Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Year, New Woman?

No, I'm not considering subscribing to that awful "women's interest" mag... rather, I am hoping to bring in my new year with some hope for a happier, healthier me. I'm talking mainly mental health really. I would like this to be the year that I finally accept who I am and how my mind works. I would like this to be the year where I get comfy with my mental health and/or lack thereof. I will never be one hundred per cent well and I know it, but this year I aim to embrace the occasional insanity and make it work for me!

Taking a leaf out of the Divine Ms Jared's book, I will be casting out all that shitty shit that has accumulated over the years in my small house. I will give away what I really don't need and I will try not buy anything that isn't essential. I have a habit of treating myself with little gifts of a book, or music when I feel down. Well, this year I am going to aim to treat myself nicely by doing other things. I am going to spend less on crap and more on charity. I'm going to learn to use my resources well. If I need new clothes I will buy second-hand or sweatshop-free online.

I am going to work on my feminist theory. Over this year I will become more familiar with RadFem blogs and books and thus be better able to express my love of Rad Feminism. I will Radicalize my speech and thoughts. I feel excited by my plans. I feel motivated. Join me?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Spotted Elephant's New and Better Prize!

Spotty, you get this prize just for being so Bumbliciously lovely and an all round great Rad Feminist. Enjoy!

Bonus prize for being nice to know:

Monday, December 18, 2006


They have someone! A man. It may or may not be the right man, but it seems like a good start.

Now, how long before the armchair psychologists and general misogynist media spewers start blaming his mother for his behaviour? Anyone want to place a bet? I reckon by nine PM my time (GMT) there will be something, somewhere that points the finger of blame at a woman. There's BOUND to be a humiliating experience with at least one woman in his past:

A bad time with a shrew of a girlfriend who mocked his (lack of) manhood... A particularly aggressive schoolmistress who shamed him in class...A drunken and unloved mother who took out her frustrations on her son...A woman friend who said no to his sexual advances...

Because, you know, it can't just be that he hates women. It couldn't be society in general that fosters hatred of and violence towards women. It must somehow be our own fault. We ask for it. We provoke and exacerbate it. How could he be expected to turn out any different?

I feel sorry for him already.

UPDATE: A second man has been arrested. A 48 year old man with no apparent connection to the first suspect. Fingers crossed that the police have got their men.

Happy Monday!!

I thought long and hard about this, whether it was appropriate to post a Happy Monday this week. I think it is.

I think that given the appalling news from Ipswich, it is important to remember that women can have enormous power.
We resist.
We fight back.
We stand in solidarity with our threatened sisters and we remember with love and dignity those who have been taken from us.
This makes me unreservedly happy.
I hope you feel it too.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Not Prostitutes

Not prostitutes. Not girls.* Not asking for it. Not deserving of it. Not dirty. Not addicts. Not weak. Not stupid. Not delicate. Not rough. Not disposable. Not unloved. Just women. Just human.

* On last night's Sky breaking news report, Ipswich MP Chris Mole and the Sky correspondent repeatedly referred to these murdered women as "girls". In these circumstances, this word is not appropriate, nor is it respectful.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Abortion in Ohio

Ohio has passed a bill preventing access to public funds for abortion. The poorest of Ohio's women will be affected by this decision. I quote from Feminist Daily News: "House Minority Leader Joyce Beatty (Democrat) decried the bill for cutting off funds to clinics that, in addition to providing abortions or abortion referrals, also provide treatment for sexually transmitted infections and other reproductive health care" Well, Duh.

It should be obvious even to hardened Radfems like me that if the government can restrict access to public funds for abortion for the women most likely to desperately need it, they don't really care overly-much about treating and preventing STIs within this same social group. It's all about the control and the humiliation of women, folks!

Quote continues: "Beatty also criticized the bill for not allowing exceptions for poor women seeking abortions for mental or physical health reasons. "If a woman's pregnancy is a threat to a woman’s mental health, she is out of luck....If a woman’s pregnancy is a threat to her physical health, and would even leave her disabled, that is too bad. This bill shows no mercy for women in any kind of desperate situation." Again, I have to ask, did you really expect anything different? Is there ever likely to be any room for negotiation within a bill that wants to deny medical care to financially and politically powerless women? The answer is a resounding No, and here's why: Exceptions for any reason leave potentially exploitable loopholes and the women-hating, anti-choicers who drafted this bill know that. Exceptions lead to opportunities, opportunities lead to choice and choice often leads to power. And for now, that power is the single thing that the anti-choicers most wish to deny the impoverished women of Ohio.

The anti-choicers have clear goals: to control and humiliate, to neglect and weaken. It's tactical warfare against women and we need to fight back hard.

Happy Monday!!

You can mock my Radfem joy but you can't stem it!

This is fabulous news, and about time too.

This kind of honest, delightful video clip just makes me excited to be pro-choice, pro-abortion, pro-woman:

That's your lot for today women, now let's do it to them before they do it to us...
(shameless Hill Street Blues reference.)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Salfordian to the End...

I love love love my city. I enjoy the life, the people and the landscape. Salford has an amazing history, a thriving and valiant community, and a burgeoning sense of cultural pride. We are absolutely amazing. I am so all-consumingly proud to be a Salfordian that I have long thought of changing my name to Pippa Salford. I won't, because that would be excessive. But I think about it...

Anway, this campaign garnered huge response from my fellow Salfordians, desperate to keep at least one maternity unit in our great city. Our city that has been growing and developing for over a thousand years. A city older and with more cultural resonance than her showy neighbour, Manchester. A city that provided a free public library and museum before anywhere else in Britain. A city with 216,000 residents. A great city. My city. And, because the "Hands Off Hope" campaign failed to influence the almighty Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, a city soon to be without a maternity unit or neo-natal services.

I was born at Eccles and Patricroft Hospital in 1971, a year before that unit was closed and all of Salford's maternity care was moved to Hope. (There's a pattern here.) I gave birth at Hope hospital in 1988 when I was sixteen and scared. It was a safe and caring place and I got amazing support from the midwifery team.

Today, like many other Salford women I am heartbroken, but still ready to fight for what I believe in. Because that's what Salfordians do best.

I Should Think So....

This ought to have been a no-brainer, surely? But how great that logic eventually prevailed. To my mind, he should have been immediately incarcerated the moment he selected the laughable moniker "Atomic Dog".

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mohammed Halim

I don't mention men much here; I think of this blog as a woman space. But today I feel that we should think about, celebrate and remember this human. (WARNING: THIS LINK CONTAINS A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF TORTURE)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Happy Monday!!

Monday rolls around so fast at the moment. I have so much work to do, so many words to write on feminist standpoint epistemologies...! However, I want to make time to do this Happy Monday thing. I think it's hugely important to try and remember Feminist joyfulness and agency. It's too easy to feel down and overwhelmed by the patriarchy; we need to tap into our sources of power and let delight and rage flood out of us, into the surrounding air...

Get some inspiration here!

Then have three minutes to watch this and feel fabulous! Happy Monday! Let's kick this week's ass...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Happy Monday!!

Three things for you contemplate today:

First and foremost, read and enjoy and identify completely with Audre Lorde's poem Portrait from her collection The Black Unicorn:

Strong women
know the taste
of their own hatred
I must always be
building nests
in a windy place
I want the safety of oblique numbers
that do not include me
a beautiful woman
with ugly moments
secret and patient
as the amused and ponderous elephants
catering to Hannibal's ambition
as they swayed on their own way

Then with woman and power and patience on your mind, go to and revel in her stunning photos of sizeable, touchable, space-claiming women. Good God Almighty these photos make me feel valued and energised and just sooooo happy to be a big, generous radfem woman.

Then get your party hats on and get ready for Wednesday the 29th of November... this radfem turns 35 on that day! Older and wiser and wrinklier, Yay! Aging turns me on.

Enjoy your week, and whatever shit gets thrown your way, fling it back.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

More Abortion Jiggery Pokery...

I see that I'm a bit behind on this gem of a news article but Oh, this can't be good.

Will someone please explain to me HOW these inane decisions go unchallenged? I see that this appointment did not require congressional confirmation (the WHY of that escapes me), so Bush gets to go ahead and put anti-choice, godbag-wingnut Eric Keroack in charge of all the cash for 4,600 family planning clinics across the US. Good call. Except that Keroack thinks contraception ought to be redundant. He thinks that abstinence is super-cool!! And you know what else he thinks? Yes, that's right:

the "crass commercialization and distribution" of contraception is "demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness...


promiscuous women will not be able to form long-lasting relationships because they have used up all of their "bonding" hormone on casual sex...

Call me cynical but I'm sensing a potential problem here. Read the whole article and then donate anything you can afford to your local pro-contraception, pro-abortion women's group. This is getting to be the thin end of the wedge.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Happy Monday!!

Before you do anything else today, go here and choose an affirmation to whisper, sing, shout out loud all day! Send an affirmation to a woman you care for.

