Comments received from readers. From Joel Every awful horror in Rachel Bell’s account (Subvert the Dominant Pimpiarchy) would be eliminated if prostitution were recognized as a rightful, peaceful, and legal activity. She offers no real solution to getting rid of pimps. Legalization, in contrast, would make prostitution voluntary, easy, and legal for buyer and seller alike, with market prices set by supply and demand, forcing all those pimps to find other illegal pursuits or get real jobs. From D All is good and well with living together and not choosing to get married – but let me warn you. I was happy with my 12 year commitment to my psuedo husband we “pretended to be married” in every respect – insurance through his work, bank, friends, taxes – until he cheated on me and now I have 2 children and zero money in the bank, no insurance, tax fraud and no means of spousal support. So I caution anyone who thinks they don’t need the piece of paper to say they are married. If you want to CYA yes you do. I never thought this would happen to me but it did. From Stephanie Victoria Dutchman-Smith’s article Are you married, if not why not? I so enjoyed reading the article. I feel under so much social pressure to get married. My partner has no desires to and sees it as an out dated pointless event. I feel the same deep down, but have a friend who is in the process of planning a wedding and makes me feel so inadequate for not being engaged! Anyway what a great article to read, and be inspired by. Thank you! From Tony I am responding to the holly combe’s article about chivalry. I really really enjoyed reading this – especially the part about the fact that men standing up before a woman comes into the room shows chivelry in its naked absurdity, not clothed by some practical function. Something like opening a door seems a trivial point to argue about but it never is. Just like when a person makes a racist joke in a pub – if you argue with them they might call you over sensitive or ask you why you cant take a joke – you are at fault – and the nasty underlying racism has been smuggled in. The article shows quite clearly the mood and tradition which stands behind chivilry – i thank the author for that. From Ann I just read your article [Are You Married? If Not, Why Not?] and have to say that I feel the same way, I just got married but really after all is said and done, don’t really think it is necessary. If two people want to be together they will be with or without marriage, and assuming that people will take the union more seriously is erroneous thinking because marriage is so easy. So what’s all the fuss about. I really think that it is to a large extent outdated thinking and rules (man made). I was asked so many times am I Mrs. so & so now, and had to proclaim assertively that I did not change my name because I like my name. Some people even had the nerve to ask me why! I really think there are a lot of people with tunnel vision out there, who don’t realize the inequality between man and women that they unwittingly support. All the best. From Ernie Re: The Incredibles. No disrespect to you or your opinions but why should the world conform just to make a few people happy. I am all for gay, lesbian and womens rights but these people are here to make money. They provide entertainment to the masses not to the few. You can look at the woman bashing in two ways. A macho man beating up a helpless woman or a super hero beating up a super villian. (I am taking this from your writing as I have not seen the movie) When I watch movies, I usually watch movies for entertainment value and not necessarily for thought provoking philosophical pieces of weird art. For that, I watch French Movies. Start taking lwhat life has to offer a little lighter. Life is too short to take everything so seriously. From angry teenage weirdo I have to agree with everything that was written in the article about the not so incredible film The Incredibles. That film made me furious as soon as I saw the trailer. The message that it is sending out to young girls. You know the one – ‘You can have as many feminist ideas as you like until you are ready to get married and push out a few kids while your husband is out doing something important’- is completely ridiculous. They could have made the plot a little more original. Why does the ( obviously anorexic) Violet sigh over the pretty boy at school? Why doesnt she fancy her female gym teacher instead? Why does she, when he finally sidles up to her, simpering like a proper little girly? I would have karate chopped him in the balls. (Why does she have to wait for him to ask her out?That is a bit dated isnt it?). I am currently studying the position of women in the household in my Sociology class. Elastigirl may well be suffering from depression and alienation and a feeling of inaddequecy when compared to her ‘successful’ husband. Why is that not explored? In short, I hated this film, its characters and the plot. Cheers for publishing that article. I’m going to show it to my friends at school, then we will see if they think the film is ‘incredible’. From Jennifer I just wanted to give a huge one-person round of applause to the author of “Feminists Are Sexist“. Today the campus women’s group I belong to left our weekly meeting to find “sexists pigs” written across the door to our women-only room. We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry- the sheer ignorance of the statement blew me away. Anyway, this article articulated all the feelings that were welling up inside me from that