What we’re reading this week, by @wordspinster @sianushka @slutocracy @SarahGraham7

The kids are alright , by Deborah Cameron at Language: A Feminist Guide

When I was a kid, I sometimes encountered adults who disapproved of the way I’ve just used the word ‘kid’. ‘A kid’, they would say, repressively, ‘is a baby goat’. They weren’t really objecting to the substitution of animal for human vocabulary. They just thought ‘kid’ was vulgar, a sign that the person who uttered it was uneducated and unwashed. They were using a spurious argument about language to proclaim their superiority to the common herd. They were also asserting their power, as adults, to hold young people to their standards of acceptable speech.

I was reminded of this last week when I read an article in Teen Vogue about the importance of using gender-neutral language. Clearly, I am not in the target audience for this publication, being neither a teen nor in any way voguish, and I can’t say I’ve ever looked at it before. But my interest in this particular piece was piqued after a number of people shared it on Twitter and commented on the absurdity of some of the terms it suggested—like ‘pibling’ and ‘nibling’ as gender-neutral substitutes for ‘uncle/aunt’ and ‘nephew/niece’. …

The obsession with “Boris’s blonde” has gone beyond public interest into misogyny, by Sian Norris for New Statesman

There were two not entirely unexpected things in the news this weekend.

The first was that Boris Johnson, the man who once boasted “I haven’t had to have a wank for 20 years”, has had a series of affairs during his 25-year marriage to lawyer Marina Wheeler.

The second was the obsessive and often sexist coverage that accompanied the revelations.

Perhaps the most egregious example was a line from Tim Shipman’s and Caroline Wheeler’s piece in the Sunday Times – photographed, highlighted, and tweeted under the caption “cracking quote” by BBC political correspondent Chris Mason – in which an unnamed ally referred to the skeletons in Johnson’s cupboard as having “skin and big tits […] walking around the West End.”…

It Was A Shadow Hanging Over My Whole Pregnancy’ – We Need To Talk About The C-Section Postcode Lottery, by Sarah Graham

Giving birth by caesarean section has long been seen as the “too posh to push” option for expectant mums. Either dismissed as “the easy way out” (which it isn’t; it’s major surgery!), or criticised for not being the “natural” or “maternal” way of bringing your child into the world, the C-section generally gets a pretty bad rap.

But for some women and their babies it is the best option – either in the form of an emergency caesarean following labour complications, or as a birth plan in its own right. Sadly, women pursuing the latter continue to face stigma and obstacles at what’s already a challenging and emotionally charged time. …

Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who Is America Proves Right Wingers Are Ignorant About The Political Left, at Slutocracy

Sacha Baron Cohen has duped lots of people on his TV show Who Is America? where, Borat-style, he plays different characters and fools his interviewees into reacting to those characters. He’s tricked lefties, he’s tricked righties. He’s tricked ordinary Joes and lawmakers, celebrities and folks working out their payroll. Baron Cohen isn’t targeting any particular group. But something surprising emerged from the very first episode: right-wingers fell for his lefty character far harder than lefties fell for his right wing character.

Baron Cohen’s Professor Nira Cain N’Degeocello character is the epitome of the right-wingers’ idea of a leftard snowflake: he apologises for being a white male, is obsessed with gender equality, immaturely emotional about Trump’s presidency, frets about accidentally engaging in cultural appropriation, and is judgemental towards Trump supporters while acting like he’s “healing the divide.” He uses words like “triggered” out of context, rendering them meaningless. N’Degeocello stretches sentences to breaking point to avoid mentioning gender, for example when asked if his partner Naomi is a woman, he responds that she “has a round vagina…she has nipples but they are attached to swollen mammaries” when even the most dedicated leftist could have stated that Naomi was born female, is a cisgendered woman or has XX chromosomes. But perhaps an extreme view of what lefties are like is unsurprising for right-wingers who live in a right-wing bubble. What is most surprising is that right-wingers seem to horribly misunderstand what the left stands for- to the extent that it’s easy to see why these misconceptions would lead them to choose right wing attitudes over left wing ones. …

Finn Mackay’s What’s Feminist About Equality for TEDx

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

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.

