15 December 2007
I guess I mainly think this is a good thing - I also like a previous advert showing exactly how unreal pictures of models can be - and I like Dove putting out pictures of bigger and older women saying that they are beautiful and feel happy about themselves, although it's kind of an annoying reminder that mainstream media images of women are so very limited: we all know beautiful women who don't fit the very limited model of beauty, so 'fat (and old) women are pretty too - shock, horror' ought to be redundant.
What I'd really like, in an ideal world, is for looks to be just one of the qualities that women (and men!) have, and that physical appearance should fall back in importance compared to kindness, intelligence, courage, and wit. I think this is already, to a certain extent, the case for men: if you read a women's magazine 'Top 100 sexy men', you're sure to find less physically beautiful specimens: writers, comedians, sportsmen and politicians, as well as the Brad Pitts and George Clooneys. Of course, I don't really think you can draw very important conclusions from observing glossy magazines, but a men's magazine list will be very different, featuring only pretty women, mostly young women, and plenty who are models or socialites and in the list purely for their looks alone.
Of course, as always, there's a radical divide between what the media shows and how people actually behave: I don't know a man (well, maybe one or two) who could go out with a woman for her looks alone; and of course looks are things that women consider in men. But the media is given to commenting disproportionately on women's looks; so is it better to say 'well, there are more beautiful women than you think, and most of them aren't a size 10', or to say 'fuck beauty - what about my achievements'? Of course, it's foolish to imagine that Dove could make that last statement, but wouldn't it be great if someone did?
12 December 2007
I sat there watching [my date] tuck into a second huge plate of shepherd’s pie and realised why no self-respecting American girl consumes carbohydrates after 2pm.
I’ve been in a room with two English girls when one is preparing for a black-tie ball. She came out in her outfit and asked: “How do I look?” The other girl cocked her head sympathetically and said: “Adorable”. I thought, “Adorable . . . like a hooker.”
and, most charming of all
There is one aspect of their appearance about which British women do obsess: their shoes. Great, I’m glad you have beautiful shoes that pain you in all types of exquisite ways (that men would never put up with). I’m sure other women will be incredibly impressed by your new Jimmy Choos or Blahniks. But, ladies, the only time a man will notice your shoes is if your feet are wedged on top of his shoulders bouncing either side of his head.
06 December 2007
Changing the divide could come through labour market changes offering women the same full-time, higher status working opportunities as men, he added, or it could come through a greater sharing of domestic labour.
22 November 2007
15 November 2007
29 October 2007
i'd fuck this girl so hard in her ass and fannie that she wudnt b able to piss and shit for a week ;)
i want her to give me a blowjob, and i cum on her tits. wow wat a cocktease lol, i want to suck on her tits, i want to do her in every hole, bet shes a right slut who would do anything.
I would putt in the rough wiv this lil filly,, Then punt a goal kick thru her legs, might just pot a pink red brown on mill. Not forgeting to score and touch down a try, then if she bowls me a googley i will serve her a ace finished by wanking into her open gob!!! Oops... Well you get wot i mean..... WHOLLLOP!
She's a very pretty woman (and presumably got the job at least partly because of that - that's how the media work), but she's also very good at what she does. I've seen better presenters, but I've seen far worse. Of the sixteen comments on that clip, only one isn't directly about her looks (or her age - the consensus is "legal"), and even then it's by someone with the same surname as her just saying "go [surname]!". Of the remaining fifteen comments, six are obscene.
Why is this even vaguely acceptable? I feel like crying.
11 October 2007
07 October 2007
This lecture considers the conditions for coalition that might exist between religious and sexual minorities through focusing on differential forms of state coercion. Several arguments have emerged in Europe and elsewhere, claiming that feminism and progressive sexual politics are threatened by new religious communities and the effects of Islam in particular and base their views on libertarian principles (feminism and progressive sexual politics rely on increasingly robust conceptions of personal liberty) and on criticisms of multiculturalism (cast as a relativist enterprise that is unable to ground strong normative claims). Such arguments tend to rely on conceptions of sexual or gender freedom which presume certain conceptions of secular progress and to forget or dismiss conceptions of sexual politics that are bound to anti-racist struggle. Without denying that clear tensions exist between religious traditions that condemn and forbid homosexuality and progressive sexual movements that tend to promote exclusionary conceptions of the secular, the lecture focuses on the importance of conceptions of cultural translation, antagonism, and the critique of state coercion to consider what ‘critical coalition’ might mean for religious and sexual minorities.
