New Liberal Democrat definition of transphobia makes women second-class citizens

The Liberal Democrats and Liberal Party before it have a proud tradition of defending liberty and advocating for social change. Going back over a hundred years, the state pension, social security, the NHS, legal abortion, the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the creation of same sex marriage are all associated with this movement and its members.

The party with has always believed that women’s rights are human rights and as recently as this March, LibDem MP Wera Hobhouse introduced a Hate Crime Bill, intended to tackle the ever present problem of misogyny.

Then on the 19th of September, on its platform LibDem Voice, the party published its definition of transphobia. You can read it here: https://www.libdemvoice.org/liberal-democrats-adopt-definition-of-transphobia-65868.html

Perhaps surprisingly, although it was drafted by three women, it contradicts the party’s own constitution on the subject of sexism and it is incompatible with the human rights of women.

Therefore, using it as a starting point, I drafted a definition of misogyny and submitted it to the LibDem Voice platform for publication. As a Liberal and Liberal Democrat since 1966, who has held many local party positions as well as being a LibDem councillor for over five years, I expected an acknowledgment at least, but this was not to be.

So, being denied a party platform, I am posting it here.

Liberal Democrat definition of Misogyny – a proposal

Over the last year it has become clear that the Party needed to explain how it proposes to recognise and defend the sex-based rights of women as defined in the 2010 Equality Act. 

We know that some parts of the mainstream media and online social media have been actively trying to smear the female community and have promoted scare stories designed to frighten people into rolling back women’s rights in general and removing the protections they are allowed under the Gender Recognition Act in particular. We want to support members who want to call out misogynistic behaviour and challenge it both in and outside the party. 

It is time for the Party to make its position clear. 

I believe that the following document will give members an effective way of answering the question ‘What do the Lib Dems believe is misogynistic behaviour?’

In drafting this proposal I have not drawn on the work done by organisations such as Stonewall and TransActual UK that campaign to remove women’s sex based rights. 

I hope this definition will help guide members who want to support women and call out misogynistic behaviour. It could also be key to supporting the Party’s disciplinary processes. It is an important step towards ensuring that in 2020 the Liberal Democrats continue to demonstrate their commitment to Liberal values, as eloquently described in the preamble to the Party’s constitution.

“We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely. . .   Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality. ” 

Definition of Misogyny

‘Misogyny’ is the fear or dislike of someone based on the fact they are biologically female. Misogyny, whether through words or action, may be targeted at people who are, or who are perceived to be women, whether or not they identify as feminists, and their allies.

‘Woman’ is an umbrella term to describe people of the female sex who may menstruate, lactate and bear children and comfortably inhabit the body they were born in. It also includes trans men who were born female and retain female DNA. Women may describe themselves using one or more of a variety of terms. They are not required to adopt or accept any form of ideology imposed on them by men or other women.

Misogynistic behaviour may include (i) attempting directly or through advocacy to remove women’s rights, (ii) misrepresenting women, (iii) abuse of women, and (iv) systematically excluding women from discussions about issues that directly affect them.”

Genuine errors or misunderstandings about a woman’s identity, or about the nature or effect of a policy or practice, do happen, and genuine errors or misunderstandings should not be considered intentionally misogynistic.  Some people may have had little or no experience or engagement with issues affecting women. Genuine errors and misunderstandings can still have potentially harmful effects, but the action taken to address them should take into account the lack of intention. Where accidental offence or harm has been caused the most appropriate course of action will generally be an apology, retraction or similar.

However, where an individual repeatedly does things which might be viewed as misogynistic, it is unlikely this is in genuine error. This is especially true if they have been challenged by others, and they have been pointed to resources to help them learn about women’s rights and misogyny. Indeed, disingenuous feigned ignorance of women’s rights is a common tactic of committed opponents of these rights. A history of misogyny should be taken into account when considering whether someone is being intentionally misogynistic.

Appendix of Examples

To help members understand how misogyny manifests, here are a few common examples of misogynistic actions which you may come across both inside and outside the Party. This list is not exhaustive and behaviours which constitute misogyny may change over time. Members may seek further guidance on patterns of misogynistic behaviour from their mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and friends.

