There isn’t a school

There isn’t a school

There isn’t a school
for protesting 

but there is
for police
and policing

There isn’t a school
for protesting or
for protesters

to learn the trade
to learn the skills

but there is
for police
and policing

There isn’t a school
Though we have 
plenty of schools

(who is schooled
who is educated)

There isn’t a school

When might there be

An afternoon SAFM radio presenter ponders the killing of a passer-by “caught in the cross-fire” by the country’s police in the Wits student protests, 11 March 2021, in South Africa’s Human Rights Month.

By David Kapp

(Photo Credit: News24 / AFP / Emmanuel Croset)

Landmark case: In South Africa, five sisters said NO! to the exclusion of women … and won!

Constitutional Court

This is the story of Trudene Forword, Annelie Jordaan, Elna Slabber, Kalene Roux and Surina Serfontein, five women who refused to be denied their birthright, and In so doing affirmed, once again, that justice means justice for everyone. The story begins in 1902, in Oudtshoorn, in the Klein Karoo, in the Western Cape. Oudtshoorn is known for ostrich farms. Maybe now it will also be known as yet another cradle of democracy and justice for all. On November 28, 1902, Karel Johannes Cornelius de Jager and his wife, Catherine Dorothea de Jager formally signed their will, leaving some of their farms to their children, with one stipulation. The farms would pass from their children only to male generations until the third generation. But what if, at some point, the only direct descendants are women? Last month, South Africa’s Constitutional Court ruled on that question. 

In 1957, brothers Kalvyn, Cornelius and John de Jager inherited the property. John de Jager never had sons, and so when he died, his property was split between his two remaining brothers, Kalvyn and Cornelius. When Cornelius died, his sons – Albertus, Frederick, and Arnoldus – inherited his half share in the farms. In 2015, Kalvyn de Jager died. He had no sons, and he had five daughters: Trudene Forword, Annelie Jordaan, Elna Slabber, Kalene Roux and Surina Serfontein. Their male cousins claimed the property, noting that while the situation may smack of “unfair discrimination”, the law was the law, and a will was a will. The sisters didn’t buy that argument and went to court. Both the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeals decided in favor of the male cousins. The sisters persisted and went to the Constitutional Court, the court of last resort, in this instance. Last month, the Constitutional Court decided in the sisters’ favor.

Acting Justice Margaret Victor explained, “The provisions of the preamble to the Equality Act make its nature and intended purpose clear. The consolidation of democracy requires the eradication of inequalities, especially those that are systemic in nature and which were generated in South Africa’s history by colonialism, apartheid and patriarchy. Inheritance laws sustain and legitimise the unequal distribution of wealth in societies thus enabling a handful of powerful families to remain economically privileged while the rest remain systematically deprived. In my view, this system entrenches inherited wealth along the male line. In applying this critique to the facts in this case our common law principle of freedom of testation is continuing to entrench a skewed gender bias in favour of men.”

The consolidation of democracy requires the eradication of inequalities, especially those that are systemic in nature and which were generated in history by colonialism, apartheid and patriarchy. What else is there to say?

By Dan Moshenberg

(Photo Credit: GroundUp / Ashraf Hendricks)

Holistic Medicine

Holistic Medicine

Find a beat that aligns with your drum
Matches your rhythm
And the pitch of your hum

Find a wind that lifts your wings
Billows your sails
And makes wind chimes sing

Find a notch to settle in
A perfect little crevice
A nestling nook
A cozy little place to call home 

Find where you belong
As everyone has their own little place 
In this world

For purpose gives us life
And purpose gives us strength
Purpose can suck the ilk and the ire 
Of pain

From the numerous struggles we are bound to face
And it is through purpose that our palpable mortality
Becomes peace

By Sierra Snead

(Image Credit: EventCombo)

A woman was forced to give birth alone in a cell: Kelsey Love

It seems archaic that in this century, policies allowing pregnant women to deliver their children on concrete floors, completely alone, and without the supervision of medical staff still exist in the world, let alone in the United States

How many women in how many jails, in this country in this century, are delivering their children, completely alone, and not only without but deprived of the supervision of medical staff? Too many, and too many go uncounted, unreported. As we noted two years ago, when discussing the stories of Diana Sanchez, Tianna Laboy, Kenzi Dunn, all forced to give birth alone in their respective jail cells, “These are only the names we know. There is no national data base concerning prison or jail births … because, really, who cares?” Add Kelsey Love to the list of women who have been forced to undergo these `archaic’ conditions, this torture.

