Zoe’s Law: devaluing early pregnancy loss

As I stumbled into the emergency room my stomach was cramping and I could barely walk. The pain came on suddenly and despite my protests, my partner had insisted that I come. I was in denial but I could hardly speak when the nurse asked me if I was pregnant. “I could be,” I said; “we are trying.” In my heart I had known I was pregnant for a couple of days. I hadn’t wanted to do a test because I thought it may be too soon and we may be disappointed for nothing. The nurse’s face became very serious and I was wheeled in. After drugs, tests and ultrasounds, I was told that I was pregnant and transferred to our city’s women’s hospital. More drugs, more ultrasounds, more tests. I could not understand the debates that were happening around me. I asked questions but through the drugs I barely understood the answers until I met the surgeon. She simply stated “your foetus is dead.” Then the forms, the informed consent and the talk about how I may lose any chance of naturally conceiving more children and as my partner and I have a biological child there would be no government assistance for IVF.

 

After hours of tests  was wheeled into surgery. When I woke my denial was over and I realised I no longer had the pregnancy I wanted so much. I was devastated and I wanted to go sleep, to escape, to curl up into the blackness of my sadness and disappear. I did not want to hear the chatter of the nurses in recovery, I did not even want to hear them telling me to breathe. I felt the nurse shaking me and I muttered “I could not keep him safe, all I had to do was keep him safe.” The shaking got harder as the nurse said, “This is not your fault.” My mind flicked to my son and I took a deep breath. After a while the alarms went quite. This happened twice more before I was wheeled back to the ward and I saw my partner again. I can never truly convey the level of sadness I felt over the next few days.

 

My mum flew in to support me. Beautiful generous people tried to help. Some stayed away thinking that my family needed space. Some visited saying what they could to try to make it ok. However, in this moment some repeated the platitudes that it was “ok,” I “could have another baby” and that “at least I didn’t have time to bond.” This was a planned and wanted pregnancy. From the moment my partner and I had begun trying to conceive I had changed my diet, I had begun to open boxes of clothes I had stored away from my son and I began to imagine myself with a new baby, possibly a girl but my instinct told me that we would have a little boy.

 

As a law student and a prochoice mother I have always been sceptical of foetal personhood laws. I have been sceptical on their impact on child birth choices, abortion rights and the treatment of pregnant women with addiction. Intellectually I completely understandthe arguments of Catherine Henry and the NSW Bar Association about the consequences of creating this category of ‘person’. However, a year after hearing those terrible words, I sat in my car transfixed bythe words of that Brodie Donegan had written about the trauma of her loss. The heartbreak of those few days after we had been told flooded back and as my kids slept in the back of the car I quietly cried. As I listened more closely I became more uncomfortable and it’s a discomfort that has only grown since.

 

In an attempt not to undermine women’s right to choose, the bill named “Zoe’s law” limits its scope to only applying to pregnancies that are more than 20 weeks in gestation. This will enshrine in law one of the most hurtful myths that early pregnancy loss is an ‘easier’ loss. It is not easier to lose a pregnancy early; a wanted pregnancy is never easy to lose.  I know that this is not the intention of Brodie Donegan but it is the effect this law would have. 20 weeks is an arbitrary cut-off point. Is the loss of a pregnancy at 20 weeks more hurtful, more terrible or more criminal than one at 19 weeks? I say no. Pregnancy loss at all stages must be treated equally and respectfully by the law. Instead of an arbitrary date or weight of a foetus we must judge the crime that is committed and weigh sentence considerations to reflect this. There will never be a long enough sentence to heal the trauma of a family that loses a wanted pregnancy through a crime. But no mother will accept that her pregnancy loss hurts less because her pregnancy had not reached an arbitrary date. If this law passes it will send the message to women who have lost a pregnancy at under 20 week gestation that the criminal justice system does not take their loss as seriously.