02 October 2007
(Also I love how they all say 'don't even bother to read the comments'...)
Edit: part 2 is here.
* lengthy complaint about the impossibility of defining, identifying and testing intelligence in any meaningful way deleted, see Stephen Jay Gould's The mismeasure of man for more.
27 September 2007
What books made you a feminist? The Guardian would like to hear (firstname.lastname@example.org) - but do comment below as well...
12 September 2007
And another article about third wave feminism and where we're going next. I really liked the closing paragraph:
It is time to stop deploying rigid and vapid cliches - damsel, good girl and slut - and fixating on the alleged excesses of one contested aspect. We need to keep our eyes on the wider array of women's issues. May the stripping pole go the way of the charred bra, a quaint reminder of how those calling it from the sidelines got it very wrong.
Sisterhood Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild by Deborah Siegel , also sounds really interesting, if treading a little on old ground...
11 September 2007
07 September 2007
For those of you on Facebook it also has a Facebook page.
29 August 2007
...a woman of such shining domestic virtue that she would not have been out of place in a novel by Louisa May Alcott, and whose devotion to her husband might well have qualified her as a 16th-century Stepford wife. Where, exactly, does that leave feminism?
Well, what exactly is the problem here? It's always been an important idea within feminism that one of the reasons men have historically been able to dominate is because they have the support and back-up of a wife who can take care of all the boring stuff and household affairs. But what I really don't understand is why our choice of a feminist role model boils down to a two horse race between Princess Diana and Anne Hathaway. Anyone want to explain that one to me?
22 August 2007
What is surprising I suppose isn't that this sort of half-baked crap gets kicked around academic departments, but that the newspapers see fit to print it with any level of credibility.
21 August 2007
Gender pay gaps could be caused by critical perception of women who negotiate and push for wage increases, rather than women not being assertive enough to ask for more, which is the explanation often put forward. I'm certainly aware of a lack of assertion on my part, I hadn't considered the pressure for me to not to ask in the first place as it might affect how my boss regards me. Have any of you had similar experiences? Do you feel you can't ask for a raise? Do you know if male colleagues earn more or less than you?
Also, research scientists are saying that men and women are naturally drawn to certain colours , which could explain the whole pink and blue thing. Hmmm. Not sure if I like the tone of this article, but anyway...
24 July 2007
Scientists on the whole don't achieve a secure position until their mid-30s, which for women is beyond their ideal time for starting a family.
As well as this there are the problems of stereotyped ideas of male and female subjects - interestingly, she points out that in the biological sciences there are roughly equal numbers of men and women at undergraduate level (men greatly outnumber women in the physical sciences) but it's after women reach the age where they want children that the number of women falls away drastically.
It's pretty much a definitive answer to anyone who reckons we don't need feminism any more, though:
Men are still paid more than women; every year thousands of pregnant workers are treated unfairly; and thousands of women are sexually harassed at work. Although half of us want to work more flexible hours, many of us still cannot achieve this; public policies, which could do so much to make life fairer, often fail to do so; and economic and political power is still mostly held by men. And we should never forget that gender inequality still underpins life and death issues - every month seven women are killed by their partner, ex-partner or lover.
19 July 2007
Finally, a warning to young men contemplating matrimony look at your future mother-in-law's legs in order to observe the trend.
and a run-down of Eighties fashions.
13 July 2007
If you're looking for stats to back your letter up, you can find the Home Office stats for rape and sexual assault in London and rape and sexual assault nationally. The curve for rape is pretty shocking although possibly reflects a rise in reporting rape as much as a rise in rape committed.
There's also a petition on the Downing Street e-petitions site calling for more rapists to be convicted which also mentions Rape Crisis Centres. I may start a petition specifically about Rape Crisis, but it requests that you avoid duplication so I haven't decided whether that's the correct thing to do yet.
You could also contact Harriet Harman, who is currently Minister for Women and Equality.
And here's some more new mag links:
Perhaps we can take a look at them at the next group?
11 July 2007
The Women's Resource Centre, in association with the Directory of Social Change, is hosting a debate on the role of feminism in the women's voluntary and community sector on Tuesday 11 September at 6.30pm at the Directory of Social Change, London NW1.
Do you have to be a feminist to work in the women's sector? Is feminism the key to women's activism or an exclusive, outdated or unhelpful concept?
Chaired by Natasha Walter (Guardian columnist, author of The New Feminism, and co-ordinator of Women for Refugee Women), this event will bring together speakers from within the sector and beyond to debate the importance of feminism in the modern women's voluntary sector.
