Comments from April 2005

From Elena Rowe

I found Nicky Raynor’s article “Sick Of

Celebrity” really warming and reassuring to read. It’s great to get hold

of something you really agree with. As a 16 year old living in a world

surrounded by these hideously glossy magazines, it can be quite stressfull

just looking at them. All the air-brushed models, looking stunning in their

expensive clothes, doused in expensive make-up. It suggests to me perhaps

there should be a sign above the magazine stand flashing *only beautiful

people need apply*, a little extreme I know, but it may prevent a little of

the stress these magazines often seem to cause.

From Gill Court

Thanks you Cazz for your series on the UK

riot girl scene. I was only 8 when Riot Grrl arrived here, and have since

found it through the punk scene in my late teens/early twenties. Your articles

have exploded this world for me and given me the chance to dig deeper and

further into the past and present of riot grrl and feminism – for which I am

truly happy.

From Rebecca

im only 16! i came across this article [Subvert the Dominant Pimpiarchy] while writing an essay

about media influences and effects on todays society! this article has reached

out to me in a way icannot describe. it is so true and yet it seems no1 has

realised. thankyou!x

From Anna Moore

Reading Rachel Bell’s article ‘Subvert the Dominant Pimpiarchy‘ I was stuck how refreshing

it was. In the countless broadsheet articles I’ve read on similar issues, the

journalist usually take a distanced tone, reporting rather than reacting to

the often highly disturbing subject they are writing about. Rachel Bell’s

piece is opinionated, angry and demands the reader thinks about what is

happening to these women and children. Her incensed, articulate female voice

is something the mainstream media has managed to suffocate in the last couple

of decades. Hopefully journalists like Rachel will help that change.

From Emma

i read the pimp article and was glad that someone has the same view

points as me. i am only 14 but still feel angry at the fact women are treated

like some sort of toy 2 use and abuse.

From B Smith

Having read the article ‘Rebranding Feminism‘ I was very interested in the idea that

young women today are unaware of what feminism is. While I feel it to be true

that young women, up until a few years ago myself included, are unaware of the

goals of feminism, they are very much aware of the stereotype. I am

17-years-old in my final year of sixth form and, last year, voted the student

most likely to burn their bra. Now, I have nothing against those women who

feel that they have a statement to make by doing such a thing, but I

personally feel disgusted to be stereotyped in such a manner. Why should they

assume that being a feminist makes me desire to burn my underwear?

I have never hidden my feminist opinions (handed down to me by word of

mouth from a much more advanced American friend) and I am not ashamed of them.

However, I found myself being pressured during last year when studying

feminist poetry by Carol Ann Duffy and professing to agree with her on

numerous accounts (mainly that women were entitled to have sex drives – a

shocking opinion as I’m sure you can understand). My entire class – both

female and male – immediatly turned upon me and treated me as though I was the

stereotype that they believed all feminists to be. I was called a man-hater, a

lesbian, a bra-burner and all sorts of things. As it happens, I am a bisexual

woman who is in a very happy relationship with a man and is grateful to her

bra for its support. Although I do not find being termed a lesbian offensive

in itself, I found being stereotyped to be incredibly sickening.

It is my belief, therefore, that women need to be educated that the

stereotype is wrong before they can come to understand the goals of feminism.

This is being slowly achieved through word-of-mouth but more must be done. I

am eternally grateful to websites such as this for providing a wealth of

information to use as a way of introducing my fellow women to feminism. I owe

a lot to the two women who introduced me to feminism and they will forever

hold a special place in my heart for doing so – I hope to do the same for

other people as you are with this site. Thank you.

From Scott Woebcke

I reluctantly watched The Incredibles with young related children. I was

anticipating mindless entertainment and I thought your article was right on

the money. What crap the film is.

From Peter

Re: The

Incredibles: I just saw this movie last night with my six year-old

daughter. This article is an astonishing mischaracterization of the film.

Apparently, the movie you saw isn’t the one I saw. For example, in the part of

the movie where Violet appears with a bow in her hair (the “different is good”

scene”) what your reviewer fails to mention is that in the scene, it is Violet

who takes the initiative, basically asks the boy out, offers to pay, and walks

away while he stands there stuttering. It’s a nice display of female strength

and confidence. Which, by the way, she develps after using her powers and

beating the living shit out of a lot of bad guys.

