Sunday feminist roundup (20th July 2014)

All else on another busy week with work and play.

  • See How This Feminist Artist Brings Women’s Struggles to Life (feminspire): “When I started really getting into my painting and wasn’t doing just simple still lifes, I had no idea that I was a feminist painter or that I was going to become one, even though feminist paintings are exactly what I was creating from the beginning. I had no idea that that’s what was going on, it just kind of happened,” she says, “I mean, like, what percentage of people in the world are women? There are so many of us going through similar situations. Though I want to send a message to everybody, not just women, that these things affect us, and a lot of people don’t fully realize just how difficult certain aspects of being a woman are.
  • 6 Reasons Why We Should Stop Telling Each Other it’s “OK” to Be Single (feminspire): Why aren’t there reasons for why it’s “OK” to be in a relationship as well? The implication is that being in a relationship is some kind of ideal for women, or default. And that’s simply not the case.
  • Many women scientists sexually harassed during fieldwork (nature): Working in the field sounds like a scientist’s dream, but for some, it can turn into a nightmare. The largest survey yet to examine the prevalence of sexual harassment among scientists doing field work suggests that it is an overlooked problem— and that female trainees may be disproportionately vulnerable.
  • | 6 Female Creations Attributed to Dudes by @elizabethethird (aroomofourown): Back in the day when it was pretty much unheard of for women to be recognized as producers of creative or intellectual worth (specifically the 1800s…ish) Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Magie invented a board game called The Landlord’s Game (Monopoly).
  • 6 Tips for Working in Solidarity with Muslim Women (everydayfeminism): For many, due to media portrayals, a Muslim feminist may seem like a contradiction. Media portrayals of Muslim women regularly oppress, fetishize, and politicize our bodies, and it is important to know that these portrayals of the oppressed Muslim women are often in stark contrast to our lived realities.
  • ‘All the worlds a prison’ – 19th century career girls (fwsablog): If Victorian working women are represented at all in today’s culture, it is usually an image of poor women working in factories or mills, struggling to make ends meet. (For example, the recent Channel 4 historical drama The Mill.) As Author Wanda Neff says ‘The mill women have come to stand, in popular opinion, for the Victorian working woman.’ [i] The experiences of upper and middle class women who worked to give themselves financial independence or women who dedicated their lives to philanthropy outside the home, have not been as widely portrayed.
  • Tackling the gender gap is simple: pay women more money. End of story. (theguardian): Here it is: we simply pay women more money. Whether we do this by reducing women’s tax burden, providing them with an income supplement, or allowing women to personally shake down their male colleagues until an appropriate amount of change falls from their pockets, I don’t mind. But it’s clear that sitting around furrowing our brows isn’t working, so it’s time to make some changes.
  • States Prescribe Bad Medicine for Women Seeking Abortions (msmagazine):Days before senators testified on behalf of a bill to protect women’s health services, the National Partnership for Women and Families released a report detailing just how threatened these services are. Aptly titled “Bad Medicine,” the report focuses on a specific threat to women’s healthcare: laws restricting doctors’ professional discretion and mandating how abortions are performed. Such laws require doctors to choose between adhering to a one-size-fits-all law or doing what they know is best for the individual patient.
  • Immigration is a feminist issue (msmagazine): [...] immigration laws are inherently sexist. The way the family visa system is set up, and the fact that men are still likely to earn more and have the “lead career” in a relationship, makes many women immigrants completely dependent on their husbands. This can trap women in poverty and abusive relationships. And of course if you happen to have brown skin, the system only gets more horrifically oppressive.
  • More women in cabinet means better policy but greater conflict, research shows (theconversation): Having more women in cabinet is likely to lead to issues which are important to women being further up the political agenda. Yet commentators have pointed out that many of the females appointed to the cabinet have values and interests which might be considered as antithetical to the interests of women. So perhaps in this instance, the impact will be lessened. However, the government’s opponents might take comfort in another piece of research. A systematic review of the literature shows that Conservative women tend to have more left-leaning economic policies than their male counterparts. The big question now is how this more diverse cabinet will perform, not so much in terms of ideology but as a group able to take the best decisions. We know Conservative cabinets have traditionally been dominated by old white males; what now? Evidence from studies of diverse groups suggest a more diverse cabinet is likely to have more conflict, take longer to come to a decision, but come up with better solutions. Also we should expect members of the cabinet to be less satisfied with the group process.
  • ‘I Don’t Need Feminism Because’: The Women Who Fight Equality (tokenfeminist): I have seen this happen too many times. It is a case of women refusing to acknowledge the significance of other women’s experiences, simply because they have not had similar ones. It is a blatant denial of facts and it takes away from those women any power that they had to begin with. Now, obviously I am not saying that all women need to constantly back each other up and never argue or disagree. Everyone is entitled to their opinions about individual issues, but no one is entitled to belittle the personal experiences of others or to suggest that the violence inflicted on women the world over does not matter simply because they themselves are doing fine.

