Comments from August 2006

From Helen Browne

Re: don’t Cha Wish Pop Was More Empowering? No, it’s absolutly not. It makes me sad to see women on music videos resorting to writhing and
jiggling in next to nothing in order to sell records. Is it any wonder we have a generation of girls having sex younger than ever before, having babies younger than ever before, and being raped and beaten more than ever before? They want to be lap dances, strippers, arm candy to wealthy men- all the things portrayed in these music videos. If girls behaved in reality the way that these female singers perform, they are likely to be raped, and the rapist would probably get away with it because she had been “asking for it”. They encourage girls to prostitute themselves if it makes them a few bucks. Whilst they may put in a few empowering lyrics, they are often too obscure to be picked up by youngsters, and are overshadowed by the conflicting sexualised images. I wish that there were more “Pink’s” out there to help reverse this “epidemic” of “stupid girls”.

From Kate

‘Dont cha wish..’

The spice girls did not coin the phrase girl power, that was shampoo whose album was entitled ‘girl power’. Because of this spice girls could not use the term on any merchandise. The Spice girls did bare flesh and there clothes were considered risky for the times (Geri’s union jack dress, the group clad in pvc for ‘say you’ll be there’ video). It could be argued they were fulfilling male fantasies whilst being empowered, similar to pop stars today. For example, there were 5 to choose from. One interpretation of this is the ‘lady in the street/whore in the bedroom’ cliche e.g. posh spice/scary spice.

The tabloid newspapers certainly did not portray them as strong, independent women who did not rely on their sexuality to get places. From what I recall the tabloids merely objectified them with raunchy headlines and innuendo laden write-ups, much as they do with modern groups such as The Pussy Cat Dolls. I think what has happened is that there has been a ‘male backlash’ against such empowered, sexually aggressive women, the ‘ladette’, who confused gender stereotypes from the early 90’s onwards via mainstream culture; they had probably exisited for a long time in underground cultures which did not reach mainstream media images or publications. This subtle change of cultural gendering has not come from demand from men themselves but from media, record and adverstising companies who were looking for a new angle to sell records, magazines and products to an ever increasing easily bored consumer. Putting girl bands out there with less and less clothes on, singing more and more sexual lyrics was succesful, not just with men but with women too. The same theory could be applied to ‘men’s mags’ which some argue have become pornagraphic.

From Peta Chow

Re: Don’t cha wish pop was more empowering? It’s not just pop either, what happened to all the indie women? there were so many more female-led bands breaking through in the 90s (and let’s face it, women’s treatment in the music industry was not exactly perfect back then either). As the music industry gets more “sophisticated” and more obsessed with marketing, we can only expect more over-polished drivel to clog up the charts. Louise Wener wrote an article earlier this year for the Guardian pleading that we don’t silence real women’s voices in rock, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m still hoping that the internet will be the mechanism of change, but the industry is already getting pretty ‘net savvy too and using it as a promotional tool for instant credibility.

From Michelle Abrahall

I agree with a lot of the issues raised in Don’t cha wish pop was more empowering? It also raised many questions-in Pinks latest video she may have an unconventional image but she is still using overt sexuality and attractiveness to sell records. But is this more forgiveable if the image is less barbie and more tank girl? This also brings to mind sites like Suicide Girls-should we applaud attempts to widen the notion of what is feminine beauty, or are sites like these merely filling a gap in the market for what is essentially alternative soft porn?

From Kelly Rae

In response to Don’t cha wish pop was more empowering? – Not only do you write beautifully, but it is so refreshing to hear another feminist’s view on our world today, on things we see everyday. I especailly appreciate this coming from somebody my age. You couldn’t be more right.

From Rachel Morrow

In response to Don’t cha wish pop was more empowering? by Kerry-Lynne Doyle. I quite disagree with the statement that the artist Pink is making headway in a misogynistic industry. Does anyone remember ‘There you go’, ‘You make me sick’? not to mention the album ‘artwork’ for Misundaztood? All include ample shows of flesh with a variety of tasteful nipple coverage from rose petals to the classic holding your own boobs. Just because in a recent video she dons a serious wig and glasses because she’s president I dont think we should be expecting her to change the world, or anything save current hair fasion, any time soon…

From Prof. Bambi Lobdell

I loved this article about pop stars and feminism [Don’t cha wish pop was more empowering? ]. I teach Women’s and Gender Studies classes at a New Yotk State college and always use music videos in tandem with feminist essays I have my students read. When they learn how to “read” a music video for gendered subtext on how to “do” femininity and masculinity – basically road maps for how to attract a man, his gaze the most important thing women can acquire – they are confronted with the tension between their love for fashion and social life with issues that hit at a more core level with them. Most of the college students I have encountered WANT to become educated women who are taken seriously, hired in fields in which they are qualified, and are paid fairly. They also want relationships where respect, sincere affection, and equity in discision making are reciprocal. In other words, they don’t want to be mommies their boys can fuck.

But the struggle for them is in realizing how the culture around them brainwashes women to take on the role of sexy, attractive, (meaning thin and big breasts and white), and willing to please men who are the most important things in girls’ lives. The biggest problem is that only one pattern for finding and creating relationships is offered to women, and it puts them in the subordinate position of man-pleasing eye-candy. Female icons in the music
industry who play into that male-fantasy pattern and emulate it visually while singing about “girl power”, create great confusion for women. They also greatly damaged feminism by presenting what I call Geisha-feminism – making your whole life about pleasing e man. Where is there room for the dreams and aspirations of women in this pattern-cum-mandate?

I will be using this article this fall in class. Thanks for a great piece of thinking/writing.

