Tag Archives: Rape

My Ex-Boyfriend Loved Me. Everybody Told Me So.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

My ex-boyfriend was a really lovely man.  Everyone told me so.  He adored me, he cherished me, he valued me.  He thought I was special.

I know this is true because everyone told me so.

My ex-boyfriend was gentle and sweet, he was shy.  He had very little family and had been badly treated by those he did have, so he was vulnerable and needed to be loved.  He was insecure but full of heart.

Everyone told me.  Everyone.

Wasn’t I lucky to have a man like him, a man who so clearly was good and kind and loving and gentle.

So.  Fucking.  Lucky.

He loved me so much when he shoved me into walls.  He loved me so much when he hit me.  He loved me so much when he twisted my arm until I cried.

When he shouted in my face for smiling at the waiter.  When he wouldn’t let me leave the house or talk on the phone.  When he punched the walls so hard his knuckles would bleed then showed me the blood, blaming me for making him so frustrated.

He loved me so much when he raped me.  When he sent me upstairs to our bedroom to wait for him.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Feminist Blog, Feminism Blog, Blogger, Feminist Blogging

Photo credit Ninocare

He was so vulnerable, so insecure.  When he interrogated me about everything I said to my mother, what her face was like, how she interpreted it.  Whether I had implied anything negative about him.  Whether anybody knew.

He was such a good man.  I know it’s true.

When he found out I had a lesbian friend on Facebook and nearly smashed my laptop.  When I smiled at the man in the chip shop and he accused me of having an affair and screamed in my face.

I crept downstairs once.  He’d sent me to wait for him and had been gone for a long time.  I found him watching violent porn.  I ran back upstairs as quietly as I could.  That was a bad night.  He loved me so much.  Everyone told me.

I knew nobody would believe me.  Why would they?  I had no proof.  And he was a good man.

When I eventually got away from him I broke his heart.  I left him crying.  He cried a lot.  He cried when I tried to talk about how much he hurt me, why would I want to upset him like that?  I was talking as if he was an abuser, why would I do that to him?  He cried when I left.

He cried to his female friends.  They hated me.  Hated me.  They told me so.

I didn’t appreciate him.  I couldn’t see how much he loved me.  How special he was.  How gentle, how good, how loving.  I had a vendetta and I was cruel and selfish.  I was a liar.

He loved me so much.  Everybody told me so.

My mum believed me.

Every time I was brave enough to tell her a little bit more she believed me.

She had thought he loved me.  That he was a good man.  That he was gentle and good and kind and vulnerable.

My mum believed me.

When I was having the nightmares, she comforted me.  When I cried, she held me.  When I struggled, she paid for my counselling.

My mum believed me.

He was such a good man.  Everybody told me so.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Strength In Numbers

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

When a famous man is accused of sexual abuse crimes and rape, it always seems that once one woman has made an accusation, others come forward with similar tales of abuse.  It has happened in high profile cases, the Jimmy Saville and Bill Cosby type cases, time and time again and it is always met with the same criticism.  The same accusations.  They are “jumping on the bandwagon”.  If it had really happened they’ve have come forward sooner.  They’d have spoken out.  They’re just trying to get their fifteen minutes of fame and a financial handout.

I have never gone to the police about the abusive relationships or experiences I’ve had.

I have a lot of guilt for that and I carry it with me.  I cling onto the notion that it was just me.  Nobody else went through that under those hands and I would rather not put myself through the horrendous process of reporting abuse crimes for which I have no evidence, which I would be put under an embarrassing and traumatic investigation and cross examination, where it would end up as his word against mine.  Where I would have to face those men again, men with eyes I have done everything I can to never have to look into again.

I am simply not strong enough to face that lonely road.

If others went forwards?  Then I think  would.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More,, Feminism, Feminist Blog

Photo Credit Kauschik Chug

I’m witnessing it happening.  One woman speaks out, comes forward with a tale of abuse and suddenly, like dominoes, other silenced women are holding up their hands.  They’ve suffered the same experiences, they too believed they were alone.  They too thought they were facing the prospect of that lonely road.  But they’re not.  There are women with them, women who can hold their hands and look into their eyes and tell them they are not wrong.  They aren’t making it up, they aren’t faking it, they aren’t lying and seeking fame and fortune at the expense of an innocent maligned man.  Women who can stand together because they have each other and that gives them the strength they need to look into those eyes once more.

If other women came forward I too would stand up.  I would face those eyes, those hands.  But so far it hasn’t happened.