The only feminism that can challenge xenophobic and misogynist populism is inclusive feminism, by Ms Afropolitan

Cross-posted from: Ms Afropolitan
Originally published: 12.06.18
Image is Pulchritude by Christo Makatita
Image is Pulchritude by Christo Makatita

On 7 June, the European Women’s Lobby launched its campaign for the 2019 European Parliament elections for equal representation of women. Over 100 leading women’s rights activists from the EWL membership across Europe gathered at the EU Parliament in Brussels under the theme of “Women ReShaping Power”. I had the honour of delivering a keynote . …

In the centuries long history of feminism there have been a number of so called distinct “feminist peaks” such as the fight for women’s suffrage, the invention of the birth control pill, and women’s armed revolutions in Africa during the continent’s independence struggles.

Contemporary feminism reached its current peak on the 21st of January 2017, one day after the inauguration of US president, the 45th. Millions of women and men around the world joined the Women’s March that day to protest not only Trump’s election, but with the aim of dismantling all systems of oppression. When I returned from marching that day, I posted a social media update saying, “When women start marching like we did today, from Washington to London to all around the globe, you know the rules of the game have changed.” …

The full the transcript and video are available here.

Ms. AfropolitanA site about Africa and Diaspora in society from a feminist perspective.  Twitter @MsAfropolitan

 

 

The Return of Idealism and the erasure of Black Feminist Theory, via @andrews_cath

Counterpoint magazine published an opinion piece today entitled “The return of idealism: identity and the politics of oppression” written by Elaine Graham-Leigh. It’s a (very) long explanation of an argument I have seen in various forms within current feminist debate about the fallacies of identity politics. As the title of the piece suggests, the crux of her argument is that identity politics is a product of postmodern theory and fundamentally opposed to a materialist socialist analysis of the politics of oppression. Thus she says:

It follows therefore [for identity politics] that the important identity is not the one to which you belong by virtue of your descent or your biology, but the one with which you identify. In this view, women, for example, are not oppressed because of any relation to their female sex, but because and to the extent that they identify as women and signify this through their performance of femininity. The reality of the sex of their bodies is as unimportant as all material reality. It therefore follows that the identification as a woman, which is important, does not have to proceed from having a female body, which is not. The identity has become unmoored from the physical reality.

As numerous white feminist thinkers have noted before her, the emphasis on identity rather than shared biological circumstances can make activism harder [1]. The common thread running through her lament and those of a similar nature is: why can’t all women pull together to overcome common oppression? Why must what separates us -identity in this case- undermine collective action?

And here we come to the reason why I am writing this reply to Graham-Leigh. Because, her essay provides us -unconsciously or not- the answer to this question.

In her historical analysis of the origins of socialist feminism and identity politics, Graham Leigh fails to include the contribution of black feminist thought on these subjects, and when she does she does not evidence the same breadth of knowledge she shows in the rest of her essay. This is important because black feminist thought is precisely the bridge which links (this is a deliberate analogy follow this link and read the book it lead to) the contemporary debate between socialist and postmodern feminists she is discussing [2].

Let me explain: in her essay, Graham- Leigh explicitly argues that “intersectional feminism” or “intersectionality” is a product of identity politics. She quotes from the foundational work on this subject by Black legal feminist Kimberlé Crenshaw [3] and says:

Crenshaw’s argument was that black women were minimised in feminist campaigns which saw white women’s experiences as the default, and by Black liberation struggles which focused on men. As she said, ‘discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens at an intersection, it can be caused by cars travelling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them. Similarly, if a black woman is harmed because she is at the intersection, her injury could result from sex discrimination or race discrimination.’ Black women could experience discrimination as women, as black people, and sometimes specifically as black women, ‘not the sum of race and sex discrimination, but as black women.’