Kelsey Love is now 32 years old. On May 14, 2017, on Mother’s Day, Kelsey Love was eight months pregnant. She was driving her grandmother’s car when she was stopped by police officers in Frankfort, Kentucky. Initially, she was stopped because police thought she was driving erratically. Her grandmother had reported the car stolen. Love told police officers that, not too long before her being stopped, she had used methamphetamine and opioids. She also informed the officers she was eight months pregnant. Then she was booked into the Franklin County Regional Jail, where she was supposed to be monitored every ten minutes. That did not happen.

According to Kelsey Love’s report, on May 16, Kelsey Love began feeling intense pain. She screamed for help. Staff thought she was detoxing, and so left her alone, screaming, in pain. Finally, a female staff member came in. By that time, Love was on the floor, crying, and screaming for help. She asked to see a doctor. She said something was wrong, that the baby was coming out. The staff member asked if she was having contractions, and Kelsey Love said she was. The staff member called the jail call nurse, who said she would check in later and the staff should keep close watch. That did not happen.

Three hours later, the nurse arrived. When she and a staff member walked into the cell, the floor was covered in blood. Kelsey Love had given birth to a baby boy, chewed off the umbilical cord, ripped the mattress and crawled into the bed with her newborn child. That is what happened.

Kelsey Love sued the jail and some members of the staff. This week, she was awarded $200,000 in an out of court settlement. Kelsey Love has successfully completed drug rehabilitation treatment, has been clean and sober for two years, and is now working to regain custody of her children. The boy born on the floor of that jail cell will turn four in three months.

According to Kelsey Love’s attorney, “She’s doing great.” According to the same attorney, she “still has night terrors as a result of her ordeal.” What happened to Kelsey Love? She was abandoned, as so many women have been, left to give birth alone on the concrete floor of a jail cell in Kentucky, just like Tianna Laboy in Connecticut, Kenzi Dunn and before her Tamm Jackson in Florida, Diana Sanchez in Colorado, Jessica Preston in Michigan. Nicole Guerrero and  Autumn Miller in Texas. These are only the names we know. There is no national data base concerning prison or jail births … because, really, who cares? It’s not archaic. It’s torture, cruel and unfortunately altogether usual punishment.

by Dan Moshenberg

(Infographic: Prison Policy Initiative)

How School Dress Codes Disproportionately Target Black Women

The implementation of dress codes within American public schools has been used to police young women’s bodies in order to maintain power over them, impacting their psychological well-being. Dress code policies within American public schooling system aims to specifically target Black women, assigning them the negative consequences of promiscuity and over-sexualization, leading to a disproportionate psychological impact. The upkeep of these regulatory dress codes furthers systemic white privilege within American public schools. Research conducted by the National Women’s Law Center shows that “among 29 D.C. schools, majority-Black high schools on average [have] more dress code restrictions than other high schools”. Additionally,  “Black girls are much more likely than other girls to be cited for infractions such as dress code violations”. School dress codes typically enforce their ‘acceptable’ standards of dress from associations typically linked with the white middle class. This inherently promotes ideas linked with ‘whiteness’ and discourages ideas linked with ‘Blackness.’

Black women face double the judgement when met with these standards. Not only are their bodies deemed problematic simply because they are female, they are also deemed problematic for their Blackness. Black women have been assigned consequences through public schooling dress code policies which inherently and severely objectify and sexualize them: “Repeated exposure to sexual objectification experiences is linked to low self-esteem and high levels of anxiety, which affect women’s psychological well-being”. Black women are more prone to sexualization and objectification, as shown by the increased rate at which Black women in public schooling institutions receive dress code violations as well as by stereotypical media portrayals within popular culture. It is relatively easy to assume that Black women are then also more likely to experience the psychological downfalls associated with sexualization and objectification in response to these experiences. 

