June 15, 2016
I think one of the first things I learned about feminism was an inherent contradiction that didn’t strike me as such when I first heard it: on the one hand, there are universal solutions to gender inequality, such as education, employment, sexual rights, and so on – these are not necessarily context-specific (the details can be) but need to happen everywhere in order for gender equality to become a reality. And yet on the other hand, there are very different levels of gender inequality across the world. This very difference in the level of inequality could point to the need for different kinds of solutions, but this did not seem to be the case. Instead this difference functioned to create a very clear – even if rarely labelled such openly – hierarchy in terms of gender equality. At the top of this hierarchy we have the role model countries: Scandinavia, Western and Northern Europe, and sometimes Australia, the US and the UK. And then underneath we have a series of levels with different countries. Typically Egypt and other Arab and African countries come somewhere at the bottom. …
Neo-Colonialism and it’s Discontents A blog by Sara Salem on Postcolonialism, Marxism, feminism and other conspiracies. Twitter: @saramsalem
June 10, 2016
Do people still ask children what they want to be when they grow up? It’s not a question I’m aware of hearing these days; perhaps because the answer: “heavily in debt and renting till I retire at 94” is too guilt-engendering for the adult in question to cope with.
Shopping for children’s clothes last week, though, I saw that Next have grasped the nettle…sort of. Among the varicoloured bits of jersey were two T-shirts which flirted with the idea of one’s destiny in life:
Spot the difference?
Read more Tomboy by @HeadinBook
March 18, 2016
I just finished an article on intersectionality and its critiques by Vivian May. Among other points, she addresses the critique that intersectionality didn’t bring anything new to the table and that it is just Black feminism recycled. Aside from the point that this is arguably false, she points to the important question of whycertain things have to be repeated again and again. Should we be focusing on repetition as necessarily bad, or should we be asking why certain things, in certain fields, need to be repeated over and over?
Of course the field of gender studies and feminism are the quintessential example here. Debates about universal sisterhood, about structure versus agency, about the biological versus the constructed, and so on have been happening for decades upon decades. But the point here is that certain points – which should by now have been accepted – must be constantly made and defended. The most prominent example is the idea of multiple structural intersections that de-center gender as the most important axis of oppression or identity. In other words: race, sexuality, nation and a whole range of other social categories matter just as much as gender. Significantly, they can’t really be neatly separated from one another – I am racialized and gendered, and I can’t exactly separate my racialization from my gendering. Intersectionality is the most recent reiteration of this basic point, but it has been made before, by Black feminists, by Third World feminists, and by feminists during the era of decolonization. Hence the idea of repetition.
February 23, 2016
The other day, as I rode the metro to school, I found myself in the unfortunate position of third wheel.
No, I was not accompanying a friend on an awkward date, nor playing wingwoman on Single’s Night. I was merely slumped on the train, alone, contemplating my imminent cup of coffee. Yet I did not feel alone, because right in front of me, a couple was embroiled in a very vocal domestic dispute. And they knew that I was seated next to them.
I should be precise – the couple spoke just loud enough so that I could hear them; they were at least partially aware that they inhabited a public space. Still, it was the sort of argument that one imagines having in the privacy of one’s living room, where there are pillows and books to hurl and a couch for make-up coitus. And throughout this dispute, one member of the couple was seated so that he regularly made eye contact with me. In fact, avoiding mutual recognition was impossible unless I conspicuously a.) changed seats b.) shrouded my head with my cardigan or c.) hid under my seat (which, considering the detritus left there, seemed like a pretty lousy idea).
Read more Making Contact on the Metro and the Politics of Train Etiquette
February 20, 2016
Last week, the anthropologist Michael Oman-Reagan asked:
Why does the Oxford Dictionary of English portray women as “rabid feminists” with mysterious “psyches” speaking in “shrill voices” who can’t do research or hold a PhD but can do “all the housework”?
The Oxford dictionary he was talking about was the one that comes with Apple devices (Macs, i-Pads, i-Phones), and his question was about the examples that follow the definition of a word and illustrate its use in practice. The ones he reproduced included the phrase ‘a rabid feminist’ illustrating the metaphorical usage of ‘rabid’; the sentence ‘I will never really fathom the female psyche’ exemplifying the use of the term ‘psyche’; and a series of examples featuring women and female voices in entries for ‘shrill’, ‘grating’ and ‘nagging’. He also reproduced entries for the words ‘doctor’ and ‘research’ where the examples referred to doctors/researchers as ‘he’.
