Full Version of Rebekah Wershbale’s speech – MOJ Protest, London – 12th February 022

At the end of January, women’s groups across the UK joined together to launch a series of protests at women’s prisons to loudly and visibly object and draw attention to current Ministry of Justice policies enacted in 2019 that allow men to simply identify their way into the female prison estate. Many women have come together to challenge this, and KEEP PRISONS SINGLE SEX has become a rallying cry. It’s insane that we should have to campaign for this but here we all are, doing exactly that.

I was present at the first protest, representing Northern Radfem Network and speaking as a former inmate of HMP Styal. All of the points I made that day remain pertinent – namely the lack of mental health provision, the epidemic of self harm and the extreme vulnerability of women in prison. Today I’m speaking again on behalf of my incarcerated sisters, and I hope my words represent their perspectives and fears whilst they are unable to speak out.

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Ministry of Justice Protest, London – 12th February 2022

As the sun was getting ready to rise over the London skyline, I was over two hundred miles north trudging through the dark bleak rainy early morning of Yorkshire. A very typical day in the metropolis was dawning, but slowly, and surely, many angry women, and some male allies were making their way to the city. My journey was long, but the warm flask of tea and plenty of Tunnock’s Tea cakes made my squashed position next to the coach toilet more bearable.

My arrival in London was delayed due to road closures, but my enthusiasm for the protest spurred me on. As I approached Petty France the usual sights and sounds of the city were subdued and paled into significance by the thronging, banner waving and chanting of over one hundred and sixty beautiful women’s voices. We had converged together, with passion and conviction, to protest the MOJ’s decision to allow men to self ID into women’s prison. It is time for the MOJ and politicians to listen. It is time for the government to act. It is time to effect change.

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Women’s Corner, Nottingham – 13th February 2022

When the Nottingham Women’s Corner event was announced by Kellie-Jay Keen (KJK), I started planning my speech. I wanted to talk about my life’s experience, and to state uncompromisingly, why I was in this fight against the erosion of women’s rights and why I stand up for the protection of children against the dangerous ideology of gender identity.

Once I’d finished writing the speech, I backtracked and decided that certain aspects of what I wanted to say about the divisions within feminism were so incendiary that they risked causing greater divides, rather than calling out existing divides in order to try to fix them. I’d gone off on a tangent and I was dissatisfied with myself. I was guilty of ranting.

On the morning of the event I woke up and decided that it was entirely likely that I might ad lib a speech if the attendance seemed low due to the forecasted bad weather. I mean, what sane person would travel to an event to stand out in the terrible torrential rain that was being predicted? Thankfully, I have never claimed sanity, so I was going anyway!

Photo from https://twitter.com/L3581AN/status/1492912408804876291/photo/2

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m rarely short of things to say, and this particular subject matter can get my vocal chords chirping quicker than any other subject matter ever has. What’s more is that my passion for the subject matter, i.e., the protection of women and children, means that I don’t really struggle with getting fired up and vocal.

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Belstaffie’s speech – HMP Styal 29th January 2022

Hello. I’m Belstaffie. 

For twenty years I was employed by the the West Yorkshire Probation Service and I specialised in the assessment and risk management of male sexual offenders, both in custody and in the community. 

I worked with transsexual prisoners on the Vulnerable Prisoner Unit  at HMP Leeds, so I KNOW  that the male estate IS fit for purpose for these men. 

When I retired, I thought that my concerns with predatory male sexual offenders was over.  

That was until the MOJ introduced  “self identification” in women’s prisons for male prisoners. 

When I heard that CONVICTED  male prisoners with gender dysphoria and men with autogynephilia, (a male sexual fetish), were self Identifing as “women” and were being transferred to a female estate,  I thought it was a rather unfunny joke. 

When I realised that it wasn’t a joke…. I cried!     I cried A LOT! 

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Rebekah Wershbale’s speech – HMP Styal 29th January 2022

“Today’s demonstration, this protest, this outright OBJECTION to men in women’s prisons is a subject that resonates with me on a terrible, very personal level.

I’m a former inmate of HMP Styal. This occasion marks the first time I’ve returned to these grounds since I was shipped out in a sweat box 10 years ago. The conditions inside were as bleak then as they are now. Healthcare was not a priority, women were and are terribly unwell, with godawful diets and no good treatment plans. Mental health care is practically nonexistent. We’re talking about a forgotten population of the most achingly vulnerable women that society has left behind. Self harm is endemic, the statistics say that the prevalence is 5 times higher than the rates in men’s prisons – in reality this translates to the fact that the women I knew inside that didn’t self harm were a clear minority.

