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Natalie Antonova has an article up about fainting, not the most obvious feminist topic, however this little excerpt tells us an important story. It’s a conversation between her and her boyfriend about the experience of fainting fits (syncopes).

“You know what I’m always terrified of? I used to pass out a lot when I was younger, due to being underweight, I guess, and I’ve always been afraid that one day – someone will grope me when that happens, or worse.”

“You’re morbid.”

Let’s just run that back – so being concerned about your safety when affected by an illness is “morbid” is it? How odd because when women appear to have not taken amazing precautions about their safety they are considered culpable if anything happens (the wrong place, wrong time; what was she doing there at that time of night and so forth responses).

As someone who also has syncopes, I feel kind of passionate about this. My experience – when they’ve happened in public places men have, quite literally, stepped over me and only women have stopped to help. But I’m lucky, mine pass in a matter of seconds and I am not left unconcious and therefore vulnerable for any length of time (I think here of what happened to Christine Lakinski who was urinated on, filmed on mobile phones and covered in shaving foam as she lay dying). Antonova is right, thought, fainting is seen as a sign of weakness in men and women rather than as a sign of extreme physiological stress. It’s also often used as a way of re-emphasising a woman’s incapacity and vulnerability – as I said mine pass in seconds and other than the embarrassment and ocassional injury caused by the fall I am fine. But that didn’t stop a former male boss of mine using them as a way of justifying making it virtually impossible for me to do my job -“oh” he said “what about if you faint?” at almost every turn and in discussions of situations in which I couldn’t possibly have fainted because of the nature of the condition that causes my syncopes (like when I’m sat down).

Anyway onto more serious stuff – the BBC are reporting UNICEF figures that women in the developing world are 300 times more likely to die in childbirth than women in the developed world.

The lifetime risk in a developing country was one in 24, compared with one in 8,000 in richer countries. About 99% of the 500,000 maternal deaths in 2005 occurred outside industrialised nations, more than half of them in Africa, Unicef said. It adds that girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s, the agency said.

The UN has called for a 75% reduction in the maternal mortality rate by 2015 as part of its Millennium Development Goals programme.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has launched the search for the Muslim Women Power List 2009.

The Power List is a celebration of Muslim women within the working community in Britain who have already reached the top of their chosen field or are on the fast track to success. Any British Muslim woman over the age of eighteen and in employment may apply – nominations may be submitted by or on behalf of an individual. Nominations can be submitted until 16 February 2009 via www.thelist2009.com

Shortlisted nominees are required to:

  • demonstrate significant results through strong leadership;
  • illustrate successful performance in their chosen career;
  • demonstrate how their actions have made a positive difference to their work and the work of others
  • demonstrate that they are viewed as a role model/figure of leadership/inspiration to their colleagues and peers;

I am kind of shocked to find out that Health Visitors are being asked to spot the signs of post-partum depression – didn’t they do this already? THis is based on a study by University of Sheffield which found women with post-partum depression supported by Health Visitors fared better than women being supported by their GPs. In a different study in Canada it’s been found that women who receive telephone support post-birth develop less post-partum depression. In short – targetting support without stigmatising women works and makes for happier mums.

Also on parenting, 70% of women in China want the one child rule revoked. Which is a timely reminder that not all maternity/fertility campaigns are about access to abortion, some are about freedom from it.

Feministe reminds us that sometimes just going to school is a major step for the liberation of girls and women. Especially in countries like Afghanistan..

“My parents told me to keep coming to school even if I am killed,” said Shamsia, 17, in a moment after class. Shamsia’s mother, like nearly all of the adult women in the area, is unable to read or write. “The people who did this to me don’t want women to be educated. They want us to be stupid things.”

Abyss2hope has some apposite interventions in the consent to sex/rape debate.

Nobody who goes to a car dealership needs to be empowered to always say no in order to avoid unwanted car ownership or car ownership which comes at too high of a price. If a shopper says, “maybe” or “I’ll think about it” or says nothing everybody gets that there is no consent. So this concept is not a difficult one. Yet many people — including those who vocally oppose rape — continue to have trouble with this concept when it comes to sex or sexual contact.

Meanwhile a US-Canadian study has proven the bleedin’ obvious – white folks don’t feel the emotional anguish of racism, there’s a surprise!

Apparently, people who are not on the receiving end of racial slurs are not compelled to correct those who say them. Also, the opinion of those use racial slurs doesn’t seem to change the opinion of the receiver, despite their obvious bias.