Weekly round-up and open thread

Remember He’s just not that into you? This was an old dating advice book geared towards the following goal for the woman who happens to want a man: pretending she doesn’t so that the men who want her can pursue her. Well, today’s round-up kicks off with an article exposing the latest ‘cool girl’ phenomenon to embrace if you care enough about your image to go to a lot of convoluted effort to convince others that you don’t: the ‘Feral Girl Summer’ concept. (To be fair, this one seems to have roots in a glimmer of something more liberated than merely living a full ‘carefree’ life for the purpose of attracting pursuers, but its potential to turn our lives into mere performances to impress others seems sadly familiar.)

We also have some links on the topic of sex work, including a nod to last Thursday’s International Sex Workers’ Day and a follow-up on the story about decriminalisation in Belgium that we posted back in February. While we’re on the subject of sex work, Lissy has recently written up and published The F-Word’s position on sex worker discrimination, which underlines our team’s collective commitment to sex worker’s rights. Do please check it out! (We’ve been working to adhere to its principles for quite a while now, but wanted to make sure we got it right before publishing.)

This round-up also contains more stories about ongoing threats to bodily autonomy and increasingly cunning attempts from bullies to cloak these in the language of resistance to oppression (whether from those manipulating people not to have abortions or those attempting to curtail the number of gender transitions).

I’ll leave it to the links from here. As always, the selected articles haven’t been endorsed by the whole team. We do our best to add appropriate content notes, but some links may contain further upsetting details about oppression and injustice, so please click with caution. And if you notice we’ve missed out any important articles from the past week, let us know via the comment form at the bottom of this page…

This week’s links were sourced and compiled by Holly, with thanks to Lissy for contributions.

‘Feral Girl Summer’ is the latest dating trend to make single women feel inadequate (Olivia Petter, The Independent)
From the article: “Here’s when things get complicated. The feral girl summer is rooted in insouciance. Yes, it’s about female autonomy but fundamentally, it’s about not giving a f***. This attitude is similar to that perpetuated by the cool girl trope, a problematic yet seductive depiction of subdued femininity created for the male gaze. Both concepts exist as aspirational models of womanhood. The difference with the feral girl summer, though, is that it’s been disguised as feminism.”

Statistically, women are six times more likely to end up separated/divorced if they are diagnosed with a life threatening illness, than if their male partners were facing the same illness (Twitter thread, @ycsm1n)
Statistics from:
Gender disparity in the rate of partner abandonment in patients with serious medical illness (Michael J Glantz, Marc C Chamberlain, Qin Liu, Chung-Cheng Hsieh, Keith R Edwards, Alixis Van Horn and Lawrence Recht, Cancer [journal])
[Via National Library of Medicine]

How COVID-19 helped sex workers in Belgium make history (Joanna Gill, Thomson Reuters Foundation News)
From the article: “When Belgium’s new rules enter into force on June 1, sex workers should enjoy the same rights as other workers.

“Previously, landlords could charge exorbitant rents and banks shut down sex workers’ accounts, fearing prosecution for aiding sex work. This should change, and if not, the sex workers could sue them for discrimination, said [Daan] Bauwens [of sex worker union, Utsopi].”

India’s sex workers win new rights, but still fear police violence (Miriam Berger, The Washington Post)

Sex workers union raises £3k in bid to save Edinburgh strip clubs after council vote (Sarah Ward and Lynn Love, Daily Record)

International Sex Workers’ Day (NSWP: Global Network of Sex Work Projects)
From the article: “On 2 June 1975, approximately 100 sex workers occupied Saint-Nizier Church in Lyon, France, to express their anger about their criminalised and exploitative living conditions. They hung a banner from the steeple which read ‘Our children do not want their mothers to go to jail’, and launched a media campaign to broadcast their grievances to the world. Their action made national and international news headlines, started a strike that involved sex workers from all over France, and created a legacy of activism that is celebrated each year on International Sex Workers’ Day.”