Sunday feminist roundup (13th July 2014)

All else this week.

From Gin Lane to Magaluf, the press has always shamed women for profit

Here’s an an excellent piece from Laurie Penny on the media shaming of “Magaluf Girl” and the intersection between class and misogyny in that shaming.

Sex sells, but sexism sells even better. Last week the Sun saw no contradiction in slut-shaming an unknown teenager on its front page for “performing sex acts” on more than 20 men in Magaluf, while featuring softcore pornography on page 3. According to witnesses, the teenage girl was promised an exotic holiday which later turned out to be the name of a cocktail. This is exploitation in anyone’s book, and yet the only story being told in the press is the story of a young girl’s shame.

This analysis is particularly accurate:

If there’s one thing the tabloid press hates more than women, it’s welfare recipients, but it saves up special stocks of loathing for people who are both. “White Dee” from the Channel 4 documentary Benefits Street has featured in much of the “Magaluf girl” coverage, for no other reason than the fact she once visited Magaluf. Readers were reminded of the precise amount White Dee claims in benefits, next to pictures of the single mother having fun on holiday, which is obviously not allowed. Poor people, and particularly poor women, are expected to be abject at all times.

The logic of misogyny is routinely used to undermine the social basis of welfare provision. The only way to ensure favourable coverage as a female in the public eye is to be young, white, rich and married to a member of the royal family. The antics of aristocrats and wealthy models, from Kate Middleton to Cara Delevingne, are covered by the same papers that profit from the sexual humiliation of working-class women – revering “good women” while demonising “bad women” and inviting readers to place themselves, their partners, relatives and friends, on that tired old scale.

Rest: theguardian.com.

Sunday feminist roundup (6th July 2014)

All else on my radar this week.

- Income is a Poor Measure of American Inequality (thesocietypages)

- Newsflash: Facebook has Always Manipulated Your Emotions (thesocietypages)

- Yarl’s Wood women win chance to have their voices heard (downsizingcriminaljustice)

- The horror of Tuam’s missing babies is not diminished by misreported details (theguardian)

- Rape and reputation (thefword)

- The “Magaluf Girl”: Consent, Alcohol and Coercion (elegantgatheringofwhitesnows)

- ‘Lads Mags’ Now Less Sexist Than Newspapers (tokenfeminist)

- Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me: The Scourge of Mansplaining (newrepublic)

- Magaluf Girl: Consent and Sexuality (everydayvictimblaming)

- “Papa Don’t Preach”: TED-like Talks at Malmo Nordic Women’s Forum May 2014 (feminismandreligion)

- Men’s Rights Activists are at It Again, This Time at an International Conference on Men’s Issues (bust)

- Why “like a girl” shouldn’t be an insult (feministing)

- Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me: The Scourge of Mansplaining (newrepublic)

- Magaluf Girl: Consent and Sexuality (everydayvictimblaming)

Sunday feminist roundup (29th June 2014)

I say this every week but that’s because it’s true. Another packed week at work so there’s been very little keeping up. Here’s a catch up.

