30 June 2007

Egypt bans all female circumcision

http://www.guardian.co.uk/egypt/story/0,,2115290,00.html is a good start, but I wish it said more about what "exceptional cases" have allowed it to continue since the initial ban. I'm also really shocked at the percentages reported - if this is a country where genital mutilation has theoretically been banned for ten years, then how are 50% of girls between the ages of 10 and 18 reporting it in a survey carried out in the last two years?

29 June 2007

The end of 'Blair's babes'?

Link to Guardian article in title. Gordon Brown's cabinet contains three fewer women that Tony Blair's, although he has appointed the first ever female home secretary. Tony Blair's cabinet contained the highest ever number of women - eight, a third of the entire cabinet; previously only nine women had made it to Cabinet level. However, the three women who have left the Cabinet - Patricia Hewitt, Hilary Armstrong, and Lady Amos, seem to have resigned, rather than being sacked, although Margaret Beckett, first ever female foreign secretary, was demoted.

UK doctors call for easier access to abortion

Via the Today programme, feministing and the Guardian.

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.

Annoying women's mag shocker

Via feministing, this is really depressing. Marie-Claire equates the burkini with a freakshow and then features and then... well have a look. Bleurgh.

When will women's mags feature things we want to read? Sigh.

Crazy judge gives lenient sentence to rapist of ten year old girl

I'm sure most of you saw this. What the hell was going on there? As though how someone's dressed makes any rape a lesser crime somehow, aside from the fact that this was a ten year old girl. Christ.

Ms, Miss or Mrs?

An article from the Guardian about the title Ms and how no-one uses it or see it as important anymore. To the point where an American company defines it as "the legal definition of Ms was a woman who was formerly married." What?

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?

Ms Nasty

I've just come across a discussion in Another Place about the use of Ms instead of Miss or Mrs, and I'm fair squeaking with grumpiness.

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

Anti-abortion campaigners target school sexual health services

From the Guardian. This is really worrying, anti-abortion campaigners are now having a go at school sexual heath services for handing out morning-after pills, which they seem to equate with abortion. These groups are promoting abstinence drives and citing lower pregnancy figures in the US as proof that teaching abstinence only works. Gah.

London feminist network

Via Feministing, and following on from posts about personal art work and street harrassment, one of London Feminist Network's projects as part of their Reclaim the Night campaign is collecting clothing that women were wearing when harrassed:

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

Street Harrassment

Another thing we were discussing at the group the other week. The links via Feministing are problematic and bring up issues of race in the US alongside this form of harrassment. Still, some of the comments make sobering reading. It happens to women everywhere. Sigh.

24 June 2007

Club des Femmes film festival

A friend is curating this new twice-yearly festival of queer and feminist film.

"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

Women, art and relationships

From the Guardian, an article about French conceptual artist Sophie Calle turning heartbreak into what sounds like a wonderful work. I always feel uneasy about this kind of personal conceptual stuff, as though you're intruding somehow. Though I also feel uneasy about the criticism that women artists like Tracey Emin get for airing their dirty linen in public. The comment always seem tinged with a bit of misogyny, or maybe that's too strong, more a disapproval at unseemly, emotional women. If you know what I mean.

What are your thoughts?

And here's another fucking dreadful ad....

Courtesy of the f-word's blog:

The small writing at the bottom reads: PS2. Because your girlfriend bores you shitless. Do these people think women don't buy computer games?

This is just priceless

Talking about body image... Ohmigod, I'm speechless at this yoghurt ad, via Feministing. Apparently Brazilian women need to know how they might look (pretty good actually, fuckos!) if they eat too much full-fat yoghurt. Argh.

21 June 2007

That Beth Ditto nude cover...

I meant to post about this a while back and the Israeli women soldiers reminded me. There's been much talk about her nude cover and lots of debate as to whether she should've done it, from both feminists and other numbskulls who took it upon themselves to be disgusted by the picture all over the internet.

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.

The education 'gender gap'

An interesting article about the 'gender gap' in UK education - because only 30% of boys take A-levels, compared to 40% of girls, but the same proportion of each sex apply to university, the government may not achieve its goal of sending 50% of young people to university. Interesting to see that not only do some sources suggest that girls do better than boys at school, but also

...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.

Review of abortion laws

There is to be a House of Commons review of the abortion laws, in light of the fact that medical advances mean that ever more premature babies are able to survive. I didn't know that the time limit of 24 weeks for abortion was lowered in 1990 from 28 weeks in the Abortion Act. The review is not going to take 'moral or ethical' issues into account.

Abortions continue to increase by a small amount each year - by 4% in 2006.

Israeli women soldiers strip off for tourism

The Israeli consulate in New York came up with this bright idea to boost Israel's image with American men. Charming. Via the Guardian, Feministing and the BBC.

19 June 2007

Cervical cancer vaccine

A life-saving vaccine against cervical cancer could be offered to all young girls in their first year at secondary school in the UK. Good news, you'd think, eh? Only some are not seeing it that way according to the Guardian's Kira Cochrane...

12 June 2007

A couple of old articles

A slightly negative review of Imelda Whelehan's Overloaded in the Guardian, and an article about the Miss World competition (in 1999) in which she talks to Melissa Benn about 'ironic' sexism.

'Right to breastfeed' to be made law?

Report on a Green paper about making the 'right to breastfeed' in public a legal right, and to give women 'equal rights' in private men's clubs. Did anyone hear the awful old buffer on the Today programme claiming that men were second class citizens because they don't get family allowance and they can't join the Women's Institute? The mind boggles!

04 June 2007

The Hollywood "celluloid ceiling"

Via Feministing, Jane Campion admits to feeling lonely on the Cannes directors' podium in USA Today

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.