Comments from February 2008

All your comments from February

, 17 March 2008

From sumac celeste

Re: Of corset matters: i love this article; i was previously ademant about corsets anyway,

but after this weekend when i was squeezed into one by my friends for

my 17th birthday, i have come to realise they are one of the bains of

womankind! thanks for opening my eyes a little wider :)


Re: Crime and patriarchy: This is an excellent article which neatly debunks how once again women

are not only portrayed as ‘passive, vulnerable, frightened creatures’

but also reinforces women’s supposed need for male protection. In

fact irrespective of any woman’s age,ethnicity etc. if a man or boy

decides to commit an act of violence against her he will. The Home

Office refuses to listen feminist specialists but instead promotes

idea that just telling women to restrict their movements male violence

against women will be solved! But of course the Home Office refuses

to go to the root of the problem – how men are socialised into

believing it is their right to dominate and control women as a group.

Jo Legg, author of the article, replies

Thanks very much. The point you make about the Home Office ignoring

the problem is what frustrated me most about the whole thing: here we

had a chance to have some real dialogue around *why* it is that women

are scared to be out alone at night, and all we see is some political

mud-slinging on crime stats…

When formal political structures make policy in accordance with the

pervasive patriarchal attitudes that place the onus on women to alter

their behaviour as a ‘cure’ for the ill of violence, we can bet the

situation isn’t going to get any better. It’s not a question of more

protection for women, nor prevention by restricting our freedom of

movement, but they’re never going to come to that conclusion if we

don’t challenge the structures that tell us to lock ourselves away.

Would that it were possible to give the Home Office a citizen’s ASBO

for its misogyny… Not helpful in the long-run I realise, but still…

From figleaf

Re: Why men should care about gender stereotypes: Thank you.

The “war of the sexes” wasn’t invented by feminists. In fact, I

finally realized, it’s quite the opposite. You don’t have to dig

*too* far to find someone under a feminist label saying something

harsh about men… but you *do* have to dig because such comments

aren’t that common. On the other hand you don’t have to dig at all to

find grievous, outrageous, heartbreaking, and sometimes tragic

deprecation of men by *anti-feminists!*

You’re right as well that it’s extraordinarily difficult for men to

attempt self-examination when all of tradition assumes we’re the

ground zero, the fixed point, the sea level, the “this” against which

all else is “the other.” For instance when one looks at the famous

“85 cents on the dollar” disparity between what men and women earn

from an androcentric perspective the only variable is what conditions

affect women. If we can haul ourselves off that point for a moment,

and reflect that perhaps instead men are paid a premium then men can

begin to ask ourselves how much, exactly, we’re giving up for those

extra fifteen pennies. And since the answer is more stress, less

exercise, less connection to our families, less time with our

children, less control over our travel and relocation schedules, worse

health, and often an early grave then… the real question stops being

“how do we get that for women too” but “why are men subjecting

ourselves or *anyone else* to that? Could it possibly be worth it?”

My point, by the way, is not an invitation to rethink pay differences

my way but that moving men out of the center of the universe permits

such inquiries at all.

And finally, yes, it’s staggering to imagine that the entirety of

anti-feminism revolves around forcing women to sacrifice their own

lives in order to “civilize” and “pacify” and “order” ours. The

stereotypes of stupidity, helplessness, and sloth are bad enough, the

stereotypes that we’re bestial, thuggish, and in need of keeping is


The bitter irony is that it’s all so wasteful, not only of women’s

lives but of our own.

My one quibble would be that while yes, it’s not *necessary* for

feminism to address men (and in fact, see “women as men’s keepers,”

above for why that would be expressly a bad idea) it might be in

feminism’s best interest to help. The disparity between men’s and

women’s critical consciousness is wide enough that starting to close

the gap ought to really catapult everyone along. Which might make it

worth it.

Anyway, thanks once again, Alex.

Alex Gibson, author of the article, replies

Thank you for your comments, I think we agree on most of what you said. You

raise an interesting point about wage differences, and I agree that giving up

that extra bit of power in return for more time with friends and family, and

considerably less stress, is a great bargain. I’m not, of course, a person

motivated by the kind of high-power business job that your comments brought to

mind so it’s easy for me to make that choice. In accepting gender equality men

don’t really have much to lose: it’s not like feminism is advocating female

dominance. Sharing the responsibility is beneficial to both genders like you say.

I also agree with you totally on your last point: I believe very strongly that

it’s important that feminism reaches out to men because, perhaps naively, I

think that most guys would find feminism quite agreeable once they realise that

it isn’t about male inferiority. I’m beginning to appreciate the irony that the

stereotypes that have been produced from a male-dominated society have done just

that in making us out to be brutish dullards, but it still makes me sad. Despite

this, when I was writing the article I felt I should add the caveat that this

isn’t a necessary part of feminism: feminists who don’t want to take on men’s

issues as well as their own are perfectly entitled to do that, but as a feminist

myself I intend to do as much as is in my power to advertise these ideas to men.

If we want to change our own image in society we have to do it ourselves, by

fighting the stereotypes whenever we see them.

The culture of gender equality is achingly slow to change, but the more men you

get on board then ideally the less “us vs. them” feminism appears to be, and

that should definitely help. Here’s hoping, anyway!

From Sniff

This is a good article, but I was disappointed that the author did

not touch on how the current model of “stupid” masculinity relates to

the present day phenomena of girls outperforming boys in school.

Feminism, and the rewarding of the “feminine” trait of studiousness

are usually blamed, when in fact studiousness reigned far more supreme

in the classrooms of the past (when boys outperformed girls and nobody


From William

I think it was my Santa Claus article that stimulated this?

I agree with many of the points presented, but I having done quite a

bit to promote men’s welfare (health, education, family acess etc) I

think the channeling of men’s interests to moronic pusuits is

deliberate. I refer for example to George Galloway MP, who when asked

why there are no man’s pages in newspapers equivalent to the

ubiquitous Women’s Pages, replied that the only page men need is the

back page ie the sports section.

From Amity

How refreshing to read a male perspective on gender stereotypes! Well

written and intelligent with many good points, I commend Mr Gibson for his

forthright and insightful article. I’ll be forwarding this to the men in my

life and hope that they either already agree or will be challenged in their


From Sreelekha Nair

congratulations Alex for this thoguht provoking piece. I rarely find a

man who thinks of these things!

From The Beautiful Kind

Re: How the word ‘slut’ oppresses women: First of all, I’m a huge feminist and thank you for addressing the

issue. I’m a sex blogger who uses words like “slut” “whore” “pervert”

and “cunt” liberally because I am taking ownership of the words and

want to get it to the point where people hear those words and don’t

flinch or have horrid visceral reactions. I want to neutralize them,

turn them into ordinary words. I don’t consider them derogatory – I am

a slut, whore and bitch, sure. A slut = a woman with the morals of a

man :) They are just words, and describe things that to me are not


I’m proud to be a slut. Instead of getting angry, I’m laughing at the


From dan

what a load of junk. Its easy for women to get sex so thats why they are

slags if theyre after it all the time, i.e. because any women could do


Its hard for men to do it, so if they can it proves they are superior.

