Comments from November 2006

Comments and feedback on past articles and reviews.

, 11 December 2006

From trent

leave mags like zoo alone they are showing what a WORKING person on a site should read so you are all lez and fat, also you have never had a man in your pathetic so called life, feminism is a load of shit i have seen better in my loo, stop slaggin’ off good looking, fine and just damn right sexy women like lucy pinder u fuckin’ ulgy slags

From Shawn Walsh

Hello, I am interested in buying a text ad [for a plastic surgery website] on this page of your website: Teenagers and Cosmetic Surgery I can pay you $30 for this ad. Assuming you are interested email me back and I will send all the info to you and we can make arrangements from there. Thank You,

Catherine, editor of The F-Word, replies

Er…. No.

From Vicky Long

I share Kate Townshend’s belief in her article War of Words that we should seek to reclaim words such as feminism rather than abandon them to our critics, simple because they have acquired other negative connotations.

However, I felt that the limitations of the article were illustrated in one sentence where Townshend asks ‘…can you imagine… vegetarians re-branding themselves non-meat eating carnivores so as not to sound too different?’ As a committed vegetarian, I feel I should point out that the last two issues of the Vegetarian Society magazine debated precisely this issue: correspondents noted with concern the negative ‘holier than thou’ connotations which had

attached to the ‘v’ word in some people’s minds, with some suggesting that the phrase be dropped altogether to overcome barriers. One friend even described the trainers I wore, made by the vegetarian shoe company in Brighton, as ‘smug and self righteous’ – simply because the shoes had a small label stitched on reading ‘vegetarian shoes’. It depresses me that some people believe vegetarianism implicitly means ‘self-righteous’, just as it depresses me that some believe feminism implicitly means ‘man-hating prude’.

While it is high time that the ‘f’ word – and to my mind the ‘v’ word – are positively reclaimed, perhaps I should be relieved that these words carry only implicit negative connotations, rather than explicit double meanings. For example, the expropriation of ‘gay’ in the playground (and, it seem, by radio 1 djs) to mean rubbish and the expropriation of terms describing mental health

problems to describe anyone who behaves in a dangerous, violent or criminal manner, have led to an escalation in bullying, homophobia and stigmatisation of those with mental health problems.

One of the misconceptions about feminists that irritates me most (and one which many people cite as a reason for not identifying themselves as a feminist) is the belief that feminists are solely concerned about women’s rights to the exclusion of all else, a stereotype that I’m sure irritates other f-word readers. It seems something of a shame to me that this article, excellent in so many ways, seemed oblivious of the more general way in which words are distorted to discredit people who challenge the norm, whether through choice or not; indeed the example of vegetarianism seemed (wrongly) intended to define feminism as a unique case. I applaud Townshend’s campaign to reclaim words like ‘feminist’ and ‘slut’, but I personally believe that we have most chance of reclaiming such words as part of a broader campaign to make people think about the way they use language.

From roma jones

Food of Love? by Claire Mcgowen: Very interesting and thought provoking!

From Denise Conner

In response to “The Food of Love?” I think there is another reason than just controlling the food supply, though that is a deeply integrated motive, that is why a man may want to pay for dinner, and a woman may be uncomfortable

accepting. It was mentioned in passing that if she pays her own share of dinner, a woman may go home alone if she so chooses, and I think this point deserves much more consideration. In the US (and I suspect it is similar in the UK), a man is buying a woman’s time and companionship, and later may feel entitled to a woman’s body because he “paid for it” by buying her dinner. If she won’t put out after he’s paid for a fancy meal, then he considers her a scheming golddigger. There is likely to be an argument, and there may be a threat of rape that is implicit in that sense of entitlement.

If I pay for my own half of the meal, that challenges his sense of entitlement to my body. It sets the boundary that he is not paying for my body or my time. It allows the freedom for both of us that we are both there of our own recognizance, want to spend that time together, and are free to leave when we so choose.

It feels nice to have someone else pay for somethng for me, but it has often made me uncomfortable. With my parents, they expected good performance inschool or for me to have incentive to follow their rules of fashion or lifestyle. When I come to town and they pay for my hotel room, they expect to monopolize my (and my partner’s) time. With dates, there has been the expectation of interaction aferwards, either in physical reciprocation or in continuing to make myself available to that person. With friends, it has usually been uncomfortable from an expectation of repayment in equal value and doubly from the knowledge that they are equally or more hard-up than I typically am.

As the economists say, there is no free lunch, and if I pay for my own up-front, I have a lot more autonomy there is a lot less ambiguity about what is expected of me later.

From Jamie Molloy

Food of Love: This article was terrible, please don’t let your own inadequacies and insecurities write these articles as you’re validating yourbeliefs by passing them on to other women under the guise of independent thinking, much in the same way the glossy womens magazines do. There’s no right or wrong in this situation, just your own feelings or preferences, if you feel that you are being controlled then maybe you are with the wrong person and should be assessing why you feel an attraction to a narcissist rather than who should pay the bill.

From Dennis the Menace

I really enjoyed Claire McGowan’s The Food of Love but felt frustrated that so many aspects of her date’s attitudes were untouched; the main one being his concerns about Claire’s perception of him. It may surprise a lot of women to hear that a lot of men, myself included, have asked other men and even women what to do come the time of the bill.