From Daniel Nava

I would say that your review for The Incredibles is

very close to point. As an American male feminist myself I understand and

agree with most of your points. I just saw the DVD with my 3 year old nephew

the other day.

Perhaps the only thing that is somewhat blown out of proportion is the

woman beating section of the review. He thought Mirage aided in the violent

murder of 75 f his family. Regardless of gender you could probably expect an

emotional physical reaction. (And she should could have told him the family

was alive before letting him out of his restraints especially since her life

was threatened in a previous scene when she was within arms reach). Also you

did omit the fact that Elasti-Girl did witness them imbracing and that was

what inspired the punch in the face. That was a comfirmation that Mirage was


Good review otherwise. Cheers!

From Merry

I am so glad to read a review of The Incredibles, I couldn’t believe how overtly sexist it

was and that people loved it. To me, the most obvious and irritating point in

the film – The son escapes the guards on the island by actively using his

great speed in an exciting and thrilling chase sequence around the island. And

Violet, the older, smarter (?) teenage girl, escapes danger by…disappearing.

Considering the epidemic of anorexia in the US, isn’t it a bit much to have a

teenage girl superpower be the ability to disappear? Thanks for the review.

From Nobody

Dude you’re really really really really really messed up try watching the

movie a couple more times. Maybe because you’re just one of those wierd people

from uk or something, I dunno I’m from the United States of America. The Incredibles was

a great movie and is entertaining for all ages. I’ve watched it 4 times and

know most of it by heart. Try watching it some more.

From Denise

I don’t know why Holly Combe bothers to write such reams of ponderous

analysis about what is, after all, just another money making venture. “Scarlet” doesn’t

appeal to me any more than “Good Housekeeping” would. Apart from the

pretentious language, even the contributors names sound like something out of

some perma-tan eighties soap. I’m afraid I can’t take it all as seriously as

Holly does.

The fact remains that men’s mags are still all about having fun (or their

idea of it) whereas those directed at women – including the cutting edge (they

wish) Scarlet, remain predictably serious and even more seriously irritating.

I won’t be buying it, she said unnecessarily!

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

I’ve seen copies of Scarlet, and I honestly don’t think the magazine is

serious; the tone of the magazine is very much about promoting women’s

enjoyment and having fun with sex (whether people think this is feminist or

not is another debate – see the comment from Thalia below, for example).

Holly analysed the mag because, well, I asked her to! Spending time

seriously analysing supposedly “superficial” things, whether they be women’s

magazines, children’s cartoons, tv shows or whatever, is something this site

is committed to doing. By the way, your comment about the contributors’ names

made me chuckle. At least they don’t have names like “Pussy Galore” or “Ben

Dover”! – Editor

From Sarah

Hi Holly, Great article [Scarlet review]. I take it all on board. And sorry about

the Boy Toy pics – we were limited with choice and budget, but will try to get

some teen talent in their for you pronto.

Best wishes, Sarah J Hedley, Scarlet’s Editor-at-Large

From Thalia

Holly Combe perhaps hopes stating the obvious commericalization of female

sexuality may deflect criticisms of Scarlet Mag, but

seriously, why the hell is the pay differences of various prostitutes featured

in a magazine professing to sexual liberation on women’s terms? Women aren’t

the main users of prostitutes and women don’t choose prostitution nearly so

much as poverty, education, sex abusive childhoods and race choose it for

them. I don’t see where Scarlet Mag offers anything this feminist hasn’t seen

in Playboy and Penthouse columns by “feminists” Susie and Tristan already.

Rah rah reviews of prostitution films (porn) aren’t feminist, and frankly

reading them comes off to me like a boxing announcer calling the blows of a

domestic violence scene (“Wasn’t that an effective uppercut…Oh, now he’s

moved onto pulling her hair, nice segue and great form he’s displaying


To those of us who work with the sex workers not photogenically sexee

enough to make Scarlet’s masturbation photo sets, seeing once again the

commodification of female sexuality, the uncritical near-worship of

prostitution films, and the sheepish lip service to real feminism by a group

of women blatantly seeking a money-making victory by selling lots of magazines

harms the people we’re trying to help. Scarlet Mag may help some women orgasm,

but what does it do for women who want genuine gender equality more than they

want occassional vaginal sneezes? I’m beginning to doubt modern “pro-sex”

feminists will ever get their heads out of their crotches (and in Scarlet’s

case purses) long enough to honestly appraise the situation of women’s global

sex exploitation and their own complicitness in the widespread sexual torture

of others in order for them to get their feminist rocks off.

