Has “Feminist” Become a Bankrupt Term? [#quickhit: link]

I first gave attention to the word “feminism” during college. I’d been brimming for a while with what I’ll describe as indignation in response to confrontations I’d had with men, and with misogyny, and with violence. I went to a small liberal arts college where probably most people would identify as feminists, where I learned that there were many women I could identify with, who had experienced trauma, who were angry and sad and ready to work together in the interests of women.

But I also learned in college that the definition of feminism at work in the “activism” happening around me, calling itself “radical,” “subversive,” “transgressive,” and even “revolutionary,” was more often than not an affirmation of conventional femininity as defined by heterosexuality. Instead of being critical of gender, of heterosexuality, this feminism insisted that femininity is radical, and that anything a woman does can be feminist–especially sex. Lots and lots of (hetero) sex. Free condoms. “Slutwalks.” Nudity. Underwear that says “consent is sexy.”

The notion that a woman is the most feminist when she gets naked is a reaction to the “puritanism” many people point to as the problem for feminist women today. These feminists defend Miley Cyrus, glossing over the racism of her performances to defend her right to “express her sexuality.” But the problem is that one of the most important issues feminists claim to address is sexual violence, an issue that cannot be effectively examined alongside the rallying cry for “more sex!” because the imperative to have sex, and to love it, derails attempts to think and talk about sexual violence in meaningful ways.

On: Has “Feminist” Become a Bankrupt Term? (feminspire)

Too Many of Nigeria’s Women Are Targets—Not Just the Kidnapped Girls [#quickhit: link]

When Nigerian states adopt sharia laws that are in their application blatantly unfavorable to women, it creates an environment in which a terrorist group like Boko Haram believes it has a right to do as it pleases with girls without prosecution.

Boko Haram’s recent kidnappings of schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in Borno state, Nigeria, at least in its explosive aftermath, is reminiscent of the legal cases of two northern Nigerian women, Safiya Hussaini and Amina Lawal, who were sentenced to death by stoning under sharia law in 2002. Though unrelated – the stoning sentences were state-sanctioned punishments that were later overturned, and the kidnappings are a criminal act by a terrorist group – these cases illustrate how the legal climate in northern Nigeria has reached a point where girls can be seen as chattels to be taken, held, sold and, according to the latest video purportedly released by Boko Haram, indoctrinated and bartered.

On time.com.

How Well-Intentioned Public Health Campaigns Can Wind Up Shaming Women [#quickhit: link]

We can all agree that fetal alcohol syndrome is a tragedy. But although American public awareness campaigns about the dangers of drinking while pregnant have good intentions at heart, recent media initiatives have deployed tactics that shame moms while ignoring bigger issues. Instead of helping improve the lives of women and kids, these public action campaigns veer into borderline Handmaid’s Tale territory.

Because addressing each and every fetal alcohol syndrome awareness organization state by state would be a book-length endeavor, for the purposes of this article I’m going to focus on a nationwide group, the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and the organization in my own state, the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

For a good example of these campaigns’ paternalistic rhetoric, there is this post from the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. which repeatedly refers to “women of child-bearing age,” be they “pregnant or not-yet-pregnant.” Being not and never-will-be is not an option, apparently. The organization advises healthcare providers to ask “all women of childbearing age… every woman, every time” about their drinking habits. This is the type of attitude that leads to the sorry scenario in which a non-pregnant patient goes to the doctor for an issue concerning her own health and ends up getting grilled about her lifestyle over the prospective well-being of a hypothetical fetus, regardless of how likely or willing she would be to conceive one and carry it to term. (It has happened to me, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it has happened to you, too.)

Rest: Bitch Media.

‘Pushy’ Is Used to Describe Women Twice as Often as Men [#quickhit: link]

During her three-year tenure, former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson was described (anonymously, of course), as many things, including “brusque,” “condescending,” and of course, “very, very unpopular.”