There are several thoughts in the minds of most men that have come into play including a fear of inferred parsimony. The main one would be trying to fit into a role projected by the world in general. Offering to pay is ‘the done thing’. Not doing so can look bad, like you can’t afford it. If the evening has increased the attraction for your date you won’t want to mess it up at the death. During a course of a date there are so many things a man puzzles over: Should he offer to pick her up beforehand or meet her there? I doubt if many (or any!) men would see an offer of picking her up as a way of controlling things; what’ll be uppermost in his mind is making the evening easy for both, or perhaps even the standard of his car letting him down! Does his car represent success or a lack of? Will he need the Carwash first?

Men think about these things as I know women do. The bill is just another in a list of things men worry about to create a good impression. As a man, Claire’s date has probably been to dating sites on the net and seen how many women, in their profiles, want to be ‘wined and dined’, ‘pampered’, ‘Swept off my feet by a by a Prince Charming’, ‘Treated like I’m special’ again, and again and again etc., you get my gist. I don’t remember anyone (whether it’s me advice seeking or someone else asking mine) mentioning the desire to control your date. All you normally want or seek advice about beforehand is to give the best impression you can so that she’ll see you again.

Speaking for myself and friends, the bedroom is rarely spoken about in conversations about first dates and, when it is, sex afterwards is discussed in terms of (again) not messing things up. Another problem emerges and that is practicality: A month ago I offered to pay for a meal and my date said very strongly that “No, we’ll go halves.” she said while frowning and looking down in annoyance. She paid with her card and I gave her twenty pounds towards it and then she insisted on giving me change. It felt like business rather than romance and would have been so much better if she’d let me pay, and thanked me, or insisted on paying herself, and I’d thanked her. I don’t think either of us gave a damn about the thirty odd quid, or trying to control the other or anything like that. On the next date (if there had been one) it would have been the others turn.

I do think that society as a whole has us all playing these little etiquette games and has us all trying to fit into ‘roles’ and yes, some of it results in controlling behaviour. I think this is welcomed more by women than it is by men. Claire was closer to the truth at the start of the article when her date kept saying “I’m trying to be nice” and indeed, her first reaction was “Oh, isn’t that nice.” But then her thoughts, and her reason, went astray. My comment about men being under pressure to show they can ‘provide’ or ‘protect’ would be a suggestion that it is society on the whole (both women and other men) that puts men under this pressure and that men themselves have no ulterior motives.

From Clare Maddox

‘The Food of Love’ by Claire McGowan: A really interesting article –brought to mind an experience I had a couple of years ago, when I’d just started dating my boyfriend. Having arranged to go out for a meal with him that evening, I spent the afternoon with a friend, and grabbed some pizza on the way to her flat. “Ah,” she smiled knowingly as I arrived, “Is that so that you don’t have to eat later?” I was confused-she knew my planned date for tonight was at a restaurant. “You know”, she said- so you won’t have to eat in front of him”. She then regaled me with stories of her friends who made sure they filled themselves up before going to a restaurant with a guy, so that he would be spared the horror of watching them eat. I was utterly bemused.

I’m still shocked by this whenever I remember it, and when I read waste-of-space articles such as A Girls Guide to Eating and Drinking (by the journalist Mimi Spencer) which appeared in Observer Food magazine a few weeks ago, and contained gems such as “We (girls) don’t order pasta at restaurants. One, because a plate of spaghetti vongole looks huge (you might as well have a neon sign above your head saying, ‘Look at me! I’m eating!’). Two, because pasta is almost pure carbohydrate, which we women all know is a gastronomic sin of the first order.”

The fact that you’re – shock, horror!- eating, is presumably not already signified by the fact that you’re sitting in a restaurant. I appreciate the article is fairly tongue-in-cheek- the tone is one of light hearted self-deprecation- but there’s still a serious message coming through, and I’d be concerned about my two teenage sisters reading such crap and beginning to feel self-conscious whenever a menu’s placed in front of them. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only woman in the world who enjoys going out to a restaurant with a man whose company she enjoys, choosing whatever she likes from the menu, enjoying nice wine and conversation rather than worrying about what everyone else is thinking about her food/eating methods/appearance, and then splitting the bill at the end (or taking it in turns to pay for meals out).

From ruddy

I wish to agree whole heartedly with the fact that these magazines [Grazia] make one feel worse. Okay we use them for fun purposes to relax with but they have a subconscious message and we start wondering about how we look all over again – i think it should be standard that the magazines have one area of real help to people and less dieting articles more positive action articles. It should encapsulate the issues of the new women today work career and love and how to

balance them and what to do to feel happy not how one looks all the time.

From Arpi Shively

Sheryl Plant’s review of Grazia magazine hit many of the right notes – since I started writing for magazines I’ve realised that many of them are froth. Their fashion and beauty ‘adverticles’ should be taken about as seriously as a bubble bath for the brain. Liked Sheryl´s style!