Jennifer Drew, author of the article, replies

It appears you have not read my article correctly. My article was aimed at men who believe in the sexual double standard. Myths such as your claim “it is easy for women to get sex so that’s why they are slags if they’re after it all the time etc”. This comment clearly shows you believe certain women are slags whereas men who are obsessed with sex are supposedly not slags. Another example of the male sexual double standard.

An ability for men to engage in sexual activity is not a designation of superiority since animals and birds engage in mating activity but that does not prove they are superior. Intelligence is the deciding factor not sexual activity but unfortunately superiority has been defined on one’s biological sex and this has been accorded to men as a group. Yet another example of rampant misogynistic myths.

From Jaymi Wilkes

How do you figure that women dressing in an hyper-sexualized way is

empowering to them? I would think that it would only fuel the man’s

mindset that women are asking for it. I mean if they didn’t want to

attract men sexually, than why are they attracting men sexually? By

purposely flaunting themselves? Women need to find other ways to

empower themselves. I don’t see how our society can change the way

men think. I mean, they are what they are. Dicks with legs.

From Julie B

Excellent article, like everything Jennifer writes. The whole sexual

double standard also acts to inhibit female sexuality, to make women

more cautious than men about having sex. Thus it becomes “true” that

men persue sex more than women. Job done!

From Catherine

I just read the article about the word “slut” and why it is offensive

to women. For years I have cringed at the sound of that word (and

others like slapper, slag, whore, hooker), even when uttered in jest.

I cannot even say it aloud I find it so offensive. Thank you for so

neatly articulating why! I would send this to all my friends but I’m

afraid they have been de-sensitised by my ranting and would not even

bother to read it! But thank you anyway :)

Jennifer Drew, author of the article, replies

Many thanks for taking the time to comment on my article in The F-Word.

Yes, I know the sexually insulting terms such as ‘slut, whore etc.’ are

common and designed to keep women firmly in their subordinated place.

I have a suggestion, the next time you hear a friend/acquaintance call a

woman a ‘slut,whore etc.’ you might just want to say something like ‘oh

yes and men who are sexually active or have had more than one sexual

partner are also sluts in my view.’ No need to explain just say those

very highly charged words. Men as a group do not want any sexual slur

against their names. It is acceptable for women to be judged solely

from their presumed promiscuity but men – no it is their supposed right

to be ‘players or studs.’

I do know this has worked very well when challenging such misogynstic

views and it does make men stop and think. At the very least it makes

them uncomfortable.

From Mickey

Excellent article. However, you forget about the fact that women

often enthusiastically leap onto the “slut-shaming” bandwagon, as

well. I don’t know if it’s as widespread in the UK as it is in

America, but Leora Tannenbaum has a great book on the subject, “Slut!

Growing up Female with a Bad Reputation.”

But I agree overall with the article, we definitely need to redefine

the “norm” for male and female sexuality. I remember how horrified

some of my male friends were, when I started calling THEM sluts for

sleeping around. They didn’t like it one bit, however, it did get

them to think about how it must feel for the women they so labelled,

and most of them stopped.

Jennifer Drew, author of the article, replies

Thank you for your comments concerning my most recent article. Actually

I did touch on the fact women do sexually insult other women by calling

them ‘sluts etc’ but of course this is still from the male-defined

aspect. It also serves to divide women into either ‘good’ or ‘bad’

women, with the result male sexual behaviour is invisibilised. The

result is that women are constantly having to be aware of their ‘sexual

reputations’ because once they have supposedly transgressed they are

‘bad.’ Female sexuality supposes define women’s character whereas men’s

sexuality does not because men not women are individuals.

Yes, I have read Leora Tannenbaum’s book ‘Slut: Growing Up Female With A

Bad Reputation.’ I read it when it was first published and was

horrified to see how young women were attacking each other egged on of

course by young men.

Sadly the situation here in the UK is just as bad as in the US and it

has been well documented that young women within our educational system

continue to be called ‘sluts, whores, ho’s etc.’ This situation has

been occurring for decades.

Good that you too are challenging the routine sexual insults so many

women irrespective of age, ethnicity etc. are being subjected to. Yes,

when a man is called a slut it does make him think or rather react and

it is a very effective way of challenging the male sexual double


From sian

Re: UK feminists must address worldwide issues: yes, yes and yes. i have had this argument so many times, because

sometimes it needs to be said, well, ok, certain equalities in the UK,

but what about the rest of the world! and in response i so often get

the “cultural imperialism” response – that surely we shouldn’t tell

other cultures how to behave. to which i then have to reply that human

rights and the human condition is more important than cultural

sensitivity, because it just has to be. to which i then get asked why

im a feminsit and not a “humanist”…and you see how it goes on.

i’ve heard the global situation being referred to as genocide against

women, and i have to find myself agreeing. when was the systematic

rape and murder of women in the congo last on the news? the AIDS

epidemic is another symptom. obviously these things effect men too,

but the constant degradation and inequality that women face globally,

and the lack of attention paid to it, is something that we all,

feminists and not, should be fighting to end.

From Anne Bodman

I could not agree more with the article “UK feminists should address

worldwide issues”

When I want to give money to charity I always choose “Womankind”

which has the express objectives of improving women’s lives around the


I think the UK should pursue a foreign policy of promoting women’s


Also we need to guard against women losing their rights in the UK. I

was incensed by Rowan Williams glibly talking about Sharia Law.

Unfortuantely most religions are patriachal and we would revert back

to the dark ages if we did not have a secular state.

Ruthie Samuel, author of the article, replies

I’m glad you liked the article and that you care about this stuff and want to help (gives me hope because so many people seem not to care enough to actually put empathy into action). I’m still figuring out what to do, but joining amnesty international and linking to their campaigns all over facebook is my current tactic. And of course letter-writing to responsible countries complaining, which seems to have worked in some cases in the past. Also, is the website for a charity trying to help people in Darfur. In terms of encouraging coverage in the mainstream media, maybe contacting newspapers and tv channels would help? I’m so sick of news only covering things that are either sensational and rare to cater for the public’s appetite for excitement (e.g. look, a pretty woman murdered a man), or things that help to fuel a political argument (e.g. women are oppressed in Iran, look how rubbish muslims are, maybe we should invade them). The prevalence of those articles partly originates from the existance of apathetic people who only read the news for entertainment or to confirm their existing opinions, rather than actually wanting to know what goes on in the world, so it’s not entirely the fault of journalists, and maybe if they were made aware that some people want real news they’d cover it more.

From Elainna

I completely agree with all you’ve said. You have articulated what has

been pressing on my conscience for some time. What can we do to help?

From Sue Margolis

Please print some more from this wonderful young woman-it gives me

hope for the future.