Brita Fernandez-Schmidt, Head of Programmes & Policy at Womankind Worldwide
Ranjit Kaur, Director of Rights of Women
Humera Khan, founder of the An-Nisa Society
Denise King, Chief Executive of Girlguiding UK
For more information, click on the link in the title, or contact Leah on email@example.com or 020 7324 3040.
Maybe we could try raising some money? I had no idea it had got this bad, only two small centres serve the whole of London now, and they've gone from 84 in 1985 to 34 these days.
10 July 2007
"The way women relate to politics is different to men, they're interested in everyday lives, stories, people they meet, not statistics and GDP."
Oooh! (girlish giggle)
On the Today programme this morning, by contrast, they were discussing the new Tory policy of giving tax breaks of around twenty pounds a week to married couples. John Humphrys, who seems to be growing ever more offensive, was at his very worst here - the interview starts about ten minutes in - talking to a married woman and a woman who had been with her partner for fourteen years and had two children without marrying.
The unmarried woman said quite reasonably that to have the wedding she'd like would cost money that she would rather spend on a holiday - Humphrys retorts 'You could have a quick registry office job, couldn't you? Only cost a couple of quid!'. The Tory claim that married couples are financially less well off than cohabiting couples went pretty much unquestioned, as did the married woman's claim that people in a stable relationship who are married are making more of a 'contribution to society' than people who are unmarried. It also became clear but wasn't discussed that in the case of the two women being interviewed, the unmarried couple were better off because both partners went out to work, while the married woman stayed at home.
09 July 2007
She was a 17 year old girl, out celebrating after her exams. The body of the story is told more sympathetically, so why does the headline make it sound like she deserved to die by using the standard tabloid euphemism for 'druggy tart'?
I think of the some dives where I drank and went clubbing when I was 17, and some of the people who were around (some of whom undoubtedly had access to guns) and I wonder what the headlines would have been if anything bad had happened to me.
03 July 2007
02 July 2007
30 June 2007
29 June 2007
Doctors at the BMA's annual conference backed a call to remove the legal requirement for women to obtain permission from two doctors before undergoing a termination in the first three months of pregnancy.
I still use it, though mainly on forms where it's an option, if not I'll add it where possible.
What title do you use on forms, or in real life? Does it get a reaction?
Sample quotes from women there include:
"I've always hated "Ms"- both the way it sounds and its chippy connotations",
"I think that the argument that your marital status is no-one's business is outdated; it is a hangover from a time when people would form judgements about you based on that. These days, it's accepted that you could be living with a partner, single, married, in a civil partnership or a combination of the above, and none have any bearing on your status as a functioning adult. So to use a title that hides whether or not you're married seems a bit perverse- basically making a point that no-one much cares about"
"I am Miss and am soon to become a Mrs. Being a Ms has never really occurred to me, although I can quite understand why some women would choose to. "
And my old favourite "I honestly can't remember ever having been treated differently because I'm a woman, at least not in a way that I noticed. "
What is going on here? Since when is it chippy to want an honorific which doesn't denote marital status? Gah!
26 June 2007
Based on similar campaigns in India we are launching an “I DID NOT ASK FOR IT UK” campaign. We are asking women to send us garments they were wearing when they were sexually harassed, in any way. We would like you to add the message “I Did Not Ask For It” to the garment, sew it onto a tee-shirt or marker pen it onto a pair of jeans, embroider it onto a dress or boiler suit… Or draw, paint or digitise the message “I Did Not Ask For It” and then pin the drawing onto your chosen garment, photograph it and send it to us at our e.mail address or send with a comment to our myspace. Feel free to add other messages of your choice, be as creative as possible.
25 June 2007
24 June 2007
"Welcome to Club des Femmes's Summer Camp for Girls, a shaded, leafy space in the hot glare of contemporary conservatism. At Summer Camp this year relive the freedom of punk as Club des Femmes revisits Vivienne Dick, Sadie Benning, Lizzie Borden - filmmakers who defined a new world order and gave back to girls the Power of Camp. Why not also pull up a log and light up the campfire to celebrate our annual investigations into recent women's filmmaking. Or feeling curious about Dykesploitation? This year's spotlight falls on Kristy McNichol."
Most of the films are at the Renoir or the Curzon Soho, and if anybody fancies going just drop me a line - I'm going to try to get to some of them.
22 June 2007
What are your thoughts?