Holly Combe, editor of The F-Word, replies

Thanks for your comments. I’m glad you at least describe me as a feminist

rather than a “feminist”!

Deflecting criticism of Scarlet was certainly never my intention. I

discussed a number of articles and would say my review did more than simply

state the obvious or pay lip service to feminist concerns about the

commercialisation of female sexuality.

I disagree that the issue of pay differences between prostitutes is

unsuitable for a magazine professing to advocate “sexual liberation on women’s

terms.” Obviously I don’t have your definition of liberation to hand but I’d

guess that (like myself) you see the breaking down of the traditional idea of

sex as something men automatically need and women do as a favour as an

important part of it. However, I would also say that refusing to validate

sex-work is not the best way of addressing this particular challenge. Yes,

prostitution plays a logical role in the traditional set-up but I don’t

believe this oppressive dichotomy is the only reason prostitution exists.

After all, just about anything can be bought or sold and the rights and wrongs

of this are, for me, part of the ongoing debate about capitalism in


In any case, I’m sure you’d agree that people who work in the sex industry

deserve fair treatment and, as far as I’m concerned, open discussion about pay

is one way of securing that.

I find your comparison of porn reviews to the idea of a boxing announcer

“calling the blows of a domestic violence scene” rather baffling. It seems to

suggest that any sex-act performed for a camera and marketed to get people off

immediately becomes an act of violence, regardless of the conditions in which

it took place. One of the problems I have with this particular stance is that

it alienates sex workers (some of whom are happy in their jobs and just want

to be afforded the same rights and respect as any other worker). If we view a

whole industry as abusive by definition, we deny ourselves the opportunity to

examine its problems and push for better ethics within it. It’s vitally

important that magazines like Scarlet get involved in the push for sex

workers’ rights rather than simply cover pornography from the point of view of

the consumer. This is another reason why the look at pay differences seems to

me like a potential step in the right direction.

I’d also like to add that I wouldn’t define myself as “pro-sex.” For me,

this label implies sex is a rigid system you either embrace completely or

reject outright. What happened to trying to change things?

From Lorraine Smith

I was impressed with Holly Combe’s honest and comprehensive review of Scarlet Magazine.

I agree that, although not perfect, the mag is well-meaning and doing well in

a difficult market. I’d rather read Scarlet than some vacuous fashion mag any

day, even if it can’t quite work out whether its feminist or not.

From Rachael Platt

i laughed so much at your article ‘25 burning

questions‘ i have been asked some of those questions by an ex, maybe thats

why he’s an ex! I really wish they had put that on there site, and i would of

loved to see there faces when they recieved that! I AM LOVING THIS SITE!!

From Steve Davies

Re: the essay responding to Nigel

Planer‘s article in the Radio Times, the author says: “But when I read

Nigel’s article I can’t help being reminded of a little boy crying and

stamping his feet because his sister has taken away his little toy. He just

can’t understand his sister’s reasoning, that he’s been playing with it for

ages now and it’s her turn”. Wouldn’t it be nice if brother and sister could

try to share the toy rather than only one of them having it and the other one

getting annoyed?

Kind regards, and let me say your website has made me think a great deal

about “the f word”.

From Christina Sheppard

I noticed your web page while looking for age restrictions on mens magazines

as a local newsagent allowed my 12 year old son to buy Zoo. For the last 6

years I have worked in the community and for the local Uni, delivering courses

to women to help raise confidence and self esteem. One undeniable fact through

my own experience of teaching 100’s of women is that these images and the

pressure to live up to them is a contributing factor to low self esteem and a

lack of positive body image.

