Naked headless women golf tees, it’s all a bit of a laugh

Naked headless women golf tees, it’s all a bit of a laugh, eh?  Adding, according to Dunlop, “a little humour to your game” or “the perfect gift for someone who takes the sport a little too seriously.”  Bend down and stick the nice bit of pink plastic tits and arse in the ground, balance your golf ball head, swing and “thwack”. Hilarious.

But what about those of us who aren’t laughing?

I grew up in a village in Yorkshire with a pub called The Silent Woman.  The pub sign was a picture of a woman carrying her head in her hands.  To be silent a woman had to be headless.  A misogynistic leap of association, dragging in the nagging wife, the fishwife, the gossip: to be silent a woman must be headless. Is there a feminist on social media who hasn’t experienced attempts at silencing when she expresses her opinions?  I’ve lost count of the number of men who have told me “Don’t start with ….”, “Shut up,” or called me variations of screeching, bleating feminazi.  The Silent Woman in Slaithwaite did not have a unique pub name, there are several across the UK, with The Headless Woman as a variation.  Sometimes the  name appears with the couplet: “Here is a woman who has lost her head,  She’s quiet now—you see she’s dead” (Author unknown) just in case the inference from name alone isn’t clear enough.  Carl Jung talked about cultural archetypes. Cross cultural , universal concepts that he believed indicated a collective unconscious.  Unconscious forces that are expressed in images, religion, stories and mythology as they enter consciousness and shape our interactions in society.  The silent woman, synonymous with headless woman is a patriarchal archetype. It reflects sexist misogynistic cultural values.  Not convinced about the concept of patriarchy?  Remember Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects? “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.”

The objectification of women, reducing us to hilarious little objects that exist to titillate men, to give them a giggle, is another means of keeping us unequal.  Reducing us to hilarious little objects towards which to swing a golf club makes hitting us fun.  Making a joke out of the objectification of women and male violence against women is another way of normalising and reducing our ability to stop and stand back, to confront the horrible reality of what is happening.

Male violence against women does not exist in a social vacuum, it simultaneous reinforces and is reinforced by inequality between woman and men, given more than a helping hand by the objectification of women. Two and a half years ago, I started counting UK women killed through male violence.  Since I started counting in January 2012 and the end of May 2014, 333 UK women had been killed; amongst them, I am aware of six women who were decapitated.  Anyone still laughing at Dunlop’s golf tees?

Is it funny if I remind you of 29-year-old Gemma McCluskie?  She was actor living in London. In March 2012, her brother Tony McCluskie, 36, killed her by hitting her head and then chopped her up with a cleaver and a knife.  The next day, he took a cab carrying a heavy suitcase.  A week later, her torso was found in the suitcase in the canal close to where he was dropped off.  A week later her arms and legs were found in black bags.  It was another six months before her head was found.

Will you laugh if I tell you about Elizabeth Coriat? In March 2012, Daniel Coriat, 43, killed his 76-year-old mother Elizabeth Coriat in their shared home in London.  She was found on her bed, fully clothed, decapitated and mutilated with various weapons embedded in her head and body, injuries to the wrists and ankles in a ‘crucifixion-like’ pattern. She had suffered almost 50 separate injuries inflicted by weapons including carving knives, secateurs, a chef’s steel and a pruning saw.  Her head had been cut off completely off, rotated 180 degrees, and placed back on her body.

Will your golfer stop talking the sport so seriously if we think about Catherine Gowing, a 39-year-old vet who was murdered by a serial rapist Clive Sharp, 47, in October 2012? He raped her for 4 hours before killing her. The next day he bought bleach, petrol, a hacksaw and spare blades, and a Halloween mask.  He dismembered Catherine’s remains in open ground before disposing of her body in various locations in North Wales.  Only her torso, right hand and foot have been recovered; her head and remaining body parts were never found.

Will the story of Reema Ramzan bring back the missing humour to your game? 18-year-old Reema from Sheffield was murdered by her boyfriend Aras Hussain, 21,  in June 2013. According to forensic evidence although he had stabbed her in the chest,  Reema was likely to be alive while her head was being cut off, though would of course have lost consciousness at some point.  A post mortem showed Reema had also been stabbed in her shoulder and leg.  Injuries on her hands were consistent with self-defence.  Judge Mrs Justice Cox told Hussain  “”The pain, terror, anguish and desperation she would therefore have suffered, as you inflicted these appalling injuries upon her and ended her life, is truly horrifying to contemplate.”