From Abigail Weigold

Abi,15,Media Student, I am making a magazine for my media course and I found this article [How to Create a Woman’s Glossy Magazine in 5 Minutes] to be exactly as I thought. The writer is explaining how dependable each magazine is containing exactly the componants. But yet we keep buying them and so must the reader. If the magazine changed its content we would be outraged its the main reason why we buy the magazine is because we know we can depend upon what we are going to find inside. Well this has backed up my idea of ‘female’ magazines. Thanx – great article!

From Samantha

I would like to know what explanation you can give for suggesting race is a more serious issue than sexism when discussing the sexist cover of a new supposedly feminist book? As was said in the blog posting [Judging a Book by its Cover], “But other commenters, and blogger Nubian, raise the – perhaps more serious issue – of race.” Thank you,

Jess McCabe, blogger at The F-Word, replies


Although Jessica Valenti’s book is about feminism – and when it’s published I’m sure it will spark an interesting debate – the only thing we have to go on so far is the cover. And the cover Valenti and her publishers chose was one that raised various concerns among some feminist bloggers.

As I mentioned in the post, some of these concerns had to do with the use of a naked, conventional female torso, arguably perpetuating our culture’s body fascism. But others suggested that having a white woman on the cover suggested that feminism is for white women.

Feminism has a historical problem with engaging with non-white women. And in my experience, it is still an issue – for example, most feminist meetings I’ve been to have been mostly attended by white women. In that context, Valenti’s choice of cover seemed to me to be damaging in terms of the feminist community’s continued failure to deal with this problem, and so worth calling attention to.

While the sexism of this world is a big problem, it is not the only problem. When some of those other problems – such as race issues – directly affect the feminist community, I think it’s worth commenting on. I for one am not interested in a world where we eradicate sexism but let racism thrive, or where feminism is ok with shutting out non-white women.

Hope that explains my post a bit more!

From Kate Pepper

Lucy, I read your article [Women Are Not in Fashion] with great interest. Having come of age in New York of the 70s, when feminism was actually celebrated, and now raising a daughter in the Zeros, when nothing is more revered than lace and stilletos, the frustration is almost unbearable. Thank you for so astutely articulating the issues and dangers of today’s vacuous so-called ‘girl culture’ which only

perpetuates the worst mysoginist myths and sends all the wrong messages to our children.

From mags

just a breath of fresh air to read this article [Women Are Not in Fashion]. being a young female with all these mixed messages cam be hard to live with so thanks for putting so much sense into it…

From Annon

Re: Kill Bill. Some very well presented and thought of points, however I am curious how someone who has only seen one other Tarantino film feels that she can judge, when so clearly in order to persue the arguement at hand, you must have contextuall ‘know how’ of all Tarrantino’s work. Also i would like to question how and why a 16 year old girl was aloud to watch a (as you so rightly put it) film full of ‘gratuatous violence’ which ha been rated an 18 in order to prevent children from viewing.

From toot

Haha! Wow, your articel is GREAT!! i laughed so much!! Compliment to you, truely. XD

From Julie

I thoroughly enjoyed reading abby o’reilly’s review on first magazine. i am currently writing a dissertation where i am looking at the new womens newsmagazines – primarily ‘first’ and ‘in the know’ and comparing them to newspapers and magazines such as ‘heat’…so see how they differ. I am hoping abby will review ‘in the know’ magazine as it has already received critical feedback since it was published. Thanks.

From Rosa Thomas

This [Declaration of Independence] was such an enjoyable article! I empathise and agree completely with the author, and was inspired by her wit and conviction.

From Cassandra

Re: Declaration of Independence: It’s funny because i never considered myself a feminist, but now i’m analyzing my way of thinking & my way of doing things, and it certainly fits the pro-women description, which is absolutely a GREAT THING. I loved this article so much, i actually emailed it to a MALE friend of mine who desperately wants to enter a relationship with me and I recently shut him down. He was trying to come up with all these reasons as to why i wouldn’t/couldn’t commit… thus this article couldn’t have come in a better time. He is an introspective & open-minded guy so hopefully he can read this and fully understand (finally) where I am coming from. Thanks a million, Abby O’Reilly!

From Bea

I thoroughly enjoyed this article [Declaration of Independence], found it very refreshing to hear this take on the stereotyping of single females -that is so rampant even today! however being a 36-year-old (Spanish, UK-resident) single woman I find it rather shocking that someone so young -22- already experiences this kind of pressure from peers.

From J A

Ive just read a book about a guy who was a really severe sadist and would actually rape his victims, in the book all sorts of ethical issues were brought up, about the back rooms of sex shops cotaining real footage of real rapes and then I became interested I looked (briefly couldnt stand it!) On the internet at bondage etc… And was amazed and disgusted at what I found! It seems to be all women who recieve this “torture” and they are called slaves! Its hideous and demeaning and I needed to know if there are any women fighting this which I am very relieved to see that there are. Im all for female sexual liberation! But it seems some how to have turned on us and we are either filthy whores or sweet innocent creatures not to be touched! Anyway

it makes me so angry! So if you could keep my updated with any news or progress that would be great!

