Archive for the ‘women resisting colonisation’ Category

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Nasty and Nice: The F-Word covers the Transsexual ‘debate’

May 14, 2012

Recently the F-Word, with much trepidation, interviewed Sheila Jeffreys and Lee Lakeman, for their feminist analysis and insight into the issue of transgenderism. They also interviewed Barb Besharat and a man called Susan Stryker, who are both involved in transgender activism. Sheila Jeffreys was brilliant and incisive in expanding the understanding of the historical development of transsexuality as a medical diagnosis to cure/treat homosexuality and also the truly scary situation that we as women and radical feminists face with the political and social ramifications of the queer and trans activism upon our movement today. Her interview was hopeful and inspiring but very conscious of the desecration of lesbianism and women-only organising that has been wrought by the trans activists. Lee Lakeman provided a diplomatic overview of the situation that Vancouver Rape Relief faced in being taken to court by a man who refused to respect women’s right to safe, separate space.

I couldn’t actually listen to the interviews with Susan Stryker and Barb Besharat. Neither of them seemed to have a feminist analysis of the phenomenon of transsexualism and it wasn’t clear at all to me why they were interviewed or the point of their interviews. But what bothered me personally the most was the concluding discussion by the members of the F-Word collective; Nicole Deagan, Meghan Murphy and Ellie Gordan-Marshall.

First off Ellie begins rambling about how best to be an ally to transsexual people without specifying how that has anything to do with being a feminist. She doesn’t make any points relevant to feminism or women’s liberation so I will spare you the details.

Next Nicole and Meghan have a conversation on the difficulties in even talking about transsexualism within feminist circles.

Nicole: “These reactions are so strong that they essentially feel like we’re banned from having these conversations, and it becomes like censorship.”

Meghan: “Yeah, totally and that happens on both ends of the debate. I wouldn’t put that blame on either end or far end of the debate…There have been some really serious attacks on feminists who are critical of anything to do with transgenderism, you know even threats of violence and death threats… I’m sure on both ends. And then I’ve often felt like from the radical feminist end of the argument there is little room for discussion too.”

It really disturbs me to see that the women from the F-Word collective are making false implications that radical feminists are threatening and behaving violently towards transactivists. I have been involved in discussions with feminists on the issue of transsexualism for years and I have never seen any evidence of this. It would be good if the F-Word collective could substantiate these claims with evidence.

We do, however, have copious evidence that transactivists and males who identify as women are threatening women and feminists with violence on a regular basis. On the issue of threats and violence, this is a one way street, with males in drag being the instigators and women being the victims. Why is the F-Word inaccurately portraying this as though women are equally responsible for the violence and threats that are directed our way when we stand up for our rights to organise as females? How does this further our quest for women’s liberation?

Meghan expresses that she is unhappy with having to choose a side or take a position on the issue of transsexualism. “I’m attacked or others are attacked for not taking a position and not taking sides, for not wanting to engage in the conversation.”

Unfortunately, if you call yourself a feminist, you have already taken a position. Your position is on the side of women and in opposition to male supremacy. To blame feminists for the threats and violence they receive at the hands of men in dresses with unfounded accusations of equivalent behaviour is an anti-feminist position.

The discussion then delves into the name calling which Meghan and Nicole are quite upset and offended by. This is not the first time radical feminists have been tut-tutted for our tone. To be honest, I don’t think any of us really cares about being respectful to men in general. And I really don’t understand why there is a different set of rules about behaviour when we are talking about men in dresses. I have never seen any feminist involved in radical feminist politics berate women for being disrespectful to any other group of men. For example, it would be ludicrous to suggest that radical feminists be respectful when talking about, or to, groups of MRAs. So why are lesbians and radical feminists told off for being disrespectful towards this particular group of men (transsexuals) who have harmed us and our communities in very real and horrific ways? I really don’t get it.

Also, it is blatantly untrue that all conversations within feminist discourse about transsexuality are overrun by name-calling, abuse, hostility, anger and aggression. There have been numerous discussions on the Rad Fem Hub, in radical feminist facebook groups and on individual blogs that critically analyse transsexuality from a feminist perspective and the conversations are civil and respectful.

