Comments from June 2006

Comments and feedback on articles and reviews.

, 5 June 2006

From Aleaxandra

I thought this article summed up Grazia magazine perfectly. I quite often read it and sometimes enjoy it, other times I can feel it tempting me to become a materialistic monster (something I always wish to avoid).

From Sarah Elizabeth

Re: ‘The “Right Time For Motherhood?’ Oh my god Lorraine, I agree with every word. Why is it that so many newspapers seem to adopt this self-righteous attitude to having children? The Daily Mail seem to turn every single news article into a moralistic rant about women not churning out enough kids and seem to conveniently forget that making babies takes two people! Many women I know postpone having children because their partners do not want to start a family until later on – what would the Daily Mail suggest they do in this case? ‘Forget’ to take the pill?

From Jane A

Re: Hairy Women: Yes, I was also surprised at the extent of non-acceptance, and this has not been my experience. Maybe I was lucky that at an early age a boyfriend let me know openly how much he relished my ‘natural’ look, and thats before the

undergrowth really took off! So, now I am happy and in my luxuriant growth – and feel no need for long-johns in the winter either!

From Scarlett O’Malley

Re: Make Me Perfect: If it makes the women feel better, whats the problem?

From Mark

Re: Deconstructing Masculinity: Are you willing to reflect on the very large role that women (not society, but

women) play in constructing the role of masculinity? Men compete for women, and many Women choose men by how they excel in whatever criteria is important for that women (money, intelligence, looks, strength). It is women who send men the twin messages: “Find something to succeed in or you will never be loved.” And “Don’t falter — don’t show weakness — don’t fail — don’t stop coming home with the money, or I will start looking elsewhere.”

Masculinity is a feminist issue. And the first topics that should be on the table are: “What privileges have women enjoyed thanks to traditional notions of masculinity?” and “Are women truly willing to give those privileges up for the sake of equality?”

Re: Feminists Are Sexist: What you’re not getting is that women perpetuate the patriarchy through the romantic choices they make. And so most women, even most feminsts, let men know every day in a thousand different ways that we are not considered real men if we can’t take care of them by earning the bread, protecting the family, and being at all times more emotionally stable than the women are. Lots of men would stay at home and raise the kids if we could find women who would love and admire us when we said that’s what we wanted to do. Read “Why Men are the Way they Are” or “Self-Made Man” if you’re still not getting this.

To put it another way: Women get benefits from patriarchy which they are not yet willing to give up. And this confuses men. How many women do you know who ever make this decision that most men make: “For most of my life, I will leave my family every day and go to work in a place where no one loves me so I can pay for my husband to stay at home with his family, and run the household, and decorate the house the way he likes.” Women have the option to work or not. Men do not have this option. Women choose men by how successful we are in whatever criteria is important to that woman (brains, brawn, looks, money, etc). So, we learn from an early age that if we want to be loved, we must compete with other men to excel in whatever criteria we can.

Men compete for women. To that end, we will be whatever women want us to be. The patriarchy is the end result of this dynamic. If you want men to change, then take the time to understand how the choices women make affect men, and try to see that we are doing what you are demanding of us. As long as you ignore your own hypocrisy, and make us the congenital bad guys, and cast yourselves as the totally innocent victims, and roll your eyes when we try to tell you it’s more complicated than that, things aren’t going to get much better.

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

Yes, women who play by the rules and support the mainstream view of “men’s roles” verses “women’s roles” get benefits out of it; there’ no denying that – and feminists never have denied that fact (some have written books on the subject). In fact feminists have got a lot of hassle for questioning the motives behind things which seem (on the surface anyway) to benefit women, such as so-called “chivalry” (men always paying the bill in restaurants, men always having to be the ones who give women gifts and not vice-versa, men standing up when women enter the room and so on). We are not afraid to question the priviledges that women can get by playing the system – we want everyone to have the opportunity to be who they really are as individual human beings, not shoe-horned into a limited stereotype according to their sex.

You can’t blame feminists for the actions of some women who perpetuate the existing system; we are trying to question and change the system. For example, feminists are trying to change the way that men are forced to go to work and women have no choice but to stay at home, by fighting for more paternity leave, for example. Feminists are allies in this fight, not enemies, and we are certainly not hypocrites. Many feminists reject the priviledges which you refer to in their own lives, and get attacked for going so. – Ed

From Samuel

I am responding to your article “Feminists are sexist” to inform you that it

has reinforced my views that feminists are sexist and is one of the many examples of feminist hypocrisy. Your article goes through emails sent by men (who you refer to as trolls)

which comment on an article you wrote. You proceeded to belittle them and then at the conclusion you comment that men should not rely on women to comment on sexism towards men. These men just wrote in complaining about sexism in the article! Your hypocrisy shines through.