From Valentina Cartei

To me the lack of awareness and knowledge on issues affecting women

worldwide is only part of the problem.

Even if people wish to make a contribution, they most likely feel at

a loss about these problems.

Awareness must be raised, but it would also be important to suggest

possible courses of action.

From Claire

I agree with you completely. I was appalled when I finally woke up to

how women are treated in many countries around the world. If they were

some other kind of social group then sanctions and boycotts would be

more likely. People just seem to accept it, as if that’s just the way

the world is.

From Carmen Seaby

I’ve just read the article UK Feminists must address worldwide

issues by Ruthie Samuel and I felt like Ms Samuel has fallen for the

common anti-feminist argument used in rich countries to discredit

feminist issues: the argument that “Western” (for want of a better

term) feminists are all selfish and only care about their own lives.

She asks where is the outrage to the terrible human rights abuses in

countries such as Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea, Georgia and Sudan?

The outrage is all around us – there are feminists and other

activists the world over, doing their best to bring attention to human

rights violations in its many guises, but they have to compete with a

lot of other stories and they are up against editors and

readers/viewers who might not be that interested.

It reminds me of a story I covered a while back in my blogabout

people criticising US feminists for not supporting Muslim women. Katha

Pollitt’s response to these arguments gave many great examples of

links between (American) feminist groups and Muslim feminist groups

and the larger political picture within they work. These kinds of

links exist in the UK, you just might have to go looking for them.

Also, I don’t see debates about what women are wearing (or are

allowed to or are expected to wear) and the hours we can or want to

work here in the UK as distractions from the larger feminist mission

of eradicating inequality, as Ms Samuel seems to. These issues are all

related and I think a lot of feminists see this and work at raising

people’s awareness and changing the situation.

Feminists in the richer countries do care about women in poorer

countries, women living under totalitarian regimes and religious

fundamentalism and I do not see concentrating on the rights of women

in this country (the UK) as selling out those women living in Saudi

Arabia or any other country. Feminists and other activists can and do

try to highlight human rights abuses the world over. Let’s not beat

up feminists for also caring about their own countries. And sometimes

we can bring attention to these issues by highlighting things here (I

recall the F Word having an article about the UK’s queen giving a

lavish reception the Saudi Arabian king).

One more point: Ruthie Samuel calls the sexism underlying British

culture as subtle. There is nothing subtle about it. I was shocked to

find you have a chocolate bar here with “Not for girls” written on

it that is sold everywhere (legally?) and there is a television show

called “No girls allowed”? These are very blatant examples of the

entrenched sexism that surrounds us in this country. Could you imagine

if someone tried to sell anything with “No Asians allowed” on it?

Ruthie Samuel, author of the article, replies

I definitely don’t believe that feminists are selfish or that priorities of focus are misguided. Pushing on issues like equal pay and rape conviction rates is obviously important, and didn’t mean to belittle those struggles. What annoys me though is when focus is pushed onto words and definitions when there are so many other struggles to fight. Sexism is alive and well but at least we’ve got a legal system in place that in theory supports us, and when it lets us down, this is the exception rather than the rule. In the case of Yorkie Chocolate bars with the slogan “not for girls”…I think that is subtlely offensive rather than actually an issue to fight over, in the sense that it’s a just a boneheaded advertising gimmick that doesn’t really affect people, it doesn’t restrict anything I say or do. It was intended as joke along the same lines as the crisps marketed as “posh” (classist?). A much better reason not to buy Yorkie chocolate bars is that they’re made by Nestle who are partly responsible for the deaths of millions of babies in developing countries who drink their dishonestly marketed babymilk formula against World Health Organisation guidelines.

I also agree that feminists give much more attention to women’s rights abroad than the mainstream media. I thought that I put that point across in the article but I might not have as much as I intended. My main point was meant to be that if sexist attitudes are got rid of in the general population, the mainstream media might cover urgent women’s issues that they currently ignore.

From Carmen Seaby

Thank you for taking the time to reply to me but I feel you are saying things in your reply that differ from what you said in the original, published article.

I disagree with the claim in your article that we “live in a relatively equal society” and the claim in your email response that when the legal system “lets us [women] down, this is the exception rather than the rule”. This country’s entrenched class system, sexism and racism impacts on millions of people everyday and their efforts to succeed in life and live a life free from fear and harassment. This country has appalling conviction rates for rape, the pay gaps between men and women are still significant, and treatment of domestic violence victims are inadequate (a woman victim of domestic violence has on average 11 contacts with agencies before getting the help she needs – this rises to 17 if she is Black). A recent report found that a child born in the UK today has the same chances of social mobility as one born thirty years ago. That is, if you are born rich you will probably die rich, if you are born poor, you will probably die poor. The vast majority of people in this country go to state schools. The vast majority of people in positions of power (the parliament, the judiciary) went to public schools.

In your email response you said that you were annoyed “when focus is pushed onto words and definitions when there are so many other struggles to fight” but in your original article you said “UK feminists can’t afford to get distracted by debating what we should be wearing and whether or not it matters if we choose to work part-time”. Pressures on women’s freedom (over what they can and can’t wear, where they can go) and economic pressures (where, when and how they work) have a huge impact on their quality of life, not just in the UK but in every country. I feel you’re creating a false dichotomy, where feminists have to choose between fighting for the rights of women in their own countries versus fighting for the rights of women in other, more oppressive countries. I don’t believe this dichotomy exists. I feel your argument is still running along the anti-feminist line of ‘well honey you should be happy with what you’ve got, women in Afghanistan aren’t even allowed to work.’ I know this is not your intention but this is how your arguments in your article appear to me: The article is called “UK feminists must address worldwide issues”, as if they don’t already.

And I simply cannot agree that the Yorkie Bar’s “not for girls” slogan is a subtle type of offensiveness. It’s about as obvious an example as you can get of the entrenched “sex wars” discourse that permeates our culture, diminishing feminist attempts to publicise discrimination by making out that the sexes have always been and always will be “at war”. I do not think the Yorkie Bar is specifically an issue to spend a lot of time on but it is a symptom of a larger problem of discrimination, denigration and sexism that women in this country live with everyday.

Comments on blog posts

From Danielle

Re: Houston, we have a problem: I was just reading Kate’s post about how she was harrassed and the

police didn’t seem to care, and I think it’s sad that this seems to be

the norm, rather than the exception.

I had a drink spiked on a night out about 6 months ago, I knew as

soon as I woke up that something was wrong, because I remember being

relatively sober, and then a total blackout.

So my mum took me to the police station, I took the clothes that I

had been wearing in a carrier bag, and didn’t shower in case they

needed samples or whatever. Turns out this was pure wishful thinking.

I asked for a test to confirm my drink had been spiked. I was then

asked “Do you think anything *untoward* has happened?” I replied that

I didn’t know, as I couldn’t remember a thing, as generally happens

when your drink is spiked.