 

When my partner and I presented to hospital for routine follow up they told me that the test results were not showing what they had expected. I was once again sent for internal ultrasounds with doctors and sonographers gathered around debating. I was told that my pregnancy hormone had not dropped as expected and that they feared my pregnancy had “attached outside my uterus” but they couldn’t confirm it. They sent me away and I returned two days later for the same tests. Only to be sent away grieving and scared I would need more surgery. This process was repeated. After two weeks a consultant explained to me that my original diagnosis was incorrect. I had not lost an 8 weeks old foetus due to ectopic pregnancy but I had other complications. My pregnancy was in fact very early and had held on through the pressure of the internal bleeding and the surgery. The obstetrician was kind and respectful of the trauma I experienced. He said if I did not want to continue with the pregnancy he understood. But this was the pregnancy I wanted and I knew this would be the person who would complete our family.

 

The next few months were an emotional rollercoaster and I struggled to believe I was truly pregnant. The confidence I had with my first pregnancy that things were ok was gone. Small changes and problems sent me crying to the midwife believing I was again going to be told I had lost him. My son was born in July 2013 with the help of the Community Midwifery Program at King Edward Memorial Hospital. I am more cautious and more scared for him than I ever was for his brother. Sometimes at night when I am feeding, I think back and cry.

 

I lived with the ‘reality’ of early pregnancy loss for two weeks and it has changed me forever. I cannot imagine living with this reality for the rest of my life. I cannot imagine the anger and hurt felt by a family whose pregnancy was ended by a criminal act. But I ask politicians not to make laws that value one pregnancy over another. Do not make laws that make the violent end of one pregnancy more criminal than another. I ask that everyone does not devalue early pregnancy loss. Do not devalue early pregnancy loss. Do not pass this law.

 

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So to Mia Freedman I give you a picture of this mothers arse.

Recently Mia Freedman wrote this blog railing against Kim Kardashian. While I by no means hold Kim up as a demonstration of feminism I think that Mia Freedman has this wrong, very wrong. From the title ‘Are you a mother or a porn star?’ which degrades the ability of women who work in the porn industry to be effective parents, Freedman projects some extremely backward views on motherhood, sexuality and body image. 

Image

The core assumption that Freedman makes in this blog is that women must fit into a mould of personality and behaviour to be effective parents. Freedman’s condemning of this photo taken by Kardashian refuses to take into account the person that Kardashian was before becoming a mother. I have zero no doubt that Kardashian would have taken the same selfie to promote herself and her brand before becoming a parent. Through the promotion of her personal brand Kim is now worth $40 million dollars and her reality television show is gaining her $80 000 per episode. This business model of self-promotion including sexuality has been Kardashian’s core business since she was a teenager. 

While Kardashian’s business model does nothing for feminism nor is it responsible for women’s oppression or the over sexualisation of women. In a bizarre and far-reaching leap Freedman attempts to link Kim’s selfie to the overly sexualised make over of an animated children’s character. What Kardashian was not doing was giving a beloved children’s character a sexualised make over. She was a woman who as presenting herself in a sexual fashion that is all.  In fact the only link that Kardashian has to children is the fact that she is herself a mother.

Freedman’s insistence that somehow motherhood should change the way that Kardashian presents herself sends a powerful message to mothers like myself. The message that it sends says not only will your behaviour be policed as a woman but it will also be policed as a mother. As a mother you are responsible not only for they way that you present yourself but that you ‘owe’ others with your physical appearance. As a mother in my bikini I am not responsible for The Little Mermaid.

Scratching the issue further Freedman says that Kardashian should ‘do better’ for her daughter. For most of us the cult of motherhood dictates that we should be kind, lovely and beautiful but asexual. The idea of our own mothers having and owning sexuality especially aggressive sexuality is ‘revolting’.  Why should Kardashian’s sexuality change after children? It shouldn’t and it certainly shouldn’t because Mia Freedman says so.