In the summary of your article you assert:

1. That feminism benefits men, how you have not explained in the article and I believe that feminism has not in any way benefited men or women, it has just promoted sexist attitudes on women’s side.

2.Another unsubstantiated statement “Feminism improves the lives of women.” only if you call ego – massaging improving life. You also state in italics and with a punctuation mark that “womens lives have value” we get it, we always got it. Why do feminists assume men think these horrible things about women?

3.No one is demanding you to act on behalf of men. The reason men don’t really act on issues like this is because we aren’t that petty.

4.No feminism past the 1980’s has had any real validity because there has been no real discrimination to women since then. A commercial showing a women in the kitchen is no more sexist than a commercial showing a man in the kitchen. Feminists need to grow up.

I look forward to hearing your response to my sexist (hopefully by now you

realise that the term sexist is relative) remarks.

From Austin D

Re: Feminists Are Sexist: I feel that feminism totally discredits men for their brilliance. I also feel that women would be nowhere without them. I was raised by women, so I understand women, and I must say that feminists are not women. Feminists, IN MY OPINION, are just as bad if not worse than sexist men mainly because women believe anything they hear from another woman (or a big business advertisement) Feminists inspire my hatred for women, and I couldn’t tell you how many men are getting pretty pissed off by feminists. But rather than becoming gay, we get back by being EVEN MORE TWO FACED, and the small amount of compassion that men had for women is being exhausted.

I don’t mind EQUAL but BETTER????


And I don’t care if you want to sit there and bitch, cause that’s what I believe and my goal isn’t to piss you off, I’m just letting you know how I feel. Like I said, I owuld live on grounds of equality with women, but feminism puts the idea in alot of women’s head that they’re not only equal, but BETTER. That’s my problem.

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

I am not sure where you got the idea that feminists are saying women are better than men. Nowhere on my site does anyone say that and I do not know any feminist that does say or think that (and I know hundreds). Neither do I know any feminist who says they “hate men”; in fact feminists will bend over backwards to ensure that this misunderstanding does not take place. Yet I note that in your own words you freely admit that you “hate women”, and you don’t seem in the slightest bit ashamed of it. Thanks for proving the point that the world still contains sexist misogynists. – Ed

From Sarah R

I’d just like to say how wonderful this website is, and give thanks to everyone who has contributed :) I especially loved the Feminists Are Sexist article which gave words to all the jumbled angry thoughts in my head. I’m sick of arguing with people about the benefits of feminism. Thank you Catherine Redfern for being absolutely RIGHT!

From Gloria

Hurrah! I am trotting down to Boots this very afternoon to get my Mooncup. One of my friends is v. evangelical about hers, but I haven’t seen her for a while and this article [Keeping it Real] prodded me.

From satcmke

Hi there! I just wanted to say that I recently found your website, and though I’m at work and can’t write much now or even read a whole lot more, I LOVE it. I have my own blog that’s gaining popularity, at least in Wisconsin (US). If there’s any way I can c ontribute to anything you do over there, I’d love to! Feel free to check out my blog. Thanks, and keep up the good work! Yours, Truly

From Stuart

While researching rape statistics in order to demonstrate why a drug with a side-effect of raising men’s libido maybe isn’t such a great idea I found Reclassifying Rape. i must disagree with the central tenet of this article. While perhaps not fully understanding the mindset of a rapist (having never knowingly met one) it strikes me that although some rape may be culminatino of a desire to physically dominate someone, the majority of rapes are due to an excessive and uncontrolled attraction and desire for the victim. In other words, rather than being a hate crime, rape is in fact a love crime. Perhaps it might help to differentiate forms of rape?

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

:-O ! – Ed

From Niece

Having Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minster was good .