The point of this intervention was not just to criticise a few specific entries, but rather to draw attention to a pattern of sexist stereotyping in the dictionary’s illustrative examples. But when Oman-Reagan tweeted to Oxford Dictionaries, citing the ‘rabid feminist’ example, whoever was running their Twitter account that day chose not to acknowledge the deeper point. Instead he was told that (a) the ‘rabid feminist’ example was authentic, and (b) that ‘rabid’ isn’t necessarily a negative term. In the ensuing arguments (first on Twitter and then in lengthier pieces like this and this) the main issue became whether Oxford was endorsing a view of feminists as mad fanatics, and then compounding the offence with its dismissive responses to criticism.
Read more A rabid feminist writes… by @wordspinster
February 16, 2016
The ‘nagging wife’ is a centuries-old stereotype that refuses to die. She’s the subject of eye-rolling banter between men, the warning from the pulpit and the marriage guidance book, the defence of countless men
who have committed murder
. In recent weeks, she has resurfaced as a truly 21st century reminder to women that there’s something else they’re probably not doing well enough at – in the form of a piece entitled ‘I wasn’t treating my husband fairly, and it wasn’t fair
The post, which appears to have gone viral in the grand tradition of ‘pseudo-meaningful revelations about my relationship that easily translate into clickbait’ (247,000 shares on Facebook), details a wife’s realisation that her controlling and obsessive attitude to household matters was belittling her husband and buying into another hard-to-stamp-out stereotype – that of the ‘useless’ husband who can’t be trusted to do a thing around the house.
Thousands upon thousands of women have apparently recognised themselves in this tale and I don’t think she’s entirely wrong. I’ve heard her tale in conversations in the office or on nights out with friends. ‘Wife always knows best’ – ‘happy wife, happy life’ – I’ve heard people say it and I’ve most definitely seen them post it on Facebook (there is a theme here. Facebook has a lot to answer for). And I don’t buy into it because, really, what does it say when the only words that come out of your mouth regarding your partner, your husband, the father of your children – are about how ‘useless’ he is and how you won’t ‘let’ him do things?
Read more The Nagging Wife by @boudledidge
February 8, 2016
This briefing analyses proposals made by the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee Transgender Equality Inquiry which would remove protections for women only spaces. It first sets out the need for women only spaces before going on to describe the current legal situation. It then details the proposals for changes to the law that have been made by the Committee and identifies the ways in which these would reduce the protection for women only spaces and in some cases risk women’s safety.
The importance of women only services and spaces
A research report by the Women’s Resource Centre found that women only services and spaces provided women with physical and emotional safety which made them feel supported, comfortable and able to express themselves in a way they could not in mixed spaces.
In a survey of 1000 women carried out for the report the Women’s Resource Centre found that:
- 97% of respondents stated that a woman should have the choice of accessing a women-only support service if they had been the victim of a sexual assault.
- 56% of women would choose a women-only gym over a mixed gym, 28% of women would choose to go to a mixed gym (16% didn’t know).
- The 560 women that would choose a women-only gym cited reasons such as feeling more comfortable, less self-conscious and less intimidated. Respondents stated that they didn’t want men watching them, looking at their bodies or sexually harassing them.
- 90% of women polled believed it was important to have the right to report sexual or domestic violence to a woman (such as a woman Police officer);
- 87% thought it was important to be able to see a female health professional about sexual or reproductive health matters;
- 78% thought it was important to have the choice of a woman professional for counselling and personal support needs.
Read more Women only spaces and proposed changes to the Equality Act and Gender Recognition Act
January 31, 2016
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
January 27, 2016
Maria Miller has stated that she is ‘taken aback’ by the ”hostility’ towards the government’s recent transgender reportfrom ‘purported feminists.’ She says: “I think that all of us who are feminists know that equality for other groups of people, and a fairer deal for other groups of people, is good for us as well.”
Yes of course, as a society nobody wants to see any group suffering discrimination so why would anyone not give just a passing nod of approval to this new report, even those horrible feminists?
