Comments from vApril 2006

Comments, arguments and crazy rants. We haven't got time to respond to all of them individually, but you can form your own opinions.

, 5 April 2006

From Mr Miller

RE: Natural Deodorants: Ammonium Alum is an aluminium salt so using it does not eliminate exposure to aluminium. It is ammonium aluminium sulphate. It is also an “inorganic” chemical compound so not correct to refer to it as “organic”.

From Jason

Thanks for the great article on natural/organic deodorants. It was very well thought out. I wanted to mention, because you asked if anyone had any other suggestions about what to use as a deodorant. I have been using plain, cheap white vinegar. I spray it under the arms and spread it around..or just squirt some on your hand and rub your armpits with it. I find that it lasts all day, even after heavy sweating (I live in Los Angeles so I sweat a lot here). And the vinegar smell goes away very quickly after no problem there either. Also, no stickiness or other issues. It can be used on any other part of the body that one tends to sweat a lot in also. Anyway..just wanted to share that with you. Thanks again for the great article. I have it saved in my files. Take care..and best wishes!

From Cate

Thanks for the great review of “He’s Just Not That Into You.” I’m with you – I’d rather know up front. Then again, I also have a PhD I’m unwilling to hide and I don’t lie about my age (47). :-)

From Lillian Adamson

Re: “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Thank you so much for your article, Holly! I have seen this Greg guy on T.V. The advice he gave on air was horrible. Having heard about the book before I was interested in what the guy had to say. Also, I was in the position of wondering about a guy and some weird circumstances and the pure shyness of us both to match our pure attraction. When I saw this Greg relating his info it made me feel like shit and think ” he is just not that into you”. When I came to senses I realized that this guy was probably GAY and yet again blaming women for the breakdown of communication or attraction.

From Shamila

Re the blog: “Wear Burqa lose benefits“. I live in the Netherlands and frequently experience discrimination from Muslim women (and it is always women) in burqas because I am not dressed like them. Comments such as “Western whore!” are unfortunately not unusual. Friends of mine have had similar experiences. One who lives in a suburb of Rotterdam slips a long mac over her shorts and t-shirt to go down to the corner shop on a hot summer’s day because otherwise some of her Muslim neighbours (again, it is always women) will spit at her and call her a whore. Who is oppressing who here? Some people want to exercise their religious freedom at the expense of everyone else.

Are people who have grown up in a society where women now take it for granted that they can engage in sport and unrestricted physical movement and do not have to hide their faces in public,not allowed to feel disturbed and offended by people who seem to want to return to the Dark Ages? What about the right NOT to wear a burqa?

From Denise Ryan

Re: “Wear Burqa lose benefits“. If some Muslim women in Holland are so determined to wear the burqa (and it’s not always the simplistic case that Muslim men force them to do so) why don’t they go and live in a country where it’s obligatory? Is it because they know if they did that they wouldn’t even have any unemployment benefits to lose? They could also forget “citizenship rights” because, being female, they wouldn’t be considered citizens.

I am fed up with the fuss about the right to wear this garment, when the vast majority of women (including myself) want the right NOT to and NEVER to have to wear it.

From Tom Sloan

Re: Citibank Photography Prize 2003: You are one negative person, i don’t think you understand photography and you probably should not go to photography exhibtions ever. Very poor article. Classic moaning feminism.

From Beth

I am a regular reader of your site, and am very appreciative of the articles posted here – which articulate my ideas in a way which i am not yet capable of doing. But to the point – i want to do something about the advertising of one particular shop – la senza – because when i saw their new advertising campaign it filled me with rage!!! I have written a letter to the advetising department but i feel i want to do more, and cannot think where to begin. The particular offending item is of a semi naked women, photographed from the back with a skirt on which is being blown up to expose her small lace pants. I do not want to see this, nor does my grandmother etc. Have you any ideas about where I can start to make an actual impact? Thankyou very much.

From Andrea

Re: Pretending That Men Aren’t Grown-Ups: So much easier to disregard the problem and blame the victim as opposed to be socially responsible member of society and not condone maltreatment at source. It is easier to cop out and attribute the problem to the person who is harmed, this lets the outside blamer off the hook. The victim gets victimised twice over and then looks like she deserves it to be treated badly. No samaritans around here…but hopefully people will come round to realise.

Maybe the new feminism needs to be called the new fe-men-ism to be all inclusive. No – fem-menism would be better.

From Anon

Re: Pretending That Men Aren’t Grown-Ups: I read this article with interest after a week where a police officer told me that if he were in my shoes he wouldnt have gone out at night to put the rubbish out. I did question how he, as a man, as a police officer could possibly put himself ‘in my shoes’ but got no anwers. I wonder if he would have said the same had I have been a man? an older woman? Teenager? or was it just because I’m a single woman in my early thirties that meant that going out after dark to put rubbish in my bin meant that I was asking to be assaulted?

From Emma Calloway

What a fabulous article from Rosa about Sara Cox’s comments [Attention Seeker]. I hope you sent the article to Sara Cox to make her think a bit more about what she is saying and her influence. Fantastic!

From Rosamund

In response to Sheryl Plant’s article on Grazia magazine, I agree it’s a ‘travesty’ that Grazia’s film reviewer doesn’t have a byline! And I’m glad she thinks I get it ‘spot-on’ every week. Thanks Sheryl!

From Stella

With reference to Catherine Redfern’s comments about Mandi Norwood’s view of how porn is viewed [Review of Sex and the Married Girl] I can comment from the horses mouth. Last night I discovered a completely offensive and degrading msg from a man left on a popular website to meet people. I was genuinely upset to receive this. Sadly, it is not the first time. I was so tempted to reply and say ‘hello Stella’ would have been far prefereable than bend over and see what you get….so you see…some women do not appreciate this.

