Sunday, April 27, 2008

Orang-Utans Vs Doves?!

Remember how much effort Dove beauty products have been going to to convince us to celebrate our "real" beauty? Here's one thing I think we can all agree is just naturally beautiful ... the Indonesian rainforest (pictured in case you were unsure). So what is Dove doing to celebrate this beauty? That would be it - systematically destroying it to provide palm oil for their "real beauty" products. Greenpeace are on the case and you can join their campaign here. I also suggest - stop buying Dove products (in general ethical beauty products are relatively easy to find, so why not?).

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Women's Rights Under Attack Everywhere

Both sides of the Atlantic women's reproductive rights are under fire at the moment. In the Us I was horrified to read that women in Oklahoma who wish to have an abortion will be subjected to compulsory ultrasounds - in some cases vaginal ultrasound. Now I have a word for someone who puts something into a woman's vagina without her consent: RAPIST. And by my definition that state of Oklahoma right now fits that definition. Sadly I don't know what people can do to try to fight this new law aside fromt he usual letter-writing and generally making a fuss.

In the UK however we can see the next assault on women's reproductive rights coming and we can do something. It seems that the Human Cloning and Embryology Bill is likely to have an amendment proposed which would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks (the current limit is 24 weeks). And we can definitely do something to prevent this going through. Abortion Rights are organising a mass lobby of parliament. It's on May 7th and if you'd like to be involved you can. Here's what to do: Firstly check out the information here. Secondly drop your MP a line telling them you'll be at the mass lobby and asking for an appointment to speak to them. You could actually be speaking to your MP in parliament about this issue. That has to have an impact, so please join us if you can. I am currently volunteering some of my time to help the team out with preparation for this one. Do let me know if you know of people or groups who would like more info who might consider coming along, we want to make a really big impact.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Is America Ready For a Misogynist President?

This man could genuinely be the President of the US some time soon... How scary is that? If you have the opportunity to do anything to stop that happening, please do.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hillary, Boris and Media Sexism

This Alternet article is really worth a read. Making the point that sexism is so comfortably tolerated in the media these days. I noticed that last week when Silvio Berlusconi suggested there were too many women in the Spanish parliament the reaction even in supposedly left-wing media was to do articles asking "Who's winning the battle for women in politics?" posting a few interviews with female politicians against a series of misogynist quotes from Berlusconi and others. Surely the question that should have been asked is "What is this prejudiced idiot doing in power?".

This suitably ridiculous piece from the Independent stands as a case in point. On the pretext of imagining what would happen if women ruled the world they allow misogynists like Terence Blacker to call women dull and humourless. And Dan Snow is given the opportunity to suggest that women left in charge in the past have some sort of bad track record (using such scientific methods as claiming Louis XV was "egged on by his mistress") and of course they trot out Adrian Hamilton to tell us women already are in charge. And if that's true it's rather benevolent of us to be in charge but insist on taking 17% less pay than our male minions. Although one positive take-out from the article is that Janet Street Porter should probably be prime minister the next time we get the chance to install one.

I would make the comparative point that a politician who was openly racist wouldn't get many votes. But then I would have been forgetting about Boris Johnson. And for good measure he's misogynist and homophobic too. Oh and an idiot.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Polygamy and Abuse

I found this series of video clips on CNN very interesting. Interviews with escapees from polygamist cults and those still involved with the compound at the centre of the recent FLDS (a kind of Mormonism) raid. And some more, also from CNN. Personally I am horrified that people are allowed to mistreat children in this way and that nothings been done about it for so long.

What is strange for me about the coverage is how much of it focuses on the subject of polygamy. I am not all that horrified by polygamy. Obviously in this case it's been a marker for a number of other types of abuse, but in general taking more than one consenting wife or consenting husband (polyandry) is not something I care much about. Lots of people maintain several relationships at the same time and as long as all concerned parties know what is going on I don't see anything wrong with that. For me multiple marriage is no more or less of a crime than having multiple partners and multiple families, the relationships themselves are what is important, not their legal status.

And the focus on the "horror" of polygamy for me is a distraction from the obvious follow-up question: How many other insular communities are getting away with mistreatment of their women and children in this way too? What about those who abuse children and force young girls into early marriage but do not have multiple partners? Is that somehow ok?

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Thud Thud Thud

Friend sent me this link to a helmet for children learning to walk - so they won't bump their heads... Now of course if your child has a medical condition such as severe epilepsy or something that causes the scull to be particularly prone to damage, fair enough. But really this is going too far otherwise. Kids bump their heads and then they figure out "ah jumping of the sofa head first is a bad idea" and then they don't do it again. I know some people say they wrap their kids in cotton wool - surely this is taking it a bit literally.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Blog-Roll Deletion

I like to keep my links and so on as open as I can - keep as wide a range of people as reasonably possible involved in the debate and I've always linked to Mind The Gap Cardiff, thought it was a great site. Recently I've noticed a few things:

1) Only one author (Zenobia) is still writing there. Fine if it's good interesting stuff but...

2) Harsh criticism of the other feminist blogs - claiming they don't pay enough attention to racism and classism, which is odd considering they're a feminist blog, you could argue that to focus on anything other than women's issues is beyond their remit. One particular recent post criticises the F-Word for saying they have been "losing sleep" over allegations of homophobia. Surely if they had responded saying that such allegations "didn't bother them at all", that would be a lot more worrying. And also criticism of myself in the comments section over at Brown Femi Power blog - the main criticism apparently being that I went on holiday to Africa in 2005... I have responded on there, rather than going through it all again here.