On the glitter-bombing of Germaine Greer, Nicole says, “I don’t think we should be violating each others’ physical space like that. And you know I also don’t think we should be calling someone a man if they define themselves as a woman or vice versa, I find that equally offensive. I think these kind of things cross the line into denying someone’s freedom to choose their name or pronoun and its really disrespectful and it’s just like crossing the line into someone’s physical space around their body, I think, it’s really disrespectful as well.”

And Meghan agrees, “Yeah, definitely. And as I said earlier, that stuff happens on both ends.”

Again, Nicole and Meghan are claiming that radical feminists are compromising the physical boundaries of transactivists without a shred of proof or evidence. When, where, how and who is what I would like to know, because I have never seen or heard evidence of this. When have radical feminists ever stalked and hounded transactivists? When have we ever thrown anything at them… other than logical arguments? As far as I am aware this has never happened.

As for refusing to participate in some man’s delusion that he is a woman being just as disrespectful as throwing glitter onto someone, well I guess we are going to have to disagree. Using the words, ‘he’, ‘male’ and ‘man’ to describe a male human is simply an accurate representation of reality, nothing more, nothing less. There is nothing disrespectful in stating a fact.

In actuality, the fact that men think they have the right to define themselves into womanhood and in the process redefine what it means to be a woman is HUGELY disrespectful of every single female on the planet. Moreover, it is an act of colonisation. Radical feminist resistance to this doublespeak needs to be nurtured, supported and applauded. It is clear that we disrespect this system that men have created to erase us and our collective right to self-determination. And this can only be a POSITIVE thing for women.

The interviews with Sheila and Lee produced a wealth of insights into the issues, both ideological and concrete, that impact us as women, as lesbians and as radical feminists in relation to the contemporary product of male supremacy called transsexualism. The F-Word collective could have chosen to have a relevant and meaningful discussion on the way that the phenomenon of transsexualism has impacted upon our lives, our politics and our communities. It is nonsensical to me that they chose instead to make false implications about the way that radical feminists conduct themselves towards transactivists. And unbelievably call on us to be nice and respectful to men who threaten our lives because they disagree with our politics!

This ain’t the way that feminism works, and as our sisterhood grows stronger, so will our resistance to the trans pushers and the genderists. Our disrespect for men who try to invade and destroy our communities is directly proportionate to our respect for ourselves and our sisters.

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Gender Identity

January 11, 2012

“I-dentity (aka trans) politics is fundamentally LIBERTARIAN and INDIVIDUALIST. It is ahistorical and acontextual. It essentializes sex stereotypes by renaming them consensual “gender identities.” It invisibilizes power structures that give rise to female oppression. It is anti-feminist.” – Bess Hungerford

Via UP, also posted by Sargasso Sea, Lishra, Gallus Mag, No Anodyne, Cathy Brennan, Lucky, audaxille, gorrilerof4b, saltnpeppa, iameatingblueberries, Smash, Davina, Zeph, Sex Matters

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Reclaim the Night Speech

October 31, 2011

This is a speech I gave at Reclaim the Night Perth, 28th October 2011.

Women are a colonised people. Under male supremacy, our original selves are forcibly buried and we are reshaped, our Selves conditioned for use and abuse by the men who occupy us. And this is a truly encompassing occupation. They not only occupy our time and energy, they infiltrate and invade, they alter what it is we believe about ourselves, they construct our identities from birth into being for them.

Under male supremacy, rape and sexual violence is the fabric of the culture in which we live. Women’s purpose is shaped according to what men value about us. We are valued in accordance with our fuckability, our submissiveness, our conformity to their value system which posits women as whores. We are vulnerable, we are penetrable, we are for use and abuse, we are colonised and we are for men.

Men construct the world around this value system. They buy and sell women and girls as sex and call it prostitution. They create degraded images of women being hurt and fucked and raped and call it pornography. Women and girls survive this occupation. We see ourselves starving and trussed up in shop windows, on the sides of buses, on newsstands and in the grocery store. And we survive this. We see little girls wearing Playboy bracelets, young women and girls being branded by the sex industry, stamped as whores, stamped as being owned. And we are still surviving this.