incident. I am not the only one who refuses to constantly apologize for being a feminist. From Asha Broome Responding to “Feminists Are Sexist“. BRAVO!!!!! Simply Excellent. It’s great to see people write something good about feminism! Feels so enlightening! Well done! From Dave Stanbrook Who does Katherine Redfearn think she is? In “Feminists are sexist” she treats those men who had the adacity to comment on her article as if they are idiots. Example “he sneeringly replied” ? How can someone sneer in an email ? What is most distasteful to most men who can be bothered to see it is that the Feminist/left wing like Redfearn seem so hostile to anything that might be in disagreement with their holy grail views. The ‘censure of debate’ tactics used by the new left absolutely stink. And so does Redfearn. Go on, bang your head on the table. Do us all a favour. From Orla Catherine Redfern’s “Feminists Are Sexist“: Im only 16yrs old and i feel exactly the same as you. i would say that im a feminist but when men attack me with the idea that feminists are sexist i get so angry that i cant verbalise my feelings. I wish that i could express myself as well as you do. You rock! From michelle nicholosn Catherine Redfern’s Feminists are Sexist, is an article that has saved my sanity. Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou. I’m a social work educator and have been feeling ground down by the frustration of attempting to turn myself inside out explaining (over and over) to anti-feminist students that feminism benefits men too and that – ‘no – despite the fact that feminism makes you feel like shit’ and is therefore ‘oppressive to men,’ this can not possibly be the case. I am sick to death of challenging men to think about the illogic of their arguments against feminism and it makes me want to scream when I have to listen to the “it’s not fair” statements. No matter how we explain in (ie: do you bitch at people who actively work to support heart disease and charge them with being unfair because on the grounds that they don’t talk about and actively work at supporting campaigns against liver disease? – of course not – that would be stupid wouldn’t it?). From Steve Commenting on your article on hairy women .i live in the U.S. and the shaving craze is way out of control as women here are even starting to shave their forearms! From Noa Re: GrrlActivistas: just wanted to say that i’ve dedicated the last few years researching rape and sexual violence and its representation in film and found that though some try, most films are soarly lacking in the emotional violence that is attached to rape. and i’m hoping to rectify this in the near future… thank you From Charlotte I agree with the essential thrust of the article [Reclassifying Rape], that rape needs to be re-evaluated in the eyes of the law and trial proceedings needs to be more easily arrived at than they are currently. On the other hand, women are not the only victims of rape and I do not believe it is always a crime caused by a hatred of women. Men too, are victims of rape, and my understanding of statistics relating to those prosecutions are even more depressing. I was also profoundly annoyed however, when in read in an interview with Camille Paglia recently where she opines that a woman who goes back to a man’s home is offering sex. Having been raped twice on such occasions (incidentally the first two times I had sex and was rather naive and drinking excessively), I can honestly say there was a desire for sex, but surely that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have it on my terms? Perhaps my definition of rape is wrong, but I thought until then it was enough to say ‘no’. Obviously Ms Paglia and the anti-‘date-rape’-concept-debate know better than me what rape is, or else have ‘proffered’ themselves so many times in this way that they rationalise it only happens in wars and down dark alleys. To be honest, I don’t feel myself to be a victim of anything but alcohol and a couple of very tragic men who will probably continue to treat women in this way and ’emancipate’ our sex further in the pursuance of obtaining a sexually submissive ideal. I think there is probably also that ideal present is homosexuals who wish to dominate their partner entirely. And maybe even lesbians. I think rape is essentially a way people who feel powerless make themselves feel powerful – it’s not about hate so much as possession. From Mr Wonder Comments on Refusing to Be a Man. Wow this is a loaded topic! The problem affects both sexes equally and it seems to me that both sexes are conditioned completely into the “correct expectations” from the opposite sex without even realising it. From personal experience, one area which causes a lot of unpleasantness from both sexes and I must say equally so is the societal notion of what men and women should wear. A number of years ago, I bought myself a wonderful white satin shirt. They were popular at the time and I loved it. I wore it out a number of times only to be harrassed by both men and women. Frequently you’d hear comments of “queer, fag, mummy’s boy” etc from the men and comments such as “hmm, wonderful blouse darling or do you want to borrow my skirt” from the women. Women were for some reason equally offended I wore this shirt! Why? I asked a few female friends and they suggested that it was not a material that they “expected” a man to wear. It looked feminine or worse still “girly”. Satin was essentially a woman’s material. No-one knew why or how this judgement happened. They just knew it was not