From John

Re: Ball Breaking: Coming Out of the Feminism Closet: Yeah, right! Maybe some in the 60’s but welcome to the 21st century, glad you could make it. The feminist movement had and still has nothing to do with male benefits. I mean how could one hardly say a man is benefitted by having a ball-busting bitch who blames him for everything and takes her pist-off attitude out on him. Now, why did they use to name Her-ricanes after women? I once felt sorry for women. Look, not all women are ball busters and not all men are dick heads. But the ball busters yell the loudest and I am disgusted with what the feminist movement has brought this world to become-take your resposibility-one time. Women, generally speaking, think it is anti-woman just to talk about women, where-as, women are so obsessed with everything men do, eat, wear, say, behave, etc., bla,bla,bla, they hold conferences and seminars about it! Women, quit coming to this negative conclusion just because you got screwed over by the opposite sex before(and everyone has!) that men are to blame for everything in the world that has turned out shitty! Women aren’t perfect, men aren’t perfect which is what I like about people. I am attracted to beautiful women who are strong and gentle, intelligent and funny and have excellent attitudes toward life but most of all believe that people are equally imperfect! Atleast most dudes get that! And the new thing is today women are “more evolved than men”. Shit please, go get your self a blood diamond, bitch! Because, it’s just like grandma and grampa use to say, you can’t judge a book by its cover-you cave women! You have became what you originally set out to prevent. Happens all the time to everyone. Fix it or its over.

From shannon

This is a response to Emma’s article about people’s reluctance to call themselves feminists [Why Not Feminism?]. I always have called myself one, if the topic comes up, and I will always be one. But starting in the late ’90s I began to feel I was in the minority. I would like to become more involved in contemplating this issue with other women in the UK (or anywhere really) because I have become alienated from my own identification with other women since the word has come into disrepute. (I once got involved with a NOW–National Organization for Women–activity in the US, but found it too heirarchical (sp?) almost despising of the women it was supposed to be helping, victims of domestic violence). I am from the US originally but now have been in the UK a few years and find this an unwelcoming atmosphere for woman-assertion generally.

I think that the overall atmosphere of people being disempowered by ‘neo-liberal’ economy has caused a focus on disempowered men…which means that a non man-hating woman feels less comfortable stating her feminist identification. As a result, an idea such as a reading group of women, for instance, can seem like pettiness?

From Sidney J. Harlow

Re: Why Not Feminism? I can honestly state that I have never felt the need to be apologetic about my feminist beliefs and practises, nor about being up front in labelling myself a feminist. I have always regarded feminism as an ideology with a set of principles which seek to correct gender based injustice in particular and benefit wider society generally. It has never been a dirty word to me, though I recognise the argument set out in Emma Cosh’s article. The reason that I have been able to rise above the perceived negative connotations is simply because I am a male advocate and have been since 1969. This to some women is their worst nightmare, especially when I challenge their feminist credentials, but with over thirty five years of putting beliefs into practise I have earned the right to speak on the subject and do so in this case.

Emma Cosh identifies three main areas where battles have been fought and won or at least accepted in principle if not fully translated into practise. Yet there is one issue which has yet to be addressed let alone fought over, is more important than the vote, equal pay and anti-discrimination practises and underpins them all whatever lifestyle; I refer to the concept and principle of financial independence. If you expect to have control over your own money, however meagre the amount, then you are declaring that your personal financial independence is important to you. Just how important and how it is achieved and maintained during your life is where so called feminists become vague and contradictory.

If a person can secure and remain in adequately paid employment, (enough for food, shelter and clothing), throughout their lifetime without the need to defer to anyone or recourse to any means-tested welfare benefits, then their financial independence is not an issue. Yet there are very few in each generation who are ever in that position. In reality, it is State welfare provision at its basic level which underpins the individual’s financial independence and not paid employment. So unless a woman has an independent source of income or remains living on her own her financial independence will always be challenged and compromised. The question is, is that an acceptable situation for feminists, and if not, then why has it never been challenged?

You can live without the vote, you can subsist on unequal pay however unjust and you can even tolerate gender discrimination, but you cannot live without money, nor have the freedom of choice and dignity that having control over that money brings. Hence the crucial importance of personal financial independence. If you disagree with this concept of financial independence then you appear to be agreeing with the un-feminist role of the financially dependent wife and mother. On the other hand, if you agree with the principle you need to explain how you square the circle vis-a-vis live-in sexual relationships where neither party has financial independence, including lesbians, who perversely have helped engineer the un-feminist position of giving up their previous financial independence in exchange for the means-tested provisions of the Civil Partnership Act, even when they don’t sign up to it?!

Now the issue as I have defined it is not hard to pin down nor is it esoteric, as Emma would have us believe, and of all the battles that remain this is the most universally applicable, yet it remains women’s Achilles’ Heal.

Now, is there any feminist out there who has got the courage of her convictions who would like to challenge my analysis —- thought not? The reason that it will not be challenged is because there are no feminists out there in the first place and won’t be until the issue of personal financial

independence is addressed, debated and resolved. So my advice to Emma Cosh is to stay in the feminist closet unless she is prepared to put her money where her mouth is!

From Martha D

In response to Tracey Coates’ response to the ‘Feminine Feminism’ article, most of the time my aesthetic is pretty feminine, BUT there is nothing wrong with being an androgenous or non feminine feminist, as I also often am or have been aestheticall. I quite like the choice, and am interested in how people respond differently to me. I see your point in that some feminists are hostile towards more feminine feminists, but large chunks of society are hostile or awkward with androgenous or non feminine women, from my personal experience.

