Comments from September 2006

Comments and feedback from readers.

, 19 November 2006

From Fanny Blood

Would this be the same Kerrang! that has launched a competition to find the nation’s ‘hottest virgins’ in conjunction with Zoo magazine?! This is a magazine that appears not to like women very much, wouldn’t you agree?

From Kerrie

Most of the music mags are like this. I gave up reading them a long time ago. Kerrang! in cahoots with Zoo in their virgin quest, say no more. The only place to find non-sexist reviews of female bands/singers is in zines, the fabulous new feminist magazines or this website. I think the whole ethos of rock musicis inherently sexist and that is probably why it has never appealed to me.

From Michelle

Re. Searching for Women within Kerrang! Magazine. Collete mentioned that she fears this mag. may soon end up like a lad mag, and much to my disappointment, I have to agree. I have noticed more images of scantily-clad women in the mag. and Kerrang! radio also teamed up with Zoo magazine for their Search for a Virgin competition. Enough said.

However, if you look at the list of editorial staff, there are a fair few number of women with a role in writing, designing and publishing this magazine. As part of my uni dissertation, I researched rock mags’ and the role of the female journalist. I interviewed a few of them, and while they were adamant they didn’t feel pressure to present women in a sexist way, they felt the male-dominated nature of the industry and the fact men held the senior positions did have an impact on how they went about their jobs e.g interviewing male rock stars and in terms of career progression.

One of the most annoying things about Kerrang! is they do aim to look enlightened about female artists, by pointing out they “rock hard and have attitude” blah, blah, but always mention they are female. It’s v. rare a male band/artist’s sex is mentioned at all!

It would be fantastic to see more positive, empowering portrayals of women rock artists. Unfortunately a mainstream that relies on boobs and other laddish nonsense in order for something to be successful, makes that seem a mere distant dream.

From Lucy

Paper Dolls by Colette. Colette, I agree entirely. Have you sent this review to Kerrang! magazine? I think you should. Would be interested to know if they have any comments in reply.

From Sarah R

I enjoyed Paper Dolls, the article on women in rock music. I feel increasingly the same about the lack of female representation within heavy metal and rock. As well as magazine representation, it’s completely unfair that it’s much much easier to find male rock groups in mainstream music (ie radio, cd sales) than it is to find female artists. I even find this problem in rock clubs I go to, where the majority of the music played is by male artists and yet the majority of the people there are female! Female groups and solo artists MUST be heard as well as seen.

From L

I am 14, i am doing research on feminism for a talk i am going to do for my english GCSE. I know that there is a incorrect stereotypical view of ‘a feminist’, which , perhaps,stops men, like our fathers and brothers, saying that they believe in equal rights for both men and women or even giving this situation much thought at all. I am happy to have found this article by Jonathan Dean [Reasons to be Cheerful], as an example of a man who is , Thank you

From Susan Francis

I hope somebody will respond in more detail, but that Pope Joan thing was a lie. She was supposed to have only been discovered when she gave birth and died in a ditch or something, but it was an excuse to exclude women from clerical i.e. academic learning, and write the real achievements of intellectual women out of history.

From Jane Cash

Hi, I think you will find that Yorkie are sponsoring the isle of woman campiagn on the isle of man in october in aid of breast cancer awareness. I am taking part as a Reiki practioner which I am so looking forward to. The island is changing its name to the Isle of woman for the weekend. just to let you know. many thanks,

From Stella Burgess

Re: Every Girl Wants a Stalker: Interesting article, particularly as I have been the subject of severe harassment for 4 years. It was eventually dealt with, the article explains the reason why I didn’t take action earlier. I felt it was me who was in the wrong….

Why is it such a problem to be single, in your 40s and live on your own without being constantly pursued by married (or similar) men? Worse here is when their spouses immediately blame you. Recent events have caused tremendous upset through men completely confusing friendship boundaries with more.

From Shivonofsky

Hi Laura, I read your ‘taxi-girl’ article [Why Men Suck… And the Women Who Have To] and must say that I was a bit shocked seeing the ease which people I know, people whom I had presumed to be quite straight-laced, ‘used’ the taxi-girls here in Phnom Penh. But it has been my experience that the people most vehemently opposed to the sex-trade are those who occupy a moral high ground, those outside of the necessities of the trade and the harsh almost predatory nature of survival. Feminism is still settling in the West, and yes, we have taken the many steps along the road of gender equality, but self-righteousness is something we must be wary of for misinformation and sexism is to be found everywhere.