From Ruth Michaelson

Catherine Redfern’s article “Sex and the Married Girl” picked up on the rather distressing trend within publishing now of the popularization of a sort of faux-feminism; for example the idea that buying lots of shoes is empowering and universal. What the quotations used really drew attention to was the subtle yet definitive emphasis on class; the “Married Girls” value themselves too highly to clean, and consider this feminism, yet think nothing of hiring a live in nanny, implying that feminism is only for those who can afford it. This extends to what I can only term reality blindness when addressing the issue of women in porn. Of course they think all the women in the porn industry love their jobs, that they must feel so empowered- they would think this because they believe themselves to be using the same tools to “get ahead”- the ever-popular “play into the male fantasy and you are in control” idea. These women probably think that while the women who work in porn are at work getting used like a piece of meat their children are at home being taught calculus and how to make olive loaf by a Czech live in nanny. If it’s so empowering, why aren’t they doing it then? The whole book sounds like people making excuses, as though they couldn’t quite grasp how feminism could adapt to the 21st century. Instead they decided to call their current practices feminism, to make it sound as though their casual assurances that buying lots of shoes and having a fuck-buddy were going to somehow further women’s development in society could actually amount to something.

From F-wordophile

Re: Sex and the Married Girl: Naomi Wolf’s review of this article in the Sunday Times on June 1 2003 was a little more telling. Her title: ‘The selfish wife: no model for the modern woman’, says it all. This could have been a really interesting book on why independent-minded women still might choose to get married. But Mandi Norwood just doesn’t even seem to recognise that this might be worth discussing. Instead it’s full of recommendations to put yourself first, refuse to compromise and never, never consider your husband’s feelings about anything. Ok, perhaps there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first in your relationship – but if it’s self-centred independence you’re after, why get married at all?

Some snippets of advice from Mandi: Offered a job on the other side of the world? Don’t discuss it with your husband, just go home and tell him you’re taking it regardless of what he thinks. He can either come with you or get lost. Feel like taking a year off to travel the world (using your joint savings to do it?). Don’t ask him how he feels, just give him a list of places you’re going. Invite him along, sure, but don’t make out you give a damn either way. And let him know that your destinations of choice are non-negotiable. If he has places he wants to go ‘you can talk about that’. Feel like having an affair? Go for it. Society says this is OK for husbands (apparently – though that’s news to me) so it’s OK for wives too.

The book finishes with a discussion of the ‘death fantasy’ where modern married women apparently daydream about what it would be like if their husbands were dead. Sure, they’d be upset, (kind of) but in a lot of ways, it’s actually quite a nice thought, isn’t it girls? That pretty much sums up the book.

From Laura

In reponse to Ellery’s article “Pictures are not everything: a response to ‘My Foetus” and the question ‘why our society doesn’t make better use of forms of ‘unforgettable’ contraception such as the Depo-Provera injection, the mini-coil which can be used by women who have not had children, the Mirena implant which provides up to five years of contraception’, I’d like to remind her of the ways in which these contraceptives (not including teh mini-coil) are routinely tested upon women in third world countries (namely Kenya, Uganda) for tiny ammounts of money in order that Western women and countries can reap the benefits.

Of course, it is not these contraveptives themselves that are to blame: it is the way in which they are manufactured and tested, but it seems that contraception follows the worrying trend of ‘choice’ for Western women at the expense of third world women who experience very little choice in the matter. A similar thing happens with shoes and clothing: such articles are produced en masse to a disposable market who apparently demand wide choice in the matter whilst they are produced in developing countries for less than 1 of their retail price.

There is also the point that these contraceptives do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases and carry more health risks with them than condoms (ie. increased risk of hyperactive and underactive thyroid, deep vein thrombosis, breast cancer and, less widely known about, polycycstic ovarian syndrome, endermetriosis and fibromyalgia).

I think Ellery makes the excellent point that current abortion discussion seems pointed around images of aborted feutuses (ie. ‘but at that point it’s got fingernails and toenails and a visible heartbeat’), as if something becomes morally reprehensible only as it becomes visible. I have a friend who recently, before having an abortion, was encouraged to watch pictures of the foetus on the hospital scanner. Despite the fact that such technology is quite estimated by some obstetricians to increase the risk of birth defects, such techniques are routinely used in some hospitals to give women a more ‘informed’ view about the foetus they are thinking of aborting. She said she felt insulted by the implication that she had not already considered what aborting the foetus meant or that she could not fully understand abortion’s implications until she had been shown a picture of the foetus developing in her uterus. She also raised the point: what about blind women? Are they inherantly less able to judge whether or not they want to abort foetuses because they will never be able to see them?

There is also the worrying quetsion: do we suppose that all wrongdoings are visible? What does that mean about atrocities that are never televised, photographed, recorded? Research shows that our disturbingly low rape convictions become higher when CCTV footage of events leading up to rape or the rape itself become available. The message is, something only happens if it is seen, otherwise it can be pushed under the carpet.

From John

u go girl ,it may strike u as absurd but we “males”are sick of having our familys ripped apart ,our lawfull wealth taken from us and being told we are of little value to our children in a society that gives more rights to woman than men .wake up ,smell the cheese sister. “men domimate”.fullstop. feminisem is its own worst enemy.we havent had to bring your movment down u have done it yourselfs.

From Anish (a male)

Re: Taboo For Who? (The origins of the word “Cunt”): (I must admit, I feel a bit uncomfortable with myself for using that word with a female complete stranger.)