If I’m honest, if I look into those hidden places in my mind that I dare not explore too often, I don’t believe I’m alone.  And I believe that if I did it, if I was that brave woman who stood up and said it had happened then I’d be leading that march down that road and I wouldn’t be alone in doing it.

The women who stand up and make it known are the bravest of us all.  Braver than me.  If I stood up I am almost certain others would follow yet I am paralysed by fear.  I have seen the condemnation, the scrutiny, the abuse these brave women are met with and I am too frightened to face it myself.  His word against mine, and I know how many voices will shout from his side about how abused he is by my speaking out.  And I am afraid.  Those women who face that, who lead the way, they are the bravest of us all.

There is strength in numbers.  It is not a bandwagon.  It is a march of solidarity.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

I Believe In The Sisterhood

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

When a woman says she doesn’t think anyone will believe her, it is almost always when she’s speaking out against a man.  And pretty much always against a man with power and influence.

For some reason, the mass opinion of society is that a man with power and influence is far more likely to be the innocent victim of slander, than a woman he has power and influence over is to be the victim of abuse.  There’s the fear that a man’s reputation will be so damaged by the woman’s accusations that his life will be ruined whereas she will continue unscathed.

When men can be accused to some of the most heinous crimes; rape, murder, child abuse, and continue to have successful careers in film, television and, say, presidency, I think we can safely assume that this is bullshit.  And when women who have made accusations have been verbally and physically abused so much they’ve had to change their names and move house, or have been fallen into depressions so badly they’ve committed suicide, it is clear that women don’t get as much out of accusations as people seem to think.

So why do we continue not to believe women?

Why do we enable men to gaslight women into believing they have done something wrong, or invited their abuse?

Why do we enable this pathetic belief that women owe something to men?  That if they want us we are some how duty bound to protect their feelings, even if it sacrifices our own personal comfort or safety?  That rejecting them is an act of cruelty not self preservation?

I believe in the Sisterhood.  I believe that women should be a network of strength for one another.  I believe that when one of your fellow women comes to you and tells you of pain in her life that it is your duty as to hear her.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Feminist Blog, Feminist Blogger

Photo credit Unsplash

I believe that if you flirt with a man you owe him nothing.

I believe that if you go on a date with a man you owe him nothing.

I believe that if a man is in love with you you owe him nothing.

I believe that “consent” obtained through coercion, manipulation, pressure, bullying, gas lighting or guilt tripping is not consent at all.  It is rape.

I believe that anyone, male or female, who would try to convince a woman that she is in the wrong because a man cannot control himself needs to take a long hard look at themselves and then fuck off as far as they can go.

I believe that any woman who would immediately take the stance that the woman in pain is lying and sides with the man accused of causing the pain is seriously and incredibly wrong.

None of this means I hate men, none of this means I support abuse of men, something people often seem to assume.  It means that I believe women.  I support women.

I am here for the Sisterhood.  And God help the mister who comes between me and my sister.  Because I will fight for my sisters.  I will fight for women.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

The World Needs Angry Women

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I never used to be an angry woman.  I was calm and quiet, I was intimidated by angry women who shouted about the patriarchy.  I considered myself a humanist not a feminist.

How times have changed.

I started exploring the world more.  Not physically, but by reading an watching.  I watched documentaries, I read articles, I engaged in conversations on Twitter and Facebook.  Something, perhaps age or motherhood, pushed me to want to know more.  To want to learn about the world.

It started around the time of my daughter’s birth four years ago.  It grew after the breakdown of my marriage.  It developed in my time as a single mother.  The more I learned, researched, the angrier I got.  The angrier I got the more I wrote.

I wrote because the world needs women to write.  Because the world needs female voices.  The world needs angry female voices because without anger nothing will change.  Without anger nobody will fight.

And there is so much to fight.

I don’t count myself as a humanist anymore.  I count myself as a feminist.  I believed being a humanist made me more focused on equality, but if you don’t recognise where the inequality lies, how can you properly address it?  Internationally it is women who primarily are being oppressed, not men.  I am a feminist.  I recognise this imbalance and that needs correcting before anything else.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Feminist Blog, Feminism Blog, Parenting Blog,

Photo credit Alexas Photos

And I am angry.  And I assume that anyone who isn’t angry simply doesn’t know the truth.