From Elizabeth Wilkinson

Re: The Spice Girls’ Legacy

First and foremost I do not see myself as a feminist, but I admit that I am becoming quite concerned with the way society is geared in the UK to treating women as sexual objects. The more and more I see women in tight little short skirts and low cut tops. The more I do want to whistle at them. Not because I find them remotely sexually attractive, but because I think they are choosing to conform to a culture which sexualises women. Where a womans sexuality is considered to be of more importance than her personality and intellect. Recently an article in American feminist magazine Bitch titled ‘you sold your gender and all you got was a lousy t-shirt’ mentioned womens t-shirts with the words ‘who needs brains, when you have these’ and ‘I hate math’ written across the chest. Makes me think that in this country it would not be long before young women choose to wear T-Shirts like the ones featured in the magazine.

Yet you mention this to some feminists and all they say is that the women are so influenced by a patriarchy, that they feel compelled to buy the T-shirt. Yet when I go and buy clothing in a shop I choose what I want to buy, because I want to, not because I feel compelled to do so by some male patriarchy.

However, it is obvious that the media is having some influence over young women. Pop music icons, T.V and film actresses, glamour models, people working in the sex industry feature in the media on a daily basis. Teenage magazines, toys, and even clothing for little girls seemed to encourage girls to grow up thinking that the most important thing in the word is their looks. Perhaps encouraging them to spend hours doing, their hair, amake-up wondering what clothes they want to wear. What else could they be doing with this time? Reading classics and non fiction, watching television documentaries, doing exercise perhaps. I am constantly reading on the internet that men prefer their partners to be less intelligent than themselves. Could the modern culture that we live in be creating a future in which the wife is less intelligent than the husband? How do we combat this culture? Do we live in a society which is anti-intellectual and does not encourage the discussion of intellectual conversation no matter what your sex, race, sexual orientation or religion? Instead we are encouraged to talk about reality T.V, celebrities, soap operas, and mens football teams.

If there is a male patriarchy does it feel threatened by intelligent women who have succeeded in so-called male dominated fields such as law, politics, science and journalism? Perhaps, modern culture is their way of making men working in these fields in the future be less threatened by women. There is also the possibility that it could be discouraging a future in which the wife earns more than the husband. To be the biggest threat to the Lads magazines and the culture of the Laddette, is the threat posed by a woman winning the position of President of the United States. I am not saying that you should vote for her purely because she is a woman. If a woman was to win the post of President of the United States. You would have a woman who would have succeeded in a field dominated by men. There would be a female icon not connected with the pop music industry, t.v and film, sex industry and who was not a glamour model. She would have succeeded in a field where intelligence was more important than looks.

The message I am getting from some feminists is quite confusing. We should mention these female icons more and talk more about women who have succeeded in fields dominated by men. Where intelligence is important. However, recently I read articles about how the Spice Girls where good for feminism. To me the Spice Girls have had a detrimental effect on the movement. First of all you have the notion of ‘Girl Power.’ The Spice Girls were all near the age of eighteen when people are legally viewed as adults. Surely, the correct notion should have been ‘Woman Power.’ This helps to belittle them, helping to create the image that young women should dress and act like children, or how men want them to dress, and act how men want them to act.

Then you have all the different spices. Which would reflect mens different tastes in women. For example, some men like posh women, dominating women, sporty women, women with ginger hair. Some may even want their women to behave like a baby. By making the Spice Girls appeal to a young market your encouraging children to in future purchase items which would make them look like their icons, as well as buy records from singers sounding like their icons. Icons who wore tight clothes, short skirts and appealed to mens different tastes. Icons who where promoted by a man.

From Heta

I guess I have been a feminist since grade school and “The beauty myth” really voiced my opinions perfectly. Lately I’ve been reading for my Egyptology exam (tomorrow!) and to avoid boredom I’ve been altering between Naomi Wolf’s “The Beauty Myth” and “The Oxford History of ancient Egypt”, and in the “Oxford History” I noticed this passage by David Peacock about the Greek deities being identified with the Egyptian ones during the Ptolemaic Period: “How the beautiful Athene would have reacted to being equated with the hippopotamus-goddess Taweret, we do not know.” Apparently, even if you’re the mighty and powerful goddess of warfare and wisdom, your main objective is still to be first and foremost beautiful, in all your forms. Go figure.

From Alice

Hi,

I used to identify heavily as a feminist (Germaine Greer and Naomi Wolf being two of my favourite writers) but a few years ago came across, in my view, some interesting information about the origins of the feminism movement – at least the second wave.

I still oppose all that is oppressive (to men, women and children – everyone) in our world today, but have great misgivings about the ends to which feminists and their ideas have been used. Further, as the daughter and grandaughter of committed Freemasons, I question why there is such a deafening silence from feminists on this exclusively male global secret society which, I can testify, simply reeks (at least the higher degrees) of elite corruption. For further information on these topics, please see the website of Henry Makow, a former feminist: www.savethemales.ca

N.B. Please note that I do not agree with everything that Mr Makow says or believes, but this does not negate much of the information that he presents. Ultimately we must pursue not what is comforting or expedient, but what is true- whatever that may be.

Regards,

From Joanna

Re: The Biological Clock. Wow. I thought it was just me that thought like this. We need to redefine sexuality totally yet when i come up with objections to the notion of phallocentric sex everyone looks at me as though I am crazy. And I used to think Andrea Dworkin- who came up with similar thoughts in her work “Intercourse” was a man hating ugly fat feminist.

From Emily

Just reading the article about WAGS and the World Cup and sport in general. I agree, I agree! It’s embarrassing to us all, them especially.

But actually I think the BBC deserve some credit for giving coverage to quite a lot of “women’s” sport recently – the FA Cup final, the Euro championships and golf have all been on (although maybe only on BBC3/4?). And having women anchoring the programmes strikes me as quite a leap forward in itself.

