Comments from February & March 2011

Comments on the latest features and reviews

One Dimensional Woman, a review by Sian Norris

From Cath Bateman

Looks like an interesting read, I obviously haven’t read it yet but it concerns me that the writer seems to be commenting on Jessica Valenti’s book like it subscribes to the “fun feminism” that she is deriding. I think if one key message is to be taken from JVs book Full Frontal Feminism it’s that she DOESN’T subscribe to this theory and while she won’t judge women who do choose to pole dance or expose their breasts on camera for empowerment, she questions whether they really are feeling empowered, or are being manipulated by a continuing male control of women’s bodies. I will be intrigued to read the book in full to see the full message, however from this review, I’m already feeling a touch “protective” of a book that I found instrumental in finding voice for my own confusion around activist feminsim vs fun feminism and where they could meet and merge.

Sian Norris, author of the article, replies

Thank you for your comment! I haven’t read Valenti’s book so was only commenting on Power’s interpretation. I think there is a discussion to be had about what feminism means and what it stands for, and as far as i can tell from reading the One Dimensional Women, Power is concerned about Valenti’s conviction that we can define feminism for ourselves – after all, if we do this, what stops feminism being about anything!

From what I’ve heard, many women share your experiences of reading Valenti, around finding a voice and blend of feminist activism and fun and this is vitally important. Anything that helps us discover and find our voices as feminists is important. What I think Power’s book really addresses, and why it is such a good read, is how capitalism has co-opted feminism and feminist terms to sell us “empowerment in a bottle” and letting us off the hook on thinking how our choices affect the women around us. I think there is a difference between some of the feminist thinking in the USA and the UK. There is so much in this tiny book, it is definitely worth a read!

From Nina Power

Just to say thank you very much for the thoughtful and very interesting review. I totally agree about the UK/US feminist point and would say that I am much more optimistic now than I was when I wrote the book!

Thanks again,


From lindsey spilman

The right have been in the process of hi-jacking feminism since around the time bush got into power in america. I think that it started with trying to change the way women dressed, in an attempt to get them to wear dresses and the clothes men like to see on women. There are lots of american websites which say that its against god for women to wear the clothes that men wear, and ones that encourage people to praise women who dress like a lady. I think that the increase in femininity in fashion last decade has caused many women to become more dependant on male approval, and also has divided women due to more competition. Also it has made more women not like there

bodys. It has caused feminists to take in this stuff and start seeing the very things that are oppressive and sexist as empowering. Like being a ladette, seeing putting your body on display as an sex object empowering. Then even worse next came the from ladette to lady trend. The right wanted this in the first place, the ladette thing was used as an excuse to promote women to dress as ladys. Last decade feminist became a dirty word for many. Also last decade the word lady was used instead as woman, this was an attempt to make women feel complemented for being feminine. A form of positive reinforcement has been used as a tool of deception, as the right wanted to bring back gender roles. It became exceptable for men and women to dress alike in the 90’s, the right hated this as clothing is a thing that reminds people of there place in life.

Thats why when you go to a womens day event one finds stalls about craft, sewing and mothering. Women have always had the duty not right to do these things, the right have been to try to get accross there idea of feminism which is that a woman can be as proactive in her pursuit of feminine clothes, motherhood and sewing as she wants.

I think that the idea that women have to be different to men and there personality has to revolve around the physical differences is a diseased meme that has infected society.

A room of her own, by Bidisha

From LonerGrrrl

A great, affirmative article, Bidisha. As a writer myself, I know how painstaking and hard writing can be and agree women writers struggle more than male writers to get the space and time it requires.

Personally, I struggle with calling my writing ‘work’ because to date my writing has not earnt me any money and has been something I’ve mostly done for myself. Yet I know I should feel more comfortable calling myself a writer and claiming my writing as my ‘real’ work as it does give me a sense of satisfaction my paid work doesn’t and makes me feel more myself than anything else I do in life.

And I agree women’s socialisation which encourages them to be more self-effacing and modest holds us women writers back. Even the great female writers such as Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath were riddled with self-doubt about their writing ability, which is a comfort to know but also pretty troubling – us women shouldn’t have to struggle and second-guess ourselves so much.

From Lipstick Terrorist

As a writer who is only just beginning to do what I have wanted since a child, I really relate to many of the sentiments expressed here. That women artists feel we ‘should’ be something else ‘more useful,’ that we are taught to spend our lives in service to others instead of our own desires IS heartbreaking. A lot of what is said here is echoed in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, an invaluable book for any blocked artist and which helped me immensely.

Men and women: are we really worlds apart?, by Kitty Sadler

From Cycleboy

At the risk of invoking the ire of the author, I would like to mention Deborah Tannen’s book “You Just Don’t Understand” on the subject of interruptions.

Ms Tannen found that New Yorkers would interrupt in a much smaller gap in the conversation than Californians would. And, Greek and Jewish New Yorkers more so than other ethnic groups from the same city. The conclusion to this is that culture is clearly a major influence on one’s speech patterns.

Of course, this says absolutely nothing about whether the perceived differences between men and women are innate or culturally engendered, but it surely strongly suggests that culture will have a massive influence and consequently any sex differences that culture ‘demands’.

Kitty Sadler, author of the article, replies

Thanks for your comment. As you said, I think this point moves us further into the debate about the nature of sex and gender. For me, sex is not naturally cultural, and although we have these socially established ‘gender’ cultures, these do not have the same influence on speech patterns as more tight-knit cultural groups like the examples you gave, perhaps due to their being (arguably) less organic. I wonder if this view is highly influenced by my own feeling of not fitting into the ‘female’ stereotype.

After I wrote this article, I used Tannen’s and others’ ‘feminine’ linguistic features to do some investigations of my own, and found gender not to be a very coherent speech group (and culture). Instead, generation – in relation to the second-wave feminist movement and the ‘metrosexual’ trend of the 1990s – was the biggest determiner of a speech style.

From tom hulley

great piece and i loved your conclusion

hope you will shake up social sciences in future (i’m a social science lecturer)

From Mo Foster

I want to comment on Kitty Sadler’s excellent article.

I am what is known as a voluble woman, as is my friend. In a lift with several men on Monday discussing a film we had just seen we both joined the conversation, twice, they didn’t ‘hear’ us. My friend commented that our opinion clearly didn’t count.. nobody heard us again!!

End of lift ride..what is this phenomenon called? Great article Kitty.

From enid

I think we are different and that it doesn’t matter, because we are equal while being different. This old horse has been flogged too many times and feminists who think we are not different have read too many books and cannot see reality anymore. While we differ, we compliment each other and need to learn to respect those difference instead of trying to rationalise them away.

