Last night I met the man who raped me.

One of our committee members, Kirsty Haigh, talks about some of her experiences and the events of this week. 

Last night I met the man who raped me.
Well, it wasn’t last night, but it was when I first started to write this many weeks ago.

Last night I met the man who raped me.
He came right up to me and smugly stood in front of me.


Last night I met the man who raped me.
Funnily enough though, like me, he wasn’t actually able to say it out loud.

He said he couldn’t believe I didn’t remember him or that I hadn’t walked away because I’d written a whole blog post about him. He told me he was pretty sure I didn’t like him but he quite enjoyed that. He told me it was a shame he didn’t know where I live anymore.

Last night I met the man who raped me and lives a guilt-free happy life.

It’s been a year and a couple of months since I wrote my blog post about being raped. Since then I’ve lost count of the sheer number of women who’ve come to speak to me or sent me messages about their heartbreaking experiences. 

I still try not to think about it. I hadn’t even tried to reread the blog post till this morning. I managed to write it down to tell my counselor but I’ve still only said it out loud twice and I told her I didn’t want to talk about it.

Last night I met the man who raped me.

This week we saw rape advocate Roosh V arrange meet ups across the world. Outrage and counter-demos erupted. In some ways this has been empowering but it has actually made me pretty angry and, despite our Edinburgh one massively taking off, has left me sitting on my kitchen floor feeling shit.

Rape culture, misogyny and sexism were problems long before Roosh V and will continue to be problems for a lot longer.

This man is not an anomaly, he’s part of a much bigger problem and the result of a patriarchal society.

For hundreds of years women have been sharing their stories and telling the world that rape culture is a problem. For hundreds of years small sections of society have been fighting against these abhorrent attitudes yet it takes a man to call for people to unite around these opinions for the world to listen.

Don’t get me wrong I’m delighted that thousands of people got angry about are were willing to go out and stand up to misogyny but I hope it doesn’t take another man to publicly be a dickhead for people to act again.

It’s real women who face the horrific consequences of these actions and too often it’s left to these women to fight it.

These men will carry on living their lives and spreading their ideas while I’m left hiding from the world on my kitchen floor and many other women are ignored and abandoned by society.

Last night I met the man who raped me.

Well, it wasn’t last night because these things scar you and leave you unable to process them.

Last night I met the man who raped me.
Take a moment to think about how that may feel and then please don’t make this the last time you think about and get angry about rape culture.  

 

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Anyone for Milk?

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As part of our ‘No Shame’ campaign, this past Monday we hosted a screening of the documentary ‘Breastmilk’. The main focus of the campaign is to put an end to the stigma surrounding certain elements of women’s bodies. From body hair to stretch marks, we want to raise awareness of the uniqueness of our form and celebrate womanhood in all shapes and sizes. Breasts, in our media-centric society, are particularly sexualised meaning that a human process as natural and as necessary as breast feeding is deemed to be ‘inappropriate’ when performed in public and, as a consequence, mothers feel as though they must hide away from disapproving stares and mumbling negativity.

The film brought much of my ignorance about breastfeeding and plain old human biology to the fore. I found myself asking questions such as ‘what’s a mammary gland?’ and ‘can a baby safely consume milk from a woman who is not their biological mother?’. New terms were being thrown around such as ‘engorgement’ and ‘latching’ that made me feel out of my depth. (FYI, engorgement is when your breast is full of milk, and latching is when the baby takes to the nipple and begins to suck). Not only did the film expose to me the seemingly ‘foreign’ language of breastfeeding, I also became aware of the psychological strains that it imposes on women. The film emotively depicted the pressures that surrounds mothers in some communities when complications arise concerning their milk capacity. Many women in the documentary were not able to produce ‘enough milk’ for their babies, and so were urged by health professionals to supplement breastmilk with formula milk.This really confused me. Just a few hundred years ago, when formula milk was yet to be invented, mothers would have had to breastfeed – it was quite literally a matter of life and death. Now however, a large majority of women have trouble providing enough milk for the healthy development of their children. The film proposed many reasons why this might be the case, but the reason that stood out to me was the sheer amount of milking that needed to happen in order to stimulate sufficient milk production. Some women were worried that if they relied solely on breastfeeding to nourish their babies, they would be much less efficient in their jobs due to the amount of time that sustaining milk yields requires. One woman stated that she was late to work waiting for her child to ‘latch’ (which by the way can take up to 30 minutes!!), and was afraid that she wouldn’t have the time at work to pump milk when her breasts were engorged. Lots of women spoke about feeling guilty for not being able to breastfeed, and the mantra that ‘breast is best’ made them feel like inadequate mothers. It seems that the age old dichotomy between being successful in the office and successful in the home is still very much alive and kicking. How can this still be the case in 2016?! Surely you can be a breastfeeding mum and be successful in the work place? Isn’t keeping your child alive and well nourished a legitimate excuse for being late to work? Breastfeeding shouldn’t be made to hinder the ability of women to be successful in their working lives.