But none of these attributes seemed to sting women as a whole quite like the one used by another anonymous source in an interview with the New Yorker’s Ken Auletta.

After Abramson was fired last week, Auletta wrote that Abramson had long believed she was being paid less than her male predecessor, Bill Keller, and that she had both asked for a raise and hired a lawyer to look into the disparity:

“She confronted the top brass,” one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was “pushy,” a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect.

In the ensuing media storm, writers (including me) seized on the word “pushy,” arguing that it’s unlikely a man would have been thus described for his aggressive tendencies.

On theatlantic.

Men aren’t entitled to women’s time or affection. But it’s a hard lesson to learn [#quickhit: quote]

In recent months, it’s been hard to escape the spectacle of other men talking about what they deserve – and what women have supposedly taken from them. In May there were the grisly Isla Vista killings, perpetrated by Elliot Rodger, who called his violence a “day of retribution” for the women who had rejected him. There is increased talk of “men’s rights” forums, websites predicated on the serious belief that men are greatly disadvantaged by women’s empowerment. Last month, a speaker at a men’s rights conference in Michigan postulated that feminism was leading to a future without love.

- , via Men aren’t entitled to women’s time or affection. But it’s a hard lesson to learn

Elsewhere, there’s the less ominous and more omnipresent discussion, online and in pop culture at large, of things like the “friendzone”, a term coined a decade ago on Friends to describe a scenario in which a man is attracted to a woman who only seeks a platonic relationship with him. Women tend to call that kind of partnering “friendship” – but, to many men, “friendship” doesn’t capture the degradation they apparently feel at the prospect of spending time or being emotionally intimate with women who are uninterested in having romantic relationships with them.

The sexism of China’s love and dating scene – “leftover women” [#quickhit: link]

For many of today’s Chinese youth looking for a partner, love takes second place to parental pressure, moving up the social ladder and a heavy dose of fear drummed into women that they will end up as “leftover.”

These aspects and others relating to love, dating and women’s status in the Middle Kingdom will be examined on Saturday in a China-inspired version of “The Vagina Monologues,” a Broadway hit exploring womanhood that got actresses voicing women’s most intimate feelings to packed theaters.

In “The Leftover Monologues,” Chinese and foreign women — and a few men — will tell their own stories of searching for a partner, their observations of love and sex, and the panic aroused by the thought of becoming a “leftover woman” — defined by a women’s agency linked to the Communist Party as a single urban female over 27.

Rest: bigstory.

Whiteguymageddon? Calm down, dears [#quickhit: link]

This is actually beautifully funny.

Quite rightly, the appearance of the rampaging hordes of women whom David Cameron has promoted has been criticised. They do not look like men. They are not in navy suits. What are these “new girls” thinking while strutting their stuff on the Downing Street catwalk? Why have they not done away with their own bodies and hair and all their awkward woman-type things? What are they thinking? Well certainly not about policies. They are there to smooth over and sell what has already been decided. Maybe that is why I don’t much care about the painted nails of the handmaidens of privatisation.

But, really, we were led to believe there would be more of this monstrous regiment, hordes of these devil women. Actually, two and a half were promoted to cabinet. I count Esther McVey as half because she kept the same job but can now attend cabinet. Cameron’s 2010 cabinet had four women; four years later, we have seven. And a half. I ask you, can this feminist madness ever stop?

Rest: The Guardian.

 

Sunday feminist roundup (27th July 2014)

The Issues With Conservative Feminists (bust): If there’s one thing I love to hate, it’s right-wingers trying to make women sound delusional. Apparently, the conservative “feminist” group Independent Women’s Forum seems to think that democratic and liberal women often play the “victim” in regards to challenging gender equity. The non-profit believes that non-conservative feminism is synonymous with big government, and that seeking gender parity across the board is impossible, since there are fundamental differences between genders.