However what I wanted to suggest was that you start a campaign to get Nicole Cooke voted in as BBC Sports Personality of the Year this year. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that she’s won the Tour de France and is World No 1. If she was male she would win easily (there’s no competition yet this year since England/GB haven’t won anything yet!). Can you mobilise (when the time comes) the voters (male and female) out there and make sure she wins it? I’d love it if you could! See http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/cycling/5253924.stm for more info.

Thanks a lot!

From Amanda Robinson

Re: World Cup WAGs. This article verbalises all I found dispiriting about this summer’s football frenzy. Women’s status in the World Cup hierarchy was confirmed every day in my newsagents by the ranks of beaming models in skimpy variations on the England kit gracing all the tabloids and football supplements. It was a low day when it occurred to me that the models were probably gaining more (bad pun alert) exposure and financial reward than any member of England’s women’s football team might hope to achieve.

From Helen Browne

Re: World Cup WAGs. What a sad sign of our times the WAG’s interest displays. Women should be ashsmed that they are allowing themselves to be engineered into this shallow existence of becoming ultimate arm candy and even worse to compete for this accolade. I want my daughters to aspire to something more substantial than becoming a “man-made woman”. Girls are being socially engineered to aspire to be the wives of rich men and to be pictured in lad’s rags in just their knickers. Perhaps it is because business still tends to be very male dominated, putting many women off attempting to break into their macho worlds, in which male bonding and apparent fear of allowing women work alongside them on equal terms, puts women off attempting their unwelcome integration into male dominated spheres. My ex-husband once explained that the engineering design company that he works for has had the odd woman employed as something other than secretary or cleaner, and they’re very welcome as long as they can muck in with the boys!If they can’t take a joke, then that’s their hard luck. Oddly, they’ve never stayed for long for fear that “mucking in” requires them to become a “lad” and to deny their femininity. Strangely, our very bright seventeen year old daughter has turned down his offer to work for his company, because it’s “too blokey- they spend half the day looking at porn on their computers and e-mailing it to their friends”- need I say more?

In the world of beauty and glamour, women compete against other women and so bizarrely, avoid the direct problems of macho competition. Unfortunately, the beauty and glamour business is predominantly run by men for men’s pleasure, so the female dominance is short lived. Women need to work harder to break down these sexist barriers, but unfortunately, the media is not on our side, and they have such an effect on society- hence the government’s fear of upsetting them. Many papers still report news on women with sexualised descriptions and pictures ignoring their achievements, especially the red-tops. If the woman is not sexually interesting, they’re unlikely to get a mention, unless it’s derogatory. Women who work in these industries have to “fit in” with male thinking, or risk losing their jobs. Regretfully, it’s still a “man’s world”, and what a state it’s in! Come on ladies- we’re so much more than WAG’s!

From Jayne

I would like to respond to Siobhan Fogharty’s comment on Pretending that men aren’t grown-ups. In the context of rape, Siobhan believes that ‘it is a fact that engaing in certain behaviours will make you more vulnerable’ and that the logical extension of this “fact” is to take precautions to reduce the risk of our being raped. I would like to point out that considering over 90 f rapes are committed by men known to the victim and that most of these attacks will take place in the victim’s own home or that of the attacker, women would, according to Siobhan’s logic, be well advised to avoid having relationships with men or sharing houses with them. Think this is ridiculous? Well so is the idea that we must curtail our freedom to prevent misogynistic men from attacking us, or that walking home down well-lit streets will protect us from the man waiting for us at home who is the most likely person to rape us.

Siobhan – have you ever wondered WHY you feel afraid of rape when you walk home at night when the statistics show us that you are actually safer here than in your own home? I would suggest that it is because we are repeatedly told that we should never walk alone, that we are foolish to go in certain areas at night, that it is irresponsible to get too drunk, that it is silly to wear revealing clothing – all with the implication that we will be attacked because of these things.

These are lies, lies that keep us afraid. Men do not rape because of what we are wearing or where we are walking. They rape because we are female and because they can, because our culture tells them it is OK, that we want it really, that we are always up for it, that we exist to be possessed by them. No behaviour we engage in will change this. Challenging our sexist culture will. Only men can stop rape.

From Phil Saunders

Re: Pretending that men aren’t grown-ups’.

If a woman is considered not responsible for her actions then she isnt being treated as an adult, if she is then she is being poorly treated? That appears to be the outcome of your argument. If a woman says yes to sex then she has said yes. If she says no then she has said no. If you wont accept drunken “yes” then you cant accept drunken “no”. Your article makes a rather huge insertion that men are more “aggressive” than women but that is merely a sexist and prejudiced view. Women are equally aggressive in a sexual environment and to pretend otherwise is to hark back to the foolish stereotypes of past ages. It is not the responsibilty of a man to make sure that a woman who wants to have sex with him has thought through all the issues and would, in any other mental or physical condition, still want to have sex with him. In exactly the same way it is not the responsibility of a woman to make sure that the man would still want to have sex with her if he were sober. Both parties must accept that they are responsible for their own protection from themselves. In women dont get drunk then they wont say yes in a drunken state. If they chose to get drunk and then act irresponsibly then only a bigot would blame the person with whom they had sex. Equality is never helped by such special pleading. Women are not weaker mentally, nor are they less able to think about the cosequences of getting drunk. That a person can get so drunk that they cannot even remember whether they consented to sex or not shames that person and shows that they are irresponsible and immature. The gender doesnt matter!!

From Ellery

In response to Siobhan Fogarty’s comments on my article Pretending that men aren’t grown-ups.

