Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More on Polanski

Another good article has appeared online, called Common Roman Polanski Defenses Refuted.

I don't agree with it as utterly as I did yesterday's post, but it's still worth a read, and posting as much anti-rape stuff as possible seems vital.

Common Roman Polanski Defenses Refuted

Roman Polanski, the 76-year-old filmmaker who was accused of drugging and raping 13-year-old Samantha Geimer in 1977, has been arrested in Switzerland. Polanski, who was convicted of having sex with a minor but fled to France before he could be sentenced, is currently facing extradition back to the United States, where he could finally be sentenced for his 32-year-old conviction. In the wake of Polanski’s belated arrest, commentators have posed dozens of arguments in the Oscar-winning director’s defense. Most of them are bullshit.

“But he’s already paid his price, because everyone knows he’s a rapist, and he can never work in Hollywood.”

As Patrick Goldstein wrote in the LA Times, “I think Polanski has already paid a horrible, soul-wrenching price for the infamy surrounding his actions. The real tragedy is that he will always, till his death, be snubbed and stalked and confronted by people who think the price he has already paid isn’t enough.”

Ahh: “the real tragedy.” Some people may be under the impression that a 13-year-old being drugged and raped by a 44-year-old man constitutes a “real tragedy.” Others may contend that both Polanski and his rape victim have suffered “real tragedies” in their lifetimes. But no, there can only be one the real tragedy, and it is that people have “snubbed” Roman Polanski because he raped someone and skipped town. If only the recognition of the Academy Awards, the BAFTAs, the Berlin International Film Festival, Cannes, the Directors Guild of America, the Golden Globes, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Stokholm Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, and dozens of other awards organizations could begin to heal that wound.

“But he escaped the Holocaust / his mother died at Auschwitz / His wife was killed by Charles Manson”

Talk about real tragedies: These, of course, are real tragedies. Upon hearing of Polanski’s arrest, French Minister of Culture Frederic Mitterrand announced that he “strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them.”

This is a fair argument—and one that can be made about many, many people convicted of crimes in the United States. A lot of the people who are locked up behind bars have endured unspeakable traumas in their own lives—sexual assault, poverty, drug addiction, gang life, homelessness, and mental illness. Why are they held accountable for their actions, while Polanski gets to be like, “Peace, I’m just going to chill in France for thirty years, try not to rape anybody else, and maybe win an Oscar. See you guys later”? It’s not because of what he endured. It’s because he makes movies.

But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Polaski isn’t getting a break because he’s famous, but rather because he’s had a hard life. When France decries “the ordeal” being “inflicted” on Polanski, what the country is really saying is that rape is not important because it’s not as horrific as the Holocaust, and not as evil as Charles Manson. And that’s a pretty fucked-up standard, oui?

“But he made The Pianist / Chinatown / Rosemary’s Baby / Revulsion.”

Congratulations, the Huffington Post’s Kim Morgan: You win the prize of penning the most disgusting defense of Polanski I’ve read to date! Morgan prefaces her post by saying she is “not going to go into my Roman Polanski defense,” but suffice to say she is “not happy about his arrest.” Instead of getting bogged down by the legal gobbledygook, Morgan shoots off a blog post entitled “Roman Polanski Understands Women.” Seriously.

“One should not,” she writes, “take Polanski’s films literally, for they are often heightened versions of what occurs naturally in our world: desire, perversion, repulsion.” Okay, but how about his rape of a 13-year-old girl? Are we allowed to take that “natural occurrence” literally? Morgan doesn’t directly address that question, but she does argue that Polanski’s very brilliance is a product of his relationship with human “darkness”:

Polanski’s removed morality is exactly why he is often brilliant: He is so empathetic to his characters that, like a trauma victim floating above the pain, he is personally impersonal. He insightfully scrutinizes what is so frightening about being human, yet he doesn’t feel the need to be resolute or sentimental about his cognizance. He is also, consciously or subconsciously, aware of the darkness he explores, especially in his female characters, who could be seen as extensions of himself.