I was then told that I would “know” if anything had happened (depsite

the fact that if you’ve been drugged you wouldn’t be capable of

resistance, so there would be no bruising anyway. Clearly even if

you’re drugged you’re expected to kick and scream for it to be

considered rape). And then she said that the purpose of drink spiking

was rape (although she skirted around the actual word), basically

implying that my drink hadn’t been spiked, as I hadn’t been raped (her

assumption, maybe because I wasn’t sobbing hysterically?)

Then she actually had the cheek to ask me if I drunk often, and how

often I drunk!

She refused to do anything after this, not even file a report for my

missing jacket and phone, which I imagine she might have done if I

hadn’t come in to waste her time on some silly suspiscion.

She told me to go to the hospital if I “really thought” my drink had

been spiked. Which I did, only to be told somewhat more

sympathetically that it was against hospital policy to carry out the

test, given the sheer number of requests (so clearly there is a

problem, which the police seem determined to turn a blind eye to) and

that they should have done a test there and then at the station.

Of course, by this time, my 12 hours were up, and it was pointless to

go back a demand a test.

My mum later told me that after relating this story to some people

she worked with, she was told of several personal experiences with

drink spiking at the same nightclub, and apparently it happens on a

weekly basis there. Something that you would assume would make the

police more receptive to such complaints, rather than less.

I have since lost all trust and respect for our so called protecters

of the law.

From Stephen Booth

Re: Feminist Philosophers neatly encapsulate equal pay story: Regarding your quote from Feminist Philosophers about Birmingham City

council going about addressing equal pay the wrong way. Not only were

many of those on the picket lines women who had gained under single

status, many were women who had lost money.

Whilst, as groups, some of the biggest winners are in traditionally

female roles, notably catering and caring, because those groups are so

large the actual increases amounted to a few pounds a week per person,

or less. The largest individual gainers, certainly that I am aware

of, have been in management. Many of the biggest losers have been

people in highly technical roles (IT, planning, transportation,

skilled craft &c) or who recieved bonuses for unpleasent/unsafe

working conditions, hours of work or productivity. Many of these

people, especially in IT, have been women.

From Gregory Stafford

Re: Southall Black Sisters ‘under threat’:

As an occasional reader of this blog and reviews etc I was shocked to

come across this posting. I am afraid to say that it is deeply

misleading and seems to imply that Ealing Council are not taking the

issue of domestic violence seriously.

Let me assure you that this is not the case; in fact at a meeting of

Full Council last year a number of Councillors including myself spoke

up for more recognition of the problems of violence in the home

against both men and women.

I agree that the work the Southall Black Sisters do is invaluable,

but it is simply not true that we are “withdrawing its funding”.

This year, as with every year previously, the funding of around

£100,000 is put out for tender and bid for by local groups who

provide domestic violence support. Over the past years Southall Black

Sisters have won this bidding process.

This year the process is EXACTLY the same. The only difference this

year is that the Council wants to find a provider that will serve the

entire Borough, all people regardless of their ethnic origin and both

men and women. We have invited tenders to cover this expanded need.

The Southall Black Sisters have been asked to bid for this money and I

believe they have put in such a bid. All tenders are looked at by an

independent panel so I have no idea whether Southall Black Sister will

secure the funding or not.

As an aside, the greatest incidence of domestic violence is in the

north of the Borough amongst white women, currently unsupported by the

work of the Southall Black Sisters.

I am disappointed that you seem to have swallowed the propaganda put

out by the Southall Black Sisters. It is not that we believe “that

there is no need for specialist services for black and minority

women” but in fact it is our belief that there is a serious

shortfall in provision for non black and minority women and men that

has influenced our thinking.

I would have thought that a progressive blog such as this would

welcome the Council’s desire to make available domestic violence

support across the whole Borough and for a much wider range of women

(and men) than is at the moment being provided for. I am sure that now

you have all the facts, you will welcome this decision.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr. Gregory Stafford

Representing Cleveland Ward

London Borough of Ealing

Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies

I responded to this comment on the blog

From Sherry Mead

Re: Giant idiots!: Don’t forget the implication that only the man has

an income. The add tells the slimy male target audience that buying

“the wife” a used car saves “his” money

From mickey

Re: Is it better to pee like a man?: how do yall pee standing up

From Cas

Re: Random Acts of Feminism: very much enjoy placing copies of Good Housekeeping in front of the

Loaded, Nuts etc mags. Parenting Magazine works well too.

From Adrienne

Re: Insert preferred expletive here.: I read this blog regularly and when I came across this

particular blog, I was appalled. I went to CNN myself and I found the

video with the disgusting title.

I watched the video, and it did not seem as though the woman in the

video was being sexually assaulted. I do not want to excuse the cops’

behavior or say that the female was “asking for it”, but how did you

know that she had been assaulted?

Also, I do not mind if my comment is used, but I would prefer to not

have my email address given away. Thank you!

From Alex

Re: Sorry Civitas, were you trying to be insulting or did it just happen?: Hang on, you’re contradicting yourself here. If the thrust of what Dr

Williams said (or appeared to say, he’s bested his own brilliant

record for being unclear) was that religious courts should have more

binding legal powers and civitas then say this would be a bad thing –

how is the fact that they currently don’t have binding legal powers a

counter-argument? The fact that they currently have a choice isn’t an

argument against it being a bad thing if that choice was reduced in

the future.

From Leigh Woosey

Re: Clothing – forward thinking and retrograde: Is this really a fair comment on Karen Walker’s work? Even a cursory

sift through Google results reveal that her designs are a brake from

the form hugging, skin baring garments that we expect from the

catwalk, seeming designed to allow the wearer to control their outline

and form with its emphasis on layering and loose fits. Her interviews

reveal a much more critical mixed approach to her source material than

is implied by this entry. from ‘ “I was really inspired

by Edwardian and Victorian childrenswear and doll’s clothes, mixed in

with some heavier elements and rock and roll references to get that

contrast,” Walker told us backstage before the show began. Set to the

beat of Siouxsie and the Cure, Walker achieved her goal’ . Walker

seems to earn the approbation of Vogue for being so daring, which is

enough to earn my respect at any rate.

From Jennifer McMahon

I’m not really sure what you are trying to say is bad about Karen

Walker’s collection – I’ll admit that I only saw the two pictures on

the article you linked (and I really loved that blue coat!) rather

than the entire collection, but are clothes based on a certain style

oppressing us now? Do I loose my feminist credentials if I like Karen

Walker’s collection? Is she *actually* asking women to force

themselves back into a restrictive way of dressing? Looks to me that

she has taken inspiration from Edwardian clothing and removed the

discomfort. Is that so bad?

Maybe I am missing the point…but you didn’t really make it clear

what, exactly, makes the Karen Walker collection anti-feminist.

From A

Re: Pill could be made available at pharmacies: On 1st January Laura Woodhouse wrote: ‘And, by the way, if you wait

until marriage to have sex because you think it’s ‘worth the

wait’, I’d start preparing yourself now for a biiiiiiiiig

disappointment. (Hint: good sex takes practice, that’s why the rest

of us are all getting busy with the condoms. Aww, don’t look like

that, it’s only so we’ll have more fulfilled marital relations.)’