‘I’m 37 with enough stories for an 80 year old’, by Mary Pole

From Cycleboy

“(women’s) stories keep a completely different record of history to that of men’s stories”

This is undoubtedly true, as they have different life experiences.

However, I did not agree with the subsequent comment: “(women) are more compassionate towards history .. In my perspective their words count more than men. Reconciliation must be feminised.”

This is a very bleak outlook on humanity as it is very binary. Perhaps those men who have written history are less compassionate. Or maybe the compassionate men’s stories have not been handed down because of the bull-headed aggression of certain men who supress those stories.

I sincerely hope that compassion and assertiveness are not solely the domains of women or men, but aspects of everyone’s character. Perhaps we should be acknowledging them in whichever sex they appear.

From Bora Kanber

Turkey is NOT the successor of ottoman empire. You just want to believe so! The founders of Turkey were taken as enemies by the last governors of ottoman empire and they tried to kill of them. Turkey fought against ottoman empire to create itself and finally won, removed ottoman empire and created modern Turkey. How can an enemy of ottoman empire, which fought against it, be the successor of it? It is just, you want to believe so, that’s it. Turkey is not the successor of ottoman empire and in no way inherited anything of ottoman empire (including the claimed-genocide). International powers want to invent “a genocide against Armenians” and attach it to Turkey. Turkey is not responsible of what international powers want.

Equal pay and the fight for equality in the workplace, by Michelle Gordon

From Jennifer Drew

Michelle Gordon makes a number of erroneous claims. One is the claim that ‘family wage’ was instigated because it enabled men to provide for their families.

In fact the concept of the ‘family wage’ arose because men single and married were incensed that innumerable women were undertaking work at less pay rates than men and in effect supposedly denying men their ‘rightful entitlement to paid work.’

The male-dominated Trades Unions were not women-friendly but deliberately used the pseudo claim that women and girls must be protected from working in hazardous conditions and supported legislation barring women and girls from undertaking certain work. The male dominated Trades Unions won and succeeded in driving women and girls out of employment and neatly ensured men retained their hold over work which was considered to be ‘male only professions.’

The concept of ‘family wage’ is a deliberate tactic used by men in order to keep women out of the workplace. This is despite fact not all men are/were married and not all women either were/are married. Women have always worked and until the rise of the Industrial Revolution the notion of ‘family wage’ did not exist. Instead vast numbers of working class women engaged in paid work either by running their own businesses/working alongside male colleagues or working on their own.

See page 198 of Women In European Culture and Society by Deborah Simonton which provides a detailed analysis of the deliberate male-centric politics used to exclude working class women from earning a reasonable income and lifting them out of poverty.

Reason why the occupation bin man (sic) is considered to be more highly valued that a mere female classroom assistant is because whatever is deeemed to be ‘men’s work’ is considered to be more highly valued and more skilled than mere so-called ‘women’s work.’

This is why equal pay for equal work is not working because it is how our male supremacist society defines what is ‘valued work.’

An example of how work is classifed as ‘male only’ – when typewriters were invented they were deemed to be too technical for mere women and hence only men were employed to operate the typewriters, but swiftly men realised that women have ‘more nimble fingers’ than men and with the rise of office work men moved into managerial positions and the women entered offices as typists – note they were just ‘typists’ not skilled workers. The pay for these women workers was decreased because they could not possibly be paid a ‘man’s wage’ since the work they undertook was ‘women’s work not mens.’ That is just one example of innumerable examples whereby whenever women are employed they are still considered to be undertaking work which is less skilled than a ‘man’s occupation or work.’

Male supremacist system constantly changes the definition of how work is to be valued and it always ensures that men continue to be paid more than women because men’s work is supposedly more valued by our male supremacist society than mere women’s work.

That is where the concept of ‘pin money’ comes from – it was because women were clustered in occupations such as making clothes and they engaged in sewing the clothes together. Men however who worked in the clothing trade were deemed to be engaged in more ‘valued’ work and hence that is why most tailors were male not female.

That too explains why female nurses are considered to be less ‘valued’ than the male-dominant medical doctors because nursing is supposedly innate to women and hence less valued than so-called male occupations. Yes men have entered nursing but they are the ones predominantly in managerial roles not women.

So the issue of Equal Pay is more complex than simply claiming ‘women and men should be paid equally for equal work.’ It is how our male supremacist society defines what is and is not ‘valued work’ and remember ‘valued work’ is always defined from the male-centric perspective.

Then too there is the fact individual women have to challenge their employers and given women do not hold equal power and rights as men this means if a woman challenges her male employer she risks being perceived as a ‘troublemaker’ and will not be employed elsewhere. Trade Unions were originally created to protect working men’s rights and they deeply resented women being accorded any employment rights. Trade Unions continue to be male-dominated and focused primarily on their male members’ rights with women members’ issues still being ignored/dismissed as not as important as the man and his right (sic) to a family wage.

Michelle Gordon, author of the article, replies

Thank you for your points, I don’t necessarily disagree with you about the family wage. My article was not about the history of the trade union movement and its attitude towards women, however you will note that I specifically said that there was a debate to be had about whether the family wage was actually discriminatory and then outlined some of the prejudice’s which flowed from it.

In relation to your comments on the ‘value’ of work, I agree that society has an inbuilt prejudice in relation to the relative value of so-called men’s and women’s work, which was largely the purpose of the article. However over recent decades the success of numerous equal value and work rated as equivalent claims demonstrates that the existing albeit imperfect legal method of evaluation does help us to prove the discrimination.

We have differing views on the trade union movement and how valuable the Equal Pay Act is. However my priority was ultimately to argue that we have succeeded in winning claims (not as many as we would like, under imperfect legislation) but it is a legal right and we should support women to do so.

From Charlotte Revely

Re Equal Pay – great article and a subject close to my heart as a PCS trade union member. I took an equal pay claim against my employer when I realised that two men employed at exactly the same time as me, to do exactly the same job were being paid £8000 more. I discovered a number of other female colleagues in the same boat and we settled on a pay increase but without back pay. This must be about as straighforward as it gets but my union were surprisingly reluctant to pursue it believing it was not typical. I think you would be surprised if you looked at sectors like government to find equal pay for the same job is still not a given. Much of this arises from starting salary negotiations. sometimes because women don’t ask but in my case I did ask (as did my colleague) and we were refused whilst the men were awarded higher starting pay. I can only assume that they thought nice girls shouldn’t ask!

I get so angry when I hear that the low paid female employees in local govt should realise that they are casuing cuts in services etc by asking for pay parity. They have been robbed of what is rightfully theirs over many years and the longer term pension implications mean it will be for many more years to come. Good luck with your campaigning – all power to you!

Michelle Gordon, author of the article, replies

I think you are right there are real issues in industries where there are individual pay negotiations and also in industries like the finance sector where there are large bonuses and no transparency.

