Comments from July 2006

From Kathryn Saunders

I thoroughly agree with the article by Kerry Ann Doyle on the subject of the

apparent backlash against empowered women in pop music today [Don’t Cha Wish Pop Was More Empowering?]. Not only do

women have to contend with women in the media extolling the joys of fewer

clothes and inhibitions, but we also have to constantly process the messages

sent out by the male part of the music industry – which commends and calls for

this self-exploitation. In the department store I work in, whose consumer base

is mostly women in their 30s-50s, I have to listen to a constant loop of songs

that as far as I can tell, view me (a teenage girl) as something to be traded,

used and patronised. The one song I have heard that actually advises leaving a

‘bad boyfriend’ offers the advice that I should get my ”hands on his cash and

spend until the last dime for all the hard times”. Why is shopping the only

facet of life thinkable for a woman that isn’t the acquisition of a boyfriend,

or indeed someone else’s boyfriend?

The younger teenagers (I’m 19) growing up

with this kind of message, that won’t remember the Spice Girls, whose role

models are merely underdressed ninnies, who are continually told that whilst

they must be as hot (read thin, with big breasts) as possible, wear as little

as possible, and attract as much male attention as possible are the ones I

feel sorry for. Feminist, they are told (in interviews with the Pussycat

Dolls) is not a term they should label themselves with, because that could

scare men off. No wonder all they want is to marry footballers and gyrate on

TV – these are the only careers the media presents as desirable or useful for

young women.

From Suzie

I disagree [Don’t Cha Wish Pop Was More Empowering?], we cannot expect to look to pop culture for answers or role

models, you have to penetrate the surface of culture a little. Is Pink really

liberated? She seems to mock and envy those she can’t rival aesthetically

(although, how stark is the contrast between her and Britney?) and appears to

have a massive problem with men. She is an oxymoron. The Spice Girls? An

unthinking collection of egos, the marketing machine behind them was male. Its

called tokenism. If Victoria Beckham doesn’t live for the voyeur then who

does? Please, this is an insult to ‘so called’ feminism. Don’t insult us. I

hope you’ll dissect something next time.

From Sarah Turner

I am always impressed with the articles on the F work website. They seem to hit the spot every time. Particularly Michelle Wright’s timely reminder of

what the real war on terror should be and Kerry-Lynne Doyle’s study of the

role of women in pop videos [Don’t Cha Wish Pop Was More Empowering?]. I have recently cancelled my gym membership after

regularly complaining about the level of soft pornography shown on their “Pop

videos” only to be fold it doesn’t offend anyone else!


Hugo Charlton

Regarding the “wife beater avoids jail” posting on June 29 by Lynne Miles, the

sense of outrage would be entirely justified if the original story in the

Metro had been accurate. The person who wrote the story did not attend court at all, and had based her version on a report by someone who had not attended the trial either.

Thus only the prosecutions opening version of the facts were reported, not the

Deendant’s version, nor the fact that the complainant did not sustain all the

allegations when she gave evidence. It was her injuries, not the offence, which were described as “at the lower end of the scale”. Not because two long scratches on her back which hardly

broke the skin were insignificant, but because to describe them otherwise

would belittle the truly horrific injuries which many other victims of

domestic violence have suffered.

In fact it was rather a sad story of two young people whose dreams of a better

future have been stalled. It revealed the problems arising from arranged (as

opposed to “forced”) marriages, and the pressures and dissapointments of

modern Britain. It is to be hoped the young bride will not be deported back to Pakistan (that

possibility in itself a refelction on the viciousness of our immigration

laws)and the young man allowed to learn his lesson. It is also a shame that a story, which may sadly be all too typical of todays Britain, was turned into a stereotypical “wifebeater” headline, without any consideration of the cultural, political and economic dynamic which lay

behind it.

From Teresa Coates

I just had to give kudos for the article by Laura Wadsworth (I hope I got the name right!) about being girly and feminist [Feminine Feminism]. I’m a Women’s Studies major in college and it really bothered me how too many feminists (and non-feminists,

too) think that being feminist requires ditching femininity. I ended up

making tees that say “feminine feminist” to boycott the idea and just recently

started offering them again. Yea for girly girls that believe in equality!

From Danielle

I’ve been waiting for a magazine like this [Verge Magazine] since I first started reading women’s mags. I was even considering creating my own! Wow!

From Kayla

Re: He’s Just Not That Into You: This is was a waste of webspace.