How can you not be angry when you learn that every single year between 600,000 and 800,00 people are trafficked (Stop The Traffik).  That is an active slave trade happening right now.  They are trafficked primarily into the sex trade, forced into prostitution in brothels, forced into pornography and raped repeatedly on camera, forced into arranged marriages and raped repeatedly by their husbands.  How can that not make you angry?  And when you learn that approximately 80% of those trafficking victims are women and girls, how can that not make you a feminist?  Hundreds of thousands of women and girls being raped for money every fucking year.

How can you not be angry when you learn that every hour in England and Wales alone, approximately 11 adults will be raped (that doesn’t include all the children) (Rape Crisis).  Eleven people being forcibly penetrated without their consent.  The lasting psychological damage of rape is huge and it is happening to eleven people every damn hour.  That is outrageous.  It is horrific.  And when you learn that 88% of these rapes are female victims, how can you not be a feminist?

How can you not be angry when you learn that there are at least 200 million females alive today who have been subjected to female genital mutilation? (Unicef).  That is girls who have had their vulva cut, labia sliced off, clitoris removed, and sometimes have their wounded body sewn shut.  How does that not make you furious?  And do you know why they do it?  Why they would mutilate young girls so badly, cause them so much pain and damage?  For men.  To ensure virginity for marriage.  And because a cut vulva is apparently more sexually satisfying for a man to put his penis in.  How can you not be a feminist when you  know that this is what is happening to girls every damn day?

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More Blog, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Lilly Prospero

Photo credit Bohed

Then there’s the differences in pay forcing women to do the same work for less money, the rates of domestic violence, the pressures of the beauty industry causing a huge rise in anorexia and plastic surgery and depression, the representation of women in the media and ageism.  These are all genuine issues that people dismiss because “other people have it worse”.  But they’re still issues.  They still exist.  They still demonstrate the inequality the world gives to women.

This is all worthy of anger.  And all of it is an issue for women and girls primarily.

You can talk about the men who are victims too.  Men who suffer too.  I hear you, I get it.  But men are not crushed every damn day based purely on their biology in the same way as women.  They are not cut, raped, sold, abused as routinely as women.  And not only are men not as regularly victims of the evils of the world, they’re the ones primarily perpetrating the crimes in the first place.

Be angry.  Be furious!  I find so much comfort from seeing the voices of fury rising from women around the world.  I know I am not alone, I know we are doing something.  We are marching, we are campaigning, we are petitioning.  We are shouting about it.  Writing about it.  We are doing anything we can to make people know because dammit it is worthy of anger.  It is worthy of rage.

And if you refuse to acknowledge that women need the focus, if you refuse to acknowledge that inequality cannot be changed if you don’t recognise where that inequality lies, you are part of the problem.  If you refuse to accept that it is women and girls who are being treated so badly because “men suffer too” you are part of the problem.  You are part of the problem.

I am angry, and I love the angry women around me.  The more of us putting our voices out there, the more of us telling the truth to the world, the more people will know and learn.  The more people know and learn, the more people will get angry.  The more people get angry, the more they will shout about it.  The more of us shout, the more change can happen.

Be angry.  Be fucking furious.  The world needs your rage.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Yes All Men

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I’m one of those angry, feminist writers who writes about male collective behaviour and pisses people off.

Men abuse women, men rape women, men take advantage of women.  These statements are all true but, of course, I am reminded regularly “not all men!”

Firstly I’d like to point out that I’ve never said “All men”.  Secondly, if I believed it was all men, I wouldn’t be living with and raising daughters with a man.  So let’s just bare that in mind as we go on.

Most recently this has been in regards to women’s need for safe spaces away from men.  I am absolutely not in favour of making all areas unisex under the belief that people are people and therefore there is no need to separate us by biological sex.

The reason?

Men abuse women.

Photo credit Alexas Fotos

Photo credit Alexas Fotos

No, not all men abuse women.  But yes, all men could potentially abuse women.  And we have absolutely no way of distinguishing between an abuser and a non abuser until we are in the position of being abused.

I would truly love it if it made no difference, if men were statistically on an equal level to women for chances of abuse because that would drop male abuse rates down and we could all feel safer, we could all be safer.  But it’s not the case.  We are different and recognising that is essential.

I know that reading this so many men, and women, will have an outraged reaction.  Women abuse men too!  Women abuse women!  Women abuse children!  Not all men rape!  Stop treating me like a rapist just because I’ve got a penis!