Aspec Sex Workers (The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project)
From the article: “I hope more sex workers feel safe talking openly about sex work and being somewhere on the aspec spectrum, to be honest. I think there’s been a lot of stories wherein sex workers feel the need to overemphasize how much sex work hasn’t impacted their sex lives, because so often we’re fighting judgment from all sides. But it’s ok to engage in sex work and not be enthusiastic about the sex. It’s ok to be enthusiastic about the money. It’s ok to prefer the boundaries that are so explicit, often, in sex work to the grey areas of sex outside of that bubble. It’s ok to not be horny all the time.”

US Donors Are Helping Push Anti-Abortion Agendas in British Schools (Sophia Smith Galer, Vice)
[CN: threats to abortion rights, educational manipulation, use of feminism for anti-feminist ends, bodily control]
From the article: “Although coerced abortion does happen, experts believe that organisations such as SPUC are falsely inflating the issue to persuade individuals to support an anti-abortion agenda. On its website, information around coerced abortion does not reference the research that has said findings in this area ‘do not support the assertion that women are frequently coerced into abortions, but rather, that they are more often coerced into continuing a pregnancy.”

I’m Black. I Thought White Feminism Would Keep Abortion Safe (Erin Aubry Kaplan, Politico)
From the article: “…I was never compelled to write about abortion because, even up through this year, I refused to believe it was in any real danger of going away. It just didn’t compute. In the ’60s and early ’70s, the feminist movement fought hard to secure the constitutional guarantee of abortion rights. After 1973 the notion of professional, middle-class women going back to coat hangers, closeted medical procedures and trips out of the country seemed unthinkable, downright ridiculous. It would be like Black people after the ’60s agreeing to live under explicit Jim Crow laws again.”

Author with British citizenship barred from flight home to UK (Emine Sinmaz, The Guardian)

9 Activists Bringing Intersectionality to the Fight Against Oppression (Tess Lowery, Global Citizen)

New Netflix Series Savage Beauty Tackles The Global Colorism Complex (Ineye Komonibo, Refinery29)

The Sex Lives Of College Girls Captures The Difficulty Of Being A Working Class Student (Colette Fountain, Refinery29)
From the article: “Kimberly is routinely shown to be an outsider, alienated from her family by her college education and rich friends, and from her friends by her working class family. This is the condition of the working student: stuck in a permanent state of in-between.”

How to fight gentrification in the ends? Privatise the Mandem (Adele Walton, gal-dem)
From the article: “At first look, Privatise the Mandem’s Instagram page resembles a national equality thinktank, with clean-cut infographics breaking down industry jargon like “insourcing” with bold diagrams of key values. But with a deeper look, Privatise the Mandem reveals itself to be a grassroots project that is inspiring collectivist interests for a new housing movement based on community and agency, developed by one resident with a radical vision.”

Actress’ play about fatphobia and classism selected for Edinburgh Fringe – but she needs cash to go (Kristy Dawson, Chronicle Live)
From the article: “Rachel said that when she attended auditions people would ‘switch off’ after seeing her body and ask her if she had thought about dropping her accent. She said that she became so frustrated with how she was treated she decided to describe herself as a ‘fat, northern, benefit class actress’ on social media.”

“She said: ‘When I came into the industry I was constantly getting told “you’re fat, northern and female and you can only be two of them things.” I was only about 23 and I wanted to do well so I said ‘thank so much for the advice.’ In my late 20s I thought this isn’t advice so now I ask for ‘acting advice’.”

“Admittance Is Not The Same As Acceptance”: Classism, Oxford & Me (Louisa Reid, Vogue)
From the article: “I’d benefited from the Pygmalion effect: someone, somewhere along the line decided I was clever and told me to go for it and I rose to meet those high expectations. Until I hit my ceiling. Until my potential proved to be nothing more than base metal. Apparently, I lacked the alchemy of class.”