From Julie

Re: He’s Just Not That Into You: Bravo, You just saved me x amount of dollars and maybe a relationship. I was

all set to buy”maybe he’s not that into you ” (and throw my intuition and

compassion out the window)and doggedly follow one uneducated mans sexist

opinion on my very unique situation. I will not assume the phone doesn’t ring

because “he’s not that into me” or the date was from my call. He is shy and

very busy. If he isn’t the one I will figure it out by my intuition . Not some

slap happy sexist touting simplicity in the face of ( i hope ) infinite

complexity. My insecurities will not abdicate my inharent emotional capacity

to who is he? Thanks Jewels

From Rachel

Re: So what’s wrong with Nuts, then?

Well, we all know that those manly “rules” are to be taken just as seriously

as the guys take the S.C.U.M Manifesto seriously.

From Dennis the Menace

In a recent post by Jess McCabe a magazine called Nuts [Re: So what’s wrong with Nuts, then?] was discussed along with an article that listed some jokes about men. There was concern about how these magazines brainwashed men into chauvinists and in doing so hindered women from winning their battle of the sexes.

Two years ago, a guy called Martin Phillips wrote a comedic article for The Sun entitled Men: The Rules with the umbrella joke, 24 hr sister joke, the fruity alcopop on the beach joke, etc. which makes me think this is the same article. It was accompanied by a photo of two young men holding lagers and cheering at a TV (football or Pop Idol, what do you think?). The Sun said they had written it to ‘celebrate’ Canadian scientists discovering that men transmit brainwaves up to four times faster than women. The article was actually a p*sstake on men and so on the discovery also; my favourite was that if dancing was necessary (i.e. it leads to sex) a man may never raise his hands above shoulder level! Of course, what it’s all suggesting, the underlying humour, is that men can’t be themselves and just do what they want without being thought of as unmanly because of pressure from society and other men (and even women). It was also showing that men can be idiots despite those Canadian scientists’ findings. It’s tough being a man and it’s tougher trying to be! The joke was on men, not women, so don’t let these things worry your pretty little heads (another joke, calm down for pities’ sake).

I can’t believe that some women are taking the contents of these magazines so seriously that they are discussing it in forums, etc. What I take seriously is the lack of a GSOH and even the lack of insight shown by people who perhaps want to ban it or send it to the upper shelves (and so out of reach to the petite women!). Get a life, get a GSOH, and start to think for yourselves, it’s fun – trust me! And don’t forget supply and demand. The f-word exists for the same reason The Sun does.

Now here are three important words: Pander, manipulate, influence. You’ll find evidence of all three in almost every magazine (yes, even the f-word) in varying amounts. Men: The Rules would come under Pandering (entertaining) and in doing so it reflects a sense of humour held by many of its readers. But manipulating or influencing? I hardly think so. I genuinely believe that the most powerful influence on men’s prejudices, and therefore their behaviour, are women themselves. By that I mean women in the real world and how they behave towards the man on the street, and not women MP’s, professors or women’s rights activists. There are certain benefits for women that are rooted in sexism and/or chauvinism especially when we start talking of chivalry, divorce settlements, custody battles, etc.

I personally worked with a woman recently who was paid more than me and my complaints fell on deaf ears as I had no ‘card’ to wave and she herself wasn’t bothered about getting more money than me for the same job. Six months ago I changed a woman’s flat tyre- does she want equality? If you want to argue for equality, and to be taken seriously, you must be prepared to lose the good as well as the bad aspects of inequality. I live in a block of flats and two separate women tenants have persuaded me to put on a new garden gate. The thought of me saying to them “Why can’t you do it?” never even occurred to me. It would seem a stupid thing to ask by someone who is supposed to be learning from life and learning from women in the real world. My own chauvinism/sexism is influenced by these women and not by magazines like Nuts or articles like Men: The Rules.

From DannyMackay

your account of the world cup [World Cup WAGS] ignores the most insidious aspect of the focus

on WAGs. It was almost completely female dominated. it was about women, and

for women. Women demanded it, paid good money for it, and loved it.

Reports from Germany suggest that brothels lost money during the world cup, as

demand for prostitutes fell – hardly surprising to some of us, who, given the

chance to watch the incredible Mexico v argentina match in the second round –

would turn down a night of passion with attractive twins in however long it

takes to say “Make mine a Becks” in German.

While the football is on, women, be they pretty or not, be they vapid or

vibrant, be they a loved one or stranger – cease to be of any interest to male

(and female) football fans. so while i agree there is something insipid about the WAGS phenomenal – at least lay the blame where it belongs – at the feet of vapid celebrity, cosmtic

obsessed women – not football.

ps – while they are still a minority – your dismissive tone towards female

fans, thousands of who follow their club loyaly and passionately around the

country each season – is sexist and dispicable. Football is as much for them

as it is for me. It is for whoever cares about it. And were a female player

ever to be good enough to compete in the prem – there is no doubt a top club

would lobby to be allowed to sign them. (indeed girls over eleven are now

allowed to play in boys teams – effectively making all leagues mixed leagues,

though with far too few female players so far.)