Many of the inmates are mothers. They miss their babies. You can hear them crying every night after lights out. The fear, pain and despondency they feel is palpable.

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Protest at HMP & YOI Styal. 29th January 2022 

To herald a number of protests at women’s estates in the UK, led by Keep Prisons Single Sex, 30 women activists from: 

  • Northern RadFem Network
  • Manchester Feminist Network
  • Women’s Rights Network
  • Sheffield Women of Steel
  • Liverpool Resisters
  • Womanchester

Answered the call from across the north of the country and descended onto HMP & YOI Styal with feminist banners, whistles, flags and shield-shaped placards to draw attention to the dangerous policy of allowing male convicts to self-identity as women and enter these estates. 

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The End of Porn

When I put out a call last week for young women to interview about porn use and ultimately porn rejection, I was confident that I’d get at least a few takers. Enough for an article that could at least scratch the surface of what appears to be a growing backlash against the culture. I know from speaking to teenagers that there are stories to be told and that now is the time to capture them.

What I wasn’t expecting was to suddenly, over the course of one weekend, receive enough material to write a book.

Thanks to Billie Eilish using her not inconsiderable platform to blow the conversation wide open, something has been ignited and the reams of men pathetically hopping on every available thread to justify their right to orgasm to images of rape and degradation seem a little less secure in their convictions. They’re being viewed as the misogynistic cretins they are, and not before time. But this article isn’t about them, this is about the girls that are being fed the culture from an alarmingly young age – the average age of first exposure to porn in the women I’ve spoken to is just 10 years old – and how they’ve been impacted by it.

I considered many different angles from which to approach this. I already scrapped my original intro about how the internet is not the force for good we hoped it’d be. We already know that. I’ve also had to fight against my default urge to be irreverent and make light of things I find uncomfortable.

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The epidemic of drug-facilitated sexual assault: Spiking by drink and needle

Drink spiking is nothing new, it’s been around for some time.  Even when I was a teenager, many years ago, there was an attempt to spike me twice.  We are talking 1980s here.  The first time, I was seventeen. My best friend (I’ll call her Kim) and I left a bar, (in those days no one ever questioned your age) and an open-top sports car pulled along-side us. Two guys shouted “hello” and asked us to jump in. I replied, with a short “no”. However, Kim reassured me, that she knew them, and all was well. We hopped in and sped off, arriving at a seafront luxury apartment just a few minutes later. Once inside, I was immediately drawn to the floor to ceiling, sliding glass doors that opened to a huge balcony. I could hear the sound of drinks being poured behind me, but I was busy gazing out across the sea, watching the flickering lights dance upon the water, completely in awe of the stunning view. “How could such young men afford such an expensive penthouse apartment, I wondered?”

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Reclaiming the Sheffield Women of Steel

On the evening of Friday 19th November, a group of women from the Northern RadFem Network, consisting of radical feminists from across the north of England, chose to congregate at The Harlequin on Nursery Street, to hold their first Christmas Social.

We chose The Harlequin to show support to a pub that has stood up for women’s rights against what can only be described as an onslaught by trans activists, who attacked the pub to try to discredit their business, because the pub owners opposed trans rights activist efforts to erode everything that we are as women. Efforts to corrupt and delete our language, to rename our body parts, to alter literally everything that shapes us as women.

Due to the spread of us all in the network, several of our members elected to stay overnight in Sheffield. This meant that a good many of us would be in Sheffield for the day on the Saturday and this represented a good opportunity for us to create an action event.

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The Great Trans Distraction

Here we are, nearly a quarter of a century in to the 21st century, and here I sit as a radical feminist, fighting for the right to call myself a woman, to call myself female, to be able to say out loud ‘Only women have a cervix’. What’s the reason for this ridiculous state of affairs? Well, it’s the great trans distraction. When our oppressors put on a dress and some lipstick and class themselves as more oppressed than women, and the rest of the world, seemingly, falls in to line.

Radical feminism stands in direct opposition to the notion of gender ideology. Radical feminists are gender abolitionists. The very idea that it is the nature of the clothes that we wear that causes our oppression is way beyond insulting. For the whole of my adult life I have worn the clothing that hangs on the rails of the assumed ‘male’ half of the shop. Yet, in wearing those clothes, it’s never magically protected me from the unwanted gaze or attention of a man that sees me as a possession to be taken at his will.

How can it be then, that if a male puts on a dress and some lipstick, they are suddenly so vulnerable?

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