Laura, when people choose to have sex is entirely up to them. Apart

from anything, since condoms do fail from time to time (as you

yourself have noted in support of abortion rights), the only safe sex

is no sex. How can people’s choice to abstain be doing anyone any

harm, anywhere? I’m not an advocate of abstinence, far from it, but I

fully repsect the rights and views of those who are. Since you haven’t

practised abstinence yourself, how can you tell anyone else that

they’re in for a disappointment? How would you know? Neither you nor I

would tolerate such vitriolic criticism of our choice to have sex

before getting married, so nor should those who have chosen not to.

And as for the anti-Christian overtones, please FWord in general,

give it a rest. Many Christians are good people, who practise and

preach tolerance (as perhaps I have done here…?). If the

Christian-bashing continues, I might have to stop reading the articles

on this site.

From Ruthie Samuel

Re: University of York Students’ Union opens Women’s Committee to men.: Response to article about the decision to allow men on the the york

uni women’s committee… Surely it’s important to welcome feminist men

rather than alienate them? Every single feminist man that I’ve met

has been completely respectful and supportive of the feminist cause.

I also think it’s very unlikely that a rapist would attend a women’s

group meeting, and if they did, they’d be kicked out very promptly

after a kick in the balls.

Laura Woodhouse, author of the blog post, replies

I do agree that there is room for feminist men in feminist groups, if that is what that particular group wants. However, I firmly believe that it is more important to make women feel welcome than men, and some women have categorically stated that they will no longer be a part of women’s committee because they do not feel comfortable with the group being mixed, for all the reasons I stated. These women should come before men, every time.

And I think if a rapist turned up he’d get more than a kick in the balls!

From tom hulley

to laura woodhouse on york women’s committee piece

beautifully concise and admirable clarity of thought -i really

appreciate reading your contributions

i hope you don’t mind me passing on your observations to students as

you explain patriarchy and its implications far better than i could

– but then that seems precisely your point on the need for women to

define causes and solutions.

i went to york in the 1970s when some of the women’s groups were just

starting -i found them vibrant and helpful when doing my research:

clear about their own priorities but still responsive to male interest

(not definable as either inclusion or exclusion really) so it is sad

day that some of the present group seem to be selling out

why on earth did they put the vote to men on whether to let them in

-what did they expect? perhaps an all female vote for male inclusion

would have actually meant something although i am not sure of this


From Karen James

Re: Property is theft!: Excellent post Helen but I

would like to make a side-point about the fact that it was just theft

– it was harrassment. This is a point I would like to make to all

women on this site.

I have had various gormless fools shout “Are you a man or a woman

anyway” when I have answered back their insulthing comments. They are

not saying it because of who you are – they are saying it because in

their minds ” a real lady doesn’t answer a man back”!!! My solution –

BY GOD ANSWER BACK!!! Focus back on them and thier obvious

shortcomings (never let the comments focus on you) and if it carrys on

just keep going on and on until they give in – and they will get

bored! It’s a pathetic school-boy bullying – “I WILL have the last

word mentality”

And the last point (even if you are) NEVER show fear – because that

is what they are doing it for in the first place – they love it. And

if you really are fearful learn a martial art. I am so tired of

hearing about “female helplessness”. We are NOT – and truly being able

to defend yourself physically terrifies abusers. It has helped me in

many of these situations.

Helen G, author of the blog post, replies

Thank you for your message, and my apologies for the delay in replying.

I agree with you that, because the theft of my cellphone was accompanied by transphobic comments, this modified it from ‘simple’ theft to include a hate crime and I also agree with you that harassment is not acceptable.

But the theft was also an opportunistic crime and, although the two men obviously had a very well choreographed routine, that routine was based on distracting their target to the point where the theft goes unnoticed, at least for long enough for them to make their escape. So the hate crime was a component of the theft, not vice versa. And I was very much distracted. I certainly wasn’t thinking about being helpless, or answering back, or resorting to physical violence. I’m not very good at thinking on my feet and if I was thinking anything at all, it would have been something cowardly along the lines of “I just hope I get out of this in one piece” – but the truth is that it all happened so fast, in a dark and confined public space on a London bus, that I would defy anyone to react like Charles Bronson in ‘Death Wish’.

Subsequently, I have had several discussions with friends and colleagues and the general reaction has been how lucky I was that the phone was all that the thieves took. Your message has been on my mind a lot since I received it and I’ve carried out a very limited straw poll amongst my friends and colleagues about defending oneself in such a situation. The overwhelming response was that if I had, I’d most likely have been knifed.

Also, and I’m sorry to keep on about it, I am a trans woman and consequently I am subject to many hurtful and upsetting comments like this, pretty much every time I stick my nose outside the door. Whatever one’s views on transitioning and the gender binary, my situation is that, although I identify as a woman, I do not ‘pass’ particularly well – hence the endless comments I receive. I am slowly – very slowly – learning not to let it hurt and upset me, but it’s not easy (and yes, I know – no-one said it would be!)

I have this irrational sense of somehow ‘letting the side down’ with what may seem like passive acceptance of a potentially violent situation in which I felt completely out of my depth, and that perhaps I should have done the Wonder Woman twirl instead of just standing there like a lemon, but please remember that transitioning is not a matter of choice for me. It’s a matter of survival, and I do what I have to do to survive. If part of that price is transphobic harassment, well then so be it. At least I’m still here to tell the tale. As I said in the blog post, “I’d rather be a live dog than a dead lion“.

From Denise

Re: Sally Anne Bowman murder trial continues: What also enraged me about this case was that

on last night’s BBC news Sally Anne was described as “single-minded

and opinionated BUT DESPITE THAT (my capitals) a very nice person”.


From Kirsten Turner

Re: Men resent ‘quality time’ breastfeeding: As breastfeeding is the norm, there are no health ‘benefits’ to

breastfeeding; only serious health risks to not breastfeeding. Women

deserve to know the facts. Perhaps then they’d get angry about how

they’ve been misled and the lack of support they’ve received, rather

than whining that they’re being ‘made to feel bad’ It’s not about

making women feel guilty, but facts and facts. Most women give up

because of a lack of support and because they don’t understand quite

how big a deal it is. I am sure that fewer woman would make a

‘lifestyle choice’ to feed artifically after reading This is a great

article about not the language we use. Maybe if men were made more

aware about the risks of not breastfeeding they would do more to

support their partners.

Charlotte Cooper, author of the blog post, replies

I think that in the context of an argument for and against breastfeeding – and that is what I’m discussing – that using the term health benefits rather than the norm is acceptable. I do see your argument for phrasing entirely, and enjoyed the links so I will probably consider this if I ever write about breastmilk again.