- Call Robin Thicke’s #GetHerBack Campaign What It Is: Stalking (msmagazine)

- Johns are now an oppressed sexual minority (feministcurrent)

- Lana Del Rey’s “Ultra-Violence”: An Indictment of Post-Feminism (newrepublic)

- In Solidarity with Egyptian Feminists – The Feminist Wire (thefeministwire)

- It’s divisive to talk about rebranding the F word (feministtimes)

- Meet the Chinese women standing up to inequality (theguardian)

- Vulvas, gender and the real price of being female (elegantgatheringofwhitesnows)

- India’s Sexual Assult Epidemic- Indian PM says: “Rape… Sometimes it’s Right” (aroomofourown)

- Decapitated naked women golf tees (feministphilosophers)

- A lack of respect for women (feministphilosophers)

- 46 Plays By Women You SHOULD Be Seeing (msmagazine)

- 45 Years After Stonewall, the LGBT Movement Has a Transphobia Problem (prospect)

Sunday feminist roundup (22nd June 2014)

All else this week:

Parliament is sexist, masculine and out of date, say British women

Follow-up poll about who is surprised reveals less striking results.

On the Observer: Outdated, ruthless, rich and male: that is women’s overwhelming and damning view of Westminster, according to a survey by the parenting website Mumsnet.

In a questionnaire that brings home just how disenchanted many female voters are with the current parliament, nine out of 10 of Mumsnet’s members, who are 97% female, say they believe the political culture there to be sexist, while two-thirds believe success in politics is all down to what school or university you went to and the “old boys’ network”.

“It’s quite stark,” said Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts. “Of course I would say, yes, we know a lot of this, but the clarity of these results, the overwhelming strength of feeling, are quite remarkable.”

When asked which characteristics would be advantageous in politics, 94% of respondents said ambition, 92% cited social connections, 86% said ruthlessness, 84% said being well-off, and 78% said being male.

Rest on The Observer.

I may be excommunicated from my church for asking for equal rights

Women aren’t allowed to be ordained as priests in the Mormon faith. Because I created a movement to advocate for ordination and equality, I’ve been ordered not to pray aloud.

Punishment by silencing and outcasting.

On theguardian.com:

On Sunday, I will be tried in absentia for apostasy by the leaders of my former congregation in the Mormon church. I face potential excommunication for the simple act of opening my mouth and starting a conversation about gender equality in the church and the deep roots of this institutional inequality.

My grave situation is another example of how silencing women has long been a top communications priority for patriarchical institutions, both literally and figuratively.

In the Mormon church, all positions of authority and leadership require ordination to the priesthood – and no women can be ordained, though the vast majority of male members, age 12 and up, are. This means that no women can lead any official rites and ceremonies, despite the fact that there is no specific Mormon church doctrine explaining why women are not ordained.

In early 2013 I felt inspired to create a movement seeking equality for and ordination to the priesthood for Mormon women. The backlash was fairly immediate from many more orthodox members of the church, but my congregation’s leaders in northern Virginia said nothing to me for over a year.

Rest: theguardian.com.

Sunday feminist roundup (15th June 2014)

And here’s what else I’ve been reading this week.

Also, the Nation has a new blog – The Curve – where feminists discuss economics (or economics are discussed through a feminist lens). It’s worth a look, though there is yet only one post (I think).

We need more women in politics

Feminist Times: Following the West Midlands Feminist Times panel and Q&A event “Do we need more women in politics“, we are publishing the speeches of some of the panelists. First we hear from Ruth Jones OBE.