From Mia

I like the article regarding equal pay very interesting though i think their are a few fallacies within it. The biggest one is that childcare does not pay well, my child minding sister would disagree since she gets a *lot* of money for the children she minds. As does teaching pay well, for it’s teachers.

Teaching assistants admittedly not so, and this should very much be rectified as with the other mentioned jobs-however the comparison of jobs and pay that you’ve used doesn’t work. All those ‘male dominated jobs’ listed, which are also open to women (i should know one of my female cousin’s works on the train lines and the other on the roads), those jobs are better paid because they are classified more hazardous and highrisk and often rely on shift work which *always* pays better. Despite PPE the chances are a binman could injure themselves notonly draging and lifting refuse but also by sharps, a road worker could be knocked down by a poor driver. Not to mention they work very early (in case of bin men) and all through he night for road workers, shift work such as this always pays well. Just look at the pay of those working for the Underground, a close friend started at 34k and after a years trainign she’s now on 36k- because she works unsociable hours and, again, it’s classified as high risks because of ASB.

There does need to be more done regarding better pay in certain jobs, which is why all people should join a union-regardless of their job. That way they have someone to help them fight for these things. There is a *lot* of blackmailing towards all lower paid staff though, and certainly not just in those jobs. In the NHS for example, it’s seen as ‘wrong’ to ask for incriments in some areas because they are struggling with their budgets. In my first job we were actively discouraged with comments such as ‘if we pay you more that’s one less patient a day we can help’- guilting us. This has, obviously, got worse since the recession. However this is happening to everyone, you only have to look at the news to see Public sector workers having pay freezes and some companies dropping wages rather than make redundancies.

So I think it broils down to the unions. Whether female or male, regardless of your job, you won’t get far enough trying to fight without a unions back-simply because the unions have the power, resources and skill to actually help their people negotiate.

Michelle Gordon, author of the article, replies

Thank you so much for your response to my article. Obviously I completely agree with the sentiments regarding trade union membership. Just a few small points in response, the comparative job roles that I used are equal pay claims in which we can demonstrate comparative job value. Also the argument about physical demands has often developed out of discrimination. Often women dominated roles are considered not physical but if you look at jobs like carers and teaching assistants in specialist schools they can be very physical jobs.

Also I have excluded clearly defined shift pay and there is still an inequality because of the bonuses. There are also large numbers of women dominated jobs in particular leisure and hospitality which rarely if ever attract shift pay.

From Robert Knight

Thanks for that article; an interesting read

From Axel

‘Why is a cleaner paid less than a refuse collector’ ?

…because working the bins is a lot harder!

The question should be. ‘Why are there so few female refuse collectors

Michelle Gordon, author of the article, replies

Thank you for your comments, however it is an employer’s responsibility to demonstrate that their pay structure is not disciminatory and it is not up to the trade unions to do their job for them.

From Axel

The ‘bonus system’ is the nub of the matter. Certain jobs deserve more pay and the only way around this was to introduce bonii, which were all locally negotiated by the Union on an individual council basis.

We are all Grade 2s, some of us are lucky because they should be Grade 1s, some of us are lucky in different ways because our bonus gives us ‘parity’ with what we would be paid in a better organised world.

I loved working the buckets, the bonus was great, a lot better than the bonus for being a road sweeper, which in turn was better than being a school cleaner, which got no bonus at all.

And we were all Grade 2s.

The problem is the lazy incompotent unions, who could’nt be bothered to impose a better pay structure

Michelle Gordon, author of the article, replies

Thanks for your comments again. As someone who represents both refuse collectors and cleaners I think they are both extremely hard and valuable jobs often in different ways. It is also possible to demonstrate that they are of equal value through well established job evaluation schemes although possibly scoring different points for different factors.

From Carl

Rates of pay are intrinsically linked to the worker’s Marginal Revenue Product, Labour Market Elasticity et al, therefore, stating that a cleaner should be paid the same amount as a refuse collector or a teaching assistant the same as a road worker is nonsensical due to the fundamental differences between the roles, i.e., the skillset required to work in the role, the amount of work and desirability of the work etc and their respective effects upon the economy.

Teaching assistants are paid so little because they require no qualifications and the role is not physically demanding (

Road Workers have to be trained in a number of different areas such as operating machinery, installing cat’s eyes and street lamps etc. The role is also physically demanding and dangerous, this drives down the number of willing applicants which in turn drives up demand and thus wage amounts.

Another factor driving up the wage of road workers et al is the wage rate of equal jobs in the private sector. If the MRP of the labour type increases due to supply and demand you can expect the wage in the public sector to follow suit as it becomes increasingly difficult to attract the labour.

Bonuses are paid to workers in jobs where it is an important part of the business model, i.e., if leaving a job, for example, the repair of a highway would cost more to the economy than paying X amount of workers ?X to complete the job then it becomes a necessity to do so. It makes no economic sense whatsoever to pay teaching assistants bonuses.

“In fact many of the roles predominately undertaken by women require commitment over and above the tasks and hours strictly speaking paid for.”

That is illegal. The only thing you are committed to by law is the amount of labour you agreed to provide in the contract that you signed at the start of your employment.

I think the argument of the author is entirely misguided. We shouldn’t be thinking about how we can increase the wage rate or the amount of bonuses paid to people in roles typically dominated by women we should be finding ways of eliminating gender dominated roles in the first place. We should be looking at why there aren’t more female refuse collectors or road workers. If the sole reason behind the lack of women in these roles is genuinely down to the fact that women (in general) are not interested in undertaking this form of employment then that is an excusable reason, at least in part, for the gender pay gap. If, however, the reason is patriarchal then the issue should be pursued and dealt with to the full extent of the law.

I’m sure the author could file a Freedom of Information Act request to the local authorities to determine the number of female applicants to refuse collection vacancies over the past few years. I for one would be interested to see the results.

Michelle Gordon, author of the article, replies

Thank you for your comments on my article. I am sure that local authority employers up and down the country are extremely grateful for the time you have spent attempting to think up excuses for their discriminatory practices.

However, as you would expect, we have looked into explanations about skill level and market value and there is little or no evidence to back it up. Hence why large numbers of local authorities up and down the country are settling the claims.

I am not sure how much detailed knowledge you have of local authority job roles but to suggest that there are no unskilled workers working on Britain’s roads is an interesting point, as is the concept of teaching assistants not having physical job roles something which would be easily disproved by you spending a day with a TA working in a specialist unit with violent teenagers who require restraint.

Also I recognise your unwavering faith in capitalism. However I think there is a real value to society and men in particular to challenging the undervaluing of women’s roles. Imagine a world where men or women took up mainly caring roles not because of the value the market placed on looking after the elderly but because they were caring people who felt they could support and help the most vulnerable in society. It would be wonderful and about as realistic as the world you describe in which it is illegal to work more hours than you are contracted to.

