Good biography, bad biography – two brief book reviews

Cross-posted from: Adventures in Biography
Originally published: 27.04.18

This year’s winner of the Pulitzer Prize for biography was Caroline Fraser, for Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

If, like me, you read the Little House on the Prairie books as a child, then you already know all about Laura Ingalls Wilder. She grew up in the 1800s on the American frontier, with Ma, Pa, blind sister Grace and little sister Carrie.  Ma was endlessly patient and good, and jovial Pa was wise and strong and brave. There were blizzards and locusts, danger and drama, all tempered by the family’s love for one another. I loved those books, but I’ve not been tempted to reread them, for fear that I’ll be disappointed.

So I was keen to read this biography, apparently the first ever written about Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’m surprised at that – did other biographers assume that Ingalls Wilder had written so thoroughly about her own childhood and early married life that there was nothing more to say? In fact there was plenty more to say – and biographer Fraser says it all, in excruciating detail. Readers, I couldn’t finish this book. …

 

The full article (and a review of Victorians Undone: Tales of the flesh in the age of decorum by Kathryn Hughes) is available here.

Adventures in Biography: I have a young family and a demanding day job but in my spare time (!) I’m working on a biography of one of Australia’s first white colonists: Elizabeth MacArthur. So far in the course of working on the manuscript I’ve met some wonderful people and travelled to some amazing places. I thought it was about time to share the wonder and my amazement.

Kate Manne’s Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny and Citation Politics

Cross-posted from: Toda historia es contemporánea
Originally published: 08.08.18

Kate Manne’s recent book, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny (Oxford University Press, 2018), discusses the concept of misogyny and its relationship to sexism. Her basic premise rejects the dictionary definition of misogyny as the expression of an emotion -ie. the “hatred of women”- in favour of a definition which classes misogyny as an action: the punishment of women for not conforming to patriarchal norms. Similarly, she rejects the correlation of sexism with misogyny, arguing that sexism should be better understood as the justification and rationalisation of a “patriarchal social order”. In this way, sexism is expressed by arguing that women act in a certain way because they are women and justifies sexual discrimination via science. Misogyny is, on the other hand, “the system which polices and enforces” (via verbal and physical violence) women’s obedience to the sexist norms. With these redefinitions, Manne argues that patriarchy is a system that guarantees male supremacy via both misogyny and sexism. This system requires the collusion of both men and women, and as such, can never be conceived as exclusively male.

In order to defend her hypothesis, Manne makes the following argument: in patriarchal ideology, the gender binary dictates that men and women have different emotional, social and cultural roles. The male is the principal actor, around which narrations are formed and whose point of view is always prioritised. The female role is that of an eternal supporting actress, whose job is “to give to him, not to ask, and expected to feel indebted and grateful, rather than indebted.” This role is most obvious “with respect to characteristically moral good: attention, care, sympathy, respect, admiration, and nurturing.” As a result, men feel entitled to women’s emotional labour: …

 

This article is available at Toda historia es contemporánea

Hiding Under the Bed is not the Answer is the blog of historian of Mexican politics Cath Andrews who also writes for e-feminist and Toda historia es contemporánea. She tweets at @andrews_cath

Liberty: police should investigate military crimes

Cross-posted from: Women's Views on the News
Originally published: 21.08.18

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 08.47.44The people who were causing him terrible problems were the same people he would have had to ask for help’.

Civil liberties and human rights campaign group Liberty has called for civilian police to investigate all military crimes after the Coroner in Private Sean Benton’s inquest delivered a highly critical verdict.

The Coroner in the inquest into the 1995 death of Private Sean Benton at Deepcut Barracks recorded a verdict of suicide, and delivered a narrative verdict that severely criticised serious failures in duty of care at Deepcut barracks.

His Honour Judge Peter Rook QC delivered his conclusions at Woking Coroner’s Court following a wide-ranging inquest which began in January and heard evidence about Benton and life at the Surrey camp from 174 witnesses.

The Coroner said:

The Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in charge of Sean’s troop, Sergeant Andrew Gavaghan, physically assaulted and humiliated him on numerous occasions; …

 

This article is available here at Women’s Views on the News.