expected. Some women though were not at all bothered and some even complimented me on my shirt. Why? Such a deep rooted sentiment has wide ranging effects. It then touches on issues as what women are expected to wear and what men cannot possibly wear. Why can’t a man wear a skirt? Why is it finally acceptable for women to wear trousers, though it still has a degrading implication. Before we even realised, which this article touches on, is that we are conditioned to sex response in such an unhealthy extent that it causes outrage at even the clothes we wear. If that is so, what about the more important issues? What are anybody elses responses to my experiences? I’d love to know your take on them. From Sarah Hey, when’s the Review of Kill Bill 2 coming along…? I can’t find it. I loved the first review, can’t eait to see what the next review makes of KB2…! From Ms Razorblade Driving near York today, I noticed that Nestle have sponsored the “York In Bloom” project, and that several roundabouts are consequently sporting little placards bearing the Yorkie bar logo with the last two letters removed (geddit?!), complete with the crossed-out woman symbol. My first response was amusement, because the purpose of “York In Bloom” is to create floral displays in York, so I had a good laugh at the thought of a set of misogynist gadgies barring women from the church hall in order to coo over each other’s flower arrangements. Once the giggles had passed, however, I felt mostly embarrassed that female tourists approaching the area will be greeted by signs implying that women are not welcome in York. From Sara A Laura Carr, Thankyou for your article about the sex trade in Cambodia. It’s reassuring to know that I am not the only person appalled by the state of prostitution at home and abroad. I spent the summer in Central America, and countless times I saw US soldiers consorting with prostitutes. There women are only valued for their looks, as if they serve no other purpose. In England I know so many boys that use prostitutes and their attitudes to women are disgusting- they see women only as sex objects. A few of the boys were taken to prostitutes by their fathers in Greece, they still do that!The scale of prostitution further propagates the idea that women are sex objects put on earth to gratify mens’ every whim. Yours, From LL Pretty Vacant – Skirts or trousers the age old question. I agree that skirts in themselves do not demean or undermine, but the real issue with women’s clothing it seems to me is their impracticalness. This forever leaves us vulnerable to the elements, lugging a bag through lack of pockets, unable to run as the feet are crippled by poorly designed footwear, let alone looking more decorative than business like and therefore having our credibility shot to shreds. Until we address the looks are more important than what you do, or even how you do it, situation we will not be equal. From Helen Browne I agree with Samantha Lyster’s comments in ‘A perfect delusion‘. I expect most women have felt under a certain amount of pressure to emulate either appearances or behaviours that their male partners have read about in magazines or newspapers, or seen on the screen. Whether it’s asking their girlfriend to dress in stereotypically sexy underwear, or persuading them to have breast implants as he’s a “breast man” and hers just don’t do it for him like Jordan’s do, it’s all down to manipulation and control. And it’s not only men that continue this pressure on women’s appearance and behaviour, but other women! Women’s magazines are nearly as bad as men’s at stereotyping women, with a staggereing amount of their pages devoted to how they can attract men, how to please men, and how to change themselves. The majority of men are programmed to procreate, so if all the women of the world decided to take off their make-up, re-grow their bodily hair and dress in binliners, men would, after the initial shock, still fancy them! For years, women have strived to change themselves to attract men, and it’s about time women took back their identity and felt able to be feminine without shame. I think Germaine Greer said that many modern women are “man-made”- isn’t it time we changed that to “natural” again. It is a shame that men are now also experiencing the pressures of “body image”, but perhaps they will as a result, have more empathy towards women who want to take back control of their bodies. From jim kitchingman A Prefect Delusion: The author of this article is quite correct in her analysis. The fantasies contained within men’s magazines just get in the way of satisfactory adult relationships. The most damaging delusion is that you have to conform to some stereotype of celebrety looks to have a satisfactory sex life. Anyone who believes this be they male female celebrety or nonentity is doomed to a never ending cycle of disappointment and failure. From B Re: A Prefect Delusion: Whilst I accept that there are men in this world who are delusional they are not in my experience the norm, men do have the capacity to look beyond the image of women that is portrayed by the Ad Men and Women. These images are used solely to sell products as you mentioned in your article, men do not always seek the perfect women because,despite what others may assume we do have a sense of reality, we do know that these women are not walking around ASDA and Tesco on a daily basis, and the women in our lives are normal women with normal shapes and sizes and we do accept them for what they are just as women accept men for what we are. In a