Comments from June 2007

June comments, up now!

, 9 July 2007

From Jay

The f word website is undoubtedly an important and useful tool for

women in the UK to put forward their views on social and sexual

injustice and make their voices heard on real issues. This is vital

in a society where it seems that even since Greer, Friedan and

countless other voices the focus on women’s achievements is still

mainly on breasts, waistlines and sexual willingness than any kind of

intellectual or self-affirming pursuit.

Reading Katharine Stanton’s article on Jacqui Oatley however, has

made me wonder whether what was a platform for rational and

well-considered debate has not become an over-zealous and gauche

caricature of itself. Apparently Ms Stanton is shocked that so many

men are disgruntled with the fact that there is now a woman providing

commentary on Match of the Day. So what?

From the very beginning the article is achingly predictable, choosing

such witnesses for the defence as Dave Bassett (renowned for

intelligent comment?), Steve Curry (Daily Mail, anyone?) and a

Facebook group consisting mainly of adolescent, sex obsessed wankers

whose primary contact with women is either through dubious web sites

or the bra page ripped out of their Mums’ Index catalogue.

The world of football is undoubtedly a male-dominated world, and not

one of the most intellectually advanced areas of modern culture, and

so can one express any genuine surprise at the displeasure so many

men have shown at Jacqui Oatley’s introduction to MotD? It is

symptomatic of an over-done, contrived and unhelpful kind of feminism

to attack such traditional areas of male bonding as football for their

exclusion of females. I can say from personal experience that when men

go to watch football they often do so in order to access an all male

environment, in which typically male behaviours and ways of

communicating are considered valid and beyond objection from women. I

can also say from experience that women have their own versions of

these single-sex environments where they find their own comfort zone

and do not need to worry about being judged on their actions or

methods of communication by men. Is that really so bad? Would four

women chatting in a coffee bar really be able to express themselves

in the way they wished if, say, the boyfriend of one of the women was

to come and join them? Without doubt some of the intimacy of the

occasion would be lost and the women would have to modify the way

they were interacting.

The question that needs to be asked is, what is the point in

Katharine’s article? The author claims that it is not the

complaints about Jacqui Oatley’s presence on MotD that she is

rallying against, but the way in which the situation has been used as

a platform for misogynistic comment and behaviour. I cannot but see

the irony here when a self proclaimed feminist has taken what is at

base a fairly predictable and innocuous situation and turned it to

the advantage of a rambling, pointless pseudo-feminist rhetoric.

Notice that in her ‘about the author’ section at the foot of the

article, Ms. Stanton boasts of the fact that she will ‘start a

feminist-type argument whenever possible’. Surely ‘refute a

patriarchal or misogynist argument whenever possible’, or ‘start a

discussion or advocation of feminist principles whenever relevant’

would be a wiser course of action? By her own admission, the author

of the article simply has an axe to grind and will look wherever and

whenever possible for an opportunity to grind it.

This is not feminism; this is smug pedantry and is unjustified,

immature and completely unnecessary. So men don’t like women

commentating on football. Are you really that surprised? Deep down,

do you really care?

Katherine Stanton, author of the article, replies

In response to your comment I’d like to point out a number of things.

Apparently you felt my article was pointless. At the time of writing, the Oatley debut was quite a recent thing, but I felt that not many people were made aware of the reactions. I was definitely shocked when I discovered the Facebook group, and I felt that other women should be made aware of the protests that seemed to be going overlooked.

I get the impression that you feel I should just get over it. Unfortunately, I wish I could, but I believe in equal opportunities and just because football is male-dominated and apparently some sort of male refuge where “objections from women” don’t occur, that doesn’t mean women should be banned from taking part in something they are interested in. That’s ludicrous and in fact, quite sexist, as it rarely happens the other way round. Sorry to use such a stupid stereotype, but do you see Gordon Ramsay being petitioned to get out the kitchen – somewhere that is classed as such a ‘female-dominated area’? If you find a Facebook group based around that, please let me know.

I’m not totally sure if it is Oatley, myself or the article that you’re complaining about. I certainly did not appreciate the little personal attack on myself you slid in at the end. The “will start a feminist argument whenever possible” comment was meant to be humorous and hardly serious, and if I’d known it was going to be used as means to take the piss then I wouldn’t have bothered.

From Gavin

Women have reported on football for years, and have written books on

football, and have commentated on radio. Likewise, Gabby Yorath is

well admired by football fans for being vastly more knowledgeable

than the pundits she works with.

So I think it is a shame that a ludicrous sexist minority have used

the arrival of a female tv commentator as a chance to air their


Having said that – there always will be a stupid minority among

millions – hence a Labour councillor in the North West was recently

fired for shouting racist abuse at a Spurs player in a league match.

From Tom

Re: A feminist guide to ballet: Loved your article on ballet. It appealed partly because I am a

committed fan of contemporary dance and partly because I fell in love

with Angelina only last year. Can you imagine two ageing men falling

off the settee in delight (not ridicule) watching an Angelina video?

Have you come across The Place? It is my favourite venue. You will

find feminist choreographers presented there and classes too.

Changing tack, did you know the young dancers at the Paris Opera in

the time of Degas were called ‘rats’ -Angelina’s forebears? Oh, yes,

American art theorists claim Degas was misogynist but he supported

both Mary Cassatt and Suzanne Valadon. Probably the only man of his

time to recognise and promote women artists!

So that’s it – dance, art, feminism they interweave for me.

From Samara

Something of significance that you didn’t mention in the ballet

article is the extent to which ballet lessons can propagate an

unhealthy body image from a very young age. I did gymnastics as a

child, to which my stocky, muscular build was perfectly suited. It

was when I did a year of ballet lessons at the age of eight to try

and inject some grace into my floor routines that I started to hate

my body. I was constantly being told to “tuck my bottom in”, whilst

taller, slimmer girls were lauded as the epitome of grace and

perfection. It was always the long, lithe, leggy girls who were

praised, never the short, fat ones. A short-legged, big-bottomed

little beefcake such as myself had to be twice as competent as a

delicate-looking waif to be regarded as half as good.