Wigs, lipstick and alcohol: review of the BBC’s Silk, by Abby O’Reilly

From Jem Bloomfield

Excellent piece, many thanks for this analysis. I’ve just watched the last episode, and was staggered at the ending, in which at the pinnacle of Martha’s career, the script gives her a speech about how a legal chambers is a “family”. Without wishing to extrapolate from one scene, is this the only thing the series imagines a woman can bring to the legal profession: the stereotypical virtues of a femininity which “keeps the family together” and urges everyone to “just get on”?

More serious, I think, is the way in which Martha is shown endorsing the specific notion of “family” which the head clerk has been putting forward. As research work on organisations like the Royal Shakespeare Company has suggested, when an institution is described as in these terms, it is too often a veiled demand that female members adopt “supporting” roles and sacrifice their own goals for the supposed good of the “family”. (That common “good” to be determined by the senior male members of the group, obviously.) Despite some strong performances, this series (and particularly the conclusion) does little to question the gender inequality of the legal profession, and society at large.

More to Mills and Boon than this, a review by Mathilda Gregory

From Nandini

I found your article particularly interesting as I am deeply interested in the impact of the M&B Romance on Indian women (I live and work in Calcutta). The intriguing thing is that M&B provides a double escape for Indian women- fantasy love AND the same in a first-world scenario.

Forget the Dude: this is a woman’s story, a review by Taraneh Ghajar Jerven

From Yeomanpip

A great post, and Thank you for triggering a memory of the original, which for me came at the right time.

I wrote about it here:

From Jenny Walker

I just wanted to point out that, as feminists, I believe we have a responsibility to others who suffer oppression, which is why I feel so strongly about animal rights. In True Grit, due to their use of horses practically the entire film, including some scenes which were stressful for the horse in question, those rights were violated. Animals should not be used as entertainment, including their use in films. The cannot give their consent.

From Brigid Keely

Thanks for your article/review of “True Grit,” especially for pointing out that Mattie Ross is the main character and it is HER journey (both into the wilderness for revenge/justice and her maturing) that is central to the story. A few points, though: The Coen brothers didn’t “make” Cogburn and LaBoef buffoons, their characters are taken pretty well from the original book, as is the dialog and Mattie telling the book in flash back from an adult (unmarried by choice) POV. It’s also interesting that as much as Mattie comments about her mother’s ignorance (and Mattie’s lack of a brother close to her in age might well have something to do with her own level of education), her mom has the grit/gumption (at least in the book) to sit with her during her arm amputation “without flinching.” In other words, she’s capable of doing dirty jobs that need doing, just as Mattie is. It’s a really interesting book.

Breaking the silence around miscarriage, by Emelyn Thomas

From Alan

I work with bereaved people, and find it shocking that there is so little public dialogue about miscarriage. I think with some (stupid!) people there is an element of blaming there – that perhaps the mother did something wrong. Even with that, it is sad that people can’t speak freely about such a traumatic event. Mind you, public dialogue about bereavement in general seems to be less accepted as time passes. A great article, thank you for it.

From Joana Andrade

I had a similar experience to Emelyn and was surprised that most people would not understand why I was feeling down. I think for most of them a phoetus isn’t a real baby…but for me it was. I was also very surprised that a few of my friends had gone through the same…and everyone just kept quiet

From Jane

I was very sorry to hear about Emelyn’s miscarriage, but I’m surprised she thinks it’s something we don’t talk about. Maybe it’s true of our mothers generation who didn’t have access to such early knowledge of their pregnancy (you can find out four or five days before your period is even due now) but when I miscarried four years ago I didn’t feel I was breaking a taboo by talking about it. My friends and family were very supportive. The only thing that really upset me was when the nurse confirmed that I’d miscarried she said: ‘I’m sorry but the products of conception have left the womb’. I found the language used to be very cold and technical. My body had gone from being a tender incubator to a briskly efficient disposal unit, clearing out not a baby but the ‘products of conception.’ The Miscarriage Association is also an excellent organisation and I found them to be a huge source of comfort.

Emelyn Thomas, author of the article, replies

Thanks for sharing your story! I’m sorry for your loss, but I am glad that you had a support network to help you during such a difficult time. I totally agree with you that the language surrounding miscarriage can be horrible. I know that in a purely technical sense there is a need for clarity and unambiguous terminology. So, for example, referring to the lost pregnancy as a baby can be inappropriate. But that is certainly not how I was thinking. I lost my baby! And when people used such impersonal language it felt like they were belittling my grief (although I’m sure that wasn’t their intention). I still struggle a find the right words, but some of the medical jargon is difficult. I particularly dislike “products of conception”, no matter how accurate it may be.

Thanks you also for bringing up the (Miscarriage Association). They provide fantastic support and information. In Scotland there is also (Scottish Care and Information on Miscarriages), who are also fantastic.

From Horry

Thank you for your article – this is something which really needed to be said. I imagine you will get a lot of personal responses to it. Well, whether or not you have time to read it, this is mine.

My first pregnancy in 2006 ended in miscarriage at 10 weeks. The circumstances were not quite the same as yours – I was aware several days earlier that something may be wrong (complete loss of symptoms), then bled a little and stopped, but finally miscarried spontaneously – either way, it was nothing like the portrayal of miscarriage you might see on TV (someone trots along all happy and excited, experiences sudden pain and bleeding and has “lost the baby” straight away – like you, I had a lot more false hope and horrible uncertainty to contend with first). In terms of how it all related to my job, I was also in a different position to you – at nine weeks pregnant I was interviewed for a job at a rival company, and received an offer one week after the miscarriage. To that extent, I wasn’t worried about telling people in my workplace what had happened as I was leaving anyhow.

At the same time, my boss tried to use it as a reason to make me stay (“if you want a baby, you won’t be able to get pregnant straight away when you start at the next place, it’d ruin your prospects”). I reasoned that as I wanted both a better job and a baby, but with the latter now seeming an uncertainty, I had nothing to lose and might as well go for both. So I did. I changed employers, got pregnant again in my first month at my new role, had a baby, got pregnant again four months after returning from maternity leave – and was promoted three weeks after returning from my second bout of leave. So I was lucky – I brazened it out and was fortunate enough to work with people who saw my long-term worth. But realistically, I don’t know what other choice an ambitious woman who also wants children can make.

I remember soon after the miscarriage, while serving my notice, hearing colleagues who didn’t know about my loss rant about how much maternity leave a woman in their department was taking, as though raising a child was some kind of work avoidance wheeze. I felt like screaming “don’t you realise how common miscarriage is? Don’t you realise we women can’t be expected to sacrifice our futures for something that might never happen? Should I have a long-term career plan or not, seeing as in your world I’m either a breeder or a worker, and I’m not even sure I can ever be the former?” But sadly, I said nothing.