Is sexual assault the same as rape? (feministphilosophers): In a ruling earlier this week, an Illinois Cook County Circuit Court Judge, Honorable Kathy M. Flanagan, dismissed Peter Ludlow’s defamation case against Sun-Times Media LLC and two other media defendants, arguing that the terms “rape” and “sexual assault” are interchangeable. Ludlow’s case was based not on the accuracy of the news reports in question, but rather on the use of “rape” in the headline as a fair representation of the complaint, which was described in both the news reports and the student’s complaint as “sexual assault.” In other words, Ludlow’s attorneys attempted to argue that, while he may have sexually assaulted a student, he did not rape a student.

Women Don’t Owe Sex to Anyone. Ever. (bust): The entire thing was creepily intricate and completely abusive. I assume the point of this dude’s spreadsheet was to document how little his wife wants to engage in sexual relations with him, but honestly, all I see is abuser dynamics. Mainly, since women don’t really owe men anything. Even if they are married. 

On ‘Choice’ Feminism and Internalized Misogyny: Why We Participate in Patriarchal Oppression — Everyday Feminism (everydayfeminism): Have you ever criticized a woman for the way she looks? wished you could look like the models that you see in fashion magazines? gone on a diet? shaved off any of your body hair? If you’re a woman (or even if you’re not!), you’ve probably done at least one — if not all — of these things at some point in your life. But have you ever done any of these things after finding feminism? even when you knew that you were practicing sexism or giving in to the pressures of our patriarchal society? My guess is that your answer is still yes.

Put your money where your mouth is: why the pay gap is widening (theguardian): The depressing thing is that we know the reasons for this. We know that women are less likely to ask for a payrise or negotiate their salary at the early stages of their career, resulting in an increasing gap as they become more senior. We know that men are more likely to move employers resulting in quicker pay increases and companies paying out bigger bonuses to keep them. And we know that unconscious bias within organisations leads to men being over-promoted and women overlooked. Yet despite knowing all of this, the move to pay equality is glacial.

Why feminists need to demand a more diverse Twitter (feministing): Yet another day, yet another reveal that the demographics of a large tech company are, well, pretty much what we thought they were — heavily male, mostly white. Yesterday, Twitter announced that its workforce is 70 percent men to 30 percent women, as well as 59 percent white, 29 percent Asian, 2 percent Black, and 3 percent Latin.

Anti-Choice Protests Target New Orleans Clinics, Homes, Churches (rhrealitycheck): In the first few days of planned protests in New Orleans, anti-choice activists have disrupted the community by targeting reproductive health-care clinics, personal residences, and even houses of worship in the hopes of intimidating abortion providers and reproductive rights supporters. Operation Save America protesters have focused primarily on harassing the staff, volunteers, and patients of reproductive health-care clinics.

Fannie’s Room: Dude Writers Pissy About Newfangled Non-Male, Non-Straight Characters (fanniesroom): Where many feminists rightly critique the media for producing content that excludes female characters or that excludes female audiences, some men of privilege critique the media for producing content that features female characters or that was created to appeal to audiences members who are people other than straight white men.The latter instance, judging by some men’s reactions to being de-centered,  is interpreted as an appalling attack on straight white men, morally equal to (and probably worse than) women being systemically excluded from representation. Because they are used to being the default protagonists of life, TV shows, movies, comic books, and video games, they snark, mock, and ridicule representations that do not center them, their life experiences, and their desires.

Patriarchy allows child marriage and female genital mutilation to flourish (theguardian): As young feminists, we often hear that the rights of girls need to be recognised, their voices amplified and their needs met. We are told that when girls are empowered, they can change their communities and the world. That is a lot of pressure to put on the shoulders of girls. This raises the question: why, with all this interest in girls, are their rights violated in every country? The Girl Summit in London, UK, this week has generated momentum and opportunities for funding to end child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). While that is commendable, if we look beyond the pledges and outcome of the summit, it is evident that these harmful practices are connected to other injustices girls endure.