“Firstly, rape is a fact of life, and pretending that it isn’t is sheer fantasy”. I didn’t at any point in the article argue that we should pretend rape doesn’t exist, but I sure as heck am not going to say “Rape exists, will always exist, and there’s nothing we can do about it”, because I think there is. The argument I was trying to make is that I’m alarmed by an argument that seems to continually recur in the media and in society. It starts with “there are ways women, being responsible for their own choices in life, can modify their behaviour to minimise the risk of rape”, which I think we would all agree with. Certainly I don’t wander down dark alleys – even though I have the right to; I have a right not to be assaulted. The fact that I judge that the risk of running into people who don’t respect that right is too high to risk it, doesn’t mean that I don’t have that right or I deny that it exists.

However, too often people seem to interpret this common sense idea as meaning: “Because it is possible for women to minimise (though not completely negate) the risk of rape by modifying their behaviour, this means that it is partly or even completely their responsibility if they do not do this and then they are raped”.

This is the argument I was arguing against in my article. To me, this completely overlooks the fact that another person with free will is involved – the rapist. He and he alone is responsible for his behaviour and his choices, not his victim. And this, I think, is why – as Siobhan states – some women do have a a problem in admitting that it is sensible to take care of yourself (not drink yourself into a stupor, not wander around alone at night, not go off with strangers), because many people interpret this as meaning “it’s your fault, because you could have done something to stop it”.

To me, this argument, which the Times columnist Janet Daley seems to be making and which inspired my article, rather neatly takes the rapist out of the picture as a human being, and reduces him instead to a unthinking force of nature, like an aggressive dog. It thus puts all the responsibility squarely on women’s shoulders, and stops us from asking: “What changes do men need to make to minimise rape? What changes do we need to see in society? What attitudes need to go?”

I hasten to add, I’m not implying that all men are rapists. But we all, male and female, play a part in shaping our society.

I should perhaps make it clear that when I wrote “the rather brutal implication of this logic…” I was referring to Daley’s argument, not mine. She stated in her article in the Times: “are women the equals of men as adults who can take responsibility for their own actions? Or are they vulnerable creatures who need unique protection and special allowances made for them?”

My comments preceding this on the greater physical strength of men compared to women were intended to illustrate the flaw in Daley’s argument. Fogarty says: “It’s not chauvinist ideology to claim that women are, on the whole, not as strong as men. It’s fact”, and I’m interested to see that she seems not to have read the paragraph towards the start of my article where I stated: “…add to that the fact that, in my opinion, men as a group are generally physically stronger than women”.

The whole point behind my stating this was that by ignoring this basic physical fact, Daley’s argument, which I clearly state several times I don’t agree with and which my article aims at refuting, ends up meaning: “If you want to be equal you’ve got to be prepared to protect yourself from rape and it’s entirely your responsibility, never mind the fact that any potential rapists will, almost certainly, be stronger, more aggressive, and much more willing to terrorise you into doing their will than you will be prepared to terrorise them into letting you go”. I certainly wasn’t saying that I believe this myself!

From Angela

Re: Bad Mothers: FINALLY — A GIRL AFTER MY OWN HEART. Childbirth is so overrated!

From Clare Mcinerney

in response to clare riley’s Bad Mothers article,may i say,if she doesnt have children of her own then how comes she knows so much about the reality of motherhood?!i have to say,i had exactly the same attitude toward mothers as this before i had my first child.the only thing that changed was that i did find myself totally in love with this little person.however,9 years and 4 kids later,i stll have the same attitude,though i love my kids and do my best for them,i was not put on this earth to mop up puke and calmly issue ‘time outs’ on the ‘naughty step’ or offer endless positive reinforcement to a gobby 7 year old whos going through some form of early puberty and calling me a bitch,saying she hates me and that i cant possibly be her real mother (cos i told her to tidy her room).i want a career,a holiday,a car,and a sex life that isnt limited to the hours of 10pm-midnight.it will happen,probably in about 20 years,but it will happen!!

From Gemma Mason

‘Handbags and Gladrags’ entirely misses what I think is the most important reason why women carry handbags. How many items of men’s clothing do you see that DON’T have pockets? Whereas finding formal wear with pockets is remarkably difficult for women. Call for women’s pockets now!

From Joanne Chard

I am delighted to hear about the Verge magazine. I love having a bit of chill out ‘me time’ reading a mag, but i don’t want to read about celebs… and the horror that they have got a spot! I recently flicked through a mag and was disgusted that a whole two pages was dedicated to basically how human celebrities are, how are young girls and women supposed to feel good about themselves when female editors are ripping other women to shreds because of -shock horror, a dodgy toe, or a sweaty arm pit, or the wrong dress… I thank you for this website, I have really taken on board what i have read here and it has improved my life and made me feel great and incontrol and so aware of how we are being bombarded as women to be perfect. Now i laugh at it and challenge it, and question it. Tonight i was told by someone that when they first met me four years ago they thought i was pretty and skinny and i replied, “so what?being pretty and skinny means nothing, what about mypersonality? that’s what i’ll have for the rest of my life. Women are so judged on how they look instead of who they are, yet men aren’t. I intend to do my bit to change things. Thanks

From Sonia Smith

If you think the emphasis on consumerism in Grazia magazine is bad, try reading “Happy – Your Shopping BIble!” Seriously – has the message “buying stuff will make you happy” ever been more blatant?

From Paul

Just a small point, but your criticism of the ‘Boys Are Stupid’ campaign in response to a reader’s comment smacked of an overly zealous approach to political correctness. The ‘Boys are stupid – throw rocks at them’ and ‘Girls kick balls’ designs are humourous and not at all sexist. They in no way condone or encourage violence, and they do not relieve men/boys of responsibilites by suggesting they cannot help the way they are.

They encourage the young women they are aimed at to be able to laugh at boys and not feel in awe of them or intimimidated by them, and they do so wittily and imaginiatively. I bought one of the cards foir a girl’s 18th birthday and she appreciated it without feeling the need to physically attack anybody. Feminism, like the rest of the Left, must learn to have more of a sense of humour.

