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

Can gender equality be ‘exported’? at Femme Vision

Cross-posted from: Femme Vision
Originally published: 18.09.13

The empowerment of women and girls on a global scale is a topic of interest to governments and organisations in the global north. UN Women executive director Michelle Bachelet recently gave a statement on the subject of women’s empowerment in the Middle East and worldwide, in which she said that “women’s participation in politics and the economy reinforces women’s civil, political and economic rights”. This is clearly a progressive attitude and we can hope that it will lead to some positive changes for women in these countries. However, who is really gaining the most from these interventions?

This question was addressed in a talk I recently attended at the Women’s Library in east London that explored efforts to promote global gender equality by organisations such as the World Bank, the UN and the UK’s Department for International Development. I was intrigued by the title of the session, “‘Exporting’ Gender Equality: Postcolonial Feminist Reflections”. How can gender equality be ‘exported’ as if it were a finished product; perfected, tried and tested? I wanted to find out. The speakers at the session were all leading academics who have worked with women in Afghanistan, India and Iran and so, being a London-centric sort of feminist, I hoped I might learn something about the reality of women’s experiences in these countries, beyond what is presented in the media. The room in which the session was held was full, so clearly I was not the only one wanting more insight.

Read more Can gender equality be ‘exported’? at Femme Vision

The Oversimplification of Feminism, And How It’s Destroying Us by @FrothyDragon

cross-posted from Frothy Dragon

orig. pub. 3.4.13

2011. Sat in Gatwick airport, I found myself reading a quote from Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman, in which Moran described how to tell if you’re a feminist.

so, here is a quick way of working out if you’re a feminist. Put your hand in your pants.

a) Do you have a vagina?

b) Do you want to be in charge of it?

If you said yes to both, congratulations, you’re a feminist.

I’d been up since 3:30 that morning, left the house at 5:10, and travelled 200 miles with two suitcases, a grumpy three year old, and successfully manoeuvred the London Underground without falling into London Below. I think I deserved the groan which escaped me at this point.

See, the oversimplification of feminism is something that’s beginning to bug me. Well, I say “beginning”. It’s been annoying me since I took baby steps into the world of Feminism. You can own a vagina, believe you should be in charge of it, and not be a feminist. I’ll stick you in a room with any of my female relatives for half an hour, and my point will be proven. Do I think the women who accuse rape victims of lying are feminists? Hell no. Do I think women who try to enforce compulsory heterosexuality are feminists? Nope. So, obviously, Moran’s definition is a *little* too simplistic  to explain what feminism really is.

So, imagine my shock when a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a quiz which reduced feminism even further. ARE YOU A FEMINIST? it asked. “Well, duh…” I sighed. And so the quiz began.

Do you think all human beings are equal?

Are we all equal? Apparently, “no” was the wrong answer. But claiming we’re all equal is a lie. Women are still raped and abused by men, at horrific rates. So no, we’re not still equal. Infant girls are still murdered for the sole reason that they’re female. So no, we’re not equal. Last year, a two year old girl was rescued from a forced marriage, here in Britain. So no, crappy over simplistic “feminist” test, WE ARE NOT ALL EQUAL. I’m not sure I even want equality with a class who allows a global genocide of women. I’d rather we got liberation. But if your crappy little test wants to lie, and convince those would-be feminists that we’ve got equality, then you may as well pack up your pickets and head home. We’ll take the battle from here.

Anyway, head back and give the “acceptable” answer, the one which sounds remarkably like our beloved MRA’s bleating “but you already have equality!”, select a lie, and get to question number 2.

Do you think women are human beings?

Oh for sapphos’ sake. Even the most misogynistic men I know would answer “yes” to this. But if they treat women as humans is another question…

For me, the definition of feminism is a bit more complicated than either provided above. If you google the word “feminism,” the first definition given is:

The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men.

As of yet, we don’t have equality to men on any of those grounds. So why are so called feminist lying to us? To me, feminism is about believing women’s histories, not telling our daughters that their value is only equal to the man they marry, about aiming to liberate ourselves, not only for now, but for our future. And it’s about remembering other women aren’t the enemy, no matter how damn much we disagree with them, no matter how much we believe they’re supporting the patriarchy. Supporting the patriarchy doth not an enemy make. It makes a victim. And to me, feminism is about saying we’ll fight for the liberation of those victims as well. Loosening the blindfold and untying their hands so they can find the power to escape with us.

Oversimplifying feminism lies to women, it harms us. It claims we already have equality, and accepts anyone as a feminist with no questions. It’s paths like this which see Femen and Hugo Schwyzer celebrated. It’s the oversimplification of feminism which tells us we don’t need those pickets, because everyone’s an ally. They’re not. We see feminist pages sharing Lennon quotes, whilst forgetting his abuse of women. We see the patriarchal lie shoved down our throats, force fed to us. “We have equality,” they claim. “EVERYONE is on our side,” they lie, using the lie that we have equality to allow further abuse of women.


Frothy Dragon and the Patriarchal Stone I Got 99 Problems, And The Fact You’re Still Calling Me A Bitch Is One [@FrothyDragon]