Denying women’s rights or refusing to accept them

For example:

Using insulting language and/or threatening violence – calling a woman a bitch, c*nt, making death threats or suggesting that a woman should be forced to, ‘suck my lady dick’. If someone is not aware of feminism or is not well informed about it, accidental mistakes may be made as people acquire respect for women and their rights. Insulting women deliberately, persistently and/or maliciously is a means of humiliation and degradation and is particularly egregious when directed at women who are merely seeking to defend rights they have already acquired.

Mockery or dismissal of women’s rights and their sex based identity often takes the form of inappropriate comparisons (‘they will be wanting to run the country next’), suggesting women do not mean what they say (for example by describing them as ‘confused’ or ‘just trying to be controversial’), or suggesting feminism  is a fad, through comments such as ‘I’m too old to understand all this’.

Using phrases or language to describe women which are designed to suggest that they are a separate category of person from men and do not need to be taken seriously. Current examples include referring to women as ‘pet’, ‘dear’ or ‘poppet’, which diminishes their human identity as equal and valid members of the human race.

Misrepresenting and excluding women

For example:

  • Accusing women, as a group, of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single woman or even a man presenting as a woman. This is a particular problem when recording crimes and compiling crime statistics listed by sex.
  • Positioning women as a threat to individual rights or safety or as a threat to society as a whole, for example by equating women with witches, bitches or as controlling, irrational or hysterical.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about women or their male allies. This includes spreading the idea of a “female conspiracy” which asserts undue influence over media or government or claiming that women’s allies support feminist initiatives out of fear or bribery rather than a genuine belief that women’s rights are human rights.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of women behaviours that are not expected or demanded of any other groups in society – for example criticising women who do not conform to female stereotypes for not being feminine enough and women who do conform for perpetuating sexism.

Knowingly promoting policies and practices that actively discriminate against women 

For example:

  • Removing segregated facilities as provided for in law, or denying them access to facilities which would be required in order for them to fully participate in public life.
  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or physical or mental harming of women because of their sex.
  • Knowingly promoting the idea that feminism is a controversial ideology, or is caused by mental illness.
  • Advocating the withdrawal or defunding of access to medical treatment for women or advocating or facilitating the removal of single sex spaces in hospital wards, changing rooms and prisons.
  • Advocating that people other than natal born women should be allowed to compete in women’s sport.

We encourage members who are interested in learning more to engage with their wives, daughters, sisters, mothers and female friends.

Brexit day + 11

methode_sundaytimes_prod_web_bin_9c2de32c-71a2-11e8-ab75-b23b8d3bd1ab

It was 9.00am. He stepped out into the sun. It was a clear, peaceful autumn day. He could hear traffic, but no sirens. He headed towards the tube station and shops.

Around the corner, the remains of a burned out police car were being lifted onto a flatbed truck. The introduction of martial law and the 9.00pm curfew had caused a few hiccups, but things seemed quiet now.

The tube station was open, though the presence of a police officer cradling a semi-automatic carbine was slightly disconcerting. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” he thought.

He stooped to pick up a copy of the free Metro newspaper. The banner across the top of the page read, “President Cummings’ first TV address from Buckingham Palace – full transcript P.5.

Then lower down, “Johnson ordered to see Trump again,” was the headline. At the foot of the page were pictures of three former politicians. “Traitors seek bail,” accompanied the story.

He paused to read further: “Lawyers acting for the disgraced former Prime Ministers John Major and Tony Blair and ex-Attorney General Dominic Grieve will today appeal for them to be released on bail while awaiting trial for treason, following their failed October coup when the UK was still a member of the EU.”

“Rumours that the government was considering the reintroduction of hanging for treason were not denied by Home Secretary Priti Patel on BBC’s Newsnight last night. “We will consider this proposal carefully,” she said. “The last time a traitor was hanged in this country was in 1946 when William Joyce was found guilty of conspiring with Germany to undermine our great country. Nobody can fail to see the similarities here. Those who seek to place us under the jackboot of Europe can expect no mercy.”

He turned the page. “Our retired Queen settles in to Sandringham – the history of a special royal home.” He turned the page again.

He glanced at the transcript of the president’s speech.

“We will not tolerate looting.”