I think you raise some good points here. However, personally, I think the word SHOULD be reserved as an exclamatory and be kept as the highest possible instance of profanity available. The reason being that, with the word comes great power; which is ironic, as the word is used for feminine descriptions, but its profane power is phallic. The “joy” of using the word [here in England] is easily justified: The pronunciation is short and sharp, like a bark; and similarly, the louder you say it, the more aggressive is becomes. From a male’s point of view this could be the attraction (Admittedly in such troubled times as is now, we should be less aggressive and violent, and more peaceful; but there are times when violence is the only answer). I myself was once horrified at its use… until I attended a non-private educational institute, where its use was in high frequency, and from both genders. After a month or so, I revelled in its usage, and continue to do so. Its sheer immensity is something to be marvelled at.

It remains the one word that will always be censored in the majority of the media (excluding the cinema and/or film industry), and this is something to be proud of. Females own the one word that is the most powerful of them all. It’s not sexist. Why should it be? Women are the higher gender! I know that, and so do many others. Am I demeaning the entire gender by using that word so recurrently? I don’t believe so. This is because I wield it, not because of its meaning, but rather because of the power that society has given it. I am a citizen of my society, and I have the right to use the power that society has bestowed upon us all. Militant as it may seem, it’s the only reasonable justification for its widespread use. Conclusively, the word should be kept as the most profound profanity, but not derogatory… Yours, thoughtfully, sincerely, and honestly,

From Helen Haricot

for the bloody disgrace article. thanks to whowever linked to my elinorsmums reusable menstrual products, I am happy for this to be used as a review if you like. the info was put up as a personal experience, and I’m not a seller, or in any way involved with any seller wrt commision etc etc so entirely unbiased!

From Sandra

Re: This is Rockbitch: hi! inspite of the fact that i´m from argentina i´m kind of interest on the subject as well. i do find it fascinating the way that this women find themselves and fight for their ideal…. before seing a video i was scared as one of them described becouse they felt dirty by seing that maybe they were more sexaholic than men. i do find it liberating the way that they assume they rol in sociaty and fight for their believes….. and yeah what the heck they do seem having a good time by themselves….. sory for my spellin i do hope that you understand what i mean. thank you.

From Emma Kidd

Re: Challenging the ‘Sex Sells’ Cliche: The publications that really worry me are those such as Zoo and Nuts, and the accompanying television adverts – with slogans such as “Women! Don’t expect any help on a Thursday!” – are also unacceptable. The objectification of women is in my opinion at its most rife and its most dangerous today, in a society that misguidedly believes gender inequality was conquered back in the 1970s. Sadly it wasn’t, and the work of many remarkable women is being forgotten, or worse ignored in the pursuit of a feminine ideal that is based purely on asthetics. This week the Observer women’s magazine – a publication which I don’t believe makes the most of a fantastic opportunity to reach and appeal to intelligent women – featured an article on the “new feminists”, one of whom poses naked in her attempts to garner press attention. It is women like this who are permitting the normalisation of pornography, and unless women like this stop blindly equating gratuitous nudity with liberation, we will never make any progress.

From Anon

Your article Challenging the ‘Sex Sells’ Cliche is timely and relevant. The current objectification of women is frightening along with the growing popularity of cosmetic surgery including designer vaginas and feet modified to fit into high heeled shoes. It feels hypocritical to lobby against female genital mutilation and footbinding in supposedly primitive societies when we have similar practices here in the so-called civilised world dressed up as cosmetic surgery.

You may find the following web links interesting. An article in Marie-Claire (May 2006, UK version) about men who have sex with dolls and readers’ responses to this article. I posted a response as “Meg” at the bottom of the page.
Link to the website of the doll factory ( The content is highly offensive – enter the abyss!

What frightened me most was the expressions on the doll’s faces – they are exactly the same as the expressions on the faces of women who have had botox. The doll’s mouth is merely an orifice for the gratification of the man who owns “her” and “she” does not talk back.

Do men want real women any more? In the future will humanity reproduce in a laboratory like in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” while grown-up little boys play with their dolls? Or will real women be relegated to breeding duties in a vast man-made hothouse, useful only for their reproductive years, after which they are euthanised or put to work as slaves? This is an extreme scenario, but the way things are going, not beyond the bounds of possibility.

From Lucy

Rachel Bell’s feature on Challenging the ‘Sex Sells’ Cliche really hit home to me, i’ve only just come across this site and the affect it has had on me has been great. I’ve struggled for a very long time trying to get people to understand and accept what i say as true and correct, i have fought in school, sixth form and relationships to make gentlemen grasp the danger and horrific consequences of pornography and it’s normalisation- but i was told yet and yet again that i was not only wrong but stupid and ignorant, that i was a weak female who knew nothing and had no right to an opinion. Every word in this feature tells me that i am right, that i am not the only one who will not bow down and submit. Thankyou Ms. Bell.

From Hannah Wilkes

Challenging the ‘Sex Sells’ Cliche: Thank you Rachel Bell for your article. I have recently dispaired at the seemingly unchecked rise in the normalisation of pornographyl; your words give me great hope as I am now certain that I am not alone. We cannot underestimate the terrible effect that the culture of objectifying women is having and has had. Now is the time for women to stand up against this serious issue that erodes our security and compounds the gaping inequality between men and women. We cannot ignore it any longer! Thanks again for raising this issue.