Do we need more women in politics? The answer of course is yes! I would like to think that this is obvious if only on the basis of equality, but even if we had an equal number of men and women in politics this would still not be representative of the population. The 2011 census showed a population of 56.1 million in England and Wales. 27.6 million were male and 28.5 female. This equates to almost a million more women than men in England and Wales and yet these women are overwhelmingly represented by men in politics. The majority are represented by the minority. A UN report of women in global politics launched as part of International Women’s Day 2014 showed that the UK had 650 MPs with 147 (22.6%) being women. This ranks us 65th of 189 countries.

It has been suggested that women do not get involved in politics. I beg to differ. The reality is that few women are elected but many are political and this has always been the case. Take my subject for instance (Gender Based Violence). Women lobbied for over two hundred years to get successive governments to take gender based violence (GBV) seriously. This gradually resulted in changes to legislation, the implementation of policy and more recently to funding for services. Women are political. So why aren’t there more women in politics and why don’t more women vote?

More women are not in politics due to a number of issues that include the structure in which politics operates which is patriarchal in nature and is a public sphere. Political life is structured around unsociable, long hours that don’t make it easy for women with caring responsibilities in a society in which women don’t ‘have it all’ but have to ‘do it all’. Political women also need to feel confident in having a voice. Historian Mary Beard has highlighted how women’s voices have been silenced and/or ridiculed. Recent comments aimed at women by politicians include the patronising ‘sit down dear’ (David Cameron, 2011), the idea that “there is a danger this feminism thing is getting a bit ludicrous” (Douglas Hurd, 2014). Women in politics have to be thick skinned and determined.

When women do get into politics, they have historically been given what is commonly termed ‘soft portfolios’ based on ‘women’s issues’. While I believe (and evidence shows) that such issues would not be addressed without women MPs, I also argue that issues termed ‘women’s issues’ such as GBV are everyone’s issues and every issue is a women’s issue. By separating ‘women’s issues’ we are colluding with discrimination. It is not ‘women’s issues’ that are missing from politics but women’s perspectives on a multitude of issues.

Rest: Feminist Times.

The end of hisses, whistles and stares: we need to walk the streets without fear

But what makes street harassment difficult to tackle in everyday life is that there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut way to deal with it. Other countries have tried to implement female-only train cars to curb harassment, Italy opened a women-only beach to stop the leering and catcalling and now hotels are even offering floors dedicated only to female travellers.

The message here is that women should change their behavior, not men. And what happens if women-only spaces become the norm and someone is harassed outside of one – will we blamed for not taking our designated train car? We deserve safety in public spaces, not just in segregated “safe zones”.

Jessica Valenti on The end of hisses, whistles and stares: we need to walk the streets without fear, theguardian.com.

The Hidden Curriculum in Evangelism: Patriarchy

This isn’t an issue that I’ve read a great deal about. Certainly in Britain (and perhaps the rest of Europe), there is not a lot of evangelism on campus. Below is a guest post on feminismandreligion.com about the real interests behind such a movement on campus: patriarchy and the subordination of women. It’s ironic, then, that it seems to be thriving in supposed “seats of learning”.

A good evangelist, especially in college ministries, acts as if there is no agenda to his or her evangelism. It’s very, “Do you want a cup of coffee? How are your classes going?” with a lot of understanding head nodding. The goal is to stay cool and not seem threatening (even though eternal damnation is at stake). A good evangelist then finds the opportunity to advance on whatever personal problem the interlocutor divulges, and the solution from the evangelist remains constant: “You need to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.”

A ‘good evangelist’ does not believe this interaction is an agenda at all, as evidenced by new slogans popping up in evangelist circles. There is “Jesus without Religion,”“I am Second,”“H20,”“Freedom Churches,” etc. All of these evangelist slogans attempt to portray “real” Christianity as something other than doctrine, simply a relationship with God, a freeing experience, a nonthreatening choice.