The phenomenon of professional and aspiring professional ballerinas

being under immense pressure to be extremely thin is well publicised,

but the damaging effect that ballet lessons can have on small children

is often ignored. Having reminisced about childhood ballet experiences

with many women, it seems that this is incredibly common. I have heard

many, many women say that the first time they remember being unhappy

with their body was directly related to ballet.

If you have nothing but good memories of your ballet lessons, if the

worst thing about it was that it didn’t seem cool enough any more,

then you are very fortunate.

From Yurimasae

Re:Girls Aloud, beauty secrets and lies: Excellent article. It was high time someone addressed the issue. I

fantasize about a nationwide campaign with T-shirts and stickers to

educate young girls about the Beauty myth. Too many girls still

suffer in silence.

From mags

excellent article – needs to get into the mainstream debate

From Irina

About “Girls Aloud, beauty secrets and lies” – yes, I also noticed

that slim gorgeous celebrities admit to feeling not good enough with

this annoying air of maty, friendly confession, as if they assume all

of us feel the same. Suppose, I don’t? Suppose I rate myself 9 out of

10, not 4?

It would be great to have many women, regardless of their beauty or

age, saying in press that they are good enough, thank you very much,

go and shove your waxing kit you know where. Or if there were more

women openly narcissic about their bodies, for the balance.

From littlejo

Although there are undeniably sinister forces making many women obsess

about their bodies unhealthily there is still a need to ‘watch what

you eat’. Our society is also saturated with incredibly cheap

available junk food. We have not evolved for this. Without

attention to diet one can easily become overweight, which is a

serious detriment to health. We may not like to admit it but a size

16 represents ill health for women of average height, and yes, they

do need to loose weight. Of course this should be motivated by

common sense and not vanity or insecurity. I’d hate to think women

who are considering dieting are doing so because interviews with the

likes of Girls Aloud made them feel worthless, but many women in

Britain should be thinking about it nonetheless.

From Hugh

Firstly Cosmetic companies/surgeons are not in a huge conspiracy to

bring back a 1952 patriarchal society let’s just clear that up now.

Secondly men have to do things like this too it’s just that like

women we try to keep it a secret from women because that lessens the

effects of actions such as working out, getting our hair right,

dieting, getting the right clothes and acting just right. You can’t

blame us for finding something attractive because there always will

be an image of sex appeal and this applies for both sexes.

From Jessica Newton

I’m writing in response to the article by Dawn Kofie on Loose Women.

I was very dissapointed by this programme, I’ve just finished three

years of uni, and over the last two years i have become increasingly

interested in feminism and gender issues. I first watched ‘Loose

Women’ because I was told that it was a pro-women’s programme, though

all I was left feeling was at a “loose” end. I appreciated this

article by Dawn, it expressed a lot of what I’ve been feeling about

this programme, and I’m annoyed that there seems to be nothing else

“pro-women” in the main stream to turn to. I have continued to watch

the programme on occasion, for the simple reason that I find these

women fascinating as gendered subjects in this patriarchal society. I

have just recently discovered the F-word site, and although I have

only read a few articles so far, I am exceptionally excited to read


From ana

You stop short of actually pointing out that it is the women who are

the sexist ones on this show. So in this day of misandry perhaps an

allegiance to the notion that feminism stands for equality would

point out this fact that this show is nothing more than a platform

for hypocritical male bashing.

From Linda hennessy

I think Loose Women is even more insidious than your commentator. I

watched one day as the panel discussed whether they would kiss

another woman as a way of exciting/attracting a male partner. One

said she would, no problem, anything to keep her man happy. Another

protested so much, and in such homophobic terms (‘No, never, made her

sick to think of it, unnatural, disgusting, oooh, vile, yuk!’) that as

soon as the show returned from an ad break she was forced to apologise

to any lesbians who might have been watching. These are reactionary,

conservative women who practically pass out at the prospect of anyone

not wearing make-up, depilating or choosing not to marry and have

kids. It’s a shameful programme.

From Alice

Re:The circle of expectations: Really good article. I’d just like to point out a possible reason why

this occurs, not only in improv comedy, but in everyday life.

Traits associated with masculinity are in general ‘good,’ positive

traits: bravery, strength, activity. Traits associated with feminity

are in general ‘bad,’ negative traits: weakness, irrationality,


A person trying to live up to ‘good’ traits is admirable and can

admit it. We admire someone who wants to be braver. It makes sense

to try and improve a positive trait like strength, because positive

traits are also useful in ways besides conforming to gender


A person trying to live up to ‘bad’ traits is not admirable. It

makes no sense to try and improve a ‘negative’ trait: who would want

to admit that they are trying to appear less active, less strong?

Negative traits have little use besides conforming to expectations:

so a woman who admits she is trying to appear weak or docile is

admiting more fully than a man in the equivalent position that she

feels the need to live up to gender expectations.

So men can jokingly admit that it often takes an artifical effort to

appear manly. But women can’t admit that it often takes struggle to

appear womanly. Thus we can have our attention drawn to the

artificiality of masculinity in a way that we can’t have it drawn to


Brilliant angle, George, it cuts right to the heart of this issue.

From Kate Smurthwaite

I agree that the stereotypes shown are horrid, but I disagree that good improv shows us what we expect to happen – and it sounds like you saw some pretty mediocre improv. I think good improv is about experimenting with people’s expectations.

If you are ever in London, I recommend grand theft improv (thurs nights at black horse, rathbone place) or if you’re in edinburgh in august i’ll be doing some myself as part of comedy cocktail at the free festival.