I have the privilege of knowing women, militant feminists, who were active on the world stage during the 70’s and 80’s and in conversation with them have had many admit that they were both angry and dishonest, using their incredible intellects to twist truths and manipulate people, being experts in the art of ‘manufactured guilt’ and unsubstantiated ‘facts’. I think that like poverty, responsibilty for the sex-trade in Cambodia, as in other countries, lies squarely at the feet of the locals – the Cambodian attitude to women is crap to begin with – AND the visiting individual.

Being a Western male, and a non-sex woker using one at that, I really like taxi-girls, having met some but never having taken one home. I find their manner and pragmatism to be refreshing. That they are very practical, strong people who eschew the traditional games played by ‘good’ girls of assessing a Western male’s suitability – does he drink, smoke, gamble or use prostitutes, how much does he earn – all the while keeping a weather eye on the horizon for a better deal. Now call me stupid but is seeking that better deal not prostitution? Who’s the highest bidder for me?

Being a Western male who has been forsaken by a Western woman for a ‘better deal’ I am rather cynical and find prostitution takes many forms, particularly in the West. To finish I would say that I am rather intrigued by the idea of marrying an ex-taxi girl, due to their pragmatism and the fact that they don’t play games. I am interested in developing a relationship not predicated on sex and subservience but rather on a strong loving understanding on each other’s needs. And remember that within any relationship men and women are not equal. Power is something shared and divided depending on one’s strengths and abilities be it regarding property, money, sex or intellect. She may earn money, I take out the trash. She may clean, I may cook. She may be smarter with money, I might be emotionally stabilising etc… And in the cold hard light of day where Cambodian society offers few concessions to the poor and the unwanted, unlike Western viewpoints and life, life and survival here is much more than a spectator sport. With options being few one must do the best one can. Thanks.

From Teresa Smith

Response to Are You Married? by Victoria Dutchman-Smith. I like the site, only just discovered it. Sorry to dredge up an older article but had to comment. I am aware of debate over the role that marriage plays in patriarchal society. However, a marriage in our Western society today does not require a huge wedding or any of the outdated traditions with their patriarchal history. What marriage does do today is offer legal protections that are of benefit to both parties. Women are certainly not considered chattel as in days gone by and I don’t believe conjugal rights exist in law anymore.

Financially independent women may not need marriage’s legal protections and so can dismiss them and the idea of marriage, but until other aspects of our society are addressed such as the gender pay gap and inequalities in childcare and pensions arrangements, marriage today actually acts to protect women financially rather than disadvantage them..

However if we take the gender feminists’ view that marriage is indeed still a situation of domestic slavery for a woman that is actually perpetuating women’s inequality in society, then surely the situation for a woman who is living unmarried with her partner but following the moral ideals of marriage such as fidelity and long-term commitment, as Victoria probably does, is no different – except that she forgoes any legal protections available to her! Victoria thinks little of the practice of marrying and using the title ‘Ms’, but how does scorning marriage while aping its practical setup, and claiming the same levels of commitment to that setup, actually change the status quo either? Given the availability of divorce (and, conversely, the difficulty many battered non-married women have in leaving their partners) the ‘freedom’ of being unmarried can hardly be the key difference here.

Without marriage, if your partner dies you have no automatic right to a share of a property held in the other’s name and you cannot inherit your partner’s assets free of tax – you personally may not want or need the money but if you have children it seems foolish to give away money to the Treasury that your children could benefit from. You are not entitled to a share in your partner’s pension or assets if you split up and you cannot claim financial support from a partner should you need it. Furthermore, if unmarried you cannot sign your

partner’s death certificate and you have no legal say over the funeral arrangements. You are not classed as next of kin if life and death decisions need to be made regarding your partner. Therefore beware if you disagree with your loved one’s families on any of these issues.

I do feel that marriage-related issues such as inheritance and legal obligations do become much more salient if and when one has children, which is a situation Victoria has not yet faced. In addition, if she remains unmarried and has children she will also be denying some parenting legal rights to her partner such as the right to make medical decisions on his children’s behalf.