From Diane Shipley

Comment for article on real female heroines:

Great article! I too despair over these lads’ mag lists. Feminists need more reminders that our neagtive reactions are normal, and the media needs more coverage of truly inspirational women. My own list includes Carrie Fisher, Nora Ephron, Maya Angelou, Laura Hillenbrand and Jane Tomlinson…

From ravaj

Re: Real Female Heroines: not having come out to myself until i was nearly 30, i didn’t quite get that my adoration of beautiful women (ingrid bergman, lauren bacall, katharine hepburn through to michelle pfeiffer, candice bergen et al) might have been a message to myself :-)

from my perspective as a teacher of religion, i believe that so many of the people with whom i have worked have an innate yearning for a hero/ine & model. since organised religion outside its most orthodox forms is rarely seen as the source of ethical behaviour – religion is blamed by so many as the cause of most of the ills in our world – there is a vacuum now where once religion stood firm. what is attempting to fill it? capitalism, materialism, consumerism – call it what you will. and its heroes are the pretty young things.

maybe i’m just an angry old bourgeois-socialist bleeding-heart liberal dyke who should return to my andrea dworkin shrine and ask my panda spirit guide for serenity. i’ll try and quench my fears for michael owen’s acl, and stop reading through ‘people’ magazine before buying it for my mother. i do, however, have hope that we can learn to be kinder and also be entertained by those with gifts for acting, etc..

meanwhile, here are some of my heroines:

my mother – for making a new life after the death of my father 2 years ago.

my father – one of my favourite feminists & g/l/b/t/q advocates

laura flanders – who, beginning in school and ever since, has sought her truth and reported it in a variety of media.

sarah waters; katherine hepburn; maya angelou, audre lord, alice walker; rabbi sheila shulman; jury still out on angelina jolie …

honorary mention for the 1970’s rodney marsh because i have always been a fanatical qpr supporter

From Janine Monaghan

Re: Real Female Heroines: Thanks for writing this. I too lived in the states about 10 years ago and I found it too be very liberating because of the gender relationships as your article described. I pray for this too happen in the uk. It is paradoxical that a country with less gender role, has a political system that is against women

and likewise in the uk, the opposite exists.I feel so much better feeling like i’m not the only one who has women as source of utter divinity and influence. I couldn’t survive without other images of women, if FHM was it, I know I would feel a corresponding reduction in self-esteem. Thanks.

From Rachel Parker

Re: Real Female Heroines: Congratulations to Maxine Francis for an excellent, thought-provoking and beautifully put-together article. I so hope you get the sucessful and rewarding career you deverve .

From marcia landa

Re: Not for Girls? The Yorkie and Echo Adverts by Catherine Redfern. I found this article after laughing over and then researching “Nestle for Men,” a candybar my stepdaughter just brought back from Russia. It was in the Russian article that I learned about the Yorkie. We don’t have anything like this in the US, but if it ever comes our way, I know what I’m going to do. To see what I prepared for the British Market see the link below. Feel free to use it for a fund raiser or any good cause. Just credit me and let me know.

From Jennifer

I am working as a stripper now as I need the money. I started therapy six months ago to get clean and sober and I am realizing that I became a stripper because my Dad and brothers used to rape me all the time. I use stripping as a way to reenact the abuse and this time, I get paid for it. I was curious a few evenings ago and asked all the girls as they were dressing how many of them had been molested as children? Everyone in the room raised a hand!!! Also, eleven girls all under the age of 30 died last year at one of the upscale clubs in Houston, TX birhthplace of the lapdance, which is where I live and strip. Some overdosed, a few died in car accidents, a few committed suicide, one

girl’s boyfriend killer her and then himself, another girl got murdered by a customer who she tricked with, etc….

I am not repressed, or religious or anything, but I’m starting to think something is totally screwed up with this business. I am going to school so I can get out of this place as soon as possible. I read that the average life span for a woman in the sex industry is 37. I am very scared, and hope to be out of here in three months. What do you guys think is going on in the biz that so many girls are dying and also that so many are strung out on coke and drunk constantly?

From Isabel

In response to your article about being sick of celebrity women role models (what a shock that we might NOT want to all look like Paris Hilton????) AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH… here here, so glad someone is saying it out loud. Felt like such a RELIEF to read it! we need more……….

From Henry

Re: Refusing to be a Man: I wouldn’t describe myself as a Femnist because I don’t think that I do treat women as equally as I should and am ashamed of that- though I’ll keep trying but I do think that the overall effort to bring that about is a good thing- and I only wish I could be better at helping acheive it.

