Friday, December 14, 2007

My haitus.

I went AWOL for three weeks because I got notice that my viva was scheduled for 13th December. So I went yesterday and bugger me if I didn't pass! I got my PhD. It seems unreal to me and I feel a bit flat about it yet. I'm hoping for euphoria at some point. I think I deserve it!

I have minor corrections to do, and I am actually looking forward to working on them. So, normal service will be resumed here as of today. Carry on!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Carnival!

Here it is! The Carnival's in town. Get your comfy boots on and throw on an old, warm jacket, it's November and we're going for a long, satisfying walk round Radical Feminist country.


First off, Holly Ord at the wonderful and thoughtful site, Menstrual Poetry, posts about Planned Parenthood and talks positively about how the organisation is a champion of woman's health issues and reproductive rights. The Truth About Planned Parenthood.

Holly also provides us with an eloquent post on the "pro-life" agenda and the hit-and-miss results that blogs get with Google ad-sense in her post Fun with My Google Adsense Holly says "Whenever looking at this site, I always find myself going through the ads Google has deemed as appropriate for my website. As most know, most of the time Google comes up with some rather interesting ads to display, sometimes having nothing to do with the content on your website." And finally Holly gives us LOL Fetus? Holly's own take on Gary Cangemi's "pro-life" cartoon Umbert the Unborn. Copy it, paste it, pass it on!


Tracee Sioux steps up with a grand post questioning the apparent Pornification of Halloween. Tracee asks "When the focus is on what girls are wearing for Halloween are we blaming Lolita for Humbert Humberts perversions? Girls walk a tight rope of acceptability now that the pornification of everything girly has become normalized." I absolutely couldn't agree more. And don't get me started on the whole "ugly" witch thing...


Felix at BayRadical presents her interview with lesbian feminist photographer Cathy Cade. The photos that accompany the post are beautiful, powerful, startling and joyful. We need more of this positive celebration of lesbian radical feminism! You Can't Stop Me – an interview with Cathy Cade


Marcella Chester at Abyss2Hope talks about the difficulties surrounding traditional police procedure and the treatment of rape victims in her post Troubling Police Interview With Alleged Rape Victim Marcella comments that "With all the emphasis on false confessions and false convictions, many people still accept retractions of rape allegations as if they can never be false and obtained through abusive tactics."


Marcella also posted about Anti-Feminism And Rape saying, "This is my response to a man who claims that feminists are like Klansmen." This is a searing response to the ludicrous and unintelligent accusation that Feminism encourages the wholesale abuse of men in a way that is comparable to the abuse of people of colour by Klansmen. Fear not, Marcella dealt with it!


Maggie Jochild got all excited and showered me with fantastic fodder for you womyn!! I loved the look of her blog, lots of photos to engage the eye and the heart. We'll start with WHO WERE THE WITCHES? a mega-post that begins with a contemplation on the meaning and celebration of Halloween and morphs gently into a wonderful historical overview of the works of Bonnie Lockhart and The Berkeley Women's Music Collective.

Maggie's next two submissions focus on living with disability. LIFE IN A WHEELCHAIR and DISABILITY 101: SOME GUIDELINES are two beautifully illustrated posts about the politics and practicalities of disability. Disability 101 is, if you'll pardon me, a fucking brilliant lesson in how to talk about and understand varied disabilities.


If I give you the technorati tags (Adriene Rich, Class, BMI, Crooked Timber, Fat, Gay and Lesbian Couple Visibility, Sexism, Title VII, Womensspace, Red Stae/Blue State Regionality) for Maggie's next post, that should give you some idea of the range of her thinking! It won't, however, prepare you for the stunning photo accompaniments. Enjoy! BROAD CAST, 8 NOVEMBER 2007: DELVING DEEPER FOR TRUTH


April Spreeman submitted Sexually Vulnerable Black Women: Can America Empathize? It's a short critique for such a massive subject, but the bones of something eloquent and important are there and April, I would really like to read more!


ISPF submitted a post that made me laugh, then made me feel sad and sorry and all kinds of love for the womyn in my (and your) history who had to fight for some dignity in employment. Read and remember to celebrate our foremothers: Guide to Hiring Women!


Feminist Peace Network gives us U.S. Board of Immigration: FGM Not Grounds for Asylum And I have to ask myself Am I surprised? Sadly, I am not.


allecto worked HARD on this next submission and it's good. Allecto discusses and deconstructs the effects of the Northern Territory Emergency Intervention into Aboriginal communities report and the "Little Children Are Sacred" report and their inherent racism. It makes for a challenging read.Will they come with guns? The military invasion of the Northern Territory Aboriginal communities.


The inimitable, unstoppable Ann Bartow pops up to give us Externalities Illustrated her take on what happened during halftime at the Jets/Steelers game some weeks ago, when women were subjected to the jeers, threats and harassment of a massive group of male football fans. Anne discusses the negative externalities that result for the many when the few "choose" to collude with the oppressor.


One of my favourite bloggers,Debs at Feminist Fire, takes issue with a new surgical procedure in What fresh hell is this? I'm still not convinced it's not a joke...


Binging up the rear are two fabulous posts from Maia at Touchingly Naive. Maia is absolutely an artist. I believe that she has talent beyond measure! Anyway, for a while she has been posting for Vulva Liberation Week and here are two of her VLW posts. Bleeding Over Africa is a thoughtful, intelligent response to the subtle marketing of sanitary protection to poverty stricken women in Africa. My Body, My Self! is Maia's art on show! Go and have a look. I'll leave you to guess how she did them...

And finally, because I love my front bottom, I give you Crochet Vulva!. Go and make your own!

Thanks for sticking with me on this wonderful Autumn walk. I have so enjoyed all of your submissions and I look forward to reading your responses. I'm going indoors to make tea now, can someone bring the biscuits? Pippa x

Friday, November 09, 2007

Random Search Terms

For your edification I give you the two wierdest search phrases that led people here this week:

1. Boobs are Everywhere

2. Who has smelliest shit faeces?

Just when you think you've seen it all...

Just a Little Note

The Carnival of Radical Feminists is here in November/December! Get your submissions to me by 24th November and I'll get down to work. I can't wait! You can e-mail me at pippi_jl@hotmail.com

Get submitting.

Monday, October 29, 2007

But of Course!

The National Right to Life Committee doesn't support SCHIP*! How completely unsurprising! What a non-story. Is ANYBODY shocked that an anti-woman, anti-choice group doesn't actually appear to give a shit about the foetus once it pops out of the host?

Forced to continue a pregnancy? Compelled to give birth to a child you can't afford and can't care for? Child sick and in need of affordable medical insurance? Tough titties! The National Right to Life Committee have done their bit. They only want to know when there's someone else's uterus involved. After that you're on your own.


*For those of us Brits who don't know, SCHIP is a US initiative: the State Children's Health Insurance Program, providing low cost health insurance for Families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but can't afford private insurance.

According to the website: Families that do not currently have health insurance are likely to be eligible, even if you are working. The states have different eligibility rules, but in most states, uninsured children under the age of 19, whose families earn up to $36,200 a year (for a family of four) are eligible. For little or no cost, this insurance pays for:

doctor visits
immunizations
hospitalizations
emergency room visits

Friday, October 26, 2007

Oh, How I hate that word...*

Do you "slow down for whores"?** I ask because if you are the driver that does, there's apparently a bumper sticker you can buy, letting other drivers know that in the event of you espying a woman who, in your estimation, is in fact a whore, you will drop your speed to some ludicrously slow level in order that you may do whatever it is that you do when you have your whore in sight without causing some kind of horrendous pile-up.

I wonder, how do you identify your whore? Is it dress? Hair style? Attitude, location, general air of downtrodden misery? Is the only qualifying factor her evident femaleness? Does it even really matter to you that who choose is actually a prostitute? Will any woman do in a pinch? A man even? I'm guessing that big breasts are essential, given the logo that accompanies the info on your bumper sticker.***

While I'm at it, just what is it that you do? There seems to me to be a notable distinction between stopping for whores, and slowing down. If you're only reducing your speed, you clearly aren't paying your chosen whore for any service. Unless you expect her to stick her head/arms/bum through the car window and get swept dangling alongside as you get blown/wanked/fucked while you drive? Are you slowing down to shout advice? Are you slowing down to toss out money that you owe from earlier encounters? Are you slowing down to ogle, sneer, laugh and generally degrade your whore-elect? What? What's your intent? I don't get it.

Well I'll tell you something you stupid, ignorant pig, your bumper sticker demeans me. It demeans your mother, your sister and your wife. It demeans your daughter. It demeans all women, whores and otherwise. Not only that, (and which I suspect will worry you not at all) it makes you look fucking stupid. You know, you really aren't cool and edgy. You are in fact tedious and simple. And the next time I'm parked behind you in the supermarket, that bumper sticker is done for. Idiot.



