The Freedom Trashcan 2002

We chuck loads of stuff into the trashcan.

Catherine Redfern, 16 March 2002

As it's the first anniversary of The F-Word, I thought it was a good idea to have an article which everyone could contribute to. My idea was this:

In 1968 feminists protested at the Miss America pageant and brought attention to the Women's Liberation Movement. Attracting the most publicity was the symbolic "freedom trash can" - into which women threw various items, protesting what Miss America represented: false eyelashes, wigs, curlers, magazines like Ladies Home Journal and Playboy, high heels, and girdles...

Contrary to popular myth, NO BRAS WERE BURNED!!!!

But in 2002, what would feminists throw into a "freedom trash can" if they could?

To find out I asked the people who subscribe to The F-Word mailing list to contribute their thoughts. All subscribers were encouraged to contribute, whether male, female, UK or non-UK based, and any age. I asked subscribers to send me lists of things they'd REALLY like to get rid of and why - it could be anything; everyday items, symbolic stuff, tv shows or even people... kinda like a feminist ROOM 101.

Offered the chance to rant without the effort of writing a whole article, many people wrote back and the results are below.

So, does this tell us anything about the state of modern feminism and the difference with the second-wave? I doubt it, as it was just a bit of fun! But it's interesting to note that four items made a reappearance in our updated "trashcan": high heels, porn, women's magazines, and yes, would you believe it, BRAS.

Some things never change. Enjoy. :-)

What I'd like to get rid of and why:

  1. So-called "women's" magazines (Marie-Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Bliss, Seventeen ... Because it still supports some terrible clichés about women, their status, how they are expected to behave, what they should wear in order to please/excite men.
  2. Pornography because the woman is there just for the pleasure of the men. He does what he wants, no matter if she likes it or not. (Some X-rated movies done by women have another approach - a more equal one - but those are still marginal. Ovidie in France is one of those people who can actually produce such a movie.)
  3. TV-shows where women who have a sexy career (models, strip-teasers, dancers ...) and a high-level of education (e.g. graduates) are presented like an anomaly. Presenter and audience's normal reaction: "Oh God, brain and tits together? How come?"
  4. The aesthetic values of the female body and therefore the belief that "The further from the natural a female form, the more feminine it is." (Germaine Greer in The Whole Woman). Wrinkles, cellulite, varicose veins, baldness and so on are OK for a man, but a woman has to hide it. Every female body should be accepted as it is. Our "imperfections" are not imperfections but differences.
  5. The idea that there is a chief of family and that it should be the father. Wrong: nobody is the chief of a family.
  6. All the people that do not realise that women represent half of the world population and thus, that our day-to-day inputs, efforts, activities are needed. Our presence is needed, but not as an inferior presence.

Anais Foucart

I would throw in Britney, most beer drinking porn buying lads, and brain dead people who started the whole negative feelings towards feminists

Mags

I would like to contribute to the trash can... All those "porn" junk email messages with some really nasty subject lines about women that I receive all the time. Oh, I might as well throw out the people that send to me too. lol. ;-)

James

What we would like to throw into the Freedom Trash Can in the U.S.:

Ramblin' Rose, says she would like to throw away men's right to vote. When I asked her why, she said, "Because it would change so many things for the better in one fell swoop. I mean, think of the power dynamics! If men weren't allowed to vote we'd eradicate war. No, come to think of it, the only way to eradicate war is to eradicate men. But disenfranchising them is a step in the right direction. Anyway, there are a couple of them that I would miss."

"...But seriously, to joke about eradicating anyone at all is no joke at all. Making threats in any way, shape, or form, is not funny, when they might be taken seriously by others. I don't believe in eradicating anyone. It was irresponsible to say something I don't believe. Threatening people, even if said jokingly, is still making a threat; so, it was a very stupid joke. Also, disenfranchising anyone from voting is never right, nor a real solution.

But, I do believe this. If we could throw away one thing, I would choose to throw away everyone's desire for war. I would throw out the desire for war and substitute in everyone and in EVERY society a different desire--that we each would stop condoning war as an acceptable way for men to grow up: or an acceptable way to do business; and, stop condoning war as an acceptable way of resolving conflict. It is time for all human society to grow up."

Lynn Cicada thinks about Medicaid cuts in funding for poor women's abortions, cuts in funding in her state for grandmothers raising their own grandchildren, the spread of the "War Against Terrorism" to us all if nuclear weapons are used, and the threat now looming over the heads of the people of Iraq. She can love her country, and grieve with the victims of the September 11th attacks, and still not hate Other people's countries.

But Lynn Cicada would like to throw away all the causes for women's fear, and there are SOOOO Many!

Lynn Cicada & Ramblin' Rose

If I had a 'Freedom Trash Can' I'd throw in -

  • The National Front
  • Male Fashion Designers
  • All pornography
  • Thongs & high leg knickers
  • Wonder bras, balcony bras & any other cleavage enhancer
  • Cosmetic surgery & surgeons
  • Silicone/saline breast implants
  • The Sun's page three
  • Jordan!!!
  • Weight Watchers, Slimming World & any other diet company.
  • Books/magazines about dieting.
  • Female pop stars especially the ones who dress like schoolgirls or wear next to nothing.
  • Supermodels.
  • VAT on tampons & sanitary towels

That's about it for now, but i'm sure there's much more!!!!