If you have some time, go here and starting on the home page, scroll down to "Past Strips" and get stuck in. These small strips are amazing; I particularly like Imaginary Friend, My Reflection and Tell Her No. If you don't have time, bookmark and return when you do!

And finally, because YouTube is just too easy to use and sooooo goooood, here's a song to get your toes a tappin'. Have a great week y'all!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Spot the Deliberate Mistake: Anti-abortion Feminists Have a Website

To be filed under the "oh my god what fresh bollocks is this?" section:

Have a good look round, spot all the glaring inconsistencies (the utter repudiation and dismissal of women's personal choice and autonomous thinking for one) then add to your list of Internet Misogynists...

Yes, Patricia Heaton, women experiencing unplanned pregnancy deserve to experience unplanned joy. However, it is offensive and presumptuous for you to decide that said joy comes solely in the form of a successful confinement. Is it really so hard for you and your ilk to understand that women deserve to make choices about childbirth? Feminists for Life, my fat freckled arse.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Happy Monday!!

I said I would, so here's some things to enjoy, appreciate or just not be too sad about.

First and foremost: Alyx is back! It's lovely to have a new post Alyx, I miss you.

Second: Here's my boy!!
Isn't he adorable? And old. And yes, that's my hand and leg in the second pic.

Third: because these children just make my day every time I see this video...

Have a wonderful week, women. Remember that even when it all seems shitty and futile, there are some amazing things happening. I'll find them... I really will...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Woohoo, It's Monday!!

My new "thing" is going to be Happy Monday Blogging. Each and every Monday (unless I forget and/or it gets old) I shall be finding something special, something fun, something happy or something positive and empowering to share with you all. (Yes, all six of you.) Here's today's entry, enjoy and have a great week!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Something Complicated...

As a pro-choice, pro-abortion radical feminist, I spend some considerable time in any given week thinking about abortion. I contemplate the possibility that one day, in the UK, abortion may not be legal. It's already difficult to come by, too expensive for most women and still has an air of irresponsibility attached to it. I consider the multiple arguments put forward by the anti-choicers: the "right to life", a foetus feels pain, abortion hurts women, and on... I am never convinced by these people and rarely find their arguments intelligent or even well thought out.

Then I think about the various processes of abortion. It's not a pleasant procedure, it's messy and difficult but statistically it's not as dangerous as childbirth. I think about the indignity of the procedure and the inappropriate questions that often accompany any consultations. I dwell on the morality of paying to make a choice to end a pregnancy. It worries me that people make a profit on these procedures.

I think about my own pregnancies. I dig about in my brain for the sense memory of my daughter scrolling around in my belly. I remember the thick clot of my second pregnancy's sudden and convenient end. There are personal and political reasons for my thinking about and understanding responses to abortion.

I am always appalled by the rhetoric and motivation of the anti-choicers; the sanctimonious placard wavers show little interest in exploring the realities of women's lives. They accuse women of heartlessness, selfishness and a callous disregard for life. In my experience this is just not true. Abortion is a huge and difficult decision to make, and in my experience women who choose abortion feel somewhat conflicted about their decision. Some women believe that their foetus is a living thing and still make the brave decision to terminate their pregnancy. Some women abort for financial or health reasons and feel terrible grief for what they feel is their lost baby. Some women have no feelings about the foetus and abortion is a relief. Every experience is different and every experience is valid. For these reasons, I believe in being careful about how I talk about termination. One woman's parasite is another woman's heartbreak.

I absolutely support every woman's decision to abort. I can not stress this enough: termination should be free, on demand and easily accessible.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I'm Listening To:

Despite Our Differences, the Indigo Girls new album! Yay!! I finally got my copy. I'm swaying to Last Tears. Buy your copy and sway with me.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

This Bears Repeating...*

If a woman is drunk, don't rape her.
If a woman is walking alone at night, don't rape her.
If a woman is drugged and unconscious, don't rape her.
If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don't rape her.
If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don't rape her.
If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you're still hung up on, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in her bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in your bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is doing her laundry, don't rape her.
If a woman is in a coma, don't rape her.
If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don't rape her.
If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don't rape her.
If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don't rape her.
If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don't rape her.
If your step-daughter is watching TV, don't rape her.
If you break into a house and find a woman there, don't rape her.
If your friend thinks it's okay to rape someone, tell him it's not, and that he's not your friend.
If your "friend" tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there's an unconscious woman upstairs and it's your turn, don't rape her, call the police and tell the guy he's a rapist.
Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it's not okay to rape someone.
Don't tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
Don't imply that she could have avoided it if she'd only done/not done x.
Don't imply that it's in any way her fault.
Don't let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he "got some" with the drunk girl.
Don't perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or responsibility for your actions. You can, too, help yourself.

If you agree, re-post it. It's that important.

*Hat-tip to Jared and Lost Clown et al.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Speaking of Pole Dancing...

Over at Twisty's there's a post about Tesco's astonishing decision to stock the Peekaboo pole Dancing Kit. Yes, folks, you too can be sexually liberated in your own home! As if women and girls weren't already vulnerable to sexual assault by family members, now we can make them dance for money! Fantastic, empowering, liberated stuff.

I was out shopping in the centre of Bolton today when I was approached by a tall, heavy-set man who was carrying an umbrella. Now, like all good RedFems I am always on my guard against any male approach, and I must have looked a touch wary, because he said as he approached me: "Don't worry love, I'm not going to stab you. I haven't got a knife." Ah, the old "murder" gag. Can you see how he started to use humour to put me at my ease...

He then leapt into a cheeky chappy, havin' a laugh, geezer character. He followed up with "Do you like fashion, love?...We're looking for women to be pole, not really, ha ha ha" For which read: laugh at me, I'm young, male and over-familiar. I'm hysterically funny and I might just fancy you, isn't the new mainstream sports activity of pole dancing a laugh... Oh, you get the drift.

He seemed less enthusiastic about inviting me to gyrate for him when I snarled at him that I didn't want what he was selling and then pounced on him, beat his face to a raw mess, grabbed his pathetic shrivelled balls and ripped them off and smashed the bloody remnants into his mouth and broke his teeth.

OR: I growled "that's not even funny, dick head" and walked away as he yelled after me (his enormous ego bruised) that I have no sense of humour and EVERYONE ELSE does, therefore, I am somehow defective.

Yes, people, I AM a humourless crone. Tell me something I don't know. Wanker.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

How I Feel About Being A Feminist

On one of the genealogy websites that I visit, there has been a minor thread about the actions of of and reaction to English Suffragettes (I prefer the US term Suffragists, it just sounds more serious, but, well, I'm English). The general gist of this thread went along the lines of - those women had too much time on their hands- they were over-privileged women who didn't work- the women were an embarrassment to their families- and so on. It was an amazing little discussion. And then I noticed that all the contributers were women and my face just fell. How can this be?

Some days I feel tired of fighting. Tired of objecting to "EVERY SINGLE TINY INSIGNIFICANT THING"*, exhausted by my own attempts to counteract the bad things with good thoughts, positive thoughts, empowering thoughts. I get dragged into hating myself. I allow myself to be shrunk down and stepped on. In the face of overwhelming pressure to conform and be "normal" it just all gets too much.

Then I think of something peculiarly feminist, like oh, an Indigo Girls song, or labrys badges, or being a good Mum, friend, sister, human. Or Mary Daly's amazing Wickedary, the Bronte sisters, Audre Lorde's poems, the women who lived and breathed and died for women's Suffrage and I just feel amazing again. Powerful. Fleshed out and whole. I become re-excited by radical feminism and the promises of grace, agency and imagination contained within those two spiky, precious words. Today I may be knackered and burned out but tomorrow....

Watch and Enjoy!

* Quote courtesy of my always lovely, non-feminist mother!

Friday, October 20, 2006

It's About Time...

This has me so excited. It's such a giant leap forward in UK rape legislation. What shocked me was the information that only 5% of alleged rapists are convicted. I don't know why but I thought the number would be bigger. I really shouldn't be surprised. Now we have to work on convincing the general public that drunk women aren't fair game for rapists.

I wanted to blog about this amazing little story last month but it felt too raw then so I left it alone. Tonight it seems somehow appropriate.

Some twelve years ago my friend was brutally assaulted by a stranger. She was walking her dog in a field close to her home. A man grabbed her and threatened to kill her, then subjected her to an horrific sex attack. When she staggered away and called for help I went to be with her. I wasn't allowed to hold and comfort her because her clothes were evidence and I might have contaminated them. I was allowed to stand with her as she undressed and I bagged her clothes and passed them to a policeman. I remember thinking how small and shattered she was. And how humiliating for her to be naked and vulnerable in front of strangers. It was a terrible day.

This year they caught him! Twelve years later his DNA from another case gave him up. He is now serving three to six years and it isn't nearly enough but it's something. And I almost can't believe it. But it's true.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Getting on With it All...