Read more at:

You know what I find revolting? When a film critic prefaces her work with a disclaimer about how much it sucks that a rapist is getting arrested for raping someone, and then uses the rapiest imagery possible to applaud his film work. Nope! Sorry! Understanding Women is not a valid defense against rape. Similarly, being a really marvelous film director doesn’t mean that you get to rape someone and not go to prison. Even if you made The Pianist.

Remember: making The Pianist and being a rapist are not mutually exclusive.

Read more at:

Read more at:“not happy about his arrest,” and goes on to defend “Roman Polanski Understands Woman”

“But the girl’s mother made him rape her.”

Oops, nevermind, this one is actually an even more disgusting defense of Roman Polanski, also on the Huffington Post:

The 13-year old model ’seduced’ by Polanski had been thrust onto him by her mother, who wanted her in the movies. The girl was just a few weeks short of her 14th birthday, which was the age of consent in California. (It’s probably 13 by now!) Polanski was demonized by the press, convicted, and managed to flee, fearing a heavy sentence. I met Polanski shortly after he fled America and was filming Tess in Normandy. I was working in the CBS News bureau in Paris, and I accompanied Mike Wallace for a Sixty Minutes interview with Polanski on the set. Mike thought he would be meeting the devil incarnate, but was utterly charmed by Roman’s sobriety and intelligence.

So, Polanski is just a really special guy who was practically forced to have sex with that 13-year-old girl by her mother. It’s almost as if Roman Polanski was raped by that 13-year-old girl. Also, no, the age of consent in California is not “13 by now,” it is 16 18 (!!). By the by: the author of this little gem is Joan Z. Shore, co-founder of Women Overseas for Equality. Thanks, Joan, for your deft approach to women’s issues!

“But he didn’t know she was 13.”

Please, Anne Applebaum. Polanski had to ask her mother for permission to shoot her for Vogue.

“But 13 is old enough to consent to sex”

Let’s assume that, like Joan Shore and others have suggested, age 13 is old enough to consent to sex, and Polanski is merely a victim of the Puritanical sex laws of the U.S.A. If that’s true, then surely 13 would be old enough to say no to sex, right? Because here’s what Geimer said happened at the one-on-one Vogue shoots:

According to Geimer in a 2003 interview, “Everything was going fine; then he asked me to change, well, in front of him.” She added, “It didn’t feel right, and I didn’t want to go back to the second shoot.”

Geimer later agreed to a second session, which took place on March 10, 1977 at the Mulholland area home of actor Jack Nicholson in Los Angeles. “We did photos with me drinking champagne,” Geimer says. “Toward the end it got a little scary, and I realized he had other intentions and I knew I was not where I should be. I just didn’t quite know how to get myself out of there.” She recalled in a 2003 interview that she began to feel uncomfortable after he asked her to lie down on a bed, and how she attempted to resist. “I said, ‘No, no. I don’t want to go in there. No, I don’t want to do this. No!”, and then I didn’t know what else to do,” she stated.

That’s rape, whether you are 13 years old or 14 or 16 or 44 or 76.

“But the American justice system is fucked up.”

Granted. But if we’re going to talk about the fuck-up-edness of the U.S. legal system, surely we can find a better martyr than a famous rich guy with the best lawyers in the world who drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl, struck a plea deal in order to get off with the lesser charge of “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor” (or statutory rape), and then fled the country when it looked like the plea deal may not be honored? I’m all for Polanski being tried legally and fairly. Over the years, Polanski has repeatedly attempted to appeal the case—a really cool feature of the American legal process he purposefully evaded—but he refuses to appear in court.

Excuse me while I play the world’s tiniest piano, but if the American legal system is broken, the fix is not for rapists to just choose their own adventure (in this case, France).

“But his victim has forgiven him”

From Applebaum’s column: “The girl, now 45, has said more than once that she forgives him, that she can live with the memory, that she does not want him to be put back in court or in jail, and that a new trial will hurt her husband and children.”