As a final point, Victoria’s statement that she has sentimental family ties to her surname and that it would die out if her children don’t get it are exactly the same reasons why many men like to pass their names on. Why is it acceptable for a woman to offer these reasons but patriarchal and misogynist if a man does?

Having said all that, I do applaud people for not getting married just to follow the herd and I sympathise with all the annoying comments people make which probably led her to write the article!

From Gemma Payne

You hit the nail on it apathetic head with this article [It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over]. It’s a relief to read someone who fully understands how women have lost faith in feminism and why they should perhaps rethink their stance. Thankyou

From Keri Anderson

Re: It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

i think this is a great article. who cares if she didn’t innovate on every single sentence…she made great points that were thought provoking to the women who read this article. you just shot her down after her attempt to help. you can’t say you’ve never borrowed a quote that happened to agree with something you’ve ever said. and if you can, i won’t believe you. it’s sad how that’s all you had to say.

From Michelle

‘Don’t cha wish pop was more empowering?’ was a great and inspirational read. I am focussing on feminism for my graphics project and this is a great source that will will get me started. I’ll be concentrating on pop stars such as Pink rather than the fake pussy cat dolls for sure!

From Beth Courtenay

The article ‘Don’t cha wish pop was more empowering?’ by Kerry-Lynne Doyle. Fabulous article! While female pop artisits continue to display themselves as ‘sex objects’ young girls will continue to be obsessed with outward appearences and in extreme circumstances develop serious eating disorders trying to maintain the ‘perfect female form’. To be taken seriously in the music industry and make millions – DO women really have to get half naked? Hail the artists such as Pink, KT Turnstal who rely purely on their god given talent!

From Maria Seijo-Richart

I loved every bit of the article “World Cup WAGs”. I love football, but I was not allowed in the school team for being female (I am 31 now, so it was not so long ago). When I joined the baseball team at university, me and my team mates were constantly laughed at by passer-bys when training (we won the league, by the way). So I think you are absolutely right in all you say. Well done

From Oliver

I agree and disagree with the points that you make in this article [Teenagers and Cosmetic Surgery]. Yes, women are often made to feel inadequate by the media and celebrity (although men are made to feel inadequate but action figures). However, breasts are indeed sex objects. Have you ever wondered why women have such large breasts in comparison to other mammals? (It’s to do with monkeys and standing upright) However, breast implants in my opinion aren’t a good thing (a shock statement coming from a teenager I know). In many cases they can in fact create the opposite of their desired effect and make someone seem less attractive. But the same goes for makeup. I guess its in extreme cases… also, as a man, I can tell you how difficult it is to complement a girl’s figure. Often, and statement is seen more an attack on them, and their paranoia is further fueled. It’s near impossible to come out unscathed. To change this negative feeling society must be changed, but this isn’t going to happen, as people make far too much money out of propagating and then taking advantage of feminine insecurity about their appearance. In the end, women are just going to have to be happy with what we have to be happy with.

From Emma

It’s a real issue, this body image thing [Teenagers and Cosmetic Surgery]. But essentially it’s all us women trying to get to the social top – we’re competing so hard to be the Alpha female – to be the most desirable by males. We use our bodies to do this as it’s so effective on males!

Men too have huge pressures on them. Like being taller and richer! My God, what man doesn’t want to be the Alpha male and this usually means if he’s a. rich and b. tall… Men spend their every waking moment competing. So do women. I guess, biologically it’s all to do with reproduction. Men fight to be the most desired by women. Women fight to be the most desired by men.

I agree there is waaaay to small an “acceptable window” for women’s bodies. Imagine 500 years from now, what surgery will be able to do then! It’s a pity we can’t just be born, live and be happy as we are.

Hopefully one day in the future there’ll be tonnes of “sexy” body images for women. (As it so happens I am one of the few who actually fit into this current ideal, as I’m tall and naturally 22″ waist. Everywhere I go people wonder at my waist and think I’m doing something special, in terms of dieting or whatever – which I’m not. But I worry about how much disrespect I’d get if that changed one day, or one of my daughters or grand daughters.)