From Seph

Re: Gap selling suggestive clothing for toddlers: unfortunatly this isn’t

that new, i’ve seen several clothing stalls in my town market

advertising “Training thongs” for ages 6 and up.

Given the recent news story about a peadophile being given a lighter

sentance because the 10 year old victim was ‘dressed like a 16 year

old’ how can anyone think encouraging children to wear this kind of

stuff is a good idea?

From m

Re: Livejournal targets sexual violence: The claim that “there is no evidence of a single paedophile who has

been prevented or dissuaded from” may be true, but I feel misses the

point somewhat. There are plenty of cases where people write or read

fictional child porn, who do not abuse children. Even if something

doesn’t prevent it, that isn’t an argument to ban it…

“we know from general statistics that pornography plays a strong role

in the fantasy lives of most sexually violent men before, during and

after actual attacks.”

Though we also know from general statistics that correlation does not

imply causation. Obviously many sexually violent men are interested in

porn, but then many sexually active men are interested in porn. This

doesn’t mean that anyone who is interested in porn is going to be

sexually violent. (Also I see you jumped from “fictional child porn”

to porn in general.)

But this isn’t really the issue for LiveJournal. Sexual violence is

already illegal, but it’s not up to LiveJournal to try to track down

potential sexual predators based on whether they write fictional porn

or not.

*”(and for the record I am surprised any web provider allowed

explicitly focussed incest sites to exist for as long as they did).”

– Web providers are “common carriers”, meaning that posters are

responsible for the content. As soon as they start policing content

based on keywords, they risk losing the common carrier status, hence

making themselves liable.

* The “gay marriage” comment is a relevant point – yes, they haven’t

targetted such communities, but saying people can’t discuss illegal

activities applies to things like murder, drugs, possibly consensual

acts like BDSM just as much as child abuse or incest.

* Re: the rumour mill working overtime: Yes, survivor communities was

a myth, but survivor journals _were_ deleted. In fact, LiveJournal

have stated that approximately half were deleted in error – see .

* “these sites contravened the Terms of Service for Livejournal”

Might be true for some, but not true for all of them – there is

nothing in the ToS about listing interests which are “illegal” acts.

From Kerry Wills

Re: New bra for augmented breasts: I was interested in your blog about breasts and the pressure many

women feel to enlarge them. As the owner of a pair of painfully

large, DD-size breasts, I can tell you that you’re damned if you do

have them as well.

I’m a feminist, a reporter, and the author of a recently published

book on knitters as an American subculture. But when I meet people,

male or female, my brain is rarely the first thing people notice.

People, male and female, typically stare with disgust or lurid

fascination at my chest. This happens whether I’m wearing a business

suit or a clingy t-shirt, and so I adamantly defend my right to wear

whatever I want. I wish someone would establish a

“” for me so that I could unload some of this

burden, but, then, part of me feels that I shouldn’t be shamed into

mutilating my body through surgery. My breasts hurt me every day,

both physically and mentally. My shoulders are stooped, and the

straps on my bra typically dig into my flesh. But worse than the

literal weight I carry is the agony over judgment I witness in the

eyes of others all the time. I wish I knew the sources for the

anecdotes that follow, to legitimize them. I don’t. But I have read

that a survey of men confirmed my long-held suspicion: Most men

assume that women with large breasts lack intelligence. As a

reporter, covering police and court beats for the most part, I admit

that I’ve used this prejudice to my advantage. When a corrupt, sexist

dolt thinks he doesn’t have to be on guard around me, he is likely to

find himself sorry the next morning, as he reads the paper. Even so,

it’s difficult when men and worse when women dismiss me or condescend

to me before I speak a word. Of course, there’s another myth to deal

with: that women with large breasts are sluts. So many men and women

seem to believe that breasts grow unusually large because of

overstimulation. I can’t tell you how insulting and hurtful it’s been

to me when some of my best female friends have urged me to get a

breast reduction. An M.D. — my former college roommate and a close

friend — is among the guilty. Rarely do they explain why they

believe it’s necessary. I don’t think they’re concerned about my

shoulder pain. Sadly, I think my boobs embarrass them. They are

gelatinous, cumbersome, almost amorphous. I know that for my friends,

these breasts don’t suit my strong, funny, smart, confident

personality. And yet, for some reason, I feel protective of these

breasts. It really, really pisses me off when a well-meaning,

small-breasted woman proposes I might be happier without them. Must I

reject these overtly feminine features to be respected? I almost never

hear feminists ranting against oppression of the excessively endowed

woman. Tell me it’s not because you really think we have some

advantage. I assure you, being drooled over by the lords of the

patriarchy is no honor at all — it’s more predictable subjugation.

From Walter Lippmann

Re: Vilma Espin, Cuba’s First Lady, dies: Thanks for the lovely photo and post about Vilma Espin, founder of the

Cuban Women’s Federation.

My father and his parents lived in Cuba during World War II when, as

German Jewish refugees from Hitler, they couldn’t get into the U.S.

and had to wait for several years to get permission to go to the U.S.

He met my mom in the U.S., so I was conceived, born and raised in the


My interest in Cuba originated with that history, and now I run a

Yahoo news group focusing on that.

From Lyall

Re: PlayStation plays misogynist again: I just wanted to point out that while

Sony’s ads may offend you, Nintendo’s adverts for (admittedly

decade-old) Ocarina of Time were far more blatantly sexist. “Will you

save the girl, or play like one” was the phrase I believe. Such an odd

advert for a series which is so popular among women.

From Masatomo

I don’t see this as being sexist.. as much as I wouldn’t consider it

offensive to guys if the subject was a boy talking to his girlfriend

about football and cars and videogames and stuff..

I think it’s quite a good campaign.. and there are a few girls that

are really like that, as much as there are many guys who do the same

with their partners with different subjects.