* I hate it. I really do. Just so you know.
** Actual bumper sticker I saw yesterday.
***The sticker read "I slow down for whores" and had that awful mudflap woman logo on it. Sometimes I despair.


EDIT: It isn't the mudflap woman, It's similar but not quite the same. I just located the source of the stickers, you can find it yourself if you search using the sticker phrase in quotation marks. I'm not linking. Yuk.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pippa, Bored.

I am. Really, really bored. I have no work to do, no reading that must be done, no writing, editing, chewing of pencils. There are a thousand things that I could do, and many that I OUGHT to do, but all I really want to do is work on my thesis. And I can't, because it's over.

All the time I was writing it I wanted to get to the end and move on. Now that I have, I want it back. There are a hundred things wrong with it, and I know that and could correct them. I am re-excited by my primary texts! I can see the value of my study in a way that escaped me before. So, I'm pining away at my computer, and getting more bored by the minute. I hope it's a phase.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

On Charity

I mention sometimes that I work as a volunteer in a charity shop. I love it. I get to meet some of the most generous, loving, thoughtful people in my community. Every person has time and thoughts to share and you'd be surprised how often I get a free cuddle from somebody! I really do consider myself blessed.

And then the shit happens. Someone with an overly flashy car pulls up and donates their stuff. Or we get a request to collect donations from some huge house in a leafy suburb. And then we spend the afternoon marvelling at the thought processes that enable someone so conspicuously wealthy to consider donating dirty nappies, broken toys and stained, unusable clothing to charity. It is utterly mind-boggling. What the fuck do they think they are doing? If it's dirty, smelly, broken, incomplete, or, in the case of food items, PAST its sell-by date, we can't use it!

I kid you not, since I've been working in this shop I have seen the smelliest, most faeces-ridden, urine-soaked, sweat-stained rubbish I have EVER come across. And I've worked in skips and tips. I have opened donation bags and dry-heaved from the pit of my stomach at the contents. I have cut my hands more than once on broken pottery, glass and unpackaged needles. And every time one of these particular treasure-filled bags arrives for sorting, it arrives in a posh car. I do not understand it.

Don't get me wrong, not all the wealthier people donate total (and literal) crap. We get amazing donations and we are so grateful for those. But some people really seem to think that people who shop in charity shops deserve nothing better than ripped, piss-stained trousers. Or damp clothes on which a heavy layer of mould has grown. Or broken toys and incomplete jigsaws. Or dirty underwear. Or wet and stained bedding.

I could be bang out of order, complaining like this. As a charity, perhaps we ought to be grateful for anything we get. But really, should we? I wonder if there's something about privilege and social awareness wrapped up in this somewhere. Does having money affect perception? Have the wealthy got so far away from the poor that they don't know or don't care that thrift store purchases need to be clean and useful? Don't they think that people in straitened circumstances deserve better? Do they somehow imagine that our customers fall on their magical bags of gruesome and hazardous largess like starved Victorian street urchins? I'm pissed off because I am starting to think that they do.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Told you So!

Indeed we did!

Us feminists know a thing or two about women, and we know about abortion. As it turns out, safe and legal abortion REDUCES the incidence of abortion. Why don't the anti-choice brigade get that? Why don't they care that "desperate women who are denied access to safe abortions often turn to charlatan doctors, poisons, sticks and coat hangers, procedures that often result in death, infertility or permanent physical injury"? Misogynistic attempts to deny women their reproductive choices and freedoms just don't work. Yet the woman-hating continues.

Well, guess what? It doesn't work.

We told you so (does strange but happy little dance, wiggling bottom and stamping feet). We told you so.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Well, That's that.

I did it. I finished my thesis, wrote it up and sent it for printing. Tomorrow I submit and then who knows what? I feel tired and emotional and deflated and happy all at once. I may not pass, I may never look at my work again, but I set out to finish and finish I did, and for that I am thankful. And a tiny bit proud. It's over, and I can move on.

My new life starts here...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Little Updates

Thanks to you who commented and gave me support over the last few days! I feel better, my daughter is happy and coping, the house still feels empty but I'm getting used to it quite quickly.

My neighbour passed away this morning. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that he had cancer, it has taken less than three weeks from diagnosis for him to succumb. I am glad for him that it was fast and that he was unconscious during most of those days. I am sad for his family, who will miss him and mourn him and who had no time to get ready for this. I know that no-one can really ever prepare for cancer and death, but really, this was FAST.

I have six days left before I pack up my books and head off to submit my PhD thesis. It can't be done in the time that I have left. Except that it must be. And then my life will change and that scares me. What will I do? Who will I be without my thesis and my writing? I'll let you know when I find out!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Waving Goodbye.

Today I left my astonishing, compassionate and beautiful daughter in a town 130 miles away from home, in a strange town, with strange people, so that she can learn new things and get all clever and come home with a degree. And right this minute all I can think of is that her room is empty and the cat misses her and there is less "stuff" all over the house and I feel lonely. She is destined for great things, as, I firmly believe, are all of our young feminist children.

About My Daughter: If you feel lonely, she will hold your hand. If you are frightened, she will stand behind you, holding you up, or in front of you, guarding you. If you are hungry, she'll give you her food. You may absolutely always no-matter-what count on her.

But it's her first night living away from home. I hope she's okay. I hope she's not missing me. I hope I feel better than this tomorrow.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Happy.

This just makes me all kinds of delighted! I think it's about time we all started shouting about civil partnerships vs. marriage; separate but equal isn't fucking good enough. What an awesome dad!

Friday, September 14, 2007

How Did I Miss This?

I know I've been a bit slow blog-wise these last few months; but really. When The Vatican gets into it with Amnesty International, a radical feminist, pro-abortion, potential catholic convert ought to be on the ball. So, not a moment too soon, here's a link to the relevant info. Amnesty International News

Three cheers for that paragon of Christian charity, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is reported to have said: “Violence cannot be answered with further violence; murder with murder; for even if the child is unborn, it is still a human person. It has a right to dignity as a human being.”

No mention of the right to dignity of the woman whose body has been brutalised and invaded by a clump of multiplying cells that carry the DNA of her attacker. Nope. No dignity for her then. Oh, but he did bang on a bit about ending violence towards women, blah blah. You know, the trivial stuff. The church treating women less as chattel and more as capable, intelligent, morally self-determining human beings might kick start that process. Just a thought.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oh. Sad.

Anita Roddick died. I feel quite sad today. The Body Shop was a huge and unusually powerful thing when I was growing up in the greedy, finance-driven 80's. The very presence of a woman-owned big business that had some heart and was focused on ethical trading and ecological awareness was a strong influence on my developing radical feminism. I gloss over what happened next: all the accusations of selling out and secret exploitation. I forgive her pushing of the "beauty" message that I now find so loathsome.

Anita Roddick was, for a long time, a strong and generous woman whom I very much admired. And so, today I shall mourn her passing.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I Guess I'm Just One of Those

lazy arsed Radical Feminists getting such a bad name in some parts of the blogosphere recently.

I have just been catching up with the latest round of blogwars! Hurrah! I learned that intellectual theorising is meaningless. I learned that stripping and getting sexually humiliated and ass fucked is all about whether I like it or not; if I do, then it's feminism. I have learned that if I identify with Radical Feminism then I am useless to REAL women in the REAL world, preferring as I do to sit and pontificate the politics of gender, sex, patriarchy and oppression. I am a dinosaur. I know nothing of reality. I sit on my duff and read Dworkin. I am humourless, sexless and dry.

Except.

I do my part. I get off my arse and DO stuff for people. I volunteer my time, I give what money I can. I work HARD. And I still recognise and celebrate the women who do the thinking. The kind of hard thinking that allows me to operate within my own moral and ethical codes. The kind of hard thinking that exposes subtle inequality and highlights oppression. We humans NEED our philosophers. Women NEED feminist thought and theory. And you know what? There are women who blog Radical Feminism because that's where their contribution to the cause lies. That's their best fit, and that's fucking awesome. There's room for all of us. The REAL LIFE activism has its genesis in the theory that some amazing women spend so long learning and developing.

So that said, from this moment on I will not be engaging my brain in any more debates about who does most for women. I won't be fretting about my intellectual feminism versus my "real life" activism. I won't be listening to any denigration of Radical Feminism. I will be Radical Feminist, embracing all the facets of my life. Join me!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Margaret. And Me.

I got my internet back! Sporadically. So I'll do my best to catch up with you all when I can. I've been active on the radfem front, the yoga front, the kitten front and the PhD front. Only four weeks to go before I must submit, so posting here will be light until then I'm afraid. Until then, I could use your good thoughts. I feel a tad overwhelmed and lacking in ability! Here's how Margaret is helping me out in her own special way:






She's totally lovely and she smells fantastic. I love burying my nose in her fur! She is my sweetheart. I forgot how goooooood cats are.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

At Last! A tag...