recent womens magazine I was asked to answer the questions stated in the magazine regarding what men like do not like about women, almost all questions were answered in a positive way by the men who responded, as were my answers, a typical question was “would you object if your partner had cellulite” my and a high percentage of the poll replied “NO” the magazine was HEAT i believe, a female colleague of mine asked me to answer the questions honestly and I did, in essence myself and a lot of men I know are dissatisfied with thin stick like women and we want women to be women, which means exactly that, of the curves are there fine if not then that is fine also. If they have a big bum then love them for that, in reference to your comments on Pornography I can agree to a certain extent on what you say however only those men who have issues will not be able to seperate fantasy from reality and there are women who fail in this aspect too, in essence FHM and Loaded etc appeal to an audience becasue men realise that it is fantasy and a picture of “whoever” merely appeals to their visual brain, ie they like what they see just like you may like to look at Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” after seeing pictures of sexy women men do not go home and ask there partners to look like that, as they do not go home and ask there partners to be more “intriguing” after seeing the mona lisa. I will accept that there are men out there who are quite simply delusional and also stupid, the only way to combat these men is for women to be stronger and not accept behaviour of the kind you mentioned, if a man gives a women a diet book for Christams then he should be given the boot, unfortunately he will not be and the woman will go on the diet, quite wrong in my view, if all women decided to be women where will that guy go to get the “stick insect he so desire” nowhere becasue women will not stand for it, and rightly so, acceptance of who we are is the key irrespective of the sex. An interesting article though and may be you should post the results of that survey on your web site so more women know that men do not all want thin, women is what men want in all their glorious shapes and sizes. Thanks for listening. From Izzie Re: Men In Feminism. Some very good food for thought! I have just finished writing my MA thesis on representations of female sexuality in myth and how these have been carried through to contemporary society. I am pleased to tell you though, that all my male tutors at uni were complete feminists, it was they that sparked off my interest! Well done, great article x From Suki Rocks He’s Just Not That Into You: Amazing! Looking at the titles of some of the books to avoid, I was torn between laughter and tears. Do we really need to be told how to ‘catch’ a man? The last time I looked this was the 21st century. I think I’m going to write a book called ‘ Save your money for something better’; how to avoid being lured into buying patronising and overly condescending self help relationship books. Maybe instead of obsessing about whether he’s into you or not, women should be obsessing about creating equal relationships between each other. How will a relationship work when one person has been offically ‘put in charge’ and the other is playing seconds, or not playing at all? From Catriona Gallacher In response to the article He’s Just Not That Into You: I laugh out loud when I read titles of these rediculous dating books, I remember seeing the pair that wrote Men are from Mars Women are from Venus on GMtv or something along the lines of poor day time TV and they infuriated me so much with their this is what men do.. this is what women do..bollocks. The idea that anyone should be commenting on the way I as a woman should be conducting myself is just another way of trying to make women feel they should only fit into certain roles and ultimately be submissive to men. I know that if I hadn’t made the first move to get me and my boyfriend together he’s so shy that he probably wouldn’t have told me for several months that he was interested. I know so many really nice guys who don’t have the confidence to approach women so books like this not only try to confine women to certain actions to find a relationship, they also stop men from approaching women as they think its their responsibility and are too scared to do so. I actively encourage single girls I know to approach men if they like them rather than stare at them across a room hoping that a subtle smile will somehow draw them in rather than actually starting a conversation with them. I have never had any qualms in showing a bloke whether I like him or not and am proud that I can’t be bothered with the Victorian values of dating and have never had a bad response from going up to a guy seeing what he is like. Lets wait for the book ‘How to ask her father for her hand in marriage and other outdated relationship advice’. From Paul Brown RE: He’s just not that into you: I agree wholeheartedly with your response to this type of book, but what most disturbs me about these dating game pop psychology books is the constant implication that men and women are inherently different and that they occupy separate social spaces. There is a constant assumption in our society and our culture that not only are the sexes innately very different but that we do not mix very often and eye each other suspiciously as alien species. I have not been in male-only company once since I was about 15. Nobody I know spends their time only with people of their own sex, nor