Dress codes which discriminate heavily against Black individuals also prohibit the flourishing of self-esteem within Black females, as well as in Black youth in general. The enforcement of these dressing policies cast a shadow on the ability for the individuals to obtain a strong positive association between their race and their identity, effecting their psychological well-being and self-value. Rather than regulating female bodies, school environments should teach self-control. Rather than regulating Blackness, school environments should provide a safe place for cultural differences and promote inclusivity with faculty that is diverse and representative. In order to eliminate the incessant focus on controlling Black female bodies, the code which heavily regulates them needs to be removed. These dress code guidelines distract from the importance of intellectual growth and learning for Black youth within our public schooling systems. Clothing is not an indicator for success or failure. As long as dress code policies continue to exist, Black women will continually be targeted and placed at a disadvantage. 

(Image credit: National Women’s Law Center)

By Molly Wilhelm

(Molly Wilhelm is a feminist and human rights activist based in Maryland.)

For Black History Month 2021

For Black History Month 2021

There are  at least two America’s waiting for a shot in the arm

Dolt 45 is gone but definitely not forgotten
Citric Acid in exile 
Able was he err he saw Mar LargoHis
Waterloo was Georgia

But he still dreams of future victories
His acolytes rioting in disbelief 
Privileged revolutionaries granted organic food in jail
And freedom to leave the country for vacation 
With pending federal charges. 

Effective immediately I’m advising all black and brown people 
All of the huddled masses yearning to be free approaching our southern boarder 
And all of The Dreamers awaiting a path to citizenship 
to become:
vegan Shamans 
who need organic food while jailed
AND to have previously planned vacations outside of the country
Before they “ALLEGEDLY” commit federal crimes 
Recorded by multiple cameras
Resulting in death and mayhem

That is as long as they are not killed as they are being apprehended
Shot in their own homes 
Murdered in parks at twelve years old for playing with a toy gun
Or, killed while crossing the boarder

It’s time to sing Kum Ba Yah
Or to hold hands and sing We Are the World
Democracy isn’t dead 
It just has a bad case of COVID-19 — the American mutation

I’ve heard people say forgive and forget while
Carrying the confederate flag 
Which apparently hasn’t been forgotten

And like ideas that once fueled a Holocaust 
Which apparently has been forgotten

I’ve heard it said “reach across the aisle”
While denying the rise of homegrown domestic terrorism

We Shall Overcome is still sung in the future tense

Take your foot out of my ass
And I’ll find it much easier to shake hands
Stop using my heart as a scabbard 
If you want me to find a way to love

What has to happen before 
Enough has happened?
Give me my flowers while I yet live
And sing to me before my elements become five
Become dust to dust
And my breath merges with the atmosphere

I don’t want to be free to carry a gun through a metal detector
I want to be free enough not to be stopped and frisked while not carrying a gun

I don’t want to become a Congress person with only a G.E.D.
But I would like retuning citizens to have the right to vote and become gainfully employed 
Once they have paid their debt to society.

Or, are there limits to forgiving and forgetting?

And while we are at it
Feed the jailed organic food, too, 
Like they feed Jake Angeli The QAnon Shaman
The men and women who will do more time for a bag of marijuana Than men and women who tried to steal America
Subvert the political system
And disenfranchise citizens who voted legitimately 
And had no criminal records at all.

I’d like to ask why making it easier to vote and increasing civic participation in a representative democracy is a bad thing?

I’d like to ask why there are over 100 new state wide initiatives to limit access to voting now being proposed?

Is it because the road blocks to the ballot 
And the gerrymandering now in place 
Weren’t enough to stop Stacy Abrahams from doing her best imitation Of Fanny Lou Hamer?

It must have been voter fraud 
How could determined grass roots door to door organizing 
Overcome all of the obstacles to voting 
Erected in the last decade
And flip a southern state from red to blue?

Somebody cheated
Screamed the “somebodies” who have always cheated
And failed 
This time
To institute a 21st century neo-reconstruction 

Stay together children 

For the barbed wire now ringing The Capitol

For Juneteenth

For Stacy 

For Fanny Lou

For Ida B. Wells and soulful women with crowns who saved America and sent the dreaming down to us

For Rosa Parks 

For those who believe in Homeric gods that can fix elections 
but allow COVID-19 to eat us alive

For hypocritical evangelical preachers still wondering why 
What god whispered in their ear didn’t come to pass 
And for their flocks that think that god cares more about an election than we should.