Thanks for the lovely comments that you all left on my last post! It's been almost a week since we lost Tiger. I keep thinking I see her on the sofa, on the bed, in the garden. I trip over her in the kitchen while I'm cooking, (she used to rub around my legs and get stepped on!) and keep little bits of nice food aside for her. Then I remember. Oh.

I think we will get another cat. After Christmas we'll start looking for a suitable candidate. There is always an abundance of them just about then, because idiot people get newer, better pets as presents.

Again, thanks for all the support... I'll let you know when we are Catful again. Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Yesterday we had to have our cat euthanised. At the young age of four she had developed what the vet suspected was renal failure. We cried a lot and then waited while the vet did her wasn't pleasant but it WAS kind. So, after we lost our other two last year to cancer and old age, we are now catless and quite heartbroken. I don't think we will have another. Tiger was the best kind of cat. We will miss her.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Just Testing!

Let's see if this works.... If it does, enjoy!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Yes you are in the right place!

I switched to the Beta! And it is great fun... I'll keep adding to the blogroll as I go along. No messing about with HTML anymore!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Porn. Yes, That's What I said....

So, today my Daughter comes home from college RANTING. She was absolutely furious because of a discussion in her philosophy class. The subject was pornography. Daughter explained that most of her class found porn acceptable and even desirable, men and women alike. Bulldog-like, my tenacious daughter fought her anti-porn corner only to be told by one young man that her opinions are "outdated fifties feminism"; this same man jokingly threatened to strangle her, going so far as to get up out of his seat and approach her. What humour! What fun! The irony of his behaviour was lost on him. The general consensus was that porn is acceptable because women in porn have a choice. They have agency. They are using their bodies to make a living.

I have stayed away from the subject of porn so far in my short blogging career, but today I'm having my say. Porn is NEVER okay. Porn is about male domination, aggression and ownership. Porn is about humiliation, violence and control. Women who use and participate in porn are condoning the abuse and rape of other women. Men who use, buy and celebrate porn are promoting violence against women. If you like to see women sexually degraded, whether or not you think they have been paid for their suffering, you are enjoying someone else's misery. If you think that monetary compensation is all it takes to legitimise violence and rape, you might ask yourself if it is okay to go around raping people and giving them money afterwards.

Porn apologists trot out hackneyed words like "consent" and "choice" and "sexual freedom". They accuse radical feminist women like me and Daughter of sexual dysfunction, misandry and frigidity. It seems that we just hate it that there are liberated women out there who love to have sex and enjoy earning money for doing what they love... we are simply envious hags who can't get laid. We've heard all the insults; there's no new rhetoric coming from the pro-porn brigade, the reasoning to which it clings is old and tired and sad. But it is becoming obvious to me that there are new, if unintelligent and inarticulate recruits in the pornography army. My Daughter reports that she and a friend were the only people in her class of fourteen who were anti-porn. What is to be done?

Friday, September 29, 2006

As If Things Weren't Bad Enough...

This beggars belief. The treatment of this woman is nothing short of disgusting. CodePink has some information as well as other excellent anti-war resources. Here is Suzanne Swift's own site. Please visit and offer support!

(On the diabetes front, I am feeling really well and healthy at the moment. I'll post on that later this weekend.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

About How I get a Bit Pissed Off...

I went for all my extra blood tests last week, for liver function, fasting lipids, blood sugar, and about four other things that mean nothing to me. Everything came back normal. Well within healthy limits. I was jumping for joy! Woo hoo!! The doctor was wrong! Yes, I can get on with my life, I can get out of this awful feeling of dread and depression. I can run away from diabetes and daily testing and exchange diets. I am capital letters two exclamation points FREE!! Except I'm not.

It turns out that a fasting blood sugar test is meaningless. I'll say it again and highlight it: meaningless. The results count for nothing. I have to go for more tests that will "catch" the lurking, reluctant to show diabetes. Now, my point is not "why bother having a test that is meaningless?"(although that would seem to be a question worth asking). No, my point is, why don't I know about all this? How can it be that no-one has explained this to me? I feel pissed off and let down again.

Positive sides: I have bought a book, "Diabetes: The First Year" and I will familiarise myself with all of its contents. I have been eating really well since the initial diagnosis. I am getting used to the masses of veg and no chocolate!! My almost continual headaches have all but disappeared and my skin looks better than ever. I am still very conflicted about dieting and fat acceptance but for me this feels like the right way to go for now. I feel in control. I think that has to be sufficient for the time being...

BTW Many thanks to all who have sent support, I appreciate it more than you can imagine. xx

Monday, September 18, 2006

Pippa's Big Fat Dilemma...

I am so conflicted about this whole healthy eating thing. I know that I have to do it for my health, I have to try and cut down my risk of stroke, heart attack etc. But I am a compulsive eater. I have been trying for years to get to a place of comfort and safety where food is concerned. I have been learning to love my body as it is, which meant accepting my fat and my weight. Now everything I have learned has been thrown right back at me. It is NOT okay to be me. Being me is dangerous.

I loathe the idea of Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Slim Fast etc. I absolutely can not agree with the philosophy behind any of them. But where do I go for help now? Where do I turn for advice on losing weight without it becoming an exercise in body fascism? How do I reconcile my need to be smaller and healthier with my fat woman politics?

I am struggling today; all I want to do is find refuge in the foods that I love. Suddenly, frighteningly, it isn't a safe option.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Pippa Feels Somewhat Despondent

How is THIS even possible in this day and age? How can we still be fighting to control our own bodies? Third party notarization? This is the thin end of the wedge and I am terrified of the implications that this has for Texas' women.

(Just so you know, I switched to Blogger Beta and for some reason your comments are getting eaten alive! Yes, ALIVE I tell you! I'm sorry about this and I will try to fix it. Not least because it looks like nobody is reading my incredibly incisive and intelligent writings. Sniff.)

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Why are they called that then? Here's my contribution...

Why Do You Blog?

Because it's a bit like having a therapy session. I get to moan or just say things that aren't relevant to anyone but me. It's my space.

How Long Have You Been Blogging?

About four months. A baby blog, mine is!


Why Do Readers Read Your Blog?

I have no idea. I like to think that they can connect with me a little bit. I would love to feel that some things that I say can be supportive to other radfems. I tend to shy away from saying more radical stuff, I'm not too confident yet! I'll get there...

What Was The Last Search Phrase That Someone Used to Get to Your Site?

"breasts pointing south". Yes. Well. You couldn't make it up.

Which of Your Entries Unjustly Gets Too Little Attention?

My Stop smoking advice post!! I want to spread the word. I am aware that I too often evangelise about smoke free living. And Pies.

Your Current Favourite Blog?

Oh sinister girl. Ms. Jared is always my first port of call in the morning! I'm such a suck up...

What Blog Did You Read Most Recently?

see above answer.

Which Feeds Do You Subscribe to?

None. But I intend to. I waste entirely too much time chasing up new posts that aren't there and then I miss all the best ones!

What Four Blogs Are You Tagging With this Meme and Why?


These people interest me. None of them takes any guff! I aspire to that attitude. Thanks Jared for tagging me! xx

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ms Jared makes my day!!

Oh I've been so down these last few days. Just laying about feeling a bit scared and a bit out of control. I thought I was okay but I'm not, and allowing that to just be the truth is going to have to be the biggest effort I make for the time being. I'm not working, I'm not taking good care of myself, I hurt all over, you know the score... I haven't even managed to read all my favourite blogs.

Tonight I felt a big moment coming. A moment of complete chaos in my head, where I lose all rational thought and just panic. I felt it start to surge up and I CHOSE to turn it away. (Note very important capitalization of word!! I made a choice! I didn't get swept away by my feelings! Yay!) I came to my computer and looked for some friends and some comfort. And good gracious if I didn't find all that I needed on Ms Jared's blog!!! I had some catching up to do and I started with that delightful photo of a blond Ms J. She's going back to school. Go Jared! I moved on to her latest meme, and she tagged me!!! My second ever tag. I feel honoured. I'll get right on it. Thirdly I fell into the post about appreciating ourselves and how great we are. Bright Eyes singing "first day of my life" really made me feel good. I feel rejuvenated. Thanks Ms. Jared.

Monday, August 28, 2006

What's in a Name?

One of my hobbies is genealogy. I spend a lot of time trying to trace my family tree and I can get quite obsessive about it. As a consequence, one of the things that I think about often is the way that women disappear into history because very often we don't have and keep our own names.

I married in 1988 and lost my name. It didn't occur to me that I could keep the name I had been given at birth. It certainly didn't occur to me that my birth name obscured the existence of hundreds of women in my ancestry. When I took my degree I reverted to using my original surname. I wanted my degree to have MY name on it and not the name of my father-in-law and that family who wanted to so wholly own and control me.