From Henry Aaron Jerome Kinney Meyers

I am writing to you on account of your movie review of Sin City. Let me state, first off, that I can tell this is a very dedicated feminist site, and, by all means, please do state your opinion. This, on the other hand, is a message about your view on Sin City. Sin City happens to be one of my all time favorite movies; I can name this for many reasons, but I would rather have a discussion with you about it. Let me say, I felt a little bit enraged reading it, but of course, an opinion is an opinion, and I would like to discuss how you got it in a civil manner, as well as point out a few things you may not have understood about the film.

I will blow off the idea about responding to the review topics in order, and first off talk about the character Miho (my favorite). You state that Miho is the only Old Town prostitute in the film with power (which I disagree with, but I’ll get to that later). You state the problem with Miho is that she never talks, and seems like some kind of unhuman creature. Just to clarify: Miho is

a mute. That’s a disorder where one cannot speak. It was something that Frank Miller gave this character in order to make her seem more cunning, and make her seem as though she was thinking a lot.

Ok, now that that is cleared up, I will adress topics in your review in order. First off: you state about visual comic book portrayal of women; it is true,especially in Frank Miller’s book. But, he wanted his characters to seem more lively, and some of the women more risque (especially prostitutes). If you look, you will notice that every single character in the Sin City series has very distinct visual characteristics that help the reader get a feel for who they are (Marv, Junior, Kevin, and all the others.) It is a style which he carefully chose to make his characters more vivid.

Second: Your second paragraph really caught me off guard. The entire thing was simply attacking Sin City, and although I feel the need to attack back, I will state my opinion as calmly as possible. The problem here is: this movie just can’t win with you guys. When there’s the scene with the prostitutes controlling old town, you say they are bad ’cause they’re prostitutes and scantily dressed, with guns. Fair enough, but on the flipside, you say that the portrayal of women as helpless is sickening as well! The only compromise is a woman who is dull, unsexual, and not necesarily doing too much or too little during the film, but not only would you find a problem with this, but this specifically goes against what Frank Miller had in mind artistically and visually, and it goes against what was great about the movie.

Third: You are forgetting the men in the movie when you criticize the women and their costumes, etc. That’s another big buff I have with feminists, but anyway. If you notice, yes, the women do tend to lean toward a certain ahtmosphere and dress, but do the men do any different? Notice almost every single male character is either a killer, a criminal, rough, tough, or weapon wielding. You never ONCE mentioned that. I know this is a feminist site, but PLEASE, you can’t just block out shit like that! It makes you seem even more one sided than you are! (Pardon if I am getting excited, but I have watched this movie over 15 times and loved it every single one of them. I have had a lot of time to think over the things you criticize. You didn’t even finish watching it once, so how can you really say this stuff?).

Next: Just skip the Irish mercenary. No, she didn’t have any vivid gender image, but the whole group’s liveliness came from the fact that they were Irish! It all lays into the visual and developemental aspects of the movie. Next: This paragraph is just plain incorrect; you obviously didn’t understand what was going on in this scene. The mysterious woman is troubled, and she

hires the man to kill her. Why she doesn’t do it herself she states ‘No, I don’t want to face it alone.’ She doesn’t want to die alone, but in a man’s arms, in love. Disco?

Next: Ok briefly: Shellie is the victim and Dwight is the hero because it wouldn’t tie into his romantic relationship with the old town prostitute if she was a guy and he was gay, and if shellie had been the hero… Let’s just say women don’t usually have gangs, carry SHAVING RAZOR BLADES, and go cruising to hire prostitutes. Next: Just stop. The fact that Lucille get’s captured is because she caught on to them, and women are graceful, and they were the ones that wouldnt be missed (hookers). If it was homeless bum men who were captured (not quite so graceful).

Next: Ok, simplified: you didn’t understand what was going on. The corrupt police had armies of people; the hookers were no match for much more massive numbers of heavily armed police, even with the heavy artillery they had. They OBVIOUSLY weren’t helpless, seeing ONLY Miho do so much damage. for next, see MIHO above.

This last long paragraph is plain insulting. Not only do you insult Sin City numerous times (without even understanding most of the film, not to mention finishing it), but you insult ALL men. You speak of them as one, not as individuals. What is your goal again? Oh, yeah, to make people not do to women what you just did again. Oopsie. I am sorry if I lost my temper writing this; you wrote a scalding hot article about something I’m passionate about, and didn’t even understand it.

Understand this: I admit, I am a troubled kid, and movies are the only way to

keep myself happy; they are my drug. When I come across one like this that can

keep me busy over and over, I love it, and trust me, I am not sexist, and I

love movies based from the content and stylization. To insult one like this

upsets me, especially since you had no valid reason to do so.