Day to day life seems smoother when I look feminine, but personally I dont think perpetuating a feminine aesthetic is particularly progressive, even though I do it. Especially not if in some cases the price is animal suffering for cosmetic testing, or environmentally destrucive toilettries and wastefully opressively produced and environmentally destructive clothing, which is potentially also detrimental to your health, as in the case of many Jimy Choo shoes. And that’s at the more basic end of the scale, not including cosmetic surgery.

I don’t know what kind of ‘feminine’ you are aesthetically, or how you acheive that image. I enjoy feminine aesthetics, but I don’t think it should be achieved at the cost of anyone’s personal happiness or freedom, and it does become a problem when people spend excessive amounts of time or money on it or make it a higher prioirty than it should be. It is often more socially comfortable outside of feminist circles to appear ‘feminine’ if you are a women, but every part of the image comes with meaning, if you are conscious of it perhaps that means you are more empowered over it, but it’s not freedom for women, even if it is freedom for you.

From Ilgin Sweet

I saw the play [The Vagina Monologues] two days ago and absolutely loved it. As Catherine said, one minute I was killing myself laughing and next minute I was in tears. We went as a group of 12 women aged between 30-55 and we all found the performance and the play excellent. We all found something in it from ourselves, our experiences, our joys, our fears…Catherine’s article is the best review I read on the play and as she said I could not see how Jonathan Myers thought that it was feminist and he felt excluded!I think every man should see the play to gain a great insigt into women’s world, especially when it comes to sexuality. The story of a 72 years old woman who never had an orgasm, the story “flood” amazingly well told and the best example of how men make us feel about ourselves & our sexuality; how bad or good (the example of Bob staring at her vagina for hours) they can make us feel. Overall, it was a great “play” and Congratualtions to Catherine for this lovely article.

From Tiffany Bryan

Re: Kerrang Magazine: Being a British female guitarist in my own rocking band called ‘TWO’ I find it refreshing that women out there are wanting more from their music, other then the male dominated scene.

Women need to realise that feminintiy needent be a boundry to anything, and start picking up and guitar or drum sticks- and the indusrty needs to start writing articles and championing female musicians.

One of the main comments I get from people who watch me live is: “you don’t play like a girl, you’re amazing”. Or, “I didn’t know girls could actually play lead guitar like that.” Now isn’t that sad that the image of a great, kick-butt female guitarist is so rare that people actually verbalise these sorts of things to me? Come on women- let’s unite and take over and get rocking!

Check out my playing: ,

From Carlee

This article [Kerrang] is seriously awesome! I agree with everything you said and also believe that there needs to be some sort of change in the way women are represented in the media. I’ve grown very tired of listening to male driven rock bands. I love my rock music and everything, but just knowing how they view women makes me absolutely sick. I know you stated that you were really into rock music, but if you’re looking for a refreshing change of pace, I would reccomend listening to Ani Difranco. Thanks for saying everything I was thinking. Rock on! :D:D:D

From Michelle Avery

Thank you so much for you ‘Feminists are Sexists’ article. I have recently taken the leap and outed myself as a feminist by setting up a feminist society at my uni, and I get so much stick from men thinking they are so unique in asking me why there isn’t a men’s group etc. We do have many male members, but I agree that putting up with the constant onslaught of sly remarks is really tiring. Your article has renewed my resolve, and I won’t let them grind me down, I promise!

From roma jones

Re: Feminists are sexist by Catherine Redfern: Informative and interesting. A positive response to childish anti-feminists with nothing better to do than complain. Thank you for talking so much sense!

From Ali

Hi, Loved the article [Feminists Are Sexist], your frustrated tone is so known to me. I am sick of trying to explain the “plight” of women to my “intelligent” male mates who insist that they are female friendly but act completely the opposite. I have been called a man hater for years from my brothers, onwards. Why do the majority of guys still have such a problem with a bright woman “sticking up for and explaining the historic struggle women have endured for millenia?

My respect for the male gender has waivered for ages now and I’m at a loss as to what to do next. I’ve taken to shutting up generally because all that seems to happen if I talk or get drawn into the debate ,(which I hasten to add has become quite a game..let’s bait seems to be the way they get their energy intake!!)..I end up upset and frustrated that not one male can see or will indeed stick up for us!!

I hear immature bollocks and infantile get out clauses all around me and I feel so alone with it all. I feel patronised, ignored, insulted, bullied, marginalised, objectified and lots more unfortunate words.

I’m under curfew at night because some men can’t be trusted not to rape and abuse. It’s absurd for and I’m feeling now as if nothing much has really moved on. How can I help the “cause”? I really want to be able to openly discuss this without being labelled a freaky feminist man hater..

I’m on the verge of giving up and moving to the hills of somewhere by myself…Somewhere were I don’t have to stick up for myself all the time and justify why after 43 years of being treated like a second class citizen I am very PISSED OFF

From Mario

Re: Hardcore: Hi. I alwysa watched porn, but this man in fact should be put to jail. This is just plain rape and your article described the problem very well. Thank you for your great post!