I value articles like yours as I think the silence surrounding miscarriage is the worst thing about it. You feel so alone, yet at the same time you’re aware of the statistics and how horrendously common it is. And yet to that extent there’s also the “why make such a big deal of it?” issue. I encountered older women who suggested I was only upset because “everyone finds out so early with these over-the-counter pregnancy tests”. As if in the past women were passing embryos left, right and centre without even noticing. As if women such as you and I didn’t experience real, life-changing symptoms. As if miscarriage itself doesn’t hurt (one friend asked me if it was like “a heavy period”. Well, no. Having since had children, I can say that for me it was worse than full-term labour, because the combination of physical pain and grief – physical pain that is your grief – is unbelievably harsh). Miscarriage is so common, yet so awful, that people don’t want to deal with the embarrassment of it in everyday life (yet make such a fuss over abortion – an unwanted embryo evidently so much more valued than a wanted one). In my subsequent pregnancies, I’ve made sure to tell colleagues early on – before the twelve-week mark – what is happening, because I want them to know how much it matters to me, so that they know that this isn’t just a physical condition, but, as far as I’m concerned, my future.

I wish you well. I know that perhaps nothing I can say will make your own pain go away. Except perhaps that you will have helped many women feel better and less alone by writing your piece.

Emelyn Thomas, author of the article, replies

Thank you for sharing your story!

The TV depiction of miscarriage really is wrong. I miscarried again in November (the first was February 2010), this time just days before the 12 week mark. Similar to you, I had a few horrible days of light bleeding and uncertainty before miscarrying spontaneously. I wish I had known beforehand what to expect (I had heard the “it’s just like a heavy period” line too). I certainly didn’t expect the hours of sheer agony. It does help to hear your story and to know that I’m not overreacting. As you said, some people seem to think that women were passing embryos left, right and centre without even noticing, when it can be life-changing.

I’m really glad that the work situation worked out for you! After two years of trying (so far), I know that I can’t put my career on hold. It is great to hear stories of people who made it all work! Having to listen to people complain about colleagues taking maternity leave must have been awful. It is very hard to speak up and attitudes like they were espousing make it even harder. I’m hoping that men will get (and take up) increased parental leave so that those sort of attitudes will fall by the way side, but I suspect that is a long way off.

From Anonymous

Thanks you for your honesty, and I am truly sorry for your loss, it sounds Awful. I think you were very brave to write the article. Miscarriage is truly heartbreaking and people totally underestimate the amount of time needed to grieve after a miscarriage. You are quite right that women have no rights in this area. I have been through it multiple times, I am trying IVF. I have to say it is a NIGHTMARE verging on a living hell, because you need a scan twice per week, blood test twice per week, daily injections and a day off to collect the eggs, followed by another day off to implant the embryo. And it typically fails multiple times before it works, so you have to think of excuses to be off work multiple times, and fit in the scans and tests… it is utterly heinous. When it doesn’t work you need to grieve but of course you are not entitled to any time off and have no protection. I cannot tell my employer because I agree w you- if I were pregnant I’d have rights and be protected. But as a woman who they know is trying to get pregnant, I have no rights and if I told them I’d be first in line to be made redundant. It is so heartbreaking to have the pressure, physical and mental anguish of IVF and have no rights and no rules to protect me.

I wish you best of luck and hope you succeed in your quest for a baby

The case against all-women shortlists: the alternative route to participatory democracy…, by Jane Watkinson

From maggie

While you are keen to highlight the shortcomings of all women shortlists, you present little in the way of addressing how you would replace them. How about reinforcing the positive outcomes of all women shortlists:

In place because without them women wouldn’t get picked. No matter how good they were.

It educates men that women are ignored in the political spectrum. That’s why all women short lists are in place.

Women are not a minority. Men rely on their vote, as much as women do.

I’m not prepared to drop all women short lists (which are usually in safe opposition seats anyway), because I’ll probably be long dead before women are seen as equals to men when it comes to the political sphere.

Jane Watkinson, author of the article, replies


Thanks for the comment. In terms of how to overcome their use, focusing on changes such as childcare reform and challenging the neoliberal structures (and the cuts that are occurring now) are central to challenging the inequalities on political participation.

Women have made great progress with improving their representation within politics largely without all-women short lists. It can create hostility and fail to bring attention to the real reasons women are unrepresented.

As I said in the blog, I believe citizen-style assemblies are the way forward, there are problems with the current voting system, AV, and even PR will have problems with its party lists. I think there are problems with the time the change will take, as you note, but women have been fighting for centuries to change the power structures and so we should be focusing upon the long-term gains of consistent more radical change, than short-term illusions of change.

Venezuela is a great example, as women’s organisation was often undermined through party politics and state traditional gender roles, the key is to mobilise primarily civil society to further challenge ideas around women and politics and the actual opportunities women have as they are too often confined within the private sphere due to gender assumptions. All-women shortlists only cover this reality, and do little to challenge it.

Dreamers of a New Day: Women Who Invented the 20th Century, a review by Kirsty Doole

From sianushka

i saw her speak last year, she is amazing. a really inspirational woman, and it sounds like her book is packed with them too.

Comments on older features and reviews

Students offer a glimmer of hope, by Lisa Ansell

From LonerGrrrl

I really enjoyed this article, Lisa and felt quite hopeful myself on reading it. It’s more important than ever to be calling out those in politics, the media, corporations etc who are doing so much damage to our country, our communities, and our lives, including that of future generations. To remain hopeful and believe we can change things is so important, but even more so right now & it’s good to see these Oxford students relating their own struggles to that of others in the wider community.

Global feminism(s)?, by Sarah Jones

From Amanda

Hi Sarah,

First of all, I’d like to congratulate you on the amazing work you’re doing; truly inspiring. I’m a mature student currently doing my undergraduate dissertation on Islamic Feminism and perceptions of the global feminist movement. My findings thus far have, not unsurprisingly, centred upon how we come to define women’s rights and freedoms. If we are to consider a global feminist movement, how do we collectively approach and negotiate differences, and even perhaps conflict, between definitions of feminism, of what it is to be a woman, which will vary across cultures and ethnic groups? How do we create a global feminist movement that respects diversity, yet avoids the pluralist trap wherein the protection of women may be compromised in an effort to be inclusive of religious, ethnic and cultural diversity? How do we find a balance between the old colonial white Western feminism, with its ethos of ‘rescuing’ women from the East, and an approach that ensures we don’t accept women living in conditions that we would not ourselves tolerate? Interesting questions; wonder if anyone had thoughts…

Punk women write back, by Cazz Blase

From Tony Beesley

Saw my first book (Our Generation) mentioned on your site, thanks! You may be interested in its 2 follow up books – ‘Out of Control’ and ‘This is Our Generation calling’. Not sure if they would be classed as delving any deeper into the women in rock role side of things, but there are some great accounts from Punk girls as well as photos of the Slits, Siouxsie, Pauline Murray etc. Must say, I also loved reading Zoe Howe’s superb book on the Slits.