From Eleanor

Challenging the ‘Sex Sells’ Cliche: I am a nineteen year old woman on a GAP year, currently working in a garage near my home. We stock a number of different top shelf men’s magazines, as well as ‘Nuts’, ‘Zoo’, and ‘The Daily Sport’. Part of my job is to sort out magazines and newspapers on the shelves, and to return out-of-date ones. Three or four times a week, I have to put up or take down copies of magazines like ‘Hustler’ or ‘Mayfair’, with women on the front covers wearing nothing more than a thong, with carefully placed words to cover their exposed breasts. It seems that each month, more of these magazines arrive than ever, some with slogans such as ‘Barely legal’. The more conventional men’s magazines are covered by a board on the top shelf, but, as the author of this article pointed out, ‘Nuts’ and ‘Zoo’ appear next to ‘Kerrang’ and ‘Gardening World’, just above ‘Bliss’ and ‘Cosmo Girl’. The guys I work with don’t want to put these magazines away, for fear someone they know will walk in and accuse them of looking at the dirty magazines, but are quite happy to make jokes about me reading them. They will then, quite happily, stand behind the counter when the shop is empty, reading these magazines, and if I complain or comment on it, it’s suggested that I might be a lesbian, or I’m told not to be so uptight. I agree with everything said in this article; something has to be done.

From Sasha Vemalanathan

Hey there, I was reading your review on the film “King Arthur” which I felt really helped me in my analysis of the film for my university script. However, there were several irregulaties within the review – nothing extravagant, just several tiny mistakes. You mentioned that Orlando Bloom played Lancelot during the film which is incorrect as Lancelot is played by Australian actor Ioan Gruffudd. Also, you mentioned the knight Tristan was the one who ‘adopted’ a young boy during the mission; the knight that does this is Dagonet, not Tristan (he’s the one who has a hawk and dies fighting the Saxon King). Apologies if this message doesn’t appear helpful, I’m just trying to repay you for helping me. Many thanks.

From david r.


From Denise

Re “Pensions warning” in the blog; I recently received a government letter informing me of how much pension entitlement I’ve saved (not a lot) and saying that even though my retirement is many years away (gee, thanks), it’s never too late to start thinking about it. Fair enough. if depressing.

What got my hackles raised was a patronising proviso about how I am a woman (duhh) and women don’t save enough. No reasons acknowledged as to WHY women”don’t save enough”, reasons with which people who read the f-word (and most who don’t) will be depressingly familiar. The letter implied that women don’t save enough because they’re irresponsible and spend all their spare cash (what spare…?) on lipgloss, kir royale and other such feminine fripperies. Might as well enjoy myself now though, if I’m going to end up in the gutter shaking my chipped enamel mug at passing men who can save for great pensions because they have better jobs and higher pay, and no one assumes that looking after kids is their sole responsibility. The future awaits. Cheers, everyone!

From Corey A. Gauthier

Look, I just want to say that these men do have a little credibility to their arguments. They forgot that you were trying to portray “Feminism” not sexism towards males. With a feminist statement, there is always going to be a counter reply. There is a reason for that. Every time we make statements against the opposite sex, it feels like an attack no matter how politely you stated your opinion. I’m researching feminsim for a variety of reasons, and I came across this article:

“Men are immoral, disgusting pigs. Men have no scruples; they will tell any lie to get us in bed. They have no social skills, so without women there would be no society. All they know how to communicate is objective facts. Their feeling centers are childish at best. If it were up to men all we would have is one war after another. Feeling a need to destroy themselves, they would not be here if it was not for the care of women. We are so much more morally superior to these brutes.”

“Men are ugly while women are beautiful. Men have thick hairy beards which make them look like pirates. Who wants a hairy pirate as a lover? They also have faces which look like brutish ogres. They give up on themselves after 40ish and become fat slobs. In contrast, women have smooth curves over a soft graceful physique. We are the incarnation of the goddess. We should be worshiped as the epitome of everything good and beautiful in the world.”

I just want to advise you too keep arguments intelligent, and treat others arguments with respect. There is ALWAYS a possiblity you made a mistake.

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

The article you linked to is not representative of feminism, and in fact does not even claim to *be* feminist (although many people seem to have assumed it to be feminist, it isn’t). It actually reads very suspiciously like a spoof/satire. I mean, “Men have thick hairy beards which make them look like pirates”?! Does anyone really think that’s a valid feminist argument? I actually found it quite hilarious that anyone takes that sort of stuff seriously. – Ed

From Janox

You find treating men and women in different ways offensive? The fact of the matter is that we are different and that’s the beauty of the relationship between the sexes. A feminine woman is a great asset to a masculine man (using these terms in the traditional sense) and visa versa.

I could create a site of UK Masculism and whine about how there are adverts which portray men as stupid etc., but I just laugh it off because I’m not into the whole victimization thing and am comfortable with my masculinity. Testosterone fuels aggression and other drives and is a great asset to society/business when channelled correctly. When women have high testosterone, they tend to set up Feminist sites because they feel victimized and want to make a change and when men have high estrogen they feel victimized but don’t have enough testo to do something about it.

Do you hear men complaining that beautiful women almost always desire a masculine man? Hell no. Nature set this precondition for attraction to push men to achieve and win over each other so that the most successfull gets the affections of the pretty girl (genetic selection). The confused boys of today who are suppressing their masculine drives see the jocks getting all the hottest chicks, and they wonder to themsevelves: “maybe mommy was wrong when she said girls want a soft-hearted, feminine man.” Unnattractive women can be a great intellectual benefit to society if they stop feeling so victimized by nature and channel their pent up frustration on more pressing societal issues (i.e. not feminism).

Hell, burn your bra’s, surgically remove your tits, grow cock and balls for all I care. There’s plenty of feminine women out there who are happy and successfull because they are genuinly secure in what nature has given them. That’s the beauty of diversity. No matter how many crazy people there are in the world, there will always be a healthy population of down to earth folk somewhere.

From Michael

Re: Men Are Back: But Where Did They Go? If a man should be embarrassed by reacting with alarm over a silly ad then surely a woman who gets a bee in her bonnet over the same ad should also feel a little foolish.