From E

hi, i am 17 years old and i am sick of the way i am treated. In my college, a boy started looked down my top and began to masterbate.. in a crowded room. because i am quite shy, i didnt know what to say or do.. so i just sat there

waiting for him to stop. the fact that young men have no respect for women these days is incredably aggravating. i never thought i would have to indure such behaviour as i am a size 34b, i feel empathy for girls with big breasts who recieve this kind of unwanted attention. i enjoyed reading the articles in your site and have recently bought ‘the whole woman’ by Germaine Greer. the only request i have is; what can women do to feel more empowered? what can women say to men who disrespect them. i feel unempowered and pissed off.

From Elizabeth Wilkinson

Re: The Spice Girls Legacy: Holy cow! What about glamour models? Sorry I cannot agree with this. The Spice Girls just shook their buttocks and appealed to the sexual preditor in men. This is the best article on the Spice Girls I have seen, and it was written by a man.

Anybody who watched Top of the Pops in the 1970s, or has seen repeats of episodes or clips. Will remember a group of people referred to as Pan’s People. Scantily dressed women dancing. Anyone who remembers the Comic capers of a certain Benny Hill remembers he often had bikini clad women surrounding him. The same could also be said of the actors in the Carry On films, and Miss World competitions. The feminists in the 1970s and 1980s saw these programmes and films as being discriminative towards women. Yet in the 1990s the Spice Girls received a different type of reception from certain feminists. Like Pam’s People, and the women in the Carry On films the Spice Girls danced around scantily dressed. Appealing to the more lecherous male, who likes to ogle at women, and as one reporter for the observer states ‘You have different spices for different tastes.’ Added to this the Spice Girls where managed and cleverly marketed by a man.

However, they are seen by some feminists as good for the cause overall. Then surely the feminists in the nineteen seventies to eighties should not have made the mistake of trying to ban Pam’s People, Miss World, Benny Hill and prevent the Carry On films from being made. The Spice Girls where said to be the epitomy of girl power. I would like to ask the person who gave them this label. How old are all the Spice Girls? If they are near the age of 18 should not the label be ‘woman power’ ? Perhaps the person who marketed them wanted to encourage people to see them as children? These grown women as children scantily dressed. How can this be good for feminism? A movement which seriously wanted women to be taken seriously in the world of business, politics and law. Surely, more better examples of woman power from the nineteen nineties would have been Anita Roddick, Hilary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor or women like them who have succeeded in the worlds of Business, politics and law.

Which brings me to my next point. These women would have had to use their brains and not rely on any ample figures in order to succeed in the areas which they worked. Whereas the spice girls had to rely on the ability to sing (which some may argue they did not do very well), show off their ample figures, scantily dress themselves and dance. Thus not threatening men in the business, political and legal world. Meaning that the more women the Spice Girls encouraged the more likely the lecherous men where to see a woman to ogle at, and the more likely the business, legal and political world would be a majority of men environment.

From Ben Drake

Ta for The F-Word which I continue to value and enjoy. Just one comment re. the Spice Girls article – conceding the Sex Pistols had ‘more musical talent’ than the Spices is giving the Pistols way too much credit if you ask me! Mel C B could actually sing a bit, and could Sid Vicious do backflips? I think not.

From Jordan

Re: The Incredibles: Why are you so angry? So you didn’t like this childrens movie. So it didn’t gibe with your worldview. Your rant said more about you than it did about the incredibles. Even as detailed as it was in that regard. Of course, on the other side of that coin, you did make a point, i just wonder if it was the one you intended to make?

From sarah redding

Re: Sin City: i have to totally agree with your views on how women are viewed in the media and ultimately by men as the media shows you to be an object, my problem is my views are so strong that they interfere with my life and affect my boyfriend as i keep thinking he thinks like that even though he isnt like that! if he watches a film im convinced he is watching it for the female nudity and this makes me angry and upset

From sime brewer

what a stupid review. People who missunderstand sin city obviously cant understand the original subject matter. Frank Miller has been one of the most respected comic writers and artists for 30yrs or so, possessing an amazing skill for art and design as well as good story telling, its a shame you couldn’t give the film the attention it deserved, i think the film is impowering to women, as some female charecters in the book/film are stronger/smarter than the males; you only feel their one

dimensional cause your a feminist, and have to nicpick, im sure there are loads more films, where women are subjectified as meer objects. Throughout sin city some female charecters are viewed as physically weak but strong in heart like jessica albas charecter, shellie is overpowered by men, but still stands her ground, gail is strong and sassy, but equally is overpowered and needs help… and miho is a damb badass samuri who can take out anyone, but shes small and quiet –

plus miller has good morals that who evokes in his novels, treatin dames right, not rapin women, womens rights, women are equally strong, use their femiest powers to their advantage. for gods sake they run their own city! remember its a pastiche of film noir! hero heroine is a strong apparent theme in those old bw movies.

surely the f word is rippin of gordon ramsey… im all down with the womens lib idea, and all fore it, just dont slagg of one of the best movies of 2005 (out all the other crap, war of the worlds, im sure that offends… well movie lovers… it was shit….)

in your review you focused on the wrong things and obviously walkin out on a film, shows ur lack of ability to properly understand them and give them your full attention, rather than nicpickin of misinterpruted aspects just because ur a feminist and want something to complain about. just some advice, how about lettin someone else who is a little more open

minded review the movies.