Mwezzi tagged me. I feel honoured. So here we go (from my mother's tiny screened computer)

A. Each person lists 8 facts/habits about themselves.
B. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed.
C. At the end of the post, the person then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Eight facts about me:

1. I had all my wisdom teeth removed and kept them in my jewellery box for ages. They were perfect and strong. I miss them.

2. I have a "finger bud" on the left hand little finger. It's hereditary and should have been a sixth finger.

3. I love brussel sprouts and can eat a plate of them with no accompanying food. And no unpleasant after-effects. Mushy peas on the other hand...

4. I do everything naturally left-handed except writing.

5. I got pregnant at sixteen.

6. I don't regret getting pregnant at sixteen.

7. I crochet things to relax my mind. And I'm really good at it now. Name your winter clothing item, doily or whimsical bag and I can whip it up for you in an evening.

8. I have had a nightmare every single night of my life. Thirty five years of vivid dreaming, and I can remember pretty much everything that I dream and I am able to revisit the dream later. Sometimes this worries me...


I tag Spotted Elephant, Ms Jared, Anne Bartow, Arantxa, Merdeen, Kitty Glendower, lost clown and witchy! Most of whiom, I suspect, have already been tagged! That was fun. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Aaaaaaargh!

I'm internet-less. I can't STAND it. I'm reduced to snatching moments on other people's computers, until the techies can get my line up and running again. And at the last update the time frame was five days. So posting will be light, but hey, what's new there then? Oh, I'm soooo frustrated.

Margaret had DOUBLED in size. She is the most affectionate kitten ever and just flops over on her back and goes to sleep when she is my arms. I love her so much already! More pics when I get up and running again.

I'm off to my dentist in a minute, to sit and be irritated in the waiting room for half an hour. She does botox and the like as well as dentistry and every single poster that advertises that service depicts a white, slim, middle-aged woman. No men. No fat women. No people of colour. I feel singled out and wrinkled. So I'm going to complain today, just as soon as she has her pointy metal implements out of my mouth. Wish me luck!

I miss you...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Introducing the Mighty Margaret!

Hee! Looks who lives with us now:





My old boy is not overly thrilled by Margaret's tail fetish!:



Margaret is seven weeks old and she's lived here for two full, anxious days. She didn't poop until this morning and she's being really picky about her food but she'll settle down soon. She's totally unafraid of anything and completely clumsy! We love her to bits already. Our house is catfull again!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Have I Ever Told You

About the Inappropriate Yoga guy? He turns up at my yoga classes wearing the MOST REVEALING shorts. Every single pubic hair is outlined against the tight lycra. Or he wears loose shorts and no underwear. He often winks at me and tries to be a bit flirty and he likes to take up loads of space at the front of the class. He's training to be a yoga teacher and he LOVES himself. So last week I'm talking about him to a friend and she tells me about this video and I swear to God, the character is based on my guy. Except my guy is much older and has no hair. Inappropriate yoga guys must be a common phenomenon. Anyway, here it is. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's STILL raining

and I'm feeling blue. Somebody send me a link to something REALLY wonderful and make my day! I'm off to my voluntary job in a few minutes and I am not looking forward to it. I am so stressed out with what I see going on there, but I looooove the work and the customers and the sense of well-being that comes from volunteering. How am I going to keep doing this if it gets me so down? I need to look for something new. How are y'all anyway?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

Heh. Male violence up close.

So, I'm on my way out last Tuesday and I'm in someone else's car, being driven v e r y slowly because she's careful and a bit nervous. We get overtaken (in a residential area, in a 30mph zone) by a really cross man in a sports car with a numberplate that appeared to be a rude word for genitalia, you know, when they try and make numbers look like letters(oh how jovial!). He then stops dead in front of us. Of course, we are going sooooo slowly that we can easily swerve round him and we do, but really, he's just pissed off at us and trying to show us that. So, being the impetuous person that I am, and rude, I reach over and smack the horn. Biiiiiig mistake. This fucks him off and he chases us.

Now, I'm not suggesting that this was in any way a chase of the kind that leaves devastation in it's wake; our heroine, the driver of the slow car, barely got above 20mph. But it was quite scary. At one point the man chasing us drew alongside and threatened us through the window with a beating. Then he dropped back and started pounding HIS horn and waving at me with closed fist. I turned right round in my seat and watched him through the back window, because I WON'T be intimidated. He appeared to be shouting "you are fucking dead" at me. He pointed and thumped his dashboard and windscreen. It was quite a display. Through all of this, his (female) passenger sat there looking bored. She's probably utterly sick of his behaviour. Anyway, my slightly bemused and mocking expression seemed to only rile him further and he had another go at getting alongside and screaming at us, at which point I made it obvious that not only were we not scared (we were), or impressed (we weren't), I was dialling my phone and calling the police. He sped off down a side street. We pressed on with our journey relieved but a little shaken.

So my point is this: he got really fucking pissed off and violent over the speed at which we were travelling. He got himself involved in the slowest ever street chase. He felt that it was appropriate to threaten us with beatings and death. He was bigger than us. He was male. And everything that he did, he did only once he had established that we were two women in the car. What a loser. What a scary, powerful, violent loser. My abiding thought that evening was "what about the woman in HIS car? Is she safe?" My guess is no.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Weight Matters

Yes, it does. Whether we like it or not, what we weigh is of importance to lots of people. Sometimes, when I'm feeling really shitty and lonely, what I weigh and what people think about that starts to matter to me. Doctors, politicians, pundits, celebrities, friends and family members all seem to have something to say about obesity. The perpetually fat-critical Gillian McKeith is currently back on our screens, doing her "thing". A "thing" which,by the way, seems solely to consist of humiliating fat people and trying to cure them by forcing them to eat bugger all and have their poo examined. Each week for a while, she will be shaming three fat women into fighting each other in the weight loss arena for the grand prize of a ludicrously expensive frock in which the winning fatty can get married once she drops enough flab and fits into it. If you have the stomach for it (pardon the pun) you can read all about this shame-festhere.

If you would prefer a really intelligent discussion of the politics of fat and eating and the socio-economic factors that influence eating choices and behaviours, take a look at Regina Austin's amazing, eye-opening article (hat tip: Feminist Law Profs, thankyou!) Super Size Me and the Conundrum of Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Class for the Contemporary Law-Genre Documentary Filmmaker . You can find it here. Ms. Austin examines Morgan Spurlock's film Super Size Me and discusses whether or not Spurlock undertook to examine the Pelman v McDonald's lawsuit from a fair and inclusive position.

Here's a tasty, tempting chunk of Austin's argument:

Of course, the Pelman plaintiffs are black. The film notes only
their sizes, accompanied by a cute graphic of their ballooning
dimensions, and provides no other information that might be relevant
to understanding their obesity or the role McDonald’s played in their
lives. At the time the suit was brought, plaintiff Ashley Pelman was
fourteen years old, four feet ten inches tall, and 170 pounds. The
other plaintiff, Jazlyn Bradley, was nineteen years old, five feet six
inches tall, and 270 pounds.38 The plaintiffs ate their McDonald’s in
the Bronx.39 The population of the Bronx is 15% white, 31% African
American, 48% Hispanic, 3% Asian and 3% other. The Bronx has
the highest rate of obesity in the City of New York.40 Plaintiff Jazlyn
Bradley, one of ten children, resided in a dilapidated apartment that
had no kitchen sink (dishes were washed in the bathtub)41 before she
moved to a homeless shelter where she lived between the ages of
fifteen and eighteen.42 Given that there was no place to cook, Jazlyn
was given money with which to eat out; she chose McDonald’s
because it was cheap and close; she might eat there up to three times
a day....Super Size Me's homogenized
message, by skirting over significant details of the social and
economic context in which the plaintiffs became obese, is less truly
informative about fast food’s contribution to obesity in general than
it appears.


This article is utterly intelligent, sensitive and well thought out. Read it, digest it. It's soul food.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Banaz Mahmod

was 20 years old, of Kurdish descent, living in Britain with her family, in love with a man, murdered and stuffed in a suitcase, left lying under rubbish in a garden in Birmingham. She asked for help. She told the police that she was likely to be killed by her family. She escaped one murder attempt. How much more did she have to do? I am so angry. You can read the story here. Click the link and watch the video that Banaz' boyfriend shot, as Banaz lay in hospital after the first murder attempt. Police who were called to assist Banaz thought that she was "a drunk" and failed to take her complaint seriously. Banaz' sister had aleady been taken into the care of social services after suffering years of beatings and abuse. At 17, Banaz had been forced to marry a man who raped her. She attempted suicide. Her father and uncle said that she brought shame on her family. They decided to hire people to kill her.