From Helen B

Re: Kate Allen’s article “page three-ban it“. I have been searching for somewhere to

vent my frustration about newspapers and magazines on public display

containing images of women posing in a sexually explicit way, so far without

luck. Turning over these offensive publications that are now so “in your face”

in every shop, garage, supermarket etc. is not enough! I am fed up with

feeling that many feminists (pro-pornography) have encouraged women to be

viewed once again as sexual playthings of men in the belief that they are in

control of thier own sexuality! What rot! These women are posing in a way that

men have dictated- men decide who is “worthy” and they are still the pay

masters- rather like pimps.

I thoroughly support the abolition of page three, along with far greater

controls on what is on public display on our supermarket shelves. I don’t want

my ten year old son browsing the shelves for his comic between issues of

Loaded and FHM etc, displaying naked women modestly covering each other’s

nipples. How are children suposed to regard men and women equally when

constantly bombarded with images dipicting women posing in this way for men’s

pleasure? I am pretty sure that if men were to be shown in similar poses, they

would be considered unsuitable for public display. I realise there are many

other important areas of equality that may seem more pressing, but surely the

root cause of inequality lies within our society and is absorbed from very

early ages by our children as normal behaviour. I know it would be termed a

breach of human rights to deny people the right to participate in pornography,

however “soft”, but surely it breaches my human rights to have it in my face

whenever I have to go into a shop that stocks newspapers and magazines when I

don’t want to see it? If there are any organisations which I could join that

support this theory, I would be pleased to hear from them.

The campaigning group Object may be of interest. – Editor

From Pauline Mulligan

As a consequence of the unreal expectations of motherhood, the child

is usually very disappointed in their mother..why isn’t she like the mothers

on the telly, why is she living her own life and not taking care of me(even

though the ‘child’ is now 22 yrs old and unemployed) So lets educate the

children out are responsible for yourself. Mothers stop being so

accommodating..there is a generation of needy whingers out there. Leave home

before its too late.

From Diana J

I read the article on not

getting married and I was impressed. I was married for a year and a half

and it was a huge mistake. I was weak and dependent at the time and now I am a

different person. My boyfriend now has never wanted to get married and people

think there is something wrong with him because he hasn’t been. It is totally

a societal thing to do… and why refrain to society? The only thing I wish I

could redo in my life is to not have gotten married. Thank you for the

article.. it was great!!

From Mel

Your article on The Ethics of Sex Toys was awesome – so educational – alot

to learn from. Thanks. Glad we found it.

From Katie

Re: The Beauty

Myth. that was a really cool article, right now i have to do a 10page

report on the dynamics of media v.s. self worth! i really enjoyed reading this

page… thank you

From Steve Murphy

Well done Lindsay, I totally agree with you that “normal women” were not

fully represented in the programme `hairy Women`. I am a man who loves natural women, I couldnt

think of anything worse than making love to a pubescent like female…its not

natural!!!..give me hair hair and more hair…yipeeee!!!..Hairy women do not

smell and are definately nor dirty I wish more women would give up this silly

idea that smooth is beautiful..its not, its ugly.

From Emily

I really enjoyed Ms Razorblade’s Clearly intelligent and thoughtful

article, ‘Growing Up or Giving In?‘ and completely agree with her

sentiments. I would love to read more unfashionable articles like this one.

From Kathryn (of Sh!)

Re: The Ethics of Sex Toys Hi, the info bout credit card

reciepts from Sh! being emblazened with ‘Women’s Erotic Emporium’ is now out

of date …we’ve been onto our cc people and have got them to change it to

just “Sh! Ltd” … as we believe in both pride AND privacy!!! All the best

From John

Why do you people always assume that because a person objects to being

refered to as a cunt [Taboo For Who?] that they are therefore afraid of it.are

you as a female afraid of cunts because you object to being refered to as

one.People are refered to as arseholes but how many are afraid of them.What i

suggest people are afraid of is being ascibed a fear of something that they

just plainly dislike.I mean they are bascically an ugly smelly drain pipe.Who

would’nt object to that kind of analogy of their person.Please stop telling

people that men are afraid of this and that because it is irritating and it

alienates men from your arguement.

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

Ugly, smelly drain pipe, huh? Gosh, when you put it like that, it makes you

wonder what on earth our problem was. Who could object to such a healthy,

reasonable perspective as that? – Editor

From Sharon

This is just a comment on sexism in general. I am autistic so i am stupid

but when i can’t do something because of my autism men say it is because i am

female. Even my male teachers have made comments like this. Sexism is not a

joke and autistic people are very sensitive about things like this and i

missed a year off school because i had a nervous breakdown. These people

should get it into their heads that i am autistic because i am autistic-not

because i am female! I would like to see things from the sexist point of view

but i can’t get my head that far up my arse.

