that didn’t stop them from republishing a press release of an event that purposefully and self-righteously excludes trans women. They did say that if you disagree with something published you can bite back – this is what I’m doing now. But I don’t think covering FemiFest is in any way about opinions. It’s about a hateful group harming a minority that already suffers. This is, unfortunately, irresponsible journalism.

Feminist Times defended the reporting of the event by saying that since FemiFest is a feminist event ‘of course they would report on it’. Perhaps, if Feminist Times was not a website aimed at trans* inclusive feminism this would be true – but as one Twitter user pointed out, would they report on an event that advocates pro-life abortion policies with anything but disdain and criticism?

A little bit of research has revealed that FemiFest is definitely not trans-inclusive and in my opinion this is a conflicting information to be distributed by a trans-inclusive website. Opinions are one thing to respect, but purposeful exclusion of trans women is straight up hate and oppression. And I found this out with a quick search on Google.

The FemiFest website reads (emphasis mine):

“(…) organisers will not tolerate oppressive language or behaviour towards any group facing discrimination and oppression. FemiFest is opposed to ideologies of oppression.

“It is a central part of our radical feminist analysis that gender is a tool of women’s oppression, not women’s liberation. FemiFest organisers share the view that gender is a human created power hierarchy based on reproductive sex. This gendered power arrangement relegates women to a social status that is secondary to men. None of the organisers consider ourselves to have an innate gender – neither masculine, feminine, trans, cis, gender queer, or any other gender. We are gender abolitionists who have been raised and socialized as girls and women *because of our female bodies* in the context of a male supremacist (sic) social system.

“Women who consider that gender is a benign spectrum of self expression (sic) will find other conferences and festivals where they can organise with like minded (sic) people. FemiFest is designed by and for women interested in feminist theory with a structural analysis of power and those who want to genuinely engage with women’s liberationist ideas.”

In the least, being against ‘ideologies of oppression’ is conflicting with telling trans women to ‘find other conferences where they can organise with like-minded people’. From what I understand, Rad Fems is a group of trans exclusive radical feminists (TERFs). While the UK is already heavily transphobic the creation of such events and such a radical group is hardly helpful to trans people in the UK. Trans woman and trans rights activist Sophia Banks explains:

“[FemiFest is] run by a TERF and full of some vile transphobes. Not good. Very disappointed how supposed trans positive feminists will promote hate like this. The UK is horribly transphobic. Trans people can go to jail for having sex with someone and not disclosing they are trans.”

When I mention the defence Feminist Times used, Sophia says it’s BS.

She said: “They know exactly what they are supporting. (Julie) Bindel is involved after all. Fact is transphobia when framed as gender critical is seen as acceptable by many feminists.

(I have been unable to verify if Bindel is or is not behind Rad Fems UK or FemiFest)

It seems one of the main problems with cis feminism is that pro-trans cis women never stand up against transphobic attitude within the community. It might be that TERFs are a small group of hateful feminists, but that doesn’t mean that their activism or opinions on gender are not harmful. So why don’t cis women stand up for their trans sisters?

Sophia thinks there are several reasons for this.

She said: “One, I figure most don’t care to be honest, cissexism is everywhere. They don’t want to get involved. Also, many I have talked to privately want to but afraid of messing up and getting attacked by trans women. And sadly some are bigots who don’t see trans women as ‘real’ women and don’t want us in ‘their’ spaces. It’s a combination of hate, ignorance, fear and indifference.

I admit that I am very afraid of putting my foot in my mouth when speaking out against hate and prejudice against trans women. It is difficult to see through my cis privilege what is and isn’t offensive and what kind of vocabulary is appropriate to use.

While I haven’t written much about the subject, I feel that as a feminist journalist and blogger it’s not really constructive to not try and speak about this kind of hate.

Sophia explained: “Cis folks can and should call out hate. They can do that without putting their foot in their mouth. And I am chill, I get people fuck up. I have made mistakes and have been called on it, I listened and learned. Fear of fucking up is good but also not. It’s hard as what works with other communities does not work for trans women b/c we are so small in numbers. We can’t do this without help from allies and that puts us in an awkward position.”

With that being said, I do not want to make this post about me, or cis allies. It is about TERF hate and a personal and ethical obligation to speak out about transphobia.

“So many are unemployed, many forced into sex work then dragged through a transphobic prison system. Violence, murders, etc… We have serious problems and cis white feminism looks away. I say cis white as I find a lot of support from WOC,” Sophia says. “Stop supporting cis women who call us men and want advocate to dent trans women access to rape and homeless shelters, for a start. To dent trans women access to these spaces is to invite violence on trans women. How is that feminism on their part? They see us as a men and that puts trans women in danger.”

So maybe Feminist Times thought they were simply reporting on a feminist event… but truth is that this event is extremely harmful to a minority that already suffers more than any cis woman. Putting trans women in danger is not cool and reporting on an event that promotes hate is awful.

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Coletivo Papo Reto

britcultureshocks

Travelling, living abroad and seeing more of the world. And adjusting to all the culture shocks along the way.

Mikki Kendall

Proud descendant of Hex Throwing Goons

Olivia A. Cole

Author. Blogger. Bigmouth.

Dr. Rebecca Hains

Author, professor and speaker | Children's media culture, media literacy, and media criticism

Aida Manduley, MSW

presenter | therapist| educator | activist

The Belle Jar

"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences." - Sylvia Plath

{FAVEL issues}

urban informality + urban development

days like crazy paving

the life, times and ramblings of jaythenerdkid. probably not safe for children.

Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

The Travelling Chopsticks

A story of love, life, food and travel!

sherights.wordpress.com/

she thinks. she says. she writes.

Texan in Tokyo

Comics and stories from a American gaijin (foreigner) and her Japanese husband, living in rural Japan

Road to Brazil 2014

World Cup News, Opinion and Guide

Movimento Passe Livre - Rio de Janeiro

Por uma vida sem catracas!

100ko.wordpress.com/

Coletivo Papo Reto

britcultureshocks

Travelling, living abroad and seeing more of the world. And adjusting to all the culture shocks along the way.

Mikki Kendall

Proud descendant of Hex Throwing Goons

Olivia A. Cole

Author. Blogger. Bigmouth.

Dr. Rebecca Hains

Author, professor and speaker | Children's media culture, media literacy, and media criticism

Aida Manduley, MSW

presenter | therapist| educator | activist

The Belle Jar

"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences." - Sylvia Plath

{FAVEL issues}

urban informality + urban development

days like crazy paving

the life, times and ramblings of jaythenerdkid. probably not safe for children.

Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

The Travelling Chopsticks

A story of love, life, food and travel!

sherights.wordpress.com/

she thinks. she says. she writes.

Texan in Tokyo

Comics and stories from a American gaijin (foreigner) and her Japanese husband, living in rural Japan

Road to Brazil 2014

World Cup News, Opinion and Guide

Movimento Passe Livre - Rio de Janeiro

Por uma vida sem catracas!