24 July 2007

New look

I got absolutely fed up with all that pink. If anyone hates it, I'll change it back...

And a brief rant

Why the fuck is anyone worrying about what Hillary Clinton is wearing? Ten quid to anyone who can show me an article in which a male politician's clothes are analysed in this level of detail.

India elects first female president

Link in title to BBC news report on India's first female president. It seems to be more of a ceremonial role, but Feministing have mentioned a great speech she gave during her campaign in which she said that 'women were the backbone of every home and they contributed greatly to the progress and development of the nation'.


Link in title to a Guardian article about a wonderful group of midwives in SE London - focussing on natural births, trying to teach women how normal and unscary giving birth can be, they've got fantastic results: half the women they deal with give birth at home, compared to 2% nationally, and their caesarean rate is 15%, compared to 24% nationally.

Susan Greenfield writes about the difficulties faced by women in the sciences

Link in title to Guardian article. Again, it's the same old problem - maternity - exacerbated by the fact that

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.

"Equality is still twenty years away"

The Equal Opportunities Commission, soon to merge into the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights, have said goodbye with an extensive report on gender equality in Britain today, and their results are not exactly cheerful reading. Link in title to the Guardian article, and lots of information here at the EOC website.

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

Happy 50th Birthday, Guardian Women's page

Link in title to a celebration of the Guardian women's page which is fifty years old this year. Lots of brilliant archive articles - really makes you appreciate how far we've come. I liked the letter entitled 'The ghastly effect of short skirts and bare legs', with its warning to unmarried men:

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

Rape Crisis - trying to get a campaign started

If you're interested in making a fuss about the removal of funding from Rape Crisis Centres, you might try contacting your MP through FaxYourMP, an organisation who will fax or email your MP for you.

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.

New UK Feminist Mags

Good news, everyone! Quite a few feminist magazines have been launched in the UK recently according to The Guardian, link in title. Feminist blogs and groups are also mentioned including some we already know about, like the f word and LFN. According to The Guardian's Jess McCabe, this is all proof of a rejuvenated women's movement. Huzzah.

And here's some more new mag links:

Perhaps we can take a look at them at the next group?

11 July 2007

What’s Feminism Got To Do With It?

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 info@wrc.org.uk or 020 7324 3040.

Further to T's post below

Rape Crisis's website has links to petitions about the removal of government funding - one hosted by the Sun, which is at least one good thing Rebekah Wade has done. It also suggests holding a fundraising event for RCC and talks about volunteering in local groups. A fundraising effort would be a good thing to do - any ideas?

UK Rape Crisis centre threats

Guardian article is linked to in title. Rape Crisis are being threatened with closures of up to half of their centres due to funding problems.

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

Why can't Zoe write like this all the time?

Zoe Williams in the Guardian talking about how meaningful or otherwise the number of female ministers is. Shame she doesn't always write like this - when she writes on women's politics and issues she's pretty good. Splendidly vomitous quote from Hazel Blears:

"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) And we're interested in that dishy Mr Brown, too, and maybe we'd turn out to vote more if they made the ballot papers pink and decorated the polling booths in glitter and marabou?

The best and worst of Radio 4

There was a really interesting documentary about Sylvia Pankhurst and her life after being a suffragette on Radio 4 last night - she spent a lot of time campaigning on behalf of Haile Selassie,. protesting the Italian occupation of Ethiopia. It's available on Listen Again until next Monday.

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

This headline made me really angry

A 17 year old girl was shot dead in a pub near my home a couple of weeks ago. I don't read the local paper regularly, so only learned the news about a week later when I got off at a different stop and saw the police incident board outside the pub where it happened. A minute or two later I saw the front page headline on a board outside a newsagent: Teenage party girl shot dead .

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

Interview with feminist writer Deborah Siegel

Via feministing. Interesting interview with Siegel, who has written a sort of history of feminism from the 1960s to today - the book looks pretty good.

02 July 2007

Another day, another moral panic in America...

They roam the streets with pink pistols, they are from lower socio-economic groups, they go about beating up men and forcing girls to join the "lesbian lifestyle" and perform unnatural acts on each other. Yes, lesbian girl gangs are coming to a neighbourhood near you. So says, er, Fox News.