For New Age peaceniks who think 
“It’s ALL in our minds”
Or the result of a long acting Pluto transit
All of the positive thinking
And all of the granola 
Doesn’t seem to be saving California

And if you had read the myth you would know that 
Spring returns to the earth
When kidnapped children are allowed to return 
And embrace their mother

Free The Daughters of the Earth!
And let the springtime return.

For the summer peaceful protestors attacked in Lafayette Park to make way for a photo opportunity in front of a church
An upside down Bible 
In an Orange spray tanned hand

While their wrathful winter counterparts were allowed to pillage the people’s house
And smear their excrement on its walls 
As 45 watched in glee
Refusing to call in the National Guard
Rioters who had enough enthusiasm to cause mayhem 
But not enough civic mindedness to have voted.

For the branches of government that can’t pass a stimulus bill
But can rise to censure those who vote their conscience

For those who can only speak their minds in secret 
But pander to the ignorant mobs when their names have to be attached

For the teachers who are dying of COVID-19 for which there is not an accurate count

And for the homeschooled children forgetting what they already didn’t know

And most especially 
For those who still think that on January 20th “WE” won.
In a divided house
With a divided house
That cannot stand

By Heidi Lindemann and Michael Perry

(Image Credit: Kennedy Center)

For women in England and Wales, `safety in custody’ means self-harm

Quarterly 12-month rolling rate of self-harm incidents per 1,000 prisoners by gender of establishment, 12 months ending September 2010 to 12 months ending September 2020

On Thursday, January 28, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice issued its Safety in Custody Statistics, England and Wales: Deaths in Prison Custody to December 2020 Assaults and Self-harm to September 2020. The report is generally grim, and especially so for women. Generally, “In the 12 months to December 2020, there were 318 deaths in prison custody, an increase of 8% from 300 deaths the previous 12 months.” The real story, however, is that of women’s self-harm over the past twelve months: “Self-harm incidents have increased in the female estate and decreased in the male estate from the previous 12-month period: There were 58,870 self-harm incidents in the 12 months to September 2020, down 5% from the previous 12 months, comprising a 7% decrease in male establishments and a 8% increase in female establishments. In the most recent quarter there were 14,167 self-harm incidents, up 9% on the previous quarter, comprising a 5% increase in male establishments and a 24% increase in female establishments.”

What’s going on here? On one hand, the expanded and increased isolation, due to the pandemic, has intensified despair. As Dr. Kate Paradine, CEO of Women in Prison, explained, “Many women haven’t seen their families in person for over a year, and are confined to their cells for up to 23 hours a day. It doesn’t have to be like this – the Government can honor its promise and resume its early release scheme allowing women to safely isolate in the community.”

But Covid-19 is only part of the story. Here’s the report from the same Ministry of Justice a year earlier, Safety in Custody Statistics, England and Wales: Deaths in Prison Custody to March 2020 Assaults and Self-harm to December 2019: “Self-harm incidents reached a record high of 63,328 incidents in the 12 months to December 2019, up 14% from the previous 12 months … Self-harm trends differ considerably by gender.” Where male prisoners suffered 650 incidents of self-harm per 1000 prisoners, female prisoners suffered 3,130 self-harm `events’ per 1000 women prisoners, and that was an increase of 16% from the previous twelve months.

The Safety in Custody report for the year before, to December 2018: “Self-harm incidents reached a record high of 55,598 incidents in 2018, a 25% increase from 2017.” The rate of self-harm among women prisoners that year was 2,675 per 1000, “an increase of 24% in the number of incidents from the previous year.”

The Safety in Custody report for the year before that, to December 2017: “In the 12 months to December 2017, there were 44,651 incidents of self-harm, up 11% from the previous year. The number of self- harming individuals increased by 6% to a new record high of 11,630.” The rate of self-harm among women prisoners that year was 2,093 per 1,000, “an increase of 8% in the number of incidents from the previous year.”

Want to know what this year’s report said? “Self-harm trends differ considerably by gender. The number of incidents in male establishments decreased by 7% … to September 2019 to 46,427 in the 12 months to September 2020. The number of incidents in the female estate increased 8% … to 12,443. On a quarterly basis, the number of incidents in the three months to September 2020 increased by 5% in male establishments compared with the previous three months and increased by 24% in female establishments. The rate of incidents … was 595 incidents per 1,000 prisoners in the male estate …. The rate of incidents in female establishments was far higher, and increased by 18%, from 3,016 in the previous 12 months to 3,557 in the latest 12 months.”