It’s certainly a relief to hear that Geimer, after three decades and a settled civil suit against Polanski, has moved on from her childhood sexual assault. Of course, a victim’s should always be considered over the course of a trial. At the same time, forgiveness, sympathy, and identification with one’s attacker are fairly common in sexual assault cases, and these sentiments don’t make sexual assault any less damaging—or any more legal. Again, you can argue that Polanski is an example of how the American legal system unduly punishes its criminals, but until you’re willing to free all the nation’s sex offenders and make them promise to just keep their cool until their victims get around to forgiving them, it’s not a very solid argument.

“But his victim doesn’t want to have to relive her assault again.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. Samantha Geimer, like many victims of sexual assault, is justified in holding a grudge against the criminal justice system. When a rape victim decides to report her assault to the police, she’s looking at years of intense police, legal, and media scrutiny. She will have to relive her assault over and over again over the course of trial and investigation. She will have her sexual history dredged up and put on display. These are all big deterrents to reporting sexual assault. But while a sexual assault victim may never personally recover from the trauma, the public scrutiny, at least, usually ends with the sentencing.

Unless, of course, your attacker is a famous movie director who refuses to be sentenced, in which case you will be forced to relive your assault: a) every time your attacker attempts to cross another country’s borders; b) every time your attacker releases a new film; c) every time your attacker attempts to have his conviction overturned; d) every time your attacker does anything noteworthy. The fact that Geimer’s childhood sexual assault has haunted her in the press for 30 years is a real tragedy, and one man is responsible for that: Roman Polanski.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reminder: Roman Polanski Raped a Child

I was so joyous when I heard on the radio the night before last that Roman Polanski had been finally arrested. The next day, I was utterly bewildered on hearing people defend him in the media. I've discussed it with a few people, and it's not just me that is furious.

I just found this article at and want to thank Kate Harding for speaking the brutal truth about the situation.

Reminder: Roman Polanski Raped a Child.

Roman Polanski raped a child. Let's just start right there, because that's the detail that tends to get neglected when we start discussing whether it was fair for the bail-jumping director to be arrested at age 76, after 32 years in "exile" (which in this case means owning multiple homes in Europe, continuing to work as a director, marrying and fathering two children, even winning an Oscar, but never -- poor baby -- being able to return to the U.S.). Let's keep in mind that Roman Polanski gave a 13-year-old girl a Quaalude and champagne, then raped her, before we start discussing whether the victim looked older than her 13 years, or that she now says she'd rather not see him prosecuted because she can't stand the media attention. Before we discuss how awesome his movies are or what the now-deceased judge did wrong at his trial, let's take a moment to recall that according to the victim's grand jury testimony, Roman Polanski instructed her to get into a jacuzzi naked, refused to take her home when she begged to go, began kissing her even though she said no and asked him to stop; performed cunnilingus on her as she said no and asked him to stop; put his penis in her vagina as she said no and asked him to stop; asked if he could penetrate her anally, to which she replied, "No," then went ahead and did it anyway, until he had an orgasm.

Drugging and raping a child, then leaving the country before you can be sentenced for it, is behavior our society should not tolerate, no matter how famous, wealthy or well-connected you are

Can we do that? Can we take a moment to think about all that, and about the fact that Polanski pled guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, before we start talking about what a victim he is? Because that would be great, and not nearly enough people seem to be doing it.

The French press, for instance (at least according to the British press) is describing Polanski "as the victim of a money-grabbing American mother and a publicity-hungry Californian judge." Joan Z. Shore at the Huffington Post, who once met Polanski and "was utterly charmed by [his] sobriety and intelligence," also seems to believe that a child with an unpleasant stage mother could not possibly have been raped: "The 13-year old model 'seduced' by Polanski had been thrust onto him by her mother, who wanted her in the movies." Oh, well, then! If her mom put her into that situation, that makes it much better! Shore continues: "The girl was just a few weeks short of her 14th birthday, which was the age of consent in California. (It's probably 13 by now!) Polanski was demonized by the press, convicted, and managed to flee, fearing a heavy sentence."