The point I’m trying to make is that whoever gets offended by this

kind of thing must be probably deeply touched by a stereotype in

which that person recognizes herself.

don’t know if you have seen the recent Australian “Racing car” ad

where girls are depicted showing the little finger up when guys race

past them with their roaring cars, saying that “if you go fast, you

have a small penis”.. well.. I guess that someone might get offended

because they might have some problem with their sexuality in the

first place.

From Irina

Re: The Feminine Mistake: Not having read the book “The Feminine Mistake”, I want to say that

the author of the review, JC Sutcliffe, has written a brilliant

review in which she asks important questions in regard working and

motehrhood. The review is great because it distances a reader form

the book and its’ agenda.

The social background of interviewed mothers is a very important

issue. It is true, that love for work and having interesting work are

usually a privilege of middle class women. They have something to

loose when they quit workplace.

I often thought that my friends in Russia, working in the system

which combines wild capitalism and no human rights and very weak

trade unions, dream about leaving their jobs in order to stay at home

with children. if I worked like them and there, I would want to quit

myself too.

Even here, with mentioned above tradition of collective resistance to

employers, I must say: I hate working, and I am not a poor uneducated

lass. The idea of never going to work would appeal to me, had i also

wanted to have a child, but I don’t.

So the argument that job fulfills is worthless for me. Reading a book

that bangs on about goodness of work must be really annoying for women

and men like me.

However, important argument should be financial security of women and

economical and emotional balance in the relationship. It is bad for a

man to posess more power in relationship. It is also debilitating for

a grown up woman not to have her own money she can spend without

consulting anybody. Even if in most normal relationship money belong

to both partners, I doubt that non-earning partner can spend them

with same ease as the one who actually earned it.

I’d agree with the idea that work can be unavoidable evil but it is

better for a woman to continue working if she doesn’t want to be poor

in old age, rather than naively hand herself over to hubby and to a


One can only shake the reviewer’s hand for suggesting that the

problem should be adressed on governmental level, to allow both sexes

to work less. Britain already has higher level of depression and

sexual disfunctions than any other European country, binge drinking

is another well-loved subject for newspapers. Do you think it has

nothing to do with longer working hours British people have to work?

I think the long-term solution is to make employer understand that

today’s children are tomorrow’s workforce, so they must cough up

decent working conditions for the parents and stop killing them with

workloads, redundancies and re-dislocation of business into a cheaper

countries. Basically, it all boils down to twisting capitalism’s arm,

I am afraid.

From frances phil-ebosie

Re: A bride by any other name: You probably don’t even know the half of it. I just got married, and

hadn’t made up my mind about the name business, even though the truth

is I don’t like my surname, unfortunatly i think my husband’s is worse

as it’s a hybrid of a western name and our tribal nigerian name. This

of course ruled out my compromising by adding my surname to his.

After we got married , he was transferred abroad and I was asked to

make a new passport for visa purposes. I couldn’t believe it when I was

told to bring a letter of consent from my husband by the immigration

guys. Apparently if you are underaged you bring a letter of consent

from your parents (preferably daddy), and if you are married, he has to

give his permission to getting a passport. I returned and got the

passport with his name and without the letter, but only by claiming

this time to be a miss when I realised that our passports show no


I have decided it really isn’t a big deal, its basically about

identification and more importantly knowing who you are. I can trace

my fathers generation down six lines because their wives took their

names and things are as they should be.

From nicholas

when my fiancee and i first got engaged, i suggested she either keep

her surname and add mine to it or just keep hers. for whatever

reason as a male i am not too into a female having to stop her blood

name there. it just doesn’t make sense to me. of course i also

suggested i add her name to mine. i want to be a part of her family

just as much she to mine. but even to her that came as a little

shock not to mention to the rest of her italian family and anyone

else i have mentioned it to. apprently something like that is “a

little gay.” anyway, she decided to add mine to hers and as for me,

i think fear will inevitably guide the way. because as you probably

know, dudes just don’t do that shit. :P i live in america, but i’m

sure in the uk or ole europa, something like this runs a little


i just found this website due to a google search for something and

there are a slew of articles that look very interesting and i’ll

check them out soon! all the best!

Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies

I just wanted to say I’m kind of surprised at your wife and your wife’s family’s reactions. As far as I understand, women don’t usually change their name on marriage in Italy. Maybe you experienced an American-Italian thing! This business of women changing their surnames when they get married seems to be a decidedly Anglo-Saxon tradition. Finally, I’d like to say good on you for trying to buck the tradition!

From b stevens

Did you receive an engagement ring? A woman takes her husband’s

name as a sign of commitment and as part of a romantic tradition. In

the same way as a man buys his fiance an engagement ring as a sign of

commitment and as part of a romantic tradition. But of course a man

paying for an engagement ring is just as ‘sexist’ in its own way as a

woman taking her husbands name. Why should men pay for such things, a

woman doesn’t buy her husband an engagement ring. It is actually a

dowry in all but name.

A woman who does not take her husbands name but who wears his

engagement ring is a hypocrite.

Thats why the ‘expectation’ of women changing their names to a mans

is not actually sexist at all – it is part of a tradition of a couple

uniting, with the man giving her a gift as his sign of commitment, and

the woman taking his name as her sign of commitment. But the man is

expected to commit first.

Eleanor Turner, author of the article, replies

I would like to

answer your question about whether I received an engagement ring by

answering that yes, I did. My husband and I paid half each for the diamond

and ruby ring that I picked out while shopping together. However, as soon

as was financially possible, I returned the favour by buying him a titanium

ring that he picked out for himself. We both still wear our engagement

rings – mine with my wedding band on my left hand, and he wears one ring on

each hand. I know of other couples who bought each other gifts instead of

rings, such as expensive watches or pieces of technology, but the sentiment

has remained the same – both partners receive gifts of equal monetary value

as signs of their love and commitment. I agree completely that both female

engagement rings and male-name heritages are sexist, which is why my husband

and I have challenged both traditions in our marriage.

