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My notes on the Conducive Context..................finally.

(4 Posts)
WeDONTneedanotherhero Wed 06-Jul-11 13:57:45

They're not great but it will give you a rough idea of the day.


Mike Molan (Pro-dean and faculty of Art and Human Sciences) started the day. He spoke about the cost of domestic violence to the tax payer which is roughly 15/16 billion pounds and the cost of sexual violence which is roughly 8 billion pounds. He also spoke about how we can use that information to explain and provide understanding to others. He then challenged what we are going to do to change our culture.

Then Julia Long (PhD and LFN activist) spoke about how the academic and grass root activists relationship is an important one. She also spoke about why we were all here; to see what we can do about male violence against women. Especially as feminist activism is not taken seriously for example Kat Baynard on Newsnight talking about objectification.


Joan Smith (author of feminist classic Misogynies, columnist and campaigner for human rights) then took the floor. She spoke about when she was a journalist during the Peter Sutcliffe murders. She described how the media used the term prostitute in a light manner but it also handed Sutcliffe an “excuse”. She went on to say how there was no female detectives on the case and very few female journos, So as one of the few female who had access to the case she saw a huge gulf between the public and private view of the police officers/detective involved. In private the police’s views were extremely anti-women. At one point one of the officers described one of the murdered woman’s vagina as “stickier than a decorator’s bucket”. Throughout the case the women’s behaviours were criticised, they were blamed for what happened to them. Smith felt overall there was extreme police hostility towards the women they were meant to be protecting. Further to this the media reflected the police’s loathing for women.

Smith said that the police could not understand that these women do not want to sell sex, that they are doing it because they are homeless, destitute and are often drug users. Also, that it is men who are driving the market especially in reference to sex trafficking. The media also seem ignorant in men’s roles as the news seems to believe that men are invisible. Smith said we need to move the view from women being passive victims to focus on the men who actually commit the crimes.


Next to speak was Dr Aisha Gill (BA, MA, PhD, PGCHE and lecturer in Criminology at Roehampton University). She spoke about the implications for addressing violence against black, minority ethnic and refugee (BMER) in the UK. She put forward that the strategies the government have in place are too simplistic and how they need to take a view that rejects the idea that there is one single cause of discrimination i.e. Islam. The media also play a part, as when they report on these stories they promote the stereotypes.

Also in relation to this Gill explored the idea that by labelling violence against BMER women as “cultural” we are exoticising it. This leads to implications for professionals. If the professionals fail to tackle stereotypes it impacts on victim’s credibility and therefore impacts on the support and understanding they receive. She also spoke about how we must remember that these women are trapped by family expectation. They are often young and feel conflicted (therefore make reluctant witnesses); these young girls are keen to protect “honour”.

Gill expressed that we should stop blaming culture and look at the specific manifestations of violence against women for what they are; we need to look at the individual circumstances. She was also concerned about the threats of closure of the routes that minority women have to gain help and support i.e. the Poppy Project (although later in the day a woman from Eaves said the Poppy Project would continue without government funding). She ended by saying we need to stand tall and fight back against cuts to protect women.


It was now Pragna Patel’s (founding member of Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism) turn. She believes that multiculturalism has a negative impact on minority women. Further, the government’s approach is overshadowed by a faith agenda. This has led to women’s need for protection being ignored. Patel believes the government has a misogynist agenda. It was recognised that women could not be protected because of fear of offending a religion. Today it is seen as a right to religion opposed to a right to freedom from religion. There is great intolerance for those who dare to question religion and its practices.

She ended by stating that the faith based approach used in law and to aid desecularisation need to end and there need to be a secular space for vulnerable women.

Then there was a short Q&A

Question 1: Should we call it sexist violence?
Answer 1: the danger for using “sexist” is that it will be seen as a joke. Also the term “violence against women” has currency in law. However it was also put forward that it could depend on the audience and maybe we could use both terms.

Question 2: How can we challenge violence against women?
Answer 2: Continue to do what we are doing, doing it well and be vigilant.


(OBJECT and Dr Maddy Coy and Dr Miranda Horvarth)

This workshop looked at pornification and its link to violence against women.

What is objectification?