What is the point of calling these “safety in custody” when every single year, the rates of self-harm for women rise and the State trots out the same phrase, “Self-harm trends differ considerably by gender.” Perhaps the point is that, for women, safety in custody, like protection, means self-harm, means there will be a performance of collecting data but really no one in charge gives a damn, or worse, cares only to inflict harm, means there is no justice as long as prisons are held sacred by the State. How is the State responding to its own report of women’s self-harm `in custody’? On Saturday, January 23, it announced a plan to build 500 prison places, for the sake of women’s safety

by Dan Moshenberg

(Infographic: UK Ministry of Justice)


The post below is hard to read. It is written with a great deal of rage and pain and grief. It is a post about sexual violence. It is not explicit in any way. It does not describe sexual violence. It describes the feeling of being before the violence of masculinity. It describes the violence of the feeling of feeling. Which is why it is hard to read. You may wish to think carefully about whether you want to read further. Please consider this a trigger warning. 

Today I performed an exorcism. I performed an exorcism for every woman, and everyone who believes herself woman, and lives woman, and every one who lives as not man. I performed an exorcism for everyone who is not a man. I performed an exorcism for every man who is not a man. I sat and let violence flow through me. I let image, upon image, upon image, upon image, upon image, upon image, flood my mind. I performed an exorcism of every image that floods the media of sexual violence, of rape and mutilation, of violation and the killing of the not man body, of violence that should be undoable and unthinkable, and I let the image move through my mind and my body. I opened my mind. I opened it as wide as I could, without filter and protection. Eventually I let my mind break at the seams for many hours. I let my mind descend into terror. Rank naked terror. I let my mind touch madness. Incoherence. I let my mind become a not mind. And not by reaching atman or bhramaan  believe you me. I let my mind touch madness.

I let the headlines move through me. And I brought these images into my mind. I let the headlines come inside my body and my mind and I let them sit there for many hours. I vomited. I emptied my bowels. I felt my intestines become long coils of pain. And I let the headlines come as far as my intestines. Because they have. The headlines have gone as far as the insides of a woman. The headlines are sharp. I imagined my vagina and my vulva and my anus and my rectum. And I let the headlines sit there. The mind collapses in front of the sharp headline. I imagined my breasts. And I let the headlines sit there. And I imagined them torn and raked over by the headline. I imagined my mind and I let the headlines sit there. I imagined my mutilation. From the inside to the outside on every surface. I touched my body. All over. And I let the headline touch my body. But touch is too soft, too neutral a word. Too neutral by far. I let the headline become an Iron Maiden. The box inside which there are sharp sharp sharp teeth that push through you. And that is the headline.

At first I wanted to bring these images into the mind of every man on the planet. I wanted every man on the planet to carry these material images, because I wanted these images to inhabit them. Because they inhabit me. I can’t rid myself of them. I wake up in the morning and I read the paper and there is the image. I can’t turn away from it. All day I carry the image and then I wake up the next day and here is another. And another and another. There is no shortage of the relentless image. And I wanted them to look at the faces of the women in their lives – their daughter, their wife, their sister, their friends, their lovers, their grandmothers, their colleagues, their transfriend, their gay friend, their queer lover, every single person who has fled masculinity  – and I wanted them to imagine these images being done to them. I wanted every man on the planet to imagine these images on the bodies of their daughters because I wanted them to vomit. Because these images are on the bodies of their daughters and on the face and in the mind of every single woman you know. As soon as she knows herself woman she is inside the headline. And even before she knows herself woman, when she is an infant, when she is not even a human being she is inside a headline. Some man has brought here there. I wanted every man to scream and descend into horror. To imagine what is unthinkable, unimaginable, unreal and real, and real, and real, and real, and real, and real, and real, and real. Everyday real. Every day unreal. Every day real. Everyday unreal.

I imagined the headline real on my body. I let myself become porous. I let myself be flayed. I let my skin open and burn and scream till my throat tore. I let my vocal cords break from screaming. I let terror into me. I let my voice become voiceless.

I will not describe the headline. I will not describe the image. You know what those images are. You know what they are and I will not describe them. 