Now I am ready to find another name. I have reached such a point in my feminist journey that it no longer seems acceptable to have this name that has been passed down through the male line, laying waste to the sacrifice, hardship and determination of so many women who go on to be forgotten or unidentifiable. But how do I make this enormous choice? I would love to hear your suggestions!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I've Been Away

And now I'm back! I had a fast depressive slump; it crept up on me and caught me. The GREAT news though, is that I was able to work through it on my own and I'm on the way up in record time. Yay me! It's my first crisis since I finished therapy and I was really caught out by it. I drew on my coping strategies and even though I'm not 100% I feel that I can manage my anxiety. I don't expect things will always go this well, but it's promising isn't it?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Dawn French. Again.

It was part two of "Girls Who Do: Comedy" last night. French asked if women comics found that their humour attracted boys. Does being funny act as a man-magnet? Or instant man repellent? (Form an orderly queue, people. When I've perfected the formula, I'll bottle it and start selling.)

I was worried about the way that French really seemed convinced that ALL women are trying to catch a man; we're not ALL straight. But then she changed her pronouns when she interviewed Sandra Bernhard and I wondered if she had tailored all her questions to fit what she already knew about the sexuality of each interviewee. I'd be interested to know the answer to that.

That aside, I actually found it very important to understand what happened when women were funny in mixed company. One or two women were explicit about the way that men found their humour threatening. Funny women are powerful because they can destroy the male ego. Funny women are intelligent and can expose men's frailties.

On the other hand, French explained that she had learned from an early age that if she wanted to "get snogged" at the end of an evening she had to let the boy have the biggest laugh; she couldn't take all the applause for herself. It seemed that if you kept a lid on it, being funny could actually get you some action. For most of the women interviewed, it seemed to be about "beauty". It boiled down to the idea that pretty girls don't need to be funny.

Here's the thing: if you have classic good looks than you don't need to be able to make people like you by being funny. This got clearer and more unfunny as Jenny Eclair recounted the tale of her miracle perm. Sometime in her teens, she had her hair permed and suddenly became very pretty and recognised that she didn't need to settle for the role of comedian anymore. Ruby Wax talked about being ugly and funny. Meera Syal was a big fat girl with a facial "twitch". How depressing to find that even these amazing, talented, powerful women are still stuck defining themselves by their appearance.

I remain delighted by the programme. The credits rolled and I felt an adrenaline rush from just listening to these honest, flawed conversations about women and comedy and life and power and all the attendant worries. I feel like I am in the conversation; I am included. I feel empowered by this kind of television. Even when what is being said drives me mental, I'm loving the saying of it.


To those of you who left condolences, comments, e-mails or otherwise.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Two Years Ago

our family lost someone. He was suffering and we didn't know it. He took his own life in the morning of 16th August.

What suicide does to those left behind is indescribable. If you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, ask for help. Grab someone, anyone, and tell them that you don't feel safe. Demand help.

In the US you can look here. In the UK you can look here.

Remember how much you are loved.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Funny Women

Who saw Dawn French on The BBC t'other night interviewing all those amazing female comics? It was a marvellous show called Girls Who Do Comedy ( and yes, the "girls" bit pissed me off). It lasted a scant thirty minutes but was so uplifting and wicked and juicy that it could have run for hours and still entranced me.

There were little snippets of life story from each woman, talking about how comedy informed her childhood, framed her existence, made her who she is. It was both hilarious and poignant. The comics included Phyllis Diller, Victoria Wood, Sandra Bernhard, Rita Rudner, Catherine Tate, Linda Smith, Gina Yashere and (the utterly superb and vastly underrated)Mo Gaffney. If it gets repeated, watch it. (And I just googled it and found that it is a )THREE PART SERIES!! Woohoo!)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I'm Quite Impressed

With THIS. I am a bit of an SVU fan; I adore Mariska Hargitay's character Olivia Benson. My daughter and I have loved the show since it started, probably because Olivia is so powerful, (and powerful women are so unusual in TV these days) and she gets to kick ass! As feminist role models for young women go, she's not too shabby.

I was even more impressed when I looked at her website and found the link to Joyful Heart Organisation. It's probably not for everyone; it doesn't come across as radical, but it feels SAFE.

I like it. I like the intention behind it. It's working for me at this moment and I intend to hang around there for a while.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I've Been Tagged!

Woohoo!! Spotted Elephant picked me. I NEVER get picked for anything, so thanks!

On the other hand, this is really HARD.

1. One book that changed your life?

I credit Alice Walker's The Color Purple with my finding feminism. At 16 years old I was at home with a new baby and no idea of where my life was going to go. I was really scared and not very well. I had PPD and didn't know it. Reading The Color Purple showed me new possibilities. It showed me how to be strong in the face of oppression and violence. I looked for other feminist books because I wanted more of the same thing. That book started me on a journey to where I am today and I am grateful for that. I met Alice Walker many years later, when she came to Manchester on a book tour. I queued to see her and when I got to the head of the line I felt faint and dizzy. I mumbled "Thankyou" and she smiled and said "yes". She took my breath away.

2. One book you have read more than once?

Well that has to be Anne of Green Gables. I read it and read it and read it. It is a cure for EVERY ill and misery that I have. Since I was old enough to read it I have longed to go to PEI. I made it in 1999 and again in 2001. Just to see where L M Montgomery lived was amazing. I even brave flying to get there! I have moved on to Montgomery's journals now and they fill me with love and sadness. She too had serious depression and anxiety, and I somehow knew this about her all along.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard. I don't think its in print anymore. Its an account of Scott's doomed Terra Nova expedition as told by one of the team members. It is a dreadful, sad story and it would make me feel a bit better while I waited to be rescued. No island could be THAT bad!

4. One book that made you laugh?

Strange Heaven by Lynn Coady. I hooted at several points when I read this and it remains on of my favourites when I need a pick-me-up. Here's a bit:

"What Stinks?"
"Nothing Stinks Mumma." Albert, gentle.
"Is that Bridey C?"
"Then she's what stinks."
Mumma, is that nice?"
Margaret P would look on in honest wonder. "I'm not saying it to be nice, Albert. Can't you smell it? Something needs to be done."


5. One book that made you cry?

Gaining Ground by Joan Barfoot. The story of a woman who leaves her husband and children after realising that they are just not what she really wanted. Living with them is killing her and she uproots herself and goes away to a small cottage in the country. She learns to do without and becomes self-sufficient and content until one day her daughter comes looking for her, needing answers. It is just wonderful and I sob every time I read it. Don't let that put you off! read it and be inspired!

6. One book you wish had been written?

A Directory of Feminist and Women Friendly Businesses. I want a plumber that won't disparage me and a bank that lends money exclusively to women who need to start their own businesses and a doctor who doesn't judge and a mechanic with a vagina and a chocolate shop with free sweets for fat radical feminists. So there.

7. One book you wish had never been written?

Bridget sodding Jones' Diary. What a heap of shit. And all my non-feminist acquaintances and relatives think I'll LOVE IT!! "Because you like women's lib stuff right? Well this is great!" No. It isn't.

8. One book you are currently reading?

Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros. Short story collection by one of my favourite writers. One of the stories is called "My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn" How could anyone resist that? Get all of her books and read them. Yum.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

Those Bones Are Not My Child by Toni Cade Bambara. This is a sad little tale but I'll share it. I bought this book two years ago to read when I was on holiday. The day after I arrived, my 18 year old nephew hanged himself, so I came home. I still can't bring myself to touch the book. I will one day. I hope.

10. Now tag five people!!

I tag:

Yawning Lion at Feh-Muh-Nist
Ms Jared at Sinister Girl (and Ms Jared's Mum!)
Pippi at Villa Villekulla
Alyx at Mad Sheila Musings

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mel gets a bit cross and says some unpleasant things...

Like other feminists, I'm really angry that he isn't begging for help, forgiveness and understanding from women as well as the Jewish community. After all, he did have a go at displaying his misogynistic tendencies. Bitch? Sugar Tits?! Is that the best he could come up with? I mean, I know he was (allegedly) ludicrously drunk and getting cross about being arrested for driving while (allegedly) intoxicated (yes, VERY clever) but really. If you are going to be a woman-hating dick head at least try and do it well. It seems almost cruel to berate him for such a feeble effort, but I will.

What a revolting, self-righteous, offensive, bigoted, cowardly specimen. Ooh! I enjoyed that.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Oh Dear.

That's the title of my new section in the sidebar. There you can find links to all things ludicrous, offensive, ill thought out, anti-woman, anti-choice or just plain sorry. I'll give it a trial and add to it as I find fodder. If it causes offence or seems just plain pointless then I'll remove it.

My theory is "know your enemy".

Saturday, July 29, 2006


I grew these from cuttings. Aren't they fabulous! (If i do say so myself!)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sufficient Scruples Has a Post

today about abortion and choice. Go there immediately and enjoy! It's brilliant.