“Our troops are the finest in the world. They will keep us safe and any illegal foreign nationals will be tracked down and sent home without delay.”

“Our borders are secure. We will soon be producing 90% of our food on these islands.”

On the opposite page was a large photo of military equipment being loaded onto a ferry. “Troops and tanks off to reinforce our Irish border posts.”

The Northern Ireland problem was worrying, but not unexpected. Things seemed to have quietened down after initial skirmishes. Never mind that, he was hungry. He wondered whether there was any food in the supermarket.

He headed down the street and spotted the queue. There must have been about a hundred people there. Another policeman with a semi-automatic weapon was standing beside a notice that read, “Customers will be allowed inside ten at a time, stocks permitting. Please be patient.”

He joined the queue and turned to the football pages. “Spurs thrash Sheffield United as Arsenal slide further behind at Leicester.” That cheered him up.

Forty-five minutes later he was inside. He sadly surveyed the empty shelves. No fruit. No veg. He moved on towards tinned goods where he saw a cluster of people surrounding a loaded pallet containing boxes. “One at a time,” the man said. “You can take three tins each. If you grab more they will be taken back at the checkout and you may be thrown out with nothing.”

There were sighs, and shoppers drifted away as they were allocated their goods. He reached the front and was offered a tin of plum tomatoes and two tins of sardines. “Any rice?” he asked. “Next aisle,” said the man. I think we are still OK for that.”

Only one checkout was open. The automatic tills had bags over them. The cashier was surprisingly cheerful. “I think we’ll be OK,” she said. “Rodney is with the Territorials and he’s off to Belfast tomorrow. Army families will get priority provisions, at least until the rationing system kicks in. That’s the beauty of rationing. Foreigners won’t get ration cards. They’ll soon be off after that!”

He wandered out into the road, passed the armed cop and the queue, that was now twice as long.

He smiled. Yes, it had all been worth it. Now he had sovereignty – and a blue passport. Britain was great again and the president was in his palace. Finally, all was right with the world.

Miscarriages of justice – what can be done to prevent them?

9781909976351_w250

Over three years ago I was contacted by Professor David Anderson, a retired endocrinologist who lives in Umbria.  His Italian home is a short drive from Perugia.  He had an idea for a book.  Was I interested in getting involved?

We had first met in 2012 in Seattle at a gathering of supporters of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, who were framed for the murder of English student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy in 2007.  They were eventually released in 2011 after four years in prison.

Continue reading

Amanda Knox and the HIV test fraud

hiv-test

Within days of her arrest as a suspect in the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox was told that she had tested HIV positive.  This was a lie and the circumstances surrounding this fake test form part of her appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

You can read more about the ECHR submission here: http://bit.ly/1XmI1BH

As she records in her book, “Waiting to Be Heard”; the HIV episode occurred in November 2007, during the first month of her incarceration and almost a year before she was charged.  She and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were in custody because a judge had decided that they “might kill again” and because she might be a flight risk.  This was an abuse of the Italian law on preventive detention which is only intended for suspected terrorists and known violent offenders.

The trap is sprung

The fake HIV test result news was announced to Amanda at a nightly infirmary appointment – this was a daily occurrence while her mental state was being assessed.

Continue reading

Rudy Guede, the poor black guy

oprah-winfrey

(Photo shows Oprah Winfrey.)

I was looking for the Google cache of the misnamed ‘True Justice for Meredith Kercher’ hate site today. I don’t like to give those trolls any direct hits if I can help it. For some reason the cache does not show at the moment. All you get is a tab with links to ‘similar’ sites which takes you to other hate sites like their fake wiki. Still unwilling to give them the hits, I clicked on the ‘more results’ link. This took me to another Google selection.

This is how I found the cache of Uber Fuehrer Peter Quennell’s rant about Oprah Winfrey from 2010. He got very cross when Oprah had the temerity to talk to Amanda’s folks about the travesty of the 2009 Massei trial. Quennell plays the race card as hard as he can, especially for Oprah. This is part of what he wrote, with my comments in brackets:

“Oprah Gets Snowed: Why Was She Not Made Aware of The Race Card Being Played?”

(Quennell likes his headlines capped.)