I thinks it’s down to globalisation. We used to have to compete in our own village. We’d never seen anyone outside our local villages. At any one time there were onlly 6 or 7 young, eligible women in our town. (As hunter gatherers and early settlers) Now we compete with 3 Billion females worldwide. Sure – we don’t get to see the women in 2/3 of the world but on the whole, we’re competing with 100’s of 1000’s of other women and thanks to photography and movies every beatiful woman that every became an actress is added to the melting pot of competition! Soon there have been so many gorgeouse women recorded, that whatever our best feature – someone else has always got a better one. So we start feeling inadequate, when we compare ourselves…

I don’t know the answer, but I hope that maybe you active feminists can help bring about, over time, create a multiple “sexy body types” so everyone can be happy. After all – there isn’t 1 body type that a portion of the male population don’t adore. Some love tall and skinny, some love large and buxom, some love hourglass shapes, some love big lips, some love long necks, some love thick hair … the list is endless

From B.N.P.

I was interested to see your take on the use of the word Cunt [Taboo For Who?]. I have been married for 25 years to the same women whom I dated for 3.5 years prior to marrying. We both use the word Cunt openly during sex. We never use the word any other time. I think the offensive use of the word would be if we were to call each other/someone esle cunt to show our dissatisfaction or displeasure with someone.

We both use the word cunt in these settings……with a positive approach or a respectful approach to my wife’s cunt. We don’t use the word any other place or time. Perhaps this seems to fit with your discussion regarding the use of the word cunt.

From Julie Huxley – Jones

Thank you Rachel for standing up and telling the truth about discrimination in science [The Experiences of Young Women in Science]. I work in biological sciences where although most of the post-graduate students are female, there are only a couple of research heads in the whole department.

I am twenty-four and finishing my PhD. I want to follow an academic career, but already I am considering when it would be possible for me to take time out to have children. I do not know whether I would ever want them but I am being forced to consider when already. If one raises this at work you are seen as wanting a “work-life” balance, something sneered at in my world.

My partner has a career too – do I expect him to drop sticks and follow me wherever I go? If I don’t do I loose my relationship?

Something not touched on in the article was the percieved requirement to move around in academia. Yes it is good to get new experiences in new labs and work with lots of different people, but should you not have a home life? What if you want to settle in an area? Can you cope with moving children around every two years? Do you see your family?

My personal view is that as an enthusiastic scientist instiutions should be encouraging me to stay or at least develop a career without having to consider leaving accademia just because I want a family. Despite being a purely unbiased career path, at least in life sciences where you are judged on your work not whether you have a Y chromosome, academic science is innately sexist. No wonder we all leave.

From Teresa Smith

I liked Sheryl Plant’s subject matter [Oh! Mr Darcy] – she is right that many women still have a fascination with the Darcy figure. I would just like to add my own theory on his popularity.

Key to romantic fiction is the fact that it has a formula: women readers are well aware that hero will turn out to be someone with a core of moral virtues and it can be relied upon that he will possess virtues such as honesty, fidelity and kindness, and these will emerge as the plot continues. So we are not simply falling for ‘brutes’, and certainly not cheats, liars or unreliable scoundrels. So I think a feminist reader of romantic fiction need not hang her head in shame!

In consequence I do not think the heroine is trying to exact revenge. My interpretation of the little romantic fiction I have encountered is that the heroine may fall in lust with the brooding hero due to a natural attraction to his masculine qualities but she fights it successfully until she falls in love with the goodness in the hero once it is discovered. That is how I interpret much of the genre anyway.

Sadly of course in real life, apparent heros do not always stick to the formula and we are not given a crystal ball with which to ascertain that a possible Darcy is actually more of a Wickham! A diet of romantic fiction may do a woman a disservice if she thinks that there is always enough virtue to be dug up in every brooding man for him to be worthwhile bothering with, though personally I would like to give women more credit than that, but in any case Jane Austen often provides a cad to illustrate the dangers too…

Thanks for another interesting article.

From Suzi Price

I knew I hated X-Men 3 but I thought that was just down to it being as rubbish as the first two were brilliant but I totally agree with Shelley Rees critique of it as a female dis-empowerment flick. Fingers crossed for a spin off where Storm (the last woman standing) rights some wrong and kicks some male patriarchical ass!

From Rachel Bell

I am a big fan of the first two X-MEN film and was also totally disappointed by the third one. It lacked the depth of relationships and was full of cheesy lines. But your piece has made clear why it was so much worse than disappointing, it is reason to be angry at yet more stereotyping of female characters in film, and in sci-fi in particular. Well done for writing it,

From William Baker

A reply to the xmen last stand basic women should be pitied cause they are painted in a bad light.