I wanted to describe them, because I wanted them to tear open a man, as they tear me open. And she who loves me told me not to. She said no good will come of it in the world. Because of what the image will do inside a man. And inside a certain kind of man the image will produce desire. Sick fantasy. Sadism. And there are many men such as this. And I wanted to describe it so badly. Because I wanted every man who thinks he is free of violence, who believes himself to be good, who is convinced he is good, and every man who does not think much about these things, and thinks he is outside the image and outside the headline, to imagine the image, and to imagine it inside themselves. I wanted them to carry it. I wanted them to scream in terror and fear and horror because I did not want to carry it, and no man has to. No that is incorrect. Those men who have been caught in the grip of this same violence turned onto them, they have to carry it. And we have to carry it. We read the headline and we are flooded with image. We imagine our body there. In that place where she is, where she was, where she will be, where they are, where he is. In that place of terror I wanted a man to imagine himself. 

And then I knew I could not describe it because of how sick men are. How deep a sickness lives in them because this is the world you have built. And don’t you fucking tell me you are not that, you are not this. These are your people. Your people have done these things. You have done them because you cannot imagine yourself there. And don’t tell me you can. I don’t care what you read. I don’t give a fuck about what you think you can imagine. You cannot imagine. There is a barrier to your imagination. If you are inside masculinity then headline is inside you. But not the way it is inside me. It is coming out from you. And it is coming into me. And the difference between these two is all the difference in the world.

And I am broken with grief. I am sick with rage. I am sick with the image. I am sick with the impotence, the horror, and the rage it produces in me because there is no pedagogical moment here. There is no teaching here. The men who will read the description of the image will take pleasure from it, because those who do not take pleasure from it will close their mind to it. They will close their mind immediately because they cannot allow it in. And those who will let it in will get off on it. Because it is they who have made the image. They have made this image of unimaginable violence. They have torn, and broken, and ripped apart, and mutilated, and burnt, and acid, and torture, and grief, and pain, and pleasure, and cutting, and grief as pleasure, and torture as pleasure, and sick sickness as pleasure.

And it is a continuum. All of it. From touch, and sleaze, and sneaky, and finger, and fiddling, and pretending, and mouth, and penis, and hiding, and gaslighting, and you want it, and no I don’t want it. I want none of it. From right up and until across the entire spectrum of touch that I don’t want. I don’t want it. And you can stop right here. Reading. But you don’t stop doing. Because the image is there. Everyday the headline is there. And you and your people are doing it. This is the world you have made and you and your people are doing it.

And you do this to your own. You do it to your own. And that image, that image of ripping your own apart let that image into you. Because then you can imagine it. You can imagine the image of what you do to your own. And that is also in you. That which you do to us on a scale unthinkable you do to your own. And you get off on it. On pain. And those of you who do it to your own you imagine your own as a woman. You imagine your own as a woman and and as a not man and you do it to your own. And imagine yourselves there. Where he is where he is where he is. Imagine the police station. What is happening to your mind now? Are you recoiling in agony? Are you shutting your mind? Can you keep it open? Can you allow the headline into your mind. So imagine it. Let the headline inside of you. Let the headline invade you. Let the headline tear you to pieces there where you fear you become a woman. There where if you went and went for pleasure if there which you fear you want and there where you fear you become a woman. Let the headline invade you there. Can you do it? Try it.

Just try it.

Just try it.

What is happening to your mind now?

Is it collapsing before the agony of your imagination?

Is it tearing apart at the seams as you descend into pain?

Into unbearable agony?

And you do this to your own. As you make them into women. And you do this to your own because you are scared of loving your own. Those of you who are masculine men. Just you. If you call yourself a man then you are this above. Up till it all you are this above. And don’t you fucking show me your fucking credentials of your fucking goodness that this is not you. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t fucking care. I do not give a single fuck about your fucking denials. These are your people. You are your people. And so you are there.

And don’t you think you need to be really bad, to produce the unimaginable, to be responsible. All of it is horrendous. All of it. Every single bit of it. Every single touch that I do not want makes me vomit. Retch. Throw up. Descend into grief. And I know what this feels like. I know up to and until. I know it in varying degrees, in many shades of horror in my mind and in my body. We all know.

We all know. And we are sick with it. We are pregnant with it. Sick with it. We are bloated and heavy and sick with it. We are pregnant with the sickness of the headline. And the grief and anger and pain and torture of what living in this world you have made requires of us.