This is an important insight, but it does not amount to an entire systemic understanding of oppression [4]. To be fair to Crenshaw, it was not her intention to provide one. It is perhaps an indication of the difficulties of understanding oppression through identity politics that intersectionality theory is left to do all the heavy lifting here. The term intersectionality is commonplace in online discussions of oppression, as for example in the popular phrase ‘my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit’. In its least nuanced form, however, it can become little more than a ranking system, ordering people according to how many different axes of oppression they can claim.

This dismissal of intersectionality betrays Graham-Leigh’s lack of knowledge not only of the origins of this theory, but also, its historical development from the moment from which this text was published (1989) and the present [5]. Crenshaw is indeed the woman who coined the term “intersectionality”, but the analysis she proposes has been present in black feminist thinking for most of the twentieth-century as Angela Davis shows quite clearly in Women, Race and Class (1981).

Drawing on this history, during the eighties, black and “third-world” feminist scholars were instrumental in analysing the oppression of women within their local, cultural, religious and class circumstances using the Marxist tools of analysis Graham-Leigh assumes were only employed by (white) socialist feminists. Particularly, Patricia Hill Collins and Chandra Mohanty, to name just two, have been grappling with the question of how to organise collective action against oppression between women who despite sharing a common biology reality, resolutely do not face the same oppressions when the material circumstances of their lives are examined [6]. Indeed, Patricia Hill Collins’s theory of a “matrix of domination” in which race, class, and gender are understood as “interlocking systems of oppression” is grounded precisely on the materialist analysis Graham-Leigh champions. For example:

Adhering to a both/and conceptual stance does not mean that race, class, and gender oppression are interchangeable. For example, whereas race, class, and gender oppression operate on the social structural level of institutions, gender oppression seems better able to annex the basic power of the erotic and intrude in personal relationships via family dynamics and within individual consciousness. This may be because racial oppression has fostered historically concrete communities among African-Americans and other racial/ethnic groups. These communities have stimulated cultures of resistance. While these communities segregate Blacks from whites, they simultaneously provide counter-institutional buffers that subordinate groups such as African-Americans use to resist the ideas and institutions of dominant groups. Social class may be similarly structured. Traditionally conceptualized as a relationship of individual employees to their employers, social class might be better viewed as a relationship of communities to capitalist political economies. Moreover, significant overlap exists between racial and social class oppression when viewing them through the collective lens of family and community. Existing community structures provide a primary line of resistance against racial and class oppression. But because gender cross-cuts these structures, it finds fewer comparable institutional bases to foster resistance. [7]

Although, Black (and postcolonial) feminist thought developed what is now understood as “intersectionality” squarely within the Marxist tradition, this does not mean that all feminism which proports to be “intersectional” is necessarily materialist. There is -as Leigh Graham shows- a liberal version of this theory which does indeed replace structural materialist analysis for “personal identity” and “personal experience of oppression” as their defining factors. But as Nancy Fraser notes, the co-option and transformation of materialist analysis by (neo)liberal feminists has been a feature of third wave feminism and it is no surprise, therefore, that it continues today [8].

So, to return to the original question. Why can’t all women pull together to overcome common oppression? Why must what separates us -identity in this case- undermine collective action? I hope the answer is now clear. While the centrality of black and brown feminist thought is ignored, or misrepresented in white women’s analysis, there can be no real hope of pan-women solidarity. If we appropriate this work as our own, while simultaneously implying that this very thought is limited and the cause of conflict between us, we can find no common ground at all.

 

 

[1] For example, Linda Alcoff, “Cultural Feminism Versus Post-Structuralism: The Identity Crisis in Feminist Theory,” Signs. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, (1988) 13: 3, https://www.jstor.org/stable/3174166

[2] Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, 2. ed., New York, NY: Kitchen Table, 1983.

[3] Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum (1989) no. 1, http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclf/vol1989/iss1/8

[4] My italics.

[5] See, Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge, Intersectionality, Polity Press, 2016.