There’s reading into things, and then there’s taking some thing and reading way to much into it. Like at the end how she mentions taking her students on a journey of the phallic nature of cyclops eye blasts and wolverines claws. Some times things are just the way they are with out any reading in between the lines as needed, If you follow her logic then all male creations are an extention of the phallicy and all female an extention of the vagina…

Yes xmen 3 sucked not because of all the supposed womens unempowerment but because it was a genuinely messed up plot hole filled worthless movie that was in no way faithful to the comics.

I can understand somewhat the comments about mystiques plight but rogue I cannot. The simple fact that men and women are wired from birth to have urges is a simple matter of life. rogue is a teenager in this unlike the comic books and is new to her own sexuality and she has a boy she loves with all her heart. her own mutation will never allow her to have children, make love, or kiss any one. Her boyfriend is falling for some one else that can give him the physical affection she cannot. So what is she to do take the cure? or lose him?

Not all women are this ultra powerful heros as she makes women out to be. Women are just as messed up, weak, and powered by instinct as men. Of course shes gonna take the cure. its not like shes gonna say Well mmm hmm screw him i can find me a’other man right right…

Again I say not all women are these ultra liberal I am women hear me roar types as she seems to make out, 80 f the female audiance would sympathize keep your powers that will keep you alone FOREVER or give them up for the man your deeply madly in love with hmmmmm.

As well I would add about mystique The author of the article really reads into mystiques asertiveness and womenly power but really….could her true agenda be not only her thoughts of i shouldn’t have to make other people happy be only half the story when infact shes in love with magneto and does half the stuff she does for that reason alone….

And the “murder of jean grey (rolls eyes)* The author needs only look at the comic book series that this is not just a female sequence of events oh only the out of control hyper powered women mutants get killed. Juggernaut in the comics not a mutant cannot be killed, But is out of control in power, so instead he is put into suspended animation with his tortured mind many times throughout the series.

One Mutant I cannot remeber the name of Is so ultra poweful that he can change reality with his mind, but he cannot control it. I believe hes the son of prof x’s old love interest…umm she has a relationship with banshee… not sure exaclty But this is a child whom isn’t making a choice to do bad things he just cannot control him self. So he is imprisioned with no contact with the outside world because he is too powerful.

Jean grey in the movie (it was stupid she was way to powerful in terms of raw i can blow up the universe power) is purely out of control in the fact she chooses to be evil and kill people, when a person chooses to commit mass murder they are usually put to death male or female.

I agree the movie sucked. But not for the same reasons and though this is a UK feminism website. Reading too much into things really helps nothing. the only people that really are going to agree with any thing in the article are…other feminist…

Thats really all I wanted to say, and good luck with ur website for as long as you create it.. Thanks for your time,

P.S:mind the grammar and spelling its 10:47 am and i’m half asleep lol and i’m american i speak 2 languages english and bad english..

From wil

Hi – why do you women feel so powerless in society? I believe many women have overtaken men regarding career opportunities. In the UK, a country that tries to please everyone and pleases no one, the balance of perceived power is definitely in favour of women. Yet time and time again certain women feel outraged by feelings of inequality. Many feminists become ill as a result of this, they pathologically view life, especially via the media, then systematically looking for evidence of women being oppressed in some form or other. Whether real or imagined, this fans the flames of their belief that they are persecuted. Intern this leads to binge eating and other forms of self-damaging behaviour that destroys quality of life! We only get one shot at life. So live today as if it’s your last day on earth… because one day (as for us all) it will be!

From Lizzie

Re: Scented Tampax article [Smelling of Roses?]

When I first saw this advert I screamed with rage at the TV! The writer doesn’t mention that this ‘scent’ will also be another chemical to insert into our bodies with who knows what consequences.

From Jess

Totally agree about the scented Tampax article [Smelling of Roses?], and leaving the whole ‘being clean’ thing aside, who in their right mind would put perfumed products up there anyway?! That’s just asking for trouble.

From Georgina

Great article (Smelling of Roses?) When I saw this ad, my first response was ‘Who in the hell goes out of their way to smell down there? Who would you be trying to impress?’ In fact, it set me off on quite a rant: That aside, this really must be stopped – I thought it was a joke. turns out the joke is on us – again.