Women’s Views on the News (WVoN) is a women’s news, opinions and current affairs site, and our management team, writers and editors all work on a voluntary basis. Our aim is to redress the gender imbalance in global newsreporting by telling the stories that the mainstream press ignores, while at the same time encouraging more feminist writers to become news reporters and editors. If you interested in volunteering for us as an editor or writer please contact us via our website. @newsaboutwome

Middle Class Values vs Radical Ones by Terri Strange

Cross-posted from: The Untameable Shrews
Originally published: 14.08.18

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In this piece I’m going to give some insights about tendencies, behaviors and ways of functioning that are particularly middle class and that I believe do great damage to movements and activism. The majority of my work as an activist has been within the radical feminist movement but I have also had experience with socialist groups and organizations as well as been involved in anti-war activism. I have found the same tendencies in every greater social movement I’ve been a part of. It has been most heartbreaking for me in the feminist movement because that is where I am most pulled and dedicated. As such I will be sharing several experiences that typify the behaviors that I am talking about. I will avoid naming individuals and focus more on the behaviors because although these are my experiences with individuals, they are not uncommon.

The middle class has one main social function – social control. It is a place of silent comfort for many and an aspiration of others who think the lifestyles of the middle classes are something to covet. Their primary function is as the managerial class – the one that keeps the working and poverty classes in line, as best they can as well. They do this by embracing and enforcing hierarchies and inequality that should have no place in society, let alone political struggles. The need to truly change the distribution of power and resources in this society has been a necessity for a long time and it’s quite clear that those with power will stop at nothing to maintain their place in society’s pecking order. At the cost of everything and everyone else. …

 

This article was published on Untameable Shrews.

 

The Arctic Feminist : I lazily blog about whatever I want. Always from a radical feminist perspective

Elf Stories in Iceland, via @RowenaMonde

Cross-posted from: Les Revieres de Rowena
Originally published: 24.06.18

June 24- “It’s kind of an elf date.They are playing and dancing and singing all night long.”- Ragnhildur Jonsdottir, in conversation with Marianne Bjornmyr

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Street art in downtown Reykjavik

If you grew up reading Andrew Lang books like I did, you’d understand my fascination with fairy tales. As a child with an over-active imagination I believed in fairies, elves, goblins, sprites, every fairy creature. It seemed so normal to me that they existed. If you’d seen me convincing my sisters to help me look for fairies you might have laughed, but I was earnest. I never did find any traces of fairy folk and I soon grew out of that belief. Hearing stories about the Icelandic belief in elves intrigued me, and it was one of the reasons Iceland had always appealed to me as a holiday destination. Apparently a considerable percentage of the population believed in Huldufólk , i.e. “hidden folk.” Judging from its landscape Iceland it does seem like the perfect place to have elves. Maybe the word ethereal is over-used but in the case of Iceland it’s very appropriate. …

 

The full article is available here.

Les Reveries de RowenaI’m a woman moulded and shaped by three continents; my life has always been about border epistemology: navigating between cultures.  My hunger for knowledge is insatiable, my dreams are big, but alas, my energy is limited. I’m a dreamer, an exhorter and  a comforter. I believe strongly in kindness, love, authenticity and in listening to the voices of marginalized people. Please expect some impassioned posts from time to time! I’m a strong advocate of the arts, especially literature and music.  A better world would be one with more art, more people writing and creating, more people dancing. Africa will always have my heart.

What we’re reading this week from: @rae_ritchie_ @sianushka @wordspinster & @MelTankardReist ‏

When boys struggle at A-level, it’s a crisis. When girls do, it’s celebrated, by Sian Norris

It’s that time of year again, when papers post pictures of jumping girls while middle-aged white male celebrities pompously explain how failing their exams never did them any harm. It’s A-level results day!

This year, the Daily Mail greeted the results with a resounding “Let’s Hear It For The Boys” headline (it was later updated). For the second year in a row, male students outperformed girls. The Guardianmeanwhile, reported “the proportion of students in England gaining C grades or above in A-levels fell back this year, driven by a relatively weaker performance among girls”.