There is at least some hope: I read on many forums that a *lot* of men in fact find it disgusting and are not aroused by it in any way. On the other hand: Who buys this stuff, then? Who are those men?

Greetings from Switzerland!

From Michaela

Hi my name is michaela, after reading “don’t cha wish pop was more empowering?” I think my neck was sore from the amount of nodding I did while reading. I agree with this article completely, it’s a shame mtv turned into mild porno over the last couple of years because I actually used to enjoy watching female music videos during the days of spice girls, TLC and early destiny’s child. They gave REAL messages and didn’t have to be scantily dressed to get people to pay attention to them.

now I have to flick channels with disgust because lets face it, half-naked girls grinding up strangers and faking orgasms isn’t exactly what I want to be watching in the afternoon if at all (it’s amazing what videos are shown in the day actually) especially with my little sister sitting next to me, how exactly does this garbage appeal to young girls in any way? Do they honestly think “hey, we have 10 year olds that like us so in the next video we’ll find ANOTHER rapper to grind up against ……who haven’t we used yet?” No, the fact is they don’t think about the kids watching at all, it’s all about the men “lets make sure we degrade ourselves even more in this video girls, oh and we’ll just say it’s sexual empowerment so we aren’t accused of doing a strip tease” and unfortunately objectification is in nearly every video I see nowadays , so I tell my little sister to laugh at these girls instead of admiring them , she knows they are not real women and to never act like them and to have respect for herself. So what I’m trying to say is that this was an exceptional article, I also hope for real role models in the future that my sister can really look up to, I’d like to see more artists that are genuine instead of posers who claim they are “feminist” as a gimmick and an excuse for acting like strippers. Strong women? More like weak for conforming if you ask me.

From Gigi

I wish to thank you MsRazorblade for this article [The Ethics of Sex Toys]. I am a fresh University graduate and have happily landed a job as a market researcher for a small, private company. This article is an excellent Springboard into my research and before this I must confess I was wrecked with worry on where and how to start in marketing a sex toy made especially for women.

I’m a young, wide-eyed woman from Canada new to the business. Once again I wish to thank you for your insight into the male, testerone-inundated sex industry. Thanks much

From someone who actually understands the film

Re: X-Men, The Last Stand: you obviously do not read comics, especially the X-men series. Your evaluations of the characters are completely wrong. Rogue the “most powerful mutant” is not trying to make herself sexually apealing to bobby(ice man, her boyfriend) she wants to be able to touch him(not sexually as you wish people to believe) she sees bobby ice skating with kitty pride, and becomes jelous(something that actually happens in the comics)

Mystiques evaluation by your hand is completely biased. You dont understand magneto at all, he thanked mystique for saving him but refused to help her because she was now humanhis sworn enemies. His statement of “she was so beautiful” shows that he believes no humans are beatiful, not any sexual pun. Finally on the topic of raven darkholm, the “hell hath no wrath like a woman’s scorn” line, if you continued to watch the movie, was irony, because she continued to help eric by having the humans comming to a camp with only multiple manin it, allowing magneto to escape.

The most pitiful examination of character was jean grey. She used her sexual prowess on wolverine because that is what he wants from her, and she wants to steal his energy and has to touch him to do it(using kissing as a covert method), with scott she kisses himbecause they were a couple and that is how some couples greet each other. Wolverine had to kill jean grey, because he was the only one that could. This is because she can destroy nearly anything, but wolverine’s healing factor allows him to regenerate any damage she may do to him. The movie portrayed her powers very badly, the pheonix used fire as its power, not telekinesis to rip things apart at the molecular level.

From Sandra

As a feminist I didn’t have a problem with Sin City. Why? Because it didn’t pretend it was anything other than it is – a genre film where all the men are tough and the women wear very little. Your basic romance offends me far more where the heroine usually has a successful career (killing time until she gets married) and is so stupid that she misunderstands everything the cardboard cutout love interest says to her until she finally gives in to him and they live happily ever after. Admittedly, if you cut out all the nonsense it would be a very short movie but at least Sin City isn’t pretending to show real women rather than stereotypes.

From Brian

I enjoyed the article on the “Hairy Women” documentary. I have not seen the program, but you covered it well. It is quite disgusting to think that so many people think that female body hair is so undesirable. Personally, I find it quite attractive. I also think smooth legs are nice, but that does not mean I wish for my wife to look prepubescent. That assumption is quite wrong, but it always seems to be presented as hard fact. A well written article.

From Ruth

Re: blog post “how to avoid becoming the office tea lady“. Bit of an expensive way around it, but if you can afford it, buy yourself a coffee / tea on the way into work and then if you’re asked to make a brew you can say, “I’ve already had a brew I’m afraid.” Depending on how cheeky you feel, you could say, “Carl/Neil/whoever you haven’t had a brew today, why don’t you make one for everyone else?”