Personally I couldn’t be more for raising children au natural but I find the amount of press aimed at mothers/women of a certain age disturbing in its conflicting information and insistence that women are somehow bad if they cannot perform as is expected. Not all women see it as a lifestyle choice, for various reasons as I’m sure you know, women can feel inadequate post birth and if they have trouble initially getting the child to feed from the breast they will stop there and then, there is very little consistent support to help women to try again or inform them that even natural processes can take time. And I think that while the constant barrage of information trying to prove to women that this is the healthiest way to raise there child I think it has a debilitating affect of making women feel even more isolated and less of a mother because they cannot ‘perform’.

Points in the article I read further emphasized for me the pressure on women surrounding their bodies and child birth, something that increasingly is defined by people around us rather than our own experience. My article was a reaction to that.

From Fiona

Re: “All heterosexual women are rape victims”: Regarding the “all women are rape victims” quote; I agree with what

was said in the blog, but also the comment is quite true, in another

way. Women are expected to modify their behaviour and the way they

live their lives in order to reduce the risk of being raped. We’re

getting it from the goverment, every magazine in WHSmith you care to

name, and more importantly, from juries in the courts. When the legal

system fails one woman, it fails all women. So, yes, we are all

victims of rape, but not in a physical way.

From Cara

Just wanted to say thanks for this post. How ridiculous that we even

have to have this conversation.

From Maria Dixon

Re: Trail Magazine – Have a Gold Star!: Like you, I enjoy Trail magazine. However, there is one part of Trail

that I find supremely sexist – the gear reviews.

Unless they’re reviewing sports bras, Trail do not use female gear

testers, and therefore never offer any opinion on how well cut

women’s gear is.

In a typical Trail gear review a certain percentage of the gear will

not be available in a female fit. The higher up the spectrum of

technical difficulty/seriousness you go, the worse this gets – a

review of winter jackets or winter climbing boots may only have 1 or 2

items that come in a female-specific fit. Items that are only

available for women are never tested (unless, as above, they’re

sports bras), but items that are only available for men are routinely


Compare this to TGO. TGO usually has 2 gear review sections – one

male, one female, each covering roughly the same number of items. They

actually employ a female reviewer to test women’s gear and if the

standard items don’t come in a female specific fit, she reviews

alternatives, ensuring that a decent range for women gets covered.

As a mountaineer, it drives me absolutely mad that gear manufacturers

and reviewers still start from the premise that only men buy high-spec

gear. You can find lots of walking jackets & hiking boots for women,

but try finding a decent range of high-end mountaineering gear and

you’ll see what I mean – women are routinely not catered for and

have far fewer options to choose from than their male counterparts.

Ok, so there are less women going winter climbing in the UK than men

(something I’d like to see change), but that doesn’t mean we don’t

need decent gear!

(A mountaineer, climber, scrambler, walker, fell-runner and adventure

racer whose boyfriend has a hard time keeping up with her!)

From anna

Study links high heels with better sex. But…: in response to the high heels are good for sex article, what a load of

rubbish! i wear high heels most days, they no doubt exercises my calf

muscles but never the pelvic floor ones, what a wierd thing to say!

From Cara Grayling

“I don’t know much about pelvic muscles, but doesn’t this stuff

about “electrical activity” sound a bit weird? I don’t remember

hearing much about getting your calf muscle, or your bicep in the

correct position to exercise it based on electrical activity. I’m no

scientist of course, but does this seem wacky to anyone else?”

What she is describing is measuring the electrical activity of the

muscles; a legitimate scientific technique indicating how hard the

muscles are working (as you say, i.e. the muscles were in the optimum


However, you are correct that “in the optimum position” is not the

same thing as toning. According to this guy:

“Matt Roberts, a personal trainer whose clients have included

Madonna, Naomi Campbell, Natalie Imbruglia, Mel C and John Galliano,

was more cautious. “A woman wearing high heels will hold the muscles

tight to compensate,” Roberts said. “When you are standing on tiptoes

you have to clench the buttocks, the inner thighs and the pelvic floor

muscles. It would potentially give them a short-term tension and

toning. But the negative effects can outweigh the positive. “The knees

and metatarsals are put under strain, the hips are out of position. It

can lead to long-term health risks.””

Cerruto had set out as a high heel enthusiast to prove a hypothesis,

and surprise, surprise, “proved” it. Unbiased research, then! That is

not how science is done.

“”I adore high-heeled shoes and I wanted to find something positive

about them,” said Dr Cerruto, of the University of Verona. “In the end

I achieved my goal.” Exactly.

Just 66 women is *not* a large enough sample size to produce reliable


Further, she did not actually get the participants to walk around in

high heels! She had them hold their foot at an angle of 15 degrees to

the ground (the “equivalent” of a 2 inch heel) for a short time.

Hardly the same as walking around all day in heels (and a 2-inch heel

is relatively low).

You are quite correct that this was a letter, not a peer-reviewed

article. Unsurprising, given the above flaws in the study.

As for the emphasis on pelvic floor muscles…this smacks of yet more

patronising “advice” to women.

“The pelvic floor muscles are an essential component of the female

body. As well as assisting sexual performance and satisfaction, they

provide vital support to the pelvic organs, which include the bladder,

bowels and uterus.

But they often weaken after pregnancy and childbirth, and as the

woman gets older. There are exercises to strengthen them, but Dr

Cerruto hopes her findings may eliminate the need for these.”

“Performance”? Well, exactly. No study has ever proved that “tight”

pelvic floor muscles improve enjoyment of sex for the female. This is

all about men’s pleasure. Yet another way to show the female body as

not good enough; how dare we have kids or get old? Have they not heard

that most women do not orgasm through penetrative sex? Have they not

heard of the clitoris? I cannot believe this rubbish is being

published in 2008. You are right; the agenda is simply to “prove” that

high heels are good for women. Ignore the fact that they are often

uncomfortable and painful, and have been shown to result in poor

posture. Tell us silly creatures that they are good for us, what are

we complaining about? It’s not about women liking heels (which I do,

in their place, i.e. when I don’t have to walk or stand for long), but

about the fact that men like them. These “findings” have been so feted

by the media because they give ammunition to the anti-feminists;

portraying feminists as ugly, in their flat sensible shoes, and of

course, “anti-sex”.

From Rose

This article has very poor methodology. For starters, the whole

paragraph about electrical activity sounding ‘weird’ should be

deleted; it just makes the author sound wilfully ignorant. Again, why

is such an emphasis given to the fact that the doctor is a urologist

if you’re then going to say her urology-related points are wrong

because they sound ‘wacky’ to a journalist? The only valid point in

the article is that she submitted it to a urology journal as a letter,

with no peer review. You don’t address the point that the women who

wore 2″ heels had as good posture as those who didn’t, because that

would contradict your argument. I get the impression that someone saw

the headline and said, ‘I want an article on this by lunchtime,’

before reading through the story, and was determined to disagree.

Sorry to go on about this, but I’m just surprised that the f-word

would publish such a poorly-thought out article.