This shift towards improved boys’ results has come after a change to A-level courses was introduced. The new structure places more emphasis on final exams, with less coursework and fewer practical assessments. A 2013 study by the Independent Schools Association, as reported by the Telegraph, claimed that “a shift towards more end-of-course exams would […] have a disproportionate impact on girls who appear to favour coursework-style tasks”. …

Love Between Black Girls Has the Power to Save in Night Comes On, by Claire Heuchan

Angel is a girl with a mission. On her eighteenth birthday, she’s released from juvie after a year’s imprisonment. She leaves with two objectives. One: to find a gun. Two: to find out where her father lives. Newcomer Dominique Fishback gives a captivating performance in Night Comes On, the flashes of vulnerability in Angel making it impossible to look away from the devastating story. Angel’s mother was murdered by her father, who has been living free while his two daughters were shunted from foster home to foster home.

The driving force behind the film is Angel’s need to avenge her mother’s death. In her single-minded pursuit of these goals, it becomes clear that Angel is as determined as she is loyal to the memory of her mother. Only one thing has the power to shift Angel’s focus from revenge: her ten-year-old sister, Abby. …

The illusion of inclusion, by @wordspinster

Feminists (and other progressive types) talk a lot about ‘inclusive language’, and it’s generally assumed that we’re in favour of it. But what exactly is it? What makes a word or an expression ‘inclusive’? And are feminists’ purposes always best served by inclusive terms?

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, feminists criticising conventional usage rarely talked about ‘inclusive’ (or its antonym, ‘exclusionary’) language: we talked much more about ‘sexist’ and ‘non-sexist’ language. As the issue became more mainstream, other terms came into use which were seen as less overtly political and thus more palatable to people of moderate liberal opinions. Many included the word ‘gender’: it became common for institutions to formulate policies and guidelines about ‘gender equal’, ‘gender free’ or ‘gender fair’ language.

The concept of ‘inclusive language’ has become popular more recently, and it represents a further move away from the original feminist critique of sexism. ‘Inclusiveness’ is much more general concept: guidelines on ‘inclusive language’ may address concerns about the linguistic representation not only of women, but also of other marginalised groups like ethnic minorities, disabled people and LGBT people. And while most feminists would probably see this broadening as a good thing in principle, some (myself included) might argue that in defining the problem as ‘inclusion versus exclusion’ we have both narrowed the scope of the earlier analysis of sexism and lost some of its more radical insights. …

How Pinterest has changed my life (or at least been super useful for work), by @rae_ritchie_

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WIN: DFO pulls down ‘Starving for Fashion’ billboard after protest initiated by 13 year old, by Melinda Tankard Reist

It’s so good to be able to share another win with supporters. This one thanks to 13-year-old Melbourne teen Naomi, who spotted this billboard advertising the DFO at Morabbin Airport in Melbourne

Naomi told her mother, long time supporter Gloria Anderson, who texted me the images and her daughter’s comments.

“I knew it was wrong because it was promoting anorexia, sending a message that you need to be skinny to be fashionable, which is obviously not true.”

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Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma: a book review at Obscure & Unnecessary Drama (content note)

Cross-posted from: Obscure & Unnecessary Drama
Originally published: 26.03.18

Screen Shot 2018-08-09 at 07.50.19I have taken pride in saying that all my book reviews, for the most part, have been spoiler free. And today I am preparing to violate that.

It genuinely serves twice as hard to review a book like Forbidden when the reader feels a multitude of emotions on a particularly taboo subject. I scoured Goodreads reviews, blog reviews, Booktube reviews and debated whether writing about this book would make me seem like a lunatic to my readers or would they be intrigued.

All I can say at this point is to proceed with caution and with a good measure of open-mindedness. …

 

You can find the full review here.

Obscure and Unnecessary Drama : Mehreen Shaikh, an Indian writer born and raised in Oman. Although I do visit my country of origin annually, I did spend a few years there studying. Not just academics but our society. Narrowing down further, I observed the relationship it had with women. I was brimming with observations and outrage. It took me a good while to tame my angst and harness it into proper valid arguments. Now I blog, where I feel free to rant about issues that I notice that most people would dismiss as minor but I know how the woman in that instance would feel. So many thoughts and so many incidents take place in a woman’s world that by no means are simple or easy to resolve.

Anne Lister and a Theology of Naming Lesbians., by @LucyAllenFWR

Cross-posted from: Reading Medieval Books
Originally published: 03.08.18

There are many things about the current kerfuffle over Anne Lister that make me reach for a facepalm gif, but it’s one particular comment that tipped me over into writing this blog post.