Today's Times newspaper has the headline: Police 'Failed' Victim of Honour Killing. I can't be alone in thinking that the quotation marks are applied to the wrong word.


**UPDATE**

From The Telegraph Online:

The 20-year-old's father, Mahmod Mahmod, 54, was among the three men sentenced, and will have to serve a minimum term of 20 years.

His brother Ari, 51, will serve a minimum of 23 years.

A third killer Mohamad Hama, 30, was told he would spend at least 17 years in prison.

Banaz Mahmod was strangled because her family disapproved of her relationship with her boyfriend.

Hama and three other men who have left the country killed her during two hours of torture at her home.

She was raped and subjected to degrading sex acts before succumbing to an agonising death.

The murder was ordered by her Iraqi Kurd father and uncle after her affair with fellow Kurd Rahmat Sulemani, 29, was discovered.


It's not enough.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

So, How've YOU been?

It's been a few weeks. While I have been malingering there's been some almighty radfem writing going on and you can get your fill over at the second Carnival of Radical Feminists currently hosted at Feminist Law Professors.

I am having a re-think about my Happy Monday! posts. I find that I am becoming tired of trawling through the crap to get at the golden nuggets of joyousness. I'm making myself feel despondent. In future, I shall post Happy Whenever! posts, when and if I spot something worth celebrating and sharing. I hope that these posts will be frequent. I suspect that they will be rare.

I'm going to keep my ramblings about my mental and physical health for posts on t'other blog. I worry that posting such updates and discussions here may be excluding and unsettling some readers. My personal journeys into depression and panic are not always suitable for this space and I think they are better moved to Sometimes Twitchy. Some of you already know the place, the rest of you are welcome to visit!

So that's my short update. Here's to regular radfem blogging and a radical, energised summer!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

An Update, or "All About Me"

I'm getting better. I slumped for a while and felt crappy, but I'm picking up now. I re-arranged my living spaces, my work areas, my books and CDs. I threw out some crap. I listened to some great feminist music, (thanks you all!) and I feel better. Less harassed by my own self, if that makes any sense.

I made a decision to stop taking bullshit from strangers out of politeness. I volunteer in a charity shop and you wouldn't believe the racist, sexist hate comments that fly past my ears every time I am there. I realised that I was holding in my words, fearing that my responses might offend. It's not good for anyone to do that! So now I'm answering back. If I hear another comment about "immigrants" or "illegals" or any other racist name calling, I'm putting a stop to it, customer or not. I may get asked to pack up my duds and volunteer elsewhere, but hey ho! There you go. I'm prioritising.

I decided to stop shitting myself about money. If I need some, the universe will provide. I'm not hungry or cold or even uncomfortable. If I need money it's for something luxurious not necessary. I'm obsessing because I don't have a proper paying job and the obsession is running a huge part of my life. I will get there. I'm leaving the worry behind and moving on.

I'm reading again. I stopped reading, which was probably a sign of impending mental trauma but damn, I missed it again! There's ALWAYS a sign and I don't always catch it. But still, I'm adding it to my list of things to be aware of. I'll know next time! Anyway, I'm reading fanny Flagg's "Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!" and it's wonderful.

And I'm writing. I'm blogging today, I wrote a couple of short verse exercises yesterday and I started a yoga journal last week. My fingers and brain are re-connected. Things are looking up...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Yes, Vile.

I join Twisty and Anne Bartow and all other bloggers who are acknowledging the death of Du'a Khalil Aswad. We can not ignore this. If, for our own painful reasons, we can't bring ourselves to watch her murder, we can scream about it until our throats hurt.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy Tuesday!

Because I wasn't up to being happy yesterday, here's this week's joyfulness a day late. Sorry.

Get familiar with the lyrics of Nedra Johnson's song "Anyway You Need Her": go to Nedrajohnson.com and click on "music" at the top, the song appears in the list. Click it. Enjoy! (thanks Heart, it really made my day!)

Go to Sinister Girl and congratulate her on her Walk Against Rape! She did a fantastic job and raised 1400 dollars for San Francisco Woman Against Rape! I love her so much. Here's a quote: "It was a beautiful day in San Francisco and we felt strong and brave and amazing and we were inspired by all of the wonderful folks who walked with us."

You rock my world Ms. Jared! And, I suspect, the worlds of many others! Have an amazing and radical week, women!

Friday, April 27, 2007

One More for the "I Should Have SEEN it Coming" Category...

I got seduced in my supermarket, by low priced cereal. Nestle's "Fitnesse" to be specific. It was a pound a box and so, being a woman who likes a bargain, I bought several. Yes, with hindsight I can see that all the signs were there: it's a Nestle product, which kind of speaks for itself but in my defence I didn't register that fact until I got home; the name of the cereal: you see the feminized ending to the word? It's not just "Fitness", which I rather suspect they wouldn't be allowed to use, but FitnESSE, all delicate and pseudo-francais. It should have tipped me off. I'm ashamed as a Radfem that it didn't. So, having failed to recognise the warning signs, I broke into my first box this morning. And here's what I learned from my cereal box today as I read while I waited an inordinately long time for the kettle to boil, only to discover that I hadn't plugged it in:

1."Who's really going to know that you bought those take-me-now shoes a week before payday?" Who indeed?

2. "Who's really going to know that you didn't have one chocolate biscuit during the meeting, you had three?" Anyone else who happened to be in the meeting? Does it matter? I had more like twelve?

3. "Don't be a slave to the scales! What do they know about your shape?" Um. Okay?

4. "Try some alternative forms of exercise....take a dog for a walk - borrow your neighbour's if you don't have one!" No. That's just wrong. You need to be hyper-responsible where dogs are concerned. Dimwit.

5. "The Woman's Code of Honour: Always letting your best friend have first try of that last little black dress that's on sale... Never keeping secret addresses - such as the best hairdresser in town - to yourself...Always coming to the rescue in a man emergency with a glass of wine, DVD and box of tissues..." Oh, that's me alright. I'm never selfish when it comes to the LBD or who does my crew cut.

6."It's your life - live it your way. Three cheers for spontaneity, self-indulgence and self expression. It just feels so good!" Yes. Yes. Yes. And It does. But really, I think you may be patronising me now. Just a touch?

And finally, just when I was losing the will to go on, there was the instruction to "Eat Fab be Delicious". Which is trademarked. Yep. Trademarked.

So there you have it. Everything a woman needs to know from her cereal. Every stereotype going; cheeky little nuggets of "universal truths" humorously gathered together with some dynamic graphics and gorgeous photos of young, healthy vibrant women. All hinting at the great struggle that is femininity on "our terms". We CAN be gorgeous and have that last chocolate biscuit! We CAN wear take-me-now shoes and still have a job in an office! Wow! How empowerful are we?!

If you are looking for a cereal to help you either move your bowels or puke, look no further. Forget the contents, just read the back of the box.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

And While I'm Here...

I'm Radfem. I don't do or agree with porn or prostitution. I don't publish comments that contain links to porn. I care for ALL women, even those with whom I have fundamental moral/ethical/political disagreement. I believe we can work it out without anger. I believe we should try.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy Monday!



Heart's fantastic idea has me just bursting with excitement! I'm hosting in November, month of my birthday, and I absolutely cannot wait to get involved. Yay Radfems! We fucking rock!

Because I love what she wrote and agree with all of it, and because it's just a beautiful read, I stole this from Heart's post:

"We define radical feminism as follows:

We believe that women are oppressed worldwide by patriarchy, the “rule of the fathers”.

We seek to abolish patriarchy.

We understand patriarchy to be a system of structures and institutions created by men in order to sustain and recreate male power and female subordination. The structures of patriarchy include, but are not limited to, the law, medicine, religion and the traditional family.

Women’s oppression is rooted in both the structures of our society and in capitalism and white supremacy. Patriarchy includes not only male rule but also heterosexual imperialism and sexism (Charlotte Bunch).

In order to abolish patriarchy, we must challenge its root components and causes which we locate in oppression of females by males.

We believe that the uprooting of sexism simultaneously inaugurates the uprooting of racism, class hatred, homophobia, lesbophobia, transphobia, ageism, ableism, competition, hierarchy, ecological disaster, and economic exploitation of all kinds.

The revolutions, so-called, which the world has known to date, have been coups-d’etat between men which have pruned certain branches but have left the root embedded for the sake of preserving male privilege over all women (Robin Morgan).

We are a journey of women becoming. We do not seek reconciliation with the fathers; rather, we affirm our original birth, our original source, movement, surge of living. We Re-member our Selves (Mary Daly).

We are woman-identified and woman-centered. We put women first, not only in our politics but in our personal lives.

The expression of our politics is concrete: we oppose pornography, prostitution, the institution of marriage and the traditional family, sadomasochism, compulsory heterosexuality, gender coercion, and dominance hierarchies of all kinds.