(note: you should be looking for the post entitled "Fetuses: The Moral Equivalent of ...Everything")

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I Have a Confession To Make

I bang on a bit about fitness, I know. I like my sport and I like to get sweaty and this week I decided that I would like to get myself a bike. But you know what? I absolutely could not bring myself to go to any bike shop and try them out. Because I'm fat. And after all my preaching about fat acceptance and loving myself and feeling unashamed of my size... I am a fraud.

I pictured the (in my mind they are always male) shop assistant telling me that they don't do bikes strong enough for my massive frame. I envisaged sitting on a bike only for it to crumple underneath me as though made of tinfoil. I became overwhelmed by the image of me thrashing about on my back like an upturned turtle, unable to get myself to my feet after crushing the bike. Why am I feeling like this? What has happened to me? How can I be so frightened and humiliated by something that hasn't even happened? I am so mad at my overactive, body fascist influenced imagination that all I can do is comfort eat and scowl at myself in the mirror.

I once had a nasty experience in a sports shop when I went to buy a swimming costume as a gift for one of my slender friends. I asked a (male) shop assistant if they had any swim suits and where they were. He looked at me and said, "we have them but they won't fit YOU." This was before my feminism had kicked in, so I withered inside but smiled at him and said, "Oh, I have one for me, this is for someone else", and bought the costume. I felt so crushed.

Perhaps that's where all this new stuff is coming from? Whatever. I intend to go and try out a bike this week if only to rid myself of these stupid, offensive, hurtful thoughts.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I Am So Hot

And not in the good way...It is 30 degrees c in my bedroom this morning.

Witchy pointed out that the ads on my blog point to cosmetic dentistry thanks to my last entry. The mind boggles. I apologise. let's see what happens if I type "free, safe, legal abortion". I hold my breath...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Man Mistakenly Identified As Moron...

You probably all read about that anti-choice doughnut Pete over at "March Together for Life" and his colossal error in mistaking a satirical article at The Onion for truth and then blogging about it? It was truly humbling to see such arsery expressed so boldly. Anyway, he got thousands of comments, cruelly pointing out his moronic status (they have been deleted now so don't bother) and suggesting he try harder. It was wonderful.

Then it got better. He tried to respond to the comments with a new post about how he had a) "turned the satire back onto The Onion" and b) made the original mistake because he meets women who think like this all the time and therefore was really not a clown of the first order. This again rightly elicited more comments of the "you buffoon" type. Pick one excuse or the other, surely Pete?

Now, bless him, Pete claims that "My article was a joke, which obviously thousands of you didn't get, all the while accusing me of being the stupidest person on the planet".

You see, what most of us missed is that Pete is actually cleverer than everyone else, not more stupid. I get it now. I feel so foolish...

My Dentist Does Botox

I had my checkup on Thursday. Amazingly, my teeth are fine. While I sat in the waiting room I read and re-read the posters that advertise teeth whitening (Can't afford it) and smile perfecting (don't want it) and Botox/Fillers for my face (not even dreaming about it!). I was stunned. The before and after shots on the posters were all of women (now there's a surprise). I was concerned and not a little offended.

During my appointment I asked my lovely dentist what was going on? She told me that fillers are VERY popular, they do many each week. (I stupidly failed to ask what constitutes "many", sorry.) In particular they get women who smoke wanting the lines around the mouth smoothed out. How can this be? I was under the impression that my dentist was a health care provider, not a beautician. I was already questioning the implications of wanting whiter teeth and a "perfect" smile, feeling that this was perhaps getting too close to body fascism for comfort. Now I am to be subjected to this anti-woman rhetoric every time I need a checkup.

My point (I think) is this: there should be some places where my body and face are just acceptable. No questions asked and no fingers pointed. I should be free to seek dental treatment without having to mentally engage with inappropriate questions about ageing and beauty. The waiting room has become just another place where women are attacked and judged because of their appearance; I am very disappointed.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday Morning

I feel so down today. Just thinking about Abir Hamzah, the war in Iraq, the bombings in Mumbai, Israeli action on Lebanon, kidnapped Israeli just goes on and on. I want to DO something more than I do now. But where to start?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Youth Work Training Evening Gets off to a Bad Start. Again.

After the male police officer had handcuffed his guinea pig, he pushed her head down and made stupid jokes about fucking and showed us how very easy it was to control the woman whose body he was using. He made jokes about dicks and length and truncheons and "tugging", he was suggestive and lewd and gross and I called him on it. I said, after some minutes where I was frightened of sounding stupid or reactionary or aggressive: "I will rip yours off if you mention dick again, there's only so much penis I can take in an evening". Then I went silent. Feeling a bit silly because people laughed and because it came out wrong and a bit "Carry on Matron", I wished I hadn't said anything. Later, I went to the guinea pig ( a feminist who I have respected and admired) and apologised for my outburst (I still often have a need to do this, but I will get over it); I explained that the copper and his omnipresent prick had triggered my rage. She patted my shoulder and told me that never mind, he's a great guy, always joking around, that's just his way. Amazingly, I felt better about the whole thing. If that's just his way then he needs to be challenged and belittled until it stops being his way. Its not fucking good enough to be always joking around, especially when that joking around looks like sexual assault.

What Not to Wear?

There is a mini debate starting to boil over in the letters section of the Independent (I know, I should stop buying it). The argument is about Muslim women who wear various forms of veil/covering dress.

There are those who are arguing against women wearing full or part burqa in Britain; they say it demeans women and oppresses them. They say that there is no place in this country for such control over women's dress and behaviour. I agree.

There are those who argue FOR the veil, jilbab, burqa etc. saying that the type of dress commands respect and makes women safer from some forms of abuse. That may well be true.

There are those that have said that the sight of a veiled woman is much less degrading to women and less offensive in general than the sight of a half-naked, drunken woman staggering the streets. This is just reactionary; I think that its too easy to put these two particular images in direct opposition, as if women are necessarily either one thing or the other, but that's another argument.

Here's what I think: I don't think it is freedom when women are routinely wearing lashings of make-up, starving themselves, shaving themselves, sticking on long false nails and pouring chemicals on their head. To me, it all amounts to much the same thing as purdah: women have to mask their real appearance before they go out in public. It is wrong to think that women in Britain have a free choice about how we dress; we might THINK that we are free to choose but we all know that we have been socially and culturally coerced into thinking about body and dress the way that we do. It's become just too easy to point to Muslim traditions and criticize, all the while feeling smug about alleged Western freedoms.

I wanted to go out to the shops today wearing my khaki shorts and a t-shirt. It took me over half an hour to decide whether or not it would be A) appropriate for a woman of my size and B) worth the harassment that goes along with it. I decided that the answer was yes in both cases. I am determined to make actual choices about my clothes. I am utterly sick of being told what to wear and how to wear it. I want to control my own appearance and identity. It's a lot to ask.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

And then it just gets worse...

Heart at Women's Space/The Margins has this astonishing post about Iraqi women up today. I link to it but warn you, it will upset you. But you need to read it anyway.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Amy's Mix Came Today!!

Having taken part in the great Feminist Music Swap organised by the delectable Ms Jared at Sinister Girl, waiting for the post has become more exciting than I could imagine! So far I have had six mix CDs loaded with amazing feminist music. I have fabulous new music options! I am loving SleaterKinney, Azure Ray, Alix Olson, Dirty 3, The Donnas, Pink ( who would have thought!) Dar Williams, Vienna Teng, Judy Small and others... I am thinking of distilling all the best songs into one great big mixed mix version!

I bought the Dixie Chicks new CD too; I have an embarrasment of riches! Thanks you women!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Random Monday Thought on Being Fat

I played a couple of hours of football yesterday. I was knackered when I finished but I defy anyone not to be. On Friday evening I played several games of badminton; I'm not brilliant but I have excellent reflexes and am improving. I work up a sweat, I get up a good heart rate and I am very limber. I'm not unfit. I am, however, quite fat. I likes my chocolate! (Actually, joking aside, I have a compulsive eating disorder and have suffered with bulimia.) I don't want to be thinner; I love who I am. I have muscles and they are becoming more defined. I jiggle a bit when I run and I have stretch marks that prove my mettle. I am brave and strong and large and fat. I am absolutely gorgeous!

So, while I was nipping into my local shop yesterday to get a post-match cold drink, a young male passer-by shouted at me to "get on a diet". Here's my answer: "No. Now fuck off before I chase you down and kick your arse." And I can.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

I'm Back!

I went away for a few days, so I haven't posted much. I shall be making up for lost time later today! I have also neglected to read anyone else's blog so I have loads to catch up on! I am looking forward to it!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

New Feminism?