Just so you know, I have no problem with the feminist movement (in fact, in

some aspects, I actively support it), but when you guys fuck with a piece of

storytelling as important to me as this, you lose a supporter, which brings me

back to me primary reason of writing this: I want YOU to re-convince me that

you guys are valid. You de-convinced me with this review, and now, I promise

to once again support the feminist movement if you can convince me that you

guys aren’t such shit-holes as that review makes you look like. Just to let

you know how sincere I am, in the middle of this letter, I turned 14. I

skipped celebrating most of my birthday to write this. I hope you can take

this seriously. Thank you for your time, Sincerely,

From IJ

Re: Men In Feminism: get a grip on yourself !!Women already have men wrapped around their fingers ( and the family /divorce courts )What normal

man would want to get involved in feminism…One day, the men’s movement will come back in force, and then I will ask you again…why don’t women get more involved in men’s issues…from one woman to another feminist…

From The Chameleon

Dear F-Word, Firstly congratulations on mention in The Guardian. I check for new posts here evey day and linked to this blog ages ago.

I just wanted to correct a factual error in Catherine Redfern’s latest post,

Double Standards. It is not true that nobody is reacting along the lines

pointed out in conjunction with the junk food advertising ban. In passing, I

completely agree with the criticism of lads’ mags and am delighted that they

are being shoved up to the top shelf in “modesty sleeves”. They are not imbued

with “postmodern” irony, but merely misogynistic and extremely offensive.

The criticisms of the hypocrisy of the post-watershed decision have not been

so vociferous as the unjustified criticism of “humourless feminist

spoilsports”, but they are real and they exist.

They have centred on New Labour’s sell-offs of school playing fields and the

“nanny state” aspect of such a ban. I am in the middle of writing a fat

advocacy article on the issue of child obesity and the moral panic surrounding

it and have therefore assiduously been compiling material on the subject –

every article published on the topic in three major British dailies (The

Guardian, The Independent and the execrable, but extremely useful for the

purpose, Daily Mail) since mid-2005. This will be published on my blog in the

next fortnight and submitted to the Big Fat Carnival, an initiative worth

linking to, as it often (certainly whenever I write for it) includes feminist

issues. You can find it here:

In the meantime, I wish you continued success and offer you every possible

encouragement on an indispensable project!

From Beth

You asked on the blog whether we’d like to see comments. Yes I would! I’d

love to be able to interact with other readers.

From N.O.

This article [Dyfunctional, Moi?] bases its arguments on the same generalizations that it

criticizes. The author argues that “the dominant male-centered view of sexual

activity is that real men are always ready and willing to have as much sexual

intercourse as possible; it is the man’s responsibility to initiate, teach and

control his female partner in sexual activity.” This is a biased statement,

which contradicts my personal experience. I am a 19 year old heterosexual man

who has had a couple of long-term relationships with women. When my girlfriend

and I are together, we are receptive to each other’s needs and wants. We

believe that sex should be mutually satisfying and something that both

partners are fully comfortable with. Often she is the one who initiates sexual

contact. Also, penetration does not imply control and dominance. It implies a

union between a man and a woman, a desire to share yourself with the person

you care about. In talking about sex with friends (men and women), I have

observed this same equality in many of their relationships. I will not argue

that this is true of all relationships, but it is equally unrealistic for the

author to argue that most relationships are dominated by men.

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word replies

I think the author is saying that this view (i.e. sex = men dominating / controlling / posessing women) is the mainstream or common view of sexuality that is always presented to us as fact, not necessarily the way that things actually are in reality for all individual couples. Yes, for many hetero couples penetration does not imply control and dominance – but the point is that the mainstream view of the act and the way it is discussed in popular culture (lad mags for example) does reinforce that view of it, and this perpetuates a skewed and limiting view of men and women’s sexuality which many people still do believe: e.g. that men always have a greater sex drive than women; that sex for women must involve “submitting” or being “submissive”, etc. – Ed

From caroline

I was a bit disappointed when I first started looking at this website:

would-be academics talking about “the female race” and saying it’s “excellent”

that Beyonce wants us all to save ourselves for marriage. But I ploughed on

and found Clara Riley’s very funny, stroppy article about motherhood [Bad Mothers].

I thought I was the only woman alive who counted a tight fanny among my

reasons not to have children. I was mildly ashamed of being so shallow, but I

feel much better after reading Clare’s very sensible reasoning that there are

very few other things beside sex that are enjoyable AND free.

I hope Clare doesn’t change her mind about having kids. Any fool can do that.

Wit and energy like hers need to be savoured and treasured and used to inspire

the rest of us.

From Lyn

Re: Bad Mothers:

A woman who doesn’t want to be a mother probably shouldn’t have a baby.