We endorse, support and work to envision and create peaceful, respectful, noncoercive, relationships, structures and institutions which affirm the importance of all human beings, all creatures, and the earth.

We affirm lesbianism and lesbian separatism as revolutionary paths for all women who choose them.

We understand gender as a structure and system of subordination, and as such, we seek its eradication.

We pursue and celebrate sisterhood."


Yes. We do. Have an amazing week, women!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

UK Abortion Rights Threatened. Or Not. Depending On Who You Listen To...

From Feminist Wire Daily News:

"Experts say that a healthcare crisis is imminent in the United Kingdom due to a growing number of doctors who are declining to provide abortion services, particularly to low-income women. Many healthcare providers fear that if the availability of safe and legal abortion services continues to decline, women will begin to turn to alternative and less-safe methods of ending their pregnancies.

While the UK Department of Heath has acknowledged that the number of doctors who are willing to provide abortion services is declining, it will not categorize this trend as something that could hinder women's access to abortion."


Well what a surprise. As if the DoH could care less.

My own personal experience of abortion can be summed up in a short paragraph: GP refuses abortion on NHS but recommends private clinic where abortion may be purchased for approximately two hundred pounds (in 1992). Client arrives at said clinic to find that GP is on board of directors at clinic. Work out for yourselves how humiliated and used client felt.

For all of our country's pride in the NHS and "reasonable" abortion rights, we still have a loooooong way to go before we get safe, free abortion on demand. If our primary abortion providers are declining at this rapid rate, we need to start asking why. What's behind this change? How can we best combat it? How may we help our low-income sisters in times of need?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Happy Monday!

Yes, I know I'm late today. I went shopping with my mother. Delightful. Let's get this week off to a belting start with some news about feminist activist successes last week...

Don Imus lost his job!! Woohoo! If you missed it, Imus is a radio host and last week he made some crappy and offensive comments on air about the women of the Rutgers University basketball team. Feminists got moving and campaigned like billy-o for Imus' sacking. They won. I almost can't believe it. But I do.

Portugal legalised abortion! Fanfriggingtastic! Up to ten weeks gestation, so it's still very limited, but it's a start. Other conditions may include: women may be shown an ultrasound of the fetus, they may be informed about adoption alternatives, and be educated about the various consequences of an abortion. There is to be a three day "reflection" period between deciding to terminate and going ahead with the procedure.

Portugal's previous abortion law was one of the most restrictive in Europe, only allowing abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if the mother’s health was at risk and in cases of rape up to 16 weeks. CNN reports that the government hopes that this new law will prevent dangerous illegal abortions, which have killed and seriously injured over 10,000 Portuguese women each year. Well for goodness sakes, this news just made my week. Imagine how it feels to be a Portuguese woman today. Now spread that joy!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Oh. My. God.

I have been doing some digging around looking into this MRA idea. I keep seeing it. Keep bumping up against the pale opininons of these "activists" for men's rights. What do they want? What rights do they think they don't have? Well, my digging paid off big time when I hit on this site UK Men's Movement and finally got to understand what all this male angst is about.

I urge you to go there today. Read of the suffering. The pain. The centuries old struggle to maintain power over women. Read about how women live longer than men. Learn about the injustice of "women returners" courses at various colleges, where women who have taken time out of their careers to give birth and raise children are helped back into the workplace. Marvel that there is no equivalent course for men.

Be appalled at sexual harassment laws used "deliberately by women against men they wish to attack." Take umbrage with these men at the existence of "women only syndrome", where women get their own male-free hour at the swimming pool or library. Feel the rage that comes from knowing that there is, in the UK, a Minister for Women with no male equivalent. But above all that: think about, digest and understand the feelings of violation and degradation knowing that "circumcision on men is still allowed by law, while being a criminal offence on women." The horror.

Yes. Now I know all I needed to know. Men's Rights Activists are just not that bright. Go, read the whole thing. You'll get angry, you'll want to argue each and every point. You'll want to explain how and why these men are getting it wrong. You'll really want to explain the difference between circumcision and FGM. But after a while you'll settle down and wake up to the fact that you would be wasting your words. You'll slowly come to the knowledge that this is only a part of the overarching patriarchal society in which we radfems make our homes. You'll realise that this MRA crap isn't the new threat you thought it was, it's just the boisterous ramblings of a few angry men. We see and hear it every day in many forms. Get over it men, you're saying nothing new.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Monday!!

Eventually. I got carried away with my chocolate eating marathon and almost forgot to post! Happy Easter to all of you, spring is here and it's wonderful. I'm feeling quite proud of myself this week, having overcome a major work-related hurdle, so in honour of my PhD research into women and work in Atlantic Canadian short stories, I am sending you to Women and the Sea for a look at how women have worked in the maritime industries through history. It's a good read.


And in a similar vein, because all of my research involves women writers, I'd like to send you all here: Women Writers: a website all about yes, you guessed it, women writers. It's good to see these resources blooming. Check out the section called "chicken soup for my feminist soul". Have a radical week!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Happy Monday!

It's Ms. Jared's birthday tomorrow! Don't forget to pop over and send her some love.

After my small breakdown yesterday regarding the way our world sexualises and demeans its young women, I needed an antidote. And I found one. Girls Speak Out is a website co-created by Andrea Johnston and Gloria Steinem and it rocks! Point your daughters, sisters, neices, granddaughters, annoying neighbourhood children at this site and let them loose! Their motto is "Don't deal with it, Change it!" That'll do for me...

And finally, (because I was there when she did this and I just found it on YouTube) Amy Ray performing live in Manchester...Have a fantastic week you women!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

You Can't MAKE this shit up...

I'm getting this off my chest before I have to work on tomorrow's Happy Monday post. I can't be in that woman centred, positive, happy feminist space until I've spewed this all out...

I'll skip the tedious back story and cut straight to it. It has come to my attention that there are nightclubs for children!! I can't get my head round it? These under-18 nights are run in ordinary nightclubs, finishing at ten thirty, ready for the real crowd to arrive. These are nightclubs where parents can dump their pre-pubescent broods and leave them dancing and imbibing soft drinks in some under-18 approximation of that adult ritual of getting plastered and flirting with the opposite sex. (Same sex flirting clearly still not acceptable). Is this some sort of social training?

My friend's daughter proudly showed me her photos from the last junior club night in Bolton and I do not know how I stayed upright. The photos were of her and a group of girls (they're THIRTEEN YEARS OLD) all fake tanned, wearing pink bra tops and hot pants. I thought I was looking at women in bikinis. Wearing big fluffy boots, full make-up and body piercings. They look like adults. They look like very "sexy" adult women on the pull. And the boys? Well, surprise surprise they look like small, hairless men. They wear clean shirts and pants and smart shoes. They probably splash on a bit of Lynx (and yes, I know all about that appalling Lynx Mynxes campaign, I'll get to that another post) and have a shave of sorts, but they are fully clothed and not at all sexualised. There's absolutely no chance of any of the boys being mistaken for someone over 18. The girls on the other hand, could quite easily and disturbingly pass.

What is this about? How can I critique this behaviour without sounding like I'm woman bashing? I want to say it's all about training young girls to be sex objects. I want to say where are our girls going to end up? I want to cry for those girls who find self-worth in looking and behaving like this and I want to cry for those who don't fit in and won't buy into it and are bullied and humiliated. I want to make it clear that it is a PATRIARCHY to blame for this sexualising of our girls. I want to do SOMETHING. But I'm so disturbed by what I learned that I am having trouble sleeping.

Friday, March 30, 2007

F*ck Off, I'm Hairy Too

Did ya see it? Did ya see Shazia Mirza being all hairy and pro-active about the female body last night on BBC three? I did. I kind of liked the show, but I kind of didn't at the same time. I got excited when Mirza talked about the shame of her body hair, and looked into how much of it she had removed over the years since her teens. I was thrilled when she said that she was going to grow it all out. I was angry as buggery when an ELEVEN YEAR OLD GIRL had her legs waxed and the "beautician" did it, presumably took her money for it and when questioned said that girls are becoming more "aware" of their hair at a younger age, as if that was something to celebrate! Yes, hairy girl children are to be feared and reviled...

I got pissed off when Mirza discussed body hair with some journalist and she said that not shaving makes men think that women are either feminists or political activists, like either thing is distasteful! Eugh, feminism. Just nasty. I was astonished when Mirza went looking for naked women in art and found that women have always been depicted as hairless and smooth skinned. Why haven't I noticed this? Why have I assumed that this hairless, sanitised woman image is a recent, 20th century onwards cultural convention?