Catherine Redfern, editor of The F-Word, replies

The F Word is ripping off Gordon Ramsey?! Oooh, that makes me mad. We have been here since April 2001, goddamit. I could probably sue Gordon Ramsey for ripping *me* off, but I can’t be bothered. – Ed

From Stef P

Re: I Love the 70s: I rode the tail-end of the second wave. I’d really like to sit in the front of the third wave despite the grey hair. Three cheers for young feminists.

From nika

Re: Big Brother, Virgins, and Female Singleness: hey there,i was just reading your article and i want to say thank-you.i am 15 and i have just made a decision to stay a virgin till marrige.since people have found out about my decision i have been treated as though i am insane, i have been told that sex means nothing and that i am silly to waste my was really helpfull to find an article which isnt telling me to run out and have meaningless sex with strangers.thank-you once again,

From Kerrie

In response to ‘Why I hate the World Cup’ I have to admit I share the same weary response towards it. I do like football and I remember watching the last World Cup with friends at their house and enjoying the games. What has really started to grate on me is the fervent nationalism that international games seem to stoke up. People forget that they often share their lives with people from many different countries and with different cultures but during the four weeks of competitive games everyone gets shoved into camps and pitted against each other. I am afraid of the aggression men show when they mass in groups like this; it’s bad enough when it’s a small group of men out on the town drunk. But this is worse. They’re united against anything and everything that doesn’t conform and for some reason it seems permissible to be as racist, sexist and offensive as possible. A few years ago I would have defended football when friends bemoaned the senseless violence on the grounds that it was a minority who spoiled it for the rest. Now I find myself agreeing with them, other sports don’t produce the same rabid feelings between competitors. I’m also weary of the depiction of footballers’ wives as Barbie dolls with only two main purposes: mannequin and mother. They may do the occasional bit of charity work when they get a break from shopping and looking on whilst hubby performs on the pitch but they’re nothing more than an extension of

their partner. The other day when England were playing I decided to take advantage of the quiet and went for a nice walk along the beach making sure I got home before the streets were invaded when the game finished. It was bliss.

From Paul

Couldn’t agree more regarding World Cup coverage [‘Why I hate the World Cup’ ]. Recently when Joan smith and Shere Hite appeared at the ICA, a man in the audience complained that he was not, contrary to Hite’s assertions, indoctrinated into being competitive

while at a boys’ school. A young woman from the audience asked him whether he could imagine a feamle equivalent of the World Cup in which teams of women competed against each other while stadiums of women cheered them on. The country would never come to a standstill over any female-oriented sport or event. In fact, not only is women’s sport not taken seriously, but even among nominally liberal people the notion of female musicians is still a novelty or a curiosity. A liking for female bands, be it Electrelane or Smoosh or any women playing instruments, is seen as an eccentricity, especially if you are a man who loves those bands.

Back to the football, I think that it is not only the unbridled machismo that disturbs, but the aggressive patriotism and jingoism that accompanies it that is dangerous. I just hope England get knocked out early.

From Michele

Re: Subvert the Dominanat Pimpiarchy: The one by Rachel on contemporary music. Very interesting.

From Chris O

Re: Challenging the Sex Sells Cliche: There was a time when porn had it’s place as nothing more than recreational entertainment for men to ‘get off to’. I sincerely agree with the viewpoint of the article, even as a red blooded male, it depresses me that women and girls, even those very young are having their self esteem ruined and their safety threatened by this mainstreaming of sex. From Big Brother to even

movies there is no escape from these misogynistic images and i fear how far things will go in the future if there isn’t some curbing from the media and so forth.