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

Sharon, you don’t sound so stupid to me. – Editor

From Mekanie

hey in response about the richard kern article [Under Your Skin]

I’m a model of him and work with him since 6 years(i began i was 19).Richard

trust in his models like models trust in him.Also,he never try to make you

beautiful(like fashion fotograpfers)ans show to everybody that a woman can be

erotic in every situation.Since i work for him,i feel more confortable,he

gaves me a look on me i never had before because he loves womens,and every

kind of womens.Of course he lives with money from porn,but some womens do the

same,and it’s a fabulous right for a woman to do what she wants with her

body(i make money with my pictures,i don’t need porn to make money so…),i

considere that being a model for richard is feminism.He use us like we use him

to get more self estime.Considere that Roy Stuart and eric kroll are really

using womens like dolls and make bad money with bad pictures,BUT not Richard

Kern,who is a lesbian in a male body. Every people who say the contrary has to

meet him and try….

From dl

Re: Rankin and Bailey: I do giggle at the thought of the

expression on Rankin’s face when he sat down and saw his rather banal and

redundant images juxtaposed with Bailey’s thoughtful and somewhow searching

contributions. I did in fact follow the link to their website, eager to see

some of the images that were so beautifully described by the writer. I can

only say that I think she was excessively kind to Rankin whose lazy and

depthless works lack even the eroticism of Razzle. What better example of just

how dull the western construction of perfection can be.

From Claire

A breath of fresh unadulterated air! I was searching the web trying to find

some answers in regards to my constantly rebounding insecurities about my

‘looks’. And I found this site. Ive never had a problem with stating that Im a

feminist but I now understand that I just lost my way for a while and have

been truly energised by the words and articles on this site. One to be

bookmarked!!!….Thank you

From Emma V

In response to Rachel Bell’s Bridget Jones article… Just to be pedantic, in the books

Bridget isn’t actually ” a bit fat” – whenever she weighs herself she’s around

9 1/2 stone or something, probably the same, or less, than what Renee

Zellwegger weighs in the film. The point is that she THINKS she’s fat, when

she isn’t.

From Jacinta

Re: Bridget Jones: I actually don’t think Bridget Jones is a

“bit fat” I think she’s just a bit anorexic. Because fielding never mentions

her height – is she tall or short? Surely she is not short, otherwise she

would obsess over that too? And her weight is fully in the normal range for a

normal-sized woman, about 9 stone or so. I mean, who isn’t 9 stone? Apart from

Angelina & Halle & co, I mean!

From kk

In response to Rachel Bell’s article on Bridget Jones, who sums the character up beautifully, yes

it is disappointing that Zellweger hasn’t been inspired to go on a crusade to

advocate “normal” sizes amongst the other nipped, tucked and laminated women

of Hollywood, but it isn’t really a cheek-slapping surprise. I find it

somewhat more depressing that such a popular and celebrated notion of

‘everywoman’ is depicted as having flirted her way into a career which she is

of no interest to her (as she is basically an idiot), and who desperately

needs both to settle down with a man and possess a socially acceptable figure

to feel content! It is a shame that these seem to be the celebrated priorities

of “liberated” modern women. As for the comfy knickers her humiliation was

entirely justified! Imagine not wearing a thong and suspenders as daily

attire, a lady must be reminded of her primary function as sex object at all

times! Let us burn down Marks and Spencer’s now, those filthy purveyors of

functional underwear!

From Andrew Bober

It is in the wake of Four Weddings and Notting Hill that Bridget Jones exists. Little more than the sugary edifice

of an Anglo-American product for a semi-core global market who enjoy “art” as

long as it stays close to mainstream. Being “English”, or “British”, is

treated in the same fairytale context which Mary Poppins did for audiences

back in the 60s – failing even to lampoon or remain ironic about this. When

one assumes this as a premise it is extremely easy to ignore the wealth of

other twaddle it wishes to add, afterall the premise is the first port to


I am sure that it can be argue this film was entertaining to some, and I

would not pretend to bother arguing otherwise. However, it is either a film

which entertains my sensibilities – oddly a marked difference to the first

film in its original intentions – and one which I would not recommend.