What became apparent was that Mirza really wanted to be hairy and feminine. What she really wanted to get at was why the two things are seemingly incompatible and that really spoiled it all for me. She met with a fashion designer who made "sexy" undies out of body hair. They arranged a fashion show with real (not models) hairy women wearing the undies. That just really bent my mind because I liked it. I liked these normal looking hairy women's bodies strutting up and down and enjoying themselves. And for fuck's sake I KNOW better than that! It's fake empowerment, it panders to the patriarchy. It's fucking frilly knickers for God's sake! But it worked. Just for that two minutes when all those women got up on stage in a great big hairy gang and looked up at the camera, raised a two finger salute and shouted "Fuck Off! I'm a Hairy Woman!" it really fucking worked. My spine tingled.

It was, on reflection, too much to expect that the show be about rejecting femininity and embracing feminism; this was BBC Three, not channel four. It was, in its own way, a programme about confounding the hairless expectations of femininity and defying cultural beauty norms. I suppose you could say it was a start...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Happy Monday!

I'm a bit late today, but here's some great stuff to have a look at and set you up for a positive week...

Love Your Body is a website brought to you from those amazing people at NOW. Love Your Body Day is October 17th this year, so you now have plenty of time to get your body-loving posts and events ready. Check out the sections for offensive and positive adverts. It makes interesting reading, but don't get me started on the positive ones that I don't think make the grade!

This video made me smile! I may spend an afternoon flashing the people of Salford in just this way. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sudanese Women to be Stoned to Death

From Feminist Law Professors:

Two Sudanese women have been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery after a trial in which they had no lawyer and which used Arabic, not their first language, the rights group Amnesty International said.

Sadia Idriss Fadul was sentenced on February 13 and Amouna Abdallah Daldoum on March 6 and their sentences could be carried out at any time, the London-based group said in a statement released late on Monday.

North Sudan implements Islamic sharia law.

“The women had no lawyer during their trial and were not able to defend themselves, as their first languages are those of their ethnic groups,” Amnesty said.

Both women are from non-Arab tribes but the proceedings were in Arabic and no interpreter was provided, Amnesty said. Their trial took place in central Al Gezira state.


The male accused in Fadul’s case was let off because there was not enough evidence against him. Witnesses are usually required to gain a conviction and forensic tests are not normally used in such cases. …


I can't find any information on action to take on Amnesty's website. All I can find is this information from the Sudan Tribune:

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Arabic, English or your own language:
expressing deep concern that Sadia Idriss Fadul and Amouna Abdallah Daldoum are at risk of being stoned to death;
expressing concern at reports that this sentence was imposed after a trial at which the women had no legal representation and no translation of the legal proceedings into their languages;
expressing concern that one of Sadia Idriss Fadul has one of her children with her in prison;
noting that Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally in any circumstances;
calling on the authorities not to carry out the death sentence imposed on Sadia Idriss Fadul and Amouna Abdallah Daldoum.

APPEALS TO:
Mr Ali Mohammed Ali al-Mardi
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
PO Box 302
Khartoum
Fax: +249 183 770883
Salutation: Dear Minister

Staff Lieutenant General Abdel Rahman Sir Al Khatum
Governor of Gezira State
Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 770143
Salutation: Dear Governor


Act now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Well, Duh...

Of Course abortion rates drop if you insist on parental notification for women under 16 years of age. How uninformed are you Angela Watkinson, MP for Upminster? Parents are then able to assume complete emotional and physical control over their pregnant daughters and compel them to birth a baby that they did not want. Which situation, you appear to think, is no bad thing. However, in the unfortunate and not that rare occasion that the parents and offspring endure a difficult and/or abusive relationship, this parental notification rule could prove disastrous.

Ms Watkinson: please do not assume that all young women have loving, gentle, open minded parents with whom they are able to communicate freely. Please do not assume that every young woman is safe in her own home and with her family. Please do not assume that all young woman can articulate their pain and emotional distress. Please do not assume that young women are never assaulted and made pregnant by their own fathers.

The bill applies also to the provision of contraception...of course this only has any impact on young women who choose to ask for the pill, since anyone can buy a pack of condoms on behalf of anyone else. I will be writing to Angela Watkinson, telling her what I think of this misogynistic bill. I will also be writing to my own MP, urging him to vote against this appalling, woman hating bit of proposed legislation. I hope you will do likewise.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My Porn Dilemma...

Don't panic. I haven't switched sides, suddenly enlightened as to the "truth" regarding some women's agency in sex acts for money; I haven't had that particular epiphany and I never shall. No, it's this: one of my friend's sons has been caught out looking at online porn. His worried mum told me all about it, then went on at length, explaining that it was only "tame" porn... nothing violent or unusual, and therefore her 14 year old son is normal. She told me that she had chatted to him about the possibility of him stumbling across such deviant activities as (horrors!) gay porn (the male kind, not the acceptable and normal fake female, male gaze sanctioned kind), BDSM and fetish stuff and violent porn. She cautioned him that once he has seen these images, he cannot wipe his eyes clean.

No. He can not. He can not wipe from his eyes the kind of humiliating and degrading images that he has already seen and his mother and father have normalised and contextualised for him. Now he thinks that porn is good. When I suggested that it might be good to question any kind of porn, I got the "normal, sexual development" argument.

I expect solidarity against pornstitution from my women friends and as a result I am often disappointed. I am, however, rarely stuck for words and don't often back away from a debate. When the subject arises I shall continue to argue with my friend against this normalisation of porn because I think our friendship is worth it. But now I am in danger of losing that friendship because I can't accept her argument that what all this amounts to is normal adolescent development. Well, yes it IS normal for teenage boys and the men that they become to objectify women. It IS normal for boys to think that women are sexually available meat. It IS (I hear) normal to decorate your son's bedroom with posters of nubile naked women in an attempt to help him formulate "safe" sexual fantasies. It just fucking shouldn't be.

And we can't seem to get beyond our respective positions on that. I don't have a son, and I don't know how I would behave if I was torn between my absolute conviction that porn is wrong and my desire to have a son that "fits in" with his peers. I think I do know what I would do. But I can't voice this and be credible because in any hypothetical situation it is always easy to stay behind moral conviction.

I just don't know how far I go with this. I suppose what I'm asking is: should I just shut up? Is this going to have to be one of those subjects that she and I agree to keep off limits?

Friday, March 09, 2007

I Forgot...

to blog on International Women's Day. Shame on me. Here are some flowers by way of an apology:




And please, take a few moments to go and add your name to the virtual march in solidarity with our feminist sisters in Iran.

And if you get another minute and have some spare cash, nip over to Ms. Jared's place and help her increase her sponsor money for the walk against rape. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

So, There's This Dentist...

I currently take anti-anxiety medication, something else for panic attacks and another load of dope for another health issue that I don't care to reveal at the moment. (You don't need to know and it's neither exciting nor front-bottom related.)

Here's my question: should it be okay for my dentist to say to me "I take it you aren't on the Seroxat (Paxil) any more!" and then giggle as if she just told a really good joke? I felt really embarrassed and at that moment I didn't know why. Quick as a flash I answered "actually I am." She responded a bit sheepishly with "20mg?" I answered "30mg. I am, in fact, quite insane." She wrote it all in my notes and got on with the check up.

So, anyway, I know the answer to my own question. It wasn't okay for her to make an assumption, joke about it and make me feel ashamed of the medication that I need. But why did I have to try and be funny about it? First off, I wasn't sure why she made the comment. Has she seen the bad press that surrounds paroxetine and assumed that no-one takes it any more? Has she looked at my notes and calculated the length of time I have been on the tablets and assumed I ought to be "cured" by now? What prompted the question and the giggle?

Secondly, was there any way I could have responded to that comment without irreparably damaging the otherwise excellent relationship that I have with her? I love my dentist. She has coaxed me into more and better dental healthcare and she is still NHS. She has always been caring and sensitive and this was totally out of character for her. My gut feeling is that she will have noted the exchange and felt quite silly about it. I hope so. This is one of those conversations that I really don't want to have.

I suppose what I'm really asking is, "Why am I ashamed of my mental health status?". I'm a bit shocked that it was such a sore point. I thought I was beyond that kind of thinking. Turns out maybe I'm not.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Happy Monday!

I WILL not be tearful today..! This video made me wet myself. Really. Take the five odd minutes and enjoy some feminist comedy.



I love Maxine! "Dammit girl, you're Condi-licious!"

Have a wonderful, radical week you women!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Can Anyone Explain?

Why "BDSM Sexual Intercourse" has appeared as one of my subscribed feeds on Bloglines? I am going to complain about it. It was a bit of a shock when I clicked on my feeds page this morning; it was there at the top of my list! It's gone now because I deleted it, but now I'm thinking that deleting it may have activated something? Does anyone know? I am scanning with all my virus ware immediately!

Oh I Am Down Today...