In case you’ve never heard of her (and if so, you are missing out), Anne Lister was a Yorkshirewoman, born in 1791. She inherited the late-medieval house at Shibden Hall, where her manner of dress and her habit of seducing women earned the nickname ‘gentleman Jack’. Lister kept a diary, in code, which tells us a lot about her sexual exploits, but she was also devoutly Christian and in 1834 she organised a wedding ceremony to her partner Ann Walker, in Holy Trinity church in Goodramgate, York. Delightfully, Holy Trinity recently agreed to put up a blue plaque in honour of Lister and her marriage, which is both charming and rather daringly polemical, given the Church of England’s current stance on gay marriage. Here it is:

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You can find the full article here. 

Reading Medieval Books! :I rant about women in literature and history, occasionally pausing for breath to be snarky about right-wing misogynists. I promise pretty pictures of manuscripts and a cavalier attitude to sentence structure. @LucyAllenFWR

Raising Boys: The Feminist Way ,by @Finn_Mackay

Cross-posted from: Finn Mackay

This is a brief practical guide to raising humane children, male and female, daughters and sons. The ideas contained here are not new, they are available in many other places, and I cannot take credit for them; they have been said before in parenting guides, feminist theory on girlhood, feminist theory on masculinities, as well as in attachment parenting and gentle parenting manuals for example. In many ways these suggestions are instinctive and common sense. The problem is, however, that our world is so rigidly divided along gender lines, and our brains so thoroughly washed in either pink or blue, that parents and carers have learnt not to trust their instincts and to assume instead that baby humans must be treated remarkably differently based on their sex. The following is not really a feminist guide at all, and it is not solely about sons. There are 24 suggestions in the list, I’m sure you could add more. I have included some examples or case-studies to show possible practical implementation of these suggestions.

A bit about me: I am not a parenting expert. But, I do have a professional background in youth and advice work. I set up and managed award winning domestic violence prevention and anti-bullying programmes across all children and young people’s settings (including Early Years) for a London Local Education Authority – Islington – and I advised on national anti-bullying policy and safeguarding. I have delivered training to teachers and whole-school staff, social workers, nurses and police. I am now an academic researcher in the area of feminist theory and activism, with a PhD from the Centre for Gender and Violence Research at the University of Bristol. I have been involved in feminist activism for over twenty years; I founded the London Feminist Network in 2004 and revived the London Reclaim the Night march. I currently do a lot of research on masculinities and I work with several men’s organisations. I am a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of the West of England in Bristol, and author of ‘Radical Feminism: Activism in Movement’ published by Palgrave.

I only have one child, my son is toddler age. I am a terribly impatient person and therefore parenting is often an effort for me. As is the case for all women, childrearing does not come naturally to me, though it may feel instinctive to some; parenting skills are however, unfortunately, not genetic nor predestined by sex. My partner and I are trying to raise our child as best we can in the world as it is; acknowledging that the world as it is, is imperfect, and so are we. While I know the world is imperfect, I do not have to accept that, nor do I have to remain silent about it and I hope to teach my child the same. I hope to raise him actively against much of the culture that he will be increasingly immersed in, because much of the culture tells him lies about boys and men and the biggest lie of all is that his future is written in stone. Boys will not be boys, they will be adults, carers, fathers, lovers, friends, colleagues; they will be human, like anyone else, and humane, if only we let them be. …

You can read the full article here.

My area of research is contemporary British feminism and feminist activism. I am particularly interested in changes in this social movement from the Second Wave of the 1970s and 1980s to the present day. I have been involved in feminist activism for twenty years, founding the London Feminist Network and revived London Reclaim the Night in 2004. Prior to returning to academia, my professional background was in education and youth work, where I worked on domestic violence prevention and anti-bullying. I am still proudly involved with the women’s sector, conducting work and research for organisations such as Women’s Aid. I am passionate about all social justice issues and equalities. Other research interests include gender studies, animal rights, lesbian and gay studies and particularly gender identity, definitions, expressions and borders within the LGBT community.  @Finn_Mackay

Love Island’s Lessons For Girls, by @GappyTales

Cross-posted from: Gappy Tales
Originally published: 27.06.18

 …. Love Island is a fascinating modern allegory of the battle of the sexes, and anyone still labouring under the misconception that feminism has somehow achieved its goal of liberating women from men’s dominance is, in my opinion, in need of a good sharp dose. On this sunny island, social and sexual relations between men and women as seen and normalised by the wider society are played out in all their horror. Here our social norms as enacted by a group of cookie cuttered out pretty people can be viewed under a highly magnifying glass. What better and more entertaining way in which to witness the sheer contempt in which women are still often held by much of society, and the psychological damage inflicted by the internalisation of this contempt by women themselves.