It’s interesting that you see the patriarchal exchange of rings and names as

traditions that should continue into the 21st Century, when there are other

traditions that have been erased over time which society does not deem

necessary to continue and nobody complains. Can rings and names not also be

challenged? With the introduction of same-sex civil unions the very

institution of marriage is being pleasantly redefined and it’s my opinion

that as there are only two people in a marriage, let them decide on their

own signs of commitment, be it one, two or no rings at all and their own

choice of family name. Just because it’s tradition, doesn’t make it right.

From Daisy Case

I’ve just read A hairy dilemma, after having an argument with my

boyfriend regarding his preference for me to remove not only all my

body hair (I do the standard armpit/leg/bikini hair removal), but

also all of my pubic hair because he prefers, and I quote ‘a totally

shaved minge’. I refused. And proceeded to google body hair and

feminism in my own little anti-chauvanistic protest. I have pubic

hair because I am a woman, not a girl, and never before has my pubic

hair been a source of disgust to any man. I don’t think he

understands the issue, and, in fact, I think he thinks I’m only not

removing it in order to piss him off, but no, the little amount of

pubic hair that remains will stay firmly put, in a feminist protest

against the disempowered pornographic ideas of immature womanhood.

From rose alberghini

It was refreshing to see that 21 year old Kerry-Lynne Doyle has not

bought into the idea that being oversexualized is actually empowering

for a female. Her article Don’t cha wish pop was more empowering

was right on! There is a huge difference between being sexy and

attractive to a man and acting and dressing like a stripper or exotic

dancer. It is sad that many girls don’t realize that they don’t have

to act this part to be a modern “free” woman and that they are just

playing into the hands of men who who are only too happy to watch the


I was horrified to see the Pussycat Doll show on TV! I only watched

it once and then wrote to the TV station and told them that I thought

it was disgusting to promote this as something to aspire to. The

by-line should be “How to be a Sex Object”. The thought that young,

impressionable girls are watching this makes me sick.

Women’s Liberation? This is NOT it. Nor is Girls Gone Wild. What

are these girls thinking??

It’s too bad that in order to sell records that women are selling

their souls, too.

From john billings

Re: Re-classifying rape: For over thirty years, I have heard “rape is not about sex…”. This

has always appeared stupid to me: obviously, I have thought, rape is

sexual. Stealing is from greed, murder is from anger, and sexual

assault is from lust.

If rape is not a sex crime, why not say that stealing is not a greed

crime? et c. Clearly, I have thought, people who say “rape is not

sexual” are in the grip of an ideology and cannot see the truth.

Moreover, aggression is an inseparable part of sex. This is true

whether we like it or not, and women are also sexually aggressive


The willingness of the victim is not the issue, only the motive of

the perp. Basically, rapists are sex-thieves. So I have thought.

Please prove me wrong. I promise not to argue with you. Rather, since

everyone seems to agree with “rape is not sexual”, I want some

evidence so I can learn.

From melissa

Re: The Spice Girls’ Legacy: hi, after reading your response, it has triggered some very nostegic

memories of the “good old days”. i agree with you completely, the

spice girls did accomplish a lot, they changed girls viewed

themselves. its a pity the role models today are all tall skinny

anorexic blonds with chihuahuas in their bags.

From David

Re: Why men suck (and the women who have to): You sound like e very angry person: you have every right to be angry: I live in Cambodia and can testify that (most of what) you have

written is true.

You are obviously intelligent: I’d like you to channel your energies

at the greater evils in the world – Darfur (and the US pretending it

doesn’t exist), Zimbabwe, and Palestine among the many.

Let’s concentrate on keeping people alive firswt, then we can talk

about improving their lifestyles.

Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies

While there are plenty of very serious problems in the world, this doesn’t negate the importance of other problems, the need to draw attention to them or agitate to improve women’s lives. Indeed, one of the reasons that it is important to do so in cases like this, is that women’s issues are pushed down the agenda by patriarchal societies focused on other issues. By your reasoning, we might as well dismantle the NHS in order to increase the aid budget.

From Hedgehog

This article is another great example of Moral Colonialism.

From amanda

Re: The food of love?: I have an issue with this too, but I find myself wanting the man to

pay or at least offering each time. Most of the time I end up paying

for both. It feels good sometimes and sometimes I get angry that I

had to pay. I grew up in the south where women (at least in my area)

were looked down upon and men were the ones who paid for everything.

However, I don’t think they really want to or wanted too. This

created resentment towards the woman. Throughout my marriage I felt

guilty for buying things for myself with his money. Now that I am

single, I want to do everything on my own, but at the same time I

need help sometimes and don’t want to pay for everything. Is there

are certain criteria that as a woman we should follow? My anger

towards my brothers,

dad, and ex spouse have made me want to prove that I can take care of

myself without the help of anyone else.

From Marli

Re: The Pursuit of Happyness: I would like to point out that at no point in time did

she critique plot line, casting, acting, character development,

script, or any solid criteria related to the film itself. The

critique is an emotionally charged yet intellectual sterile rant.

Her argument is this: Chris Gardener (the real man whose experiences

were chronicled) suffered. However, there are women who also suffer.

Therefore, a feminist should never sympathize with the suffering of

anyone outisde her own gender. In psychoanalysis, the inability to

empathize outside one’s demographic is a sign of pathological hate.

The author dismisses the film as gross sickly patriarchal nonsense.

In what way, exactly? At what point did the main character do

anything abusive, oppressive, or misogynist?

I think the author despised this film because it undermined her world

view, especially since it was a true story.

A true feminist who wants men to be noble and goog would love ‘The

Pursuit of Happyness’ because it would be a realistic, positive

example of a good role model- a man who takes care of his

responsibilities, works hard, and makes sacrifices for his family.

