Feministy Shit

Again, I find myself apologising for the lack of activity on the page, but apparently teachers have NO TIME FOR ANYTHING. Seriously. Those who say “Those who can’t do, teach,” need to spend a week in my shoes. Broken up for Christmas now (YIPEE!) so that’s two weeks of me sat at home reading and writing feminist articles!
Hope the festive season treats you well, 
Fia x

Part 10: Getting away with murder
CONTENT WARNING: homophobia, transphobia, murder & violence

I’m warning you right now that if you’re hoping to have stumbled across a delightfully festive feminist article, you will be disappointed. In fact, you’re about to read something which has the potential to make your blood boil to the extent that your eyes will melt and fall out of their sockets (sorry for the gory imagery, I’ve been reading too much Stephen King).

Today was the first time I ever heard of ‘panic’ defense through a post on Facebook by That Transgender Chick. The original post came from hellboundhayden on Tumblr, generating nearly 100,000 notes. Panic defense is (according to 49 states in America) an acceptable excuse to offer up in a court of law  if you murder a trans or a homosexual individual. And it essentially means what it says: ‘Oh, I found out they weren’t straight/cis, I panicked and killed them. Please don’t punish me.’

trans defence

So by now, your blood is probably at about 99 degrees, right? But I haven’t even got to the worst part yet… Not only does this kind of defense exist, but it actually works. In numerous cases where the perpetrator should have been charged with murder (and probably would under any other circumstances), by using the gay or trans ‘panic’ defense, their charges have been significantly reduced, some even reduced to manslaughter as opposed to homicide.

And I don’t mean fifty years ago. I’m talking about Larry King who was murdered by a class mate in 2008 after his supposed ‘flirtation’ resulted in his death, his murderer pleaded the gay panic defense and was charged with a reduced sentence. Gwen Araujo was beaten to death in 2002 by a group of men upon their discovery that she was a trans individual – their sentences were reduced through the trans panic defense after claiming that she deceived them about her identity. The list goes on.

Back to hellboundhayden’s post. Forty nine states? What about number fifty?

California is the fiftieth state, and the only state to have banned gay and trans panic defenses – a move which only happened this year. In essence, the Californian state has officially said you can’t use someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity as a justification to murder them.

How has this taken so long?

So today I leave you with a thought. 1 in 12 trans individuals will be murdered (a huge proportion compared to the entire population) and 1 in 5 victims of hate crime are based on sexual orientation bias, and yet rather than trying to reduce these numbers, we are actually allowing the perpetrators to get away with murder (quite literally) because they ‘panicked’.  Do I really need to spell this out? There is no justification for violence and murder, let alone the fact that an individual who is not cis and straight panics you.  What kind of equality is that?

Feministy Shit

This is going to be short and sweet because revision has taken over my life. 18 days and 5 exams to go until I’ve completed my degree (well, unless I fail and have to return…)! Good luck to everyone in the same boat!!
Again, this is not *overly* feminist, but it’s written by someone who’s blog entries are called Feministy Shit, so… yeah.
Fia x

Part 4: We Exist

I’m going to get straight to the point. You HAVE to watch the new Arcade Fire music video, ‘We Exist’. It was released yesterday (16/05/2014) and it is simply phenomenal. Not only is the song ridiculously catchy (it’s on my revision playlist and I have to fight the urge to dance to it  in public places), but it deals with an incredibly important issue in a simple and effective way.

Andrew Garfield plays the role of a young individual struggling to come to terms with their gender identity and we follow them through the day staring from getting dressed and ready to go out, to being subject to discrimination and violence in public. She (my interpretation was that the character in question was a transgender individual, though it could also be argued that they are a young man experimenting with cross dressing; either way they do not appear to conform to the gender binary imposed by society) goes to a bar where she is subject to transphobic discrimination leading to her being harassed and physically abused by a group of individuals in the bar, but at the moment where she is about to be violently attacked, the scene cuts to her dancing euphorically. The dance is so primal, free, passionate, very ‘dance like no one is watching’ and almost transcendent that you can’t help but feel pretty damn emotional. It’s really empowering to watch.

I’m not going to bother to explain the rest of it, just watch it!