Most criticism of Love Island has, this year, so far focused on the conduct of Adam Collard. A tall, dark and over confident Geordie with a smooth air of superiority and a penchant for discarding women like used tissues as soon as something else shiny catches his eye, Collard’s callous treatment of fellow contestant Rosie Williams, which included laughing at her distress and disbelief at having been so brutally discarded, and then blaming her for his refusal to treat her with any respect whatsoever, saw chief executive of Women’s Aid, Katie Ghose, issue a warning to young women that behaviour like his could form a pattern of emotional abuse. …

You can read the full article here.

Gappy Tales:Writer, feminist, mother. Likes cake, hates Jeremy Clarkson. These are my principles – if you don’t like them, I have others. @GappyTales or Huff Post

Sexual harassment and violence in higher education: reckoning, co-option, backlash, by @Alison Phipps

Cross-posted from: Gender, Bodies, Politics
Originally published: 12.07.18

This is the text of a keynote (and the inaugural Lincoln Lecture) delivered at the British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies conference in Loughborough on June 12th 2018. 

I am speaking today about sexual harassment and violence. It is difficult to speak about sexual harassment and violence; these are traumatic experiences, and survivors are subject to many forms of silencing. This is why ‘speaking out’ is crucial. We speak our truths publicly because problems need to be named, to be dealt with: and putting our trauma ‘out there’ is a way to avoid being consumed by it ‘in here’. But speech in this area is also vexed. Because of where and how we are able to speak our truths, because of how these truths constitute us as subjects and objects of discourse, and because of how our disclosures can be co-opted. We are also caught in a number of binaries and backlashes which position us or which we have to position against. There are binaries between men and women, between perpetrators and victims, which often map directly on to each other. There is a misogynistic, racist backlash from the so-called ‘alt’-right, and on the left what Sara Ahmed calls ‘progressive sexism’, which gives cover to sexual harassment and violence through critiques of neoliberalism and concerns about ‘moral panic.’ This is the context in which I share my thoughts about how sexual harassment and violence are ‘reckoned up’ in institutional and cultural economies. …

Untitled

 

You can find the full text published here. 

Alison PhippsGenders, bodies, politics

 

Immodesty becomes her?, by @wordspinster

Cross-posted from: language: a feminist guide
Originally published: 20.06.18

When the Toronto Globe & Mail announced that in future only medical doctors would be accorded the title ‘Dr’, it probably wasn’t expecting this news to cause much of a stir. But then a historian with a Ph.D objected:

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This tweet provoked an avalanche of criticism–directed not to the Globe & Mail‘s new style-rule, but to the arrogance and conceit of Fern Riddell. And as she later told the BBC, she couldn’t help noticing that her critics were mostly men. A lot of men seemed to be outraged by a woman claiming the status of an expert and expecting others to acknowledge her as such. ‘Humility Dr Riddell’, tweeted one. ‘There’s no Ph.D for that’.

But why should women humble themselves when other people are there to do it for them? As I explained in an earlier post, the treatment of women in professional and public settings is demonstrably affected by a ‘gender respect gap’: while this disrespect takes multiple forms, one salient manifestation of it is the withholding of professional and respect titles. It doesn’t just happen in academia: a 2017 study showed that women hospital doctors are less likely than their male counterparts to be referred to by male colleagues with the title ‘Dr’, and  in 2016 women lawyers in the US campaigned for the American Bar Association to make the use of endearment terms like ‘honey’ a breach of professional standards. Meanwhile, British school teachers have complained for decades about the convention whereby men are addressed as ‘sir’ while women of all ages get the rather less respectful ‘miss’. …

 

You can read the full article here.

language: a feminist guideIt does what it says on the tin: a feminist language guide.