From Sue

A Perfect Delusion by Samantha Lyster

Great article, just one thing. Women are definitely not at a stage where

they’re choosing men. Men know they’re in control and they use that control

all the time. Women in the main have been forced to need approval so

desperately that they have no self esteem and they’re grateful if a man pays

them any attention – even if he’s an ugly geek. I work in the media and I

drink with the staff of Loaded magazine and Nuts magazine. They pick and

choose from the girls in the office and the girls let themselves be used

because they feel worthless and to sleep with a ‘loaded’ boy makes them feel

special for a short time. Women today have been coerced into what is really as

serious as a mental illness – Acute Hyper Self Focus. They look out at the

world and then straight back in at themselves. They live behind a glass wall –

and it’s a one-way mirror. They have no real experiences and don’t know who

they are – so they use the judgement of others to decide their value.

Unfortunately, this means that they fall for any old line from the mouth of

any old tosser.

On the outside it looks like consensual casual sex, watch them week after week

being reduced to tears after they’ve been lied to and used, you can clearly

see what’s really going on.

From Naomi

Just discovered you – great site, keep up the good work!

From Charlotte Sinnott

Although I agree with the majority of your article [Not My Cup of T] I did not like the section suggesting that Topshop sell T-shirts with these slogans. Cheaper shops such as New Look etc. are full of these t-shirts but topshop’s t-shirts are

ussually slogan free and are popular for ther cut not for any slogan they may


From Toria Banks

Just to say that I was deeply relieved to read ‘Challenging the Sex Sells

Cliche’. The response from women in the media to the idea of legal regulation

of lads mags and mainstreamed porn, was horrendous. There was a very unseemly

fight in the Guardian and the like to show how sophisticated (and acceptable)

female columnists were, as they rubbished the very idea of regulation, and

personally attacked a female MP for suggesting it. The idea that we should

have grown out of worrying about these things is the product of fear – a fear

which I have often also felt, that there is nothing which can be done. Good to

be reminded that there is.

From mags

Re: ‘Challenging the Sex Sells

Cliche’ by rachel bell – excellent article – well

put and very readable – writing from ireland here and interested to know

whether any of this stuff is published in mainstream mags and papers?? as it

needs ot be.

From anon

I totally agree with Helen [Make Me Perfect]. It is a complete superficial way of making women feel good about themselves. It is also patronizing to women who already have

low self esteem and cannot afford plastic surgery. While it may lift the self

esteem of these women, it is more than likely depressing women who will never

be able to afford it.

From stuart st.neal (male model)

all rapists are mutilation victims go and complain to their mothers or the

women doctors who mutilate them. the only reason women complain about rape is

because they don’t fuck women who fuck enjoy it

From douglas

Re: Bend Over Girls: He’s In Freak Mode: wow !!! i just read some of what the female author siad about the male and female

intercourse and i am rather blown away, my wife and i was to that point when a

push was all that was left and i asked if she wanted me to stop, that day we

did not. i am a man that beleives no means no and respect of that is very

sacred. that builds the trust that on another matters to each other. animal

instinct says yes as human beings with power of choice says what ever we want

to do we do, rape is a choice and no is no.

to understand that is human. thank you !

From Jean

THANK YOU! I’m 17 and as a recovering anorexic this site has been so so so wonderful and such a help. After reading your articles on Body Image, and the

effect magazines etc have on women, everything I believed before I got

anorexic came flooding back and I realised how daft I’d been. I still have my

downs but the women here write truly inspiring messages and I’m extremely

grateful to them!

From Steve

Re: Why Irma Kurtz is Wrong About Rape: As a man I am not offended at being labelled stupid. The point is that this woman went into a man’s bedroom and slept with him. Did she tell him she was

not interested? As all women are now encouraged to be assertive, perhaps you

should be spending your time promoting this instead of making vacuous

criticism, backed up with various pieces of feminist ideology, of some pretty

sensible support from another woman. Irma is a shrewd woman who does not need

to quote such ideologically driven rubbish. Do you expect to walk safely up

dark alleys in unknown cities? Do you expect to sleep in a bed with a man

without some sort of sexual advance? What he did was unforgiveable, but come

on, get real. This girl should take some responsibility. What you are arguing

is that women should be allowed to sleep willy-nilly in any man’s bed and then

complain when things go askew. Get some basic principles correct here. Sleep

in your own bed…

From mags

Re: Why Men Suck: And the Women Who Have To: just so glad to have found this site and read stuff that i have been thinking and not sharing. is there anything like this in ireland as that is where i am