Continue reading

Amanda Knox: A Flawed Murder Investigation

Sums the case up pretty well. Friends of mine are planning to attend the Chicago Loyola Knox Luncheon on December 3rd. I wonder if any of the trolls will show?

Life After Innocence

The Italian Court of Cassation, an appellate court of the highest instance that only verifies the interpretation of the law, issued its 52-page formal written explanation this past Monday for its March ruling exonerating Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of the murder of Meredith Kercher. The pair initially was convicted in a Perugia court in 2009, acquitted after a first appeals court, and then convicted again in 2014 after a separate Cassation Court panel overturned those acquittals, both serving nearly four years in prison. Knox and Sollecito have since been exonerated, while Rudy Hermann Guede, a man from the Ivory Coast, was convicted and is now serving a 16-year sentence.   Knox faced 28.5 years in Italian prison while Sollecito faced 25 years had their initial conviction been upheld.

The scathing explanation condemned prosecutors for presenting a flawed and hastily constructed case from the onset. The investigation of Knox and Sollecito…

View original post 225 more words

Harry Rag and the garbage truck

injustice

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were arrested on November 6th 2007. After a year in prison they were indicted for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

On November 7th 2007, the day after the arrest, the Italian Minister of the Interior, Giulia Amati, declared that they were guilty. Their photographs were then placed on a ‘wall of shame’ at Rome Police Station, alongside pictures of convicted Mafia gangsters. This top level condemnation from the government emboldened the media. News coverage continued on the basis that they had already been convicted.

Keep taking the tabloids

Within hours of Meredith’s murder, journalists flocked to Perugia. As soon as Knox and Sollecito were arrested, coverage went into overdrive. In the early weeks of the investigation, The Times of London was posting as many as three stories a day on its website. Everything that the police told reporters was published as truth. Many ‘facts’ turned out to be lies. None of this mattered. A good story doesn’t have to be true.

Continue reading

The presumption of innocence

(C)Daniel Butcher 2007

Image (C)Daniel Butcher 2007

The presumption of innocence is the principle that a defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, which has to collect and present evidence that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant does not have to prove anything. This principle is a cornerstone of justice in most advanced countries.

Except in Italy

Soon after Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were arrested, Judy Bachrach wrote an article for Vanity Fair magazine. She quoted ecclesiastical judge Count Neri Capponi who informed her that things would not go Knox’s way. “Our system stems from the Inquisition and also from medieval law,” he explained. What this means, in effect, is that justice in Italy “is based on the supremacy of the prosecution. This nullifies the fact—written in our constitution by the way—that you’re innocent until proven guilty.”

Continue reading

The British girls

When someone you know is accused of a serious crime, you immediately reassess everything you think you know about them. If you scarcely know them, you will probably go along with whatever the police and prosecution say. If you know them well, you may be surprised. You may even know them so well that you refuse to believe that the accusations can be true.

If you know them, well, – so, so; not too well, but more than a little, you are still likely to be swayed against them. The British girls knew Meredith quite well; Amanda, not so much. Some had never met her. In the circumstances, their behaviour is understandable.

Continue reading

Amanda Knox, Mignini, witchcraft and tunnel vision

(This article was first published on Ground Report – 21 August 2012.)

This is what happens when police get tunnel vision. They shoot the arrow, then they draw the target. They lose their objectivity and that’s why we have juries. – Raymond Kelly

Many religious fundamentalists, both Roman Catholic and Protestant still believe in the reality of evil and witchcraft. This means that a man like prosecutor Mignini has no difficulty in seeing the work of the Devil in a crime scene and can conjure up an unlikely scenario, untroubled by minor inconveniences like evidence and criminal profiling. It also means that, with God on his side, it may be easy for him to believe that the ends justify the means. After all, someone who rises to the top, perhaps because of a ‘superior’ ability to convict criminals, will not permit dissent when he pronounces. Thus have magistrates, judges and civic leaders behaved though the ages.

Witches are often outsiders

Witches are often outsiders, not well known to the local community and unable to easily call on character references. On the other hand, local petty criminals are often part of the townscape. Their parents and teachers will be known. Their descent into criminality will have been observed, but as locals, they may be allowed some slack.

Continue reading