Great feminist & womanist writing to start the week: via @ClaireShrugged @LucyFWR @SianFergs

As part of our Changing Things Up! drive, we are changing the ‘What we’ reading this week. From now on, we’re no longer collating writing by women who aren’t members under heading “What we’re reading”. Instead, every Monday we will be publishing writing by our members entitled “Great feminist & womanist writing to start the week”.

We Need to Talk About Misogyny and the LGBT Community’s Erasure of Black Lesbian History, by Claire Heuchan 

Finding the stories of our Black lesbian foremothers isn’t always easy. That’s not because there were none. Despite what the history books say, Black lesbian women have been around for hundreds of years, living lives filled with the extraordinary and the everyday. Women like Stormé DeLarverie have led revolutions. And yet Black lesbian stories are hard to find.

Those who have traditionally held the power to decide whose stories get to be recorded as history have been white, male, and invested in the social order of women living lives centered around men: the system of heteropatriarchy. For the most part, those historians considered the experiences and inner-lives of Black women beneath their notice. Close reflections on the average Black woman’s life at any point in the last few hundred years would also have held the risk of making it that much harder to sustain the myth that Black people weren’t really human, bringing home the ugly truths of white supremacy.

Dislikeable female characters aren’t inherently feminist – but that’s okay, by Sian Ferguson 

In a world where female characters are often one-dimensional props that add to a narrative centered around male characters, complex female characters are pretty revolutionary. What’s even more revolutionary is when these female characters aren’t super palatable and likable.

‘Dislikeable’ female characters force us to ask ourselves why we don’t like them. More often than not, dislikeable female characters unpack potentially problematic beliefs in ourselves. This introspection is valuable because it makes us realize whether we have attitudes or actions that we need to change. …

What does one word matter? Doctoral women on twitter via @LucyAllenFWR

A few days ago Dr Fern Riddell, a historian (who, like me, works on sex and gender), was involved in a nasty twitter conversation with a man who poured scorn on her expertise and – gasp! – what he considered to be her arrogance in defending her qualifications. In response to her refusal to be patronised, storms of women academics have been changing their twitter handles to include ‘Dr’. The negative responses are predictable. What does one word matter? What do these women think they’re proving to anyone? Who cares how you talk about yourself? And so on.

For a lot of women academics I know, Riddell’s is a familiar story. Outside academia, ‘Dr’ is a man. Despite the fact that increasing numbers of women are going into medicine, ‘Dr’ is also a medic. Academic woman come in for a double dose of slapdown for advertising their qualifications as a result, and the scaremongering hits in at full force. Use ‘Dr’ on your passport? You’ll endanger the lives of millions as you are forced, coerced, into performing an emergency tracheostomy in a Boeing 747, since your doctorate almost certainly required the removal of your common sense and your ability to say ‘no, I’m not a medic’. Other academics – I leave you to guess their typical gender – will tell you condescendingly that they have no need to use ‘Dr’ with their students. I prefer to be Dave. They respect me just the same, and by the way, did you see how my teaching evaluations didn’t contain a single comment on my clothing or my tits? Amazing. A woman who pretends to academic expertise is presumed to be overreaching or posturing, and if she points to her qualifications, she’s insecurely boasting. …

Family carers are doing more care, at Women’s Views on the News, 

The current social care system is putting pressure on families to step in and provide care for relatives where the state does not.

Such family care is an essential element of the current overall system of social care yet it is not often put at the centre of conversation about the care system.

A report, Caring for Carers, published by the Social Market Foundation on 16 July 2018, estimates that there are 7.6 million family carers over the age of 16 in the UK – and that the majority of family carers are women.

The report’s authors, Kathryn Petrie and James Kirkup, found that 16 per cent of women and 12 per cent of men provide family care.

There is a clear gender difference in family care: six in ten (59 per cent) carers are women. Over the last decade, the share of women providing care has increased by 11 per cent. The share of men providing care has increased by 3 per cent….