From Clare Mcinerney

re maxine francis’ article Real Female Heroines in response to fhm’s 100 sexiest women claptrap (i cant believe thats actually legal?!),is feminism actually sexism against men,or the fight against oppression of women?i persoally thought it was about equality,and somewhere this is seriously lacking is in the magazine industry. womens magazines all seem to have women on the cover and are full of articles about losing weight or women having been beaten the crap out of by their husbands,or you get the glossies that are about losing weight and where to buy the best make up and behave appropriatly so u dont get beaten the crap out of by your husband(sorry,but any article about cooking/cleaning/being better in bed is basically that).there are also a few magazines on pregnancy,weddings,hair/beauty and of course how to make your house look perfect,which i suspect have been around since 1930 and nobody bothered to tell the publishers that women just dont give a shit about that stuff now.over to the mens section….using my local large supermarket as an example,we have magazines about computing,gaming,cars,and sport (women dont use computers, or drive cars,according to tesco) as well as the selection of ‘lads mags’,which are little more than mainstream mysogenistic pornos.fair enough,single 18-24 year old males may like looking at nude women and deciding who has the nicest tits,but hasnt anyone stopped to consider that single 18-24 yr old women may like looking at nude blokes and deciding who has the nicest arse?? im no longer in that age group,or the single catagory,but when i was i think id’ve preffered to look at half naked male celebs than read an article on how much celulite jade goody has at the moment.when is something going to be done about this extreme sexism in magazines? one can only hope it will be soon

From Caitlin

Hey,

I visited your website after being frustrated by the way many of the girls (junior even) present themselves at school. White blond hair, skirts short enough to see their crotch, a tonne of makeup? I just don’t get it? I believe that women have the right to be sexy but these young women dont look sexy they look like a walking advertisement for sex. It frustrates me all this emphasis on being a Paris Hilton clone and dumbing yourself down for the likes of men. Theres no doubt it works, I had a friend who acted really dumb and she got all the boys. Sorry im just having a complete outburst but it really gets to me because these women degrade all women.

From Richard Thorney

Why Men Suck… And the Women WHo Have To – god that english teacher bitch is dumb of course we men want hot brown young subservient dependent girls to fuck…then we can concentrate on oursurfing and other interests dealing with dumb prudes who cant fuck…duh

From Katharina

It might be a little bit late but I want to respond to kirche’s comment from April 2006. (Only came around to reading it now.) I’m so sick and tired of this “man have been the rulers of the universe since the beginning of time”-shit that I feel like I’m slowly but steadily going nuts over it. To disguise the (sexual) exploitation of women as natural and unchangeable is the most stupid thing someone with a correctly working brain could do- but then again I assume that kirche is probably mentally disturbed.

Exploitation cannot be normal because the suffering of the exploited women and the woman-hating behaviour of the men who rape female human beings of all ages (That’s right, kirche, I’d like to see your reasoning concerning men fucking little seven-year-old girls. Perhaps in your sad sick twisted mind that also ensures the survival of the species.) destroys the lives of the generations to come. I mean, how is seeing your abused and beaten up mother coming home from a hard day at serving disgusting western misogynists healthy? How is seeing your mother getting raped by your father healthy? How is getting raped by your own father healthy?

Just tell me one good reason why patriarchies which have traditionally wreaked havoc on women and children are the most fit societies for humanity? Patriarchies have only done one thing: they hindered the progression of humanity, they create suicide, torture, (sexual) abuse, apathy, depression- which in turn destroys creativity. If men like you could do as they want their would be no real women around anymore because you would have killed them all off- you would only have silent sexbots serving you day and night. Again, tell me how this is a good thing. The patriarchy has only achieved one thing: of all the civilizations/populations on our planet it has achieved maximum exploitation at minimum sped. (Just compare the lengths of the different geological eras.)

So… since nature is not stupid it won’t make the mistake of creating beings, in this case humans, that are bound to wipe each other out. Since nature is not stupid it would have never created a biological basis for a patriarchy seeing as such a society is bound to destroy itself sooner or later. (And it will- but with humanist and feminist ideas still alive I can at least hope that humankind will survive.)

And one last thing, kirche: since you ended your letter in German I can either assume that you’re German like me or have a certain affinity for my language. If it’s the second: it’s a disgrace to have morally-bankrupt woman-hating/absusing bastards like you use my beloved mother language. If it’s the first: they are already enough idiots like you running around in Germany, probably wishing for the mutterkreuz to return and it’s a shame they end up emigrating to other countries and giving Germany a bad name.

To the F-Word creators: Your site has been an invaluable source for me over the last year and I’d like to thank you for your hard work.

From Maxine

Re: “Sexual Harassment is Not Trivial” I’m not sure but I think that Germaine is perhaps trying to point out that this incident in Australian BB may have been staged.

From Francesca Pursell

Response to the article, “Irma Kurtz is Wrong about Rape”. Thank you for drawing my attention to this agony aunt response to rape in cosmopolitan. I completely agree with your article, and have emailed my own complaint to cosmopolitan as well as sending your article to my friends – male and female – who will hopefully do the same thing. It makes me furious when the way in which a woman behaves is used to say that she was asking for sex, inviting rape. For example, the argument that says that a woman who wears a short skirt does so knowing that she will attract the attention of men, and therefore should be unsuprised and to blame if she is raped. Such an argument taken to its logical conclusion says that women wear make-up to appear more attractive to men, therefore women who wear make up should be unsuprised and to blame if they are raped. This is an attitude which is enshrined in law in places like parts of Iran where the “moral police” are able to arrest women who are raped for “crimes against chastity”, if it is seen to be their fault (e.g. if they were alone with a man). Many people in the West are appalled by such reports from the Middle East, and yet fail to see that these attitudes are just the extremes of the ones that exist in the UK which continue to blame the victims of rape for having a crime committed against them.

