Cross-posted from: Jen Farrant
Originally published: 27.06.17

Are you self sabotaging your creative work by unrealistic, subconscious expectations?

We had the committee meeting for my concert band last night, and the discussion turned to next year’s programme. We all talked through our thoughts about it and I said that I was worried because I have really struggled with this terms’ harder pieces.

Each time I sat down with these pieces to practice them at home, I looked at the score, at the vast amounts of black ink on the page and my heart sank. They became totally unmanageable, so I did the best I could, feeling awful each and every time. 

Smear tests: an intersectional look at why we don’t attend, by @PhilippaWrites

Cross-posted from: Philippa Willitts for Global Comment
Originally published: 26.01.18

Seven years ago, I collected stories on Twitter about surprising things that people had had said to them during a smear test and published them. From one woman who was recognised from being on TV to others being complimented on their cervix, it is clear that inappropriate comments are far from unusual.

Others experienced colleagues of the doctor or nurse, including students, attending without permission or even entering the room during the course of the examination and, although many people in the discussion were keen to point out that smear tests are usually painless and quick, it was clear that they are not painless enough, or quick enough, for many.

Anyone who has suffered the indignity of a gynaecological examination knows the score. At best, it’s a bit awkward but essentially fine; at worst, it’s humiliating, painful, damaging and triggering. It can cause physical injury, it can lead to misgendering and it can cause psychological trauma. At least one person I know have even had her GP tell her to skip smear tests in the future because the potential benefit of detecting cervical cancer does not weigh up against the trauma to her mental health that she experiences whenever a speculum is involved in her care. …


First published at Global Comment. You can find the whole text here.


Incurable HippieMad, disabled, feminist, radical, angry, lesbian, pacifist, warrior, geek, flower-power chick… About hippie blog? Somewhat neglected but still well loved. Bits and bobs from a British glasses-wearing, sweary, fat, disabled, atheist ex-Catholic, anti-capitalist, pacifist feminist lesbian with eclectic tastes. (@PhilippaWrites)


Photo: Pan American Health Organization/Creative Commons via Global Comment

The stories that get left out

Cross-posted from: Adventures in Biography
Originally published: 04.12.17

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 10.02.34What should biographers do with all the wonderful stories – or snippets – they discover along the way but can’t include in their books?

Many biographers do, of course, include them. But readers often don’t like it – for example wonderful reviewer Whispering Gums recently discussed a biography she enjoyed, but felt contained too much extraneous detail. And, I’ll confess, as a reader I feel the same way. I just want to read about the biographical subject, please.

But as a writer? Of course I want to include all the details! Because I’m assuming the reader is every bit as obsessed by the subject as I am – which is, tragically but patently, untrue. All those extra details, every little meandering away from the main subject, are crucial to the writer’s understanding but frankly unnecessary to the reader’s.

Read more The stories that get left out

Winnicott’s ‘good-enough’ mother

Cross-posted from: Mothers Apart Project
Originally published: 02.08.17

The concept of the ‘good-enough’ mother, introduced by Winnicott (1965), is still in common use today in family law, and in health and social services. However, it is often misused to blame women for falling below expected standards of parenting rather using it in its intended context. It is often not understood that the concept of the good-enough mother was embedded in another concept: that of ‘the nursing triad’. Winnicott acknowledged that support for mothers is necessary to mothering. The author did not have an expectation that mothers could be ‘good-enough’ without the support of either the child’s father, or another supportive adult. On the contrary, Winnicott acknowledged that mothering would be very difficult without support: this was a concept that he applied to all mothers.  
Read more Winnicott’s ‘good-enough’ mother

The Rise of the Authoritarian Left, by @GappyTales

Cross-posted from: Gappy Tales
Originally published: 13.12.17

The Political Compass is a model of two axes, one running horizontally from left to right, the other vertically down through the middle. One represents a spectrum of ideas concerning economic organisation: the far left of tightly controlled state economics running across to the deregulation and free markets of the right; the other of social control: a hard, top line of extreme authoritarianism sliding down into anarchy.

It is useful, this compass, in that it highlights well our preoccupation with left and right, to the extent that we tend not only to lose sight of the equally important vertical axis, but also to confuse the two; leading, among other things, to the often lazy conflation of the socially liberal with the left. It was in this way that a neo-liberal free marketeer such as Emmanuel Macron, was able in the French presidential election to be presented as somehow a candidate of the left, when in fact it was his libertarian, not leftist, values that held him in such stark contrast to Le Pen’s hateful authoritarianism.