[6] Chandra Talpade Mohanty, “‘Under Western Eyes’ Revisited: Feminist Solidarity through Anticapitalist Struggles.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28: 2 (2002): https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/342914

[7] Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, Unwin Hyman, 1990, pp. 221–238, http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/252.html

[8] Nancy Fraser, “Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History,” New Left Review, 56 (mar.-Aprl. 2009), https://newleftreview.org/II/56/nancy-fraser-feminism-capitalism-and-the-cunning-of-history

 

 

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

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

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

Binary or Spectrum, Gender is a Hierarchy, by @ClaireShrugged

Cross-posted from: Sister Outrider
Originally published: 05.09.17

A brief foreword: this is the fifth essay in my series on sex, gender, and sexuality. Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 are available here on Sister Outrider. With this essay, I challenge the notion that gender can be repurposed as anything other than a hierarchy. This one is dedicated to E, a stellar lesbian and feminist.


 

“It is impossible to name and act against oppression if there are no nameable oppressors.” – Mary Daly

What is Gender?

Gender is a fiction created by patriarchy, a hierarchy imposed by men to ensure their dominance over women. The idea of a gender binary was established in order to justify the subordination of women by positioning our oppression by men as a natural state of affairs, the result of how characteristics innately held by men and women manifest. Framing gender as natural not only serves to depoliticise the hierarchy, but uses essentialism in order to convince women that radical resistance to gender – the means of our oppression – is futile. Hopelessness breeds apathy, which undermines social change more effectively than any overt challenge. If abolishing gender (and therefore dismantling patriarchy) is an unobtainable goal, women have no choice but to accept our status as second-class citizens of the world. To treat gender as inherent is to accept a patriarchal blueprint for the design of society.

gender imageGender is a hierarchy that enables men to be dominant and conditions women into subservience. As gender is a fundamental element of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy (hooks, 1984) it is particularly disconcerting to see elements of queer discourse argue that gender is not only innately held but sacrosanct. Far from being a radical alternative to the status quo, the project of “queering” gender only serves to replicate the standards set by patriarchy through its essentialism. A queer understanding of gender does not challenge patriarchy in any meaningful way – rather than encouraging people to resist the standards set by patriarchy, it offers them a way to embrace it. Queer politics have not challenged traditional gender roles so much as breathed fresh life into them – therein lies the danger. 
Read more Binary or Spectrum, Gender is a Hierarchy, by @ClaireShrugged

Lessons from Russia: Why We Can’t Trust Men to Protect Women’s Rights

Cross-posted from: Woman as Subject
Originally published: 03.03.17

The 90s were a time of unbridled optimism. Fukuyama was so certain of the victory of Western liberal democracy that he excitedly declared that  were witnessing the ‘End of History’, leaving us all to sit back smugly on our laurels, put our enlightened feet up and carry on  reading the Guardian in the knowledge that all would be well. Society decided that we were living in a post-feminist world – (we’re so equal now, why do we need all those silly old ideals?) and we could concentrate on the important things like consumerism and working and not questioning the logic of endless growth through the magic of the free market. Times were good.


Read more Lessons from Russia: Why We Can’t Trust Men to Protect Women’s Rights

What is African feminism, actually?, by @MsAfropolitan

Cross-posted from: Ms Afropolitan
Originally published: 06.12.17

One of the questions I am most frequently asked is “what is African feminism and how is it different from western feminism”. It is a valid question that points to the clarity that people seek in the process of self discovery, which is what becoming feminist is.


Read more What is African feminism, actually?, by @MsAfropolitan

The Problem with “As a Mother…”, at @JumpMag

Cross-posted from: Salt & Caramel
Originally published: 24.08.17

When a sentence begins with ‘As a mother…’, it’s generally a bad sign. This rarely heralds an insightful observation, as Andrea Leadsom demonstrated. The discussion will continue around the political wrangling, but I wanted to pause for a moment and consider the idea that motherhood grants a woman anything other than the ability to cook meals one-handed while holding a wailing baby.

As a Mother…

I’ve changed. It would be impossible not to. The focus of my life has shifted, and the opinions and feelings of others need to be taken into consideration. I’m sure this is true for most parents, not just mothers.