I am told that there's a conference tomorrow in London where the principal discussion will be "New Feminism". I am told that in the New Feminism women are encouraged to strip, be sexually available and even to pole dance, thereby liberating themselves from centuries of physical and sexual oppression. It is okay to wear make up, diet to the point of organ failure and have unimaginably large breast implants. It is fine to embrace traditional and cultural interpretations of femininity. It is okay to do these things because actually it all qualifies as reclamation. It turns out that women are empowered by being sexually objectified because they are CHOOSING to be objectified. They are celebrating their bodies and the sexual arousal that they provoke in men. These New Feminists are not being coerced therefore they must have agency in these situations!


And there I was, labouring under the illusion that this kind of thinking was 20th century Feminist - fearing, woman - loathing, lads' mag - type bullshit, engineered in order to fool women into staying thin, small and powerless.

This Old Feminist had been thinking that it might be great if women had complete control over their reproductive rights and could have abortion on demand, or could feel that their large or small, sagging or pointy -uppy, stretchmarked, blue-veined breasts were just fine thanks. Or could get equal pay for a good day's work and could walk home safely at any time of day or night. I thought it might be good if women could report rape without fear of being made to feel slutty or stupid or untruthful. It might be amazing and important if women didn't get raped at all. It would be nice if women's sports paid as well as men's and got the same tv coverage. It would be grand to get decent maternity rights and quite nice to see women over 7 stone on tv sometime. It might be wonderful if girl children were treated the same as boy children and not pushed into "gender appropriate" familial roles. It could be fabulous if hairy legged women were commonplace. It would be fantastic if Cunt was not a dirty word...

How did I get Feminism so wrong? Honestly, some days I feel so foolish.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My Green Fingers.

I was awestruck by Yawning Lion's fantastic post today over at Feh-Muh-Nist. She talked about her imagined garden and how bare and dry it seemed, with its unwanted electric fence. She talked of relationships and memories, and the delights of summer. She talked about taking down the walls that keep us in and others out. She is getting the hard work done. It was a delight to read. In honour of that delicious post I am showing you my good garden.

Everything within the fences has been begged, borrowed or stolen. I try not to spend money on plants if I can help it. I go to my garden when I need some rest or some energy; I do the work that needs doing and it refreshes me. It is not the garden of my dreams, but it is close! My metaphorical (feminist) garden is sometimes way behind in development and is often wanting for water and nourishment, but I'm working on it!

PS: Ignore the washing lines!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's Here!!

I have been waiting for today, excited to join in with Feminist First's challenge to blog for the women who support us. I had a hard time deciding on my "woman" (maybe this should be a monthly thing?!) but today this is for Alison.

I am honoured to have had the opportunity to share my story with you. You listened and talked, always nurturing me and never judging. You pointed out new pathways when I felt lost and stumbly; you helped me read my own map! I am grateful to you for your loving, strong, ferocious support. I am encouraged by your very existence! Today I am dedicating this blog to you and the work that you do.

Friday, June 16, 2006

I Knew There Was A Reason....

that I could never bring myself to even pick up a copy of "Bridget Jones' Diary". Some small voice nagged away at my subconscious saying don't do it, don't read even one word, it will drive you insane with anger... I should have payed closer attention to that small voice because yesterday a bit of BJ (how appropriate) snuck into my eyeline and I accidentally read Fielding's column in the Independent. You just know what's coming don't you? Well, get ready for it.

Having had her baby boy, Bridget's perineum is being sewn up after her tear/episiotomy. The doctor asks Bridget's boyfriend if he would prefer a 16 or a 17 (it may even have been an 18, I cannot bring myself to re-read the passage) Boyfriend Daniel opts for 14. I can only assume that this refers to the tightness of Bridget's vagina as it might have been at various ages. I am reeling in shock.

Is it ironic? Am I not understanding something? Is this post-feminism? An allusion to the designer vagina or the possible aesthetic value of the pubescent cunt? I cannot find this funny. Or clever. I find that I have been right to avoid the books; if this is a representative section then clearly there is nothing in them worth reading. I can only hope that I have seriously misunderstood the passage and it is actually a discussion about dress size or penis length.

UPDATE: I have checked the actual wording in Thursday's Independent. here is the sentence in it's entirity:

There was some disgusting stitching to be done, and distinctly heard doctor say, "Ok, Daniel, what's it to be - 16-year-old or 17-year-old?", to which Daniel replied, excitedly, "Could you make it 14? Thank-you Doctor!". Humph.

I thought so. I absolutely despair. How any woman can read this and not feel revulsion is beyond me.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I Am Left to My Own Devices!

I had my last therapy session yesterday. I have wept copious tears in preparation for our parting and I wept more last night and this morning. I have been seeing my amazing therapist for a few years; each time I got up the nerve to go it alone something traumatic happened and I crashed, needing more time. Well, this time I am making the leap out into the open world no matter what happens. We have worked together for ages, getting me equipped with coping strategies and ridding me of my depression demons and for that I am more grateful to her than anyone could imagine. But now I have to test my mettle, or I will never test it at all.

So now I am free-falling into my own space and hoping that my landing is a safe one. My feminism will sustain me. I hope.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Real Football! Not that World Cup Rubbish...

I went to a local women's football training session on Monday. I took my small friend hoping that she would join in and expend some energy; she has aggression issues and needs to convert all her rage into something positive. She loved the games and the training and to my surprise, so did I. I play badminton once a week but I really need to do more exercise and I think this may be my answer!

The training ran for two hours and it was such an uplifting delightful sight to behold. There were approximately 20 young women aged 12 and up, legging it about on a field getting sweaty and muddy, falling over and leaping back up, booting the ball and playing really great football. I was electrified. The power on that pitch was tangible. There were all sorts of body shapes and sizes, tall women and short women, fat women and tiny women. I was wearing my work clothes and couldn't really get involved in the games but I can't wait to join in. I can't adequately express my joy at having stumbled into this energising, woman - centred space. I am going to buy new sports kit!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Nip? Tuck? Anyone?

Some time ago I complained to the Advertising Standards Agency about an advert for the Sky one series "Nip/Tuck". The advert appear in one of the Sunday magazines and went like this:

The two main male characters were sitting in an empty operating theatre. They were wearing their finest suits and looking mean and brooding. Draped across one of the men's laps was a slender and white naked woman with scalpels inserted into her body at various points. There was a similar naked woman standing elsewhere in the picture.

I got annoyed and dashed off a complaint. To me it seemed obvious; the advert was offensive on many many levels, not even considering the programme it advertised. It was not obvious, however, to the folk at the ASA. Here's the important part of their reply:

"the advertisement reflected the content of the programme, which was an adult drama about the private and professional lives of two male cosmetic surgeons" Yeeeeees? "the pose of the woman lying on her back was stylised; there was no blood emanating from around the scalpel" aaaaah, I get it.."The advertisement was unlikely to encourage violence against women or to cause serious or widespread offence to readers of national press titles." Ok then.

So, it's not offensive because there's no blood, the pose of the women was stylised and the fictitious men were plastic surgeons. The problem is that it SHOULD be offensive. The general public ought to be recognising that these are violent images of powerless women. Instead, these images just wash over people and their influences seep into the collective consciousness. We become more tolerant with every picture. I intend to complain more often, and with a louder voice.

Friday, June 02, 2006

When is Rape not Really Rape?

I went to a training session on children (usually age ten and up) who sexually offend. I am still reeling from what I heard while I was there. It is too long winded to go into all of it but the woman delivering the lecture began by giving an "example", see what you think.

Several young lads and a girl get together one evening and end up buying alcohol, getting very drunk, going back to someone's house and having sex with the girl. Next morning the girl reports that she has been raped by these boys.

Our trainer then went on to ask "Should these boys be criminalised for making one bad decision?" and said "there but for the grace of god go any of my own boys". The trainer went on to suggest that there should be a way of contextualising an incident like this because being labeled a sex offender can have damaging impact on young boys who simply made a stupid choice.

I could not believe what I was hearing. I interrupted and asked about the victim. How do we "contextualise" her experience? Unwilling participant in a childhood mistake? Facilitator in a rite of passage? Should her assault be ignored in favour of not branding the perpetrators as rapists? I did not get the answer I wanted. Of course the victim will be consulted and her feelings taken into account. If she feels that she was raped then that will be addressed. The whole situation must be addressed "holistically". This is such bullshit. Rape is rape. How dare she suggest that it should be treated as a mistake, a simple error of judgment.

I wanted to say that if she thinks her sons are the kind who might get drunk and gang rape a young girl then she ought to be ashamed. Bring up your sons better, stop making excuses. I wanted to stand up and shout that this was intolerable. That if we were talking about the gang rape of a young boy then the reaction would be different. I wanted to take over the training and begin again from a feminist perspective and tell all my stunned looking colleagues the truth about rape. I wanted to shake the trainer until she woke up.

I didn't do any of these things. I did say that rape should never be tolerated or excused away. I said that I was unhappy with the phrase "bad decision". In the face of all my co-trainees and their obvious discomfort at my questioning, I bailed.