From Kat

Re: More on those pink toy irons…: You’re the one stereotyping implying that pink is only a girl colour

Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies

I refer you to the blurb we quoted from the M&S website: “And with the hangers included she can keep them neat and tidy too”

Comments on older features and reviews

From Mimi

Against censorship:The innocence and naïveté demonstrated in this article is almost

touching and the equation of pornography with sex would be laughable

were it not so tragic.

While I acknowledge that the author finds the type of pornography

that’s saturating our culture “harmful” I find it kind of ironic

that she believes that the kind of pornography that *she* approves of

should be subsidised by the state – i.e. all of us taxpayers – and

shown to children in school because it’s that good! It’s interesting

that she even refers to it as “my porn” – echoing the tired

justification of all porn-apologists that; yeah, porn is mostly

revolting – but not the stuff I happen to like.

It seems to me that the author has overlooked the driving force

behind adult “entertainment” – patriarchal capitalism. One has to

wonder why such an abjectly hateful and misogynistic ‘industry’ makes

so much money. Oh. It’s because the ‘people’ (men and boys) for whom

it’s made buy the product. They buy it because they like it. It neatly

frames unequal gender power dynamics and reinforces them with orgasm.

Misogyny in action.

“…widely available, quality, joyfully explicit plot- and

character-driven, sexually equal pornography” – fluffy porn – will

never sell while patriarchal capitalism underpins current gender power

relations and probably won’t be required if/when our sexual

narrative regains it’s health. After all, when that happens, sexual

arousal and/or relief will then have become genuine again and no

longer reliant on a manufactured product. I find it kind of sad that

the writer associates a caveperson’s artistic legacy with

pornography – who’s to say they weren’t creating a lasting image

of a real person who was significant in their life by the only means

they had? Patriarchial capitalism created pornography and there is no

evidence that cave-dweller’s society was patriarchal; quite the

reverse, actually.

Tinkering about with ‘this porn’s ok – that porn isn’t’ in

the current climate doesn’t help our sexual narrative achieve

healthy status nor is it going to make women any safer. I agree that a

radical rethink of attitudes to pornography is needed but I think it

needs to be far more radical than the author has suggested. She states

that “there is not a shred of evidence to support a direct link

between violent sexual crime and ‘extreme’ pornography” without

acknowledging that, in the U.S., the 1986 Attorney General Commission

(known as the Meese Commission) found a causal relationship between

exposure to violent pornography and acts of sexualised violence

against women, that the transcripts of the public hearings on

Ordinances to add Pornography as Discrimination Against Women in

Minneapolis (1983) contain evidence from a range of expert witnesses

and survivors of abuse about the links with sexual violence and the

socialisation processes for men that pornography creates or Zillman

and Bryant’s research (1988) experimental work that demonstrated

that exposure to ‘non-violent’ pornography led to men developing

‘callousness’ towards women and a trivialisation of rape or

Malamuth et al’s research (1984) that demonstrated that men who

watched pornography indicated a subsequent willingness to force women

into sexual acts if they thought that such actions would not be

punished or that in a summary of research in 2000, Neil Malamuth

concluded that “Meta-analyses of the experimental literature show

that exposure to both non-violent and violent pornography affects both

aggressive attitudes and behaviours, and that violent pornography does

so to a greater degree”. The evidence is there if you care to look

for it.

I’m against censorship too. I’m also a radical feminist therefore I

locate pornography as a tool of oppression within patriarchy – any

pornography; the misogynistic and the fluffy. Dreams of a pornutopia

won’t change anything because there’s no money in it (sorry, the great

British taxpayer won’t cough up to subsidise your particular jollies).

I agree that censorship is dangerous – but so is pornography and,

currently, more women are being harmed by the manufacture and

consumption of pornography than by censorship.

From jay

Porn rather than erotic imagery was used initially by the army. It was

shown to men to get their blood pounding as an aid for warfare. Porn

and I mean hard core violent imagery is still used by armies today for

this purpose.

There is a huge (documented) link between the acting out of violence

and hard core porn. Banning porn will not stop violence. The desire

to act out violence is already but hard core pornographic material

normalises it, feeds it and can trigger the desire to act it out.

Pornography is addictive it hard wires the brain. Images stay and are

repeated years after viewing. Trafficking, paedophilia and other forms

of abuse are a big part of pornography. As for the average ?25 year

old pretty woman who smiles, looks like she is totally comfortable

with spreading her legs, she is an adult after all, a free women with

a mind of her own.. I wonder…

From jakka

There has been plenty of research which demonstrates that repeated

exposure to certain types of pornography does 2 things: it normalises

images we are intitially uncomfortable with, and in consumers of porn

it creates a desire for ‘harder’ stuff’. One piece of research

demonstrated that repeated exposure to rape imagery made people less

able to recognise rape as rape. I leave you to ponder the

consequences, bearing in mind that the utimate consequence of

objectification is murder.

From Bernadette

Re: Feeling a bit uncomfortable?: If you wish to criticise the medical profession, you dramatically

undermine your case by using examples that are decades out of date.

The term ‘hysteria’ vanished from the psychiatric lexicon many moons

ago, as did hysterectomy as psychotherapy.

Rather than an argument for compassion in obstetric services (which I

*think* was the gist) this instead comes off as a rather paranoid

reading of the text.

From Evie

Feeling a Bit Uncomfortable made me laugh so hard I nearly burst my

stitches. It struck me what a pompous lot (some) doctors can be, and

how casually they can dismiss the pain and vulnerability women can

feel during pregnancy and labour. I can clearly remember this bored

doctor using the ‘uncomfortable’ word when I was screaming for an


Thanks Jane for giving the medical profession the right kicking it

sometimes deserves.

From Michael

Re: Every girl wants a stalker:

Every individual – man or woman – has their own unique view of it

all. Much of it obviously has similarities with the view others

experience. When we pontificate – and we all do – we tend to view our

opinions as some kind of truth, which we see as applicable to everyone

else. It isn’t!.

That said, as a male lacking in a sense of self worth and confidence

with women for most of my life (I’m 71 and single) I’ve been very

frustrated that while the female will respond with very clear signals

to encourage a man, they definately stop short of asking. I’m English

so this applies in the U.K. So, there is something in a female psyche

that can inhibit verbal admission of desire or attraction.. I really

wonder if it is conditioning?. The odd thing is if a woman is too

overt with me, I usually find it off-putting. It’s a double-bind for

me. I’m too slow, but don’t like them too fast.

