This is our truth, tell us yours
Go to any working class neighbourhood in the UK where children are playing and it will not be long before you see a preteen girl with toddler on her hip. It is a pose of someone used to caring responsibilities, unconscious and natural, a pose that her ancestress’ back to Eve would recognize. I was reminded of this image today talking with @. I have written before about how “lesser women” are denied entry into the class of womanhood by the patriarchal gatekeepers and feminists alike, this also I believe extends into other areas of our lives though. The girl with the child on her hip knows, in a way that denies any guff about shared girlhood that being a woman is defined by caring roles, bound by those parameters of motherhood that second wave feminism supposedly broke through for her middle class betters.
When you are a lesser woman on more than one intersection of oppression this denial of your womanhood and the ideal representation of being a child, even whilst you in the reality of your life live both roles becomes even more explicit. The conversation started by @Karnythia and @thewayoftheHeid on the #fasttailedgirls tag was around the way girls who are not white are denied the aspect of childhood we like to call innocence. They are sexualized, and assumed to be sexual from a very young age, literally forced into being adult woman, even while full entry into the class we call woman is denied all but a few token women of colour. There are parallels for me with the children of Rotherham and Rochdale, Oxford and Derby, those white working class girls who were assumed to be adults sexually at 11 and 12 in a way that would never have happened if they had been from a “good” neighbourhood.
Of course if you are a woman of colour and working class, then your childhood and your womanhood are both likely to be hypersexualised and denied at the same time. Which brings me to the murders of Angelia Mangnum and Tjhisha Ball. Imagine if two white middle class teenagers had been found naked, murdered, dumped at the road side? Imagine if their bodies were mistaken for a dead animal? Angelia and Tjhisha were 19 and 18 years old, the same age as teenagers celebrating freshers week, being loaded up by parents with Ikea bed spreads and instructions to call home every night. Those teenagers are considered barely able to leave home without a complex system of support networks, thousands spent on every home comfort and parents ready to parachute in at a moments notice.
In this interview with Tjhishas’ mother (and be aware the reporting is quite problematic in a number of ways) she mentions that her daughter had been dancing for two and a half years. This is the America where the anti sex trafficking industry makes millions, where every FBI sting against sex workers if trumpeted for the sake of the children, where apparently white girls cannot walk down the street without the risk of being whisked into sex slavery by pimps (who are always black). But apparently a 15 and a half-year old can work as an exotic dancer, if she is not white, not middle class, not respectable.
Now I am the last person to impose magical ages at which we can or cannot be sexual, nor will I throw underage sex workers under the bus as most feminists do. However surely the double standard, the denial of the privileges of innocence and childhood is clear? Angelia and Tjhisha were never seen as children, as teenagers, as innocent, because of their race and their class. There murders are not seen as the tragic loss of two teenagers, for they had already been categorized into other, less sympathetic boxes
The media has reacted with typical racism and whorephobia to the brutal murders, but there have been two excellent articles;
everyday whorephobia is running a fund-raiser to cover funeral costs, please donate whatever you can afford.