And I curse you. I curse you. I curse every single man on this planet. I will not do violence unto you. That is the curse. The curse is that I will not do violence unto you and these words will never leave you. These words will never leave you. They will sit inside you forever. They will sit inside you like worms that will never be satiated. They will burrow into your brain. These words will never leave you. You will be assailed by the unending nightmare of these words. They will never leave you.

Because the image never leaves us. Because there is nowhere we can go where we are safe from the image. And nor will you. It is now inside you. It will not leave you. You are accursed and you will bear this curse all your life.

Everyday we wake up. And everyday we eat the headline. And every day the headline eats us. And everyday we must live. As though it is any other day. As though it is any other day. As though it is any other day. As though it is every day. As though it is every day. It is any other day. It is everyday.

By Fulana Detail

(This post originally appeared at Kafila, here.)

(Illustration: Janelle Rainer, Dead Head, in Guernica Magazine.)

In South Asia, a virtual platform to share and to heal for survivors of abuse

The Anju Project is an online community platform running in India and the global south; it is a place to connect with others, share stories of emotional abuse, and to find comfort for healing for people of marginalized genders who have experienced any form of abuse. Amruta Valiyaveetil imagined the need for such a platform out of her personal experience after an emotionally abusive relationship. She explains, “What broke me was not the relationship itself, but the fact that people around me didn’t believe what I was going through nor that my partner was capable of such actions.” She thought of The Anju Project as a platform for people whose natural support systems (family, friends, etc.) aren’t aware or ready to support others in emotional abuse situations. “What really helped me at that moment was reaching out to my partner’s ex-partners who were also abused by him, and I remember feeling very sane and supported in that process.” Hence, she began reaching out to more friends and family for support, which she says was much more meaningful than therapy.

Amruta combined her studies in Vet medicine, epidemiology with an emphasis on sexual and reproductive health and violence with her intersectional battle for gender rights and animal health.

She named the platform after her sister’s name “Anjana” which means “unknown” in Hindi. She remembers that Anjana was a special child and growing up she was always left behind; Anjana learned early what being marginalized meant and in time of need was always by Amruta’s side. 

This platform is crucial in the current context of Covid 19 and its gender implication: “India has a deep patriarchal system that has affected and continues to affect everyone, not just women but also men and the LGBT+ community. It is in the daily mundane violence that you find yourself defeated bit by bit, and that plays out in intimate partner violence. Growing up in India, we constantly hear about anecdotes of extreme forms of violence, legitimized by society. The violence that comes before is unknown, misidentified, ignored, and/or not considered societally `enough’ to be violence. We should talk about subtle forms of violence. Emotional and psychological abuse need to be considered as violence; we must not merely wait for the physical abuse to categorize it as such.”

The Anju Project is a virtual, safe sharing space. “With everything moving towards digitalization, the Anju Project is an easy to access safe community to share stories of abuse. Everyone has the choice to share privately, to receive a personal response from an advocate, or to share on our community platform and receive responses from the community. In both cases, the interaction with the platform may remain anonymous or not. The posts are checked by our team members who are intimate partners violence advocates who also moderate the posts to guarantee the person’s safety and eliminate hate posts.” The Anju Project also has a curated library of books and movies with various themes ranging from health to art, with an overarching theme of understanding violence as a system that spreads throughout the world as a result of a variety of systems of domination.

The Anju Project is now searching for partnerships to spread the message across and expand its network. The Anju Project is currently partnered with Sakhi, an organization working against gender-based violence for South Asian women in the United States, and now, with Women Included, a transnational feminist organization. We strongly encourage initiatives and organizations working on the rights of marginalized genders and battling sexual and gender-based violence and intimate partner violence to connect with us. We also have a need for advocates and professionals who want to contribute their expertise to one-time events of their choice,  as well as experienced digital social justice groups or personnel to support digitally.

