“Challenging Demand 2” conference in Glasgow, 24th October 2007

September 12, 2007

The Women’s Support Project has been involved in a range of activities relating to challenging the demand from men for commercial sexual exploitation, including:

  • Delivery of training on ‘understanding the harm caused through prostitution’.
  • Hosting screen debates and other public education events.
  • Hosting a conference on ‘Challenging Demand’, held in May 2006.
  • Undertaking research into attitudes of men who buy sex in prostitution.

They are now planning further activities, to continue this important debate.

  • A second ‘Challenging Demand’ conference, to be held on 24th October 2007, will report on the Scottish research into the attitudes of men who buy sex in prostitution, and will highlight pornography as part of the spectrum of commercial sexual exploitation, and a form of gender based violence against women.
  • An anti-pornography training day will be held on 25th October 2007. This day will be aimed at people who are already active in work against violence against women, and who are committed to undertaking public education work on this issue. Places are being offered to each VAW training consortium, as well as to a range of national organisations.

Gail Dines, Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies, Wheelock College, Boston and Dr Rebecca Whisnant, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Dayton, Ohio, have been invited to speak at the conference, and will be facilitating the training. Both Gail and Rebecca are founder members of the U.S. National Feminist Anti-Pornography Movement, and have a number of works published on commercial sexual exploitation, including ‘Pornography: the Production and Consumption of Inequality’, and ‘Not for Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography.

Scottish Women Against Pornography will also be involved. SWAP is the leading Scottish organisation currently challenging pornography, and actively campaigning on a range of issues. SWAP have expertise, skills and in-depth knowledge of how pornography is promoted, marketed and justified as ‘freedom of speech’, fantasy, aid to sexual (read male) fulfillment and also justification for male sexual violence against women, girls and boys. Catherine Harper of SWAP contributed to the Scottish research into attitudes of men who buy sex.

For more information please contact the Women’s Support Project.


Screen Debate at Glasgow Film Theatre, 26th September 2007

September 12, 2007

The Women’s Support Project, in conjunction with Glasgow Film Theatre, presents this popular annual event to mark September as ‘Month of Action’ to raise awareness about child sexual abuse.

This year’s event will screen the film ‘Mysterious Skin’.
‘…”The summer I was eight years old, five hours disappeared from my life. Five hours, lost, gone without a trace…”

These are the words of Brian Lackey (Brady Corbet), a troubled 18 year old, growing up in the stiffingly small town of Hutchinson, Kansas. Plagued by nightmares, Brian believes that he may have been the victim of an alien abduction. Local Neil McCormick (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) however, is the ultimate beautiful outsider. Neil is wise beyond his years and curious about his developing sexuality, having found what he perceived to be love from his Little League baseball coach at a very early age. Now, ten years later, Neil is a teenage hustler, nonchalant about the dangerous path his life is taking. Neil’s pursuit of love leads him to New York City, while Brian’s voyage of self discovery leads him to Neil – who helps him to unlock the dark secrets of their past. Based on the acclaimed novel by Scott Heim, ‘Mysterious Skin’ explores the hearts and minds of two very different boys who come to find the key to their future happiness lies in the exorcism of their collective demons.’

Following the screening there will be an audience/panel discussion.

Glasgow Film Theatre, Cinema 2
Wednesday, 26th September 2007, 5.45pm – 8.30pm
Sign Language Interpreter. Wheelchair Accessible

Tickets available from Glasgow Film Theatre, 12 Rose Street, Glasgow, 0141 332 8128. Tickets, £4 / £3
Early booking is advised to avoid disappointment!

Presentations and discussions from “Men Enough!” conference now online

September 12, 2007

This conference, organised by the Men’s Health Forum Scotland, took place on Friday 11th May 2007 at Glasgow City Chambers. I had a White Ribbon Scotland stand there selling ribbons and distributing information. The event really helped me to meet a lot of excellent supportive people. Presentations and discussions from the day are now online and freely available to download.

Scottish government commits to reform the law on rape

September 9, 2007

Excellent news – via Rape Crisis Scotland news with permission

On Wednesday 5th September 2007, the First Minister gave a commitment to prioritise reform of the law on rape, following on from the Scottish Law Commission’s review. In his speech, “Principles and Priorities: Programme for Government”, Mr Salmond says:

“In the area of criminal law, we’ll introduce our Rape and Sexual Offences Bill – to reform the law on rape and sexual offences in light of the Scottish Law Commission’s review.

Presiding Officer, if any member was ever in doubt about the need for action in this area, the figures published yesterday will have made the position clear.