This time it’s not so simple; ‘transgender’ is not one of those ‘other groups’ defined by distinct boundaries, as all other minority groups are. By definition, ‘transgender’ stakes claim to membership of already existing groups; the mantra ‘transwomen are women’ accordingly puts them into two protected categories; both ‘transgender’ and ‘women’.
In the blurring of boundaries, ‘women’ as a distinct group ceases to exist; we have to say ‘women-born women’ now to make the sex-based distinction clear, and we are losing the right to do even that: any sex-based comparisons are seen as ‘transphobic.’
This is the crux of the matter; if the recommendations in this report are passed into law as expected, it means that in important legal terms the distinction between men and women will become ‘gender’ instead of ‘sex’. This is an arbitrary move; when did we decide that ‘gender’ is a stronger marker than ‘sex’ if you need to differentiate between men and women? Gender, as a concept of masculinity and femininity, is based on subjective opinion; a means of dividing men and women along personality lines. ‘Correct’ gendered behaviour and presentation is already enforced and policed by society in a million different ways from birth, and the group it mostly harms is women. This report does not ask women to support transgender rights, it demands that we accept a definition of women which reinforces a limiting stereotype and at the same time deny the biological sex which is the basis of discrimination against women.
Read more Maria Miller’s Report Puts Feminists In An Impossible Position by @cwknews
December 14, 2015
Radical feminists are regularly accused of denying trans people’s right to exist, or even of wanting them dead. Here Jane Clare Jones takes a closer look at these charges. Where do they come from and what do they mean? Is there a way to move towards a more constructive discussion?
The claim that certain forms of feminist speech should be silenced has recently become common currency. Notable instances include the ongoing NUS no-platforming of Julie Bindel, the cancellation of a performance by the comedian Kate Smurthwaite (which prompted a letter to the Observer), and, in the last month, the demand that a progressive Canadian website end its association with the feminist writer Meghan Murphy.
The basis of this claim is the assertion that a certain strand of feminist thought is hate speech. Versions of that assertion have circulated on social media for a number of years — complete with obligatory analogies between Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs) and Nazis, the BNP or the Ku Klux Klan. But its effectiveness in excising speech from the public sphere was really brought home to me in August 2014, when the journalist and trans activist Paris Lees pulled out of a Newsnight debate with the gender-critical trans woman Miranda Yardley, saying she was ‘not prepared to enter into a fabricated debate about trans people’s right to exist.’
Read more You are killing me: On hate speech and feminist silencing by @strifejournal
November 3, 2015
If you are involved in feminist discourse online, the chances are that you will have noticed a particular phrase becoming increasingly common: White Feminism. Sometimes, a trademark logo will even be added for emphasis. The term White Feminism has become shorthand for certain failings within the feminist movement; of women with a particular degree of privilege failing to listen to their more marginalised sisters; of women with a particular degree of privilege speaking over those sisters; of women with a particular degree of privilege centering the movement around issues falling within their own range of experience. Originally, the term White Feminism was used by Women of Colour to address racism within the feminist movement – a necessary and valid critique.
Read more White people critiquing “White Feminism” perpetuate white privilege
October 13, 2015
Cross-posted from: RootVeg
Originally published: 15.01.14
Feminists talk a lot about social constructs. A while ago, I did a poll asking what people thought ‘social construct’ meant. The answers were interesting and varied: “it’s the stuff that isn’t ‘real’”; “social conventions”; “ideas that constitute your frame of reference for understanding the world”; and so on. This post is my attempt to share how I tend to think about social constructs, in the hopes that someone might find it interesting.
TRIGGER WARNING: LONG
I. Patriarchy Is Socially Constructed
Culture is not special to humans. Most social species have culture. One way to think of culture is: any information and behaviour that is transmitted and maintained in a population by social learning, as opposed to biological inheritance. A noticable feature of lots of culture is convergence: it makes sure that guppies all go the same route to the same feeding spot; that capuchins get the right kinds of rocks to bash nuts with; that meerkats learn how to kill scorpions and not get their asses handed to them; that migrating birds learn the right route; that songbirds don’t completely embarrass themselves with tone-deaf nonsense, and so on. It’s a set of information that members of a population all get access to, and it tends to coordinate the behaviour of the population. What makes human culture different from that of guppies is its sheer scale, richness and complexity.