Wow, OK, let's break that down. First, as blogger Jeff Fecke says, "Fun fact: the age of consent in 1977 in California was 16. It's now 18. But of course, the age of consent isn't like horseshoes or global thermonuclear war; close doesn't count. Even if the age of consent had been 14, the girl wasn't 14." Also, even if the girl had been old enough to consent, she testified that she did not consent. There's that. Though of course everyone makes a bigger deal of her age than her testimony that she did not consent, because if she'd been 18 and kept saying no while he kissed her, licked her, screwed her and sodomized her, this would almost certainly be a whole different story -- most likely one about her past sexual experiences and drug and alcohol use, about her desire to be famous, about what she was wearing, about how easy it would be for Roman Polanski to get consensual sex, so hey, why would he need to rape anyone? It would quite possibly be a story about a wealthy and famous director who pled not guilty to sexual assault, was acquitted on "she wanted it" grounds, and continued to live and work happily in the U.S. Which is to say that 30 years on, it would not be a story at all. So it's much safer to focus on the victim's age removing any legal question of consent than to get tied up in that thorny "he said, she said" stuff about her begging Polanski to stop and being terrified of him.

Second, Polanski was "demonized by the press" because he raped a child, and was convicted because he pled guilty. He "feared heavy sentencing" because drugging and raping a child is generally frowned upon by the legal system. Shore really wants us to pity him because of these things? (And, I am not making this up, boycott the entire country of Switzerland for arresting him.)

As ludicrous as Shore's post is, I have to agree with Fecke that my favorite Polanski apologist is the Washington Post's Anne Applebaum, who finds it "bizarre" that anyone is still pursuing this case. And who also, by the by, failed to disclose the tiny, inconsequential detail that her husband, Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, is actively pressuring U.S. authorities to drop the case.

There is evidence of judicial misconduct in the original trial. There is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age. Polanski, who panicked and fled the U.S. during that trial, has been pursued by this case for 30 years, during which time he has never returned to America, has never returned to the United Kingdom., has avoided many other countries, and has never been convicted of anything else. He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers' fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.

There is also evidence that Polanski raped a child. There is evidence that the victim did not consent, regardless of her age. There is evidence -- albeit purely anecdotal, in this case -- that only the most debased crapweasel thinks "I didn't know she was 13!" is a reasonable excuse for raping a child, much less continuing to rape her after she's said no repeatedly. There is evidence that the California justice system does not hold that "notoriety, lawyers' fees and professional stigma" are an appropriate sentence for child rape.

But hey, he wasn't allowed to pick up his Oscar in person! For the love of all that's holy, hasn't the man suffered enough?

Granted, Roman Polanski has indeed suffered a great deal in his life, which is where Applebaum takes her line of argument next:

He can be blamed, it is true, for his original, panicky decision to flee. But for this decision I see mitigating circumstances, not least an understandable fear of irrational punishment. Polanski's mother died in Auschwitz. His father survived Mauthausen. He himself survived the Krakow ghetto, and later emigrated from communist Poland.

Surviving the Holocaust certainly could lead to an "understandable fear of irrational punishment," but being sentenced for pleading guilty to child rape is basically the definition of rational punishment. Applebaum then points out that Polanski was a suspect in the murder of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, a crime actually committed by the Manson family -- but again, that was the unfortunate consequence of a perfectly rational justice system. Most murdered pregnant women were killed by husbands or boyfriends, so that suspicion was neither personal nor unwarranted. This isn't Kafkaesque stuff.

But what of the now-45-year-old victim, who received a settlement from Polanski in a civil case, saying she'd like to see the charges dropped? Shouldn't we be honoring her wishes above all else?

In a word, no. At least, not entirely. I happen to believe we should honor her desire not to be the subject of a media circus, which is why I haven't named her here, even though she chose to make her identity public long ago. But as for dropping the charges, Fecke said it quite well: "I understand the victim's feelings on this. And I sympathize, I do. But for good or ill, the justice system doesn't work on behalf of victims; it works on behalf of justice."