From Helen

Re: Challenging the Sex Sells Cliche: Thank you very much for doing this artical, it’s what i’ve been concerned about ever since i was 14 years old. I don’t agree with porn as it demeans women & young girls, also promoting

sexist behaviour towards women. The double standards thing is very very true, Whats in a boys mag is totally different to a girls mag. Anyway i’d just like to thank you for bringing this artical to my attention and i will pass it on to my family and friends :-)

Re: “Deconstructing Masculinity“. Thank you for doing this article and bringing this “big important” issue to everyone’s attention. The worst part about today’s society is the fact females think in order to be equal to males they have to become stronger and aggressive, Why? Why indeed reverting to aggressive behaviour is the wrong way to go and…If humans are suposadly evolving then shouldn’t we leave the aggressive behaviour behind?

Re: “Women Unite, Reclaim the night!”. Well done you lot for fighting for womens rights…and rightly so. What i noticed with that rape case was the fact that Women were blaiming women for being raped? so basically there are some women out there who think it’s a womens fault if she is raped, outragious.

Hi i am concerned about the amount of women & men who think that these words such as Slut, slag, whore, slapper, cunt etc..just to name a few are acceptable concidering that these words to me are deeply offensive and demeaning to women. I have been posting on the Big Brother forums and today i done a post called “offensive demeaning words” And in this post i basically said nobody stands for racist comments…rightly so, so why should women put up with sexist demeaning comments?

To my horror loads of females instead of replying to my post responsably they said to me “stop being so uppety” “not all people find those words offensive” etc etc… My question is Why are people offended by my post? Why are they treating me like i’ve done something wrong? When i’m simply defending women? What these women don’t realise is that by allowing these words to be hurled at women they are having a huge impact on future generations, and the generations to come will think it is acceptable to brand women with such demeaning words.

I am utterly disgusted with the way that some women and men think that these demeaning words are acceptable , while these same people would take offence to racist comments but not sexist comments..why is this?

From James Masters

Re: New Rights, Old Wrongs: Thanks for the article and good luck with the campaign. There are two points I’d like to raise.

(1) You’re perfectly right that marriage and civil partnerships are alike in most legal respects; but there are huge differences regarding the law on marital children. That was one of the reasons for civil partnerships being made same-sex; they wanted hetrosexuals to carry on getting married and not be able to opt out of these. I don’t have a problem with them doing this at all, but it’s still a big deal – I just think you should at least mention it somewhere on the Equal Partnership site.

(2) I can’t see why you oppose extending civil partnerships to carers or elderly siblings. The logic in your FAQ is just incoherent. You claim to oppose sexual criteria, but reading more deeply you’re actually in favour of a sexual component to CPs (you just don’t want the government checking up on it). You then worry about the equivalence between civil partnership and marriage being lost. But why? I completely agree with your attack on marriage, why do we want equivalence with such an anachronistic institution?

I think the real reason for your objection is because you want to take sides in a fight between the gay lobby and Christian and conservative lobby groups. The battleground is that the gay lobby wanted state recognition of homosexual relationships through CPs, the conservative lobby wanted to thwart this by including carers and elderly siblings.

The gay lobby had the nobler motive, but I really can’t see why the government should be in the business of recognising sexual relationships. Should some people get more legal rights than others just because they’re (probably) sleeping together? There’s no good reason why carers or elderly siblings shouldn’t be treated the same as everyone else. I’m not suggesting you

campaign for this extension, mind you, just that you remain neutral and don’t actively say it’s a bad idea.

From Anita J

I find it difficult to understand that you denigrate the position of motherhood to such a degree [Bad Mothers]. Motherhood is a personal choice and a choice that has made me happy. Claire complains NHS hospitals are not conducive to a relaxing enviroment and on that i agree. I am amazed that as a feminist she has not looked into the oppressive medicalisation of childbirth. This is where women are totally oppressed. Drugs like oxytocin are given to women whose labours are slow to establish. Oxytocin was not designed for this purpose. it causes irratation which causes the body to go into contractions;- But does not soften the cervix which results in a more painful delivery.

Childbirth is painful there is no getting away from that. to advocate that money is going to help the process is somewhat farcical and somewhat niave. Claire should also higlight the dangers of episiotomy. it is this proceedure that can lead to incontinence. To the chargin of my midwives i was informed about this and i refused to have this proceedure and i do not leak when i sneeze. This barbaric proceedure is to aid the conveyer belt of birth that is prevalent in almost all maternity centres. this proceedure has been found under several studies to be shown to be one of the leading causes of incontinence in mothers.