How Big of a Problem is Harassment at Comic Conventions? Very Big. (bitchmagazine): It’s hard for comic conventions to shake the idea that they’re the sole domain of people who look like the Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy. In reality, comic conventions are attended by an ever-growing number of female fans: Female attendance at New York Comic-Con has grown 62 percent over the last three years alone, making women to 41 percent of total attendees. As the number of female fans attending cons has grown, so have conversations about harassment in the comics industry and at conventions specifically. [...] Out of all respondents, 59 percent said they felt sexual harassment was a problem in comics and 25 percent said they had been sexually harassed in the industry. The harassment varied: while in the workplace or at work events, respondents were more likely to suffer disparaging comments about their gender, sexual orientation, or race. At conventions, respondents were more likely to be photographed against their wishes. Thirteen percent reported having unwanted comments of a sexual nature made about them at conventions—and eight percent of people of all genders reported they had been groped, assaulted, or raped at a comic convention.

The Irish and Northern Irish Feminist Judgments Project (fwsablog): The Irish and Northern Irish Feminist Judgments Project begins today with the launch of a new website: www.feministjudging.ie. A collective of academics and practitioners based in Ireland and abroad will rewrite 30 important legal judgments, which they believe would have been decided differently if a feminist perspective had been brought to bear on the case. The cases selected will cover constitutional law, child and family law, reproductive rights, property law, criminal law, immigration law and religious freedom. By rethinking the process of judgment, the project will demonstrate the influence which judges have had on women’s lives, and on the politics of identity in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The project will run from October 2014 to September 2015. A series of workshops will be held throughout Ireland in the autumn and in the spring, at which draft judgments will be presented for discussion by academics, practitioners and activists. A book, collating the feminist judgments produced during the project, will be published by Hart in 2016.

PETA Sexualizes Women and Uses Rape Culture Imagery to Raise Awareness For… What? (feminspire): As the car heats up, Elisabetta experiences the agonizing symptoms of heatstroke. As panic and anxiety set in, Elisabetta’s condition deteriorates rapidly with the addition of excessive thirst, lethargy, lack of coordination, and a rapid heartbeat. Scared and alone, she desperately attempts to escape the car, which is quickly heating up like an oven. Essentially, the video shows a scantily clad Italian supermodel locked in a car against her will where she suffers and dies. PETA exclaims: “Italian supermodel Elisabetta Canalis knows what it means to be hot!”

California Prison Sterilization Attacks Reproductive Justice of Female Inmates (feminspire): Not only is the prison system one that disproportionately cycles people of color into impoverishment and crime, but these practices are also specifically being used to eradicate “unwanted” communities. And forced sterilization is a form of eugenics. Eugenics … which is the extermination of the “inferior.” Sound familiar? It’s genocide tactics. Strong language, but true. These tactics are that of gene cleansing, and they’re occurring right in your backyard. These sterilization techniques are not new and affect women of color here and abroad. It’s important to be aware that the reproductive justice debate needs to be opened up to include capitalistic procedures that fall under eugenics.

Research: new study finds girls view sexual violence as normal [#quickhit: link]

Citation: Hlavka, H. (2014). Normalizing Sexual Violence: Young Women Account for Harassment and Abuse. Gender & Society, 28(3), pp.337-358.

Abstract:

Despite high rates of gendered violence among youth, very few young women report these incidents to authority figures. This study moves the discussion from the question of why young women do not report them toward how violence is produced, maintained, and normalized among youth. The girls in this study often did not name what law, researchers, and educators commonly identify as sexual harassment and abuse. How then, do girls name and make sense of victimization? Exploring violence via the lens of compulsory heterosexuality highlights the relational dynamics at play in this naming process. Forensic interviews with youth revealed patterns of heteronormative scripts appropriated to make sense of everyday harassment, violence, coercion, and consent. Findings inform discussions about the links between dominant discourses and sexual subjectivities as we try to better understand why many regard violence a normal part of life.

Link to full article page on Sage.