• Instrumental – provides sexual gratification
• Denial of autonomy
• Inertness (a thing or a person)
• Fungibility
• Violability
• Ownership
• Denial of subjectivity (feelings, perspective, desires)
• Reduction to a body
• Reduction to appearance
• Silencing
(Nussbaum, 1995; Langton, 2009)

Coy and Horvath then took the floor and spoke about how “lads-mags” are hetro-normative and depict women as sexual prey. They also spoke about how the “harmless fun” argument put forward by our society makes feminist analysis of the magazines irrelevant. They have done a study involving 423 men aged 18-30 which will be published later in the year. But their findings show what we already know; that these magazines promote sexist inequalities and makes sexual violence attractive. Of course this is correlational as to have direct cause and effect is impossible as human beings are too complex. However it is easy to identify specific relationships between lad’s mags and sexual violence. If you would like to receive the study they gave their email address and said they were happy to email it ( or


(Dr Lynne Harne, Olivia Smith and Dr Tina Skinner)

Court responses to sexual violence victims:
The courts are criticised for their low conviction rates, inappropriate questioning, using victim’s sexual history and propagating rape myths. The policies that are in place to protect these victims are insufficient and are not put into action.

In a study carried out found that barristers focused on “rational” behaviour (hypothetical “norms”) against victim’s “irrational” behaviour. There was also extreme interpretation on “reasonable doubt”; if the jury was not 100% sure the rapist had done it he was found not guilty. Even forensic evidence is not seen as weighty enough to ensure a conviction. The study also showed how the barristers were more focused on winning rather than getting justice. Both Davies et al (1998) study and Ellison, (2001) study also came to this conclusion. The barristers were willing to manipulate the information by asking leading questions or closed questions, often using this type of questioning to undermine the victim’s credibility. Another ways they undermine the victim’s credibility is by using stereotypes, rape myths and focus on peripheral details. The judge should stop improper behaviour like this however it is rarely the case (Lees, 1996).

They concluded that part of the workshop by focusing on what need to happen, beginning with educating solicitors about the truths behind rape and further, look at how solicitors instruct barrister. They questioned if we could learn something from inquisitorial legal proceedings.

In the second half we looked at policing and rape law. Starting with the disbelief and lack of understand. Alcohol plays a huge part in both of these. When a victim was drunk/ had been drinking she became less innocent whereas if a rapist was drunk/ had been drinking it lessens his guilt. The double standards in rape cases are vast. The speaker when on to explain how the attitude towards rape victims was very hit and miss and varying greatly both within a station and countrywide. For example many women speak of how they were threatened with prison for making “false” allegations or told to “stop being a silly little girl; you’re only doing this for attention”. The women interviewed also spoke about the CPS’s poor attitude towards them, they were made to feel worthless, that they weren’t respected and worryingly a considerable number said they would not report a rape again.


We then re-grouped and Imitaz Dharker (poet, artist and documentary film maker) read a few pieces of her poetry. I highly recommend reading her poetry, it is fab.


Liz Kelly (Author, Director of CWASU and Roddick Chair of Violence against women at London Met) took the floor. She spoke about the term “hate crime” and its usefulness. She concurred that the term only recognised minorities, and it is a very political term. Kelly believes a better term is “a crime of power” or “discriminatory violence”. The benefit of the term discriminatory violence is that is it less emotive and more practically accurate. Further not all crimes against women are motivated by hate, hate is more isolated.


(Liz Kelly, Aisha Gill, Hilary McCollum (activist), Marai Larasi (Imkaan, EVAW), Anna Heeswijk (OBJECT))

During the closing panel people put questions to the panel. A few key points came out; the term gender relations may be more useful than patriarchy, the language many of us use can be alienating for young women and we should take steps in engaging men in feminism.

It was a fantastic day and I feel I took a lot away from it.

Prolesworth Wed 06-Jul-11 14:55:47

Message withdrawn

UsingMainlySpoons Wed 06-Jul-11 14:58:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WeDONTneedanotherhero Wed 06-Jul-11 15:01:49

No worries Proles sorry it's taken so long.

That sounds v.interesting Spoons. I'm still gutted there isn't a FIL this year.

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