Sadly there are abusers in all walks of life.  There are women who do truly evil things to other human beings, and there are men who are the most gentle and non threatening people on the planet.  We are all on a spectrum from the worst of the worst violent abusers, to the most gentle pacifist lovers.  This isn’t about stating that all penis-havers are looking to rape.  It’s a statistics game and life is all about statistics.

Are you statistically more likely to die if you drive blindfolded or with clear vision?  Are you statistically more likely to contract a disease if you have sex with or without a condom?  Are you statistically more likely to fail an exam if you study or not?

If you’re invested in self preservation you opt out of potential death, potential disease, and potential failure.  Of course, we don’t all take these things into consideration or put any value in the outcome, but for those of us that do, you play the odds.  You try to survive, you try to succeed.

According to Rape Crisis, 85,000 women are raped annually in the UK, and 12,000 men are raped.  Defining rape by penetration, these are male rapes on males as well as male rapes on females.  Whilst this does not account for female abuse of men or female abuse of women, it suggests that women are far more likely to be victims of men.

Photo credit Ninocare

Photo credit Ninocare

As someone who has been assaulted both by strangers and in trusted relationships, I can promise you there is no way of knowing if the man who walks into the room means to harm you or not.  You just don’t know.  But statistically you know that if a man walks into a room you’re alone in you’re more likely to be at risk than if a woman walks in.  If you factor that risk in with the fact that in female safe spaces such as changing rooms you’re highly likely to be naked and vulnerable, allowing men unfettered access to those spaces puts women and girls at serious risk.

No not all men will take advantage, but yes all men are a potential threat.  With absolutely no way of knowing.  We have seen trusted, respected members of the community convicted of sexual assault.  Loving fathers, respected teachers.  And with only 15% of rapes being reported to the police, and only 5.7% of those reported rapes ending in conviction, it’s safe to assume there are a lot of rapists on the streets walking around as living, breathing weapons of abuse.

It is not irrational to play the odds and keep female spaces safe.  It’s not a perfect system but it’s all we’ve got.

And men, if you’re offended by this I suggest that instead of pointing out that NOT ALL MEN are abusive, you deal with those who are.  You deal with the culture you live in that breeds this sense of entitlement to sex that men have.  You stop assuming that just because a guy is a great mate to you that accusations of abuse from women must be wrong.  If you’re so upset by a woman’s acknowledgement of the threat your sex poses to women, work to stop that threat existing.

And most importantly work on getting your own house in order before demanding the right to walk into ours.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

What Is A Woman?

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

What is a woman?  What makes someone belong to the female of the species?

Biologically that’s easy.  A woman is someone with a vagina, a cervix, a uterus, ovaries.  But, for some, it’s not as simple as that.

According Trans rights activists, a woman is anyone who feels like a woman.  Anyone who “identifies” as a woman.  Genitals are irrelevant, it’s the person inside.  If you feel like a woman, you are a woman.

So what is a woman?

If you’re going to permit anyone who “feels” like a woman to be legally classed as a woman, you must first identify what a woman feels like.

Why?

Because once you’re legally a woman you are immediately put into spaces of vulnerability for other women.  You’re a sports coach alone with teenage girls in the showers.  You’re a support worker with female victims of rape with PTSD.  You’re taking Brownies on camping trips and sharing their tents.  You’re confined to a cell with your female cell mate, having intimate checks done by female officers.

You’re entering the tiny changing room at my gym where there are no cubicles and my little girls and I are naked and alone getting changed after swimming.

Once you’re legally a woman you are entrusted with your fellow women and girls when they’re at their most vulnerable.  And that is not a right that should be handed out lightly.  That is something you need to respect, need to understand.  It cannot simply be subjective or anyone who claims to feel like a woman can enter those spaces.  We must be able to identify what a woman is if people can legally identify as one.

We separate ourselves by sex for a reason.  Approximately 85000 women and girls are raped every year, with 31% of women experiencing sexual abuse in childhood.  These statistics are absolutely shocking and horrific.  Choosing to separate by sex is not only about comfort, as being naked and vulnerable around strange men can be uncomfortable at the best of times, even in hospital settings for instance, but it’s also a matter of safety.  Not all men are out to assault and abuse, and not all trans women are out to assault and abuse, but statistically those with a penis are more likely to abuse those without a penis.  So penis havers go to one space and vagina havers go to another out of both comfort and safety.

So what is a woman?

Photo credit Flash Buddy

Photo credit Flash Buddy

Is it FEMININITY?

Many trans-women are drawn to traditionally “feminine” things.  So, is a woman feminine by definition?

