How Hillary Can Have the Last Laugh


If Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency, it’s going to be a case of Barack Who?

Hillary Clinton joined Twitter yesterday in a moment of social media fabulosity that had me thinking @CoryBooker should watch his back.

First, there was the unadulterated awesomeness of her Twitter bio.

“Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD…”

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The humour “hair icon, pantsuit aficionado” – the CV “lawyer, women & kids advocate, US Senator, SecState” the humanizing… “Wife, mom” – special props for putting “wife” before “mom” – the history… “lawyer, FLOAR, FLOTUS…” FLOAR is such a nice touch… First Lady of Arkansas… reminding us she’s been in the game a long time, some props to Bill’s home state, deprived and unglamorous. It’s the global victrix’s “Jenny from the Block” moment. “Dog owner” – well, if you hate Hillary you just hate puppies. And the glorious ending, “…TBD…” To be determined.

You know what this is? This is Daily Show, Stephen Colbert politics. And I’m not really even using that as a metaphor. So many Americans get their only politicial fix from those shows that she is heading like an exocet missile for the demographic that matters.

And now let’s move on to the avi. And her first tweet. Which was:

Thanks for the inspiration @ASmith83 & @Sllambe – I’ll take it from here… #tweetsfromhillary

This is a reference to the Texts from Hillary tumblr, the funniest political meme in years. She used their main photo as her Twitter avatar. She checks them for inspiration. She @s them. One of the creators responded with the perfect Onion-esque “Area Tweeter Doesn’t Know What To Do With Himself.”

Why does any of this matter? Well, she’s definitely running. I said as much in my Sun on Sunday column months ago after meeting fundraisers who had been at her house discussing the PAC. Secondly, it shows how she is running. She has used her time away from politics to become a kind of legend. Obama graciously gave her clout, but she kept her distance; when Susan Rice was messing up over Benghazi Clinton just stayed quiet.

I know about the Benghazi scandal; it will be old news in 2016. Old, old news. Attempts to revive it by the GOP will have voters rolling their eyes. Unfair? Sure. But there’s no crying in baseball.

Clinton is using humour and feminism “women & kids advocate, glass ceiling cracker” to show the authentic her; to take away any age-related beefs, because her humour makes her seem the most on-it, hippest candidate around; and to pitch to women, who defeated Mitt Romney en bloc.

She’s going for youth. Traditionally a worthless vote. Not last election. Not this election. And she’s going for women. “Glass ceiling cracker, pantsuit aficionado, TBD.”

I’m dead serious about the Daily Show pitching. When my stepdaughter arrived at a university in the key swing state of Ohio last autumn, they were registering the students to vote the same day they arrived. Youth turned out for Obama last election. First election it has ever really shown up. And that is a sea-change in the electoral mathematics.

I think she will run and I think she will win. And it would be very very hard not to vote for her. Even though I support Governor Christie, and he is the best the GOP has got, running against a woman, and one as popular and competent as Hillary, is a tough, tough battle.

If Clinton wins, she will be the most successful woman in history. Barack Obama slaughtered her in a primary that she was supposed to win at a canter, but none of that will matter if Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman President. His achievement would then remain historical, and vital, but it would be dwarfed by that of a woman becoming the most powerful person alive for the first time in history. Obama’s second term is being horribly tarnished right now, with the IRS, AP, PRISM, and Benghazi scandals, with Eric Holder, and the costs of Obamacare kicking in. When Bill Clinton took the stage for Obama at the DNC during the Presidential campaign he was greeted with more enthusiasm than Obama himself. And rightly so; as good as Obama is, Clinton is galactic distances better.

Hillary lost the primary, the Presidency, and got the consolation prize of State. But if she wins in 2016, she will have the last laugh. It will be her face, and not Obama’s, that defines the modern era, progress, and liberation. And she has the chance to do it right, and to achieve great and centrist things for America, and for women’s rights across the globe. And on the latter point, I believe she’s enough of a feminist to actually do that; to hold the Saudis and others much more accountable.

And even though Michelle Obama kicks major league ass, Bill Clinton will be a much, much cooler First Gentleman.

You go girl.

photo by SSkennel

The Campaign to Ban Rape Porn is Far Too Broadly Drawn


I have been campaigning, and will continue to do so, for the Sentencing Council and the law to reflect the severity of possessing and distributing child rape images.

Women must also demand far tougher sentencing guidelines on rape and trafficking into rape.

As a reminder, to own large numbers of images of children being sadistically tortured or forced into bestiality, the starting point is one year.

For many women gang-raped daily in brothels in the most serious case, the traffickers got eight years. Out in four.