To make this condemnation of Kardashian even more bizarre Freedman’s ‘mamamia’ blog published a defence of another mothers photo. This photo and the text placed on it send a very different message to mothers about body image and motherhood.

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Had the picture remain on its own, well it would have been a picture of Maria Kang, physically fit mother of three, but it didn’t the text “What’s your excuse?” challenges the reader. It challenges me as a mother of two to look at my body and ‘make excuses’ for not having a similar body. I don’t need excuses for not having Kang’s body, I have my own, every mother has her own. I have my own healthy beautiful body that looks nothing like Maria Kang’s. The image tells us nothing about Maria’s health only that she lives up to a body image that ‘fitsperation’ deems as beautiful.

The image was not particularly shock, even if it is in its own way offensive, but the response published on Freedman’s mamamia was down right horrible. Di Westaway, the CEO of Wild Women On Top – Trek Training For Adventure, writes the response and it takes us to a place that blames women’s lack of exercise for PND. Westerway’s anecdote about a friend who ‘cured’ herself of depression by walking is just ridiculous. What we know is that for some people exercise can relieve stress. This is great but exercise does not cure depression. We know that exercise can provide a pleasurable activity for some one who is depressed. This is also great but again I state EXERCISE DOES NOT CURE DEPRESSION and anecdotes do not make science. For most people with post natal depression the illness will eventually pass but this does not mean it is ‘cured’ by an activity that a person is doing the most of at the time. In fact for some women engaging in excessive exercise can be a symptom of depression. A quick call to people like ‘beyond blue’ by either Freedman or Westaway could have confirmed this.

The thing I do agree with Freedman on is that, “Kim is the canary down the mineshaft. Kim is simply a magnified reflection of society.” What Freedman’s feminism is telling me is that as a mother a sexualised body is not acceptable. However the presentation of Kang’s body as something to aspire to is never questioned. In fact it is further held up as desirable as Freedman allows Westaway to link not only the physical health that is implied by the picture but also mental health. Kang’s image of herself as a mother as well as a ‘beautiful body’ is ok but Kardashian’s image of herself as a mother as well as sexual is offensive. 

In truth Freedman’s motherhood concept is just as restrictive and twisted as any other artificial as any other. So to Mia Freedman I give you a picture of this mothers arse.   

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We are all Adam Lanza’s mother yet none of us are. A few reflections on motherhood in the context of the Connecticut mass shootings

First I feel that I should point out that I am not an American I am Australian mother. When I am talking about society and culture with in this blog I am talking about western society unless I specifically mention otherwise.

I would like to reflect on a culture of victim blame. Recently Australians we moved by the tragic death of a woman named Jill Meagher. She was allegedly attacked raped and murdered after having drinks with workmates in a middle class neighbourhood. Many pundits began to blame and shame the memory of Jill Meagher including drawing inferences about her relationship, her dress and her social life. These uniformed offensive views were gleaned from the most dubious of sources, including Facebook photos placed by others.  Rightly women, especially those who identified with the feminist movement, defended Jill Meagher and all women who have experienced violence by demanding an end to victim blaming behavior. Unfortunately we have not seen the same defense of the only person who could ever claim to be ‘Adam Lanza’s Mother’, Nancy Lanza.

Why is it that it is so natural for the left to defend on victim of murder and not another? I wonder if it is because we have seen new reports that say Nancy Lanza in fact owned the guns used in the shooting rampage? Is it because we have an objection to a culture that we see as glorifying and promoting the ownership and use of guns designed to kill people? Is it because we identify “prepping culture” with right wing misogynist ideology? And even if the answer to all those questions is yes does it excuse a mentality that blames victims for crimes that are committed by others? 2 

In Australia, well as the US, the person most likely to kill a woman is a man she is either intimate with or a male family member. So by this reckoning the murder of Nancy Lanza by her son is hugely out of the ordinary for a murder. However what is unusual is the fact that Adam Lanza then went on to kill a large amount of people who he wasn’t associated with. If Adam Lanza had not taken the lives of others would this have been so easy to blame or partially blame on Nancy Lanza’s mothering?