It works on behalf of the people, in fact -- the people whose laws in every state make it clear that both child rape and fleeing prosecution are serious crimes. The point is not to keep 76-year-old Polanski off the streets or help his victim feel safe. The point is that drugging and raping a child, then leaving the country before you can be sentenced for it, is behavior our society should not -- and at least in theory, does not -- tolerate, no matter how famous, wealthy or well-connected you are, no matter how old you were when you finally got caught, no matter what your victim says about it now, no matter how mature she looked at 13, no matter how pushy her mother was, and no matter how many really swell movies you've made.

Roman Polanski raped a child. No one, not even him, disputes that. Regardless of whatever legal misconduct might have gone on during his trial, the man admitted to unlawful sex with a minor. But the Polanski apologism we're seeing now has been heating up since "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," the 2008 documentary about Polanski's fight to get the conviction dismissed. Writing in Salon, Bill Wyman criticized the documentary's whitewashing of Polanksi's crimes last February, after Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza ruled that if the director wanted to challenge the conviction, he'd need to turn himself in to U.S. authorities and let the justice system sort it out. "Fugitives don't get to dictate the terms of their case ... Polanski deserves to have any potential legal folderol investigated, of course. But the fact that Espinoza had to state the obvious is testimony to the ways in which the documentary, and much of the media coverage the director has received in recent months, are bizarrely skewed."

The reporting on Polanski's arrest has been every bit as "bizarrely skewed," if not more so. Roman Polanski may be a great director, an old man, a husband, a father, a friend to many powerful people, and even the target of some questionable legal shenanigans. He may very well be no threat to society at this point. He may even be a good person on balance, whatever that means. But none of that changes the basic, undisputed fact: Roman Polanski raped a child. And rushing past that point to focus on the reasons why we should forgive him, pity him, respect him, admire him, support him, whatever, is absolutely twisted.

― Kate Harding

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009


I hope that the reader from Independence, Missouri, who found this blog (somehow!) by search for Teen Rape Porn finds themselves bitten by lots of itchy insects this weekend.

I'm Not Like Other Girls

I'm looking for submissions for a one-off zine called I'm Not Like Other Girls.

What I want women and girls to do is to complete the sentence,
"I'm not like other girls because..."

I will make a zine of the responses.

The sentence will appear randomly placed, with all credits at the end, so your sentence and your credit aren't linked. This may help you to be more open, and the zine will flow much better too.

They may be categorised by theme, but that will depend on the submissions.

If you want to contribute, email me at

1) Put 'I'm not like other girls' in the subject line.
2) Email me your sentence (I'm not like other girls because...)
3) Tell me if you want to be anonymous.
4) If you want to be credited, tell me how (name / pseudonym, name of zine, etc)
5) If you want to receive a contributors' copy when it's ready, tell me your address too.

I can't guarantee your words will be put in the zine, but it's very likely. I only want submissions from women and girls.


To see more of my zine stuff, go to rebelgrrlzine. New ones to be added next week.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Help Imogen Find her Voice

I very, very rarely post appeals like this, but Imogen is a friend of mine who is in a dire situation since losing the ability to speak after emergency surgery.

Please watch this video and see if there's anything you can do, be it donating, or passing the link onto your friends.

Imogen's site is at

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sexual Assault Prevention Guaranteed to Work

(edited with non-facebookified links, that was an accident sorry).

In the spirit of How to Really Prevent Rape and Rape Prevention Advice, I was just recommended Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work by Femin-Ally.
Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!
1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.
2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!
3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!
4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.
5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!
6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.
7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.
9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!
10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.
And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are commiting a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quiet Just Now

Moving inactive blogs from cluttering up the sidebar to this post.

  • Be Reasonable

  • Domestic Violence Memorial (UK)

  • Lara Barrett - Photography

  • Inspire Me Thursday

  • Mixed Media Memoirs

  • The Tarot Deck Creation Collective

  • Museum of Left-Wing Lunacy

  • Run Over By The Truth

  • Survivor Worker

  • This Thing You Call Love

  • 75 degrees South

  • The Accidental Artist (1)