From danielle

hey, im only 16 and already losing all faith in men, i can no longer tlk to a

new guy on the internet with out gewtin the usual show us ur tits u got ne

pics bulshit that they like to spring on you, your article [Why Men Suck: And the Women Who Have To] has made me realise

however nasty we think our guys are we are luckier than them women, thankyou


From H.J. DeTroy

Laura Carr’s surprise by which Western men willingly engaged in the

sex-industry in South East Asia [Why Men Suck: And the Women Who Have To] affirmed my own sentiments when I also taught

English in Vietnam in 2003. I, too, found myself often disgusted by

rationalizations of Aussies and Brits whom often seemed to share a similar

ideology with me about a number of things but prostitution. Similar to Carr’s

observation, merely being in SEA was always the pervasive, justifying

condition because hey, everyone’s doing it. I couldn’t help but believe that

these men would never admit to it back in their homeland, lest surrender to

the scorn of their peers: whether or not it is true, social mores suggest that

paying for sex is an act of desperation. And often a pathetic one.

More disturbing however was the blatant lack of consideration for these women,

the noted taxi girls. The language and cultural barrier did indeed seem

insurmountable in the often-frustrated relationships I observed. Lore from the

streets in the tourist district of Pham Ngu Lao also told the story of many

women who were promised marriage and by the Western fiancé who mysteriously

disappeared under the guise of using the restroom. Could a relationship based

on such an exploitive contractual agreement be anything other than doomed?

Tragically, many of the taxi girls seemed not to think so, or more likely see

no other option for their survival.

From S. Dracourge

I response to the “Mr. Darcy” article by Mme. Plant:

I was unsure where you meant your essay to wend, but repeated use of the

phrase “brutality” led me to wonder if you actually read Pride and Prejudice.

To me (and most readers, I’d wager) Darcy was as the author intended: haughty,

complex, intelligent, maudlin and deeply constricted by the social

expectations of the time period. Elizabeth, if anything, was a formidable

counterpart to his role; a brash (to the point of conceit), equally complex

and intelligent woman undaunted by her constricted lot in life, who in so many

ways idealized the sensibilities of independent femininity that we so cherish


If the genre disturbs you and you are unable to appreciate it for the radical

literature it was for the time, that is unfortunate. However, I don’t think

that criticizing it in the context of our current culture makes much sense.I also think that the answer to your question — why women are attracted to

taciturn dominent men with power — is answered much simpler by our biology.

Women naturally seek resources and the security implicit in them. Though we

live in a culture that permits and encourages women to provide our own

independent of men, that is such a new concept contrasted against the

overwhelming entirety of written history, it should come as little surprise

that women have not yet adjusted their instincts for mate selection on those

terms. It has only been in the last 50 years that women have enjoyed that

kind of expected equality.

In time, provided that we don’t push things so far that we incur a backlash

from the patriarchy, we may adapt to this new environment and those kinds of

men will become obsolete. I cannot say whether this will be a “good” thing,

however. Regards,

From Gabrielle T

i enjoyed reading your interesting article on men’s fear of anything

associated with tampons or periods [The Politics of the Tampon Case]. Whenever my mother and I are discussing

periods and my dad is present, he will shirk away from the topic, displaying

his uneasiness to listen or even think about it. I’ve notcied that a lot of

men (I would like to refer to them as men, but unfortunately most of them act

like adolescent boys!) react like this, but why? Don’t they realise that

without the menstrual cycle none of them would exist? If they do, they

disguise it by making snide remarks to make themselves appear “masculine.”

I’ve also noticed that some Tampax adverts have a man doing the voiceover. My

initial reaction was confusion and a little anger, I thought, “What do men

know about periods?” After reading your article, I realised that maybe this is

Tampax’s way of associating men with the issue of periods more socially


From Emily

am writing in response to your article about Germaine Greer’s comments regarding the alleged sexual assault on Australian Big Brother [Sexual Harassment is Not Trivial]. You may be interested to know, before condemning Greer’s opinion on the

matter, that an interview Camilla gave to the press about the alleged assault

suggests that she did not consider the incident to be sexual harrassment at

all, and that her housemates were indeed ‘horsing around’. What one person

constitutes as acceptable behaviour may well differ from the next person.

Personally, if I had been the young woman in that situation, I would have

kicked up a fuss about it because I would consider someone forcefully rubbing

their genitals in my face a gross intrusion of my dignity and rights as a

person. However, as I already mentioned, there are people like Camilla who

might not see this kind of behaviour as assault. Don’t you have to have a

problem with someone’s behaviour in order for it to affect you in a negative


‘Camilla Halliwell,22, has not filed a formal complaint so police are not

investigating. Halliwell agreed it was not the right thing to do, but said the

men meant no harm. “They were doing it in a playful way,” she said.’

You just can’t claim to know that Camilla considered the incident sexual

assault. She might well have been playing along. If not, then I’m sure the

news here in Australia will be keeping us informed of the proceedings.