Read more The Rise of the Authoritarian Left, by @GappyTales

Surviving Sexual Violence – a review

Cross-posted from: Trouble & Strife
Originally published: 22.01.15
Ever since it began publishing in 1983, T&S has included an occasional ‘classic review’ feature in which a contemporary feminist re-reads an important text from the past. The latest addition to the series features Liz Kelly’s groundbreaking 1988 book Surviving Sexual Violence. Revisiting it in 2015, Alison Boydell finds it as relevant as ever.I first read Surviving Sexual Violence (SSV) in the 1990s for a postgraduate Women’s Studies dissertation about abusive men who murder their current/ex-partners. Today my understanding is informed by both reading and experience of working with survivors: I am involved in providing front line services to survivors of sexual violence, and will be shortly working in the domestic violence sector. I’m also studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Advocacy for Victims of Sexual Violence: SSV is on my reading list. Since it’s now more than a quarter of a century since it was first published, this is surely a testament to Liz Kelly’s work.

In the 1970s, feminists had analysed rape as an act of male power, raised awareness about its prevalence and deconstructed the myths that surrounded it. However, it was only later that literature about other forms of male sexual violence began to emerge. SSV focused on a wide range of manifestations: it was one of two ground-breaking books published in 1988 which forced childhood sexual abuse onto the public agenda (the other was an American self-help book, Ellen Bass and Laura Davis’s The Courage to Heal).

Read more Surviving Sexual Violence – a review

Of Ducks and Drakes: Male Violence Across Species, by @terristrange

Cross-posted from: The Arctic Feminist
Originally published: 17.12.17

Mothers Day, several years ago, I went with a friend to feed the ducks (and possibly nutria) at a local park. It was supposed to be a pleasant excursion to take my friend’s mind off of troubles with her own kids and to see some animals. It ended up being a sad and clarifying outing.

The nutria did not come out which was unfortunate as they’re really incredible creatures to interact with. We were flooded with ducks and geese grabbing our treats. After we ran out of goodies for the birds we sat talking and let everyone get back to their routines. It didn’t take long before we witnessed a horrific scene on the water of several drakes gang-raping a duck, her screaming out in pain and fear. We shouted at them and threw rocks into the water in the hopes of scaring them off but could only do so much to frighten them. They did let up soon after they were interrupted by us but it was too late, she was already hurt and violated.
Read more Of Ducks and Drakes: Male Violence Across Species, by @terristrange

Female socialisation to ‘care’, and the political impacts on proletarian feminism, at Liberation is Life

Cross-posted from: Liberation is Life
Originally published: 16.10.17

Because of our socialised belief that it is women’s responsibility to put our own needs behind those of others, women in the feminist movement also often expect its other members to deprioritise the cause and their own needs, in order to provide for theirs.

This common expectation on the part of feminist women that we should be ‘agreeable’ and ‘caring’ (at least in a performative sense, by ensuring that those around us perceive us as such) has wide-ranging ramifications, such as women desiring the cessation of both political debate and even criticism of individuals, because such criticism interferes with one’s personal and social comfort levels.
Read more Female socialisation to ‘care’, and the political impacts on proletarian feminism, at Liberation is Life

Feminism 101, by @alisonphipps

I have recently produced two introductory undergraduate lectures on the subject of feminism: the first tackling discussions around universalism and intersectionality, and the second applying an intersectional analysis to the topic of gender, power and violence. These lectures are free for academic colleagues and others to download, adapt and use as they see fit. Both should be seen as introductory rather than comprehensive, and I’m sure there is plenty I have missed! Consider this a work in progress and a small contribution to the rich array of gender-related teaching resources which exist online.

Feminism 101: Universalism and IScreen Shot 2018-01-20 at 18.47.50ntersectionality (link here)


Feminism 101: Gender, Power and Violence (link here)

Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 18.51.00

This lecture attempts to construct an intersectional analysis of gender, power and violence. It asks questions about: how acts, threats and allegations of violence both reflect and reproduce gendered and intersecting power relations; who is more likely to be able to claim state protection and who is more frequently a focus of (violent) state governance; how our definitions of violence and victimhood are shaped by intersectional identities and oppressions; and, how these dynamics enter the political and geopolitical spheres. Click the image above to download the Prezi; click here for the reading list.

I hope you find these resources useful – if so, do recommend them to colleagues.


Alison Phipps : I am currently Professor of Gender Studies at Sussex University, and this site houses links to my academic and non-academic writing, and resources I have produced.

Inspiring boys to break the mould by @MogPlus

Originally published: 27.07.17

It is very important to me that both my children grow up knowing that they do not have to change who they are, that they do not need to limit themselves just because society is so attached to restrictive gender roles.

There are loads of incredible female role models for little girls – loads of women who refuse to conform to gender stereotypes. What I have struggle to find is men who do the same.