Read more Gender Is Socially Constructed (Upon Material Reality) by @umlolidunno
September 26, 2015
The Toast just published a piece titled ‘If Julian of Norwich Were Your Professor‘, and it’s awesome.
In general, The Toast is awesome, and particularly their medievalism, and particularly their medieval feminism, so, really, you should go read it and you should not be surprised it’s awesome. But, for once, it’s also wrong like a wrong thing. Laura Moncion speculates:
“If Julian of Norwich were your professor, she would be good friends with Judith Butler. Sometimes you would hear their uproarious laughter coming from Julian’s office. You’d peek in and find both of them in front of the computer, watching cat videos together.”
No. No, this is Not Right.
Judith Butler, you see, writes pretentiously dense musings on gender which (I strongly suspect, if only I could ever concentrate for more than three seconds on her tortured use of the English language), boil down to ‘let’s write “epistemology” more often and make sure we don’t exclude any men from the feminism’.
Read more If Julian of Norwich Were Your Professor, She’d Kick Judith Butler’s Arse by @LucyAllenFWR
September 22, 2015
Implicit in the discourse of gender identity is the understanding that the mind, or inner feelings produced by the mind, is who we “really are” – the body is at worst an irrelevance, at best a malleable vessel or tool for the expression or performance of the true person within, a person who has a distinct and stable “identity” irrespective of the physical conditions imposed on it by the incidental body. This view is called dualism, specifically Cartesian Dualism, after the philosopher René Descartes. There is a hierarchy built in to dualism: the mind is the real human being, the seat of reason and conscience. The body is just so much dead meat. To alter the mind is a violation; to alter the body, a trifle.
Read more Dr Christian and the Cartesian Dualism of the Gender Identity Debates by @marstrina
August 25, 2015
In the not-so-distant past, the feminist in me was always a little (to put it mildly) miffed by the proliferation of toys in stores that, to me at least, seemed nothing more or less than ‘housewife training equipment’. Why in God’s name would a toddler require a miniature mop and broom in her toy box?? What is this, 1955? Are we supposed to train our babies to be prim and proper housewives from birth now? Should I be enrolling her in finishing school so she doesn’t bring shame upon the family when she doesn’t know the proper technique required to fold a napkin into a swan for Tuesday night dinner?
Read more Why Does a Toddler need a Toy Mop in her Toy Box?
August 22, 2015
|Artist : Polly-is-a-good-girl (Paulina)Source :DeviantArt
India is obsessed with the idea of a traditional girl. Good-natured , sweet , respectful , modest , shy , obedient ( parents and then husband and in-laws ) *insert adjectives here*.
Just like every other girl , I too was raised amidst these societal norms. While we are young we are taught to be polite , respectfully dressed , sit closed legged and not speak unless spoken to. Trained like show dogs. Now that I ponder on it , and even observe some of my female family members , this regime that was practised has successfully managed to narrow thought process and individuality. We cultivate good manners and obedience only to have minions. Girls who break away from this regime as by default are labelled as ‘loose’ and IF they have parents who support their expressiveness, it’s abysmal parenting,
Read more The Good Girl is Fake
July 22, 2015
When men are denied sex by women, to the point that the poor fellas have to rape and/or kill their wives, it is time for the Minister of Gender to step forward and remind women to refrain from such dangerous behaviour and return to the true path. To warn them that denying their husbands sex breeds domestic violence. And that they risk meeting the same fate as the woman who was recently hacked to death by her husband of 20-something years for committing the crime of refusing access to her body.
This is the advice that was generously given to female constituents by the Minister of Gender, who also happens to be a women’s representative in the parliament of Uganda. Only a fool could fail to understand where she was coming from with that dose of wisdom. It is one thing to live in the city, somewhat self-reliant, and scoff at such advice. Screaming about the need for women to assert their rights without taking stock of their material realities is unhelpful, even endangering, especially to those with minimal to no way out – be they constrained by the shackles of bride practice, lack of formal education and skills, and outright poverty going back generations.
Read more Why we need a ministry of gender by @EstellaMz
July 18, 2015
I was reading all the controversy surrounding the new Batgirl cover (which I personally liked) and after reading what everyone thought about it, it left me thinking about the arguments surrounding the censoring of abuse in fiction, which is something which seems to crop up again and again. Everyone has a different coping mechanism, a different strategy for moving forwards with life after any form of abuse, and that’s okay, everyone’s different, which means that everyone copes differently. Some people remove themselves from anything which might remind them of what they suffered because it triggers those emotions and memories. That’s considered an accepted way to cope.