From Noel

Men Are Back: But Where Did They Go? Really like your comments on these adverts . I seriously believe Germaine should be given the Nobel (correct ?) Peace Prize for all the changes she has bought about in the world’s attitudes to women . There is probably not a woman in the world who has not had her life changed for the better in some way . Regards

From Rob

what utter bullshit on that star trek thing you’ve got [Star Trek Enterprise]. oh dear

From Kieran Mathers

“‘male values’ (which surely revolves around what is patriarchal, i.e. power, strength, and dare I say it, domination, although Drew seems to have forgotten this little connection)'” Quote, from Men Are Back: But Where Did They Go?

I’m genuinely insulted by this above quote. Power (what do you mean by power?) and strength have always been male characteristics, especially in comparison to women. However, making this quote includes two huge assumptions – the first being male values are based around the assertation of these characteristics towards women. This, for the majority of men is wrong, and a really repulsive idea. Physical strength is used as a male value when used in competition with other men, not towards the opposite sex. The second assumption is that men regard these as their ‘values’. This is also, in the majority case, wrong. A wife beater keeps it a secret because he is aware of the personal shame it would do for him if he were found out as that. If strength and domination were male values towards women, then this would not be the case, in this country, at least.

Men may have gone, to use your article, to an uncertain place. The challenging of female social and behavior stereotypes by feminists have led to a questioning of the society which is around men, because the old certainties are not there anymore, and its difficult knowing what the new order is like. They certainly aren’t back yet. However, misunderstanding male values (of which you may have missed, for example, caringness) or misrepresenting them is certainly not the way to further gender equality.

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

I think the author of this review was referring to the ‘male values’ which the media presents, rather than actual ‘male values’. Since when did you see the mainstream media (Loaded, Nuts, Zoo, advertisers, etc) present ‘caringness’ as a male value? That’s the point. Men are restricted and limited by advertising stereotypes too – Ed

From Vicki Stevenson

Hello, I originally looked at your website for help with my dissertation on feminist theatre – but I think that Marion Beach may have made a slight error with a term she has used [in Show Girls: The State of Feminist Theatre]. ‘Womanist’ is a term that relates specifically to black women’s criticism and theatre, as coined by Alice Walker. The phrase ‘women’s theatre’ is probably more appropriate for describing the type of theatre she is referring to. Sorry to argue over semantics, but there really is a difference between the terms, as ‘womanist’ is specifically used to describe black women’s experience as seperate and different to white women’s.

From Bill Schlingman

Power ($) and sex is what it’s all about! I’m good-looking, trim and relate to people very well. If a “tall, better-looking, wealthier man walks up to my girlfriend (or wife), I am then in trouble of losing her to him. Why do I say that? Women will trade up and “downsize” a man if she has a good “hair day”. If her heart beats faster for my rival, she’s gone. If equality is what you want, don’t be so fickle. I don’t want your job. I don’t mind that you are blond and drive a better car. Women use their looks to get what they want. Men have to try harder to keep from being left behind with nothing. Men need women more than women need men, because men are easier for women to get than women are for men to get.

From John Bassett

Your correspondent E. Baeza asks why there are no ‘Mothers for Justice’ like ‘Fathers for Justice’ [in Lament for Sisterhood]. The reason is not hard to find, in that all the divorce laws are totally skewed to the benefit of women. Even now, the law still holds that women should never need to have to work after divorce. In my case, my wife refused to accept the settlement advised by an all-female reconciliation committe, and decided, since I was paying, to be represented at £500 an hour by Lady Helen Ward,a Feminist Lawyer who won’t represent men, and so gets a totally undeserved reputation for success since she is coasting along on the laws which benefit women). Apart from the Feminist Lawyer’s astounding bill, my wife ended up with the £1/2 million pound house (1990 value) although she only had one child just under 18, as well as £650,000. I was left with £40 a week.

A friend of mine had built up a thriving little boatyard business on the Grand Union Canal north of Milton Keynes. He had also converted the old warehouses into lettable cottages. He then fell in love with a woman, and married her. Within 18 months of arriving at the boatyard, she had started an affair with a man renting one of the cottages, become pregnant, and decided to leave with her lover. Within two weeks of her departure, through her lawyer, she sent a letter demanding half of the business, and she got it. Which meant that her husband had to sell up, give her half, and go on the dole. I know a young woman, not yet thirty, who has got quite a successful property empire; having been married four times, and got each marital house and some money in settlement evry time. There’s certainly no need for “Mother’s for Justice” when women can get settlements like these.

E. Baeza’s other complaint, in a string of self-pity,is that successful small businesswomen don’t support their sisters in employment practices – particularly those sisters of childbearing age. An ardent Feminist Lawyer with a very successful practice in the North, has decided never to employ women, other than as secretaries,in the practice ever again. To become a lawyer in a practice involves that practice in writing out its articles, with the name of each member involved. Every time someone leaves or joins, the articles have to be rewritten. During the time she has run the practice, when she always gave preference to the sisterhood, she has had no less than 29 women who have joined, then got pregnant, but have absolutely promised to come back without fail after delivery etc., etc., but who then have failed to keep their word; because ‘the baby is so sweet, and it needs me’, or because ‘it’s so wonderful, and I just must have another’, or because ‘ my husband’s earning more than enough, so I can just be maternal for as long as I like’. Maybe it is just because mature women know how totally unreliable their younger sisters are.

From Hannah Roe

Could you possibly get the ‘e-mail this article to a friend’ feature on this website? (See the Guardian website for an example of this in action) I know its possible to send web-links, but its a lot slower and more faffy. If this website could have that function, I think the articles would be more widely shared, and this would surely be a GOOD THING! The article on the Keeper [Keeping It Real] is something I really want my friends to read- so I’ll make the effort to make the link therefore, but the ’email this to a friend feature’ would be very very handy. Keep up the good work, I love this site.