While the video is fabulous, it is an artistic interpretation and to be taken with a pinch of salt. Sure we could sit and criticise and pick this video apart, but it was clearly made with positive intentions and a strong message. It ‘outs’  the overwhelming amount of transphobia present in today’s society but while the video plays to stereotypes (the people who pick on her, the men with beards and crop tops etc), it puts a message across and it puts it across very clearly: ‘Transphobia is NOT okay’. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a good message.

The fact that Andrew Garfield is shamelessly playing a transgender individual is another positive step. Andrew Garfield is fast becoming a household name across generations for his role as The Amazing Spider Man and, by standing up for transgender individuals, will hopefully help his fans see that being transphobic, not transgender, is what is shameful. I know it could be argued that using an actual transgender individual would have been a more striking move from Arcade Fire (and it would have been awesome, yes), but given Garfield’s fame and social presence at this time, I think it actually will be watched by more people and hence spread the message further.

Combining this with the lyrics which seem to be to be discussing how LGBTQ individuals are often shunned and excluded from society, and due to this their rights are often ignored, I think this is a really positive step towards ending such discrimination.

Down on their knees
Begging us please
Praying that we don’t exist

We exist

Cheers, Arcade Fire and Andrew Garfield, for all the awesome. Have a congratulatory pint on me.

Feministy Shit

I’m back. This time I didn’t drink, but I did eat a whole lot of angry for breakfast.
 I’ve been sitting on this post for while now, but have finally summoned the courage to hit PUBLISH! My article barely touches the surface of this discussion; it’s super simplified and I am NOT qualified to have written it, but I needed to get it out of my system.
Fia

Part 2:  Relevant.

A couple of weeks ago I left a link to the beautiful G-Spot (HIYA) on Facebook, and invited any self-defining women to get in touch if they would like to use it as a platform/space for their words. Someone on my friends list asked me what I meant by ‘self-defining’. I said that it’s fairly self explanatory – if you define yourself as a woman then you are more than welcome to contribute. The reply I got, well, it pissed me off.

“Ahh the add extra irrelevant words to things.” (They were being lazy with their English, let me translate: “Ahh, you’ve added in some irrelevant words to try and  sound intelligent.”)

And this is right about where I lost my shit. No. Just no. It is anything BUT irrelevant. Believing that this kind of discussion is irrelevant is ignorant and arrogant to say the least. Those two words could not be more relevant.

Gender is a discussion that has interested me for quite some time. I remember discussing it in A-level psychology and being fascinated; by the time we reached the end of the topic I was bombarding my poor teacher incessantly with questions and asking for further reading and research. Why? Because no one had ever bothered discussing it with me before. In PSHE (where I feel it really should be included in the syllabus) there was no discussion of gender. So, while I had always been accepting of all genders, I had been ignorant to issues surrounding such conversation, and I was angry that I had been ignorant about something so inherently important for so long.

Let’s get back to basics. First of all, gender and sex are different. As simply put as possible, sex is a ‘biological’ determination; gender, however, is a determination of the persons actual identity as they see themselves. You, and you alone, determine your gender.

Further to that, gender is not binary. It is not girl or boy; black or white; cake or death.  Gender is a spectrum – you might define as androgynous, man, woman, gender fluid, gender queer, trans gender etc… But, more importantly, you need not define yourself as any name on that list. If none of them fit, then why label yourself as something that does not truly suit you?

Coming round full circle, read those words again: ‘self-defining’. Those two words go beyond the social norms of cisgender people, they deliberately encompass and extend beyond the gender binary which society has constructed. Further to that, it is a sign of inclusion by distinction as opposed to exclusion because you consider those two words to be ‘irrelevant’. Those words open the doors to anyone who identifies with a particular gender, who labels themselves; because how you identify yourself counts for more than how anyone else identifies you. You are the only one who has the right to recognize your gender and own it.

Gender Pronoun Karen

And yes, a large majority of the population are cis, but does that mean we should exclude those who aren’t?  No. Not for one second. Take a moment when you meet someone to ask them about their preferred pronouns – yes some people will look at you like you’re an alien, but others will truly appreciate your consideration.

Use terms such as ‘self-defining’, it may seem irrelevant to some, but to others its meaning is paramount.