defines themselves by their gender. Now, i realise that I and my social circle are not representative of society, but we really have to progress beyond these simplifications of “men are like this, women are like that”. Advertising is particularly guilty of this, and it is bolstered by TV programmes such as Sex And The City, which even some feminists regarded as progressive. There is actually very little difference between the women of Jane Austen’s novels sitting around waiting for appropriate marriage proposals and the women of Sex And The City who occupy a bizarre universe of sex apartheid and spend most of their lives thinking about and talking about men, defining themselves in relation to men, and waiting for the right man to come along. In response to books like He’s Just Not That Into You, what we have to do is promote the idea that beyond obvious physical differences there are essentially no real differences between the sexes and that we do not want to be defined by our gender. From Susan Re: “he’s just not that into you”… the fact that the writers of “Sex and the City” are giving out relationship advice like this doesn’t surprise me one bit. The title is taken from one episode of the show, which itself masquerades as something racy and different but simply replays female stereotypes we’re all familiar with: Miranda the Frump, Charlotte the Prude, Samantha the Skank, and Carrie the Nice Girl. It is extremely illuminating that by the time the series wrapped all the characters had found their respective Princes Charming and were riding the Sunset Subway to Happy Ever After. Moreover, the show managed to celebrate women who were reluctant to leave their familiar environment, and who couldn’t be bothered to learn about other cultures or regions of the country, serving up as “sophisticated” heroines a bunch of urban provincial boobs who couldn’t bear to travel beyond city limits. (The episode where Carrie screams in fright every time she happens on a lowly squirrel at her boyfriend’s rural cabin was priceless–are there no squirrels in New York City?–as was the later episode in which Carrie hesitates endlessly about traveling from New York to PARIS as if she’s been asked to move to the Moon.) When writers serve up this kind of claptrap as “leading edge” entertainment, it’s no surprise to find that they really do think this way in their off-hours. From Lisa Knight Ailsa… I completely agree with what you’re saying, and would take the issue further by saying that a lot of ‘lesbian’ magazines forget that we are women, they bypass gender-specific interests, and think our identities are shaped by JUST our sexuality, perpetuating stereotypes. The ‘mainstream’ press is hard enough to stomach! I’ve just launched the online edition of a magazine that amongst a million other things is an attempt to challenge this notion… www.wide-open.co.uk . best wishes, From Chris Gorst Re: Women Who Wrock: I’ve had a look at your article, what do I think? Well you’ve got a point. But what is needed are more female particularly independent or unsigned artists on mainstream UK radio. I’d like to know if you’ve ever got anything from BBC Radio 6 or maybe Virgin on their play list policy. They won’t talk to me!. CD Baby are doing a very good job. You might want to try MVY as an alternative station just a thought. From Samantha A Re: Taboo for Who? Whilst I would never describe myself as a radical feminist, I am a woman living in the 21st Century and, although no “man-hater”, I certainly stick up for women’s rights and equality. Last night I had an extremely long conversation with my boyfriend regarding the word “cunt”. Personally, I have never found this word offensive. Certainly the way and context in which it is delivered/communicated can potentially be so but then surely that’s no different to calling someone a “dick-head” or a “wanker”. What I do find offensive, however, is when men (and they usually are men) come out with expressions like “the C word” or, alternatively use the word “cunt” and immediately apologise. I am very curious as to why this word – and it is just a word – has developed throughout the years into such a taboo word. Who decided that it was the ultimate in offensiveness? My Google search today brought up mainly porn sites apart from your article. I totally agree with your author’s comments. From Carrie Just a thought in response to ‘Whose Slut?‘. I’m sure this type of contrast has been suggested previously but I thought I’d share this as it seems a particularly vivid way of looking at the sexualisation of women in the media. Imagine opening The Sun, turning to page 3 and being confronted with an image of a naked man, wearing only pants and provocatively cupping his bollocks so they just peep out in to view! Bloody ridiculous! From Cami Re: Sin City: i couldnt agree more with this article! I was disgusted with Sin City and its portrayl of violence which made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Asides from the mysoginistic portrayl of women i was upset by the farm/dead women/fed to dog/canibal scene givin that less than a year ago here in canada a man by the name of Robert Pickton was charged with the murder of 22 sex workers from the downtown eastside of vancouver, canada. He lured them to his farm, brutally murdered them, kept certain parts as trophys and fed the rest to his pigs….see any similarities? I dont understand how people can make entertainment of things that happen in real life…maybe not everyday for everyone…but 22 womens lives were lost and not investigated for