Please lets not decry women who choose to have children it really is a cheap shot. similarily lets not knock women who choose not to have children. what really needs to be discussed is how males in power within the hospital hierachies have determined to make the natural process of childbirth, mechanised in order to meet economic guidelines. women are treated like animals. This is what is wrong. The second wave of feminism back in 70’s

heralded the need to look at legislation in order to promote equality..Instead of women denigrating women for personal choices;- surely we as women should be angry that the powers that be dictate to us and rob of us of our power when we are in the vulnerable postion of being in labour. If relaxtion and the mother was promoted in maternity ethos, then perhaps motherhood would be something that was not so frowned upon. I believe that it is down to every

female to decide what is right for them. However, it is about time that women were given all the information regarding childbirth in order to protect them and allow women themselves to make informed decisions.

From Maria

Re: Oh, Mr Darcy! The writer of this article spectacularly misreads Pride & Prejudice when she equates Mr Darcy with the dangerous appeal of fictional bad boys. Yes, women do themselves no favours when they fancy men who treat them mean, but Darcy isn’t brutal – he’s snobbish, arrogant and stand-offish (the pride). These qualities don’t make him devilishly attractive to Elizabeth Bennett, they lead instead to her taking a violent dislike to him (the prejudice). There is a charming unscrupulous rogue, in Pride & Prejudice, whom Elizabeth briefly finds attractive but that’s Mr Wickham (sp?) not Darcy. Darcy eventually turns out to really be a good guy, and eminently worthy of and equal to Elizabeth – the author of the article is also forgetting that the enduring appeal of Elizabeth Bennett is that she is such a smart and strong-minded heroine.

Colin Firth’s Darcy is so memorable because he’s very good-looking and a fine actor. He does an outstanding job of conveying the awkwardness and real emotion hidden behind Darcy’s period restraint and privilege – a hinting that leaves so much to the imagination of the viewer and is damn sexy. The addition of the iconic emerging-dripping-wet-from-the-lake scene stands out because it’s such a fine gift to the usually starved heterosexual female ‘gaze’.

Elizabeth doesn’t go all co-dependent and try to save Darcy from his (non-existent) wicked ways. The story of Pride & Prejudice is of two people who overcome various circumstances and events, and their own misconceptions about one another before getting together very satisfactorily.

I suspect the writer may be mixing up Darcy with Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights? (Now that’s a book I never managed to finish, so perhaps I’m wrong about Heathcliff!) Ultimately she is basing the valid points she is making on a very superficial reading of a character who does not on closer inspection embody her conclusions.

I would end by arguing that viewers/readers fall for Darcy unreservedly because he is a good guy, precisely because we know that Elizabeth doesn’t compromise her intelligence, her integrity or her wellbeing when falling in love with Darcy. We know he’s really trustworthy and safe and well worth it.

From Gemma Mason

Regarding Oh, Mr Darcy: This article suffers from some confusion in its descriptions of male heroes. Perhaps it is only because I was brought up by a feminist, but to me, one of the most fun things about ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is that Elizabeth is able to catch the attractive, wealthy and (I think) rather intelligent Darcy by being intelligent herself. If I remember correctly, she says something like “Now, confess it, did you like me for my impertinence?” Elizabeth is bold and feisty; she can tease Darcy much more easily than, say, Darcy’s younger sister (to whom he is definitely a father figure). Taking Darcy to be the brutish hero, likely to hurt a woman, simply isn’t sensible. The worst you can say of him is that he is somewhat rude and awkward with people he doesn’t know. At the same time, I concede that Darcy, with his very proper 18th century attitudes, probably is rather chauvinistic. However I am sure that this is not his main charm.

At the other end of the spectrum we have James Bond, whom no woman can keep (except the feisty one played by Diana Rigg who gets killed). I agree, you’d have to be mad to actually want that. However, the dream with James Bond is never the thought that we can tame this man. The dream is that we get to have very good sex, just once. It’s not much of a dream, actually, more of a vague sexual fantasy, and the reason it takes the form that it does is more for the benefit of male gratification than female gratification. Females do not necessarily want a James Bond; males just enjoy imagining that they could get away with that.

That said, there remains still the complaint that danger can be sexy. This I will concede. I think it works both ways, actually. The dark, unattainable, mysterious woman can be sexy, too (Byron comes to mind: “She walks in beauty like the night/ Of cloudless climes and starry skies”). The significant difference comes from the fact that the hero usually escapes from the

incredibly sexy, violently passionate woman; the heroine usually marries the incredibly sexy, violently passionate man!