In the interests of knocking recent unpleasantness on the head before I keel over and die of exasperation complicated by ineffable sadness at the state of radical feminism today, I will apologise for printing e-mails in part and without permission. It was the wrong thing to do and I recognise this.

I am now politely asking certain people to leave this blog and my e-mail alone. I don't need it and I don't want it. I find that it is now becoming oppressive. I won't be contacting you and I hope you can afford me the same courtesy.

I have modified and/or deleted all references in my posts to the entire situation. I have left comments alone, authors of said comments may feel free to ask me to delete them. Let's move on.

Friday, March 02, 2007

What and Who is Fair Game in This War Against the Patriarchy?

Where is the line of acceptable action drawn? May we use any means to make our point or fight our corner? Should we, as radical feminists, be held to account for higher standards of behaviour then we would expect from the enemy camp? Or is anything okay given that often, the ends justify the means? When does disagreement about this line within the radfem sphere become pointless infighting?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

This Week I Read...

My Mama's Waltz: A book for adult daughters of alcoholic mothers. It was amazing. I have had therapy for many years and still never REALLY felt that anyone knew how I had grown up; I still felt alone. Not now!! Every story in this book touched a nerve with me. Every woman in this book has had some experience that ties in with mine. I understand now that it is normal to love and hate my mother at the same time and not get why it works like that. It just does, and it's okay.

I feel understood. I feel validated. I feel comforted.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Some Thoughts on Touching...

I am not used to being touched. I am not used to touching other people. I hug my family and have always been a cuddler, by which I mean that if you are crying or feeling shitty I WILL hold you and let you sob; I WILL cuddle you until you feel safer. But when it comes to something like last night's yoga class, where we partnered up and pushed down on each other's thighs, I go cold. What is happening here?

The class is made up of some eight women and three men. Two of the men are great, ordinary guys who just get on with the class. But of course, there's the obligatory dickhead wearing inappropriate shorts who has already spent ten minutes showing us his Thai-boxing skills and his well-defined thigh muscles. Nobody in the room wants to partner with him. He makes some sort of faux sexual grunting noise when our teacher leans over the opened thighs of her partner. You know the man, we all do. It is understandable that he makes me uncomfortable. But I am comfortable with my partner. I know her. Still, as I lie there my body is fighting her touch. I feel overwhelmed with the need to get her off me. To have my space back. And I can tell, as I return the touch, that she is feeling the same panic.

I suspect that we are not used to such familiarity with our own bodies. With other people's bodies. For so many reasons, I am used to protecting my body and curling into a defensive posture, not lying prone and exposed. I don't know how to be open to this touch. I don't know how to stop feeling that burned in fear of touch. I worry that my body is somehow offensive to others. I KNOW that the actions of other's bodies can be offensive to me. What I am sure of is that I was not alone in my discomfort. Most of the women in the room had some sort of nervous reaction to the exercise.

So how do I get past this? Will it just become natural with experience? Is it even really a problem? All I can say is I felt that as a radical feminist woman, I was shocked by how tightly closed off my body is in this peaceful, safe space...

(Mister Shorts-that-show-scrotum was comfortable as long as he thought he was going to manhandle his female neighbour. His demeanour altered when one of the men stepped up and commandeered him before he got his hands on anyone else. Heh.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Happy Monday!

I'm posting early this week as I'm pushed for time tomorrow, and I don't want you all to miss this weeks choice! Go here and spend some time going through the photos. I'm not sure if the e-mail to add your own pic is still active, but what's the worst that can happen?! I haven't really looked in detail at the Empowerment web site, but it looks interesting. Have fun and have a truly empowered week, women!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Zero Tolerance

I'm making myself clear. Porn is porn is porn. There is no such thing as "good" porn, "feminist" porn, "woman centred" porn etc. I make no apology for my opinion. I'm feeling a little outnumbered these days though...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Alright alright, you talked me into it...


Here's me and daughter at last night's Indigo Girls gig at Manchester Academy 2. I'm the one who looks older. And a bit overwhelmed...




Below are pictures that demonstrate two important things: first, the Indigo Girls are just magnificent. Second, I need a better camera.








Catherine Feeny, the support act, was fabulous. She has a strong, soaring voice and her style reminds me a little of Patty Griffin. I bought the album and suggest you check her out. One of her songs is currently featuring in the movie Running With Scissors. After Feeny came the main event. My heroes, the Indigo Girls. And yes, they were everything I expected them to be and more. Utterly amazing, pitch perfect, incredible guitar skills. I was waving my arms in the air and stamping my feet with the rest of the crowd. The playlist was fantastic, it included Last Tears, Land of Canaan, Jonas and Ezekiel, Kid Fears, Pendulum Swingers, Little Perennials and Chicken Man. I could really only have wished for Ozilline. Amy and Emily chatted with the audience, Amy fluffed her lyrics a couple of times and laughed it off, it was just such a friendly, warm, powerful evening. Standing there, holding hands with daughter, the love of my life, I was struck by the unexpected thought that my life is good.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Yesterday

I went back to church. I went for several reasons, one of which was the need to revisit the place of so many appalling and recurring nightmares. I had joined the Independent Methodists when I was a fresh-faced babe of about eight years old and I stayed through to my mid-teens. I left when I worked out that I was being scared into trying to feel emotions that I didn't understand. I left because I felt frightened. The fears and oppression that I felt there have followed me ever since, rearing up at unexpected moments, stopping me in my tracks, terrifying me. So anyway, yesterday I faced my demons and I devoured them; I am no longer in fear of that building or the people who worship within it.

It was, in truth, somewhat of an anti-climax. I had anticipated an internal battle, a panic attack, a purple breathless struggle for self-control. In fact I felt confident, tall and proud and grounded. I sniffed round the building, looking in rooms that had previously seemed large, dark and unwelcoming. I looked up at the impossibly high windows and saw just winter sunshine. No vengeful, homophobic God peering in at me. I read through some of the tracts that lay on the tables and I felt sorry that I had ever been trapped in such a miserable woman-loathing religion. I felt gloriously radical and feminist and human! And I slept like a baby last night.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy Monday!

I'm still hanging on to my internet connection. It dies frequently but only for moments at a time, so it's bearable for now! Anyway, this week I finally get to see the Indigo Girls live and in person! This makes me ludicrously happy and I want to share my joy. Of course I am catastrophising the whole thing: what if I can't get there on time? What if there's a bus strike/taxi strike/my legs fall off? What if they cancel? What if I get there and my tickets are lost? I could go on and on. I'm practised at it.

Anyway, back to the sharing of joy...



Have a fabulous week! Will you be able to wait for the photos? x

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Oh Bitch, Why Porn?

Here's a miserable little tale: I started reading feminist blogs after I stumbled on Bitch PhD. I came across her site one day last year and I liked what I read, so I stayed. I eventually strayed into my own blogging territory and those of other radical feminists but the Bitch still offered a good place to visit occasionally. Sadly, not any more.

You may or may not know (via Twisty, thank you very much) that Bitch has taken a paying job with Suicide Girls, blogging as culture editor or some such thing. My disappointment is palpable. Really, I believe it may be felt from yards away. I feel betrayed and I don't know why. She doesn't owe me anything. We're not friends. We have only academia and feminism in common... Oh, that may be it. The feminism thing.

Suicide Girls purports to be all about "unique, strong, sexy and confident women". They "are an army of 1,318 unconventionally gorgeous pin-up girls devoted to changing your idea of what makes women beautiful. [They] are the girls you've wanted to meet all your life."

Good God Almighty! How does an intelligent woman fall for this bullshit? Look at the "girls" page. Do any of those women look unconventionally beautiful to you? Do any of them have stretch marks, mastectomy, body hair, body fat, acne or any other human feature that might be (culturally) considered imperfect? Do me a favour. These "girls" are not even afforded the courtesy of being described as women, having adult status.

Porn irreparably damages women and girls. Porn encourages rape. Porn is a tool of the patriarchy. And porn is porn, no matter how you tattoo it, pierce it, label it, dress it up in faux-feminism and try to defend it. That's all.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy Monday!!

I'm baaaaaaaack! Up and running but having troubles with Blogger. It's late on Monday evening and I have no time tonight to find anything joyful to show you and set you up for the week, so I will just wish you all a peaceful, powerful, radical week! I have loads to catch up on, I will work my way round to you all and thanks for sticking with me! P x

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bugger.

I have no internet access at home for the last and next few days. Hence no Happy Monday post, no delightful witty/pithy/blow-my-own-trumpet comments on the world in general and no fabby vids of bunnies for you, Spotty... I feel sad. So, can you do without me for a while? Will you still love me when I return? Will the internet fixer person get me up and running again? Oh it's all just tiny stitches in the rich tapestry that is my life. Bum.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Happy Monday!