I should have done better.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Choosing my Words Carefully

For a couple of days now I have been pondering my choice of terminology when it comes to articulating what I feel about abortion. I have a fabulous baseball shirt from Outspoken Clothing that reads "Against Abortion? Don't Have One!" It means (to me at least) that if you are anti-abortion you don't need to have one, but don't be stepping on my rights to have one. I thought it was clear. Turns out it isn't. This weekend two women have approached me and lauded my blatant and powerful anti-abortion stance. To my horror they have misinterpreted my slogan, and if they have then how many others have done the same thing but said nothing?

I had to explain (and I did it kindly) that in fact I am pro-choice. I am firmly and unequivocally in favour of every woman's right to decide what happens to her body. This was not well received! Spitting vitriol, these women walked away. I considered what I had said to them about my beliefs and felt dissatisfied.

In fact, I am pro-abortion. I used to say that I wasn't pro abortion; I balked at what that might imply. It almost suggested to me that I might be found rampaging through the streets looking for pregnant women in order to satisfy my lust for termination. "Pro-choice" seemed a sanitized version of what I was expressing; as a label, it was also a target in debates with anti-choice apologists. Many times I have defended myself with the words "Actually, I am Pro-Choice. It doesn't mean the same thing as being pro -abortion!" Well, now I think it does.

During this weekend's marathon thinking session I have felt increasingly that I can't say that I am pro-choice if I am not prepared to say that I am also pro-abortion. I have decided that I can't shy away from what this means or what impression it might engender in others. To that end, I am going to change my vocabulary and use pro-abortion rather than pro-choice. I am also going to shift focus when I talk about the "right to lifers". They are anti-choice, anti-freedom and anti-woman; let's label them as such instead of letting them hide behind the romanticized and evocative phrase "pro-life". Lets make them uncomfortable. Lets tell it like it is.

Monday, May 29, 2006

My Daughter Drives....

She passed her test! Yay! No more splashing out 20 quid a week for driving lessons. No more getting up really early to take her to work or college. I feel released. I feel redundant. She has her freedom and her own little car. She took off this morning to go out with her mates, leaving me here staring wistfully up the street as her car disappeared round the corner....She is moving on; I shall miss her.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Boobs, Boobs everywhere!

Did anyone see the BBC programme "My Breasts and I" last night? It was excellent. There were a couple of dodgy moments when the presenter (Jenny Frost) got all shy about her breasts and explained that she happily poses (not topless) for lad mags but wouldn't expose her boobs for a documentary in case her family saw it. (?)

The segment on bare breasted women in New York was entertaining. A photographer was exploring people's responses to topless women going about their daily lives. He was trying to understand why some societies think its okay for men to wander around topless but not women. I often wonder this myself. I HATE seeing men walking along topless simply because I know that were I to do the same thing I would likely be arrested or worse. I digress. Just as I was starting to fume that all the women being snapped were perky breasted youngsters, out popped two of the largest bosoms ever, both pointing south and looking well used. I was thrilled to bits. I actually punched the air and shouted "YESSSSSSS!" We need to see those breasts. We need to know that those breasts are great.

My only experience so far with breast cancer was twenty five years ago when my lovely nana had a mastectomy. All I remember is not being able to cuddle her for months after the op. and I was always aware that she had a "funny" bra with an already filled cup to make her look "Normal". We did not discuss anything about how she felt about her body. I later found out that my Grandad had held her after her operation, looked at her scar and told her she was beautiful. Knowing this has coloured my opinion of mastectomy and reconstruction.

There was a very moving segment on breast cancer survivors and the effects of mastectomy and subsequent reconstruction. In my ignorance I had never even considered what happens if you want nipples that are a darker colour than the reconstructed breast (you can have a kind of tattoo effect). I had never thought about how they make the new breast or what other options there are if reconstructive surgery is not for you. One woman showed a stick on breast-shaped prosthesis that looked like it would seriously irritate the tender skin to which it was attached.

I wish the programme had included women who choose not to have reconstruction and do not wear prosthetics. I wish it was okay for women to lose their breasts to cancer and not feel ashamed of their changed bodies. I know now that some women feel unbalanced without two breasts, something I had never considered before, and I understand that this is a reason for prosthesis. I still think we need to see breast cancer and its effects; we need to see women living with mastectomy and loving their bodies. I'm questioning as I write...would I think this way about prosthetic limbs? If not, why not? I am not ashamed to say that I held my own breasts while I watched.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My stop smoking experience. (as if you wanted to know)

I just read Bitchphd's post about smoking and it prompted me to dig out my stop smoking pep talk, I wrote it for a consumer website ages ago but it could stand an airing...Well it would have helped me to know more about other people's experiences when I was giving up so here goes: (smokers don't take it personally!)

I smoked for fifteen years, 30 a day, through pregnancy, in the rain, on the beach, in the bath, on the loo, full of a cold, during a bout of bronchitis, you name it. I was utterly determined to have my daily allowance. I spent an absolute fucking fortune (I liked the more expensive cigs, you know, the American ones that begin with an M and cost about 5 quid a pack in the UK), not just on fags, I bought loads of perfume and body lotion and mints etc. all in an attempt to hide the smell of smoke. What a waste. But my cigs were so gooooood. Who can resist that feeling of absolute pleasure when you light up after a long, enforced break? It IS good. But it's all an illusion and most of us know that. It only feels so good because we are addicted.

So, after fifteen years of "enjoying" smoking I gave up. What follows is the why, and more importantly the how.

I decided to stop because I couldn't afford to smoke and have a new kitchen. How shallow and sad is that!? There was no moment of crisis in my health, no moment of realization, no epiphany. I just worked out that my home loan payments were about the same as I was spending on cigs and if I didn't stop I would forever be living in squalor. Simple..he he he. It Soooo was not.

I didn't do any of the things you are supposed to do beforehand. I didn't pick a quit date, I didn't get rid of my smoking paraphernalia and I didn't seek advice from a quit group (been there, done that and failed too many times) I just got up, had whatever fags were left in my packet and then resolved not to have any for the next hour or two.

I felt (and still do) that planning the whole quit date shebang would be too depressing, I would worry more as the big day approached and then feel so spineless and pathetic if I slipped up. It’s so much better to catch yourself off guard, take your fags by surprise and jump in at the deep end. Just do it on the spur of the moment because you then have less emotion invested in the venture. We have all tried and failed and tried again and despaired and hated ourselves and smoked defiantly and wheezed and coughed and started the whole cycle again. It is really bleeding depressing.

I say bollocks to the National Health Service approach and just try it this way. Get some gum, not patches because the faffy bit of smoking where you find the pack in your bag/pocket and take out the fag and light up is important to smokers. We like to have something to do. So now you have a blister pack of fruity gum-(Nicotinell is best, trust me) to fiddle with and the whole process of putting the gum in and remembering to chew and park is just enough of a distraction. Wearing a patch is just too passive for me; I want to have to work for my nicotine!

So I made it through my first two hours and felt quite confident enough to do another couple and before I knew it, it was bed time.! Wahay! A whole eight hours fag free and not as bad as I thought. It was bad, I won't lie to you but it was do-able. I didn't die. I didn't even get too upset and wasn't that nasty with my family. Most importantly I didn't set myself any goal that felt too big. I always kept in my mind that I was trying to avoid smoking "today". With each successful day your confidence grows. I have done over 1000 days now. I don't REALLY count them anymore; I just sat here and worked that number out. And I really don't miss smoking at all. In fact I hate it. I regret all those lost years and all that lost money. I regret being a bit smelly. I regret not being able to sit in the library and do any work because I had to get up and go out for a fag every 20 minutes and I curse the days that I smoked around my daughter and sent her to school smelling like an ashtray.

What you can expect when you give up:

Cravings!!! The gum helps but it takes a bit longer than a ciggie to work. You need to be calm and tell yourself to hang on a minute and if it is ABSOLUTELY intolerable you can have a cig. It won't ever get that bad.

You will miss smoking. It feels a little bit like bereavement. You cigs have been with you through thick and thin. They love you and help you out when you need it. When they are gone you feel quite sad about it for a while. Just remember that all the time you thought they were being nice to you, they were actually slagging you off behind your back.

You might sleep badly for a few days. Just have a horlicks and a nice warm bath and remind yourself that when you wake up you won't have toilet breath! It passes.

Now we get to the positives:

You will smell great!

Your fingers will turn a normal colour again. No more yellowy orangey stains. And the same goes for your teeth, eventually,

You feel fitter and can breathe easier. This is such a big and unexpected bonus! You never really think you have problems when you smoke. You only know you did when you stop.

You won't be a social pariah. You will sit through a flight and not be nasty and cranky, you will be able to go to the pictures and enjoy a film.

You will feel so unbelievably, utterly, fabulously proud of your incredible achievement that you will wake up every day feeling smug and satisfied and nothing beats that! Giving up is difficult, if you can do it then you deserve unlimited praise!