Tonight we are reclaiming more than the night. We are reclaiming ourselves. We are saying, loudly and clearly, “no woman is a whore”. And we are standing with every woman who has been beaten, every woman who has been raped and we are reclaiming ourselves. Men have shaped our realities for far too long, it is time we take back what is ours.

see
that no matter what you have done
i am still here.
and it has made me dangerous, and wise.
and brother,
you cannot whore, perfume, and suppress me anymore.
i have my own business in this skin
and on this planet.
Gail Murray

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SCUM Conference Program *UPDATED*

July 24, 2011

PLEASE EMAIL US AT: scumconference@hotmail.com FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT REGISTRATION/LOCATION ETC.

Thursday 22nd September *note* the launch is not part of the official SCUM program

13:00 Feminist Book Launch @ Parliament House: Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the   Global Porn Industry: Spinifex Press

        Abigail Bray, Melinda Tankard Reist (eds.)

Friday 23rd September: Theme – Women Revolting and Revolting Women

9:00               Conference overview, acknowledgement of country, breakfast, board games and hang out with other A-Mazing thrill seeking females.

11:00       What does feminism really mean? Eva Harper + Lyn Ariel

             The first session of the conference will explore what feminism really means and whether there are distortions and misconceptions of feminism currently being perpetuated throughout society.

12:00              Women keeping peace through men’s war time:  Noushin Arefadib

Solutions to critical feminist issues of rape and violence against women during war.

1:00         Lunch

2:00        Revolution Revisited: Framework for a Radical Feminist Future      Betty McLellan

              Questions and discussion about the future of feminism and the role of radical feminists in that future. Is a feminist revolution still on our agenda? If so, what would such a revolution look like? Is a feminist revolution even possible in today’s socio-political climate? My emphasis will be on the need for us to embrace today’s challenges and push ahead with courage and determination.

3:30            Afternoon Tea

4:00         Revolting Women Go Public:  Lyn Ariel

Session on reasons behind and meanings of slogans.   

5:00         Drinks and Social Time

 Saturday 24th September: Theme – Creative and thrill-seeking Hags

9:00        “Heart of Feminism” expressive workshop with creative writing and construction:  Georgi Stone

11:00       Morning Tea

11:30       RadLesFem conversations about goddesses and lesbians too sacred to mention: Spider Redgold

1:00         Lunch

An Afternoon to Re-Member Valerie Solanas:

2:00       Up your Ass – Kat Pinder

             An overview of the life and work of our well loved civic minded, responsible, thrill seeking sister.

2:30        A look back at the SCUM Manifesto – Chris Sitka
What the SCUM Manifesto meant to me (and other radical feminists) at the time and a look back at it from our current perspective

3:45       Fem-manifesto-ing – Susan Hawthorne

             An examination of feminist manifestos and comparisons to the SCUM Manifesto

5:00        End of session

7:00            Creative Hags Performance Evening (food + wine provided)

Sunday 25th September: Theme: Re-Membering Sisterhood + Feminist Identity

9:00        From Skipping-Rope to Splitting-Hairs : Women in Conflict: Rain Lewis

Many feminist/lesbian groups will go through “splits”.  This presentation will explore various ways and means of girls and women-only conflicts for discussion from both political and personal perspectives.

10:15          Morning Tea

10:30             Radical Activist Strategies: Samantha Berg

Zero risk through high risk acts of resistance and reclamation.

11:45                Telling Lies about little girls: porn scripts:  Ryl Harrison

This presentation will look at how porn scripts work in the everyday lives of girls aged between 9 and 13 years.

12: 30        Lunch

1:00        Womyn Only: Re-claiming Sister Space: Dani Tauni

Reclaiming our womyn’s spaces, festivals and communities and Re-membering Our Positively Revolting Lesbian Feminist Identities.

2:30            Afternoon Tea

3:00        Open Space session

learn more about and discuss the work of some of our favourite feminists from around the world: Bring your favourite feminist books!

4:30        Closing Session and debrief

5:00        End of Conference

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Rebeldias Lesbicas

February 10, 2010

Incredibly moving video made by Alejandra (Jana) Aravena, a South American lesbian feminist.