From Mikki

Re: Smelling of Roses? This article is brilliant and very thought-provoking. If there really is a tacit understanding between us hormonal females (and our poor beleaguered male counterparts) that our accursed time of the month not only makes us moody, frigid, aggressive, irrational and bitchy but also – God forbid – SMELLY, well, what’s left? What other shameful negative attribute can the big marketing geniuses squeeze from menstruating women and seek to address with another overpriced, shoddy, snazzily-packaged and patently pointless product? I predict that next it will be a big-bucks collaboration between Tampax and Galaxy, because we all know that blobbing women love a bit of chocolate, don’t we girls? Hey, how about tampons that SMELL OF CHOCOLATE????

Is it the whole ‘blood’ thing? As a society, we have never reacted well to blood. It signifies death, disease, injury; it’s gory, horrible – take it away! But it cannot be pure squeamishness, surely? We’re all adults, right? Monthly bleeding is a sign of reproductive health and normal internal functioning and has happened to women all over the world since the very dawn of time, right? So why, WHY, is there still so much vestigial shame about it? Most men would rather hack off both testicles with a rusty bread-knife than engage in a conversation with ANYONE – even their own wives/girlfriends – about periods. And who, frankly, can blame them?

I have to admit when I heard that fragranced muff-mice were now on the market, I did shake my head in disbelief. This head-shake of disbelief turned in to full-on head-in-hands despair when I saw the abysmal TV commerical. But hey, we were all sceptical when we saw the sunshiney roller-blading ‘Bodyform’ girl with her smile of unfettered euphoria, and equally sceptical about that cringingly terrible ad featuring troops of smart, poker-faced women taking to the streets en-masse in protest over the inadequacy of their sanitary protection. This, like them, is just another silly flash-in-the-pan stupid ad campaign. I’m not buying. I’ll just be stinky and hostile for a few days every month, thank you very much. A lot of men are both those things every single day of their lives, and they don’t even have an excuse for it.

From Tilly Smith

Re: Smelling of Roses? While I found the ads for scented Tampax kinda pointless (how is something that goes INSIDE your snatch going to make any difference??), this article seems to imply that we should all be proud of body odour. Yes things smell “different” down there that time of the month – but this isno different from the way armpits smell “different” if you don’t wash regularly. So, to follow the author’s argument, deodorant is part of some misogynist conspiracy as well. Sorry, I don’t buy it, and I’m, keeping my antiperspirant handy!

From Maryann Cummings

I’m replying to the article Smelling of Roses?. I agree that scented tampons are a bit lame, almost desperate… but damaging? Aren’t we supposed to be arguing that women are strong, here? When you consider the ads that target men’s insecurities I feel that floral tampons aren’t much to worry about. I think 99.9 f female kind has the grit to handle it. The day I’m damaged by a male voice-over on a tampon ad is the day I start calling MYSELF a pussy.

From Aoife

Hi , Just like to say that I really enjoyed reading your article Sick of Celebrity. Personally I am indifferent to Jordan. She’s doing what she wants, she’s earning money (good money) for it and she’s living her life. And at the end of the day, thats exactly it, its her life; to do with what she pleases. It shouldn’t be up to Katie Price to act as a role model for the youth of today. Why should this burden fall on her shoulders? Its a huge asking really when you think about it. Expecting a complete stranger to act as a ‘role model’ for your children.

I feel that the values and morals you wish your children to have and hold for the rest of their lives should be instilled in them while they’re young. Its up to the parents to educate their children, to believe in a world where working hard and being educated (etc etc) gets you far in life…not flashing your knickers (or knockers!) at the paparazzi.

Anyway I think too much emphasis is put on the so called celebs of this world. If you’ve been raised well (and I’m talking about truly raised well – a rarity in this day and age) you SHOULD know that the so called allure of the sought after celeb is really well just meaningless. A life full of nothingness.

From Jenny

To All Involved – I just wanted to send a note to say how refreshing it is to see a website such as this one. As one of the younger generation of feminists, I have become used to a variety of reactions from fellow students (male and female) if ever I dare to describe myself in public as a ‘feminist’ – those reactions very, very rarely being positive. I am thankfully now reminded that I am far from being alone.