Dwysan Edwards, author of the article, replies

Thank you for your comments although they are incorrect and misplaced. It’s interesting that I’ve received contradictory complaints that either the film was a complete inaccurate plot of the ‘;real story’ or that I’m a ranting feminist. Perhaps you would like to write your own articles for The F Word in order that you can express your own views, giving the rest of us a platform to challenge you?

Again thank you for your view, I’m not sure what noble and goog mean but it all sounds ‘;good’.

Also you are very much correct that I did not ‘;critique plot line, casting, acting…. Etc…… and of course it was an emotionally charged yet intellectual sterile rant! It was at no time my own personal view of the film…. That would be shocking!

From Matt Edwards

Re: Feminists are sexist: This is specifically in respect to your the paragraph:

“Yet sadly, this ‘improving women’s lives is sexist’ attitude

reflects part of the wider mainstream fear of feminism. It’s why

people say things like ‘;I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist’

or ‘;I’m not a feminist, I’m in favour of human rights’.

It’s because there is a stigma attached to any activism that

unashamedly benefits women, as a social group. It’s not seen as

worthy enough, and fighting on behalf of women as a group is

embarassing somehow. I’m just talking about plain, uncontroversial

activism that improves the lives of women.”

I think you address an important aspect of your movement in your

article which has many people somewhat nervous about identifying

themselves with it, but I disagree with your stance in the quoted

paragraph. Although the feminist movement has made great advancements

in promoting the equality of women, there is always been a danger in

movements that support a specific group: promoting the rights of one

can be to the detriment of another. The feeling of the article is

your belief that your fight to bring up women as a group has and does

help men, which is entirely true. But still, a focus on women with the

positive effects on men as incidental side effects, I have a fear that

similar negative side effects could be overlooked for the good of


Huey Newton, a founder of the Black Panther Party, once responded to

a question asking what white people could do to aid the Black

Panther’s cause. He told them the best thing they could do is form a

White Panther Party. Is that really what we need? Feminists,

masculinists, Black Panthers, White Panthers, an advocacy group for

every individual cause for equality? What’s so wrong with something

for universal equality? Why not say “I’m not a feminist, I’m in favor

of human rights”?

From Kiesten McCauley

I just read Catherine’s article on “the F Word” and I love it. I

agree 100% with what she says and I feel relief that someone else

feels the same way I do.

From bhogin

Re: Walking with cavemen: as someone who is not macho, im with you. however since its an article

on “what women want in men” it seems strange and just jumping on other

complaints to comment on the sexism of not saying anything about the

same qualitys in women too.

From Seth

Re: Munich: As this review is probably two years old, I apologise for my tardy

comment! However, I do think you are reading too much into the

slaying of Jeanette by Avner and co.

She murdered one of their friends, one of their partners, one of

their brothers. In response, they ‘returned the favour’; this was a

completely understandable response. Had it been a man who’d murdered

one of their comrades, retribution would have been just as swift and

brutal. There was no entertaining of the notion of ‘sexual

domination’ or the like, merely boiling-blooded revenge for a fallen


Further, shouldn’t Jeanette be held accountable and scrutinized–she

does, after all, wield her sexuality as a weapon, luring one man to

his death via the prospect of sex (after unsuccessfully attempting

the same with Avner). Is her behaviour acceptable, while the team’s

supposed symbolic rape of her later is not?

From BrevisMus

I really have to take issue with the comments by Karen James on

Roman Britain, most of which are entirely incorrect (I speak both as

a Pagan and as a Classicist who specialises in ancient magic).

“Cunt originally was the technical – and quite proper – term used for

the female genitalia since before the Romans invaded Britain.”

My dictionary (Concise OED) says that ‘cunt’ itself is Middle

English, from Germanic (and wikipedia tells me that ‘cunt’ did not

appear until 1290 AD). I wonder if Rachael is mixing this up with the

Latin (i.e., original Roman) term for vulva, which is ‘cunnus’. This

is from where we derive ‘cunnilingus’.

“In those times, the main religion in this country was


This is marginally correct, in that paganism was practised in Britain

in pre-Roman times. However, it was not any form of modern/

neo-Paganism, and was certainly not ‘Wicca’ in any sense of the word.

Wicca was developed in the 1940s (see Ronald Hutton, ‘The Triumph of

the Moon’).

The paganism of the ancient Britons would have been broadly similar

to the paganism practised by the Romans themselves – a polytheistic

society. Both the actual practicalities of this polytheistic society,

and attitudes towards religion, would have been very different to the

modern Pagan ideals.

“The Romans at this time were mainly all Christians and patriarchal –

they actually invaded Britain and brought Christianity with them.”

The Romans were indeed patriarchal (as were the native Britons).

However, they were not Christian when Britain was first invaded.

Britain was first invaded in about 55 BC – before Christ was even

born, never mind the development of Christianity. The major Roman

invasion came after 43 AD, and those Romans were still pagan

(worshipping Jupiter and Juno, etc, with animal sacrifice) and

Christianity had barely started. They may have brought the roads, and

sanitation (and all those other things listed in The Life of Brian),

but they certainly didn’t bring Christianity at this point. It wasn’t

for over another 300 years that the Roman Empire became Christian, and

conversion then slowly trickled down.

Christians were persecuted heavily in the Roman empire until at least

200-250 AD and were often executed for simply being Christian

(something that I find is often forgotten by neo-Pagans talking about

the alleged ‘Wiccan hunts’ during the witch trials). There was no way

that the Roman invaders would have been Christian at all.

“Since these religions were as much about worship of the female as

the male”

Just because a polytheistic society worships goddesses alongside

gods, it does not imply that this worship was in any way equal.

“the word cunt’s true meaning was in fact ‘goddess’ or ‘high


I have never ever heard this before, and find it highly unlikely,

especially since, as above, I believe that the word ‘cunt’ was not in

use. The Latin ‘cunnus’ – which was in use at this time – is only used

to refer to the vulva, or used as slang to denote an unchaste woman.