NO PORN.
Slide show made for the first commemoration of the rebellions Lesbian, October 13.
The sequences are a personal view of the rationale and working from feminism. It is also an account of the referents of lesbian-feminist political training I’ve had.

Hat tip to Isabelle.

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Mary Daly: Radical Elemental Feminist

January 7, 2010

I don’t think I have ever written a post on Mary Daly before, despite the fact that her life and work have had a profound influence on my own. If I had never picked up a copy of Gyn/Ecology from a second-hand bookstore when I was 19… what kind of woman would I be today. I launched myself into Gyn/Ecology, not having the faintest clue about what I was reading. Up until this point my contact with feminism had been through The Women’s Collective at uni. Mostly straight liberal feminists. Good women… but tentative in their politics. And through women’s studies subjects at uni. None of which had any hint of radical lesbian feminism in their reading lists or anywhere else. My feminism was pissed off, angry and raging… but had no direction. I had no words, no herstory, no Background to light up the foreground and show it up for what it was. A dirty and dark illusion made to keep women like me from breaking free.

And then, at 19, I picked up a copy of Gyn/Ecology and my eyes were irreversibly opened. Quite honestly, I did not understand a word that the book said. I read passages over, and over and could not comprehend them. I was pretty ignorant at 19. And then I lost the book and lost a huge part of myself along with it. For 5 dark years I floundered about with queer theory and queer feminism online until I found Gyn/Ecology again, and bought myself another copy from The Feminist Bookshop. Reading it again was like coming home. I could not understand how I had lived without Daly’s Elemental Feminism in my life.

I bought every single one of her books and read them cover to cover. Lovingly stroking the pages that held the most meaning. Crying and crying over the realisations of what male supremacy has cost us. Her work lit me up like a bonfire and changed me irrevocably. She was, and is, and ever will be a raging tempest, a Positively Revolting Hag, and A-mazing Amazon, a Quintessential Woman.

I couldn’t write about her before because I didn’t know what to say. How to describe a woman who is everything. Who casts herself beyond the foreground, into the Background and spirals into Outercourse.

Mary, your journey has only just begun. I grieve your passing and I will remember you. Always.

PS. I cried so much when I read Heart’s tribute to Mary Daly: “Leave the State of Fear. We Can’t Stop Now! We Have Overcome.”- In Memory of a Positively Re-Volting Hag, Mary Daly, October 16, 1928-January 3rd, 2010

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White Supremacy, Feminism and Off Our Backs

October 14, 2009

It has been an eye-opening experience to watch the events unfold when one Black feminist blogger and writer speaks up about racism in the predominantly white radical feminist community. Jennifer writes passionately, eloquently and with great insight on her blog Celie’s Revenge about issues that affect ALL women. Her blog is inspiring and incredibly brave. She is one woman who truly represents the ideals of sisterhood and liberation.

And yet, when she dares to open her mouth to stand opposed to the racism inherent within the treatment she received at the hands of white feminists… all hell breaks loose. What has shocked me about this whole event is the fact that it has exposed that racism is not present within a small pocket of feminists in the Off Our Backs collective… It has spread like wildfire, with more and more white feminists lining up to tell Jennifer that she is a crazy, angry, racist against white people and, worst of all, a bitch!!! All this just because she insisted that she should be treated as human as a white woman.

This is totally unacceptable. No woman who thinks that this is an appropriate way to treat another woman should think that she has the right to call herself a feminist. What has struck me most about this is the fact that the white ‘feminists’ have responded to Jennifer’s truth-telling is exactly the same as the way that men react to women who tell them the truth. With defensiveness, anger, justification, intimidation, name-calling etc, etc. Really, really shocking.

All illusions that women are better at working through issues like racism better than men have been very definitely shattered for me as I watch white ‘feminists’ trying to tear strips off Jennifer. Trying to paint her as mad and delusional. A few clues women. Black women have the right to be angry about racism. Black women have the right to be angry at white women who demonstrate racism, either politically or personally. Black women need to be supported in their truth-telling. Even when that truth hurts us. Even when that truth is directed at us. We have no credibility as feminists if we don’t.