  • Anonyrrie

  • Artful Journey

  • Artwork Anonymous

  • Blogs That Flickr - Photolog

  • Boules de Neige

  • The Camel Exchange

  • Crafty Metallyptica

  • INKEDblog

  • *International Charm Exchange*

  • Adventures in Ethical Consumerism

  • Doing the Right Thing

  • HippyShopper

  • Supermarket Sweep Up

  • God Speak

  • Take Your Medicine

  • Chasing Daisy

  • Le Google Bomb Taking on the Far Right

  • The GoogleBomb Project

  • Infected Papercut

  • Meta Kate

  • Rational Dissent in an Imperfect World

  • Sheffield PhlickrBlog

  • Anonymous Work Blogs

  • ani mechapesset a'vodah

  • Loquacious of Blog

  • Love & Rage - a sane response in an insane world

  • saesnes, apparently

  • Undecidedly So

  • Welcome to the Monkeyhouse

  • Yehovah Yireh (new)

  • Amateur Blog

  • - - - ~Washington City Paper BackPage

  • - - - ~City Link Florida

  • wacky neighbour

  • The Progressive Blog Alliance

  • The Adventures of a Snowball in Hell

  • CustardSpies

  • Weird or Wise?

  • Loopy Ex-Student

  • Is That All There Is?

  • (1)

  • Zazzafooky

  • Be The Jam (1)

  • Diary of a Refused Asylum Seeker

  • Anti-Pornography Activist

  • Because Sometimes Feminists Aren't Nice

  • Blog of Feminist Activism (1)

  • brand new feminist (1)

  • Dead Men Don't Rape

  • Den of the Biting Beaver

  • Fate is Chance. Destiny is Choice (1)

  • FeminisTIC

  • Feminist Reprise (1)

  • Feminist, Unmodified

  • Fluffy Woman

  • Grrrlcott

  • Holla Back UK

  • I'm Not a Feminist, But...

  • The Jerk List

  • Linguistic Concerns

  • Mad Sheila's Musings

  • Mind the Gap, Cardiff (1)

  • Ms Violet's Musings

  • Opinionated Lesbian

  • The Opuscular Outpost

  • The other world of the Dynamite Lady

  • ReSISTERance

  • Trollbuster

  • Wall of Shame

  • J a v a J i v e Photography from Indonesia (1)

  • The Other World of the Dynamite Lady

  • The World of the Dynamite Lady

  • A Speakout on Male Violence (2)

  • Stick It!

  • A Stormy Blog

  • The Tree Remembers

  • la somnambule

  • The Shouty Woman

  • SaraFenix

  • radical quaker activist grrl

  • Angry and Queer

  • ruining it by talking

  • City Hippy

  • Speakout on Male Sexual Violence (1)

  • Witchy Woo
  • Thursday, June 18, 2009

    When Ukuleles and Charity Combine.

    Buy this t-shirt in the colour and style of your choice!.

    Ukuleles are cool. If you were in any doubt, just watch this:

    If you don't play the ukulele then you clearly should, and probably know other people who do. In this case then both you and they, and everyone you know, should read on.

    From 17th June until the 31st July 2009, every sale of this t-shirt will result in a £2 donation to Cancer Research UK.

    This is to celebrate the London Uke Festival which takes place on June 20th in London.

    So remember, every time anyone buys a Ukulele Hero t-shirt between now and the end of July, £2 will be donated to Cancer Research UK.

    Buy one now from the link below! Or buy 5 and give them to friends. Then spread the word by passing on this URL:

    Buy this t-shirt in the colour and style of your choice!.

    Saturday, June 13, 2009

    Racism Against Your Own Children?

    I know, I know, going on the Daily Mail website is never a good idea. But for some reason I did.

    I was (duly) horrified by this story, about a white couple who had IVF and due to a mix-up had mixed race children, one of whom apparently has noticeably darker skin than the rest of them.

    Now, clearly this isn't ideal, it is concerning that such mix-ups can occur, and the couple, who wanted to keep their IVF a secret for some reason, are feeling now that this secret might be revealed.

    However, this poor child is suffering from what, I fear, is an element of racism from his parents. He apparently asks his Dad at night 'Why am I brown? How can I make myself lighter, like you?'

    This must be hard for them to hear, but there is a clear reason why he is not happy in his own skin.