I consider myself feminine.  I like pink, and glitter, and shoes. I paint my nails and wear mascara.  I favour skirts over trousers and have been known to purchase scatter cushions.  Feminine things appeal to me, and I am a woman.

But feminine things are not exclusive to women.  There are many women who have no interest in the traditionally feminine, and there are many men who feel love it and feel far more comfortable in a pair of high heels than I do.

It is also not as simple as being a feminine or masculine woman.  Most of us are on a sliding scale that moves depending on mood, circumstances, hormone fluctuations.  We are not simply girly or not girly in our preferred style.   Being a woman is absolutely not about whether or not you prefer feminine things.

Femininity is not a requirement of womanhood and nor is it exclusive to women.  So it cannot be femininity.  And belief that it is all about feminine style is incredibly reductive.

Is it BODY SHAPE?

Are breasts and hips a requirement of a woman?  Is committing to breast implants for a womanly shape what makes you a woman?  As someone with the hips of a teenage boy and who, until I got pregnant with my latest baby, usually wears a AA cup bra, I’d like to say no!!  I am a woman but I do not have a curvy shape that one might traditionally associate with being a woman.

Feeling more comfortable with breast implants or wearing a padded bra is fine, but it cannot make you a woman or those of us with flat chests would also be discounted from the sex.

Is it SEXUALITY?

This one is obviously a big fat no.  And millions of lesbians would absolutely agree with that.

Sexuality is not defined by your sex.  Having a vagina does not mean you want to make love to a man, and vice versa.  Women are straight, gay, bisexual and, to the fury of many trans women, a lot of it does actually depend on genitals.

I have seen lesbians receive no end of abuse on Twitter and in news articles being called bigoted and transphobic because they don’t want to have sex with trans women, after all, a woman is a woman.  But if you don’t like penises then you don’t like penises and that isn’t bigotted, that’s being a lesbian.  Intimate interactions with one anothers genitals is a huge part of any sexual relationship.

So no, it is not sexuality, and the way lesbian women are being treated and abused is horrific.

Wanting to have sex with men or lesbians does not automatically make you a woman.

Is it EXPERIENCES?

Ideally we would all be completely the same and our sex, colour, race would have absolutely no impact on how we experience life, but we know that isn’t true, even if it’s something we wish was.  So it must be experiences that give us that feeling of womanhood.

There is no doubt in my mind that male privilege exists.  It is why men are less likely to be raped, hold more senior positions in business and government, and are paid more for the same job.  It is the reason men don’t have to shave their legs to be considered sexy.  It is the reason why male newscasters are old next to their sexy young, female co presenters.  It’s the reason women will have their labia and clitoris sliced off and their vaginas sewn shut.  It is the reason women are more likely to be trafficked into forced prostitution and sexual slavoury.

If you reach adulthood living as a man, you will have been experiencing patriarchal advantages your entire life.  If you reach adulthood as a woman, you’ll have been experiencing life on the other side.

It does not mean you’re unable to empathise and it doesn’t mean you won’t have had pain and sadness and abuse in your life.  It just means you’ll have had a different experience, and different societal pressures.

Is it BIOLOGY?

This is the crux of it.  If it is not your preferred style, if it is not your sexuality,is what makes a woman simply down to biology?

Other than interexed individuals which is a rare, women are XX chromosomes, men are XY chromosomes.  Women have vaginas, men have penises.  Women have ovaries, men have testicles.  Women have more oestrogen, men have more testosterone.

The Rapractice

The Rapractice

Within those biological frames we have our brains giving us experiences, preferences, pleasures and pains.  And there will be those on both sexes that are extremes towards feminine and masculine.

There should be nothing wrong with a man being feminine and a woman being masculine, and there should be no way anyone on those spectrums should be treated without respect and equality.  But being automatically considered a woman?

 

I do not believe all people who identify as trans are a threat, but I fear the increasing push to accept anyone’s version of transgenderism is.  We are being forced to accept men proclaiming themselves to be women with no real understanding of what it is to be a woman, and demanding access to our lives by reducing our entire sex to feelings when being a woman is about so much more.  It’s about your life, your body, your self.  It is incredibly complex and it is varied and it is full.

My belief is this.  We cannot simply allow men to self identify as women and be granted access to women’s spaces.  We cannot reduce an entire sex to “lady brain” when clearly there is no such thing or we’d all have it.  We cannot force women to either accept that  some penises are female penises and that their attached man means us no harm when walking around naked in our changing rooms or trying to bully lesbians into having sex with them.