almost 10 years because they were sex workers. If you want more info on this here is a link to my blog Liliths Den http://lilithsden.blogspot.com/. If you dont mind I would like to post a link to this article there as well for canadian women to read. Keep up the good work! a fellow feminist in solidarity, From Christina Evans Response to Sin City: I was quite irritated at your review about Sin City as their was several inaccuracies in it. Only two of the characters expose their breasts- Lucille in the bedroom scene and Goldie in the opening scene. Count them. Two. The rest of the female cast, whilst may be wearing skimpy or revealing clothing are in fact wearing clothes. Basin City is set in a desert town, California or Nevada or the likes, and as such it is supposed to be hot. So that’s one valid excuse for wearing minimal clothing, I know I don’t want to be going out in a jumper on a hot day. The other excuse for wearing minimal clothing in the film is that the majority of characters we do see in the film are either prostitutes or Saloon workers. They are paid to be sexy, they are paid to attract men and what attracts men, sad as it is, is flesh. Also Lucille is Marv’s Parole officer, not police woman. And if you left the cinema half an hour before the end then you must have missed Hartigan’s story which portrays Nancy as a strong character. She’s smart and she’s beautiful and she’s strong. Miho isn’t a prostitute. And that is very important. Miho despises the word and the fact that she gets misinterpreted for one, or for a frail little woman. Miho is a MUTE, yes that word is Mute, assassin who works out of Old Town. It’s only your opinion, yes, but it is a highly disrespectful, biased and unresarched review. Even though I’m a huge fan of the series and know a lot of this information off heart, I could easily find it on the internet. Wikipedia. The fact you didn’t, to me, shows that you want to shove your message down others throats. Sin City has powerful female characters, but I’m sorry to say your narrowminded thinking stopped you from seeing them. ((And for the record- I come from a feminist upbringing and am female myself. Just in case you were wondering)) From xian Hello I wanted to commend Laura Woodhouse on her review of Sin City. I found the movie deeply troubling in the misogynist way all of the women were cast. At first I felt rage, and then when I saw the “Making of” portion of the DVD, I felt sad–here were these three brilliant, immature little boys who really weren’t capable of conceiving the idea of a powerful woman whose power wasn’t solely focused in her sexuality or ability to kill people based on a racial stereotype. Well, Woodhouse puts it much better than me. The women are “objects to be possessed”. I was curious why Woodhouse did not choose to address the ethnic/gender component of the film. After all, it was clear that the white male were the good guys who “earned” possession of the women, the few men of color were asexually, agencyless evil accessories and the women of color were most desirable women to be possessed. It never ceases to amaze me that a director can have a brilliant, powerful woman like Rosario Dawson and choose to only utilize the fact that she looks great in PVC. I mean, they might as well use me–I can’t act, but I sure look great in PVC… From C Re: Hardcore: I couldn’t agree with you more. My boyfriend has tried to choke me during sex, hit me, spit on me, pee on me, have me throw up on his dick…and I know why. He is addicted to porn. He watches it all the time, and because of this, he thinks that all women are whores and we want to be abused and fucked in the ass because that’s how it is on porn. What he doesn’t know is those girls don’t want it either, they want the money becuase they are broke. Money talks. From Shelley Lubben Hi. I read your piece called Hardcore and I could relate. I am a former porn actress who has been totally rehabilitated after 8 hard years of healing and now am speaking out about the truth about what really goes on in the porn industry and the sex entertainment industry. If you ever need a resource, I’m here. You might be interested in an article I recently wrote called The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn at www.shelleylubben.com/thetruth.html and also visit the rest of my web site at www.shelleylubben.com and read my amazing story. Thanks so much! From Lottie Re: Attention Seeker: I think that’s disgusting that Sara Cox is telling the world that that sort of behaviour is acceptable when it really is not, I hate it when men whistle or leer or make comments, it’s embarassing and doesn’t imply any kind of respect or admiration or desire, so how can she want it? Does she really have that little confidence that she needs reassurance from strange men *who incidentally will treat anybody/thing even vaguely female in such a way regardless of attractiveness* to make her feel good about herself? From M I think the article Attention Seeker may have slightly missed the point of Sara Cox’s piece in the Guardian. Particularly, Cox’s likening of men’s refusal to ogle her when accompanied with child to mourners lamenting her lost sexual allure doesn’t seem to me to imply any identification of her self with her sexuality. The fact that she is happy to pick her nose to put off unwanted admirers is the mark of a woman who does not derive her self worth from men’s attitudes towards her. Rather it is a wry comment upon the the old madonna/whore dichotomy, still alive today. For these men a young women is fair game, an