Feminist or misogynist?, a review by Melanie Newman

From Gabriela Salazar

This is a wonderful analysis of the books and movies! Thank you for putting into words what I so desperately wanted to say. I’m forwarding this to everyone I know.

Embarrassing Teenage Bodies advocates cosmetic labiaplasty, a review by Bellavita

From Andrew

I just wanted to say, that I’d seen this episode (or a similar one with an older woman) and was also disgusted at the Drs attitude. The labia were NOT ‘abnormal’ at all. Also, i have seen a lot of ‘porn’ and would have to say, it is only ‘hollywoodised’ porn that features ‘slit type’ vulvas, and that most amateur porn has ALL kinds of women. In fact, given I’d only seen pictures before a real woman, I actually PREFERRED the bigger look. (lucky my first GF had that look) ^_^

Cookie Party! (Death of the Elephant, Stella Zine and Ste McCabe), a review by Hayley Foster da Silva

From Stella Zine

Thank you Haley & the F-Word for the Kind words & brill review of my show with the revolutionary Ste McCabe & the Fabulous ‘Death of an Elephant’!!! Touring in the UK, meeting & playing with such amazing feminists of all genders was wonderful & i had an ACE time! It was soo cool to play to people that ‘Get it’ & are validated by the desire to elevate the lives of all wimin, queers & allies through punk, art and other forms of cultural activism. Haleys’ piece was right on, It was great she made mention of my pieces on sexworker human rights issues & of my gender bending sex-positive performance art. I also loved that she acknowledged how important it is to see men such as Ste McCabe in the feminist scene. It is so true, because other men need to see examples of how to participate!!! I think many men, queer & straight, actually would like to participate more in an honorable way but don’t know how. it is essential they are part of the movement too!

i would also like to point out that I’m actually from ATl. the American south. :-)

during the the 90’s i did play with every riot grrrl & queercore band from Olympia, Portland & SF that toured to ATL. (such as Sleater Kinney, the Need & Tribe 8) and I also toured with bands from Olympia & Portland. And I played in Olympia during the 1st generation of the riot grrrl movement. i get mistaken for being from Oly alot because of my involvement with Riot Grrrl. I point this out (that I’m from Ga.) to say that anyone can start a grrrl revolution from where ever you are planted. Important Riot Grrrl activity in 90’s was going on in lots of places. I first heard the message about riot grrrl in 1992 from a zine created by grrls from a riot grrrl chapter that was from the UK from Leeds!!!! For our scene, in Ga. the revolution ricochet from Olympia, to the UK, then back to the American south! I found out about this amazing revolution originating in my own country from a xeroxed zine from brilliant UK grrrls!!! and that zine was THE blueprint for me starting the first riot grrl/queercore band from the US south & for me starting the 1st riot grrrl chapter that occured in ATL. and helped to ignite a scene there. So the UK will always hold a special place in my heart!

Thanks again Haley for your insightful feminist consciousness and kind words!

And Bravo to the F-Word I LOVE your on-line zine!!!!

From melanie

I knew Stella Zine in Atlanta. It’s nice to know she is still making


Are you feminist enough?, by Annika Spalding

From Emily

Re: Annika Spalding’s article on how to be a feminist and speak up in the real world – I was really pleased to read this. I find this a problem frequently, often censoring myself so that I don’t become a bore to people but being quietly irritated by being called ‘sweetie’ every five minutes by colleagues. I did at least recently request a different dentist at my practice, partly because the one I had wasn’t very thorough but actually to be honest, more because he kept saying “Good girl” to me when I’d done something impressive like… spit into the sink. Thanks for keeping it real about how it’s not really accepted to stand up for being an adult female still without being asked if you’re going to burn your bra.

A woman engineer, by Hayley Martin

From raffles

awards should be taken with a pinch of NaCl.. shame..,_due_to_appear_on_7_Oct_2009,_looks_like_a_fraud,_internal_docs,_Aurora,_2007-2009/

it’s a shame as i have witnessed a marked improvement at my workplace since it changed to purely male to around fifty/fifty, after all the product we supply is consumed by a similar ratio. the chaps are behaving themselves. still i the games in terms succession, that’s a different matter – still the rugger game going on there. how do we change that?

Back to burlesque, by Chloe Emmott

From maria de lourdes

I am just getting sick with this idea that to be reduced as a sexual object is power to women;this is power to the american and european women.Try to read about other cultures where this rauch idea of women´s sexuality is not associated with female power.Female power is to be able to create culture,to produce science,to be a competent comunity leader and has nothing to do with dancing half-naked in front of men.Burlesque men was stariric,hwy burlesque women are sexual objects?

It is sad to see women bullshinting in this way,using glamourous words to justify it.Try to read about non-white cultures and see what we,women from other ethinic groups want for ourselves and i hope it will help you to see that no women in this world is men´s toy,no matter her race.

A question of (sexism in) sport, by Natalie Davis

From Sarah Westall

I have to say that male athletes are being measured more on looks than ever before. Perfect example is David Beckham. His almost naked, toned body was in the middle of time square and on bus billboards advertising under wear. It was a very sexual ad campaign. He has received more attention in the United States for his looks than for his soccer skills. Andy Roddick, the tennis star, also suffers from this a bit

‘Hasn’t anybody ever told you a handful is enough?’, by Samara Ginsberg

From Jessica Metaneira

I’m sorry, and angry, that you were treated so disrespectfully. I hate that being obviously female seems to be synonymous with being fair game for sexual harassment, and that it is the woman’s fault, as if she chose to have big breasts and could take them off at will if she wanted. It makes me sick.

Glamour models made me sick, by Hannah Whittaker

From Jeff

Regarding “glamor models make me sick” I was actually a bit surprised that Lucy Pinder was specifically pointed out. In fact, I was kind of blown away.

Everyone is aware that Ms. Pinder is known pretty much for her breasts, and that they’re natural in an industry of implants.

However, if one actually looks at her photos, a great number of them aren’t air brushed to the extent most models are.

I admit I’ve looked at my share of her photo shoots and one thing I’ve noticed frequently is that she seems more realistic and natural than other models because her pock marks and stretch marks are actually pretty noticeable in a lot of photos.