As if mothers don’t have enough on their plate! Stigmatising them for doing what is probably THE most natural things that women are capable of doing is as ridiculous as banning people from eating phallic shaped foods because it may be offensive to others. We are in the 21st century and it is a real shame that people have to be reminded not only that breastfeeding is a crucial reason why human civilisation is able to exist on the planet right now, but also that women should have the choice to feed their baby wherever they please and in whatever capacity they deem fit. Talking about the reality of breastfeeding in the raw and uncensored way that it was presented in the documentary will get rid of the stupid stigma around breastfeeding and breasts in general.

Thanks to everyone who came along to the event and contributed ideas to the No Shame Campaign. They were much appreciated! If you didn’t make it, keep an eye out on our Facebook page for the dates and locations of the next events. Hope they will be as insightful as this one was.

P.s. here’s a link to the trailer of the film! http://www.breastmilkthemovie.com/trailer.html

Love,

Kara Weekes (BME representative) x

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FemSoc looks at EUSA election hype

Voting for EUSA elections just opened and since FemSoc loves democracy, we encourage everyone to have a look at all the candidates and their manifestos: https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/elections/candidates/18/

But to make things easier for you, we also asked candidates a few questions about feminism, so we sent them the following email:

“Hello EUSA sabbatical candidates,

Campaign season has now kicked off and so we thought it would be good to find out a little bit more about you all and help get our members more involved. We’re therefore drafted up this list of questions and re giving you until midnight on Sunday 15th to reply. We’ll then by circulating the results to our members.

1. Do you define as a feminist and if not why not?
2. Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?
3. EUSA has a no platform policy for rape apologists and the SWP. Do you think this is right and would you uphold it?
4. Are you pro-choice and would you propose any changes to the current abortion laws?

Good luck in the elections and we look forward to your responses.

Thanks,
Femsoc team ”

Before going on with the answers, we wanted to mention that we’re horrified by the various abuse we’ve seen thrown around during the campaign period and we wanted to express solidarity with everyone affected.

(Candidates are listed in the order they appear on the EUSA website)

Continue reading

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Statement on the DKE Edinburgh chapter

CONTENT WARNING: rape, sexual harassment, transphobia

In light of the publication of this article discussing leaked minutes and behaviours of the DKE Edinburgh chapter, FemSoc condemns in the strongest terms the abhorrent misogynistic and transphobic behaviour and statements made by the DKE frat. We hope the university will join us in standing up against sexism and take disciplinary action against students involved in the frat. We plan to take further action on this issue to make sure the Frat cannot continue to operate on this campus. If you would like to get involved or have ideas for action against the fraternity, please come along to our committee meeting this Thursday, 20th Nov, at 6pm in DHT 6.11.

The fact that this type of behaviour is acceptable to a group of students, and that it was even recorded in official minutes, is a clear example of how rampant sexism and misogyny exists in our everyday surroundings, and we must fight it. Please join us in taking sexual assault, rape, and abuse with the utmost seriousness and respect, and make sure you are calling out anyone you know who jokes about it.

The revelations in this article also confirm our long-standing view that the establishment of a frat chapter, or any all-male society in Edinburgh would be representative of misogyny and result in situations making people, particularly women, feel unsafe. We stand for a campus which does not tolerate inequality, hate speech, harrassment, or assault in any form.