A Brief Guide to the Mexican Elections for the Perplexed and Curious, by @Andrews_cath

Cross-posted from: Toda historia es contémporanea
Originally published: 04.07.18

A “twitter essay” explaining the Mexican elections by me, Mexican historian and citizen, to counterbalance some of the “fake news” currently circulating in the English-speaking press. You can consult the Twitter version here. This version has been amended for clarity, mainly to correct errors in spelling and grammar.

For the recent history of Mexico (last 30 years or so), the election results of 2018 are astounding. Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) won 53% of the popular vote. He led his nearest rival by over 30%.

For comparison:  in 1996 Zedillo won with 48.7% (and had a 23% lead); in 2000, Fox won with 42.5% (with a 6.4% lead); in 2006, Calderón won with 35.9 (and a 0. 62% lead over AMLO); Peña won with 38.2% (and a 7.43% lead over AMLO) …

 

The full text is available here.

Cath Andrews is a historian of Mexican politics. She’s blogs at  Hiding Under the Bed is not the Answer  and who writes for e-feminist and Toda historia es contemporánea. She tweets at @andrews_cath

They think it’s all over: football v. sexism, by @wordspinster

Cross-posted from: Language: A Feminist Guide
Originally published: 25.06.18

And they’re off! As we move into the Season of Endless Televised Sport (this year centring on the month-long FIFA World Cup), some men have started their own competition to find the Most Unconvincing Reason Why We Shouldn’t Have To Listen To Women Talking About Football. I’m tempted to name this contest the Samuel Johnson Memorial Award for Sexism, in homage to Johnson’s famous remark comparing a woman preacher to a dog walking on its hind legs: ‘it is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all’. (It also doesn’t hurt that ‘Johnson’ is a slang term for ‘penis’.)

Simon Kelner made an early splash with his suggestion that asking women like Eni Aluko and Alex Scott to offer expert technical analysis of matches played by men was like ‘getting a netball player to discuss major league basketball’.  Er, not really, Simon: netball and basketball are different sports, whereas women’s football and men’s football…well, the clue’s in the name. Scott, who made 140 appearances for England during her career and played in three World Cups, can hardly be said to lack insight; Aluko’s analysis has been incisive enough to prompt applause from Patrice Evra (a patronising gesture which makes him another leading contender for the Johnson award). …

 

The full text is available here.

language: a feminist guideIt does what it says on the tin: a feminist language guide.

“On Motherhood” by @GappyTales

Cross-posted from: Gappy Tales
Originally published: 28.05.18

I gave birth to my second son under a tree. It was under an Ash tree, and it was bloody. Days after, a chuckling visitor told me I could be heard the other side of the hill; that everyone within a mile radius knew he was coming. I’d delivered that son standing, my two feet rooted into the ground, my face up to the sky. Roaring.

A few years later saw my car, boot full with the weekly shop, pulling in to the driveway next to my house. A short, clear three metres over tarmac and lawn lay between car and front door, but it would be another hour until I was home. My daughters head butt deep in my pelvis, her feet tangled under my ribs, I could not force those last few steps and fell instead into a dead, dribbling sleep against the steering wheel. I woke to confusion and imminent labour, thick red indents striping my cheek.  ….

 

You can read the full article here.

Gappy Tales : Writer, feminist, mother. Likes cake, hates Jeremy Clarkson. These are my principles – if you don’t like them, I have others. @GappyTales

 

8 KINDS OF EMAILS YOU REALLY NEED TO NOT MESS UP, by @LorrieHartshorn

Cross-posted from: Lorrie Hartshorn
Originally published: 28.05.18

Email. It’s a pain in the arse.

Every day, I go through my inbox and think, “I really should have a clear-out.”

But gradually, the subscriptions creep back.

Truth is, email marketing works.

Here in the UK, every pound you spend on email marketing has an average ROI of £38.

So if you’re thinking of getting into (or expanding) your email marketing efforts, here’s some shit you want an email copywriter to help with. …. 

The full article is available here.

Circles Under StreetlightsCircles Under Streetlights is the personal blog of Lorrie Hartshorn who is an English literary and speculative fiction writer, whose work has appeared in The F-Word, FlashFlood, Six Sentences, 1000 Words, The Pygmy Giant, Six Words, The Literary Nest, Compose, Anthem and Vagabond. She also works as a copywriter. Her business website is here.

