Words are only part of the problem

[Content note: ableism, rape]

It seems everyone is losing faith in politicians these days, and you can see why when it seems every other week one of them is making headlines for having said something horrendously offensive. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get tired of public figures apologising for ill-chosen words, when usually the words they’ve chosen are only part of the problem.

Two days, two scandals. Both about words.
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Oklahoma to follow Texas with ’30 mile’ abortion bill: the War on Women rages on

2013 was a bad year for the Republican Party, women-wise. Between the resurfacing of Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” gaffe and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s astonishment that God hasn’t stepped in from stopping abortion in America from running “as far and foully as it has”, they rounded off the year looking like it’s possible they might have an image problem.

Texas senator Wendy Davis

Everyone’s favourite pro-choice Texas senator Wendy Davis. Photo: Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune


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Sex work: thoughts on ‘selling your body’

Those of you who’ve followed this blog for a while will know that I’m firmly against the criminalisation of sex work. I call it sex work because the term recognises that, as with any other form of work, there should be terms of sale and workers’ rights and safe working conditions. Besides, sex workers pay tax.

But this post is less about the actual work than the language we use to talk about it. Specifically, it’s about the huge problem I have with the phrase ‘selling your body’.
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A lesson in how not to apologise, courtesy of Tequila UK

Last week, a promotional video was released on Facebook advertising a club night called Tequila UK, hosted by Mezz in Leeds. It was ugly. A presenter went around asking clubgoers ‘How are you going to violate a fresher tonight?’

This is kind of close to the bone, because I studied at Leeds. I’ve never actually been to Mezz but I’ve walked by it a few times.

You can read a few of the responses from the video below. HUGE trigger warning on this one…
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Naked Amanda Palmer 1, Daily Mail 0

Last Friday at the Roundhouse in London, Amanda Palmer (otherwise known as Amanda Fucking Palmer) delivered an open letter to the Daily Mail in the form of a song. ‘Dear Daily Mail’ was a response to an article (and I use that term loosely) about her performance at Glastonbury festival, during which her breast “escaped” from her bra. It goes like this:

I think it’s brilliant. It’s scathing and gleeful and brilliantly witty, and denies the Daily Mail any power over Palmer or her sense of self worth.
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#JusticeforJasmine, sex work and the Swedish model

#justice for Jasmine Eve-Maree Petite Jasmine, abolish Swedish sex work model legislation

On 11 July a sex worker who went by the name of Petite Jasmine was murdered. She was a sex worker rights activist and member of the Rose Alliance, “an organisation for former and current sex and erotic workers in Sweden”. Here’s the statement they released on Facebook today:
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Bow Down to Beyoncé, feminist icon

My latest for Indy Voices on why people should stop either praising Beyoncé for being a feminist icon or shouting at her for letting the side down:

Admire Beyoncé for her music, not her feminist credentials

Beyoncé’s apparent reluctance to label herself should come as no surprise. Aside from a slightly tepid admission in 2010 – “I think I am a feminist in a way” – there are few recorded instances of her associating herself with the movement. Yet it seems to me that people have been determined to shoehorn Beyoncé into the role of feminist icon for several years. It strikes me as an odd thing to do, given that she rarely uses the word about herself.

Read the whole thing here.