Please take the time to read Jennifer’s story and support the incredibly important work that she is doing for ALL women. There is no sisterhood, no feminism, no herstory without Black women, there is no point in a struggle which excludes the voices and the truths of women of colour. The white women from the Off Our Backs collective have some serious explaining to do.

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That Girl

May 22, 2009

P5060021

Something I wrote the other day on the train. I’m having a great deal of difficulty doing any creative writing at the moment. This is the first poem I’ve written in months.

That Girl

sometimes I forget about that girl
who molded her body,
like it was clay
molded her figure
around and
into his palm
sweat-soaked
fear pooling
deep
body
fear

sometimes I forget about
that girl
putting on her face
a different one
for each day
to mark her presence

sometimes I forget

that girl who
hitches up that skirt
curves her ass
just that way
to fit into his eyes
knee-high boots
squirming on the dance floor

“smack my bitch up’
‘superman dat ho’

and sometimes I am that girl
soaking it up
bleeding bits of myself
on the dance floor
and they watch
and they watch
and they watch
and they watch

sometimes I forget
but mostly I remember

sometimes I wonder where
she’s gone to
where she got to
seeing slivers
of other girls
catching the corner of my eye
and I think she’s gone
far away

but mostly
I feel her inside me
that girl
she jab me fierce
watching men
watching her
she is in me still
watching men
watching other girls

skin tight jeans
dark lined eyes
and a smile to say she don’t give a shit

that girl
she in me now
curve of her ass
my body
her body
fits into her own hands
and she comes
when I come
and here she is
smiling now
and giving him/they/them
the fucking finger

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Why ‘lesbian’ has become a dirty word by Amazon Mancrusher

May 5, 2009

*This is a thought-provoking guest post written by my sisterfriend Amazon Mancrusher.*

womensymbol-1236

Why lesbian has become a dirty word

You would think the word lesbian would have gotten less radical rather than more radical since the 1970’s but that doesn’t seem to be the case. These days, fewer young women seem to be identifying as lesbian, choosing instead to use queer, gay or pan to describe who they have relationships with and how they feel about their sexuality and political identity. This article will explore why young women who have intimate relationships with other women have rejected the term lesbian.

The word lesbian originates from the island of Lesbos in Greece, where a poet called Sappho lived. The people of Lesbos have historically been known as lesbians. Sappho wrote love poems to other women, many of which were destroyed by religious fundamentalists and the term lesbian became known as a term to describe women who love other women.
In the 1970’s, many women organised a feminist women’s liberation movement, in which lesbianism become a highly politicised and revolutionary concept. Many lesbians broke away from the gay liberation movement in favour of the women’s movement after making the analysis that they had more in common with straight women than gay men. They believed that gay men still benefitted from the gender hierarchy, know as patriarchy, in which the needs and human rights of women are invisible or secondary to the needs of men and where men dominate women through sexual and domestic violence. Their analysis showed that this still applied in the gay and lesbian community, where the political and social focus often focused on gay men and silenced the needs of lesbians.

Lesbians became highly visible in the 1970’s women’s liberation movement and many women who had previously seen themselves as heterosexual made choices based on their feminist politics to become lesbians, claiming that intimate relationships and sexuality are not biologically determined, but rather politically influenced. Feminists argued that heterosexuality was the cornerstone of male domination, because men are brought up to think that through heterosexual power relations, they have automatic sexual rights to women’s bodies. Feminists pointed out that the sexual power that men are granted encourages them to see the bodies of women as property or a commodity. This concept is backed up by society’s historical and cultural social structures through the laws of marriage and the culture of prostitution.

During this time, heterosexuality was ‘outed’ as something that was politically and socially compulsory rather than natural. Many feminists engaged in the women’s movement soon realised that there was a different choice and they chose lesbianism. For many women this was a choice of political resistance against compulsory heterosexuality, marriage and all other forms of male domination and gender hierarchy. Women also realised that they could make different decisions about what clothes to wear and whether to shave or wear makeup and many chose to reject feminine stereotypes. Sexual violence was finally theorised as stemming from power relations and male political domination, rather than a by-product of the ‘natural’ sex drive of men that they cannot control. This analysis meant that sexual relationships had to be politicised and the term ‘the personal is political’ became a well known feminist slogan relating to personal relationships.