HT to lipmag:

A new study titled ‘Normalising Sexual Violence: Young Women Account for Harrassment and Abuse’, published in Gender & Society, has found that girls and young women will rarely report incidents of sexual violence because they view them as ‘normal.’

The study analysed interviews conducted by the Children’s Advocacy Center with 100 young women between the ages of three and seventeen, who may have been sexually assaulted.

According to the findings of the research, it was common for the young women to trivialise their experiences of sexual harassment or assault, and that ‘objectification, sexual harassment, and abuse appear to be part of the fabric of young women’s lives.’

Incidences of assault or harassment appeared to be so ingrained into their experiences that they didn’t see them as particularly unacceptable or inappropriate.

The study concludes that ‘young women often held themselves and their peers responsible for acting as gatekeepers of men’s behaviours; they were responsible for being coerced, for accepting gifts and other resources, for not fending off or resisting men’s sexual advances…’

While the results of the study are disgusting and eye opening, they are unfortunately not very surprising for those who continue to speak out about and struggle against the rape culture that exists in Western society. (lip magazine)

While Ireland may no longer be such a harsh place for unmarried pregnant women, the stigma persists [#quickhit: link]

Agnes always assumed that her mother would be supportive if she got pregnant, but just as she was working up the courage to break the news, her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now there is so much stress at home that she knows there will never be a good time to drop the bombshell and so she refuses even to think about it.

Eileen sometimes wishes that people would stop talking about the mother and babies scandal because she is in a black hole and the constant handwringing and recrimination on the radio is making her feel overwhelmed.

Her recently laid-off husband has stopped opening the bills, her teenage son has stopped asking if he can go to college, and she can’t face the prospect of another baby at 42.

Every so often, Ireland is transfixed by revelations and reminders of the mothers and babies so cruelly treated by a society with no place for women who got pregnant outside marriage.

But amid all the tut-tutting, hundreds of Irish women continue to hide pregnancies. “Concealed pregnancy has not gone away: it just has another face,” according to Sylvia Murphy Tighe, a former midwife and public health nurse who has been told stories similar to those of Agnes and Eileen.

On The Irish Times.

How Germany fought human trafficking by empowering sex workers [#quickhit: link]

Whether you think such sexual transactions are a good thing or a bad thing, the fact remains that criminalization makes things more expensive. And price drives pimps to find new ways to satisfy demand. Prices matter for trafficking because it costs a lot to kidnap someone and hold them against their will.

Legalising sex work and protecting workers seems to be a solid argument. It does nothing to diminish the buying of a woman’s body for cash, and all of the patriarchal misogynistic trappings that go along with that, but it might protect women. As such, it becomes a battle between principles and practicality.

On the last day of my recent trip to Germany, I’d wanted to check out Deutschland’s brothels. The focus of my writing on sex work has been U.S.-centric thus far. So I wanted to speak to someone participating in sex work in a country where it’s legal. I was running out of time and euros, but it just so happened that the quickest route to my hotel after drinks with locals included an area known for its ladies of the night.

As we walked down a hookah-bar-lined street, the sex workers looked more empowered than any I’ve seen stateside. Tall and healthy-looking, with thick hair and thin waists, beautiful corsets shaping hourglasses, they certainly didn’t look oppressed—except perhaps by four-inch platform Lucite heels. (Those oppress any wearer.)

On our walk I learned that Germany’s decision to legalize prostitution not only helped sex workers, but actually decreased the number of human trafficking victims in the country. But on our stroll, one of my companions told me that German feminists are trying to recriminalize sex work. This is a mistake, she argued. Legalization has improved sex workers’ lives.

Turns out, she was right. According to the data, violence against sex workers is down, while sex workers’ quality of life is up. And after testing began, post-legalization, researchers discovered no difference in sexually transmitted infection rates between sex workers and the general population.