That’s the landscape on which British law operates, and which we must rise against.

However, over the last week or so campaigners I normally support and whose natural ally I am have launched a petition which makes me nervous and which I could not, in conscience, sign.

They want to ban all depictions of rape in acted pornography.

There is already a requirement in law that such depictions be obviously staged with “production values”. If that sounds comical, it isn’t – it’s designed to catch youtube videos of women being actually raped and assaulted.

Campaigners say they want to prevent or ban the following things; “extreme” rape scenarios featuring torture, pretend incest scenarios, scenarios where actresses who are eighteen are dressed or digitally altered to look far younger.

I think there is a case for banning at least the latter two categories. The law in Britain already makes it illegal to own digitised or altered or traced or drawn images of child rape/abuse (distinguishing itself from the US). This is because of the harm that could arise to children by feeding such fantasies. On the same basis, actresses pretending to be far younger or in incest scenarios are feeding the precisely same harm as traced or altered images of child rape or abuse. So far, an important addition to the law.

But to ban all images of rape itself goes far too far.

Campaigners already say that art or fantasy depictions in movies, books etc would be exempt. Consider many scenes from “Rome” for example. If classified by the BBFC they are not porn.

However, campaigners against rape – which I hope we all are – MUST be aware of free speech and where the line of incitement is truly drawn.

Not too long ago, a most dignified man, the barrister Simon Walsh, 50, was put through a disgraceful obscenity trial for owning pictures of violent pornography consenually taken, including “fisting”. He was cleared, but not before public humiliation at having his private life and sexuality exposed.

This is not a scenario feminists should campaign for as it affects other men and women. Pornography of rape that is clearly dramatized, and consensually made and shot, and does not involve imagery of children or incest, is not necessarily an incitement to actual rape. This campaign would criminalise all those indulging in consensual BDSM pornography. Yes this is embarassing to blog and talk about, but it is a lot better than having somebody like Mr. Hughes go through the dreadful national humiliation of his pornography trial.

Rape fantasy is an incredibly common female fantasy. It is VITAL that we distinguish this fantasy from rape apology, rape excuse, or anything to do with real rape. Psychologists have various explanations for the prevalence of rape fantasy in women, from its being a way for strong women to surrender control to the simpler variant of the woman who wishes to think of herself as a quote-unquote good girl, a virtuous woman, and in her dreams is simply overpowered so that sexual activity is not “her fault” and her “virtue” remains intact. In these fantasies the rapist looks like Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones and the woman finds it an enjoyable experience – it could not be more different from supporting or wishing for an actual rape in real life. Women are not stupid, and they can draw a perfectly clear distinction between fantasy and reality. The women who purchased 50 Shades of Grey – and no, I am not one of them – did not really want to be hurt by an aging billionaire.

It is important that in protecting women and children we are quite clear about what actual rape is and what incitement to hurt children is. Legislation to criminalise a community of fetishists is not right. I may not share their fetish nor am I in the same boat as Mr. Hughes, but adding ordinary, filmed, and consensually dramatised rape scenes – even involving, as in his case, some consensually undertaken depictions of pain – the government should NOT ban it, and as a feminist and one who will be concentrating on rape sentencing and the judges and quangoes who minimise it, I cannot support the campaign as it is written. It is illiberal and wrong and tramples on sexual rights.

photo by Rocketeer

Obama Must Pardon Edward Snowden


It is a sign of hope in the world that a brilliant African-American could be elected President of the United States and re-elected four years later.

I am a Republican but I salute and admire President Obama. How can you not?

He is a courageous and charismatic man and a brilliant politician and organiser.

I support universal healthcare, coming from the UK where the NHS makes us all feel safe and secure against poverty and disease. Obamacare has major problems and should be reformed, but the principle is sound.

I can’t find much else I like about the President’s platform, other than progress on gay rights.

That said, I believe him to be a principled and honest man and I admire him.

His presidency has been tarnished by a series of scandals. The Benghazi CIA/State Dept scrubbing during a Presidential campaign. The IRS targeting conservative groups to the point where it asked one congregation to “describe the content of your prayers.” And the AP getting its phones tapped, and a Fox News reporter put under surveillance.

The line from the White House has been that the President had no personal knowledge of the above.

This seems to me fantastical, but I want to believe it; and there is no absolute proof to the contrary.

Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian has come up with the biggest scoop since Watergate in exposing the extent, breadth, depth and overreach of the PRISM programme. He must win a Pulitzer prize, there can be no doubt about that whatsoever.