Some people turn in the opposite direction- often turning to fiction, they see their heroes tormented, abused, violated but they see them take strength from what happened to them. They see those fictional characters they feel connected to go through similar situations that they might have been through, they feel understood, they no longer feel alone. These heroes don’t let their experiences turn them into something they aren’t, the more hopeless their situation seems, the harder they fight.
Read more Censoring Fiction by @feministvibes
June 27, 2015
What could we do if we wanted to hide the reality of men’s violence against women?
Firstly, we might have a ‘gender neutral’ definition of domestic violence. Maybe like the UK government which uses the following definition:
“any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to: psychological, physical, sexual, financial [and] emotional.”
Not only treating ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ as the same thing, this definition erases sex differences. It includes the phrase ‘regardless of gender’ when in reality men – as a biological sex-class – are overwhelmingly the perpetrators, and women – as a biological sex-class – are overwhelming the victims of ‘domestic violence’ (more on the differences between male and female victims of intimate partner violence here). It is also broad, including violence and abuse committed between any family members. Whilst this can be useful, for example allowing service provision to be made available for those experiencing violence and abuse from any family member, sometimes it is important to focus on ‘intimate-partner violence’, including that committed by former intimate partners.
Read more Sex-differences and ‘domestic violence murders’ by @K_IngalaSmith
April 19, 2015
orig. pub. 24.3.15
People don’t like me but the good thing is that I don’t like them back, too.
Illustration by Stefhy
There were moments in life when I woke up to pretend like there’s no such sweet person as I am. Sugar-coated, always smiling, always willing to bow so down to people that I’d become a few inches shorter inside my personality and so sweet that people can eat me. Letting people eat my sugar-coated head and hands and dipping my skin in chocolate syrup and then serving my whole existence to some people I should be calling jerks. And that all was for one reason: I wanted to beloved and called sweet or any other warm nicknames.
This all started when I came out as a girl who was afraid of thunderstorms and groaning clouds; I was no more than 7 at the time. While being twin to a sister who was brave and the hero of the family and who had nicknames like “SON” or “WARRIOR” or “MY LITTLE HERO,” I needed to find a quality. So, I became sweet. I became the girl who’d listen to everyone even I didn’t want to, a girl who’d do stupid silly things to earn little love, make up stories and tell people what they would want to listen. My life goals included someone telling my mother that this one of her daughters is so sweet. Can we take her home? I became the person I didn’t like inside.
It has been years that I’ve left my old self behind me. It wasn’t a quick magical revolution that my fairy godmother gifted me. It costed me a few heartbreaks to make that final decision of not being sweet anymore, I just wanted to be me and whoever I really was.
And when I set that “sweet” girl who was trapped in my body free, I think I was labelled as a jerk by everyone who “loved” me once for all the services I had done for them. I stopped listening to whatever people had to say if it wasn’t worth listening to, I stopped being playing cards in others’ hands, I simply stopped giving any damns about anyone who wasn’t worth my time and I found a new me, who was my new super hero.
There are people who don’t like me, I’m totally okay with that because the good thing is that I don’t like them either. I don’t have to worry about people liking me or not liking me, it’s their choice and there is a 0% chance it’ll effect my life. Whenever I think of all these years when I was weak, I don’t blame myself and everything that I did
at all . I needed an excuse to live and grow with love somehow. I don’t regret it, I just think I could’ve done better than that if I knew myself better.
There’s this big thing I’ve learned in my life; it’s that you can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t even try. Even sometimes you can’t please yourself, there’s always this tiny part of yours who won’t be all great and all good but that doesn’t mean you don’t need it. You always need yourself whole, with your qualities and the I-have-no-qualities-and-nobody-loves-me part. We all grow up making the worst mistakes and surviving the bad storms but that’s how the growing up thing works. It teaches you a lot, it takes away things you like and people you love, maybe as a tax of growing up.
I wonder how nature makes plans for us. But the good thing is that you’re the best version of yourself right now and I hope we all grow much better than we already are.
a place for girls to share art, writing, thoughts. I am a strong equal right supporter and feminist.