Regardless, it is perhaps for this reason we should not necessarily be

overly critical of mainstream form – at least fiercely (which I am not

suggesting Rachel has) – but instead concerning ourselves with art forms which

educate people. Much harder to point the way.

From Jenny Kam

Re: A perfect

delusion. Great article, just goes to show that as with things such as

moral panics etc, social trends concerning men have a way of turning and

twisting to end up being imposed/refected onto women. Again.

From Emily

Thanks for your article on “Make me the

perfect wife“. The writer echoed exactly what I had been thinking. I

couldn’t even sit through a whole epidsode, it upset me so much.

From Vicky

Re: Feminists Are Sexist: i kinda agree with the guys who said

that you should have commented on 1 or 2 of the male sexist ads BUT at the

same time if a man had written that article I’m sure he would have left out

the bits that are sexist towards women.

From Susan

I stumbled across your site about a month ago and I just wanted to write

and say cheers, nice one! At the risk of sounding dramatic, I long seem to

have inhabited an underworld of subervsive, shock horror feminist views which

seem to set me on a totally different planet to most of my friends and family.

Until I found your site I was beginning to not only think I was alone but also

that any hope of a communal ‘third wave’ was long gone.

The piece about getting active in 2005 is perfect and other features are

really spot on – especially the Incredibles one. It really is a lifesaver to know that my

views are shared and that some-one is acting as a coordinator. So thanks for

editing such a cracking website and you may just have inspired me to stop

writing about council tax rises in Surrey and do something more useful

instead! Best Wishes,

From Matt

have you got any copies of zoo issue 6th january please

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

Hmm…. now let me see….. did I put them with the issues of Ms or with

the Dworkin books? Hm. I’d better have a look and get back to you. – Editor

From Gary

Re: Nuts /

Zoo Weekly Get a life treacle its called light humor lets face it im sure

who ever wrote this artical hasnt got the face to appear in it so stick to

whinging ,,,, two sugars treacle xx

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

Nuts and Zoo readers really are proving what level they’re on with these

emails, aren’t they? – Editor

From Sarah

Hardcore – I watched

a docu-film last nite on Annabel Chong who took part in a gang-bang with 251

men. It was deeply disturbing, not least to see how little self-love and

respect this young woman had for herself. I realise that this event was dated,

but the issues are not. Yes, it seems to me that the porn industry is

inhabited by the worst scum, who talk about girls as pieces of meat to be

nailed, each one as indispensible as the next. Annabel Chong was trying so

hard to be strong in her life and deal with her earlier rape issues head-on in

what were the most shocking of circumstances and life-choices. She had

attempted naively to promote the view that women were not victims and that our

sex drive is as voracious as mens, by showing us the viewer, her active

involvement in her own victimhood. It turned out that she wasn’t even paid the

$10,000 she was promised for this live gang-bang session, and did not fight

for it, saying she was living life to the full and did not want paying. She

was also quoted as saying that she thought that sex was worth dying for. I

pity her, and for a seemingly intelligent, if very confused, young woman I

hope that she discovers the empowerment she needs on her own terms and finds

out that wanting to prove a point is not nearly as empowering as calm


From Rachael Platt

I have just read the article by kadie armstrong Stand Up For

Equality and i was laughing in agreement with her. I also find myself

cringeing when i see a ‘new’ female stand up comedian, i also are hoping she

doesnt let the side down so to speak, i am willing her to do well and show the

blokes that we are funny too! i have a goofish funny side to my personality

and when i do have one of these episodes in the presence of males i can see

them thinking, ‘ooh a funny bird!’ i believe that this intimidates men, at

first i think they are attracted to it but when the reality hits that i might

be funnier than them they are off, talk about bruised egos!!Anyway i really

enjoyed your article, and will be doing a assignment on ‘Women in… comedy’

for my college coursework and will be sure to mention your name.