As a mother, I became aware of different aspects of life that I hadn’t considered. When my kids were babies, I noticed that dropped kerbs and accessible buses meant that I could get around the town easier. It made me pause and consider that the inconvenience of using a pram or buggy was a temporary one, unlike those in wheelchairs, who are often prevented from using a bus because the buggy space is full.

As my children grew, their needs changed. From searching for restaurants with bottle-warming and baby-change facilities to ones with a play area or colouring books, to ones with free wifi as the kids reached their teens.

I noticed the differences in pre-school child-care between UK and Germany where we lived when the kids were little, and became aware of the high costs that were a burden to many families in UK.

They started school and I became more interested in the education systems in the countries in which we lived. The way in which the world treated my daughter in comparison to my son affected me and encouraged me to become more feminist, more politically active.

In the coming years, I’ll take more of an interest in further education, colleges, apprenticeships. We are already starting to think about paying for the college years, how to enable our kids to buy property, giving them a good start in life.

Parenting is not a science. Sure, there are studies about breastfeeding, attachment parenting, education systems and more, but there is no ‘right’ way to parent children because every child has different needs.

My experiences have given me insights into many aspects of life. Maternity provisions, child-friendly products and services, child-care and education, housing requirements for families, feminism… but this is all from my perspective, as a educated white woman with a comfortable home life and loving family. Other parents will have taken a very different view on life, based on their experiences.

And others base their world-view on experiences in other walks of life. I can’t speak with authority on what it is like to work as an academic or a researcher. I don’t know what it feels like to be so poor that you don’t know how to get through the week. As much as I can empathise with the struggles and support the rights of people of colour, I can’t walk in their shoes. Why should my life experiences be any more valuable just because I am a mother?

The insights gained as a mother shaped my opinions; they don’t make my opinions any more valid than those of the next person. And they certainly don’t make me more suited for political office  than a childless person.

 

Featured Image by Priscilla Westra/Unsplash

 

Salt and Caramel is a blog about the sweet and the bitter side of life. Freelance writer Lynn Schreiber shares tips on Social Media, blogging and parenting, reviews products and events, and highlights issues surrounding the rights of women and girls. (@JumpMag)

Despite his “strong female leads”, Joss Whedon’s feminism was never about real women, by @glosswitch

Cross-posted from: Glosswatch
Originally published: 25.08.17

Kai Cole, the ex-wife of Joss Whedon, has written an essayalleging that the director isn’t quite the feminist he appears to be. Colour me unsurprised. There’s only so much good-guy posturing a feminist can take before she starts to become a little suspicious.

It’s not that I’ve any particular beef with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, nor that I think men shouldn’t speak out against sexism wherever possible. But I’ve long harboured a mistrust of male directors – Whedon, Woody Allen, Pedro Almodóvar – who gain a reputation of being “good at doing women”. Who are they, these magic woman-whisperers, who see through woman’s childlike, primitive exterior and coax out the inner complexity? How do they manage to present women, these blank, mysterious objects, as actual human beings?  
Read more Despite his “strong female leads”, Joss Whedon’s feminism was never about real women, by @glosswitch

The Goddess “Wonder Woman”: A Feminist Review at Her Story Arc

Cross-posted from: Her Story Arc
Originally published: 06.05.17

It’s hard to know where to start. When it was announced that Wonder Woman would be getting her own movie years ago, I was excited that the debut would coincide with the year I anticipated graduating from my MBA program. A year and a half ago I was excited that the movie debut would coincide with having the first female President of the United States. What a year 2017 would be, I thought.

My MBA graduation has ended up being delayed a year, and that’s fine. But we all know how the presidential election turned out. We march. We protest. We persist. We aren’t sorry.

And we needed Wonder Woman. I needed Wonder Woman. 


Read more The Goddess “Wonder Woman”: A Feminist Review at Her Story Arc

Women only spaces : An Anthology of Feminist & Womanist Writers

I would like to apologise to everyone who submitted their writing. I’ve only just read the submissions and they are all beautiful, inspiring, and provoking. I will email everyone this week for my failure to be in touch sooner. I am suffering from severe depression and anxiety disorder from PTSD and have been struggling a lot these past few months. My support for women’s writing remains. Just waiting for my brain to catch up.