21 June 2007
Personally, I think the fact that we find a picture like this so shocking says a lot about our society. As discussed at our group, people feel they have the right to comment on women and their bodies as a matter of course. I just loved this response to the whole debate by a male American feminist which I found via Feministing. Yeah!
Here's the thing: it's none of your fucking business how healthy Beth Ditto is.
...pupils who learn in a second language are more likely to be high achievers at key stage 4 (age 14 to 16) and Chinese, Asian, Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, Black African and other white pupils are between two and four times more likely to do well than their white British peers.
The DfE suggests that girls and boys do equally well at school, however.
Abortions continue to increase by a small amount each year - by 4% in 2006.
19 June 2007
12 June 2007
04 June 2007
When Jane Campion was honored onstage at the Cannes Film Festival with about 30 other major directors Sunday, she was the lone woman of the bunch. And she's still not used to how strange that feels.
29 May 2007
And more nostalgia for the second wave feminists in this lovely article about the sixties by Margaret Drabble.
This is a list I made when it occurred to me that it's not that healthy to be a female character in comics. I'm curious to find out if this list seems somewhat disproportionate, and if so, what it means, really. These are superheroines who have been either depowered, raped, or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator. I know I missed a bunch. Some have been revived, even improved -- although the question remains as to why they were thrown in the wood chipper in the first place.
25 May 2007
21 May 2007
18 May 2007
The Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq runs shelters for battered women in four cities and an "underground railroad" to conduct women at risk of murder to safe havens. In response to the murder of Doaa, it is mounting an international campaign to ban honour killings and force Kurdish and Iraqi legal authorities to investigate and prosecute them. There have been demonstrations in London and Erbil; you can sign OWFI's petition at equalityiniraq.com, where you can also show your support for women's rights in Iraq by clicking on "make a donation".
17 May 2007
The male-grooming market - what we spend to offset our physical insecurity - was, if you can believe this, worth £685 million in 2004. And according to Mintel, the market analysts, we will be spending £821 million in 2009. That's £136 million of added insecurity. As well as worrying about the closeness of our shave, the look and colour of our hair, and how we smell, we will also be paranoid about the fact that our complexions are not flawless.
Welcome to my world. How long do you think it will be before the naked and impossibly perfect male body becomes the standard image used to sell everything from petrol to hosiery? Because boy, can you look forward to some insecurity then.
We are hard-wired to be aggressive, competitive, crazy for status and sex.
Are you? Or is it just that society expects you to be competitive, aggressive, etc? I suspect the latter. And if so, you'll have to struggle against it, won't you, just like women had to fight not to be seen as submissive and brainless. No one said it was going to be easy. Perhaps you could start by questioning what's 'hard-wired' into you and what's just a social construct?
And, as he points out, just because women feel powerless doesn't mean that men don't also feel powerless.
Oh, right. I thought only one sex had the monopoly on feeling powerless. Silly me.
a lot of guys are feeling threatened by women in the workplace, 'because the women are as outgoing, as confident, as the guys'.
Not more confident. Not aggressive, or overbearing, or domineering. Not committing sexual harassment, or putting others down. Just as confident as these poor men! That's terrible. Hang on a sec...
At its most basic, your identity as a man comes down to two things. You are a sperm factory, and a sperm-shooting machine.
Your identity is what you make it, mate.
So anyway, he then goes on to talk to a vacuous woman who tells him they are going to breed out all those terrible 'male genes' - I only got biology GCSE but I didn't realise genes had a gender - and a male friend of his who reassures him that it's only the 'alpha-male types' who will be eliminated in this bright female future. Then we have a bit more biological determinism crap from a guy who may or may not be related to Ali G, some misrepresentation of Susan Faludi's book Stiffed and then a bit of self-pitying mea culpa keening and wailing.
Can't this guy just go out into the woods with his buddies and beat drums naked or something? Do I have to read this rubbish in what claims to be a quality newspaper?
Oh and then the tosser who used to edit Loaded wonders how he can get sex and companionship without entering into a proper relationship. I have no idea what this person thinks of as a proper relationship but he sounds insane.
16 May 2007
This is a really interesting article on the issue of taking your husband's name, and naming your child. Like Bridget Appleby, I have been surprised at the amount of female friends who have gone back to the tradition of taking their husband's surname when getting married. She goes on to talk about her reasons for wanting to give her daughter her own surname. I've discussed this with many of you before, does it really matter as we're all named after our fathers anyway or is it about personal identity? I just don't understand why someone would want to change their name completely. How do you feel about it?