Tonight he published an interviewer with the whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who has fled to Hong Kong. A fairly lowly IT guy who could listen, as he said, to your wife’s phone calls with no problems at all. Snowden comes across as a genuine patriot. Although he praises Bradley Manning, unlike Manning he has put no American asset at risk, exposed no soldier.

President Obama does not pretend he did not know about or authorise the PRISM program. He will now have to answer Snowden’s allegations that the NSA routinely lied to Congress about the tools at their disposal; if that is true, the President also knew.

But one thing is certain. If President Obama wants to stand for hope and regain respect, he will not banish this whistleblower for a life on the run, fleeing to Communist Chinese territory against the democracy that is his home and birthright.

Edward Snowden is no Manning. If President Obama wants a “debate” (at the least) he can show his bona fides by issuing a Presidential pardon to Edward Snowden – who should come home and testify in full to Congress.

In which Eh Ba Mum asks Daily Mail readers what to make of Kate Winslet’s baby news (brace yourselves).

Read HILARIOUS blog below from eh ba Mum. Treat yourselves, funniest thing I’ve read all year.

In which I ask Daily Mail readers what to make of Kate Winslet’s baby news (brace yourselves)..


Income secured from third ex husband…. tick!

– Sophie, Wiltshire,

Yeah! She probably only ever became an award winning actress and global superstar so she could divorce people and claim alimony. Bitch.


and unfashionista’s personal fave:

“kinda old and to have all your children by different dads is trashy as helll

– jillymarie, detroit, United States, 

Yeah Kate how dare you be old.

For God’s sake woman! Have some class: Be younger.”

“Cis” – one woman’s view


is a two-part blog, co-authored by my Twitter friend @HannahBoo3131, Hannah Buchanan. We have been DMing for a while and not just on this topic. Until the debate on the use of “cis” came up, I had no idea that Hannah had been a man before she transitioned. Nor did I know she had cerebral palsy. Twitter is a conversation, and you tend to bond with people based on personality. She was one of many who DMed me over the privilege-checking blog.

She has some interesting thoughts about the term “cis”, objectionable to so many women, including me, and I thought I would blog them here. Hannah suggested we blog on this term together. As her post is long I will add part two later, my take on it. Follow Hannah on Twitter and read her blog here:


ALL ABOUT CISGENDER – by @HannahBoo3131


So, there is a crisis in Middle Earth. Doctor Who is regenerating. But someone who is not regenerating is the novelist turned politician turned columnist Louise Mensch. Known for controversial views, she is not one to shy away from a controversial viewpoint, or for that matter expressing it. Having excoriated the term intersectionality recently she declared the word ‘cisgender’ to be “an offensive term she does not recognise.”

I joined in a discussion on Twitter with interesting results.

Now, when I first began blogging on all matters trans in 2005, I did not know what the word intersectionality meant, nor the word cisgender. So like all good practitioners of orienteering I asked those who knew what the term meant. I discovered that intersectionality means the way in which various forms of oppression one may or may not be subjected to intersect.

The word cisgender means on the same side as.

However after our heated and passionate but good-natured discussion on Twitter yesterday I can understand why the term may be problematic.

For background I am disabled and in a wheelchair. I have had cerebral palsy from birth. Yet there are many different terms to describe my situation like physically disabled, physically challenged, disabled person, differently abled, or to conclude person with a disability, or people with disabilities.

Many people within the disabled community have their own personal preferences as to which of those terms should be used. Indeed it would be fair to admit that there is no hint of universal agreement about such terminology at least not from me. I have always been of the mindset that the person I am should come first before any label which may be ascribed to me. Hence my own personal preference is for the term “person with a disability.”

Linguistically, I feel this is the most positive of the terminologies at our disposal. It seeks first of all to de-medicalise the person instead centring around who they are rather than what they are or what may be wrong with them.

There are also so many words, people become confused over which to use. “Just call me Hannah” I tell them!

More controversially perhaps, I do not feel comfortable with the connotations it draws up. Connotations like as helplessness, vulnerability, difficulty and non-productivity. Now whilst these descriptors may be an accurate portrayal of my life at times I like to think that they do not tell the full story.

If you were to describe me as a disabled person for example you may not be immediately aware that I consider myself to be a musician, writer and an avid reader. I am something of a news junkie too.

Further to this I am also trans woman having transitioned but not had surgery due to disability. However I believe that labels never tell the full story.

This is why I have some sympathy with those who struggle with the prevailing use of the word cisgender. Firstly, it is a word that many have still not heard of. It is a neologism in a sense. Some make the point that has been used in academic discourse for a number of years now. Not all of the population is in academia. Nor should we expect them to be fully at ease with theoretical concepts. Rather in engaging it is better to break down barriers with accounts of actual lived experience of anything not just trans issues.