You WILL enjoy this week. I command it. Here's a poem to start you off on the right foot:

The Year I was Harriet (by Karen Brodine)

the year I was Harriet
I could do math
and was bossy

that was third grade
and there were two Karens
so I turned into Harriet
who was my grandma
and my middle name.
chin thrust forward
I stood up in that room
and the numbers
clicked to attention
I wasn't fooled
by them anymore
their squeaks
their chalky tongues
their carrying on.
all that year, brassy,
I was wild horse, holding my own
reins loose, knees tough with scars,
taking the ground for granted.
my elbows stuck out to the sides,
my glasses gleamed with fake
diamonds and purpose.
I stuck my head under my desk
and ate grape jello raw
right out of the package,
then peered up, bloody purple.
when Mrs. English shrieked,
"oh lord what now?" I just
bared my bright teeth
in a weird, brave smile.


I am being Harriet this week. Have a great week, women!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Oh PETA, you're so right...

While I was over at Creek Running North, I came across Chris' response to a new PETA ad. I jumped in at PETA and on their ads and activism ideas I suggested that they stop using naked women to sell their politics and tried treating women with at least as much respect as they demand for animals.

And here's the reply:

Thank you for your letter sharing your thoughts about PETA’s “State of the Union Undress.” We appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns.

Sarah Harley, the star of our ad, has said “there is nothing shameful or ‘wrong’ about being naked; I believe that women—and men—should have the choice to use their own bodies as political statements.” PETA wholeheartedly agrees. In fact, the tactic is actually age old; it has been used since at least the 11th century, when Lady Godiva rode naked on a horse to protest taxes on the poor. Consider, too, that it is the societies that allow women to wear revealing clothing in which women have the most rights and the most power. Likewise, it is the societies that punish women for wearing revealing clothing in which women have the fewest rights and the least power—they are considered chattel who must do as they are told. We would also like to note that we do not feature only women in our more provocative ads; please see the following examples:

http://www.FurIsDead.com/feat-rodman2.asp
http://www.PETA.org/feat/jennaethan/
http://www.FurIsDead.com/feat-kristoff.asp


The current situation is critical for billions of animals, and because it is our duty to continue drawing attention to the plight of animals abused in the meat, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment industries, we are willing to use all legal means at our disposal in ways that will capture the public’s imagination. Because we have found that people do pay more attention to our racier actions—and we consider the public’s attention to issues that affect animals to be extremely important—this will often entail our taking our clothes off. We understand that some consider our projects that include nudity to be controversial, but if our doing so shakes people up and even shocks them into discussion about the staggering number of lives at stake, then we are successful.

We must also note that we don’t rely on nudity for the majority of our outreach, nor do we use it gratuitously; it is intended to underscore our message, whether it is “I’d rather go naked than wear fur,” to emphasize the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, or to show the vulnerability of animals in laboratories or circuses. We make a point of having something for all tastes, from the most conservative to the most radical and from the most tasteless to the most refined.

This approach has proved amazingly successful—in just this past year, for example, major retailers, including Polo Ralph Lauren, Limited Brands, Ann Taylor, and Kenneth Cole Productions, made commitments to PETA to drop the fur from their clothing lines. Welch’s agreed to stop conducting deadly animal tests. Our campaign against the atrocities at KFC continues, and we’ve taken on new challenges as well. We’ve launched campaigns against Burberry and POM Wonderful, calling on those companies to stop killing animals. Please visit http://www.PETA.org/about/victories.asp for an inspiring list of victories.

We believe that America is ready to wake up to the truth about how animals are treated. We believe that America is ready to turn away from cruelty and embrace compassion and respect for all living beings. And, because we also believe that all this country needs to get the ball rolling is a little encouragement, PETA will work harder, shout louder, push further and, if we must, get “nakeder” than ever before. Please join us by visiting http://www.PETA.org/actioncenter/ for information on what you can do for animals.

Thank you again for providing us with this opportunity to explain our position on this important topic and for all that you do to help animals.

Sincerely,

The PETA Staff


Now, if you are still awake, I should take this opportunity to admit once and for all that I really AM just a humourless, wizened, body hating radfem. I think, and have always thought that the human body should be hidden away and never mentioned or alluded to. It was remiss of me not to acknowledge that we live in a society that allows women to wear revealing clothes, therefore demonstrating that our scantily clad women have rights. I am sooooo thankful that I don't live in a (ahem) society where women are chattel. I am ashamed that I didn't understand that nudity is an "age-old" form of protest. I feel so stupid. I thank those intelligent, educated and not at all racist people at PETA for correcting me and explaining the real morality and ethics behind using a nubile, perfectly shaven, unlined, white, slender woman to draw attention to their noble campaign.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Fat, So?

I went to a Yoga class. I got my sweat pants on and bought a bottle of water, said goodbye to my family and set off for unknown territory. It was a small, established class, I have never done Yoga before, and I don't do well at new things that involve other humans. I sat in the car for a few minutes debating whether or not to just forget the whole thing and go home where I know I'm safest. Recently, when I feel myself falter in this way I know that I have to act positively and boldly, and somehow I seem able to make myself do it. So with some hundred voices shouting in my head that I'm too fat, too old, too ugly, not posh and middle class enough, too loud and mouthy, just too much loud fat woman for people to take, I walked in to my first class.

So. I was without question the largest person in the room. I was, however, not the least fit. I stretched and felt self-conscious. I pulled at my top and my pants, adjusting them so that (I thought) no flab was exposed. I attempted every pose and rested during those that were far beyond my ability. After about half an hour I was really feeling stretched and warm, my heart rate was raised and my skin was glowing. I was enjoying myself! It was only in the final ten minutes where we rested in the dark, meditating, that I realised I had become completely unself-conscious. I had been utterly unaware of my appearance, size, exposed bits etc for at least half of the class. It was a revelation. It was freeing. I left the class feeling happy and confident, I conquered my chronic shyness (which manifests itself as brashness and inappropriate comedy!) and just spoke to people. I look forward to my next class on Monday. And I know it's a cliche but I really and truly feel taller.

I Heart Twisty Faster

Here is a quote from Twisty's latest and deliciously ferocious post:

Femininity is a set of practices and behaviors (boob jobs, FGM, ‘beauty’, the ‘veil’, the flirty head-tilt, pornaliciousness, BDSM, fashion, compulsory pregnancy, marriage, et al) that are dangerous, painful, pink, or otherwise destructive; that compel female subordination; that exist only to benefit Dude Nation; that are overwhelmingly represented by ‘girly’ feminists as a ‘choice’; and that are overwhelmingly represented by godbags and other irritating conservatives as ‘natural instincts’. In fact these practices and behaviors are nothing but inviolable cultural traditions in abject compliance with which comfort, contentment, and personal fulfillment are inextricably intertwined, and from which deviation is discouraged by the threat of ingenious punishments ranging from diminished social influence, to unemployability, to ridicule, to imprisonment, to rape, to murder, to the policing of feminist blogs.

Go and read the rest of it. It burns. In a very good way.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blog For Choice!

It's today. So here's my answer to the question: Why am I pro-choice? I'm pro-choice because I believe that every woman should have control over her own body. Every woman should be able to make informed, rational and supported choices about reproduction. And in case there was any confusion, that includes financial support in cases where abortion is decided against. No woman should feel that she does not have the resources to continue a pregnancy. No woman should feel that she cannot afford to terminate a pregnancy. No woman should be bullied into continuing a pregnancy.

I believe in women. I believe that we are to be trusted to make our own choices and decisions about whether life begins at conception and I respect the individual and her opinions. I do not accept the idea that abortion is murder, but I will try to respect the opinions of those who do. I wish the anti-choicers would afford me the same courtesy. Here's hoping!

Happy Monday!

Get your pens and pencils out, I'm pointing you at a wonderful resource for dealing with those everyday bigots... If you scroll down the menu on the left there are sections that explore power relations within families and social groups, showing why it isn't always easy (or even safe) to challenge your racist parent or sibling. Then it shows you how to do it. It's excellent.

And here's your video treat for this week: The amazing Tori Amos. Unforgettable, inimitable, wonderful. Have an astonishing and powerful week you women!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Synchronicity

I notice that this is my 100th post and I start to think about
what to blog, what to say to mark the occasion. It's not a huge number but it signifies something to me; something about confidence, having a voice, feeling real and big and unique.

I think about the number 100. I remember a time I spent every day listening very hard to a song called "100 years" by Five for Fighting. I remember that I listened to that song because I felt that it said something important about life and time, and that I had wanted to say these things to my nephew who had recently committed suicide. I think about how if I could have that child back, I would cocoon him. I would hold him tightly and make him feel fearless. I would save him.

I realise that I am wishing for something that is impossible. I accept that my love and my fierce grasp could absolutely not have saved him. I sit and listen and feel sad. I know that feeling sad is okay.