Since the only Roman priestesses were virgins, I find it hard to

believe that they would use ‘cunnus’ to denote a goddess.

I have vaguely heard of a goddess called ‘Kunti’ or ‘Kunda’, but this

is an Indian goddess, not a British or Roman one. Perhaps this is the

source of the mix-up?

“Since they were a male-oriented society they did not like the

‘free-thinking’ women of Britain and so began a campaign of extreme

force to ensure that Christianity took hold – and any dissenting men

or women were considered ‘witches’ – hence this beagn what later

became the witch hunts and the burning of witches.”

This, again, is completely incorrect. For a start, the witch hunts

were in the early modern period, over a millennium after the fall of

Rome. To suggest that Roman invasion and society was responsible for

witch hunts is like suggesting that the Viking invasion was

responsible for the 7th of July bombings.

To suggest that the native Britons were not a ‘male-oriented society’

is also incorrect. The British Isles were just as patriarchal before

the Roman invasion as they were after (the Romans, of course, also

have goddesses in their pantheon).

The early modern witch hunts took place all over Europe. They were

not restricted to Britain, and did not originate in Britain. Both men

and women (and children) were executed as witches – this was not

something restricted to women. And it was not restricted to ‘free

thinkers’: most victims were simply the unpopular members of a

society – see, for example, A Trial of Witches by Geis & Bunn, and

The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-Century

Representations by Purkiss.

And the biggest issue: the idea that there was a ‘witch cult’ across

Britain/Europe, and that the witch trials were some sort of religious

persecution is hugely incorrect. And please remember that I am

speaking here as a Pagan and a Witch, as well as someone who studies

ancient witchcraft. There is no evidence that the word ‘witch’ has

ever been used as a positive title for a priestess prior to Gerald

Gardner’s development of Wicca in the mid-twentieth century.

I know that many women are trying to ‘take back’ words like cunt, and

I applaud Rachael for her positive attitude. However, while she may be

“trying to explain where the term cunt really comes from”, she has

mixed in so much pop-‘history’ with misunderstandings and blatant

falsehoods (although as a member of the Pagan community I understand

that it is hard to cut away all the misinformation about the witch

trials) that her comment was entirely erroneous. Kate Allen was, in

fact, correct about her history of the term.

In response to Jan Hunt, in the comment following Rachael’s, I do not

think that ‘fuck’ derived from Latin ‘fukare’. ‘K’ is very rare in

Latin; I have never heard of ‘fukare’ and it isn’t in my dictionary

(Lewis & Short Complete). There is ‘fucare’, which means ‘to redden’.

I think it is unlikely that ‘fuck’ derived from this. The Concise OED

gives ‘fuck’ an unknown, 16th century origin. However, I do agree

that whether a word is offensive or not is often dependent upon how

language develops, for example, the fact that ‘gay’ is now often used

pejoratively, as is ‘special’ (from ‘special needs’).

I was also offended by the comment above Rachael’s, by Omar Iturbe re

Sin City, that the only reason why feminists were so negative about

the film was because they were too emotional about all the misogyny

it in to think “sensibly”. It is not an “uncentred judgement” to call

sexism on a movie that shows “tough guys who give everything they have

to help women”. That’s a standard patriarchal trope, cf. the standard

‘damsel in distress awaiting a knight in shining armour’ storyline. I

sat through the whole of Sin City and have spent the months since

desperately trying to forget it. I wasn’t blinded by the T&A on show

– it was more the characterisation of whores with guns who get

slapped around *and enjoy it* that disgusted me.

I realised by the time that I got to the end of the comment stream

that you were posting abusive comments unedited and unannotated, so

Omar’s was not the only one. However, whereas a lot of the later

comments can obviously be dismissed, I felt that Omar’s apparent

‘call for reason’, so often used to dismiss genuine feminist

concerns, should not go unchallenged.

And to Jillian Smith re a feminist organisation in the UK – how about

the Fawcett Society? Other than the odd mention in the f-word, I

rarely hear about the Fawcett Society. Is there something we can all

do to help promote them?

From will aitken

Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Beth Andersons article on feminism within a childrens book just goes

to show why your movement is so often scorned and ridiculed within

general society. This is a kids book for heavens sake and dare I say

it a reflection of the world we live in today.

We could make a very politically correct book with strong female

heroines and lots of indians, sihks and throw in a couple of the

welsh aswell or we could just leave childrens fiction as it is. A

reflection of modern day life with a magical twist to give children

hope and excitement.

Women are not the leaders within this text because in real life

society you are’nt. There has only ever been one female prime

minister and that was because she had bigger balls then the rest of

the cabinet. She displayed strong male characteristics, she behaved

as a man does and that is why she took the leadership. The most

famous villain of our century wore a tiny litte moustache and

although he had some very girly habits behind closed doors I’m prity

sure he was a man and therefore in literature villains and authority

figures are most often men.

If you create a fantasy text such as Harry Potter with links to the

present day enviroment you want the enphisis of the book to be on the

magical secret life behind the facade of every day life. If J.K.

Rowling had created a modern day world as a facade of politicaly

correct ideals the children wouldnt relate to the text; if they

couldnt see ‘the normal day world’ within the book as being possible

how could they possibly see the secret magical side as being

plausible? Children are smart and the best fantasy gives a text an

anchor to the believable and then alows that one extra step into the

suspension of disbelief.

There are becoming fewer and fewer strong male role models for the

children of today and our society is suffering because of it. Does

Beth realy believe this book would have become a bestseller if the

hero was in fact a little teenage girl? She ridicules the giggling

school girls within the text as if this was unatural and no school

girls do this. I’m afraid to say that is exactly what teenage girls

do they sit in the classroom and giggle and play with make up. Just

like teenage boys are very steriotypical and play sports and look at

nuddy magazines. Its not society which creates these steriotypes its

hormones it is how we are because of genetics. Physically and

mentally you already have equal rights but now you want to become

seen as the leaders and villains in kids books aswell come on! Its

never occured in history so why should it now become mainstream in

literature just to be politically correct to your movement.