Many people further feel it counters othering, that is to say the trans experience being considered outside the realms of possibility for human understanding. However, perpetuating othering by othering the majority of those who are not trans is somehow counterintuitive in my eyes.

A further problem occurs when you get into the realms of cis privilege. Many of those who are trans and their allies talk of cis privilege. That is to say that many people feel that being born not trans is a privilege.

I can understand emotionally why it may feel that way. It is rather like somebody achieving that goal of climbing the mountain by proxy in a cable car whilst you are still stuck at the bottom and have to climb.

However, I would question whether being born a woman or a man by default instead of being born trans is truly a privilege in today’s 2013 society.

Society in general is riddled with patriarchy and its consequences. Women are not paid equally to men, and there is still very much a glass ceiling in terms of employment. Women are subject to sexism as a byproduct of daily life. Initiatives like Everyday Sexism from Laura Bates attest to that.

Women also are subject to new phenomena entirely based on their womanhood. Such phenomena as slut shaming and victim blaming are now common experience in the everyday life of females.

When I transitioned I wanted the female experience, not just the fun bits, not just the make up bags and nice clothes. I wanted the female experience uncut. I had always spent my life around women and admire their stoicism, courage and strength. I admire the way they indulge in reciprocity and collective spirit.

But I realise that in transitioning, I must stand shoulder to shoulder with other women and other people trans and non, to affect real change for others and myself for the goal ultimately of a better world.

Yes,cis is a new word. Yes people can learn what it means. Yes it can be taught to other people. Personally speaking I always use the word incongruent. I was born in a state where my every fibre was incongruent with my body. Now I am congruent and I am happy. But I did not achieve that happiness by dwelling on the inherent differences between myself and other women. There are also many similarities and we can fight if we wish to for similar goals. I have been fortunate in my life both on and off-line to know many great women who have inspired me and continue to inspire me daily.

Sometimes I think it is not words we need but attitudes. We need to be open to positive engagement and willingness to listen to people who are all across the human spectrum.

We need to stop mudslinging between theoretical schools of thought, between radical feminists liberal feminists and any other kind of feminist. Calling anyone a TERF is counter-productive and does nothing to promote integration or understanding. Rather it just continues apace a kind of childish dialogue which certainly precedes my life.

It is important to remember that nobody becomes a radical feminist in a vacuum. It is important to hear the experiences behind the rhetoric which is not sucking up to transphobes. It is merely listening and hearing. If people have an opposition to the word cis, we should be prepared to listen to and hear that too.

In closing I would like to say this. Being trans is not easy. But nor is it the only oppression. Nor is it the only oppression worth considering. For example in some ways I would argue that many trans women are less oppressed than I am. I for context cannot put on my own clothes and make-up. I have to delegate most of this responsibility, and indeed most general responsibilities to my carer who is a complete saint, and I don’t know what I would do without her.

I am enormously grateful for her friendship and the services she provides. But the tacit point here is that most of the agency of my transition is taken out of my hands. The majority of the trans community are able-bodied, though I know many have hidden disabilities.

But nobody is taking anything away by refusing to engage with a word. You are still you.

And even if in trans eyes somebody is cis, they may lack other privileges that have not even been considered.


photo by

Why doesn’t UK law understand rape and child abuse?


Following my blog on child rape, and multiple gang rapes in brothels being labeled “prostitution”, and multiple rapes within the home being labelled “forced marriage”, I wanted to show why all of this matters in practice.

It’s not just some PC blog about nomenclature. It’s about the fact that in the UK, rape and sexual abuse is happening every day and literally being ignored by the law.

The news in Britain today is of a teacher who has been given a police caution for viewing 143 sexually abusive images of children on his computer. A civil service panel, independent of politicians, has decided he will be allowed to return to teaching. Here is the story:

The focus of most news coverage is why the “independent panel” said this man can work again in schools. I hate almost all quangos; I believe politicians should be in charge whenever possible, and/or positions should be elected. You can fire your MP or councillor, but not a quango. This panel is unaccountable to anyone.

But I don’t want to digress. Politicians are saying they will attempt to intervene, but what happens to this individual child abuser is not as important as demanding a change in the law.