So that's that. Long winded but I hope helpful and not preachy. Please try giving up. You are so worth it.

Feminist Standpoint Theory Anyone?

I have to understand it pretty quickly. I am not current on this particular theory and all I know is that it may encompass various theoretical feminisms. Googling seems to throw up too much random crap so if anyone can point me towards a readable potted version I would be really grateful.

I slept very badly last night and today I have a headache...I feel decrepit!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Is YOUR wife fat?

I got a free copy of the Sunday Times yesterday. (I fed my neighbour's cats and was told to take any papers that came and keep them for myself. Just so you know I didn't steal it) It has so many sections that it is almost laughable, but the one I really enjoyed was the "Style" supplement. Because I'm just so stylish.

Nestled in amongst the advice about spotty teens, adverts for £500 lampshades and £210 Yoga bags, expensive clothing suggestions and miracle face cream hype was this nugget by James Delingpole :

Can You Tell Your Wife She's Fat?

Well can you? Turns out, you can. If you can no longer pretend that you still fancy her you can be direct and tell it like it is. Or you can tell her best mate and get her to tell your wife. Or you can sneak in a weekend at a health farm and pretend YOU want to slim down. Or you can take your wife to a fabulously expensive clothes shop that only does tiny sizes and let her work it out for herself. (This one carries a risk: your wife may lose the weight and then you will have to actually buy the expensive clothes.)

Here's the killer quote from the whole piece: "When we start going out with a woman, we do so in the expectation that she is going to remain more or less the same as she was when we bought into the package." Well.

You know when you just can't start expressing what you feel because you don't really know where to start and you might not be able to stop and your head might explode and they won't get it anyway and life's too complicated already so why bother.....That's how I feel about this. I KNOW it's meant to be tongue in cheek. I KNOW I'm supposed to have a sense of humour about these types of articles. But I just can't find it funny. I find it sickening. I leave it to you to take the piece apart, please make me feel better!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Front Bottoms and Other Unmentionables...

While I was over at Yclepta reading the recent post on body hair I remembered seeing this fantastic cartoon and thought I would share it with you. It is by Mikhaela. Pop over there and have a good look at her political cartoon series, it is excellent.

I volunteer in a youth centre and there is a poster in the girl's toilets that actually reads: "some of your bits aren't nice" !! It then goes on to explain how to keep armpits and front bottoms all nice and shiny and inoffensive. I understand that some young people do need advice on personal hygiene but this takes the piss. It is offensive and every time I go to the loo the clean and hairless girl on the poster winks at me and defies me to challenge her. I shall be ripping the poster from the wall this week.

I may even take it into the car park and set fire to it.

Pippa is on Time!

I made my deadline! I am so bad at meeting academic deadlines that actually being on time is quite amazing for me.

What I have to watch for now is my tendency to think that I can have a few days off to recuperate from the stress of submitting some work! I usually think that I can have a few days in the garden poking about at seedlings and uprooting things that have overgrown their space. I like being muddy and disheveled. I can allow myself a little bit of down time but I can't let it get out of control. There's too much to be done...

Here, for your admiration, are some of my tulips!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Just When You Think You've Heard And Seen It All...

I introduce you to THIS. Have a good look round the Purefreedom site. It's wise to familiarise yourself with new concepts of freedom for women. Can anyone here spell L.I.B.E.R.A.T.E.D.?

Monday, May 15, 2006

I Really am Trying to Work...

I am in the umpteenth year of my PhD. I have a deadline in two days for my latest written piece which is a mapping out of a potential introduction. I am working on a rationale piece; a few pages explaining my choice of primary texts. I feel like I am getting nowhere, just swimming around in circles in the soupy swamp water that is my academic life.

Research is a lonely occupation. Nobody believes that I really am working; no-one gets what I am talking about and nobody actually wants to. My family thinks I am available all the time and at a moment's notice for hours on end. My friends make stupid comments like "when will you eventually have a job?" and "you don't know how lucky you are not to work". I am paid nothing and feel guilty all the time about not earning a living.

I often forget why I even started this process and dream of getting a full time job in a bakery with plenty of company, a living wage, no solitary thinking days and access to all the cakes and pies I can eat...

A comment!! All for me!!

Feminist First gave me my first welcome today! I am chuffed with this so I am linking to her excellent post: Anti-Porn Activism. I completely agree that we need to make the public more aware that porn is about violence and power and not sex.

I have taken to giving derisive snorts of laughter when I find myself standing near any man flicking the through the tit mags. This is merely my best defense mechanism; I don't really find it funny when men leer at porn in W H Smiths. I use my laughter to try and rid myself of the the feeling of revulsion and intimidation that overwhelms me when I am in that situation. I hope it embarrasses the men within earshot. It probably doesn't.

What worries me most about porn is how insidious it can be. Images that were at one time indicative of soft porn magazines are now becoming mainstream. Through "lad mags" like Loaded and Nuts, the standard shot of an open mouthed, spread-eagled blonde in minimum clothing has filtered into mainstream media. My snorting, feeble, uncomfortable laugh is lost in the ether....

Saturday, May 13, 2006

It's Raining Again...

Well, no-one expected the sunshine to last over the weekend did they? That never happens.
Continuing the theme of women in sport, this struck me as interesting. We need our own Title ix in Britain. Enjoy your day!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

My New Language

I have spent the last few hours learning HTML in haphazard fashion! I know enough now to add links and put in underlining! I don't understand pingbacks yet and I can't get my blogroll button to work but hey, you can't have everything!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Feeling a bit better now.

This cheered me up somewhat! have a look and feel inspired!
It's sunny in Salford today! The sun almost cheers me up but not quite. Last night's national news left one Salford feminist feeling angry and depressed. In the middle of all the "serious" news was a lighter topic: Theo Walcott and his surprise place in the England football team. We were told that it is "every young boy's dream" to be in Theo's shoes. I suppose it is. Sadly, young women can not aspire to the same achievement since their football teams are not afforded the same television time, the same sponsorship deals and the same credibility as men's teams

During a segment documenting the daily routine of a young woman with a crippling and rare disease, we were given insight into the ambitions of "EVERY young girl" in Britain. Turns out to be karaoke. As if we needed to be told....

I am so fucking sick of it. We are constantly fed this kind of editorial bullshit about what girls desire and aspire to. It is so common and so insidious that it is barely noticed anymore. I too often feel weak and powerless in the overwhelming mass of it.

Still, there's always the good weather....

Monday, May 08, 2006

My daughter smokes (Yes, it is the title of an Alice Walker Essay)

Oh My God I cannot believe that the tiny red headed freckly baby is a smoker. I am so angry about this that I am almost incandescent. I finally gave up two years ago after fifteen years of smoking thirty a day. It was hellish but I did it. My daughter hated me smoking. She loathed the smell and my stained teeth and hands. She also has asthma. So why is she smoking now? It can only be peer pressure. Her new college friends smoke in clubs at weekends and she wants to be like them? When I ask her she shrugs and smirks and tells me I am making too much of it. I don't get it.

Alice Walker's fabulous Essay "My Daughter Smokes" in her collection Living by the Word is in part an exploration of the politics of smoking and the pain of watching your child inhale toxins and carcinogens; it also gives a short account of her father's death from pneumonia and his battle with bronchitis and emphysema. I shall be making my daughter sit down and read it. It will mean nothing to her and she will think I am stupid. I wish I could do better on her behalf but I can't. The smoker's need for a cigarette will nearly always overwhelm any common sense desire to quit. I used to long for a cigarette so much that I would be able to convince myself that I was actually warding off disease with the smoke. It is a vicious addiction and I despair for my daughter and her fine young skin and her compromised lungs.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Ooh, my very own blog.....

This is my first entry. I feel so self conscious! I read lots of different blogs every day, some of them are incredible, beautifully written and meaningful. I am jealous of anyone's ability to write well and I am always looking for people to listen to my rants so thought that I might like to give it a try.

I think that I have lots to say, particularly about being a woman, a feminist, a parent and a student. I am fervently pro-choice, pro-abortion on demand and anti-racist. I was born into a Methodist family but I now have no religious affiliations. I once thought about converting to Judaism, I have also wanted to be a nun, an opera singer and a fire fighter. I am 34 years old and am trying very hard to complete my PhD....At this rate it may never happen.

I live in Salford in North West UK, a city that I love. I like listening to (in no particular order) Shawn Colvin, the Indigo Girls, k d lang, Elvis, Dolly Parton (!) and Patty Griffin.

My favourite films are Raising Arizona, Steel Magnolias, Dr Strangelove and Spinal Tap. I read mainly short fiction, American and Canadian literature, however my current read is Andrew Martin's The Necropolis Railway. (I bought it for a pound at Waterstones. It's rather good.)

That's a bit about me then. I will add bits more as I go along. Hmmm. Still self-conscious....