Opponents claim legalizing prostitution has actually increased human trafficking in the country. But the data don’t support that claim. In fact, they show the opposite. From 2001, the year the law legalizing sex work in Germany was passed, to 2011, cases of sex-based human trafficking shrank by 10 percent.

On The Freeman, Foundation for Economic Education.

#Twitterpurge is revenge porn: We need laws to stop the non-consensual posting of naked pictures. [#quickhit: link]

Over the weekend, under the hashtag #twitterpurge, users took to Twitter to “expose” the nude photos they had of other people, with or without consent. The so-called purge primarily targeted girls and women. In other words, it was revenge porn.

As an attorney who helps clients remove revenge porn from the Internet, I recently got a call from a mother whose daughter had been contacted by a reporter for an interview. The 22-year-old learned from the reporter that four nude selfies of her had been featured on a site specifically for this kind of thing for nearly eight months and accumulated over 30,000 views. They had been posted with her full name, the name of the town where she lived, and with links to her Facebook and Twitter accounts. Above all of this information was a screed calling her a “cunt” and a “whore” and a “sick, suicidal bitch.”

That’s typical revenge porn; it’s bullying. “Porn” is a misnomer since it draws the focal point to the wrong spot, at least from the victim’s point of view. Victims have lost jobs, dropped out of school, moved, changed their names, attempted suicide, and more, after having their photos posted without consent. The nonconsensual exposition of privately taken or acquired images of a person, particularly nude images, coupled with assaultive language amounts to deeply damaging abuse.

On #Twitterpurge is revenge porn: We need laws to stop the non-consensual posting of naked pictures. (slate)

#WomenAgainstFeminism, Feminist Critique and the Replication of Patriarchal Abuse [#quickhit: quote]

Critiquing the #WomenAgainstFeminism tag doesn’t require insulting the appearance & intelligence of the women posting on it. It doesn’t require replicating misogynistic language or insults. It requires an evidence-based answer – such as those pointing out the battle for women’s suffrage, rape laws, equal pay acts, maternity rights, reproductive freedoms and the ability to have your own bank account. It is feminism that one these rights for women. Feminism didn’t achieve any of these goals by being obnoxious to other women.

Feminists should understand that systemic misogyny within the capitalist-patriarchy makes it very difficult for women to see the reality of our oppression. Even naming male violence as an oppression results in women being belittled, abused and harassed online and off. Our education system is designed to teach children to pass exams – not to question authority. Our media is owned and dominated by white men who have a vested interest in preventing women from accessing knowledge.

This isn’t to say that the women who started this tag aren’t causing harm to other women. Of course they are but we don’t need to replicate patriarchal patterns of silencing against women who are blinded by their privilege or too afraid to speak out. This is the true demonstration of the power of the capitalist-patriarchy: using women to silence and control other women. We can challenge these women with kindness or with anger. but we do not need to engage in abusive language.

Louise Pennington, My Elegant Gathering of White Snows.

Feminist Times can be proud of what it did in promoting a brand-free feminism [#quickhit: quote]

More on the closure of the (current incarnation) of Feminist Times:

An anti-brand, non-brand not-for-profit that tried to monetise anti-capitalism. With what could be mistaken for Orwellian doublespeak but with the purest of ideals, Charlotte Raven’s Feminist Times wanted to save women from advertising and in doing so ensured its own downfall. After 12 months of being run as an online alternative to the glossies – with no advertising or big-brand partnerships and while paying its contributors (unlike many others) – Feminist Times was yesterday put on ice. The problem is that today’s mainstream feminists are no longer suspicious of advertising; in fact we are in an era where feminism is becoming advertising.

I was the Editor of Feminist Times for its last seven months. I’m too young to have been a libber or a Marxist feminist before the wall came down, and yet I’m pretty old-fashioned in my capitalist scepticism. I just don’t trust big business. I have this instinctual feeling that big business is bad for women. It undervalues us, sells ruthlessly to us and takes no prisoners in the name of profit or progress. Yet I am a massive hypocrite, because while I can spend hours watching disturbing Youtube videos of industrialised farming practices there’s nothing I love more after a couple of pints than a Big Mac. It’s like some knowing joke – yes I know I’m being bad, but because I know, that makes it all right. Doesn’t feel so right the next morning.