So while I agree with the lie that glamor magazines perpetuate and that the average male’s perception of women is likely skewed because of it, I have actually found Lucy Pinder more attractive because of the images that don’t cover up her imperfections.

I’m not sure how many of her photos do and don’t airbrush, but I thought it worth mentioning that she isn’t the image of perfection in all her photos and that there are guys out there who appreciate the more realistic representation of those photos that keep the imperfections there.

Can burlesque be feminist?, by Chloe Emmott

From Angela Rowland

I appreciated your article and think it was well written, but I still have remaining uncertainty around burlesque. I think my main concerns gravitate around two central questions: 1. If it is about female liberation and empowering female sexuality, does it need to be so public and why does it tend to still be for males or a male audience? 2. I have a theory that only women that at least somewhat fit the mainstream beauty standard are confident enough to do it, but I could be wrong..? I would love to see picture of you to see if I’m right though…Check out this article for another perspective…as per post-modern thought-what one person finds liberating, another finds degrading…

I must admit I have watched quite a bit burlesque now being initially intrigued, but overwhelmingly it did seem like nothing more than accesorized stripping to me, which turned me off partaking. The last time I watched it was with my boyfriend and the dancer was a young model. I was left feeling somewhat uncomfortable/ uneasy/ inadequate..the display certainly didn’t liberate my sexuality :( sadly…which may relate to my own self-worth issues, but if it is not something that is found to be liberating for the audience of women… then what does that say?

Oh, Mr Darcy!, by Sheryl Plant

From Aaron Walton

I was curious as to why women find Mr. Darcy, of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” so attractive, and stumbled upon your site. Your article described him as a “town womaniser or ‘badboy.'” Perhaps he is shown that way in the Colin Firth film adaptation; I have not seen it. I do know, however, that he was quite the opposite in the original work. Rather than a womanizer, he is said to have never had any interest in any woman at all until meeting Elizabeth. When he met her, he was clearly the one first falling for her, and was almost entirely helpless against her even when she had absolutely no interest in him whatsoever (in the first half or so of the book). Far from a helpless girl charmed by a “bad boy,” Elizabeth was almost scornful of him at first. I must honestly wonder if the author of this article had even ever read the book at all.

‘It’s not RAPE rape’, by Amity Reed

From c smith

Thank you for this article. When this happened to me 12 years ago there was no one to turn too. It was extremly traumatizing for me as well as my husband who initialy was resentfull of the baby because of this (don’t worry that did not last long and then he placed the blame where it belonged)

I remember feeling so desperat and alone, i felt deminised to something less then human, without a voice or meaning. My O.b wanted to punish me for attempting a homebirth, i was literally told this and i was asked afterwards if i learned my lesson now.

Every time i refused something she either tried to get my husband to give permission in my place (the o.b. would talk over my head like i was not there, and would tell him he had the right to make the decision for me she was just going to note down that i was incoherent and could not be questioned) and when he refused to play along she did it anyway. She almost killed my baby. After it was all over she turned my case over to the hospitals risk managment right away. She knew she did something wrong and reprehensible. My umbilical cord was to short. I presented at the hospital with the baby crowning and my contractions coming every min and lasting about 2 min. I was admitted, she came in found out i was a homebirth and the baby had been crowning for an hour by now. My midwife informed her of this fact and that the baby was stuck. She decided that i needed pitocin in increasing amounts (my contractions were strong and steady the whole time even the nurses confirmed this) regardless of what the midwife recommended, a vacuum or forcepts. Then she was going to put me on pennecillin, i refused i have a bracelet, i will go into shock this was diagnosed by an m.d. She approched my husband to override me with the words :”these women do not know anything you are rational let me put her on a drip” he refused.

She left for an hour, now my baby has been crowning for over 2 hours. She returns states that i am weak and useless and she’ll have to do all the work today. Forcepts are used, she did not cut me so i tear and she pulls the baby out who now has respatory distress. The placenta tore in 2 one piece came with the umbilical cord wich was only 4 1/2 inches long and the rest came 28 min later my midwife and my husband inspected it (i could see the clock) no note was made of this in her report, no d and c was ever performed. No painkillers were provided i did request them after about a half hour because that is when i started losing hope that anybody was going to help me, i was informed that i needed to learn a lesson and no the dr was not going to let me have any. After our baby was born she and some of the nurses asked if i learned my lesson now and would come to the hospital for my next birth. The next day the nurse refused to let me hold my baby if she was not present. She also feed her a bottle against our wishes, we were breastfeeding. My husband finally forbade her to enter my room. The O.b filled a complaint against my midwife, when the state investigator came out and interviewed me, he recommended that i file a complaint against the o.b and told me we would win.

We did she is not delivering anymore she voluntarly gave that up if the state would drop the complaint. She is still a gyno.

To this day i have not had a papsmear or seen another dr for anything. I did not realise this so much till the article. Thank you for letting me vent i am sorry for any rambeling or spelling issues this is still very invasive for me

Painful vagina? Your poor husband!, by S

From angela

Bravo to you! I am going through the same thing. Intercourse is so painful that I can’t stand it. Unfortunately, my husband isn’t as sympathetic. He “requires” vaginal intercourse at least 3x per week and puts so much importance on this act that he has threatened to abandon our marriage and our 3 children. I know it’s frustrating for him, but it’s frustrating for me too. I’ve tried other means to satisfy him and it works for a little while but then it just isn’t enough. He has said that until we can have vaginal intercourse with me enjoying it, it won’t be enough. Talk about pressure! I’ve tried every treatment short of surgery (which we couldn’t afford anyway) to no avail. I love my husband and I know he loves me, but I’m afraid he loves his penis more than he loves his family. I wish he could place that kind of importance on our wonderful family, the house I clean everyday, the meals I cook or, really, anything but his penis. My world doesn’t revolve around it and I wish our relationship didn’t either. I feel awful, but I can’t beat myself up everyday about it. Thank you for your article. It gives me hope that there are men out there that can be understanding.

New feature: Breastfeeding: radical, feminist and good for you, by Kate Joester

From Natalia Bermudez

I want to thank Katie Joester for her article on Breastfeeding. I am a mother of two and the article spoke to me like nothing else I have read in a long time. It is a great comfort to know that there are women out their going though what I go through now. I have been very lucky with breastfeeding and it was never a problem nor difficult, plus I live in Norway where it is much more socially accepted to do it literally anywhere. What spoke to me was the idea of realising that even if you may be nothing else, no professional, no career woman, not even a member of the society you live in (being a dark foreign woman) , I can still be proud of being who I am simply because I sustain the life of two other beautiful girls. As you say, I have gained a new sense of myself, one which made me part of my own feminist analysis. Thank you

Are women and girls vulnerable?, by Jennifer Drew

From F

Nail on the head.