I think it is this context that the blog piece “I am Adam Lanza’s mother” 1 appeared. I do believe this was a genuine expression by the writer. Whether it was predicable that it would go viral to the extent it did. Whether Lisa Long could have predicted the reactions to it are really questions that cannot be answered. But we can reflect on our own reaction. Many reactions have been to write off the blog completely as an attention seeking exercise or a call for punitive measures against the mentally ill. Very few have discussed that in a violent misogynist culture how is it we raise our boys?  I don’t mean in the narrow context that one blogger reacted by instructing Lisa Long to proclaim the “much more powerful and brave message to say: “I will not provide my son with a similar context. I will not participate in my country’s love affair with guns. I am not Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Michael’s mother.”2

This reaction, aside from being the ultimate in victim blame, narrows down the responsibility of those who are struggling to raise children with tendencies towards violence. The son’s of Lisa Long and Nancy Lanza are not solely there own responsibility, they both live in a society where help for those who are have behavioral issues is extremely hard to come by for the majority of the population.  Outside the criminal justice system much of the behaviour management of minors is left to parents. Here is the elephant in the room not all parents are functional, not all are well resourced, not all are in touch with a wide network of supporting people and not all have dealt with their own emotional demons in a healthy way. This does not let society off the hook for the health and functioning of their children.

As you may have noticed I am not commenting on the issue of mental health. Not because I don’t think that many people need more resources to deal with mental health but because I believe the issues that lead to mass killings are behavioural and social rather than they are linked to an illness. A society that glorifies killing, teaches it’s young men that to carry a weapon that is only designed to take the life of another (namely automatic and semi automatic weapons) is a right – even in some cases is heroic and that makes sections of it’s society less than human is bound for trouble.  For those in our communities who do not suffer or understand mental illness it is all to easy to say, “he must be sick” because we can’t imagine a set of circumstances where a person would or could behave in the same way. It allows us to make Adam Lanza and his mother (who has also been “accused” of being mentally ill) into “the other” people who could not be us or those around us.  The flip side of the very powerful logic of making people into “others” is that we strip them of the human dignity and respect that we hold dear. After a horrific crime people who are mentally ill, and those who are close to them, brace themselves for the knee jerk reactions the crimes. The most common of which targeted at people with Schizophrenia. While the wild accusations are going on and the politically convenient attacks happen against some of our most vulnerable, parents of children with behavioural problems are left without answers and some fear to look for them in case their child becomes one of “the others”.

This debate is not about gun control, mental illness or doomsday prepping it is about how our societies function. Internalised hatred and dehumanisation of others is a powerful combination. A far deeper discussion will need to take place than the polarised “mental health” verses “gun control / gun culture” discussion that is taking place now.  A discussion that looks at a society not simply places blame at the feet of a mother.

 

1 http://thebluereview.org/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother/

2 http://www.news.com.au/world/nancy-lanza-may-have-triggered-son-adam-lanzas-gun-rampage/story-fndir2ev-1226538321098

3 http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jon-paul-fiorentino/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother_b_2322973.html

 

http://m.xojane.com/issues/for-the-last-time-stop-conflating-violence-and-mental-illness

Letter to Socialist Alternative prior to Reclaim the Night

This letter was sent to Socialist Alternative from our organising group prior to our Reclaim the Night Event in Fremantle.

From Reclaim the Night Fremantle 2012 Organising Group at reclaimthenightfreo@gmail.com
: Dear Socialist Alternative Western Australia,

Reclaim the Night Fremantle 2012 Organising Group have chosen to address some concerns that arise in discussions of Reclaim the Night. We hope that you will join us for the event and have a stall at our festival. We also hope that your members who hold office bearer positions in Unions and Student Guilds will support this event.

Is Reclaim the Night transphobic?