Deborah Coughlin: Feminist Times can be proud of what it did in promoting a brand-free feminism, The Independent.

Sunday feminist roundup, @Feminist_Times special

Here’s a special round-up of posts on what was, sadly, the last week of Feminist Times in its current incarnation. The linked posts discuss the editors and writers’ experiences of their involvement in the site and many of the challenges that they faced in its maintenance. So long, FT. I’ll miss you.

  • What Feiminist Times means to me: As feminist thought increases in popularity, I had always feared that it might be devalued into a sort of consumerist lifestyle politics, concerned with issues that failed to analyse the material conditions that create inequality. I’ve been proud to be part of a feminist website that has bucked this trend. Feminist Times has achieved something very few UK based feminist websites manage to do: it has captured the cacophony of jostling voices from many women who call themselves feminists. (Reni Eddo-Lodge, Contributing Editor).
  • Feminist Times: Money and a room of our own: My biggest frustration will always be that during that time, while our content, our readership and our social engagement were going from strength to strength, our funding situation was steadily becoming less and less sustainable, despite the brilliant efforts of our fundraiser Jenna. As Deborah and I gradually reduced both our salaries and our working hours, we were grateful to still have use of the office all week for the freelance work that we took on to supplement our incomes (Sarah Graham, Deputy Editor, @SarahGraham7).
  • The Best of Feminist Times:12 Days of Sexism: While everyone took a Christmas break, FemT spent the 12 days of Christmas looking back at the previous 12 months of sexism, as well as reflecting on a year in black feminism and the most and least read Feminist Times articles of 2013.
  • Feminist Times: My Feminist Times ‘journey’: What a sad day! I kept thinking we would turn it around and praying for a miracle. Leaving our office for the last time last week, with the FemT box files in a shopping bag, I felt mainly sadness but also a little relief. No more sleepless nights worrying or fruitless hours writing supplicating emails to rich people. No more guilt about not being fully present for my husband and young children or my FemT colleagues. I’m looking forward to spending time with my family (as disgraced politicians say) with a clear conscience, and gathering my thoughts for the rest of the summer and possibly longer. I won’t miss being resented from afar; I am privileged but my life is far from enviable. I am in the early stages of Huntington’s disease, cognitively impaired, and struggling with many aspects of every day life. I lose things, break things, hurt myself, rage at Tom and the children. This is a symptom and can’t be addressed by anger management techniques. My dad is in the late stages of Huntington’s disease; he can’t speak, read, swallow or co ordinate his movement but is otherwise compos mentis and so all too aware of his predicament (Charlotte Raven, Editor-in-Chief).
  • Feminist Times: Ten things I hate about feminism: Feminism is being co-opted and by 2016 it will be dead again. In 2009 I launched a feminist act called Gaggle, a weird punk choir. We were often ridiculed for being out and proud feminist. It was just five years ago and yet you couldn’t find a columnist who would admit they were a feminist, hence the website the F-word – it was taboo. You could tie several cats together, swing them and not hit a single feminist. Now you can’t. Feminist columns, T-shirts and events clog up the zeitgeist. Every night there’s another panel discussion about Women in Music, so much so that I can’t remember what it was like before this 4th wave? Something about cupcakes and burlesque, I think. Anyway, feminism is so popular right now that it’s one of the biggest buzz words in marketing for 2015, hence why Pantene is selling us feminist shampoo and Special K’s gone all “Dove” with it’s cornflakes. Unfortunately everything in fashion will go out of fashion. Like Skip Its, environmentalism and hipster beards, if feminism is dead again by 2016 what do we want to have achieved during this brief spell in the limelight? (Deborah Coughlin, Editor, @deb_rahcoughlin).