Adele Sheerman

  1. Sexist record shop assistants. Everytime I go record shopping with my male friend, I'm made so angry by the shop asistants who will happily talk above my head to my male friend despite the fact that I know much more about music than he does. Obviously they find it hard to understand that a girl could be into something they think is limited to their little boys club.
  2. Men who claim to be feminists when they're actually not.
  3. Men calling women bitches, slags, slappers etc. I have never met a man not to do this and it makes me sick.
  4. Men invading my personal space. Some men feel that it's their right to touch you, kiss you, hug you when clearly you don't want them to do. I'm upset by a society that dictates that we should just smile sweetly. I vote that we give them a good kicking!
  5. The NME for denying that women in music exist.
  6. Unequal pay for women.
  7. Magazines that teach us how to plaese our men. I would rather please myself!

Jane Collins

I'd put those idiotic lads magazines in - like Loaded and FHM - the sort of stuff that lads crave to affirm their masculinity in a world where sexuality is so depended upon as the last retreat of misogyny.

Sniff

  1. Womens magazines, mens magazines, celebriting magazines, in fact just about all mainstream magazines! Would say why but I don't have a spare decade, I'm sure most people know why!
  2. High heels: pointless, uncomfortable, make an annoying sound, and generally stoopid!
  3. Scallies: Salford locals who attack anyone not like them. since September I've been involved in 4 attacks involving egging, brick throwing, big sticks, stabbing and being shot! Why? Because I'm a "fucking goth"!
  4. Professional sports, expecially football: think of the amount of money 1 footballer gets from 1 game, then think of what he does will that money. Now think of the same amount of money being given to a small 3rd world village and imaging what they would do with it! Who deserves it more? But who gets it time and time again? That's just 1 footballer and 1 game, now imaging all the footballers and all the games, now all the other professional sports! Get where I'm coming from? The world would be a better place without these things!
  5. Commercialised music: also unfairly eating up the money like sports. Plus, all this pop shit is about the money, whereas the riot grrrl and other alternative music scene are in it a)for the music or b)to put across an important message. But what type of "musicians" are looked up to within society? Fair?
  6. Touts: they'll buy a ticket from you for £2 then sell it to the girl next to you for £20! Some say they're usefull because you can go to a sold out gig but if it wasn't for them the gig wouldn't be sold out and you would be able to buy at ticket at the normal price. Out side every gig should be someone arresting the touts and selling the tickets on at normal price with the money going to the right people. Then, the touts will be punished by the law and they would have lost loads of money from not being about to sell the tickets they brought! Horah!!

Kat

There are many things that could be viewed as oppressing females, but underwear is probably not one of them. No in my opinion the greatest terror comes from self help books. I once had a girlfriend who was plagued by them. It started off with just one of two, but before she knew what was happening to her she was analysing everything and everyone in an unmerited attempt to improve, not just herself, but the whole reaches of humanity.

They come in small brightly coloured packages promising wonderful improvements in your life, daring you to solve all your problems with a few choice paragraphs. What they are actually pervading is an infectious evil designed to reduce the world to a gibbering nuerotic paranoia. They spread fear of being incomplete, they are like a brasier with only one cup. Or a pair of y-fronts made of bio-degradable material.. I think...

Gandalf

My top 10 would be:

  1. The term 'weight problem' - weight is not a problem!
  2. The Catwalk and all who sail within her!
  3. Every misnomer ever attached to feminism.
  4. The worrying trend among young middle class males for who use liberal ideals to augment a backlash against (usually misrepresented) Feminist ideology. For example, the young, white, middle class, male who, when discussing feminist philosophy in a tutorial and talking about evidence that matriarchal societies existed, proclaimed the immortal phrase "When is our time going to come?". To which the only possible reply was - "Try the last 2000 years!"
  5. 'Sex in the City' - sorry but I think the heady connection of free sex and supposedly assertive behavior actually masks botoxed, aerobicised women in expensive dresses falling into so many of the stereotypes that the whole show proclaims to subvert. Seriously unimpressive - makes you wonder if the real structures we're fighting against really have changed...
  6. The Clinque Lady - White coats do not make anti-aging creams any more real - stop propagating such bollocks.
  7. My bra - I know a lot of women find bras really useful but having no breasts I really can't see the point of investing £20 in something which makes no material difference to me accept that it avoids comments from all sexes on the state of my lack of bra-ness! The logic just seems so circular!
  8. The fear and stigma attached to domestic violence - conversely, celebrate all the women who've stood up to it, and come through it.
  9. The woman who wrote 'The Submissive Wife' - she inspires fear and loathing in equal proportions.
  10. Apathy. Passion = change.

Rhiannon

  1. A syringe filled with botox
  2. Two breast 'implants'
  3. A rape alarm (to protest the fact that they are necessary)
  4. A jar full of 20p's (to symbolise the pay gap: women working full time earn on average only 80% of what men working full time earn - 20p less for every £1)
  5. Women's Magazines, for all the reasons expressed by everyone else (but then I'd sneak them out again later when no-one was looking - pop-culture junkie that I am!)
  6. The Sun, The News of the World, The Mirror, The Sunday Sport... (and all other crappy tabloid papers that think soft-core porn counts as "news"; who rage horror at paedophilia and then print a topless 16 year-old on the next page. Pah)

Catherine Redfern

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