Reclaim the Night Fremantle 2012 Organising Group does not take a position on events that have happened in other places around the country. Reclaim the Night events have always been autonomous and those who organise them choose the theme, demands, participation rules etc. This year the Fremantle event was planned by an open committee that has included transwomen. The group is clear that we don’t take a position on the gender of others and that all those who identify as women are women.

Is the event calling for higher levels of policing of the sex industry or is it anti sex worker?

The event is being addressed by a sex worker advocate and campaigner. She will address the laws that the Barnett government has proposed and what sex workers are currently calling for. She will also be speaking in support of defending civil liberties and not having more CCTV as the “response” to violence, from a sex worker’s point of view.

Does the event call for higher levels of policing or CCTV monitoring of public spaces?

The Organising Group has taken a specific position against CCTV monitoring. Our speaker on sex worker issues will take up this point.

Furthermore, we have a speaker who is involved in the current debate about the urban redesign of Fremantle. She will address how CCTV is not the solution to violence against women on the street but the reclaiming of public space through urban design and cultural change.

Does the event address the issue of domestic violence and its adversely high impact on working class women?

The Organising Group recognises that while attacks on women in public space are brutal, and often shock the community, violence (including sexual violence) is far more likely to be committed against women in the home. This violence often goes unreported or is not investigated effectively. The impact on working class women of this kind of violence is often higher due to lack of options. Women’s refuges play a key role in providing women with options. The Warrawee Women’s Refuge was Australia’s first purposed built women’s refuge. It has a long history of being administered to community standards by the Fremantle City Council. Recent funding announced by the Barnett government has meant a rise funding to all refuges except those administered by councils. This means that the Fremantle City Council is being pressured to hand over Warrawee to a NGO (possibly church based) provider or cut the service that Warrawee provides. We will have a speaker from Warrawee Women’s Refuge at the main part of the rally. We have also spoken with the Union (the ASU) who represents the Warrawee workers and they are having both a contingent and a stall at the event to profile the campaign.

Is the event anti ‘working class men’?

93% of sexual violence is committed by men, and the perpetrators of violence against women can be found in all social classes. Analysis of violence by social class indicates that the most marginalised and disadvantaged have higher rates of violence. In times of economic crisis, violence against women sky-rockets. This points to the structural causes of violence against women.

None of this is to say that fighting violence against women is somehow an attack on working class men. That would be as absurd as if to say calling out racism is an attack on white workers. Campaigns to fight racism and sexism don’t divide the working class: racism and sexism divide the working class, and those who want to promote solidarity must surely promote solidarity with the most oppressed sections of the working class. Solidarity with working class women includes not raping and beating us.

It is the oppression of women, women’s exploitation in the workplace, economic dependence on men, sexist ideology and the misogyny all this breeds that is responsible for any splits in working class solidarity that arise – not women who are fighting for equality and liberation. We hope to unite women and our class to support the fight against the structural causes of women’s oppression.  Working class men are not only welcome but their support is essential to making real change.

A number of working class organisations like the MUA and the AMWU (whose members are largely men) have financially supported the event. In other states MUA delegates have seen Reclaim the Night Events as a place to promote and further the work that the MUA is doing in its campaigns including the current campaign about ending sexual harassment of women who work at sea.

We hope these clarifications enable you to reconsider your position and support Reclaim the Night Fremantle, promoting and attending it on Friday October 26th 2012.

On behalf of Reclaim the Night Fremantle 2012 Organising Group

What should feminism look like? Reclaim the Night Fremantle 2012

I have just read the anonymous blog by “Shutupmsrose” and I am quite upset. I have no problem with a tactical discussion on the issue of who is invited to “reclaim the night” and what role they play.

 

I have had my own set of experiences of organising and attending Reclaim the Night that I would like to share. I would like to assert that respect more than anything that creates a safe space for women. I really find this difficult, I am not sure about how the movement is using the word triggering, but I think this is it. I actually upset to the point of wanting to be sick.