From Amy Metcalfe

I understand and appreciate the points you raised in your article [Diet Grrrl: Feminism and Women’s Magazines] and do I agree with a select few. However, you resisted to mention features of women’s magazines that don’t just focus on sex or make up. Many magazines now have features on careers, politics, financial issues, health problems and stories

from women who have been raped, stalked and have suffered from depression. Such features help women readers getting through probelms they may be suffering from especially if they can’t talk to anyone else about it. Of course they write about make up and fashion because women are vain, basically!And if there are women who still take models for what they look like on the pictures than more fool them becasue it’s ridiculous that any one can even begin to think that what they are seeing is a true image.I understand that they can be shallow and superficial but it is a form of entertainment of some respect and women buy them on a daily basis so it can’t be all bad.

From christine

Teenagers and Cosmetic Surgery: i agree on everything you said. except the last line about make up,lol I went out one day without it and everyone thought u was deathly ill! But i like make up and its routine to put a little on. I liked your veiws about implants and how society is cheating girls on thier real beauty.

From Ali Davies

I loved this article [Oh! Mr Darcy]… but I think Matthew McFayden is brilliant; gorgeous… he was brilliant full stop. He made me feel like I am worth being loved… no matter what I look or feel like. Great!

From Amanda Falkenburg

Your article [Sick of Celebrity] spoke my mind. I have been pissed off at the worship of celebrity culture for the past couple of years and unable to articulate as eloquently as you quite why. Thank you! I don’t actively monitor its ins and outs, but I can’t even go through checkout at the supermarket or watch tv without being told about some petty development or scandal in c.w.’s life. I am very saddened when I see young girls and women directing so much energy in emulating these women rather than focusing on pursuits that would have a long-term rewards. I recently read Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs. If you haven’t, it’s my guess you’d enjoy it very much. It deals with the rise of raunch culture and is an excellent read. Best Regards,

From Camilla-Joyce Knightjoy

The article by Kadie Armstrong [Stand Up for Equality] is spot on, she raises some valid points and covers all aspects of why women are frowned upon in stand-up comedy and all other forms of comedy really! I am a Drama student about to attempt stand-up for the first time and in my research, I have explored the feminsit issues surrounding stand-up and have been disappointed to realise just how small an amount of females are in the industry. No doubt this will not be down to ability, more the prejudices of the world we live in.

I agree with Kadie about feeling disappointment when a female walks on stage to perform stand-up, which is wrong and I am not against women, but it is due to the surrounding factors: Will she be funny? Will men dislike her therefore not laugh? Will she stick to the comfort zones? It’s a tricky one but women should definately try more stand-up! We should take over! The whole issue is absurd and morally wrong. Things need to change. I would be interested to find out any more info regarding this matter and am happy to be contacted, in moderation! I can inforn those who are interested how my stand up exploration/project went. Kind regards.

From Ms Moss

Re: Bad Mothers. As a feminist who is pregnant with my first child, I found this article difficult and possibly unhelpful. It’s bad enough that in many private sector jobs you have to stake your “childless” credentials to the mast. I know that before I got pregnant, I would talk about how much babies bored me, and how I couldn’t stand children, just so my boss knew (how wrong he was) that I was never going to “go off and get pregnant and let him down”. It’s bad enough that you can’t admit in a work context, as a female, that you’d one day like to have children. (If you’re a bloke, of course, you’re fine.) Even if you do get pregnant, you have to constantly talk about how quickly you plan to return to work. If you talk about how you’re looking forward to it, immediately your colleagues, both male and female, clam up. That’s bad enough, and very hard to deal with.

However, in some feminist circles it’s also become fashionable to talk about how you don’t want children, and how smelly and bratty and awful they are, and what a thankless task it is. It’s almost as if, by having a baby, you’re betraying the sisterhood in some way. And if you’re actually looking forward to being a mother, god help you! You might as well have burned your copy of The Female Eunich and taken out a subscription to The Daily Mail!

I appreciate that the author might not have intended her article to be read in such a way, but it made me feel even worse than I already do about daring to have a baby.

I suppose women can’t get it right either way but I think we should respect a woman’s right to have children (and even stay at home to look after it if she wishes) just as much as her right not to have children.

I hope that is a fair comment without being too critical. I do love the f word and thoroughly enjoy reading the articles. Perhaps an article on the “joys of motherhood”, of course from a feminist angle, would even it out a little?

From Ben Drake

Ta again for The F-Word, going from strength to strength. Just on this infamous phone poll about 15-19 year old womens’ role models and career aspirations: as with many polls, needs taking with a big pinch of salt!

The ‘role model’ question appears to only have offered tick-box options of Abi Titmuss & Jordan, as against Anita Roddick & Germaine Greer. Now all respect to Greer and (sort of) Roddick but how many teenagers will have actually heard of em? Offer options of successful women other than ‘glamour’ models *who they’ve seen on telly* and odds-on you’d get a different result.

Same to some extent with the careers question, only very limited options on offer so that unless you fancy being a nurse (with long hours and low pay) then apparently your only other option is model or lap dancer.

Third question is even funnier: asking 15-19 year olds if they’d like to be famous? Like, duh!

Strikes me all told as not-very-subtle spin aimed at reinforcing dodgy social norms. Highly dubious whether it reflects the real diversity of young womens’ views or aspirations – nor the prospects for a revival of feminism to engage the current generation in a hundred creative ways.

More power to you as ever.