Stay tuned for upcoming events on Instagram @theanjuproject or directly on the website

  • Art therapy Session: Expressing Emotion in Times of Turmoil
  • Guided Creative Writing Session
  • Online Weekly Support Groups 

The creation of transnational feminist solidarity networks is crucial to transform society’s projections onto others’ differences, the differences that become cause for violence. As a member of both Women Included and The Anju Project, the interconnectedness driving the work we do became evident. It is nourished by our emotional and active engagement against all forms of domination and violence. We realize that violence is a devastating system connecting the entire Earth, and within that realization, we choose to emphasize and practice other systems that connect us – like compassion, innovation, togetherness, listening, art and voice – in our quest to eliminate violence against people.

by Mona Ayoub with Brigitte Marti

Instagram’s New Terms of Service Help Absolutely No One

No matter who the president, prime minister, or sovereign head of state is, one individual rules the online world – Mark Zuckerberg. The founder and owner of Facebook, and now Instagram, recently released new content rules for his virtual empire. Instagram’s new terms of service, effective December 20th, crackdown even more harshly on Instagram content, listing “suggestive elements”, “regional sexualized slang”, and “contextually specific or commonly sexual emojis” as terms of violation. While the social media site is already notorious for punishing users (through means of taking away accounts, shadow banning them, removing followers) at their seemingly random will, this new set of rules almost explicitly targets sex workers who use the app for marketing purposes. 

The pandemic has undoubtedly been a catalyst for the explosion of OnlyFans, a platform where creators can post nude or sexually explicit photos and videos for paid subscribers. Unfortunately, many have lost their jobs due to coronavirus, and the need for supplemental earning is higher than ever. Research has shown that women, especially women of color, have faced the brunt of the emotional and economic burden caused by the pandemicThis creates an environment ripe with possibilities for exploring sex work as a means of income

The accessibility of OnlyFans as a platform for creators to sell content is undeniable. One of the site’s most unique aspects is that they have a team of lawyers who ensure the content that creators post is not leaked or distributed for free. This means that the exploitation factor is very low for creators- their content can only be consumed by paid subscribers. Yet, this means that creators have to turn elsewhere to promote their OnlyFans profile and must rely on other social media networks – TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter – to gain a following in hopes that ‘fans’ will eventually purchase a subscription. Of course, these creators are not posting the kind of explicit content they would on OnlyFans; Instagram will ban accounts for even putting the link to their OnlyFans profile on an Instagram post or bio, never mind a sexual video clip. Unless you’re an existing celebrity, self-promotion on social media is the lifeblood of online sex work. Instagram already makes it difficult to work around their existing rules, and these terms will only make it harder, critically draining the livelihoods of thousands of sex workers, who are majority women. 

Instagram doesn’t only discriminate against sex workers. In fact, the site has had a long and storied history of targeting female, black, queer, and plus-sized influencers. Instagram’s existing ‘algorithm bias’5, a euphemism for programmed discrimination, will undoubtedly exacerbate the penalization of femme creators, specifically black creators under the new rules. 

There is evidence that this algorithm bias is already working swiftly without Instagram’s harsher rules; in August, a photo of plus-sized black woman Nyome Nicholas-Williams was removed from a professional photographer’s account for violations of Instagram’s terms of service. There was nothing ‘sexual’ about the shirtless photo. The photographer who shot the photo responded, saying “I have posted photos of many more women – white women – who had [fewer] clothes on than Nyome that never got reported or deleted…what is it about a plus-size black woman’s body that is so offensive and so sexualized? The Playboy [Instagram] feed is filled with naked white models and it’s all for the male gaze, which is the opposite of what I do, and they’re allowed to stay”5. In a country where black women are already oversexualized in all aspects of life (especially in the media), they will now be forced to accept additional emotional, financial, and social consequences on social media imposed by the czars of Silicon Valley. 

Two months prior, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri acknowledged the company’s technological bias, admitting that he had been “hearing concerns about whether we suppress black voices and whether our products and policies treat everyone equally”. If Instagram’s previous terms of service can’t decipher between artistic versus sexual content, provocative nudity versus body positivity, and business promotion versus sexual solicitation, there are very low hopes for any kind of progress towards a more equitable future on Instagram after December 20th. 

It’s truly ironic that a decade ago Facebook started as a website for Zuckerberg to rate his female peers. Now that women across the world have decided to monetize that same misogyny, he’s shutting them out and taking away their platform. 

Below is the image of Nyome Nicholas-Williams that was repeatedly taken down from photographer Alexa Cameron’s Instagram account.

By Laura Goodfield

(Laura Goodfield, a member of “Generation Z”, seeks to make sense of the increasingly virtual world in which she was born into. She is specifically interested in how patriarchal and capitalist structures persist on social media platforms. )

(Photo Credit: The Guardian / Alexandra Cameron)