There are of course problems with this position. Some are obvious and practical; the printing press was invented in the 15th century, so bible-only, church-free Christianity is only possible on the backs of technology and literacy education, not Jesus. Other problems are theoretical; I argue that the bible is fundamentally a doctrinal set of rules, so doctrine-free religion is an oxymoron. Finally, some problems are ideological; there is complex ideology to evangelism, but one to frequently go unnoticed is its heavily patriarchal agenda.

When I use the term ‘patriarchy’, I do not only mean that men are the ones to take on leadership roles. I also mean that in a patriarchal system, women are subordinated and oppressed both knowingly and unknowingly, through economics, politics, and cultural discourse. I also do not use the term neutrally, as if patriarchy and matriarchy are equal systems that can be implemented either/or, unproblematically. When I use the term ‘patriarchy’, I am referring to a system that advances men’s interests to the detriment of both women and men as individuals, and also nation-states and the environment.

The fashion of today’s evangelism is this low-key, “come as you are” vibe, often with “hipster” inflections in order to appeal to a mainstream demographic while appearing outside of the mainstream. The film God’s Not Dead, and most college ministries, market Christianity in fashionable ways that make it “feel” nonthreatening and fun, with their focus on camping trips, sports, and coffee shop conversations.

Rest: The Hidden Curriculum in Evangelism: Patriarchy by Erin Lord Kunz.

Two thirds of women in the US have been street harassed

(c) stopstreetharassment.org
I’m surprised, really, that it’s as low as 65%. That could be indication of how normalised and “acceptable” street harassment has become.

From feministing:

A new study commissioned by Stop Street Harassment reveals just how common street harassment is in the US. No surprise there.

Sixty-five percent of women say they’ve experienced street harassment at some point in their lives. More than half experienced verbal harassment and 41 percent experienced physical aggression. Twenty-three percent have been sexually touched, 20 percent have been followed, 14 percent had been flashed, and 9 percent have been forced to do something sexual. A quarter of men have also been harassed. LGBT men are more likely to be harassed than other men–most commonly with homophobic or transphobic slurs. The vast majority of harassers of both genders are men. And Black and Latin@s are more likely to be harassed than whites.

Rest: Two thirds of women in the US have been street harassed.

One third of Britons ‘admit being racially prejudiced’

One third of Britons 'admit being racially prejudiced'

One third of Britons ‘admit being racially prejudiced’

So the percentage of people who admit to being “somewhat” racist hasn’t changed hugely in 30 years (but that’s a fascinating finding in itself – so much for multiculturalism, etc.). Still, though, if you’re looking for quick explanations, 30% goes some way to explaining UKIP’s recent sweeps in the elections.

From the BBC:

Nearly a third of people in Britain admit being racially prejudiced, research has suggested. Social research organisation NatCen said the proportion had increased since the start of the century, returning to the level of 30 years ago. Its British Social Attitudes survey found 30% of more than 2,000 people polled described themselves as either “very” or “a little” race prejudiced.

NatCen chief executive Penny Young said the findings were “troubling”. The survey revealed that prejudice had risen since an all-time low of 25% of people in 2001. It also found wide variations currently across the country: 16% of people in inner London admitted to prejudice but the figure was 35% in the West Midlands. Older men in manual jobs were the most likely to say they were prejudiced, but the group recording the biggest rise was educated male professionals. Levels of racial prejudice increased with age, at 25% for 17- to 34-year-olds compared with 36% for over-55s. Education had an impact with 19% of those with a degree and 38% of those with no qualifications reporting racial prejudice. [Rest.]

Sunday feminist roundup (25th May 2014)

A slow week on the #quickhits (been busy at work) but here’s what else I’ve been reading.

‘She had Spanx on’

In one case, a lawyer told a woman who had been raped that they would not be pursuing her case, “particularly bearing in mind the type of underwear that you had on at the time”. The woman, who has asked for anonymity, says she was wearing Spanx – body-shaping hosiery.

‘She had Spanx on’. On the Independent.

Truly and horribly unbelievable.