We would also like to thank the Student for exposing the fraternity, and strongly support this and future reporting on the issue.

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Feminist Society first event!

We had our first event of the year this week, and it was a huge success! Thank you to everyone who came along, you made it super fun, chilled out and accessible. We hope that those of you who won prizes will treasure them forever. Especially the sword. Who wouldn’t love a sword?

Here are a few of the pictures of the crowd, if you have any more you’d like to share, send them to edinburghfeminists@gmail.com or put them in our Facebook group, Edinburgh University Feminists, and tag all your pals.

Our next event is Sunday the 21st, at 7pm in the Balcony Room, Teviot.

Hope to see you there!
Love and Solidarity,
Edinburgh Feminist Society.

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FemSoc look at EUSA election hype!

If you’re wondering why people keep handing you small pieces of paper with their face on when you’re trying to get into the library, voting opens in the EUSA elections today at 12pm! There are lots of lovely candidates running this year and, if you’re so inclined, you should really take a look at all the manifestos over at: http://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/elections/candidates/10/

Of course, we know you’re not actually going to, so we asked a few questions to all the presidential candidates about the important things – by which we mean feminism because, hey, what’s more important than feminism?

We feel it’s important to mention before we get started that the campaigning period this year has been particularly brutal; we’ve been seeing candidates subject to similar abuse that many members of this society have been this year and, it must be said, from many of the same people. The message these people seem to be trying to send to us is that women with opinions aren’t welcome at this university – whoever you decide to vote for, let’s all of us who can head to the virtual voting booths tomorrow and prove them wrong, eh?

So, we sent all presidential candidates the following message and have posted their responses underneath:

“Hello candidates,

FemSoc loves democracy and given the feminist motions passed at student council this year, we’d like you to tell FemSoc why we should vote for you to be EUSA president. We’d like to ask for a short blurb from each of you on why/how you would support women’s liberation in your position. We’d like to publish your responses as part of a blog post and share it with our members via email and through our Facebook group and page.

In your response, please be sure to address the following questions:

1) Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?

2) What have you done this year for feminism and what would you do in the future? (particularly how would you take the motions of EUSA being a pro-feminist organisation and supporting sex workers’ rights forward – if at all?)

3) Sexual harassment and assault are big problems on our campus – how would you approach tackling this?

4) FemSoc are pleased to see there is a lot of emphasis on liberation and welfare in the manifestos this year! So what steps would you take to support students who define into more than one liberation group?

Please send your responses to our email account (edinburghfeminists@gmail.com) by Sunday 6pm. Best of luck to all of you in your campaigning!

FemSoc team”

Kirsty Haigh

1) Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?

I think campaigning for liberation should be one of EUSA’s key priorities, and women’s liberation is a big part of this. EUSA has a chance to genuinely improve the lives of our self-defining women students and tackle the oppression they face. Not only that but it can provide a platform to educate and change the culture and tackle the structures of the patriarchy.

2) What have you done this year for feminism and what would you do in the future? (particularly how would you take the motions of EUSA being a pro-feminist organisation and supporting sex workers’ rights forward – if at all?)

Feminism is a big part of my life. This year I’ve been trying hard to improve my feminism, learn about other women’s struggles and help those who I can. Among other things I brought a motion which made our students’ association a pro-feminist organisation, attended a pro-choice training day, helped on the outskirts of organising for Reclaim the Night, voted to help pass the motion supporting sex workers and started a national debate around rape culture in popular music after calling out Blurred Lines and banning it in our Student’s Association buildings.   

3) Sexual harassment and assault are big problems on our campus – how would you approach tackling this?

I want to introduce a zero tolerance to sexual harassment policy for night clubs across the city. This will introduce structures for people to report harassment and ensure that nightclubs publicise these structures. However, structures aren’t going to solve the problem. The big thing about sexual harassment is changing the culture. ‘Lad culture’ and ‘rape culture’ are very prevalent in our society and until we can change this we won’t solve the problem. One of the key parts of introducing this policy is ensuring that people are talking about it- about why it’s needed, why we’re introducing it and why people don’t know how to or don’t want to report at the moment.