At the same time as a 10% rise in sexual assaults, clear up rates for rape and indecent assault fell to 67% and 59% respectively.

Part of that is due to a lack of confidence from victims that the legal process will secure a conviction and it is therefore right that this Government and this Parliament acts.”

In response to questioning from Margaret Curran MSP, the First Minister also confirmed that he would match the previous administration’s record £3m funding for rape crisis services in Scotland. Mr Salmond further confirmed that he would reform the law in Scotland relating to the admission of sexual history evidence.

More on the Cosmo article

September 9, 2007

So I was at Luton Airport on Thursday and found myself browsing the magazines in WH Smith. It turns out they sell the US version of Cosmo so I bought it in the name of research (the article doesn’t appear in the UK version). The piece itself is as bad as has been reported – I plan to scan it as soon as I can and post the text here so that non-US readers can see it for themselves.

My sister used to read Cosmo, but it’s been a long time since I’d looked at it. Reading through the magazine on the flight home (well I had to pass the time somehow) I was shocked by how poor the magazine was, and worried about the messages it sends to young women. Most of the articles seemed to be about ‘how to please your man’, and ‘how to keep your man’, with the underlying implication that he might just get bored and leave if you don’t pander to his every desire. I couldn’t help thinking that most of the articles read like they were written by a man (they’re not, AFAIK)! If it wasn’t for the gender stereotyping (makeup, fashion and dating VS cars, football and porn) then I’m afraid Cosmo’s portayal of women wasn’t much better than some lads mags. With one difference of course – Cosmo is all about how to satisfy your man, Zoo and Nuts ignore relationships and how to please your girlfriend, and suggests you wank over some porn star or go to a lap dance club instead. Let me be clear about this – I hate Lads Mags and the way they are now accepted as part of mainstream culture, and are openly sold on low shelves in WH Smiths. I hate the pornification of our culture and the impact this has on men’s attitudes to women. I suppose I naively expected Cosmo to be  a bit different, but the “gray rape” article was indicative of the magazine as a whole, and the journalistic bias to re-enforcing patriarchial systems.

Laura Session Stepp who wrote this article, also wrote Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both, where she first used the term.

If you want to send a letter to Cosmopolitan follow this link to the The NYC Media Response Project Letter Writing Campaign, “There’s No Such Thing as Gray Rape.”

For more discussion on this topic check out these other blog posts:


White Ribbon Canada

Cosmo and the “gray rape” article

September 5, 2007

There is a great piece today on Feministing about Cosmopolitan’s (non) response to the “gray rape” article in their most recent edition. I suspect the article is only in the North American print magazine and not the UK version – I must check that up. Does anyone know?

“Gray rape” is a stupid and offensive idea – these are supposedly situations in which the existence of consent can be contested and thus women are not entirely sure whether or not their rape was, in fact, a rape at all! This is dangerous journalism and yet again focuses blame on victims rather than perpetrators of sexual violence.

Richard McCadam of the White Ribbon Campaign in Canada has also written about the article on his blog. He posts a challenge which I have seen several times before but which I think is worth repeating here

‘A lot has been said about how to prevent rape. Women should learn self-defense. Women should lock themselves in their houses after dark. Women shouldn’t have long hair and women shouldn’t wear short skirts. Women shouldn’t leave drinks unattended. Hell, they shouldn’t dare to get drunk at all. Instead of that bullshit, how about:

If a woman is drunk, don’t rape her.
If a woman is walking alone at night, don’t rape her.
If a woman is drugged and unconscious, don’t rape her.
If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don’t rape her.
If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don’t rape her.
If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you’re still hung up on, don’t rape her.
If a woman is asleep in her bed, don’t rape her.
If a woman is asleep in your bed, don’t rape her.
If a woman is doing her laundry, don’t rape her.
If a woman is in a coma, don’t rape her.
If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don’t rape her.
If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don’t rape her.
If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don’t rape her.
If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don’t rape her.
If your step-daughter is watching TV, don’t rape her.If you break into a house and find a woman there, don’t rape her.
If your friend thinks it’s okay to rape someone, tell him it’s not, and that he’s not your friend.
If your “friend” tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there’s an unconscious woman upstairs and it’s your turn, don’t rape her, call the police and tell the guy he’s a rapist.
Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it’s not okay to rape someone.
Don’t tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
Don’t imply that she could have avoided it if she’d only done/not done x.
Don’t imply that it’s in any way her fault.
Don’t let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he “got some” with the drunk girl.
Don’t perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or responsibility for your actions. You can, too, help yourself’

(emphasis from RGM)