14 May 2007
Now I know some men like to think we all spend our time squabbling over them, but really!
11 May 2007
Sigmund Freud would have had a field day. At this week's Allan Border Medal - Australian cricket's glittering night of nights - the players were almost overshadowed. All their wives or girlfriends, bar only one, were strikingly blonde.
Freud's conclusion, according to Melbourne academic Dr John Armstrong, would be that they were all, in fact, one woman. "The men are bonding by having one woman who they share between them," Armstrong says.
"The minute you define your art in those terms, people dismiss it as something they have seen before," said another. And most agreed that feminist politics do not attract younger women, and, as such, are better avoided in descriptions of their work: "It's a cliche," commented one, "but I think there is still the perception that being a feminist means hating men or at least having too much body hair."
Really? Are we still dealing with these kinds of cliches? Thank goodness for the Guerilla Girls...
10 May 2007
If you go to Courtney Martin's website, meanwhile, you find an interesting article about the response to the Virginia Tech shootings by her which talks about how scared US students have been making public the names and photos of their fellow students suffering from mental illnesses, in order to identify potential 'threats'. Way to make the alienated feel more part of the community...
09 May 2007
04 May 2007
I agree this is a bit nicer than the comments one quite frequently hears that fat women are just plain ugly or unattractive - and can't be anything else - but please can't we just stop saying any kind of looks or body shape is better than any other? You don't counter the body image problems of people who desperately want to be thinner by saying fat is better, you counter them (surely) by saying that these things shouldn't matter, that everyone can be beautiful and sexy to someone, that beauty and sexiness is really only important to the people you are close to/want to sleep with/love. Or am I being unfair? Thoughts?
03 May 2007
Mohammed asserts unequivocally that war and occupation have cost Iraqi women their legal standing and their everyday freedoms of dress and movement—a topic that has received surprisingly scant news coverage beyond scattered reports on sectarian violence and infamous prison abuses. “The first losers in all of this were women,” Mohammed says of post-invasion Iraqi society.
01 May 2007
18 April 2007
The book might be an idea for the next group? Which incidentally probably won't be until June or so - after I finish my exams...
29 March 2007
Once the political opposition learned I was pregnant, all hell broke loose. They called on the president and the military to overthrow me. They argued that Pakistan's government rules did not provide for a pregnant prime minister going on maternity leave. They said that during delivery I would be incapacitated and therefore the government machinery would irretrievably break down for that period of time. This, to them, was unconstitutional, necessitating the president, backed by the military, to dismiss the prime minister and install an interim government to hold new elections.
19 March 2007
The economic crisis in Zimbabwe now means that ordinary women are unable to afford basic sanitary protection. With inflation topping 1200%, just one pack of sanitary pads costs more than 50% of the average monthly wage for women in Zimbabwe. Faced with such economic adversity, manufacturers of sanitary products have fled Zimbabwe, compounding the shortages.
As a consequence, millions of Zimbabwean women are forced to replace tampons with newspapers and dirty rags, a practice which has led to vaginal infections for which there is no available medication.
Moreover, these medical infections are often falsely attributed to sexually transmitted infections leading to social embarrassment and domestic violence.
This lack of sanitary products has far reaching implications. Families suffer from increased poverty as mothers and wives are unable to work when they have their periods. This means that they are unable to buy food and clothes or finance their children’s education. In addition girls are forced to take time off school, further jeopardising their education.
Millions of women and girls across Zimbabwe face unnecessary suffering and hardship, ACTSA campaigns to ensure that these women are afforded their most basic human rights.
How much would you be prepared to pay for basic sanitary protection??
What is your dignity worth??
13 March 2007
By your mid-twenties, you're on a six-figure salary forging a path in a previously male-dominated world. You own your own flat, a Mulberry handbag and a Marc Jacobs frock.
Yup, that's my life.
02 March 2007
31 January 2007
Reading the reactions to an article such as the one published today on the BBC website, makes my blood boil. So little has change, apart from the recognition of the crime of marital rape. Women are still accused of crying wolf. Women have still to prove themselves as being the 'perfect victim' in order to be believed.
16 January 2007
But there in the middle of it was a really interesting and well-written article on El Salvador, with photos by a world-class documentary photographer. For anybody who didn't see it, concealed in mountains of fluff as it was, abortion is illegal in El Salvador, in all circumstances including rape, incest and threat to the mother's life. And if a doctor realises you have had an abortion, s/he is obliged to report you to the police, and you can be sentenced to 30-50 years in prison.