Read more Inspiring boys to break the mould by @MogPlus

Decolonising the Presses: Cambridge English Literature and More Lazy Journalism, by @LucyAllenFWR

Cross-posted from: Reading Medieval Books
Originally published: 25.10.17

I seem to be late to the most recent row in the media over Cambridge University’s English literature degree course, which centres on an open letter written by students to the head of the faculty, on the subject of decolonising the reading list and including more literature by BME authors. I knew about the letter, but didn’t see that the Telegraph had decided to run a predictably stupid story in response to it. I must’ve missed it while I was cowering under my desk cravenly begging my students to stop turning the thumbscrews, or possibly during the 30 hours I spent last week preparing, marking, and delivering supervisions on Chaucer’s Legend of Philomela and the romance The King of Tars.
Read more Decolonising the Presses: Cambridge English Literature and More Lazy Journalism, by @LucyAllenFWR

#nakedisnormal, but for Playboy, #nakedisprofit at Frothy Dragon and the Patriarchal Stone

Cross-posted from: Frothy Dragon & The Patriarchal Stone
Originally published: 14.02.17

Today, Playboy announced that it was bringing nudity back to its magazines, a year after it had previously banned naked spreads. Following a series of tweets tagged #nakedisnormal, Chief Creative Officer, Cooper Hefner made the announcement this morning, stating that naked is normal and should not be treated as something to shy away from.

Naked is, indeed, normal. However, for a magazine that has been founded on the profits of pornographic material, naked is a profitable kind of normal, one that is used merely for exploitation. Playboy has founded itself on the oppression of women, and to claim that a return to featuring nudity is in our interests is nothing more than a lie. It’s a return to instant gratification, and the ownership of women’s bodies in an attempt to bolster sales.

Read more #nakedisnormal, but for Playboy, #nakedisprofit at Frothy Dragon and the Patriarchal Stone

Clothing Swaps Can Be a Lifeline for Queer and Trans People, by @sianfergs

Cross-posted from: Sian Fergs
Originally published: 17.10.17

Leaving behind high price tags and uncomfortable fitting rooms, clothing swaps are all about community.

Last year Wiley, a trans man, organized a large clothing swap among his friends and community. Although it wasn’t exclusive to queer and trans people, most of the attendees were queer or trans. According to people who came to the swap, what happened there was magical.

Years before, when he was starting to dress in a masculine style, Wiley struggled to afford new clothing, but received a donation of masculine clothing from a trans woman. Now that he had more clothing, he was happy to pass these items on to other butch and masculine-of-center people. The clothing swap included clothing for fat people, a group that often struggles to find comfortable clothing. Books and beauty products were added to the exchange. Wiley himself even acquired a beloved Dave Matthews Band long-sleeved T-shirt. The leftover clothing was donated to worthy causes, like the Boys and Girls Club.

For years, clothing exchanges like the one Wiley organized have provided an important space for LGBT people. The exchanges give queer and trans people access to clothing that helps them express their gender identity and orientation. …


This article was first published by Racked. You can find the full article here.


Sian Ferguson : An intersectional feminist blog tackling issues from a unique South African perspective. The posts attempt to explain and discuss some academic feminist theories in a simple manner, so as to make feminism accessible to more people. Follow me on Twitter @sianfergs

‘Housewifization International: Women and the New International Division of Labour’ Maria Mies

Cross-posted from: Mairi Voice
Originally published: 11.01.18

“The whole strategy is based on a patriarchal, sexist, racist ideology of women which defines women basically as housewives and sex objects.”

Maria Mies: Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale Women in the International Division of Labour

I have written previously about Maria Mies’ thesis on how the success of the accumulation of capitalism has been dependent on patriarchy and the oppression and exploitation of women.

In Chapter 3 (‘Colonization and Housewifization’) she outlined how wealth and growth in Western countries was based on exploitation of the colonies, where countries, dominated by colonial powers became the producers of consumer goods for rich countries. Rather than meeting their own needs, production in developing countries was promoted to meet the demands of markets in developed countries.

“Production and consumption are now divided by the world market to an unprecedented degree”. (p.114)


Read more ‘Housewifization International: Women and the New International Division of Labour’ Maria Mies

Ecstasy of a Feminist Tragedian in New York by @RoseAnnaStar

Cross-posted from: I am because you are
Originally published: 18.05.16

The New York StoriesThe New York Stories by Elizabeth Hardwick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For me this collection divides along a line between story-driven episodes that unfold ideas & characters from a narrative, and pieces that dissolve these elements in a diffuse, intensely poetic, emotionally charged meandering. But perhaps I’m being overly convergent in seeing a line when I should detect a field of ambiguity and shade.