 

As a feminist I always thought that being involved in the women’s movement was about sisterly solidarity and support. My mother had told me about organizing to get herself a job, to inform women voters and to take on the Port Pirie and it’s misogynist culture.

 

I was first involved in organizing Reclaim the Night in Canberra in 1997. We had a campaign about domestic and public violence. A truly horrible incident of domestic violence had taken place in public and the subsequent acquittal of the perpetrator on the defense of “being too drunk” had galvanized women into action.

 

When I moved to Melbourne I also go involved in Reclaim the Night events. It was not a particularly positive experience for me. In fact that is a complete understatement, on the whole differences of opinions were not respected. I had often a different take on things because I was working on construction sites and no particularly academically well read. I felt belittle and often dismissed – a tone that was taken with me again recently when I tried to contribute to a discussion on my view on the priorities of the women’s movement and gender roles on a friends Facebook page (not by my friend). I was told that if I had not read particular texts or used language in a particular way that I did know anything about feminism. 

 

I found for me the experience of organizing Reclaim the Night often involved the emotional bullying of myself and others. An example of this is when a woman who was from a Kurdish background put her view that men should participate in the event. It was based on her respect for a particular man who had escaped with her from Iraq. He had been a doctor that at great risk to him had provided gynecological and obstetric services to women including to those who were being hidden in the underground because their pregnancies put them at threat of honor killing, something the Iraqi woman had personal experience of. As this woman was articulating her point another member of the Collective shouted at her “You just want men there cos you love dick! You love DICK!”. At this point the meeting broke down and we decided to discuss the issue of men marching at the next meeting. The next meeting the issue of me marching was on the agenda again and the meeting was clearly attended by many women how had no interest in organizing the event come along (over 30 where the committee had been about 7 until then). When the woman who was chairing asked that people respect each other during the discussion she was verbally attacked and we were told that the woman who had yelled to comments had “experienced sexual assault”, that the Iraqi woman should be “tough enough to handle it” and asking for people to be polite and respectful was “re-traumatising”. Being older and wiser I know I would walk away from such a hostile environment but at the time I thought that this is what I had to put up with if I wanted to be a feminist.

 

After that year I stopped organizing in the collective but I attended the events. I was dealing with some pretty nasty stuff in my work life (after being sexually assaulted at work I had to choose between continuing to work with this man or loose my apprenticeship) and I wanted some sisterly solidarity. When I arrived at the event it had been organized instead to “tell survival stories”. At the time I was not personally strong enough to hear what was being said had. The event was small. As I went to leave a woman stopped me and said, “Why are you leaving?” When I tried to walk past her saying “I just don’t want to hear this”, she physically blocked my path saying, “Well you should, rape victims never get a chance to speak, I can believe you would ignore her”.  I feel now I would have had the confidence to stand up to this ‘marshal’ but at the time I did not.  Found it hard to sleep after this and it still upsets me thinking about it. I stepped back for organizing and attending Reclaim the Night and International Women’s Day events for a long time instead I expressed my feminism through my trade union.  Campaigning for maternity leave to be placed into EBAs, rights for casual workers and a decent sexual harassment policy within my union, for campaigns like the prochoice campaign and to stop cuts in services. I also became a person that when people had experienced sexual harassment or violence they sort out to help them through the process, including helping women to report of rape and sexual assaults to police.

 

I only became involved in an event this year in Fremantle because I spoke to a number of young feminists on my campus who were not relating to the world like this. Personally I found the attendance of men as supporters (probably about ¼ of the crowd) invigorating. It gave me hope that we can make change, that our daughters may grow up in a world where rape and assault are not at epidemic proportions.  I did not walk away as I have from so many other RtN events with the horrible sinking feeling that rape & assault are inevitable and that my own traumas would not be healed.