3) No comments sections any more. This is particularly an issue for me on posts where others are harshly criticised. To attack others for not being open enough to debate and others views while having no comments on your own blog is just downright hypocritical.

So adios MTGC. If anyone out there wants to be added to the blogroll then just let me know - more the merrier, I always like to highlight interesting stuff.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

I'd Rather Go Naked Than Support Misogyny

A few years ago there was an anti-racism campaign that featured Ken Livingston saying "Would i still be mayor if i was Asian?" and then CGI effects made him look Asian. And various other dignitaries with similar remarks and CGI-effect racial morphings. The advert, which was on TV, included a "glamour" model (Gail Porter?) saying "Would I still be as cheeky if I was Chinese?" and then Peter Stringfellow (pictured*) going "Would I still be as irresistible if I was black?" and I was wondering "Would you still run a club where women are objectified and abused if you were a woman?". But of course if I dared complain about the advert I was instantly informed by all parties that I was racist...

Today Julie Bindel in The Guardian asks exactly that question: Why do we have to put up with misogyny when it's for charidee?

*Apologies if you were drinking coffee and are now going to have to pay for a new computer screen.

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Stephen King Fans Pay Attention

Two proper horror stories out of the recent news. Firstly (via the F-Word) in the UK a woman who (alleges she) was drugged and gang-raped by a group of teenagers. Now I've put the "alleges" bit in brackets because the evidence to support her case is fairly conclusive. The youths videoed themselves raping her and put it up on YouTube. The clip has, of course, been taken down now but the Wimbledon Guardian says in the footage she appears to be unconscious and that the youths grin and laugh into the camera. Now I know whenever we have a rape case come up there is someone around who will be in a hurry to dismiss it as "her word against his" or "impossible to prove", but this isn't such a case, the evidence is as good as it gets. Video footage of the incident. What more could you ask for. So are the police busy prosecuting the youths? No - they would be busy arresting the woman for having sex with a minor (while she was unconscious) and putting her on the Child Protection Register which means her kids could be taken away.

Secondly in Iraq (from Alternet), another defence contractor worker has been raped and then told to keep quiet. Nothing is being done to investigate, etc. Which just goes to show (a) what a bad idea contracting private companies to work in Iraq is and (b) what some guys whose minds have been warped by war will do given the chance. Worse still she has little choice but to go back to work - if she doesn't she's been told she'll have to pay for her own flights home, etc. Too disgusting to think about.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Busy Cru-blog Day

My article on the Human Embryology and Cloning Bill is up today on the Liberal Conspiracy site. Loads of comments mostly supportive but with a few saying I'm too harsh on religious people... And it's kindof a fair point. But here's the problem with religion - any other movement: feminism, liberalism, conservatism, whatever is likely to be led by someone from that group whose view represent an average of the members. Religions are led my the MOST religious person, i.e the biggest nutter who then gives the rest a bad name. Anyway do chip in on the debate if you care...

I went along today to the launch of the Fawcett Society Sexism and the City campaign. Very interesting to hear from the speakers they had. They had Polly Courtney, author of Golden Handcuffs, a woman who had worked as a cleaner on ridiculously low pay and a woman who had worked as a lap-dancer in a bar near the city. The lap-dancer was the most shocking to hear from. She described the "no touching" rule as "a joke" and explained how she paid to perform, often came home having lost money, she also talked about there being no-one in the bar she could trust or turn to if there was a problem and how the work had affected her self esteem.

The launch finished with a speech from Tessa Jowell. Odd considering she's Minister for the Olympics, Harriet Harman is Minister for Women. Ms Jowell attempted to shoe-horn in some nonsense about the Olympics providing opportunities for women to get into construction. What annoyed me was every time she spoke about discrimination against women she seemed to be focussed on maternity pay, GCSE choices, confidence, etc. Fortunately I got a chance to ask a question (ended up being the last question) so I asked what she and the government were doing or could do to address not the difficulties of women taking maternity leave or needing flexible hours or making bad choices but the problem of women without children of dependents who had made all the right choices and still weren't getting equal pay and promotions, i.e. the problem of straightforward original SEXISM! Well the question went down very well and got me a big round of applause. Sadly Ms Jowell didn't actually answer it. She suggested I form a network with other women so that I wouldn't feel isolated, which was kind of odd since I was sat in a room with a couple of hundred other women who also care about the issue, so I've really got that covered. Anyway women in the city wouldn't feel isolated if there were more of them, would they! And anyway who is campaigning to an end to feeling a bit isolated? I thought we were after equal pay, equal promotions and equal opportunities... Sadly the format of the event didn't allow for me to grab the minister by the lapels and shake her til she agreed gender pay audits were a good idea. Ho hum.

Finally tonight I was on BBC Radio Five Live's Phil Williams show (click here, scroll down to Phil Williams and click to listen again, then you'll want to scroll through to the second hour of the show) with Holly Combe from the F-Word and journalist Vince Graff talking about whether we'd rather be a man or a woman. And in spite of it all, as I said to the team, I wouldn't take a magic sex-change pill if someone offered me one. Obviously we talked about longer life expectancy and multiple orgasms (or failing that at least longer-lasting orgasms, twice as many sex organ nerve endings, etc), but also about how much "lad" culture hurts men. Guys who feel like they can't express their feelings, can't look after themselves properly, that homophobic, misogynist culture of you-have-to-drink-27-pints-of-lager-or-you're-gay-you-big-girl... Strangely enough pretty much everyone agreed that men have a great deal to gain from feminism too.

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