From Rachel

Re: Keeping It Real: I never get tired of reading articles around this subject! I stumbled across the mooncup and washable pads about a year ago, and I’ve never looked back! Also, I think having to deal wih your own blood in such a hands on way forces you to be more in touch with your own body and rhythm, and it naturally makes me feel more at ease with talking about my period. What could be better?! Oh, and there’s a great section on this topic in ‘Cunt’ by Inga Muscio.

From Ben T

Great article (“>Keeping It Real)!!

The film Ginger Snaps deals with menstruation as one of it’s central themes. Unfortunately, besides being a pretty awful film in general (though it IS enjoyably awful), the main character’s monthly cycle is directly linked to her becoming a werewolf (!). I’m pretty sure they call it ‘the curse’ quite a bit during the film. It is seriously the worst thng that has ever happened in this sleepy suburb. Quick synopsis: girl gets period – turns into monster – dozens die horribly. Just like real life. Excuse me whilst I go check imdb, it might’ve been a documentary.

From Naomi

Re: Keeping It Real: I love my keeper too, I’ve had it for over 4 years now and can’t imagine going back to having to carrying tampax around with me. Unfortunately, no one seems to be promoting them, I guess because no one stands to make very much money out of them. I’ve met the ‘eegh’ factor too, but it’s an awful lot less revolting than a used sanitary towel – in fact not revolting at all. We need to make more converts!

From Helen York

No-one bought me a mooncup for christmas but on reading the article Keeping It Real I thought of two things: This fantastically informative livejournal community: And a film called Ginger Snaps.

From Chris

Re: Keeping It Real: The Thraxas novels (Thraxas and the Elven Isles iirc) mentions menstration explcitly.

From William B Hammond

How do you feel about the statistics in CIVITAS on the outcomes for children of fatherless families? This (proven) damage being done to our children is a natural consequence of the culture created by the rise in radical feminism. Since females are supposed to be the nurturing sex how do they justify causing this social disaster in order to achieve their goal (whatever that is)

Reclaim The Night. If women could experience what is like to have testosterone running through their veins and the emotions that this drug unleashes, they would be a little more sympathetic to men’s often irrational behaviour, in the same way that women expect us to be sympathetic to PMT and postnatal depression. Of course there is no excuse for rape, but to proclaim that women should be able to dress as provocativly as they wish with no consequence, is infantile nonsense. Grow up!

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

So, women should expect “consequences” because of what they wear, and what they wear “provokes” men into raping them. Frankly, this kind of argument makes me sick to my stomach and despairing in the human race. May I refer you to: Pretending that Men Aren’t Grown Ups; It’s rude to Point: Blame Culture’s Easy Way Out; Bend Over Girls – He’s in Freak Mode; Why Irma Kurtz is Wrong About Rape for more comment on this dangerous, insidious idea. – Ed

From Alex

Re: Why Men Suck: And the Women Who Have To: I’m a single male who has been living in cambodia for six months. I have remained celebate for the last ten years out of choice and conviction. I come from western country and understand western male thinking. I am not feminist in my ideology but I have a hatred for the exploitation of people. I know how easy it would be for me to capitulate to the availability of sex and then try to justify myself later, but it’s not worth it, I will not give in!

From kirche

Re: Why Men Suck: And the Women Who Have To: well laura, welcome to historical reality… if the 3rd world can teach the other global cultures anything, it would be that the more base human instincts and inter-gender relationships hark bark to the beginning of time. your experience in phnom phen confirms that men, however unfair it seems to you, have had a dominant role over women from the beginning of time. this relationship was designed to be such by either a creator or nature’s plan for the survival of the human species – – take your pick. exploitation of modern women for sex is an unchanged and natural perspective for men; there is no confusion as to how or why enjoying a woman’s body is normal. and why not?! women are physically weaker, their attributes to raise babies encoded in their genes. men are instincually protective over “their” women and provide for them and their offspring be it out on the nomadic hunt or bringing home the corporate bacon. modern society (feminisim and the materialism spawned from it) have perverted the original, natural balance and ancient, traditional roles between men and women.

yep, men will enjoy paid sex as a relief from modern woman’s swapping of gender roles, manipulations, marriage where they beg for their rightful use of their wife’s body for their pleasure. i hope this enlightenment helps you to reset your faulty paradigms of femininity. mit freundlichen grüßen

From Jeffrey Nielsen

Re: Feminists Are Sexist: Unfortunately, I see your general statement from this article more proof to the men whom complained to you. They really don’t care how feminism helps them, no men do, it’s the concept that many feminists are taking actions against men to make ‘equality.’ The problem is that feminism doesn’t just give women more working rights but also tries to give them powers over men such as those in abortion and decision making in a household. Unfortunately with this image of female strength many times it is mixed in with one of male degredation, possibly showing how it’s a woman’s right to dominate her husband. But none of this is right, to speak my mind what men and women want doesn’t matter in the least bit because neither side is taking into consideration the true victims, children. Both in the UK and US many families are being torn apart by the idea that women can and should function alone, but no matter what salary they can make as single mothers the child will suffer, it helps no one. I may be straying a bit at this point, but it is true, many feminists try reverse-sexism to ‘get back’ at men, such the attempts in the UK to increase rape convictions rather than evidence, witness, etc. At this point, women are trying to get reparational powers over men because of the inequality that’s happened for several years. This isn’t right either, it only sends us into a cycle where one gender is dominant and the other has to fight for its rights. Until both sides come to the realization that NOTHING more needs to be done for equality among the sexes, only families will suffer. Quite frankly, any sexism that still remains by males will die out in due time. Please email me back for any clarifications or responses.