How other people’s stories teach us who we are, by @AliyaMughal1

Cross-posted from: Aliya Mughal
Originally published: 30.01.18

It was DH Lawrence who said that “the only history is a mere question of one’s struggle inside oneself”. His point being that the collective story of humanity, whether in fact or fiction, as chronicled in the billions of words scratched onto paper and battered into computers by individuals across the world and throughout the ages, are testament to the enduring struggle that we all face to make sense of our place in the world.

The deceitfully simple idea that “to know thyself” is the reason for living, the ceaseless echo through the centuries of Socrates’ call that “the unexamined life is not worth living”, is the most maddening challenge there is.

As the philosopher Alan Watts once said: “Consciousness seems to be nature’s ingenious mode of self-torture.” … 

 

 You can read the full text here. 

Aliya MughalI’m a dedicated follower of wordsmithery and wisdom in its many guises. Reader, writer, storyteller – if there’s a thread to follow and people involved, I’m interested. I’ve built my life around words, digging out the stories that matter and need to be told – about science, feminism, art, philosophy, covering everything from human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, to famine and the aid game in Rwanda, to how the intersection of art and science has the power to connect the disparate forces of humanity with the nanoscopic forces of our sacred Earth. Find me @AliyaMughal1

Chronicles of Iris Bean-The Boston Strangler, at the Daly Woolf

Cross-posted from: The Daly Woolf
Originally published: 30.07.17

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In her grandfather’s bedroom, at the age of ten, Iris Bean read The Boston Strangler. She hid the book in an old trunk filled with antiquated, sepia-tone photos of people who weren’t afraid to show how truly unhappy they were or how dour and severe their personality, how unfortunate and downright hard  their circumstances.  Not a toothy, fake smile on these women’s faces. Stern and mean as steers being prodded with a steely rod.  They could do some serious hair pulling and throw some knock-down punches Iris imagined, and many of them did, from the stories that were told about these women; cousins, aunts, sisters from the 19th and early 20th  century.

Iris’ grandmother, a terrified woman who painted her windows shut and kept doors locked at all times, had the capacity to see through walls and know every move and  thought everyone was making and having in the little bungalow house on 13th Avenue. She knew Iris was in the dimly lit back bedroom with peeling wallpaper,  the room smelling oddly like damp socks, reading The Boston StranglerGrama Vivian scolded her from a distance as she crocheted dog sweaters for the animal shelter while watching Perry Mason or Marcus Welby. But secretly Iris’ grandmother knew, even before Iris did, that Iris was training for her work as a forensic feminist. …

 

Read Here

The Daly Woolf: An Uncanny Journal of Memoir, Poetry, and Cultural Analysis : I am a feminist writer/intermedia story artist and the executive director of Satori Instititute. I live in Boulder, Colorado. The Daly Woolf is an essay driven journal of memoir and cultural analysis. My twitter handle is @rebecca9

Flash Fiction (?): Language Lessons

Cross-posted from: Durre Shahwar
Originally published: 22.04.16

….  I guess I’ve always had a fascination with languages, being bilingual myself, and how languages form parts of people’s whole identities sometimes. Languages can open up whole new worlds and stories, and even create barriers, and I find that so interesting to write about.  …

This is what I love about free-writing exercises; they unlock parts of your subconscious, that develop into a conscious interest, a thing to further explore and write about. They unlock creativity. If you’re stuck on writing this weekend, just write anything. Write a thought you are having, however mundane, and let it lead you. This is also why I will forever be grateful to my MA for giving me the space to learn, write and explore such things. …

 

Read Here

HerStory (Durre Shahwar)I’m a writer, a book reviewer, and an MA Creative Writing graduate. As a South Asian female, I’ve identified as a feminist, since a teen and to this day, I’m writing about what that means and trying to put my experiences into words. My blog was named ‘Herstory’ after my research into Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own during my degree. The term has been the driving factor behind my writing. We all have stories to tell, voices that need to be heard, especially from women of colour, and I hope to be one of them. On my blog, I write book reviews and other content related to the craft of writing and sometimes, academia. I’m interested in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, mental health, intersectional feminism, gender, religion, art, yoga – though not always in that order or mixture! I’m slowly getting my writing published, and trying to review more book by women/women of colour, for which, I am happy to be contacted for via my blog or on Twitter: @Durre_Shahwar.