 

Women only spaces are a fundamental part of the feminist movement and represent women’s right to self-determination and liberation. We’re collecting short stories, poetry, and essays that illustrate, explore and define the importance of women-only spaces for the feminist movement and women in general: as a space which prioritises women’s voices over mens and that refuses to allow men to dictate the terms of the conversation.

Currently, the definition of ‘women-only spaces’ is under debate and those that exist are under annihilation by so called “austerity cuts” that are destroying women’s access to refuges and rape crisis centres. But, women only spaces are essential not just for women experiencing male violence. They are an essential space for all women as libraries, sports centres, and community centres.

 

The proceeds of this book will be used to support this platform covering the costs of hosting and website maintenance and development.

email: louisepennington@hotmail.co.uk

Submission deadline: September 30, 2018

“Gender is not a binary, it’s a spectrum”: some problems, at More Radical with Age

Cross-posted from: More Radical with Age
Originally published: 06.01.16

An oft-repeated mantra among proponents of the notion of gender identity is that “gender is not a binary, it’s a spectrum”. The basic idea is that what makes gender oppressive is not, as the radical feminist analysis would have it, that it is an externally imposed set of norms prescribing and proscribing behaviour to individuals in accordance with morally arbitrary biological characteristics, and coercively placing them in one of two positions in a hierarchy. Rather, the problem is that we recognise only two possible genders. Thus humans of both sexes could be liberated if we recognised that while gender is indeed an internal, essential facet of our identity, there are more genders than just “man” or “woman” to choose from. And the next step on the path towards liberation is the recognition of a range of new gender identities, so we now have people referring to themselves as “genderqueer” or “non-binary” or “pangender” or “agender” or “demiboy” or “demigirl” or “aliagender” or “genderfuck” or “trigender” or “neutrois” or “aporagender” or “ectogender” or “veloxigender”…I could go on.


Read more “Gender is not a binary, it’s a spectrum”: some problems, at More Radical with Age

The Misogyny Of Modern Feminism, by @GappyTales ‏

Cross-posted from: Gappy Tales
Originally published: 06.04.17

I have been thinking lately about the power of language; in particular how it can be used to silence. I’ve been a feminist all my life, my mother was a second wave activist, and I care hugely for the future of our movement.

Over centuries feminists have been labelled man-haters, family destroyers, ugly; yet still we’ve continued to raise our voices. Recently however, we’ve seen those wishing to shut us up change tack.

Last week I posted an article online about a transwoman accused of violently raping two women. I expressed concern as to the risk to female prisoners should that individual serve their sentence in a women’s prison. And I was called a bigot and compared to a white supremacist by a friend I had known twenty years.

 


Read more The Misogyny Of Modern Feminism, by @GappyTales ‏

NAVELGAZING, by @boudledidge

Cross-posted from: We mixed our drinks
Originally published: 07.06.16
I was chatting to a friend on Twitter the other day about my post on the script we use when we do vulnerability online and we ended up talking about writing in general. I mentioned that these days, I worry that anything I publish will just be awful navelgazing. I joked then that actually, when I look at my navel it reminds me that there’s a story there. Even gazing at my own navel is a storytelling opportunity. See, I am a storyteller after all.
When I look at my navel, there’s a funny little line inside it and only I can really tell that it’s a little misshapen compared to how it used to be. It’s the only visible evidence of a laparoscopy I had done at the beginning of 2013; one of the three incisions the doctors made right before they removed one of my ovaries, the associated Fallopian tube and something else – something hidden.


Read more NAVELGAZING, by @boudledidge

healing, hope and Jesus. by @helen_a15

Cross-posted from: Helen Blogs
Originally published: 27.11.16

Its been a while since I last wrote something …

In fact over a year, and part of me has wondered over the last few months whether or not I have lost the ability to write. Or whether I’ve just lost confidence.

You can let me know after you’ve read this maybe?