From Derek O’Brien

I read your article on female comics [Stand Up For

Equality] with great interest, as it has touched on much of what I’ve

thought as well. My best friend is a comic who does stand up on our local

circuit, albeit as a hobby. She had wanted to do it for years, and has

received much praise for her wit, her charm and stage presence, and her brassy

attitude, and she deserves every bit of that praise. But she’s also facing a

laddish element among many of her fellow comics (and one or two promoters),

most of them twentyish single white males who are less than welcoming. Maybe

not openly condemning her, but in other ways: forgetting to inform her of gig

dates or openings with sketch groups and discussions, ignoring her posts,

being conveniently preoccupied and unavailable to provide support whenever

she’s onstage.

To them, she has much going against her: her sex, age, lack of

availability, non-skinniness, non-blondeness, and her choice to avoid gags

insulting audience members, touching politics or hack subjects like periods

and ex-boyfriends. It seems like comedy has taken steps backward since the 80s

Alternative Renaissance, and ironically many successful comediennes who first

came to prominence then wouldn’t get a second look from these guys. With

further irony, some female comics wishing to remain good with the Clique play

by their rules, too, becoming ladettes and ignoring their fellow


I’ve sat close by for almost a year, her Number One Fan, and have seen

others, men and women with less talent and stage presence doing hack material,

and receiving more praise from this clique than she ever has. I don’t think my

devotion blinkers me, either. She’s not spitting out streams of tired old

one-liners like a soulless machine. But she’s funny. And talented. And

receives applause. And she deserves better from her peers, none of whom she

particularly respects, but, being human, she still desires their approval. It

gets to her at times, leaves her despairing, but tries to shrug it off. I know

there’s nothing I can do but keep encouraging her. But sometimes it doesn’t

seem enough.

From V Parkinson

Re review on King

Arthur film – enjoyed review, but one major error. Lancelot was played by

Ioann Gruffudd, not Orlando Bloom…

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

Oops! Apologies for the error. – Ed

From John Burridge

As a Kylie fan

myself, I agree with most of what Anna Fioravanti says in her article about

Kylie Minogue. However, Ms Fioravanti does fall into the trap of (possibly

unintentionally) promoting the traditionalist (and arguably partriarchal)

notion of good-woman-versus-bad-woman.

She writes that ‘Newspapers present a very demeaning image of women. They

are painted, more or less, as sluts’. She goes on to say that ‘Kylie is not

presented this way’. ‘Slut’ is a derogatory word (though some feminists have

reclaimed it) used to describe a promiscuous woman. What’s wrong with a woman

being promiscuous? Anna also writes that ‘Kylie’s image is never of an

“object”. Nor of an easy girl. Never offensive’. Again she seems to be

implying that there’s something wrong with a woman readily having sex without

emotional committment. I hope she will reflect on this.

From Mike

Re: Not For Girls, Do you not feel that it is merely an

advertising campaign and designed solely for sales through humour. Being a

male who rarely eats chocolate anyway, i’m not one to make sure that i pick a

“MACHO”, as you put it, chocolate bar. just like i dont pour a can of diet

coke into a glass and add sugar to it so as to avoid bein seen as a cissy. I

do think you need to lighten up a bit. The women have Diamond motor insurance,

with cheaper premiums. Even though an actual test of 15 couples at the

Prodrive test track in Warwickshire in a variety of conditions in the same

vehicle showed a 56 dvantage to the men who took part in the experiment. Let

us have Yorkies. Either that or wait until “Diamond Geezer” motor insurance

starts up and have a nag about that. Thanks for your time.

From Emily Baeza

I think the article on Margaret Thatcher was good, but missed a few points.

Perhaps Thatcher was wrong not to advance the cause of feminism, but she

herself gained little from it personally or professionally, and given her

treatment by her fellow female students at Oxford, one could start to

appreciate why she might have gone it alone.

The more pressing issue might be why women in power only reach such success

following particularly masculine paths and holding rightwing views. Would, one

wonder, Mrs Thatcher have become prime minister following a socialist scheme?

Why is it the Condolezza Rice`s of the world are making it on the back of a

anti-feminist regime? Where are the female socialists of this world? Look at

Mrs Clinton, arguably a woman more than capable of a senior whitehouse

position, (as her election in New York proved) spent years pandering to the

philander Bill, instead of making progress in this world.