This academic year I shall be studying a module entitled ‘Feminist Perspectives on Law’ and there are many articles on the website that I shall read with great interest which directly discuss, and provide a fresh perspective on, issues that I shall be considering in class.

I look forward to reading more articles and reviews on your website, and shall make sure that I point my fellow feminist friends in this direction! Many thanks,

From Gill

I don’t know if you will have seen this Mail on Sunday article, or if you are interested, but I was round my parents earlier and happened to see in their Mail on Sunday (where else) the above prime piece of victim blaming. I read it with my mouth hanging open. I know the Daily Hell hates women, and believe that all sex crimes are a fabrication of the feminazi thought police, but I thought they would perhaps balk at blaming a 10 year old hostage for her own 8 year ordeal. Apparently not. Seems Natascha Kampusch just isn’t victimy enough for the Daily Mail. sick bastards.

From Marion Gay

Kadie Armstrong – Stand Up for Equality. A wonderfully true article, true in its findings about watching fellow female comediens. I hope that one day a comedien emerges with the confidence of Joan Rivers, social conscious of Bill Hicks, the pain of Sam Kiisten, the brutal honesty of Richard Prior the uniqueness of Eddie Izzard and Robin Williams, the dry wit of Jack Dee, the surrealism of Harry Hil, the intelligent Bill Bailey and the brilliant animated timing of Lee Evans. We live in the age of Aquarius the return of the sacred female – A Joan of Arc of Comedy – Ps love the site

From Katie McGrainor

I just thought i’d drop a line here because I was inspired to by the content of this article [Where is the F Word not an F Word?]. I have to say that I wholly agree with what was said about the UK lad culture and traditional gender stereotypes. I have a lot fo male friends but I am sad to say that not one of them could be considered even vaguely feminist, and I often have cause to roll my eyes at the ‘humour’ they use which I find offensive but would never say anything about because it would lead to a pointless discussion in which I fight to say something while they laugh at me and insist that all feminists are bra burning, angry women (no wonder with these guys!). There’s also far too much in the way of ‘men must drink beer’ and ‘men must keep drinking alcohol until closing despite inevitable hangover’. Of course they think that ‘Loose Women’ is made for and by said bra burners and were disappointed when they realised that ‘loose’ did not refer to their sexual morals!

One point I would like to make though about what the article said about abstainance-only sex education in the US which would not be stood for the UK. I have to say that in my experience that is not exactly true. I was raised Catholic, although not devoutly, and went to a Catholic school. When it came time to teach sex education we had to take a letter home to ask our parents if we were allowed to be taught about sex and contraception in science lessons. The fact is, it was too little too late for most people. Pratically everyone knew everything about the social side of sex (leaving us only with the lovely technicality of the biological systems of child birth) and reading a couple of pages in a text book followed by the obvious “of course the only way to be 100 rotected is to abstain” wasn’t really enough to send the message home. Besides that, i’m pretty sure that by the time they got round to teaching us a couple of girls had left because they were pregnant!

I liked my school and I loved that our Religious Education teacher allowed us to debate contraception, abortion rights, and euthanasia from a moral point of view rather than pretending that if he tried hard enough we’d all go on to be perfect no-sex-before-marriage-and-then-only-to-conceive people, but it was the science department who didn’t do their bit really. I have seen American Sex Ed in films (which may not be realistic) and it seems like the way they do it, although embarrassing for the students, makes a lot of sense! So the idea of taking that away from current students is appauling – surely if someone who is high up on some board somewhere can dictate the nature of Sex Ed with being responsible for the reprocutions, giving the students an opportunity to choose how they learn about it would be better!

Sorry i’ve gone on a bit! Points made anyway. This site will definately be among my most visiting now that i’ve come upon it.

p.s. ‘props’ to the lady with the home-made tee of the ‘coolest f-word’ – which as i’m sure you know is just what Ani Difranco said in ‘Grand Canyon’!

From Emma

Why Irma Kurtz is Wrong About Rape: The RAPE issue – you’re giving rape a new level of insignificance (or find yourselves a new legal term for it instead). People starting to say that a woman who was lying on the bed and got penetrated and had sex was “raped” is ludicrous – and damaging for those women who are really raped.