Nevertheless, I claim that things are getting better. The classic ‘Hugh Grant style’ hero of a romantic comedy is very different to the violently passionate, dangerous man. The main charm of such a character is that he is not always sure of himself. He masks his insecurity by jokes, but it shows through anyway. His love leads him, not to antisocial behaviour, but to amusing mishaps. Instead of being lead to think that “all the time the hero is being so horrid, he is actually internally grovelling”, the hero does grovel. Visibly, touchingly, and often humourously. The article asks “As women how do we move on from the brutal, brooding hero?” Well, this is how we are doing it.

From Dennis The Menace

Re: Oh! Mr Darcy. I believe that people, men and women, like options. Call it wisdom or laziness but they will opt for the easy ones if given the choice. Generally speaking, with men and women, the men have to be on the front foot most of the time and women can get away with being on the back foot; in the office or down the pub or at the barbecue. Normally if anything romantic is going to happen it’s the man that instigates things: Perhaps introducing himself via chatting up, offering a helping hand etc., asking for a number/asking her out, making that phone call, taking her out, trying that first kiss etc. Women have an easy option available to them- sit back and let it happen. Obviously, in women doing so, they will be more accessible/attainable to the more dominant males.

Obviously, the general passivity of women will be closing doors to the less dominant males. I think women are attracted by ‘presence’ for want of a better word. Yes, this presence can be there in the form of height, good looks, success/money ( Darcy), but also sense of humour, even a hat/belt buckle (if all other things being equal) a striking tattoo or lack of tattoos. Presence can also be noted in strength via arrogance or a lack of sycophancy. However,

compassion, consideration, loyalty are much harder traits to notice at first and more likely to be a lucky by-product in a latest boyfriend than an initial reason for attraction. These latter traits will either be hidden due to lack of familiarity (backward male) or be exaggerated and sometimes even faked. Forward males, even though they may be genuinely compassionate/considerate will certainly make sure they show it. These are some of the reasons why women can seem so passive and why the world of women can seem to men to be a bit of a game; hence the term Players.

Despite the misguided comments on Mr Darcy in the article, I’m sure you will agree That Mr Wickham was the initial Forward Male Player and the main point of women’s attraction to (backward) Mr Darcy was that, as the book progressed, the reader was shown more of the hidden qualities mentioned above. Also, in his snobby arrogance, a lot of women will be attracted by the strength signified by this which is why a lot of women will prefer Firths’ Darcy to the gentler (weaker) MacFadyens’. Women being ‘liberated and educated’ in the 21st Century doesn’t prevent the ignorance and laziness and the want for an easy option. Sadly for women, I still see in the real world that they are not yet ready to cast off the Firth fantasy and with women’s general passivity I see that if you had Wickham, Firths’ Darcy and MacFayens’ Darcy at a social event, Wickham would get the girl. True, the women’s logic might opt for MacFadyen (he would make a good friend!), their hearts might choose Firth but in the end, Wickham would be the Player here and would win the game.

From Laura

Sheryl Plant is certainly discussing an archetype who turns up in romance, but I’m not sure he’s based on Mr Darcy. The man she’s describing sounds much more like a cross between Mr Rochester and Heathcliff. On the issue of the romance genre, Sheryl says: “As women how do we move on from the brutal, brooding hero? Give up romance fiction? Is romantic fiction still a means of brain washing women into subservience? Is it still a form of


I’m not sure which romances Sheryl’s been reading, but I don’t think her reading can be representative of the variety there is within the genre. Although the ‘alpha’ hero still exists in romance, there are plenty of authors who prefer to write about ‘beta’ heroes. There are many romances, such as the novels of Jennifer Crusie, where the hero and heroine talk openly with each other and co-operate.

From Kerilyn

I don’t believe Mr. Darcy to be “brutal and controlling” as you put in your article. He seems to me like someone that a woman could very much be, isolating himself from the world and being very cynical about societal functions. I’ve read Austen’s classic and he does not show any sort of dominating or abusive characteristics at all. I find him very in tune with the world and just seeking to bring himself higher than the base frivolity that his fellow peers engaged in. He looks down upon superficiality, which everyone should do, and I don’t think that in anyway is particularly patriarchal or dominating.

From Grace P

Re having comments published on the blog: I think you’re fine to continue without comments, but as a news service – it’s wonderful as is and I fear for the number of “Angry Harry” types who will clog up your inbox.

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