I’ve been working on some thoughts for quite some time now and have never actually managed to feel like I had sorted them enough to publish for people to read – thats if I still have any readers! Anyone still out there?

And then I realised over the last few days especially, that perhaps I am never going to have them ‘sorted’.

I’ve also struggled with pressuring myself about the fact that I felt this stuff should be/needed to be ‘deep’, and theological and and and … but maybe they don’t need to be, and maybe they are just simple ideas and maybe some simple truths that don’t need over complicating right now, if ever?


Read more healing, hope and Jesus. by @helen_a15

Jon Jorgensen and Repackaged Patriarchy, by @God_loves_women

Cross-posted from: Mrs GLW
Originally published: 12.12.16

In the last week, I got my first introduction to Jon Jorgenson after stumbling across his video “Who You Are: A Message to all Women” after it found its way into my Twitter feed.  The video is well on its way to having 6 million views.  Jorgenson is a Christian spoken word poet and although this video’s title is aimed at women, the video is set in a lecture hall and seems to be seeking an audience of younger women and girls.

A white man telling girls who they are didn’t seem like a particularly liberatory model.  So I decided to have a watch.  With emotive music and short dramatic sentences, the video is designed to create a specific emotional response.  He tells girls they’re smart and precious and funny and insists we have a responsibility to set free the “world changing woman” within ourselves.  Incidentally the video is entirely produced by men.  So he doesn’t think women are actually smart enough to be involved in creating his videos with him.

After moaning about the video on Twitter, I was informed that he has also created one for men.  So I had a watch of “Who You Are: A Message to all Men”, it has close to 2 million views.  The thing that is MOST fascinating is comparing the words of the videos (and though I don’t have time to delve into them, also the tone and body language within them and soundtrack lyrics behind them).  The subtly (or not so subtly) different language devices within stories that are broadly the same.  The overarching narrative of both videos are:


Read more Jon Jorgensen and Repackaged Patriarchy, by @God_loves_women

Wonder Woman: Feminist Film or same old Patriarchy?

 

Why Wonder Woman is a masterpiece of subversive feminism  by @zoesqwilliams

… Yes, she is sort of naked a lot of the time, but this isn’t objectification so much as a cultural reset: having thighs, actual thighs you can kick things with, not thighs that look like arms, is a feminist act. The whole Diana myth, women safeguarding the world from male violence not with nurture but with better violence, is a feminist act. Casting Robin Wright as Wonder Woman’s aunt, re-imagining the battle-axe as a battler, with an axe, is a feminist act. A female German chemist trying to destroy humans (in the shape of Dr Poison, a proto-Mengele before Nazism existed) might be the most feminist act of all.

Women are repeatedly erased from the history of classical music, art and medicine. It takes a radical mind to pick up that being erased from the history of evil is not great either. Wonder Woman’s casual rebuttal of a sexual advance, her dress-up montage (“it’s itchy”, “I can’t fight in this”, “it’s choking me”) are also feminist acts. Wonder Woman is a bit like a BuzzFeed list: 23 Stupid Sexist Tropes in Cinema and How to Rectify Them. I mean that as a compliment.

I wish Wonder Woman were as feminist as it thinks it is: @c_cauterucci

… To me, whatever chance Wonder Woman had of being some kind of feminist antidote to the overabundance of superhero movies made by and for bros was blown by its prevailing occupation with the titular heroine’s sex appeal. Characters frequently note that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, who goes by Diana in the film, is “the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen.” Her male companions in the fight against Germany’s WWI forces drool behind her back at the notion that there may somewhere be an island full of women who look like her, with no men in sight. When she walks into a room, even dressed in a plain gray suit and bowler hat instead of her usual sensual armored leotard, men go silent and stare. “I’m both frightened and aroused,” goes one character’s response to Diana’s ass-kicking moves, prompting one of the audience’s loudest, longest laughs at the screening I attended.