From Gwendoline

Re: Men Are Back: But Where Did They Go? Are u all lesbians or what cheer up its just an advert

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

Yes, “gwendoline”, (whose email address, interestingly, is, we are all lesbians. Every single feminist in the world. Even the men. Lesbians. All lesbians. Happy now? – Ed

From Anna

Re: Subvert the Dominant Pimpiarchy Thank you Rachel. Sometimes i have problems putting “words” exactly how i feel…because that’s all they are…”words” I have worked for 10 years as a counsellor for sexual abuse/rape/substance misuse and i am sick and tired of this deranged misogyny and not even thinly veiled child abuse. I Found your article very “user friendly” for ordinary women like me who are saying “enough is enough”. Again thank you.

From Jenny Newman

Hi, I read about your blog recently in an article published in the Guardian. Having had a look at your blog I would just like to say that it is very inspiring to other female bloggers like me. I have recently started a blog of my own and your blog has definitely given me more confidence in expressing my own views and opinions on the news.

From Tash

Re: Reasons to be Cheerful: I’m really thankful for this article. As the cause of so many breakdowns in communication the need to move beyond the liberal/radical binary must be emphasised. While the Thirdwave is built upon the radical blocks of the second it also involves greater attention to diversity, deconstruction and overlapping positions. Thirdwavers recognise a complexity to today’s issues and the need to highlight their contentiousness through aknowledging a multiplicity of stances rather than reductively adopting ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ positions. There must be a way past this classic clash that so often seems to position feminists against one another…

From Sarah Sab

Re: Reasons to be Cheerful: I agree that we definately need solid organisations like the Fawcett Society and Women’s Aid to continually campaign for political and economic changes, but sexism has a way of skirting around legislation and law… which is probably where the radicals step in :) Thinking about the media and cultural representations of women (which i think contributes to the illegal treatment of women in the home, workplace etc) there are no laws to change, you can’t really lobby anyone (the mags will ignore you or you’ll get called a PC threat to free speech), so it is important to work on the outside as well, creating alternatives.

I think maybe ‘radicals’ are concerned with ‘liberals’ who join councils or ‘collaborate’ with government cuz they worry that only minimal actions can be taken on women’s issues, especially when we think about current rape convictions and pay differences. It’s something that concerns me, but i think it’s to do with a healthy sceptisism of the opportunities limitations of institutional politics rather than being sceptical of liberal feminists!I think it’s important to consider the limits of working within a traditional system that evolves slowly…that’s not to say we shouldn’t work with government, but maybe shouldn’t expect the changes we want to come from there alone.

From Clare

Reasons to be Cheerful: Loved the article, really glad to see these issues articulated and brought to the fore. For a lot of feminists, we don’t make a choice between being ‘radical’ or ‘liberal’ feminists, rather we choose channels to address particular issues. So, for example, as a member of the Fawcett Society and the Women’s Budget Group ( I engage with the state and its institutions and campaign for change within them, and for change to be made by them, but as a grassroots activist I’ve always gone on demonstrations and been involved in conciousness raising, zines, etc. Both are important, and I’ll do whatever I can / whatever is possible for me to do at the time.

From Louise Johnson

Hello there- really enjoyed Jonathan Dean’s article [Reasons to be Cheerful]. and your website has some wonderful resources! Don’t forget that there is a separate Women’s Aid organisation in Scotland, consisting of 40 groups and us at the national office ( website at ). You might want to add us to your website contacts, along with Glasgow Women’s Library, a brilliant resource for women looking for feminist literature, fanzines, etc in Glasgow ( Keep up the good work, Yours in sisterhood,

From Alice Evans

Hello, I’m a student at Nottingham and a massive fan, I’ve just started my very own blog, as of today, I’ve made three posts, one of which explicitly concerns your readers (its about abortion), the other two they may also find interesting. Many thanks,

From James Mitchell

I pity feminism, i really do!

From Anne-Lise

I am responding to Catherine Redfern’s article on Ordinary Ads, Everyday Images. There used to be a Women’s Monitoring Network in the early 1980s which aimed to expose sexism in the media. I think they did 4 reports (on the stereotyping of children called “sugar and spice”, on women as sex objects, on violence against women, I can’t remember the fourth one) The idea was: over one given period of time (a day? a week? a month?– it was a a while since I read them) women all over the country would look at the press and cut out examples of gender stereotyping in the media. It went from representations of gender in children’s birthday cards to the normalisation of violence against women in the tabloids. I think we really could benefit from doing something similar again. Has anyone heard of this Women’s Monitoring Network? Would anyone be interested in taking part in such a project? As I am doing my PhD on gender and popular culture, I have come across some unbelievable stuff. My research has trained my “eye” but I know many people out there don’t analyse it. Maybe a project involving a large number of people, including people who have a feminist and/or academic background, would help raise awareness? What do you think? Best feminist wishes,

From Scott A Lukas

I recently saw your take on advertising in London, Ordinary Ads, Everyday Images; an excellent piece, and thanks for mentioning my site [Genderads]. I have also linked yours. BTW, I have updated both UK pages:

From Siobhan Fogarty

I love your page, I think it’s really important that feminism stays strong, especially in this society where I was shocked to learn that only 3 out of 10 women would describe themselves as feminists – it upsets me that feminism has become a dirty word, with so many supposedly negative connotations. If you don’t want to show your body off, you’re a lesbian or a spoilsport, if you have some respect for yourself, you’re a prude, and if, god forbid, you stand up for yourself, you get (worst of all) laughed at. I don’t think my concerns are trivial, and I’m fed up of being told that women have it so good, that they should shut up and be grateful for what they’ve got. Sure, we’ve come on in leaps and bounds, but in a world where, only a few weeks after learning that only 5.6% of reported rapes end in conviction, we learn that rape is supposedly such a low priority that sentences are being *lowered* by 15%…. And don’t even get me STARTED on those disgusting “rape prevention” posters that feature some unfortunate girl’s torso and crotch, covered only by thin panties. Obviously they’re being marketed at teenage boys, but I can’t be the only one to believe that this continuous objectifying of women will only lead to more widespread beliefs (even if they’re subconscious) that women are there for the objectifying… I also think it’s important to maintain dialogue *within* the feminist community – it’s what keeps us sharp! There will always be people who differ – I’m sure that in response to my last letter there will be loads of disagreement, but that’s ok: maybe someone will alter my opinion (in fact, I almost hope they do), and maybe, just maybe, we’re not all so set in our mindsets that we can’t change our minds sometimes. Thanks for doing such a wonderful job.