He received a police caution, for:

1. Visiting a website and viewing six images of child abuse

2. Accessing, downloading and viewing 143 sexually abusive pictures of children at the lowest end of the scale [the COPINE scale, which means pictures of children viewed for sexual gratification]

3. Having a further 46 images of children being sexually abused by having nude or underwear photographs taken of them secretly in places they are supposed to be safe, such as playgrounds or nurseries

For all of this, the abuser receives a police caution. Of course there are gradations in the severity of child sexual abuse, just as there are aggravating factors to a crime as horrific as rape. Gang rape or twenty instances of rape are even worse than one instance of rape. There are gradations to any crime. It is even worse to murder twenty people than one person, it is even worse to torture a person before murdering them than to murder them.That does not mean, however, that the initial crime is made less severe because there are even worse gradations of it.

Here are the CPS’s gradations of abusive images:

Level one: Images of erotic posing, with no sexual activity;

Level two: Non-penetrative sexual activities between children, or solo masturbation by a child;

Level three: Non-penetrative sexual activity between adults and children;

Level four: Penetrative sexual activity involving a child or children, or both children and adults;

Level five: Sadism or involving the penetration of, or by, an animal.”

Here are the sentencing guidelines. Prepare to be very shocked.

I understand if you cannot bring yourself to read the insanely low sentences mandated for owning child abuse pictures, so here is just a single example:

“Type/nature of activity: Possession of a large quantity of level 4 or 5 material for personal use only Large number of level 3 images shown or distributed  

Starting points: 12 months custody  
Sentencing ranges: 26 weeks – 2 years custody”

The British public is often being accused of being in a “paedo panic” or of Brass-Eye type hysteria being whipped up where no child abuse exists. This may be true. But these links I am posting are not tabloid exaggeration. They are Crown Prosecution Services sentencing guidelines.

Children are abused and tormented for photographs and films because there is a market for those photographs and films. Any man (and the occasional woman) who deliberately, and for gratification, views one of these images is guilty of the abuse in the image.

There are real, actual children in these images. At present, for owning a “large number” of images sadistic, penetrative rape of children by adults and animals, the Crown thinks you should get a year in jail. With good behavior, out in six months. Top sentence, two years. Out in one.

What the hell?

For viewing and owning pictures of children viewed abusively, this child abuser, who fully admitted they were child abuse pictures, received a caution. A caution. For abusing 143 children, or a smaller number of children abused 143 times when photos, like swimwear, are grouped in the context of gratification. A police caution. And the right to go back to his job.

I would like you, the reader, to try to imaging one hundred and forty three children. Is that, for example, half the children in your local village primary school? Every child in your local nursery school? This man abused that many children by creating a market for abusive photos of them, and he gets a caution.

In my more serious example, you can actually distribute large numbers of  Level Three images of children being sexually abused by adults (note terminology “sexual activity between children and adults” – there is no such thing, there is “non-penetrative sexual abuse of children by adults” – and your maximum sentence is two years. Out in one.

Now let’s look at sentencing for the ongoing gang-rape of women trafficked into brothels (CPS language – “forced to “work as prostitutes” ie to be daily gang-raped by men).

Here is their sentencing guideline for the most serious cases.

“The following cases provide guidelines on sentencing and reflect the degree of coercion, force and violence used in the exploitation of their victims:

R v Plakici [2005] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 19, Attorney General’s Reference (No 6 of 2004) dealt with a series of individual offences that amounted to an extremely serious case of trafficking. The offender had arranged for the illegal entry of women and young girls into this country in circumstances that involved both deception and coercion and forced them to work as prostitutes. Counts of illegal entry attracted sentences of 5 years, of living on immoral earning 5 years, of kidnapping 10 years, and of incitement to rape, 8 years. A total sentence of 23 years was imposed.”

Right, so, what we have here are human traffickers who kidnapped girls and women and had them raped again and again, every day, in their brothels. Try to imagine being one of those girls. Being raped perhaps ten times a day. Every day. Year in, year out. Knowing other women are suffering as you are suffering.

“Who’s counting?” says the British justice system. For all of those rapes together, the convicted gang rapist gets…. eight years.

This is the reality of rape and child sexual abuse and rape in the UK today. We don’t have a “pedo panic” we have institutionlised, state-sanctioned blind eyes turned to horrors Stephen King would shy about describing. We have joke sentences for the worst crimes imaginable against the bodies and dignity of women and children. Don’t settle for “Level One images”. Fuck your clinical terminology. Those are actual children being actually abused. A thousand rapes deserves life in prison, no parole.

When will get judges and politicians who see rape for what it is? Women must rise and demand a change in the law.

3 minute deskside walk

Unfashionista loves fitness. I push Leslie Sansone’s walk videos on everyone. You shouldn’t sit at your desk for hours at a clip. Try this 3 minute mini-walk – you’ll feel much better. If you can handle this, you can handle a one mile, 15 minute walk.