From Mark, Singapore

I response to Laura’s email about her time in Cambodia [Why Men Suck… And the Women Who Have To]. I am a Western Male. I have lived and worked in Asia (Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore) for over 7 years. I have had my wife and family with me during that time and have never caught the “yellow fever”. However, your damned feminism, where, as you say at the end of your email, has allowed women to do this and that and divorce etc, and our society’s allowance of such (the pendulum in many ways has swung too far in the female’s favour! – it is meant to be equality NOT so much equality that women then benefit from INequality) has resulted in a woman I was married to for 18 years actually having an affair (we have two early teenage girls) and thinking she can take me all the way to the bank!! While, 2 years later, while we still go through the Asset splitting phase, she is living WITH MY CHILDREN with the guy she had the affair with!!! But guess what? There is something called a “Women’s Charter” here in Singapore which labels a man guilty and he needs to prove his innocence rather than the other way around. FURTHERMORE…. You women can (ala the McCartney saga) take us for all we’re worth whether we’ve committed the wrong or not! STOP talking about the images you have to fight in female magazines for god’s sake! Beating that has nothing to do with equality!! Men have a plethora of male mags now continuously promoting six pack abs etc…. It’s male and female vanity NOTHING ELSE! Equality has nothing to do with that superficial rubbish!

Equality is to do with mutual respect and trust and, dare I say it, love. So do me a favour and get off the FEMINISM bus! There are chauvanists and there are feminists and neither are correct, dont you understand that? Or are you just so damned aggrieved about many things?

as for the Cambodian saga itself…. yes there are many western guys who get sucked into it. But what you are seeing are the ones that do. There are many (who you wont see of course) who are at home with families. There are also many (I am now a 43 year old divorcee for instance) who appreciate the beauty of an Asian woman (and in fact any beautiful woman from any culture) but wish to meet one – and is finding it difficult – who he CAN trust wants him for

himself and nothing else. And, may I add, that fear does not just apply to Asian women. Caucasian women (therefore YOUR female sisters) can be, and many are, financially and materialistically oriented.

This is, of course, a debate which has and will go on for eons. It will never end. Don’t let the pendulum swing too far though ladies because one day it will rebound very hard.

From Richard Ford

Re: The Food of Love? I have never met a feminist who did not insist on men paying for everything. I doubt you are sincere.

Re: War of Words: Or could it be that most women have morals and are not feminists? Just a thought.

Re: Every Girl Wants a Stalker: Things were probably a great deal easier in the early 50’s. Unfortunately feminism has created a great deal of confusion so that nobody really knows which role to play. The fact that you confuse persistence with stalker behaviour has nothing to do with the behaviour itself but shows that you part believe that ‘all men are rapists’.

I think that we are seeing a gradual return to traditional sex roles and this will clear up a lot of the problems you describe. It is only a UK/US problem anyway.

Re: Oh! Mr Darcy: Western culture (which is mostly feminist) hates both women and men- by this I mean it hates what women and men REALLY are as opposed to feminist stereotypes. It took me a while to accept myself in this toxic environment- and many women have the same problem. If you want Mr Darcy- then Mr Darcy is who you want! Go easy on yourself. You are a woman- nothing wrong with that!!!

Re: A Perfect Delusion: The reason men are not marrying has nothing to do with magazines and everything to do with inequitable divorce laws. Men are not bothered with beauty- we want to see our children grow up.

Re: Walking with Cavemen: Love is not a choice.

Re: Stepford Wives in Training:

Most healthy women WANT a family. Very few feminists are healthy or happy. Mystery solved.

Catherine, editor of The F-Word, replies

Most of this doesn’t deserve a response, but I wanted to point out that contrary to what Richard “I am the expert on feminists” Ford suggests, nowhere on this site does anyone claim that “all men are rapists”. Now, I must get back to my unhappy, unhealthy life and ask my boyfriend to pay for all my meals, as I am such a hypocrite after all. Gosh, Richard, you really got me figured out!

From Rachael Allen

Thank you Claire Burgess – your article on scented Tampax hit the nail on the head. The first time I saw the advert it set my alarm bells ringing. I now make weird grunting noises when it’s on or drown out the ridiculous voice-

over with a loud ‘Nooo’ regardless of where I am. And yes, that includes cinemas. I hope by engaging in such random comedy acts I can make my friends, family and strangers question why Tampax need to smell and how on earth a chemically scented Tampax is ‘natural’. Well done, I look forward to your next article.

From Grace

Why don’t women do better in the high up workplace? This article looks at several studies indicating the corrosion of female ambition due to discrimination and gender-based stereotypes. It’s really very interesting…

From charles

As a heterosexual male feminist, I think you’re article on the word ‘cunt’ [Taboo For Who?] is excellent. I’ think ‘cunt’ is more offensive than ‘prick’ and ‘dick’ as it SOUNDS more aggressive. ‘p’ ‘d’ ‘i’ and ‘ck’ in my view are soft sounds. Cunt starts with a hard ‘K’, followed by a distgusted/charging ‘Arrrgh’ and finishes with a clipping, tutting ‘T’. It has punch! Perhaps it is the concise stabbing sound (like tit or runt), that causes the offense? Perhaps its because each sound that makes up the word has been used to express negative or aggressive emotions by humans in the past. Maybe I’m talking complete flaps?

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