acceptable object of lust right up until the moment she conceives, when she becomes untouchable, inviolable. Cox identifies the arbitrary nature of female attractiveness in the eyes of men, and cheerfully subverts the model: batting her mascara’d eyelashes at men while in the car, sniggering to herself at how different their reactions would be if they knew she was pregnant. I can’t really see an objection to the article on feminist grounds. Certainly it describes rather unfeminist sentiments, but Cox’s lighthearted disclaimer at the beginning of the article which acknowledges, as Rosa rightly points out without remorse, the shallowness, even patheticness of this stance, makes it clear that this is a documentation of a particular mindset, and not an endorsement of it. Cox eloquently describes a common feeling, that a woman can feel a boost from an expression of approval towards her appearence, even if this is crude and unsolicited, despite intellectual objections to that sort of thing. This is a peculiarly modern phenomenon in an age where society and the media on the one hand tell women that they ought to be valued by themselves and others for their minds, but one the other all too often judge them solely upon their bodies. It’s a paradox that confronts all young women today, and yet the unusuability of articles like this shows society’s reluctance to address the issue. Women must keep up the pretence that they care nothing for others’ reactions to their physical appearence, but at the same time always do their best to conform to society’s picture of how a woman should look. This article shows refreshing honesty, and is particularly welcome as Cox makes it clear from her cheerful style that she feels no guilt and offers no apologies for this way of thinking. Rosa seems indignant at what she perceives as Cox’s pride at her own shallowness. This pride is a thousand times more desireable than the alternative: shame in deviating from society’s model of how a women should think and behave. Cox’s appreciation of unsolicited male attention is unpolitically correct, even shallow, but she, and women like her, should not be made to feel inadequate for it. It is a morally complex area, but Cox should be applauded for not shying away from the issue rather than berrated for mentioning the taboo. From Kirsty Attention Seeker: Well said! I hope this article has been sent to complaints at Radio 1 (since her radio show projects the same attitude), and Sara herself! I fully support this view. From Jacinta Nandi Hi, I’m responding to the (really well-written) article by Rosa on Sara Cox saying she misses men whistling at her [Attention Seeker]. Well, I get what Rosa is saying, and she says it really well, it is totally unacceptable for men to sexually humilate and verbally abuse women as they do practically every day all across Britain. It is disgusting. However, by accepting it and trivialiizing it Sara Cox is only trying to cope, you know? She is trying to take the power back, I know, it’s bollocks basically, but it is a tempting path to take – how do we reach these girls??? From Lynda Re: Every Girl Wants a Stalker: Years ago, Sting said that he was amazed that women especially saw “Every Breath You Take” as romantic; clearly, he saw it as kind of creepy. Of course, the music and his voice were so lush that OF COURSE it wasn’t seen as a song about a psychotic vowing not to let a woman go. I think one reason we have so many romantic movie plots of the man incessantly pursuing the woman is it provides physical action necessary to movies. With traditional roles nearly destroyed, with our busy lives, and with our emphasis on psychology (all good things, generally) I think a lot of women are extremely insecure about men, more so than in the past. In the ’40’s most men who wanted to have sex got married. Now, they go to the bars–and elsewhere. In the 40’s, because the social norms were that good girls (and to a much lesser extent) good boys were “chaste,” it took a lot of effort for the man to have sex outside of marriage. Now, generally, that’s not true, so it is appealing to women that men have to really, really declare and “prove” their love. It is no coincidence that a staple of vampire romance novels, so popular now, is the dangerous man (to people, demons, vampires who deserve it, but NEVER, EVER women) who must find his “one true love,” and that search usually takes centuries. As to why we assume that any woman who goes all out to pursue a man is pathetic, ugly, and often deranged, I think that reflects discomfort in true feminine equality. Until the last 50 years or so, women in NO culture were free to pursue the man she wanted. In most parts of the world, she is still not free. If you cannot support yourself–because of social norms, a poor economy, or unavailable education–how do you even have the opportunity to meet or to pursue a man? Even in our society, where a woman is the pursuer, such an imbalance of power makes her feel insecure, even if she “gets” the man. However, I think it makes the man feel as if he’s won her, won the contest and makes him value her more. I know this sounds 19th Century, but I think it’s true. And even today when married men still have a disproportionate amount of power (look at the depressing statistics about men and housework), when the wife has pursued the man, she has even less. From Wendy Hi! I’m glad to have found you! I am an American drowning in a society of ignorance and exploitation of women. Thanks for your site: I’m so glad someone is fighting the good