From Rod Donovan

On the Cosmo article about rape [Why Irma Kurtz is Wrong about Rape], get a clue. A girls sleeping, eating, watching tv, smoking, washing her hair, or what ever in my bed, is gonna get, well you know. This is just common sense. I was in England several years back while in the service. Let me say that the ladies love Americans. While their boyfriends are all huddled together drinking beer, and shooting darts, we were having fun with the girls. Hey! They started it. Remember, if you don’t want people to think you’re a duck, don’t act like a duck, walk like a duck, or lay in someone else’s bed.

From Pauline Brown

I am a feminist and I too was optimistic when I heard about a the publication of First. Having seen it a couple of times, I have to say it’s probably not a mag I will be buying regularly. But that is not because I feel I have been ‘let down’ by it, in feminist terms.

Having worked in the publishing industry for 20 years I can confirm that there is indeed a certain amount of ‘methodical selection’ involved in what gets published, but the overwhelming majority of the content of magazines coming out of the major publishing houses is actually dictated by focus groups. To assume that First was dreamed up by a few misguided idealists at Emap, financially backed and published without them first identifying a niche in the market, and doing exhaustive research about what women want it filled with is naive.

As you say, First is a hybrid (whether monstrous or not is a matter of opinion), produced in response to the fact that women, feminists among them, believe it or not, LOVE celebrity gossip and trivial true-life stories, and that some DO need coaxing to appreciate the wider world. Providing sweet incentives so that we can take our weekly dose of international affairs without throwing up may seem patronising to you, and smack of dumbing down, but to say that we should ALL be getting our current affairs from loftier sources than First seems to me even more patronising. What’s more, it has a distinct whiff of cultural snobbery about it.

It is my choice to imbibe current affairs from the Guardian, the New Statesman and the like, just as it’s my choice to get my celebrity gossip from the pages of Hello and Heat. Buying both has never made me feel any less of a feminist, and I resent the implication that it should.

First doesn’t appeal to me principally because I am not the target demographic. Neither, I suspect, is Abby O’Reilly. Is she really suggesting that we have to get our news via the broadsheets to qualify as part of the sisterhood these days?

If there is a chance that some women, who previously would have gone for only celebrity gossip and nothing else, will now opt for a bit of news-lite on the side, isn’t that a step in the right direction?

From Ida

Re: First Magazine: “in order to even chisel a small space in this ruthlessly competitive market it had, to some extent, imitate its less sophisticated comrades” – This statement lets the article down, I feel. No magazine ‘has to’ conform to stand out. If what the author is saying is true (and I believe it is) in that women do not care less about ‘real’ news than men then why would a news magazine need to conform to the celeb/glamour/image/etc magazines around it.

From Stewart

I recorded This is Rockbitch and magaged to get a copy of Bitchcraft eventhough it is banned in Australia (God knows why there’s nothing you wouoldn’t see at party in full swing.) I liked the docco, but I’m not comfortable with all the witchcraft stuff…Babe , Julie (whi I find as a goor raunchy blues voice) and Nickki with her sex kit gave some good insight into the way the live in their commune and their sex witch practices. I must admit as a heterosexual man, I found their moderately sexy bodies distracted from the message and confimed my idea that men and women think differently.

From Michelle Abrahall

In response to the article ‘Attention Seeker’. I feel that a lot of Sara Cox’s comments could be explained (but not justified) the fact that she used to be a model, and is now a well-known face in broadcasting. This means for her that there truly is no such thing as unwanted attention, just as the saying goes there is no such thing as bad press. She has made a career out of getting attention whether through showing off her body or her opinions. Incidently, does Sarah Cox view the various unflattering paparazzi shots of her as a welcome intrusion too?

From Mary

Catherine Redfern’s article ‘Ordinary Ads, Everyday Images’ was most interesting. However, I’d like to point out that one of the reclining ‘women’ that she took a picture of was actually the lead singer of Antony And The Johnsons, a man named Antony. Thanks,

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

Hi Mary, Thanks for your comment! I think someone else pointed that out to me too. I think it’s interesting that the image of Antony reclining he appears very stereotypically feminine in appearance (wearing lipstick, plucked eyebrows etc, etc). So the image that is presented is of a female reclining in bed, despite the fact he is actually male.

(Mary replied: Thanks for your reply. Yes it is interesting that the the picture is set up and Antony is in the position that is ‘typically female’- maybe this man who is trying to look like a woman, and therefoe posing like he thinks a woman would, says even more about how women are portrayed in advertising than even the real women do!)

From Martha D

To Dennis the Menace (comments): ‘The joke was on men not women, so don’t let these things worry your pretty little heads’ from Dennis the Menace vs. ‘As I read this, I couldn’t help but think that if the patriarchy makes women constantly regulate their own behaviour the same is true of men.’ From ‘So what’s wrong with Nuts, then?’. The later statement clearly shows a sympathy with the restraints and problems faced by people whom most of the women reading this website consider equals and fellow human beings (men), but you seem to feel such a sympathy isn’t necessary, because these things don’t matter to you personally. Also, patronising people isn’t necessarily the best way to get your point across, so I am assuming that the purpose of your response was to inflate your own ego by knowing that you’ve said what you’ve said in the tone you’ve said it. (I don’t mean because of the phrase ‘pretty little heads, I mean the brackets afterwards, and the general attitude you seem to have taken.) ‘there are certain benefits for women that are rooted in sexism and/or chauvinism, especially when we start talking about chivalry, divorce settlements, custody battles etc.’