If one woman is hurt and tortured and forced to have painful sex – HOW CAN THE SAME WORD “RAPE” BE USED FOR SEX – where she didn’t “feel like it” in her head? It’s like having one and the same legal word for someone borrowing your pencil when you quietly were desparate to NOT share it (however you body wasn’t hurt) and the same word for being clubbed by a giant stick. These gentle “rapes” that you say should be classified as rape – totally undermine what real, (yes real) rape victims go through.

One person offers me a cigarette, and pushes it slowly, and gently into my lips. Hey – common sense prevails – ALL you have to do is say “no thanks”. Every day people suggest things that are bad for you or you don’t want (wine, food you’re allergic to etc.) but it is meant WITH GOOD INTENTION and no intention to harm or force. You simply say NO. If you’re too scared of upsetting the other person – then you must learn to verbalize what you want!

Also, you are forgetting that WOMEN LOVE SEX AS MUCH AS MEN DO. When they get to RECEIVE as much as their partner and the enjoyment is equal, then women enjoy sex.

You’re acting as if women never want it. In truth, most women want it most of the time. As a true feminist I ENSURE I get sex the way I want (and I try to get it when I want, although that’s harder). Silent participation is what girls DO when they want it, just like a man who’s being as an example; given oral sex all of sudden. (Remember no HURT to the body). If a man doesn’t say anything but just lies there, I’d say that’s complicit, wouldn’t you? It works both ways. Keep it fair.

Catherine, editor of The F-Word, replies

Rape is sex without consent. The idea that you have to get yourself brutally physically injured in order to prove you’re a “real rape victim” is appalling. Men who attempt to penetrate a woman (or as you point out, women intiating sexual contact with a man) must ensure consent has been gained and that their partner genuinely wants it, not just assume that complete silence, a frozen, comatose body language and a total lack of physical reciprocation means “yes”.

Frankly, I find your comments “Silent participation is what girls DO when they want it” absolutely horrifying; talk about a green light to rapists. There is a difference between ‘silence’ which includes smiling, nodding, breathing, kissing and reciprocating, and lying there frozen, silently in fear, avoiding eye contact, with a ‘rabbit in the headlights’ expression on your face because you’re too scared or inexperienced to know how to stop what’s happening to you. Any man who genuinely has any smidgen of feeling for his partner would stop in that situation and know something wasn’t right. What’s so awful and threatening about suggesting that a man be sensitive to his partners feelings in such a situation, be cautious, and make sure she is genuinely happy to continue?

It’s good that you are able to verbalise your desires so clearly. But some girls and young women – and presumably boys and men, too – are often too frightened to do so, they lack the confidence because they haven’t been brought up to verbalise their feelings so directly.

Also, nowhere on this site does anyone say that “WOMEN DO NOT LOVE SEX AS MUCH AS MEN DO”. That’s a myth we often try to break down here (although admittedly, mostly in lower case). Having said that, “Most women want it most of the time” is the kind of generalisation that rape apologists always use to excuse their behaviour. I guess what I’m saying is I really couldn’t disagree with you more. Readers are welcome to send in their thoughts on this issue.

From Lizzie Ward

I’m just commenting on the article ‘women are not in fashion‘ by Lucy Wilkins. I wholeheartedly agree that women have little choice in fashion and little choice in role models nowadays. I’m 21 years old and don’t have the ‘perfect’ body that is subscribed as the norm yet I feel fairly happy with myself. However, I don’t think I am a normal example of what young women and older women feel like about their bodies. I have only just come to terms with my body, and yet I still feel nagging feelings of not looking like certain ideals of female ‘beauty’.

It would be wonderful if every women was appreciated as they are, for all their richness and imperfections and all their humanity. Instead women constantly feel that their bodies are being judged by the people they walk by in the street, the people they have relationships with and the media. I’ve found that because I read women centred books and authors, I have become more accepting of myself and my imperfections, and have begun to see them as embodying me, as a person, as a body.

For example, Marge Piercy, Alice Walker, Margaret Atwood and so on have really made me question this whole idea of “perfection”. In the end, people will find that ‘perfection’ will never make them happy, that women will constantly have to change their bodies, and feel under scrutiny. I think its important that young women, teenagers and all women indeed, find a way to reject the unrealistic images offered to us and kick back. I’m not sure what that is but I think feminism is a good start. Because if we identify with women and become more women centred, we may be able to start loving ourselves better.

Thanks for listening to my outpour! :)

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