4) FemSoc are pleased to see there is a lot of emphasis on liberation and welfare in the manifestos this year! So what steps would you take to support students who define into more than one liberation group?

At EUSA we need to properly establish the equal opportunities forum. This is a space for our liberation groups to come together, collaborate, learn from each other and further their causes. More than that we need to just get students talking about these liberation groups, increasing their understanding and thus being able to offer their fellow students more support and understanding.

Dan Scott Lintott

1) Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?

We live in a patriarchal society and I think EUSA should do all it can to show solidarity with women in their fight for liberation.

2) What have you done this year for feminism and what would you do in the future? (particularly how would you take the motions of EUSA being a pro-feminist organisation and supporting sex workers’ rights forward – if at all?)

3) Sexual harassment and assault are big problems on our campus – how would you approach tackling this?

2 & 3)

In my manifesto one of my key policies is a more accessible and confidential way of reporting experiences of sexual harassment on campus. I would also ensure that there is a specific person on-site at the Big Cheese and other EUSA club nights who would be there to respond quickly to incidences of sexual harassment and assault.

These are a few things that tackle the effects of the patriarchy on students but I realise more has to be done to tackle the root cause of harassment and abuse that women students face daily. I think that EUSA needs to remain committed to feminism, pro-feminist policies and working to increase awareness of liberation issues so that many more students define themselves as feminists and feminist allies.

4) FemSoc are pleased to see there is a lot of emphasis on liberation and welfare in the manifestos this year! So what steps would you take to support students who define into more than one liberation group?

I think what EUSA does to fight for the four Liberation groups is central to what we do as a Union. The fight against oppression should be led by these groups, but I would put supporting the Women’s, BAME, Disabled and LGBT+ campaigns at the heart of my Presidency. Intersectionality plays a major part in fighting oppression and as President I would do everything I could to facilitate co-operation between caucuses.

Briana Pegado

1)     Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?

Yes.

2)     What have you done this year for feminism and what would you do in the future? (particularly how would you take the motions of EUSA being a pro-feminist organisation and supporting sex workers’ rights forward – if at all?)

I think EUSA should support sex workers’ rights. As for whether or not EUSA should be a pro-feminist organization, it is. That has already been declared. I just hope we get to a point in society where we do not have to declare anything feminist but that we embody awareness, tolerance and freedom. Our society marginalizes and oppresses so many groups across the spectrum of self-identifiers. I cannot hide the fact that I am black, American and female. Many would consider at least two of those groups oppressed. What have I done for feminism?

First off, I am standing for EUSA President. Second, I have worked tirelessly throughout my university career with brilliant female leaders at our university to improve the lives of students. Our Chaplain and Vice Chaplain, our Vice Principal for Learning and Teaching, the University Secretary, the head of EUSA Global and so many members of our student community are women fighting to improve our experience. My society Edinburgh University North American Society (EUNAS) chose to support EWRASAC for our Annual Thanksgiving Charity Ball and we raised over 2,000 for them. I am not going to list my CV but if you have worked with me you know what I have done for feminism.

3)     Sexual harassment and assault are big problems on our campus – how would you approach tackling this?

Three words- sexual health education. And four more – sexual harassment and abuse awareness. This is an issue close to my heart. One of my best friends from home was raped in 2012 and it took her over 6 months for her to come to terms with the fact she had been raped. It took another year for her to tell me. I do not tolerate sexual abuse or sexual harassment. The level of both on our university campus is … more than unacceptable, disgusting, unreal – (there is no single word to describe how I feel about it).

For starters, we need emergency help points on our campus. Our campus is disparate and widely integrated into urban areas of the city. Most American university campuses have help points. They are stations where you can push a button that allows you to connect to the local police or provides a phone where you can call your friend to escort you home if you are feeling unsafe. What happened to the walking trains across the Meadows. There were a substantial number (substantial takes just 1) of rapes in the Meadows a few years ago and we had created a buddy system for students to walk home across the Meadows together. What happened to it?

4)     FemSoc are pleased to see there is a lot of emphasis on liberation and welfare in the manifestos this year! So what steps would you take to support students who define into more than one liberation group?