“Her femininity is part of the story, for the way it makes even the other heroes in the movie underestimate and discount her. But her gender is never the story’s primary thrust,” wrote a critic at the Verge this week. Disagree. By the time the action got too fast-paced and loud for any more characters to marvel at Diana’s fine bod and bone structure, I was about an hour past being sick of the “sexy lady is also hypercompetent” joke. …

The Original Wonder Woman Had Some Familiar Racist Roots by Sesali Bowen

… However, wherever there is a mainstream feminist victory, there are racial undertones that need to be addressed. Women’s March, is that you? Wonder Woman’s epic tale is no exception, historically and as a Hollywood Blockbuster. Noah Berlatsky at The Establishment did a great job of documenting the intentions of Wonder Woman’s creator William Marston on creating an ideal woman. That woman was white and, Berlatsky noted, based on some casually sexist essentialist ideas about women.

In fact, women of color typically only showed up on Marston’s Paradise Island in heavily stereotyped representations. I would go so far as to argue that the introduction of Phillipus — the Black woman who trained Wonder Woman in combat when she was young and served as an advisor to her mother, Queen Hippolyta — in 1987 had him turning in his grave. Serves him right. By casting Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress to play the title role in this film, Jenkins and the producers are also deviating from the white blueprint made by Marston. …

Hollywood’s ideas about audiences are outdated. Wonder Woman’s record-smashing debut proves it. by@alissamarie

Whether or not Wonder Woman smashed the patriarchy this weekend, it certainly smashed records at the American box office, raking in a whopping $100.5 million in ticket sales.

That huge pile of receipts busted the record for the highest-grossing opening weekend for a film directed by a woman. (The previous record was held by Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey, which made $85 million in its 2015 opening weekend.) It also debuted in the top spot in many countries, including China, where it made $38 million. ….

In 2016, just 7 percent of the 250 top domestic grossing films were directed by women. Among high-ranking roles on film productions (like producers, editors, writers, and cinematographers), that number was higher, but not by much: Only 17 percent of those roles were filled by women. …

Princess Buttercup Became the Warrior General Who Trained Wonder Woman, All Dreams Are Now Viable, by Emily Asher-Perrin

Imagine you star in a movie that is widely considered to be one of the greatest fantasy films of all time. The movie has your name in the title. You are the character whom the whole story revolves around, a story told to a sick little boy in need of a distraction as he lays in bed, home from school. You are the two most important things for a fictional woman to be according to societal standards: beautiful and marriageable.

And you’re also a princess, because that’s how these stories always work. …

Those who know the secrets of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride know that he started writing the story for his daughters, one who wanted a story about a bride and the other who wanted a story about a princess. He merged those concepts and wound up with a tale that didn’t focus overmuch on his princess bride, instead bound up in the adventures of a farmboy-turned-pirate, a master swordsman in need of revenge, a giant with a heart of gold, and a war-hungry Prince looking for an excuse to start a terrible conflict. It was turned into a delightful movie directed by Rob Reiner in 1987. …

Is Wonder Woman the feminist superhero film we’ve been waiting for? @thepooluk

…. The film does have flaws. It’s a little too long and there is an effects-smothered, super-powered punch-up towards the end that is familiar from dozens of other superhero films. There are other ways to end a blockbuster – think of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade’s puzzle-solving or The Poseidon Adventure’s escape scenes. Diana’s such a good character that she doesn’t need so many bells and whistles.

But there is such power to seeing a woman up there, facing down armies and bounding into the air to smash a tank or take out a sniper, that it hardly matters. If you have daughters (older than five or six, say), bring them along – this will make young girls feel like they can fly. There have been 30 superhero films since 2005 and every single one had a male lead. Studios thought women just couldn’t lead superhero films. Wonder Woman proves them wrong. ….

Should every feminist go to see Wonder Woman – and other blockbuster questions by Helen O’ Hara

…. This is the first major superhero movie directed by a woman, Monster’s Patty Jenkins, and a lot rides on it. If Wonder Woman can knock it out of the park, commercially and critically, that success will help women in Hollywood – both behind the camera and in front – and it’s tempting to suggest that it’s every feminist’s duty to go along on the opening weekend just to prove that women can make, and lead, giant action movies. …