Feminist Ears (feministkilljoys)
[CN: sexual harassment, power imbalances, bullying]
From the article: “I was inspired to do this research after taking part in a series of enquiries into sexual harassment that had been prompted by a collective complaint lodged by students. I began working with the students in 2013, left my post and profession in 2016, started gathering testimonials in 2017 and published Complaint! in 2021…”

My advice to the new Cressida Dick: police violent men, not the women they abuse (Laura Bates, The Guardian)

The Johnny Depp–Amber Heard Verdict Is Chilling (Jessica Winter, The New Yorker)
[CN: misogynistic bias (media and public)]
From the article: “The accuser’s affect and presentation are somehow a more damning incrimination than, say, a video of her alleged abuser trashing a kitchen.”

The bleak spectacle of the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp trial (Michael Hobbes, The Present Age) [via Lissy]
[CN: misogynistic media coverage and discussion of VAW, bullying]
From the article: “In hindsight, the verdict came down the minute the judge allowed the case to be televised. Jurors weren’t sequestered or sheltered from the internet in any way, meaning they were likely exposed to the same bad-faith memes and out-of-context clips as everyone else. Plus, this case has been swirling around the internet for years, making an impartial jury an impossibility in the first place.”

Trans activism UK’s Response to the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (Laura Dale, Laurakbuzz.com)
[CN: transphobia, bullying]
From the article: “Seven months after our initial open letter to the BBC, we have finally received an official response from the Executive Complaints Committee, the top level of the BBC’s complaints procedure pipeline, regarding our issues with the article ‘We’re being pressured into sex by some trans women’ by Caroline Lowbridge.”

NHS publishes health advice for pregnant trans people after it had been blocked for almost a year (Patrick Strudwick, iNews)
From the article: “The whistleblower told i: ‘I feel relieved to see that they’re doing the right thing. But it’s a real shame that it took this [speaking to the media] for it to happen.

“‘It shows that there are still people working at NHS Digital who really care and who will advocate for minoritised groups.'”

A prominent “gender critical” activist is facing backlash after she called for a reduction in the number of trans people (Patrick Kelleher, PinkNews)
[CN: strong transphobia, disablist language]

Cotton Ceiling: Uncovering The Trans Conspiracy To Rape Lesbians (The Trans Advocate) [via Lissy]
[CN: strong transphobia, rape (in material being discussed); use of the term transwomen rather than trans women; fatphobic, racist, transphobic and disablist bigotry (in comments)]
From the article: “The idea of the ‘cotton ceiling’ is intended to draw attention to how even in spaces that are politically and socially welcoming of trans women, transphobia often retains its influence on how we understand who is sexually desirable and who isn’t. It’s no different from other politicized criteria for desirability—people who are, for instance, fat or disabled are also often welcomed into queer women’s space but not seen as desirable compared to those hot slim, muscular, able-bodied sorts.”
[From 2013, but still relevant!]

Some people think they would rather die than have help brushing their teeth – but care is not tragic (Lucy Webster, The Guardian) [Via @goldfish]
From the article: “For disabled people like me, care is brilliant, fulfilling and life-enabling. It is so good that lots of us are desperate to receive more of it, instead of wishing that we needed less. The choice is not between a life with care and a life without it, but between a life with care and no life at all.”

40 YA Books Showcasing Diverse Disability Representation (Epic Reads) [Via @goldfish]

Survey shows discrimination and abuse experienced by disabled fans at away matches (Jon Pring, Disability News Service)

British Actors Challenge Gendered Ageism Onscreen And Beyond Via Acting Your Age Campaign (Nancy Berk, Forbes)

The featured image shows a selection of liquorice allsorts against a white background: two long black liquorice rolls with white paste in the middle, two aniseed circles with balls of blue sugar on the outside, one pink liquorice-middled coconut circle on top of a yellow liquorice-middled coconut circle and one three layered white candy/liquorice/brown candy square on top of one three layered white candy/liquorice/orange candy square. This is by Jo Munday and is shared under a 2.0 Generic Creative Commons (2.0) license.

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