Beth in the future do feminism a favour and leave childrens

literature alone. Rowlings blend of magic and mystery is what chidren

need not to be taught the realities of feminism. If you want this

right your own book. I have a tenner though that says it would’nt get


Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies

The reason why children’s books are important is that they have a key role in shaping and influencing young people’s attitudes towards society, themselves and others. Girls who grow up with no strong female role-models, in fiction or real life, have no-one to emulate. And, conversely, children’s books with a wide range of realistic and interesting characters can have a tremendous positive influence, opening up new horizons and possibilities.

From Melanie

Re: Feminism and popular culture: wow! I’m only 15 years old but i was completely shocked by this

article. It really opened my eyes to the sexism that is still


From Jennie

The article Keeping it real was great. I use the Diva Cup and

it’s the best thing ever – I will never go back to tampons. The best

parts about the diva cup? Enviornmentally friendly, never leak, and

totally comfy. Oh, and not to mention you no longer have to stuff a

dry wad of cotton that\’s been treated with pesticides up your


(Tampax and other non-organic tampon companies use cotton that is

heavily sprayed with dangerous pesticides). Keep that shit outta your

vagina – keep her happy & clean with The Keeper or the Diva Cup!

Rock on FWord. I just found your site and I love it. Keep up the

great work.

From Rosie

I am writing in response to the article on women and alcohol by

Victoria Dutchman-Smith. I am aware it was written a while ago but my

aim was not to necessarily address her directly. I just wanted to make

some comments on the issue.

I think it is very sad that more and more women are drinking to

excess (I am aware men are more likely to be involved in substance

misuse but this is about women). I think that some women may choose

to do this simply because they want to but we should not overlook the

fact that a lot of women are doing this to fit into the ‘norm’. Like

it or not, most of this country’s nightlife revolves around drinking

alcohol. The media frequently portrays groups of of drunk women

(however idiotic they appear) as ‘fun loving’ people.

There is also a lot of nonsense being peddled to women in the form of

so called ‘women’s’ magazines. Last year I looked at a copy of

Cosmopolitan and there was an article which was supposedly talking

about feminism.

In said article, there was a paragraph about how it is sexist that

women’s recommended alcohol limits are less than men’s. The author

proudly proclaimed that she ignores the limits and drinks as much as

she likes. Nowhere in the article was there an explanation for why

the safe drinking levels are different in males and females. The

author just made it look like it was all down to sexism. In doing so,

she was sexist herself – encouraging women to poison themselves with


From megan

Re: Disfunctional, moi?: It is so refreshing and liberating to read about what society

views as normal sex as becoming sexual with myself at 11 or 12 years

old i was made to feel abnormal and that i must have been “abused” to

be so interested in sex. i first had sex at 14 and all of the guys i

have had sex with (i am 18 now) have been so considerate and i have

had many sex sessions that have been just about my pleasure e.g guys

playing with my body and accepting that i did not always want

penetration or indeed to please them back). this has taught me that

men CAN control their sexual desires as i have been able to and

encouraged to end sex if i became tired etc and have never recieved

negative consequences. maybe i have just been lucky or have been

blessed by having a mother that has reinforced my right as a woman to

enjoy sexaul activity in whatever form including having the right to

end sex at ANY point. however, i have encountered men that have tried

to belittle me and control me sexually (one man that i was sexually

involved with, but men in the street or at work labelling, harassing

me and degrading me because of my looks or confidence) but i always

maintain that it is important to challenge these viewpoints, no

matter how difficult it may seem or how alone you may feel.

thank you for such an inspiring article.

From Mary Cypher

Re: The Incredibles: Isn’t there enough overt sexism and racism out there without going

looking for it in places where it doesn’t exist? Even when you

acknowledge the movie’s good points it was as if you were slicing off

your own flesh. The article, which I stopped reading, reminds me of

the fundamentalists who see a demon in every teapot. You have been

blinded by your own stereotypes and misconceptions as surely as you

believe Brad Bird has by his.

P.S. my listed email address is for junk mail so if you feel the need

to retaliate against me by selling off my address to spammers, please

go right ahead (based on the tone of the movie review this sounds

like something you’d do while telling yourself this is for the good

of feminists everywhere). All mail goes into the trash can


From James

Re: Enough with the pendulum!: Um, I just was wondering why it’s so important to you what men think?

I mean, if you’re striving for social equality or whatever isn’t that

in the realm of legal issues and liberal humanism? What’s with all of

the rhetoric and ranting? You complain about men who complain about

the pendulum swinging the other way. But if you rant and use

emotional tactics to push people into thinking like you aren’t you

inviting a backlash of rhetoric from others? Where’s the sense in all

of this? I don’t see why women shouldn’t be socially equal. I wonder

why feminists are so eager to get what they want PERSONALLY from men;

I have never once been able to get what I want from women! I’ve never

kissed or held a girl’s hand (of her own free will, outside of when

it was required), so I’ve never gotten the approval I crave from any

inside or outside my family. This is a crushing problem for me but I

don’t act by politically demanding that all women be more sensitive

to my needs as a man. Whatever, that’s my problem not any of yours.

In any case, I guess I’m clumsily trying to make the point that

emotional thinking isn’t a good way of making progress on a societal

level. So why does feminism always resort to such ineffectual forms

of rhetoric? Have you ever wondered if society became more humane to

women because everyone genuinely wanted a change and not because

feminism itself is particularly effective? BTW the articles on this

site are FRAUGHT with ad hominem attacks on those who disagree with

feminist ideology. That’s so puerile.

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