 

I am upset that this has been posted online rather than being bought up with the organisers on the night. I had specifically posted both in the comments on the before the event and in the general description of the event that, “We welcome all that support the goals of this event to attend. We will not tolerate the denigration of any other rally participants.” I feel that if we had known about the behavior of this man we could have asked him to leave easily. I did notice that one woman looked a little shaken on the night and I approach her twice once asking “Are you ok?” and another time saying “How are you feeling?”. It may have been the woman was the one that wrote this. Maybe not as  she may have been upset for other reasons. I know that the family of Jill Meagher lives in WA and I can’t imagine how they would have felt if they had attended the event. 

 

Personally I welcome the campaigns that were highlighted by the Union movement. For me they have a clear role in as leadership in many areas where men dominate challenging misogynist culture. The recent inclusion of the ASU and MUA in EBAs of “Domestic Violence Clauses” will change and save women’s lives. “[Anti Domestic] Violence Campaigner Phil Cleary believes his sister Vicki could have lived if a family violence agreement had been in place at her work. In 1987, Vicki was stabbed to death by her former boyfriend outside the Coburg kindergarten where she worked.” (Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/the-right-to-leave-20121026-28axr.html#ixzz2AYgeICgx) The campaign for better working conditions and better service by the unions present (including the campaign to save Warrawee Women’s Refuge) if successful will mean women have more financial security and more community support when leaving violence. The event in Australia has in different formulation to stop violence against women and for women to asset their right to be in public space. Reclaim the Night cannot ignore the violence that one third of women experience, intimate partner violence, we cannot ignore that this is a issue and only focus on claiming public space. We can’t ignore our fellow fighters, the women of the union movement and their allies, who are fighting this fight daily.

 

If we are talking about bodily autonomy I think that the question of rape being used as a weapon of war and Australia’s barbaric treatment of the women who flee this horror is a vital one. The detention enforces isolation and trauma amongst women who have had these experiences.  Whilst in detention refugee women lack basic bodily autonomy, like access to contraception, privacy and some experience sexual assault & rape.

 

 More broadly I find it a little disturbing that people are claiming the history of the event I feel this reflects an unhelpful tendency to speak on behalf of others. So far the only communication we have had from any one who has been involve in the original Reclaim the Night movement has been positive. Many women like myself ho have had a long history in the Reclaim the Night movement disagree with the version of history being presented. Reclaim the Night has been always autonomous, it has had immediate goals and policies on what role men should play. It has been the women that have planned, coordinated and led the event that have made these decisions year to year at each different location.

 

I think it is extremely important that the movement treats all women with dignity and respect. Also believe it is good to look at ourselves and the things that we hold are held as truths. It is not true that only those who articulate their experiences who have been victims of sexual assault, rape and violence. We know that domestic and sexual violence are at epidemic proportions and that the majority of women have experienced rape, sexual assault or harassment. Looking at crowd numbers this year compared to the last two years is interesting. While some groups chose not to be involved in this year, that has also been the case for the previous two years in Perth as well. Even if we look at just at the numbers of women who attend that were not part of any left or feminist organization we see a large amount of people choosing not to attend the events that have been held in previous years in Perth but choosing to attend this years Fremantle event. Some people have assert that this is because previous years events have been boycotted but this does not account for the lack of presents of non left or feminist organization aligned women.  Maybe it is also the case that the events in Perth were not speaking to women in a way they want to support. Why was it that many women asked if the safe was for trans women? Or safe for women who work in the sex industry to raise demands about safety? I had many phone calls asking if it will be an environment to bring kids, without graphic the details of sexual assault heard at other events? If these questions needed to be asked, we need to look at why.

 

We must ask ourselves are we choosing to listen to the loud voices? The voices that will not tolerate difference of opinion? Are we choosing to listen to the bullying voices? Or those who use their experience to silence others?

 

Or are we aiming to win the battle against rape culture and misogyny? Is what we are doing building strengthening a movement that asserts woman’s’ right to be safe? Can we build a movement led by women for our liberation, respectfully, together?