Unfortunately, revolutionary lesbian resistance did not come with money and societal power and men with power in society, who control the media and finances, soon drove a powerful backlash campaign against lesbians that remains so toxic that it still poisons the lesbian community to this day. Worldwide media ran articles and news stories inflicting hatred upon women who rejected heterosexuality or rejected femininity, and claimed that lesbianism is ugly and that the rejection of femininity is inadequate for the physical desires of men. Another type of backlash against lesbians involved the depiction of women having sex with each other in pornography. These depictions were created by men who felt threatened by lesbian’s rejection of heterosexuality and wanted to place male needs back in the centre of the lives of lesbians and to recreate lesbianism in a way that they could control. Attitudes in society and the media continue to perpetuate the myth that lesbians are monstrous, revolting, unsightly beasts and lesbianism, especially in pornography is frequently represented as existing for titillation of heterosexual men.

So is it any wonder that women are rejecting this identity?

Lesbians themselves, especially those growing up in the backlash, have had little choice but to internalise this plethora of hatred and look for more palatable ways to survive and become more acceptable to their male peers and heterosexual friends. As a consequence, during the 90’s, lesbians increasingly withdrew from the women’s movement and returned to the gay liberation movement to seek political support from gay men. Many lesbians began to call themselves gay because it felt more palatable and less confrontational to their male friends.

Feminists have and continue to acknowledge that lesbians and gay men both face hatred for rejecting heterosexuality, and that a commonality exists but they also argue that the needs of lesbians and gay men are very different and that when they politically become a homogenous (same) group, that the needs will default to gay men, because as men, gay men have more economic and societal power.

The 1990’s also saw the rising influence of neo-liberalism and post-modernism, which both reject an analysis of social structures of oppression in favour of the analysis of individual power. Post-modern theorists claim that power is like a toy that can be played with by anyone, regardless of gender, race and class. Queer politics stemmed from post-modern theory, and argues that gender and sexuality can be performed and played with like a game. Adopting a queer identity became a way that lesbians could reject gender but remain palatable to gay men at the same time. Terms such as queer and pan have become used as a way of blurring the boundaries of gender. Many feminists claim that some post-modern and queer perspectives were harmful because they distort the reality of people’s day to day lives and deny the lived experience of women under patriarchy. Women living in domestic violence relationships or surviving rape are harmed by real violence stemming from real power structures. They ask how queer performance will ever help women around the world surviving rape, trafficking and domestic violence.

Queer politics proposes that if women play with their gender and do drag performances and reject the identity of woman then they will gain power. This technique has been used in recent events in the lesbian community with theme nights like Playboy where women were encouraged to dress up as Hugh Hefner in order to subvert the power dynamics. What queer politics does not tend to explore, is if these notions of male power are in fact positive in the first place and if women should claiming or subverting them will not just in reality just continue our gender binaries, albeit in a more performative way. Interestingly, queer politics has not been used by any other group to challenge hierarchy. Aboriginal people do not have colonial theme nights and dress up as white imperialists in order to distort racism and I have never heard of Jewish people coping with memories of the holocaust by holding a Nazi theme parties and playing with the role of being a Nazi. Any attempt to organise such an event would be met with confusion and probably outrage, but feminists and survivors of violence who criticize such notions of so called ‘subversion’ seem to be taken much less seriously.

To conclude, the backlash against women’s liberation has made it acceptable for the real lived experiences of women to be denied and almost impossible for lesbians to hang onto lesbianism as an alternative to a world where men’s needs dominate. It is easier, more palatable and less confrontational to be known as queer, gay or any other identity that decentres the needs of women.

by Amazon Mancrusher

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Pirate Jenny- Nina Simone

April 12, 2009

nsimone

Few women speak/sing/give their rage voice as angrily and with as much power as Nina did. Her courageous voice inspires me when I am so angry that I despair.

pirate jenny nina simone mp3 | lyrics
free music downloads | videos | pictures
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