Most of the women who read this website, although maybe not all, I can’t speak for anyone but myself, would agree with you, but I think most of them would also feel, that while being granted more custody rights might be an area where women have more power, it is not necessarily good for society as a whole if judges are too blinded by gender to look at the individual details of a case, so that in some instances the best decision may not be made for the child and other people involved. Personally I am perfectly prepared to loose some of the ‘good’ aspects of equality. If we go into psychology and social politics, the fact that you could change a tyre and the lady you helped couldn’t, means to me we should make sure people are taught similar important skills regardless of gender. To infantilise and disable people in different ways purely on the basis of their gender, or to expect certain things from them on the basis of their gender doesn’t do anyone any favours. I am of the opinion that horrific occurrences such as rape and domestic violence from either partner, and even some male on male and female on female violence is frequently as a result of the ways people feel they are limited to behave because of their gender. I feel this is true for many other problems as well.

As for developing a good sense of humour, some things should be taken seriously, even if you feel helpless in the face of them and would rather laugh. The articles in Nuts and the Sun aren’t necessarily the end of the world, but they are used by Jess McCabe in the Blog ‘So what’s wrong with Nuts, then?’ to illustrate something about the attitudes we find in the wider world, which are harder to capture as we don’t all have degrees in sociology or similar fields. I agree with the author that these magazines shouldn’t be banned, but we are perfectly free to discuss them, and state all the problems we have with them. Don’t get scared, you’ll still be able to buy whatever you want in terms of literature. Even if I do think it’s a waste of paper that could be used for wiping my arse. And I don’t think that men are purely victims of women who make them sexist, we’re all in this together as far as I’m concerned, and it’s everyone’s responsibility, it’s just that some people are able to/ want to take the responsibility to try and stop sexism from hindering society more than others. And I’m glad that you say that your own sexism /chauvinism isn’t influenced by articles that appear in magazines like Nuts. But don’t speak for everyone. If someone mostly reads magazines from similar perspectives to that of Nuts, it probably would influence their attitudes, and it would definitely help to support a lot of unfortunate sexist/ chauvinistic attitudes and ideas that they might already have. There is the equivalent in much ‘women’s’ literature. As a feminist I see that as a problem to be discussed, and that is why websites like the f word exist.

From L

Re: He’s Just Not That Into You: Finally–some perspective. I found this Combe character’s article much wittier and more down-to-earth than the excerpts of He’s Just Not That Into You that I read online. Thanks for keeping it real, and saving me the time and money I might have otherwise wasted on this book, which I imagine starts off as entertaining but eventually just gets old. We need more foxy women that think like Combe, in other words, for themselves, although, Greg would surely beg to differ.

From Jill Jackson

Re: He’s Just Not That Into You: Personally, I agree with the message of the book, which is “Don’t waste your time on unavailable men.” No a man does NOT have to act like a dog in heat but in the example posted at Amazon the man clearly stated that he did make the first move and approached the woman in question. Guys who DON’T do that – Not into you. And while he restricted the rest of his interraction with her to mutual gatherings, the implication was that he maintained communication with her. Guys who don’t do that – Not into you.

The same for the second example about the complexity of men. The respondant in that case stated that he’d met a woman but, at the same time, a good friend was dying. That is a serious circumstance. Matters of life and death take precedence over matters of the heart. But a guy who is too busy with mundane life things that he can’t take a moment out of his busy busy day to call you, or email, or reach out in any way – Not into you. There is a difference between an overbearing asshole who won’t take no for an answer and a guy simply trying to make contact. And, if he’s into you, he will make that effort. The same way a woman would make that effort. If it’s worth it, you make the effort.

If you ask HIM out and his answer is a vague and nebulous “sure, I’d like to go out with you – sometime” . He’s not scared. He’s not cautions. He’s not interested.

Does it mean that we should sit in our ivor towers waiting for prince charming to come along? NO. But we should also not waste valuable time and energy on unavailable men. And if, by chance, he IS that into you, but is letting you do all the work (the calling, making the dates, etc) then, his loss if you decide to find someone who thinks you’re worth the effort too. And, yes, I DO think women need that “guy” in their heads reminding them of this. Because, other women, we’ll generally sit around and analyze and make excuses. All the while, wasting time on a man who is just not worth it.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a literal man’s voice. It could be your own “Male” voice. The Assertive, confident, “Masculine” side of you that takes no guff and tells it like it is. I have mine. And it’s my own voice, developed from years of experience dealing with men just not into me. It just happens to sound a lot like Greg’s.

And as far as the “flattery” is concerned. Personally, I’d rather tell myself that I am Fabulous and desirable and that I deserve to be pursued. Again, not like an ivory princess, but like a desirable woman who shouldn’t have to chase a guy down and “convince” him that I’m worth his time. He should convince me that he’s worth mine. And one way of doing that is by actually making the effort to be with me. If I’m not worth the effort to him, why should he be worth it to me? Heck, I’ll even make the first move, but the guy has to at least be willing to meet me some of the way. A guy who is willing to let you chase him, or encourages you to chase him, NOT THAT INTO YOU. The only time I like chasing ANYONE is when I’m out running and playing “Catch Your Neighbor”. Otherwise, life is too short.

About Liz and the web address.

Yes, the guy MAY be interested in her opinion. But if he ONLY gave her his web address, then he’s not interested in dating her. So, yes, she deserved better. Meaning, if he was really interested, he would have given her an easier way to contact him (as opposed to a contact address on a website). No, not even that. He would simply have requested the means to contact her. And contacted her.

Finally, we SHOULD focus on our fulfilling lives rather than chasing some guy. That does NOT mean we should focus on our fulfilling lives until some guy comes and sweeps us off our feet. It means that, whether or not I’m dating someone, whether or not a guy I like is interested in me, I’ve got my life. My career, my home, whatever. And I’m happy and fulfilled so that I don’t feel the NEED to waste time on an unavailable man.