Define what it is to be a woman.

Identify what it is to be a woman before you allow people to identify as a woman.  And if someone doesn’t meet those parameters then respect existing women enough not to reduce who they are to a preference for pink or a fetish for lesbians.  Because a woman is so much more.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

I Stand With Jean

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

A hero of mine has been driven off Twitter by the abuse she has received.  I would urge you to read her account; When A Man Stalks A Woman Online. My Story.  In it, Jean Hatchet (her pseudonym), describes the constant onslaught of abuse she has received from a number of men, with one in particular leading the charge.  He has threatened her with murder, with rape.  He has threatened her daughter.  He has listed personal details about her with the promise that he knows where she is and that he will come for her.

Photo credit Jake William Heckey

Photo credit Jake William Heckey

The reason she gets this abuse is because she is a woman, a feminist, and spoke out against a famous man; Ched Evans.  She is currently raising funds to support both the claimant in the Ched Evans case, as well as the rape crisis centre, and that has earned her even more abuse.

I recently talked to my mum about it because I too am a woman, and a feminist, and I too have spoken openly about the Ched Evans case.  I have donated to her fund.  I have been in arguments online and I have received abuse because of it.  My mum is worried for me, worried for my children.

I hugely admire Jean.  When I get the abuse I get, in no means anywhere close to the level she does, it rattles me.  But, like Jean, I keep going.  I try to always keep going.

I understand the urge to stop.  My mum is an incredible woman.  She is strong, she is smart, she is a feminist and a huge inspiration to me.  But she wouldn’t do it.  She went on Twitter for a time, occasionally looking now, but the moment the abuse started she stopped.  It’s not worth it.  It’s upsetting, it’s frightening, and it’s so much better to just walk away and not make yourself suffer through it.  I don’t judge or condemn anyone who chooses not to deal with it.  Life is short, and the abuse is hard.

Last year I had a spell where I was getting a flurry of particular upsetting abuse.  My mentions on Twitter were overwhelmed by angry, aggressive men, shouting abuse at me through their computers and phones, and it got me down.  I dreaded opening that page.

At first I had been able to laugh it off.  Idiots.  Misogynistic assholes with nothing better to do, so pathetic they could hate a woman so much just because I spoke out against shaming women’s bodies.

And then it got hard.  Then harder.  Soon I felt sick and shaky.  It was horrible.

It was then that my partner did the most romantic thing he has ever done.  He started hashtagging “Invading Your Mentions” #IYM.  He started tweeting me with things about me that he loves.  Things like being a good writer, a good mother, a smart woman.  Things that popped up between the vitriolic abuse I was receiving to break it up with sunshine.

His tweets, that came in so rapidly they were able to drown out the cruelty, saved me that day.  Stopped the feelings of sickness and the fear.  And soon I was laughing.

Until recently I imagine the abusive tweets that Jean Hatchet receives on a none stop daily basis were drowned out, at least partially, by the messages of support from women who, like me, admire her and respect her for the work she does.

But now?  I understand why she has stepped back.  I nearly caved after just a day or two of the kind of barrage she gets daily.  Mine stopped after a couple of days and now only flares up occasionally, and rarely enough that I can handle it.  To cope with it like Jean does takes extraordinary strength,

So why do it at all?  Why not do what my mum, and millions of other women, does?  Why not step away before it begins?  Why not say the idiots are not worth it?  Why not see that nothing will change the behaviour of the aggressive, violent idiots that haunt Twitter?

Because if we are silent they win.  If we step away they carry on.  If we lie down, who stands up?

Edmund Burke was credited with the famous line; “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Well the only thing necessary for triumph of misogyny is for good women to do nothing.

For as long as I am able I will keep standing.  I will keep writing, I will keep tweeting, I will keep facing it.  I will keep supporting the work of other women, sharing their words, encouraging them as best I can.

I will keep invading their mentions with words of solidarity.

I hope Jean Hatchet is one day able to return to Twitter and the public eye because she inspires me and so many others to keep standing, and to want to stand in the first place.

We stand to say no.  We will not take it anymore.  We will not lie down and let you walk all over us, abuse us, beat us, rape us, deny us our own agency, and exclude us from life.  We will not stay away out of fear and a desire for a quiet life.  We will not be bullied into silence.

I stand with Jean, whether she comes back or not.  I stand with Jean.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!