We need to make sure liberation groups are working together and not viewing their liberation demographic with a single lens or perspective. No one is simply one-dimensional. The beauty of humanity is that we are a diverse group with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. We need to embrace it. The problem with the university is that it does not collaborate enough. It does not share enough. Everyone is focus on their little niche and do not view themselves as part of a bigger, living organism. That is the entire reason why I’m running. We need to work together.

There should be a liberation group forum. Liberation groups should be pooling resources, information and sharing stories to work together on these issues.

Jacob Webber

1) Do you think EUSA should actively campaign for women’s rights?

Undoubtedly, yes. No question about it.

2) What have you done this year for feminism and what would you do in the future? (particularly how would you take the motions of EUSA being a pro-feminist organisation and supporting sex workers’ rights forward – if at all?)

On a fundamental level, intersectional feminism informs how I conduct myself on a day to day basis. I am always mindful of trying to limit the extent to which I exercise the power that comes with my privilege. This manifests in lots of ways, even things as small as making sure I thoroughly understand someone’s point of view and not just blindly trying to convert them to my way of thinking. Real change begins with the individual.

It is important that the president of EUSA is a public voice for students. If elected I will take a vocal stance in favour of the complete legalisation of sex work in this city and elsewhere. I will condemn the police harassment of sex workers. I also believe that a person’s gender is whatever they define it to be. We need to push for more gender neutral toilets and support the trans community in Edinburgh.

3) Sexual harassment and assault are big problems on our campus – how would you approach tackling this?

These are big problems and difficult to solve. We need to take a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment. This begins with believing the victims. I believe this would make people more willing to report sexual harassment. This is made easier by having our venue security in house, which we can train and instruct appropriately.

In terms of other clubs, EUSA can compile a list of those that meet a high standard in ensuring their patrons safety, while blacklisting those that don’t.

As well as this information on safe clubs to go to, the advice place can provide support for victims of sexual harassment. We should advertise this.

4) FemSoc are pleased to see there is a lot of emphasis on liberation and welfare in the manifestos this year! So what steps would you take to support students who define into more than one liberation group?

Listening. As someone who scarcely defines in to one liberation group I need to listen to those who define into many and act as a reliable ally. I’m all ears.

So, there you have it! We were very impressed with all the candidates answers and we’d like to thank them all for taking the time out of campaigning to send them in. Now, it’s up to you – if you’re a matriculated student at the university, head over to MyEd or http://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/getinvolved/elections/annualelection/ before noon on the 13th March and get your democracy on!

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Chest Action

Femsoc’s not so new project, Chest Action, seeks to provide a platform for expressing our body positivity and silence the body shaming surrounding our bodies and how we display them.

And how are we going to do this? By photographing our own bodies along with signs, stickers, badges, body paint and slogans!

It is our belief that how much skin you show is in NO WAY proportional to the amount of worth you have. Any person of any gender identity is encouraged participate. Whether you want to bare all, or remain fully clothed (and everything in between) is entirely up to you.

We are aware that certain similar campaigns in the past have endorsed Islamaphobia, and we would like to stress that we DO NOT share or encourage these views, and we will NOT TOLERATE any of those who do.

This project was proposed in response to an article published on a ‘satirical’ magazine based in Edinburgh. An article, “FemSoc bare all in exclusive Flipside interview (see page 3 for pictures)”   published on the 30/09/13, which was later removed and apologised for, got us thinking. This view that feminists disapprove of body and skin in public places is really annoying. So we decided to do something to visually illustrate that we think any amount of skin and/or clothing is absolutely fine, if that’s what you want to do. Have a look at our entries so far, you’re welcome to email edinburghfeminists@gmail.com with anymore entries which we will put up anonymously. Remember they have to be hip to chest, no other requirements, show and cover what you like, open to anyone of any gender identity.

Post Note: due to a long running situation where the president of Flipside found her way onto our committee we did not publish this action. The person in question has now been recalled and banned from the society, so here we go!

EDIT 09.12.13: Have a look at some submissions which have been emailed to us after we launched this post.bra burners unnamed

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