I want to add that I didn’t get the message that we should pretend that we’re not interested in order to manipulate a man into “stepping up his game” or that we shouldn’t find out for sure if he’s really intrested. And, even if a guy is shy, if a woman makes it clear that SHE is interested, and he still doesn’t act then how intersted is he, really? And if he’s too scared to act, even when given encouragement, then get real. And by “act” I simply mean make SOME SORT of effort. If a woman gives him her phone number, call her. Especailly if she willingly volunteers that number and SAYS “call me”. If he doesn’t call her because he’s shy, his loss. And, from personal experience in approaching and dating a “shy” guy, no matter how shy, if you make your interest clear, he’ll do something to show his interest. And if he is so shy that he doesn’t. Then he needs Therapy, not a date.

From Jaime

Film Reviews: Are there any films we’re allowed to like or would it be possible to have someone review films in an intelligient, unbiased manner? The review for ”The Incredibles” was absolutely terrible and written by someone who admits to being biased against this move from the moment they heard of it, so how could they write something intelligient and informative about it when they’re far too pre-occupied with their own agenda? I think this is a great site but overall I find the movie reviews incredibly dissappointing, they seem to be reviewed from a seperatist perspective rather than a feminist one.

(also to the guy who was talking about Frank Millers ”morales” , WTF??? The guy doesn’t have any, I actually quite liked Sin City as I accepted that it was almost a parody of Film Noir with everything taken to the extremes, it’s become pretty much accepted within the comic reading world that Miller is a misogynist)

From Hazel Barkworth

I just read Victoria Dutchman-Smith’s article about marriage [Are You Married? If Note, Why Not?]. I simply couldn’t agree more. Having met and moved in with the man I intend to live with for the rest of my life, there seems to be a general consensus that now I will change my previously rock hard stance that marriage is not for me. As if my anti-wedlock opinion was the bitter lashing out of a spinster. Now I am in love, I will surely abandon my past views and rush, open armed, to my bridal shower. Friends assume that my politics will have naturally softened now I have someone to hold every night. That in ‘settling down’, I will relax what I previously held dear. In reality it has, of course, done nothing but strengthen that view. Now I know the emotional backdrop to such a ceremony, it seems all the more ridiculous, dated and skewed. I feel like I now have a hand to hold as I march on.

From Heta

Re: Equality Quiz I like to think I’m pretty good at math, but I may be wrong. It just seems that in order to select the right answer to the second question by actually calculating instead of just guessing, you’d have to give (or assume that the quiz-takers already know) the percentual gap in wages before 1970. Good quiz, anyway.

From Louise

Hi Caz! I’d love to read your book [on Riot Grrrl] if you can publish it! I’ve only read the first bit so far but if there was a decent book on Riot Grrl out there I would definitely buy it and lend it to all my music-loving male friends who don’t even question the fact that all the bands they worship are men… Keep up the good work.

From Dina Combs

In response to your article about Eminem, I would have to say that most women who get angry with violent lyrics are taking the music too seriously. I, a 30 year old woman, does not get offended by songs about “sluts that are hoes” because I know that there are women out there who warrent that kind of song. I don’t take offense to that music, because I know the music isn’t written about me. That’s what a lot of women need to realize, the song ain’t about you – perhaps the crazy women who inspired lyrics like that really were hoes or sluts. It is a popular oppinion that it is wrong to label a woman a hoe or a slut, but that don’t stop the fact from remaining… they’re out there. And they will lay you for a pill.

From Nisa

I truely enjoyed the article A Perfect Delusion by Samantha Lyster. I am a 21-year-old university student, and I have always had similar feelings about the detrimental effects of men’s mags and porn. I would love any additional information on other things I should read on this subject. This article was truely brilliant.

From Judy

I was intigued to see that not one, but two comments were made about the Advertising Standards Authority in your selection of comments from March. I contacted the ASA a couple of years ago concerning a radio advert which featured a man selling his wife. As I naturally don’t believe that women are chattels I was very offended by this. The response to my letter was astonishingly dismissive, commenting that senses of humour differ and that they were sorry I “chose to take offence”. I rang up to speak to the (male) author and he was so offensive to me on the phone that I complained all the way up to the chief executive. He refused to take any disciplinary action against the individual and also refused to acknowledge that my complaint had not been taken seriously and that their response was offensive and inadequate.

I think many people are under the impression that the Advertising Standards Authority is a Government watchdog that is accountable to the public. It is actually an industry body that is not subject to any independent or external scrutiny. That means that it cannot be asked to disclose any information under the Freedom of Information Act, for example, how many complaints were received about sexism during a specific time period and how many of those were upheld.

I think there is an article in this. The ASA clearly do not take gender prejudice seriously, which explains why we have “backslid” to a point were women are once again frequently displayed as objects. I’m afraid I can’t offer any of the correspondence I had with the ASA, as I was so upset by the experience that I destroyed it all. I’m also sorry that I don’t have the skills to write an article, and I’m aware that it is a cheek writing to people who do this in their spare time to suggest it. But there is clearly something going on here, and so I thought it was worth mentioning.

Very best wishes,

From Mick Jones

Fighting Back: Self Defence for Women & Girls

Great and simple article. Very easy for all to understand. Gives an effective pot of moves to choose from in most given senarios. My 13 year old daughter loved it and so do her mates.

From Kelly

Hey there, The article on ms dynamite was inspiring and refreshing. I always felt guilty for liking hip hop due to its obvious negative stereotyping of women in their videos and lyrics. I checked out the songs and now Im a huge fan, cause now I dont have to feel guilty about listening to hip hop and I can also now feel empowered and inspired as a woman yay, go ms dynamite!!!