I often struggle with plotless writing but when I can feel a depth of glowing emotion as I can here I can appreciate. Hardwick conveys a moody, conflict-ridden yet implacable and transcendant love for New York City, partly (I’m not entirely sure how she achieves this shimmering web of effects) by piling images one atop the other in a profusion of witty contrasts. Another way she does it is by introducing vulnerable and unconventional personalities in a way that makes NYC seem like a sheltering haven where the fragile can survive. 
Read more Ecstasy of a Feminist Tragedian in New York by @RoseAnnaStar

The art of not reading. Or, selective attention as a means for intellectual survival by @AliyaMughal1

Cross-posted from: ALIYA MUGHAL
Originally published: 01.01.18

Reading is a serious business. It takes precious, irrecoverable, finite time to devote yourself to a book. In doing so, you make an active decision to press pause on your ordinary life so as to step into another world, another place, another time.


I often have this debate with my partner, who has as ferocious a reading habit as me, but who methodically ploughs his way through his wish list, even when he complains about the plot holes, inconsistencies and poor dialogue.

I admire his commitment to finishing everything he starts, it’s a noble demonstration of his respect for the writer who’s spent their time and energy creating the book he reluctantly holds and a mark of his stubborn dedication.

Read more The art of not reading. Or, selective attention as a means for intellectual survival by @AliyaMughal1

Summer Crossing by Truman Capote – a review

Cross-posted from: Obscure & Unnecessary Drama
Originally published: 01.12.17

A shocking end to an awry romance and a romance that you perhaps wished, never ignited in the first place.

If like me , you too were allured by the rosy cover, dreamy title and the credible author then perhaps our sentiments would match.

After the raving success of his Non-Fiction Crime novel, In Cold Blood and the darling endeavors of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, one hardly expect anything less from Mr. Capote and his ability to enrapture you in a tale simple yet magnificent.
So just like me, you pick this book excitedly dreaming of another masterful story that leaves you longing for more, only to have your expectations sorely hurt.

Read more Summer Crossing by Truman Capote – a review


Cross-posted from: Feimineach
Originally published: 28.12.17

Imagine for a moment that the only option you have to escape daily violence is life on the streets.

That’s the reality millions of women across America face every day. In fact, 50% of all homeless women report that their homelessness stemmed from acts of domestic violence so severe their only options were to stay and die or leave and face homelessness.

Homelessness stemming from domestic violence is not discussed as frequently as it should be, but it’s one of the most pressing women’s issues of our time, as resources for fleeing women are scarce and access to medical care and food are constantly dwindling.

Her Story Arc’s Best Feminist Books of 2017

Cross-posted from: Her Story Arc
Originally published: 29.12.17

This was the year Her Story Arc became F-BOM, the Feminist Book of the Month. Not to be conceited, but we consider ourselves pretty qualified to pick a good book! Working with self-published women authors to promote their work and give them more time and money to focus on their art has been an inspiring journey, and we are so looking forward to all the readers and writers we will meet in 2018, AND all the good books we’ll get to share.

Our Winter 2018 F-BOM author partner will be announced on January 1st, and we know you’re going to love her work! But first, let’s take a look back at the best feminist books of 2017. Like last year’s list, not all of these were published in 2017, but if we read and loved them in 2017, then they count. Here we go!
Read more Her Story Arc’s Best Feminist Books of 2017

On being one of the #hiddenhalf at We Mixed Our Drinks

Cross-posted from: We Mixed Our Drinks
Originally published: 17.07.17


“Some professionals just ask are you coping, are you OK? And think that is all they need to ask but this is a very closed question and too easy for a woman just to say yes when she could be crying out for someone to notice her or help her.” 
New research from the NCT has found that around half of new mothers’ mental health issues don’t get picked up by a healthcare professional. Consequently, the organisation has launched a new campaign – Hidden Half – to raise awareness and push for better postnatal care that will identify and treat more cases of postnatal depression (PND) and associated conditions. A key focus of the campaign is making sure the existing checkup that takes place six weeks after giving birth looks at the mental health of mothers – something that doesn’t always currently happen.
I want to talk about my own experiences in the wider context of postnatal mental health issues developing later on, after those first few weeks following the birth. I want to do this because I know from personal experience that it’s easy to dismiss symptoms when they’re not what you think PND looks like, when you’re busy and when very few people take the time to ask. I’ve never written about this in detail before, but having done a lot of processing of my experiences over the past few years having come to the point of understanding much more about how to practice good self-care, I’m hoping it will be useful, in some way, to at least someone.

Read more On being one of the #hiddenhalf at We Mixed Our Drinks