Finally, if your sense of humour needs a final nudge there’s 60-year-old Judith Nibbs  who lived in Hackney, London. Judith had been active in the local community for many years and had worked delivering meals-on-wheels to the elderly for the last 6 years.  She also cared for her disabled daughter. In April 2014, police responding to a call found her decapitated body in her blood-splattered flat. Her estranged husband, Dempsey Nibbs, 67, was also there.  It is believed he had stabbed and seriously injured himself after killing Judith.  Police are not looking for anyone else.

Those golf club thwacks to the head have a broader context beyond beheaded women.  There are numerous women  murdered through blows to the head: garden ornaments, kitchen implements, hammers, feet, fists, blunt force trauma, fractured skull, brain injury. There’s also 68-year-old Sally Hingston, murdered by 25-year old and 6ft 10 Benjamin Radojezic: Sally survived a brutal beating – with a golf club – only to be dumped half naked in a ditch where she took 17 hours to die in Buckinghamshire in 2009.

Off with her head.  Oh, such a laugh. The naked headless woman – a little bit of humour for your game of golf.  I’m not laughing. After reading this, could anyone be?

 

Jo Sharpen has stated a petition to Dunlop to remove the naked woman golf tees from sale.  You can sign it here https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/dunlop-sport-remove-the-misogynistic-nudie-tee-product-which-features-a-decapitated-woman-s-body# %85naked woman golf tees picture

Nahid Al-Manea was stabbed to death ‘because she was wearing traditional Muslim dress’?

The headline “Woman stabbed to death ‘because she was wearing traditional Muslim dress’” is repeated across today’s news.

Attacking Nahid Al-Manea because of what she was wearing was a racist hate crime and blaming her clothing is judgemental victim blaming.  I have no desire to defend any religion. All religions that I am aware of oppress women.  But I want to know why we can almost immediately place her murder in a box called ‘religion’ or ‘racism’.   So far this year, I’ve counted more than 70 women in the UK killed though suspected male violence, but I’ve yet to see anyone other than feminists identifying this a problem with patriarchy or misogyny.

According to the Tell MAMA UK  project, 58% of anti-Muslim attacks reported to them are against women and girls with a 2:1 ratio of women victims in Islamic clothing compared to men in Islamic clothing, 75% of perpetrators are male.  The sex differences are clear – and predicable – to anyone who cares to look for them.  When race or religion are a factor in violence, these are rightly identified and named . Why isn’t it the same with sexist and misogynistic murder?

We’re not calling racially motivated attacks isolated incidents, nor should we, but that’s still how male violence against women is too frequently viewed. Racist violence does not happen in a vacuum that is unaffected by other forms of hate-crime.  Of course we need to drive out racism but we need to open our eyes and make the connections between all crimes of male violence against women – any woman, all women.

Within minutes of the breaking news of the violent murder of Lee Rigby last summer, his death was being linked to Islamic extremism– a threat to “our  British values”.  The government’s emergency response committee, COBRA, was convened the following day. Why hasn’t a COBRA meeting been called to look at fatal male violence against women?  The murder of Lee Rigby was abhorrent, but any murder is abhorrent. There should be no hierarchy. Could it be that it is only when the primary aggressors are those acting against, not reinforcing the dominant ideology, that the structural root of violence is identified?

According to Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell MAMA UK  “If the killing is found to be an anti-Muslim in nature, then this will be the second Islamophobic murder in 14 months,”.   Two in 14 months is two too many. Nahid al-Manea, 32, was stabbed to death.  A 52 year-old man has been arrested.  I’ve seen more than 70 versions of this same story in the UK already this year. Over 70 dead women.  Over 70 male killers.  70 dead women in five months. Women with a wide range of backgrounds.  Nine dead women this month so far. Who isn’t making the connections?

“Die in a fire”

A piece written by Sian Norris today “Go die in a fire” is not just an idle threat – as I know only too well”  made me think.  In Sian’s words:

 “ Telling women to die in a fire is no idle threat. It is the reality of millions of women throughout history. It is the reality of women alive today. It is my reality, as a survivor of having men set my hair on fire. It is not ok to despise women’s real life experience of male violence. It is not ok to use women’s experience of male violence in your desperate efforts to make women shut up. 

 I, too, hate that saying. Through my work counting dead women, I know that 17 women in the UK were either murdered in fires or set alight after they had been killed between January 2012 and December 2013. As Sian concludes

 “If you read this, and you are one of those people who has told women to die in a fire, who has threatened to silence women by setting them on fire, then for fuck’s sake, think about what you are saying and who you are saying it to.”