In her analysis, Elizabeth Wurtzel does down Maggie in comparison to Hilary

on the fact that Mrs T was of only “average intelligence” I would just like to

point out that someone who graduates with a double first in Chemistry from

Oxford, would not in my opinion be considered such.

It would be wrong to criticize Thatcher`s success for failing to advance

women. We shoot ourselves in the foot if we fail to recognize our own

responsibility for our own success. If anything the problem with the women in

power is that we expect them to be above and beyond what we would of men. It

is another thing for women to feel guilty about, for the failure to aid their

fellow women into power.

From Gemma

I dont think you are right in saying that wearing makeup is the same as

getting breast enlargements. First of all make up can be removed, it is simply

a cover up to enhance an individuals look for that particular day, it can be

changed and more importantly taken off. The same as a hairstyle, this can be

cut, dyed curled etc but it can always be fixed. However, a breast enlargement

carries so many more risks than applying lipstick for example. I agree with

you in the fact that it is used to change how a person looks and to make them

feel happier, and i dont actually think there is anything wrong with that as

it is up to the individual, but it is definatly not the same as applying

lipstick. Surely if this was the case wouldn’t every woman have had an

enlargement by now. We are all aware of the risks of breast enlargements and

how you cant actually go back once you have had it done. Or if that is decided

one would quite clearly be left with scars. I think it is people like yourself

who are making this sort of thing seem normal and acceptable and making more

and more peolpe more self-conscious about there bodies rather than actually

accepting them as they are. We all no that every woman is different and no

woman is ever happy with their bodies, but this is never ending, as you said

its simply a part of who we are. So when these women have had their breasts

enlarged they will then look to the next bad thing thats wrong with them, its

a viscious circle, and its people like yourself who are creating and

encouraing this feeling.

I think this comment may be in response to the article Teenagers and Cosmetic Surgery – Ed

From Phillippa

Hi, discovered your website today, WoW! I’m really impressed. It is

inspiring and enlightening to know there are woman out there putting my

thoughts in to words.

From Roley Stein

Responding to Anne Sandfield’s article on the character of Trinity in the Matrix Reloaded.

I very much enjoyed the article – very thought-provoking. I’ve argued with

(male) friends about these movies because one claimed that the female

characters “might as well be men” because they did not conform to “feminine”

stereotypes of behaviour – he was referring in particular to Switch in the

first movie. The fact that he couldn’t establish whether or not she was

sleeping with the other character played by the Maori actor (sorry, name

escapes me – he was also killed by the traitor) meant, in his view, that her

character might as well be male. Since humans are male unless required for sex

and reproduction, I suppose. I found the character of Switch fascinating

because although marginal she was ambiguous – she wasn’t immediately defined

as someone’s love-interest or partner (as was a bit annoying in the 2nd film

which introduced a number of additional female characters as stay-at-home

girlfriends). I told my male friend that Switch looked perfectly feminine to

me – there she was, being female, contributing to the resistance instead of

being someone’s fucktoy – which seemed to be the only way a woman could

register on this (gay) man’s consciousness. I applauded the first film for

showing women as active, risk-taking human beings; it felt very normal for me

though it seemed to make him uncomfortable to have women portrayed as doing

anything other than having sex and looking after children.

One other point about representations of heterosexual sex in film/tv and

the usual positioning of the woman underneath the man – there was a great

scene in Babylon 5, sci-fi tv series, which showed two characters with a long

standing attraction finally getting together for sex. The scene was short and

necessary, since the sexual connexion between the two powerful telepathic

characters created a sort of psychic shockwave that had implications for the

plot. But what made it memorable for me was that the brief image of the two of

them together showed the female character on top and upright. I don’t know why

the director chose to film it this way (don’t know who directed this episode)

but I really appeciated the fact that she/he did not automatically assign a

submissive, passive position to the powerful female character – and equally,

did not present her as a perverted dominatrix indulging in aberrant sexual

practices which a “normal” (powerless) female would of course refuse. It was

framed as a loving, emotional encounter in which she just happened to be on

top. It really struck me at the time, and has stuck in my memory, because you

just don’t SEE this sort of positioning in mainstream television (unless you

are trying to make a negative point about the sluttish/domineering female

character involved). B5 had some very interesting female characters in it too.

Sci-fi seems, as a genre, much better at pushing the boundaries of

representations of women than practically any other.