But then I will never believe that indoctrinated definitions of ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ (and it’s resulting exacting of supremecism of one over the other) aren’t largely to blame for male-on-female hate crime – I’d like to see an acceptance that ‘masculinity’ does not and has never, ever belonged to men and ‘femininity’ does not belong to women. So then I wonder often why refer to a cornered set of traits as ‘masculine’ at all? They do not belong to men. They are of course innate and natural in anybody regardless of genital possession and type. I just find terms like ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ utterly obselete.

Feminism and Popular Culture, by Sarah New

From Shannon Frye

The backlash Sarah New speaks of is happening everywhere. In the bad ol’ U.S., one cannot pick up a magazine or turn on their television without being bombarded by images and messages that can only be described as virulently misogynistic.

I’m taking a class at the University of Toledo entitled “Girlhood and Adolescence”, which seeks to understand the phenomenon of growing up as a girl in the U.S. What is most shocking isn’t that the teen fiction we’ve read has been rife with irresponsible sexual practices, nor is it that the films we’ve viewed seem to exist in a world where people of color – along with non-skinny, poor, etc. – do not exist; what frightens me most is that the young women in my class, many of whom are still the major consumers of this media, don’t even realize how damaging this culture can be to girls and women until we pick it apart in an academic setting.

Continue the good work! I love that you all are contributing to the global discussion of feminism in such a thought-provoking way.

Stand Up For Equality, by Kadie Armstrong

From Eleanor

This is an issue I feel strongly about. I am a lover of comedy. I love watching stand up and when trying to engage friends in conversation about some of my favourite female comedians, Shappi Khorsandi, Sarah Millican and Ava Vidal, I am annoyed to hear them discredited because they only make ‘women’s jokes.’

I will turn around to them and say, “and male comedians make ‘men’s jokes!'” Personally, I like my comedy clean, simply for the fact that clever humour is more engaging than bawdy humour, in my opinion. So, the number of jokes male comedians have made about ‘BJ’s gets on my nerves. I don’t find it funny, and I find it infuriating that these jokes about men’s sexual satisfaction are not considered ‘men’s jokes’. You would think that this points out a certain squeamishness in society still for women’s topics (many people complain about jokes about periods and pregnancy) but then, I remember that many male comedians will talk at length about their wive’s giving birth and making jokes about the trials and tribulations of pregnancy.

Freud and many others have written books about how revealing humour can be, and I think the author of this article is right to point out the hypocrisy that still exists in the comedy world.

‘Feminists are Sexist’, by Catherine Redfern

From George

To quote:

“If you’re ever accused of being sexist for being a feminist, I suggest dealing with it in this way.

1. If they seem genuine, point out that feminists actually do agree that stereotyping of men is wrong (duh, that’s the whole point of feminism – that men are trained to be a certain way and women are trained to be the opposite, and mainstream culture supports this process)…”

This is hilarious. The reponse I got to me saying that feminism was silly, needless (because times have changed) and hypocritical was “Well, you’re a man”. Childishly repeated. This was coming from a so called feminist. And I’d like to mention that most feminists I’ve encountered act like men are dirt. Like the don’t deserve women. That sound REALLY hypocritical to me.

You all act like you’re hard done, or you can’t find a place in society. And that there’s a huge sense of misogyny governing the World. You’re wrong. There are plenty of women in power. There are plenty of women doctors, lawyers, etc. as in plenty of women in typical “professional”

areas of work.

And I don’t understand this advertisements mistreat women baloney… They choose to be in those ads? They have that sexual hold over men (and potentially women) so what’s the problem. They’re using their initiative and getting paid truckloads of money to do a simple ad.

Get over yourselves. Everyone’s equal now. You just like to think you’re hard done by.

From Tali


I just read ‘Feminists are Sexist’ by Catherine Redfern. I’d love to send her a message of solidarity:

Cathrine, you say

“I’m sick to the back teeth, sick and tired, of feminists being accused of sexism and hypocrisy unless we spend exactly half of our time and resources pointing out every instance of how ‘patriarchy hurts men too’. Gay rights activists aren’t expected to spend half their time campaigning for heterosexuals. Anti-racism activists aren’t expected to spend ages campaigning on behalf of white people. Yet its a different story with feminism, isn’t it? The most infuriating thing about this is that – as regular readers will know – I do think that feminism is important for men as well as women and I encourage both men and women to critique

mainstream masculinity as well as femininity. But that doesn’t mean that I think that every single instance of feminist activism has to be prefaced with a disclaimer about how this also benefits men. Frankly, I’m getting a little bored of it. I believe it strongly, but there’s only so many times I am forced to repeat it before it gets a little wearing and I start to wonder why I have to keep doing it in the first place.”

I know exactly where you’re coming from, as a feminist activist, of course, but I think you underestimate the banality of evil. As an Israeli-citizen activist against the occupation of the Palestinian people and as such an anti-racist activist, it’s almost impossible to speak with Israelis or even the world Jewry, without expressing the “this is for you, too” bottom line. It gets even more intense with cases such as the butchering of 2 settlers and their 3 babies, that happened this Friday. A decent person would stop for a moment and NOT imagine me doing the moonwalk on these human being’s graves. But it seems that anything but joining in the Lieberman party-line won’t satisfy the “opposing team”. You can’t win when ethics are so easily twisted in the sexist/racist/homophob’s head. Keep on doing what you’re doing, because you do it so well! :)

From Henry

Yeah there’s the little problem of this word “equality” that you’ve been hitting us over the head with for the last 100 years or so, as against your apparent lack of concern as to whether it exists or not.

It’s the same for women who say they want “equality for women”, as if you can have that in a vaccuum…

You’re opinion that feminism benefits men is just that – your opinion, not very well thought out. Tell fathers who can’t see their children pay for their schooling that (tell them how much power they have while you’re at it!)

Also:”Part of being a feminist is accepting that people should not assume they can speak on behalf of other people.” Is just hilarious. ALL feminists sooner or later lecture you on what feminism is ‘about’. I’ve yet to meet one who doesn’t

Miss Naked Beauty UK: more degrading than Miss World?, by Claire Mercer

From S

Fantastic article!!! Made me alugh alot, you are SO right. I just wish the nation would wake and and realise the hypocrisy of such shows.

The Incredibles, by Ms Razorblade

From biologyguy

I don’t disagree with many of your remarks about The Incredibles… I do question your conclusion that movie suggest that the ideal man beats up women. Were I restrained in a torture device, being tortured while I listened to my wife and children be killed… and a woman is standing by, not protesting, not doing anything to stop either the torture or the killing of my family… and that same woman lured me into the situation in the first place… I think I, too, might be a little pissed. Should the opportunity arise, I might even hit a woman. THAT woman.