    Because of his colour,
    the Williamses are suing the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (formerly the Royal Group of Hospitals Trust) for damages for their mental distress, social discredit and breach of contract under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.

    They consider that their black son is a 'social discredit' to them, his skin colour causes them mental distress, and I'm not sure whether he'd have been consider goods or services when he was 'supplied'.

    His father says:
    'I felt very angry and betrayed,' he says. 'We'd placed all our trust in the hospital and one person's mistake had ruined all our futures.

    He also says:
    'It's not so bad when we all go away on holiday, but at home I've given up picking up my son from school and we don't go out as a family any more.

    How can this boy have a chance of having any kind of positive self-image, or appreciation of his heritage, with his parents openly suing the hospital, refusing to pick him up from school or take him out anywhere, all because of the colour of his skin?

    It's no wonder he wants to whiten his skin.

    Tuesday, June 09, 2009

    Sheffield Anti-BNP Demo. 8th June 2009.



    An urgent demonstration was called yesterday in response to the election of two British National Party MEPs, one in the Yorkshire and Humber region.



    Many gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall to hear speakers, watch drummers and express their disgust and discontent at racists gaining power.


    It was a heartening event with a good turnout and a positive atmosphere.


    You can see all the photos of the event here and the best of the photos here. There is also an Indymedia article up too.

    Wednesday, June 03, 2009

    Friday, May 01, 2009

    BADD Post #3

    Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day 2009 (you knew that already, right?). I wrote post #1, Creative Protest against Disablism, and post #2, about Access to Healthcare for disabled people.

    Access to Healthcare: Blogging Against Disablism Day 2009

    Well, it's that time of year again when we blog against disablism. It's such a massive topic that it is very difficult to know what to say, what to write about.

    I want to talk about disablism within healthcare. It is a huge subject, and there are many issues, and I can't cover them all in this one post.

    I will begin with the very funny, and worryingly apt, Code of Ethical Behaviour for Patients

    Involvement with the patient's suffering might cause him to lose valuable scientific objectivity.
    Your doctor leads a busy and trying life and requires all the gentleness and reassurance he can get.
    Remember that your doctor has a professional reputation to uphold.
    You must believe that your doctor has achieved a deep insight into the true nature of your illness, which transcends any mere permanent disability you may have experienced.
    It is presumptuous to assume that such profound matters could be explained in terms that you would understand.
    Though the surgery may not benefit you directly, the resulting research paper will surely be of widespread interest.
    You should consider it a privilege to contribute, however modestly, to the well-being of physicians and other humanitarians.
    It is sheer arrogance to contract illnesses that are beyond your means.
    The patient-doctor relationship is a privileged one, and you have a sacred duty to protect him from exposure.
    This will only cause him needless inconvenience and embarrassment.

    The reality is that many disabled people receive inadequate medical care. People with mental health problems can have huge problems getting physical problems to be taken seriously. People with physical impairments can find that any other symptoms or illnesses they have are dismissed. People with multiple impairments can be written off as hypochondriacs.

    Perhaps doctors consider that if you are already in pain with one problem, then additional, unconnected pain is not that important. Certainly, many doctors feel that if you experience madness then surely a physical symptom is all in the mind. I've lost count of the number of times that I have been told that something treatable I'm experiencing will *not* be treated, 'because you already take a lot of tablets'. When I vomited every day for 10 months, I was never sent for tests because it was 'bound to be anxiety'. Medication side-effects are not taken seriously - serious though they may well be.

    The result is that disabled people suffer more than we need to. Health is neglected, and further problems result. We may not be straight-forward patients, we may cause the doctor to need to work a bit harder, but that's not an unreasonable expectation, surely. It is their job.

    Being listened to, being taken seriously, being treated well, are all things which everyone should be entitled to, and which everyone should receive.

    In the news recently was harrowing accounts of neglect of learning disabled people who were supposed to be receiving healthcare:

    There was a man, Martin Ryan, who starved to death after not being fed for 26 days while in hospital. Five other people's care was also slammed.