 I’d like to add “If you tell women to “die in a fire,” please remember:

Stacey Mackie, aged 35, was doused in white spirit and set alight on 27th January 2012. Police broke into her flat when a neighbour raised the alarm,  They found her sitting in the lobby with 80-95% burns, her clothes were  almost entirely burned off and her hair was singed.  As a police officer tried to comfort her, she replied: ‘I know I am going to die.’  Terrence Armer 61, was convicted of her murder, killing her after she had ended their relationship.  In court he denied that he had killed her and told the jury that he loved her.

Catherine Wells-Burr, aged 23, was smothered by Rafal Nowak.  Anna Lagwinowicz and  Tadevsz Dmytryszyn removed her body from the house and drove it in her car to a remote countryside location. Her badly-burned body was found in the burnt-out car on 12 September 2012.

Kayleigh Buckey, 17, her  six month old baby daughter Kimberley and her mum, Kim Buckley, 46, were killed in a fire in their home.  Kayleigh’s partner and father of Kimberley, Carl Mills, aged 28 was found guilty of their murders.

The body of Una Crown, aged 83,  was found on 13th January 2013.  She had suffered serious burns. Officers first thought she had accidentally set herself on fire before serious stab wounds were identified in her post-mortem. Her murder remains unsolved.

The body of Chloe Siokos, 80, and that of her husband  Argyrios Siokos, 69, were discovered after a fire at their home on 22 January 2013. Police said Chloe had other injuries inconsistent with the fire being the cause of death and that it was thought that Argyrios Siokos had murdered her before starting the fire.

Sasha Marsden, aged 16, was sexually assaulted and stabbed in the head and neck by work colleague David Minto, 23.  Her body was wrapped in a bin liner and carpet underlay, and dumped in an alleyway on 31 January 2013 before being set on fire.  Her injuries were so severe that she had to be identified by DNA from her toothbrush.

Ellen Ash, aged 83, was smothered by her son Jeffrey Ash on 21st March 2013.  He set fire to her home and fled before handing himself into police. Fire crews found her badly-burned body on the living room floor.

Naika Inayat, aged 52, died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a fire started by her husband Mohammed Inayat on 17 April 2013.  Their three daughters were also injured in the fire, one of them, 16-year-old Saimah, who had to jump from a bedroom window, suffered 50 per cent burns

Julie Beattie, aged 24, was murdered by Ashley Williams on 19th July 2013.  He  hit her  over the head with a hammer before he doused her in a mixture of petrol and diesel fuel.  She staggered out of the house in flames and said “‘Ashley did this to me”, before collapsing.  She later died of her injuries.  Her murder was witnessed by two children aged four and five, they became the youngest witnesses to give evidence at a murder trial.

Varka Rani, aged 24, was strangled with the pipe of a vacuum cleaner by her husband Jasvir Ginday, 29, on 12th  September 2013.  He had previously filed a missing persons report about her ‘disappearance’.  Police found her remains in the garden incinerator when neighbours reported thick, unpleasant-smelling smoke. Ginday told police he had been burning leaves, but one of the officers lifted the lid and saw the remains of a skull. Varka had been placed in the incinerator in the foetal position after her death.

Shehnila Taufiq, 47, her 19-year-old daughter Zainab, and sons Bilal, 17, and Jamal,15, all died in a petrol-fuelled blaze at their home after it was mistakenly targeted in a revenge attack on 13 September 2013.  Kemo Porter, 19, Tristan Richards, 22, Nathaniel Mullings, 19, Shaun Carter, 24, Jackson Powell, 20, Aaron Webb, 20, Aaron Jeffers, 21, and a 17-year-old youth who cannot be named for legal reasons are standing trial. The trial continues.

Ahdieh Khayatzadeh, 46, suffered severe burns after being doused in petrol and set on fire by her ex-husband Ahmad Yazdanparast on 12th October 2013.  Firefighters who brought her out of the building alive said she was in “horrendous” condition, so badly burned that they couldn’t tell if she was male or female, and “very much conscious”.  She died in hospital the same day, Before she died she told a paramedic that her ex-husband had carried out the attack because she had divorced him.

Mahnaz Rafie, aged 48, died of stab wounds before a fire started in her home on 12th December 2013.  Her mother Dolleh Joseph, 74, was rescued by fire crews but pronounced dead at hospital from smoke inhalation and burns.  Her husband Hassan also died from smoke inhalation and burns.  It is believed that the fire started after the gas supply was tampered with.  Police said they were not looking for anyone else