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.

Young Women Trading Blow Jobs for Cheap Booze? The Truth About Sexploitative Party Games [#quickhit: quote]

And I couldn’t help but think, how long have young women been doing sexual things for free drinks — or even lame swag? Wet T-shirt contests. Mud wrestling. The entire “Girls Gone Wild” franchise. Mardi Gras. It’s practically built into college culture, the attempt to get women to compromise themselves — and I say “compromise” because that is what is eroticized, rather than the idea of a woman’s authentic, enthusiastic expression of her sexuality — whether it’s for a string of plastic beads or a “Girls Gone Wild” trucker hat.

But there’s a big difference between wet T-shirt contests and two dozen blow jobs. There’s long been a thrill in getting “good” girls to go “bad,” but thanks in part to the mainstreaming of hardcore porn and Spring Break raunch, pouring water on your boobs is no longer that provocative. A boob flash is passé, even quaint. Now, perhaps, it takes 24 blow jobs. OK, that’s hyperbole — but the bar for titillation and trespass has been raised.

The Truth About Sexploitative Party Games – alternet.

Why Being a Muslim Woman Makes Me a Better Feminist [#quickhit: link]

feminism - Saudi Arabian woman veilReally important piece below on being Muslim, wearing a hijab and being a feminist, and how Muslim women’s experiences are often very misunderstood by western feminism.

For many, it seems that the words “Islam” and “feminism” cannot coexist. As Ramadan, the month of Islamic fasting, gets under way, questions about how Muslim women “cope” with their religion often re-emerge. The challenge many of these women now face is explaining how being a Muslim does not mean they cannot also be feminists.

Despite understanding that millions of people from all walks of life follow Islamic tradition, we still assume that Islam is one singular entity. It is important to remember that there are many different Islams just like there are many different Christian, Buddhist, or Hindu traditions. That is why some Muslims are fasting this month and some are not, and why some women wear a niqab (face veil) and some don’t.

The hijab, or head covering, remains another popular point of contention. It’s remarkable that a headscarf, which actually symbolizes a very powerful feminist message, has been linked to patriarchal oppression in the Western world. I wore the hijab for many years, and no, I was not forced to do so. In fact, my decision to wear it was probably my very first conscious step towards becoming a feminist.

There are two messages the hijab is meant to convey, the first of which is very simple: the hijab is a physical representation of the woman’s faith. She is wearing it to identify herself as a Muslim woman. The second message the hijab symbolizes is that a woman’s body is her business. How she dresses and what she looks like is a personal choice and has nothing to do with anyone else. By wearing a hijab, a woman is saying that she is a Muslim, and that her physical being does not belong to anyone but herself.

Of course, that is to assume she has worn it willingly. Some women are indeed forced to wear a hijab, but to judge all Muslims based on that minority is unjust and irrational.

Rest: Why Being a Muslim Woman Makes Me a Better Feminist.

Dear MRAs: No, Feminists Don’t Want to Make You Our Man Slaves [#quickhit: link]

Dear MRAs: No, Feminists Don't Want to Make You Our Man Slaves
On feminspire:

Not once did I say feminism isn’t for everybody. In fact, I expressly said that patriarchy hurts all of us. What Mr. James and others seem to not understand is that the aim of feminism is to secure political social equality for all genders. Last time I checked, it was men who had almost complete social and political freedom. I remember very clearly that men just made the decision to regulate women’s healthcare decisions when it comes to birth control and safe access to abortion services. Don’t forget the fact that men make more money than women in almost every industry, that men still dominate politics, and when a woman runs for office, more attention is given to her wardrobe than her policies. Oh, also remember that women are repeatedly called sluts and shamed across the media when they are assaulted or raped. Feminism is for everybody, as long as this “everybody”is working towards equal rights.

Rest: Dear MRAs: No, Feminists Don’t Want to Make You Our Man Slaves.