    The British Medical Journal states that:
    One year after its damning report into the delivery of health care to disabled people, the Disability Rights Commission, the statutory watchdog organisation for people with disabilities in England, Wales, and Scotland, says in a new report that little has changed to bridge the gap in health care.

    The Disability Rights Commission report:
    An investigation into healthcare given to people with mental health problems and learning disabilities shows they often get worse treatment than others.

    The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) - which examined eight million health records - says the government could face legal action unless things change.

    The study concentrated on primary care in England and Wales, which will soon fall under new equality laws.

    The government says it has already started acting on the report.

    The 18-month investigation shows that people with learning disabilities and mental health problems are more likely to have a major illness, to develop a serious health condition younger and to die sooner than the rest of the population.

    Such people were less likely to have routine tests and screening to pick up signs of a problem in its early stages.

    'Lazy fatalism'

    The DRC also found that people with learning disabilities and mental health problems face "real barriers" when accessing services.

    "The acid test of a national health service is not whether it works for those who are generally healthy, but whether it benefits those with the greatest risk," said DRC chairman, Bert Massie.

    He said that the response from the government and the NHS was "deeply inadequate", a situation which was made worse by "a dangerously complacent attitude and a lazy fatalism" on the part of the medical profession.

    "This is completely unacceptable - we need to see a radical change in the commissioning, targeting and delivery of health services in order to close this gap quickly."

    The British Medical Association (BMA) has described the findings as "extremely worrying".

    "As doctors, we believe it is unacceptable for the healthcare needs of this group of people to be ignored," said Dr Sam Everington, who co-chairs the BMA's equal opportunities committee.

    He said the report would be discussed by GPs at the BMA in the near future.

    The Department of Health said it would be working with the DRC to develop a full response to the investigation.

    Mental health charity Sane said it was "disturbing" that people with mental illnesses were at greatest risk of becoming physically ill through neglect.

    The charity's Marjorie Wallace called for a "new drive amongst all health professionals to ensure that each time a person with mental illness receives medical help, they are given a physical health check".

    Eight million records

    The investigation spoke to senior health professionals, policy makers and disabled people themselves.

    Researchers analysed eight million health records in three primary care trusts (PCTs) in England and one local health board in Wales.

    The DRC says that in spite of increased needs of these two groups, important checks are provided less often.

    For example, people with learning disabilities who have diabetes have fewer measurements of their body mass index, while those who have had a stroke have fewer blood pressure checks.

    The investigation identified a problem known as "diagnostic overshadowing" - where symptoms of physical ill health are often seen as part of a patient's mental health problem or learning disability and are not properly investigated or treated.

    More than 50% of people who spoke to researchers said they experienced difficulties when trying to see their GP.

    They identified the attitude of reception staff, inflexible appointments and inaccessible information as being some of the causes.

    A few said they were not registered with a family doctor or had been struck off the list for being too demanding.

    The report did identify areas of good practice but the DRC says services are frequently working in isolation and initiatives developed by specialists have not become part of the mainstream.

    The government is being urged to put in place a number of improvements to "close the gap".

    "We agree with the broad thrust of the DRC's recommendations and have already started to act," said health minister Rosie Winterton.

    She said £7m had been made available to almost 90 PCTs to employ "wellbeing nurses" to help mental health patients.

    The department has also allocated £42m to PCTs to help them to implement further measures to improve the care of people with learning disabilities.

    This is not theoretical, this is actually happening, and I witness or experience it myself, all too often.

    If disabled people are to ever have equal access to society, we need equal access to good healthcare.

    Please see also my other Blogging Against Disablism Day post, over on my photography blog, where you can see various empowering disability rights designs I have created.

    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009


    It is 20 years since the Hillsborough Disaster, and I remember it vividly. I was 11 and it was talked about for weeks. One boy, Tony Bland, was used as an example in Religious Education for years, against withdrawing treatment to some medical patients.

    It was horrific, and now I live in the city it happened in. I've just listened to this radio programme, and there is a sense in the air here of what happened.

    Until they get justice, I can understand why people can't even grieve properly.

    Thinking of the 96.

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    New Links

    I have mentioned Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, and quite a few times written about menstruation, but what on earth connects the two??!