From Matt

I never met a pretty feminist anywhere… what do you make of that?

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

You really think we’re going to fall for that one? – Ed

From Richard Pearce

In Ms Razorblades article on the ‘ethics of sex toys (part 1)‘ she says “Getting hold of sex toys, assuming one lives in any part of Britian other than London, requires the most extraordinary contortions”. No it doesn’t. Just go to a branch of Boots or Tesco.

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

Well, the review was written in August 2004, and things may have changed since then – Ed

From Helen

Hi. I’m a 16-year-old Scot who has been interested in feminism for years now. I was truly elated when I first stumbled across your site last year, and I love reading the articles and reading other peoples views on various subjects that have recently been of concern to me. However, when I search for more feminism resources, I either come across uninformative and, dare I say, patronising sites that talk down at anyone under the age of 21, or I end up with 8-page essays, in minute print and extremely formal language which, though informative, are a bit much to digest during a break from my homework. Are there any sites that you could recommend that would provide extra feminist reading materials and information, which aren’t overly-simplified but don’t require a PhD to understand? I’d like to stress once again what a breath of fresh air The F-Word is. I hope this site continues to inspire more women (and, indeed, men), as it has inspired me, for years to come.

From Patrick

I just read the article “Hardcore” and a couple of other articles about porn you have on here. Some points:
1. The woman in Hardcore could have walked away. She is a grown adult. She made a choice. Why not condemn her?
2. Do you ever mention how many women watch porn themselves?
3. You seem to misunderstand that in any mutually consentual sexual encounter a woman has to be submissive. For sex to happen she has to spread her legs and allow a man INTO her body. Most womens fav position is doggy style; a submissive position if ever there was one. I could go on and on, but it seems that much of your rage is directed against nature itself.

From Raj Cheema

Re: Big Brother, Virgins and Female Singleness: Thankyou. Finally, someone out there seems to share my view that women have far from reached independence in the West. Being a virgin these days is near enough a sin – in the view of both men and WOMEN! An intelligent young women once told me that she would not describe herself as a modern independent woman until she had had a one night stand – WHAT!? How you choose to conduct your personal love life should be your OWN choice. And being truly INDEPENDENT means making decisions for your life regardless of what conventional or unconventional rules of society dictate. Thank god – the true vision of feminism lives on!

Re: Are You Married? If Not, Why Not? Yay – loved it! The institution of marriage ripped apart and shown in its true form. Well..I have to admire the author. In my own case, and coming from a Punjabi background, my dad would probably decide to disown me and mum would visit all the well-known pundits in India for a cure to this disease. I have to admit that I do find marriage appealing simply because at the rate the housing market is going at the moment i will forever remain ‘houseless’! – and the idea of being entitled to half of some poor fool’s estates by signing a piece of paper and taking seven trips around the altar at the local temple – well do you blame me? Yes , yes – I’m lazy, shallow and fickle – but at least, after divorce of course, i can pass on something concrete to my daughters who don’t have to depend on any man – father, husband or son to give them future stability.

From Bruce Tritton

Re: Are You Married? If Not, Why Not?: What unbelievable Bollocks. The facts are marriage is a womans institution. It is her security. Women are the only winners in marriage so to say that it is a patriachal institution is complete and utter nonsense and in typical feminist fashion, denial of the facts.

From Melanie

Love the article about ageing! Just a thought about having to “get a man etc”-in future —the creation of masturbation warehouses with men in mind—rows of holes in the walls where they can do what they want and let women get on with running the planet and do what we want —it would be a kind matriachy!

From Jennifer Smedley

Re Helen Reeves article about Make me Perfect. I totally agree with you and I am so glad that at 17 you have such maturity and perceptive ability. These programmes are unacceptable. I am 27 but when I was your age “waif chic” was all the rage and at 10 stone I thought I was fat. I was a size 12-14 and I was convinced I was not attractive enough. I am now 16 stone, size 20-22 and I feel more attractive now than I ever did! Funnily I find I don’t get any more or less attention from men romantically than I did when I was closer to the Western physical ideal! I still get lots of attention!

In the 10 years that have passed since I was 17 I have found that outside Britain the majority of men don’t seem to have a concept of my body weight – they concentrate on me from the neck up! I have been pursued by men of all different nationalities – African, Spanish, Italian, French, Oriental, Scandinavian, Indian, Maltese, Turkish……all while as plump and voluptuous as I am now!! I think it is something to do with Britain – outside Britain in my experience I have had nothing but requests for my phone number! (even hand in marriage on a couple of occasions!!) It’s not as if it is a Western/White thing either because I got lots of attention in Norway and they’re as westernised a country as Britain.
I am really glad you spoke out against this programme Helen – so many young women of your age group are skipping meals/starving themselves and convinced they are ugly right now, as they were 10 years ago when I was 17. Even into their twenties they do it but the problem takes root in the teens. Take care Helen and keep up the good work! x

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