Feminism: this is not as good as it gets

“It was like the maddest kind of falling in love.” This is how feminist activist and writer Beatrix Campbell began describing the women’s lib movement of the 1970s to a room of intergenerational feminists last Tuesday night.

Campbell was part of an impressive line up on a panel to discuss Fifty Years of Feminism, which also included Melissa Benn, Lesley Abdela, Nimko Ali, Laura Bates, and was chaired by Jude Kelly – the Paxman of feminist panel debates and artistic director of the Southbank Centre. The discussion was in tribute to the British Library’s brilliant feminist oral history and archive project, Sisterhood and After: An Oral History of the Women’s Liberation Movement and was hosted by the East London Fawcett Group.

More than most feminist panel debates I attend, there was a pervading sense of history. Perhaps it was the oppressively dark room mixed with the association of an institution such as the British Library, but it wouldn’t have felt out of place if Kelly was at a podium with a cap and gown. This was an occasion. (The gold lamé hoodie she was actually wearing did the job nicely though). It felt that, at last, feminism was entering the history books, as an official, real Thing. An air of ceremony hung about us as Kelly pointed out the importance of the British Library’s project as a destination where future generations could learn about the struggle for gender equality. Then, referring to the panel, Kelly told the packed audience: “This is history itself; you can say you were here.” [Rest.]

You don’t only get photographed when you’re eating

I missed WWEOT’s Tony Burke on the Today programme (praise the gods). (That’s the founder of the Women Who Eat on Tubes photoblog, for those of you who have not had the misfortune of hearing of it.) The line is that taking pictures of women eating on tubes (eating! the hideous fatties! disgusting!) is not sexist or invasive or threatening but, rather, it’s an “observational study”, “something artistic”. Feminist Times tells us more about “creep shots” and a reasonable expectation of privacy. There’s a wider issue here, too, of using the law to regulate/ address social issues. More on that over the next few days.

[...]

Creep shots are so common on public transport that even I, someone who avoids the tube as much as I can, have seen two men take pictures of women’s cleavages on the underground. The first time I was struck dumb in shock; the second time I saw the man take the picture from an adjoining carriage, and when I knocked on the window to tell him to stop he ran. I’m not quite sure what I’d do if I saw it happen for a third time. Stand up and shout “he’s taking a picture of your breasts”? Tell him he’s gross? Perform a citizen’s arrest?

Just like WWEOT there are creep shot Tumblrs, but google #creepshot and you should get a pretty good idea of how endemic this is – just put it into the search bar in Twitter now. Many of the photos are taken in restaurants, supermarkets, on the beach. Women and girls bending over, sunbathing, photos taken from under tables.

Here’s the rub. It’s technically legal to photograph someone without their consent, and of course it’s in our interest to be able to take photos of strangers in public places. It means taking pictures at the Great Wall of China, Eiffel Tower or other packed places we want to take pictures of, which are full of tourists, is not going to land us in court. It also means reporters can go to war zones and disaster scenes or places of public interest and document; something Burke alluded his project did. [Rest.]

UN representative says UK has ‘sexist culture’

The UK has a “boys’ club sexist culture”, the UN’s spokeswoman on violence against women has said.

Rashida Manjoo is on a visit to the UK, studying its approach to the issue. She described the over-sexualisation of females as “pervasive” and raised fears that sexual bullying and harassment in schools was routine. The Home Office said the government was committed to ending violence against women and girls.

Ms Manjoo said she had found levels of sexism that did not exist in other countries she had visited. She raised particular concerns about the portrayal of women and girls in the media and the treatment of girls and women in schools. Ms Manjoo also raised “deep concern” that she had been prevented from visiting Yarl’s Wood Immigration Centre in Bedfordshire. She said she believed an order to stop her gaining access to the facility had come from the highest levels at the Home Office. She had been due to visit the site with the help of the Prisons Inspectorate, she told journalists, but was told by the centre’s director that she would not be allowed access.

On BBC News.