I agree with Greer in that the bigger problem is in getting shows like Big

Brother off the air. All these ‘reality’ shows are doing is scraping the

bottom of the barrell in regards to acceptable content.

From Richard

I wanted to write and thank you for taking the trouble to write you article

Feminists are Sexist’, even though you were obviously completely fed up

having to justify yourself to “trolls”. I’ve often felt that feminism is

inherently sexist because of my experiences of being on the receiving end of

it both during my very pro-feminist sociology degree and my subsequent

experiences as an employee of a large (‘politically correct’) national

charity. Your article helped clarify for me why some feminists behave they

way they do. I’m sorry my response is some three years late but I’ve only just

come across your article. I’d like to respond to it and please, please don’t

think I’m attacking it or you or feminism, (although I’d like to be gently

challenging) but I’m really struggling to make sense of some of it. I’d also

be grateful if you could point me in the direction of something recent on the

same theme.

Firstly I’d like to agree with you that feminists don’t have to spend half

their time, energy and resources working on behalf of men to be taken

seriously. As a non-feminist man my perception of feminism is that it is a

body of social and political thought and action aiming to bring about equality

of opportunity and status for women. Whilst I accept that it is completely

legitimate for a group of people to mark out their agenda and theatre of

action on behalf of one specific group to the exclusion of others, I can also

understand why feminism is easily perceived as sexist. My own naive perception

read something like “we want everything to be fair and equal, but only for

women”. So you can see I am struggling to make sense of it.

I was fascinated, and to an extent, felt victimised by feminism at University.

So much so that I was keen to pursue my interest in gender studies at masters

level only to be sickened by the discovery that bursaries for the course I was

interested in were, in the name of Eq. Opps. and separate development, only

available to women which, experientially and emotionally, felt hypocritical

and just like the kind of blatant discrimination feminist were complaining

about, and further reinforced my growing suspicion that feminism is, or was

then, inherently sexist. For personal reasons I couldn’t leave my home town at

the time and that was the only course available, so I hope you’ll forgive my

limited knowledge of the debates. It was a very confusing time, hold a door

open for one woman and she’d smile and say thanks, but the next one through

would call you a sexist pig. Hold a door open for man and he’d smile and say


So, back to your article. The first bit I have a problem with is where you say

“Have no doubt about it – this kind of accusation (of sexism) is simply an

attempt to stop feminist action and thought in its tracks, hidden behind a

superficial pretence of “fairness””. Are you sure? Do you still believe that?

Could it not be a frustrated expression of the kind of confusion I

experienced? As a man I could easily understand feminist demands for fairness

and equality and have tried to behave accordingly, but get very frustrated and

confused when I’m discriminated against by feminists. It certainly feels like

hypocrisy. I don’t know about the specific advertisements that gave rise to

your article, and I completely accept your point that you were doing your

thing and that isn’t fighting against the stereotyping, or for the equality,

of men.

But I can easily understand that men who have struggled to take on

board the complaints of feminists feel very hard done by when their issues are

overlooked by a feminist and would readily seize on the opportunity to

complain to you about it, but I don’t think that that necessarily means they

want to bring an end to feminism. Perhaps they just want to be heard and

treated fairly too; perhaps not. Later you go on to say that “what this is

really about is anti-feminist men being threatened by women working for

women”, and I can understand that from the point of view that springs from the

misunderstanding and perceived hypocrisies I mentioned above, feminism is very

threatening to many men. It certainly was for me becasue by ignoring mens

issues it send out the message that femisnts have no intention of treatning

men fairly. I have certainly felt at times that feminists demand that men

treat women equally and fairly yet reserve the right to ignore men’s issues

themselves. But I’m not convinced that it leads to the conclusion that they

feel “to talk about women, to focus on women……is of no importance”. Perhapr

they really do just want to be treated fairly too. Their mistake is simply to

expect a feminist help.

The other issue I’d like to discuss is biological determinism. Up until I had

a child of my own I had almost completely bought into and accepted your

argument that “men are trained to be ‘men’ and women are trained to be

‘women’. I found it quite comforting and liberating when it was first

explained to me (by a feminist). But since having a child and watching him

grow up I beg to differ. I don’t think your caricature of biological

determinism was very fair. Although I don’t believe that “men and women’s

behaviour, brains and everything else, are totally different”, neither do I

believe they are “pretty much the same”. I believe there are many subtle and

complex differences between men and women that affect their thinking and

behaviour that are genetically determined and that it would be foolish to

ignore if one is trying to explain or change the nature of the relationships

between them and the differences and inequalities in their lives. I think

there is some fairly strong evidence for differences in their approach to sex

and communication, for example, which create fundamental differences between

us and they way we have to live our lives, and they always will. Neither do I

believe that all biological determinists argue that “women are more suited to

doing the housework…….and men are more suited to lying around drinking beer”.