fight. (And with a great name!) Here I feel that I am not an alien. :) From Gloria K I’m 15, going on 16 and I have to say, it’s very refreshing to find out that there are others like me out there- feminist. So many people are just so ignorant or so blindly arrogant of their views and choices that they can’t logically see that gender roles are still yet among us, and constantly being reinforced. Their gender views are so internalised it makes me absolutely frustrated to debate with a Republican WASP about these issues. Thanks for the inspiration. I was feeling pretty depressed for being a freethinker. ;) I’ve met some feminists, but they are so few and far between. God bless. From Carole I would simply like to align myself and agree with everything Louise Whittle wrote about in her recent article Left Behind, and only wish to add this tasty tidbit of an anecdote. During the early seventies I was closely invoved in action by Health Service workers in the face of Barbara Castle’s determination to undermine the principles of the service. Bet that surprises some of you! Long story short – we (International Marxists, Socialist Workers, various trade unionists and allied groups) organised the first ever mass protest through London of more than 70,000 healh workers including several thousand nurses. I attended several planning meetings in my capacity as NUPE nursing Shop Steward and was urged by the comrades to encourage as many nurses as possible to attend, because ‘ some crumpet in nurses uniforms will be such a treat for the others…’ Few might actually speak like that but I know the same sentiments are alive and well to this day. Louise is to be congratulated for opening this debate. From Sofie B In response to Louise Whittle’s article on the revolutionary left (which I wholeheartedly agree with, although I think the term is over-generalised; i’m revolutionary left and not SWP/CPGB who I regard as jokes) I’d like to point her towards the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (www.workersliberty.org) who have produced some excellent pamphlets on the crucial link between feminism and socialism, and are currently working on building a new socialist feminist movement. From Lana Wool Being a Canadian in Britain I must say that Grazia like a good fishing lure, does seem to do all the right things (except for the price) a good glossy does, but I too was aware of the inconsistencies you have bought up. I could say the problems created for women are the same with any glossy women’s magazine anywhere and is perhaps more insidious given it’s strong and frequent circulation. Personally, I don’t consider myself in danger of having surgery, or going into debt for the `must-have’ of the week, but thank you for your insight which is a reminder to me, and should be, if only more could see it, other women out there. From Lord Playboy I see that the Femi-Nazi’s are all alive and well back in the West. Thank god I live in Cambodia now, where you psychos are in the minority. Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies Tough Luck, buddy. From Heidi Sinderman In response to “Natural Deodorants” article. Just wanted to let Katey know that I also read that using tea tree oil is good for reducing/controlling pit odor. I’ve been using tea tree for the last year or so and have found that it works ok but I think I’m going to switch to something that keeps odor away for a longer time, like a crystal. Thanks for the helpful article! From Elizabeth Hall Hi. I stumbled onto your site by accident and now I’m addicted! What an intelligent, comprehensive forum for the f-word! I am impressed. However, I am disappointed in the lack of coverage on the PHYSICAL potential of women. For a good, sobering look at how women have been hindered from achieving their full physical capabilities, I recommend Colette Dowling’s The Frailty Myth. It has forever changed the way I perceive the so-called “strength gap” between men and women. According to Ms. Dowling, that “strength gap” is beginning to close, and it’s making the male-dominated sports world very,very nervous. The discrimination against female athletes –and physically strong women, for that matter — is still incredibly prevalent, and I do wish someone would cover this in more detail. For women to achieve true freedom, we must overcome our exaggerated fear of men’s strength and get MOVING! From Anon Regarding ‘how every day it is‘- I thought what the author experienced was awful, but I find the term ‘sexual violence’ rather misrepresentative. There is a difference between sexUAL behaviour and sexIST behaviour, and assuming someone’s viewpoint or thought process may be sexist, doesn’t make it sexual. I also disagree that such behaviour is any more commonly aimed at women than men. Having spent many years working in bars and pubs, I can honestly say I have seen just as much inappropriate behaviour aimed at men as women, and from both sexes too. I don’t mean to demean the fact that leery behaviour affects people, it always bothers me, but I have lost count of the number of times that male colleagues have been grabbed, kissed, or groped by drunk women, or started on by drunk men. It makes it no less inappropriate just because it doesn’t seem to bother men as much, but for me it call into question whether assumptions that ‘women are soft targets’ is valid. Such beaviour is humiliating, intimidating and wrong, but just because it seems women feel more shaken by it, doesn’t make the motive therefore any more sinister, nor does it imply a special disrespect for women.