(The examples you chose seem to indicate a certain prejudice there – women are

useful, men are useless. You could have picked mining for the men).

Just because the facts of genetic differences are erroneously mobilised by

anti-feminists doesn’t mean they aren’t facts. Biology does determine

inequalities and always will. For example, I can’t have a baby. If I want

another child (naturally) I have to get a woman to co-operate for at least a

year. If a woman wants a child she’s only got to get a man to co-operate for a

few minutes. No amount of politicking, social action or feminist theses will

ever change that inequality. We simply aren’t “pretty much the same”. And if

feminists continue to deny there’s any biological determination of social

roles going on then you are sabotaging yourselves, which is a shame.

I completely agree with you that if men have issues with the way they are

portrayed they should do something about it and not expect a feminist to do it

for them. But if you were a man you may by now have experienced the reaction

you get from women, who do a lot of the stereotyping, when you do complain.

It’s precisely the same thing that you experienced the Cambridge Union debate

you mentioned. They immediately list a whole load of women’s issues in retort!

And they can be very threatening when they do it (because they’re so angry

about their own stuff I suppose). Frankly I think there’s more of a future and

greater benefits to be gained for all by including men’s issues in all gender

debates, and referring to people rather than men or women. Not to do so is

only to continue the war and the divisions and lay yourselves open to charges

of hypocrisy which will continue for as long as that kind of feminism is

propagated. Perhaps what occurs when men hear feminists focussing only on

women is that they feel it implies that feminists believe that men’s lives are

of no value.

As Neil Linden pointed out recently in The Guardian, if men are ever to

achieve equality in such a fundamentally crucial sphere as their relationships

with their children, we’re going to need feminist help. And if feminists

aren’t prepared to help because they believe it’s men’s business to deal with

their issues then that can only slow down the process of liberating women from

the traditional child-caring role.Anyway, thanks again for helping me to learn. Take care of yourself, Bye for now.

From sarah redding

Re: Ordinary Ads, Everyday Images: there is not a particular article i am referring to but i have to say advertising does affect me alot. It makes me angry and very upset to the

point that i dont value myself as i can never look like the women in the

adverts and it makes me feel very ugly and unhappy. As i am only 5 ft i feel

that being small is ugly as nothing i buy fits and the women in adverts are

tall and slim.

From Lianna

What a brilliant and inspiring website! It’s fantastic to read that there are lots of people out there who feel the same way as I do – other young British

feminists, yay!

Quick comment on the natural deodorant article: firstly, three cheers for hairy pits

(and legs); secondly, another alternative to dodgy chemical deoderants not

mentioned is simply armpits au naturelle (and regular washing!). It may not

work for everyone, I guess we all vary in how much we sweat, but I don’t use

deoderant. I’m convinced my friends and family would have flagged it up if I

did smell but so far so good…

Any chance of having an F-word event? I am so fired up for discussing some of

the ideas on the website with similar-minded people, it would be fantastic if

there could be some kind of ‘real life’ forum for this. How about it?

Thanks again for all the exciting insights and thoughts and passion!

From Kris

Re: Natural Deodorants: I have been using baking soda under my arms and find it to be very effective in controlling underarm odor all day in a very hot climate on a body that sweats quite a bit. I just dust a teaspoon or so under my arm and rub off the excess.

From Katy Slade

Your article [Subvert the Dominant Pimpiarchy] gave me shivers. I am 28 and sometimes I feel like the only woman

of my age who gives a damn about the way that women are portrayed in music and

the media. The ’90’s ‘welcomed’ a so-called irony, women could ‘ironically’ be

called ‘birds’ and hey, they even called themselves it sometimes. They started

to read ‘Loaded’ and ‘FHM’, How funny the articles were/are! Offensive? No

way, we’re cool ‘modern’ women, we see past the nakedness of women and know

there’s no harm to come of just a bit a laddish banter’.

What bollocks, it seems that many women of my age, younger and older have

become so desensitised to the sexist-ness all around them that they have even

decided to buy in on it. I’ve tried to explain this to some of my peers and I

just get told that I must just be jealous in one way or the other or perhaps

have some psycho sexual problems. No, I haven’t, I just have my eyes open to

the misrepresentation and abuse of women that has now become part of British

culture. I feel enraged and frustrated at the same time!

It worries me that these women are bringing up the next generation of women

and boys with such twisted and harmful views on the roles of the sexes in

society. A society where prostitutes and strippers are just ‘sex workers’, and

prepubescent girls hope to become glamour models when they grow older. I just wish that women and girls stopped ‘acting’ for men to validate

themselves and started to try and find out what makes *them* feel good