I also think it may have something to do with the fact that the woman

has the pregnancy. If this was reversed I reckon it would be a

reversal of roles. Males are generally the hunter and women are the

attractors, whatever the reasons, we’ve got along quite well for


From dean whittington

Re: Deconstructing masculinity: I have done some work around this issue in the book “Beaten into

Violence”. This is about the social construction of white


From Lavinia Younger

Re: Perfume: the Story of a Murderer: In response to the review of Perfume, I think that the writer has

concentrated too much on the feministic side of the book. For me,

Perfume has little to do with the treatment of women, but more the

fascinating search for Grenouille’s identity and concern he has for

being loved by others. However, he then realizes that the aura of

identity created by his magic perfume is an illusion and that it has

been hate rather than love that drove him to become a genius of

perfuming. To the question of feminism, we know that Greouille murders

merely to aquire the materials necessary for his art, and guilt is not

an aspect of his consciousness. It is clear to me however, that women

are portrayed as symbols of sex in the novel, and their virginity is

the main source of attention which Suskind attributes to their

discussion. The way virginity and innocence is linked is somewhat old

fashioned in this day and age.

It is clear that Greouille is devoid of morals and the murder of all

these women does not affect him in the way it should. He is not doing

it for the stereotypical reasons which the rest of society are

pointing towards, of sexual abuse. In fact it is quite offensive that

they should jump to these conclusions, as it seems this was all women

were good for in those days. It annoys me therefore that there is so

much emphasis on the unfair treatment of women in this article, as it

is certainly not what the book is trying to achieve in terms of ideas

and thoughts.

From Ida

Re: The F Word Podcast – episode three!: Podcasts – Hi – Thanks for doing podcasts, they’re another medium we

can use to spread the message and promote feminism. I’m currently

trying to find different ways of getting the message across as I put

together events for International Women’s Day in work. We want to have

something staff can see/do/read/hear so it’s great that I can send

around links to the podcasts as something people can do at their desk.

Also, well done on the whole site. It’s really well laid out and I

can never come in here without wanting to read almost every article

you link to – the titles are very enticing.

Thanks for being such a great resource. Hopefully I’ll be able to

help you out in the future.

From Jay

Re: How to Look Good Naked: How to look good naked and those other make over programmes.. I feel

the emphasis is not on allowing women to love and accept their

bodies… more about how to disguise and deny the realities of their

bodies. Breast must be hoisted, waists must be squeezed, hair

coloured etc etc. Women are viewed and view themselves from the

outside. These programmes reinforce the message that how we are

naturally is not ok and not acceptable to society. As for those photo

sessions ..note the huge white cloths drapped over those non

acceptable bellies or round thighs.

The day they photograph and CELEBRATE the realities of many women’s

bodies that include rolls of fat stretch marks, wrinkles etc etc

will be for me a good day!

From Andrew Schofield

Re: Suffering in silence: I don’t disagree with much that George Mason says but here’s the key

difference: collective guilt. I’m also shocked and dismayed at boorish

and intimidating behaviour by lagered-up lads towards women minding

their own business but I don’t see why MY freedoms should be curtailed

or I should be stigmatised because of it. Naturally I could try and

intervene but then I’d be accused of being some kind of chivalrous


From Grace

Re: Glamour models made me sick: i completely agree with eveything you said about glamour models giving

the wrong message out to girls and women. i’m going through exactly

the same thing as you talked about. My boyfriend often makes comments

about glamour models, nuts magazines, big boobs etc. even though they

aren’t intended to hurt me they stick in my mind and make me feel like

complete and utter crap. Ever since the first comment was passed i’ve

become obsessed with looking like the girls off page 3. Even though im

size 6 and have a fairly toned body i want bigger boobs and every time

i look in the mirror i just feel like i look a mess. Until i read

your article i felt like i was completely alone and no one else would

understand why i feel like i have to look perfect 24/7 so i want to

thankyou for writing this because it’s really helped me and now im

going to try and get some help and stop seeking perfection all the

time. i really respect everything you said as you obviously have your

head firmly on your shoulders, i just hope that i can get through it

and come out the otherside as well as you have. well done for making a

stand. you’ve been a real inspiration. thankyou. xxx

From sam

Re: Are you married? If not, why not?: I am pleased that you are happily

cohabiting. It works for some people and you appear to be one of the

fortunate few (although I firmly believe that it does not work for the

majority). It did not work for me. I lived with a man for 5 years

(from 20-25) and it was the worst thing I ever did. I am an atheist

thus my argument is not based on religious grounds. So why do I hate

cohabitation so much? I have thought long and hard about this and I

have reached the following conclusion: it damaged me psychologically.

You see, rightly or wrongly, I believe that if you are truly committed

to someone you will want to marry them as they are far better

protected legally (believe me legal protection DOES matter) Besides,

If you are truly committed, why wouldn’t you want to be married? What

harm could it do? Absolutely none. Thus I was stuck in a situation

whereby I was neither married nor was I single. I was, if you like,

stuck in a rut, a psychological halfway-house. In a state of limbo

that nearly ruined my mental health. You see, people need to have

boundaries -they need to know where they stand . A man who is about to

be executed is strangely happy because he knows what’s ahead of him.

As for marriage disempowering women? No way. Utter drivel. It EMPOWERS

them. It gives them the backing of the law and, you know what, that’s

security. My advice to others? Get married or be single- never, ever

cohabit. If you are doing it to rebel against your nice middle-class

backgrounds be aware of the fact that you are cutting off your nose to

spite your face. Cohabitation offers all the worst parts of married

life with absolutely none of the advantages. A close friend of mine

lived with her partner for 15 years, they took out a mortgage together

and brought up her child, when he died unexpectedly she had to ask his

brother permission to organise the funeral. No spouse has to do that.

I admit my friend and her late partner were pretty ignorant about such

matters and believed in that old mythical beast the “common law

wife/husband”, but what excuse has an educated person got? Isn’t it

just easier to be married? Wouldn’t you be saving yourself hassle by

doing so?

From t

Re: Girls Aloud, beauty secrets and lies: I think that the beauty of the female form lies in the vast variety

that women come in, whether your naturaly slim or naturaly curvy you

are beautiful, we shouldn’t be conditioned to be competitve with other

women because of a unnatainable standard set by society, perfect does

not exist and it never will, we should learn to love ourselves and

rejoyce in the fact that we dont look like we’re made of plastic.

From Jack Briant

Re: Taboo for who?: A great little treatise on the word cunt. It hapens to be my favorite

word in the bedroom when I am talking to my wife and we are having

intercourse. And it is true if we call someone a dick or a cunt to

describe their personality thats when some can be insulted. However if

a man is described as a dick it carries more weight than if a woman is

referred to as a cunt Thank you for your article.


Re: Loose Women: Read your comments on Loose Women and I have to say you have your

opinion,but they did receive an award so you are in the minority. Must

say that you sound a bundle of fun and a gas to be around. Keep

smiling won\’t you.From a very HAPPY LOOSE WOMAN.

From karen

thought your reader was really rude about loose women…….its a bit of

light hearted entertainment with real women presenters so get lost


From Matt

Re: Mind your language: I’ve just read Sarah Louisa Phythian-Adams’s Article “Mind Your Language”

– I’ve only recently discovered the site- and I feel that many good points

have been made. I really don’t understand how in this day and age Nestle

can get away with selling Yorkie bars saying “it’s not for girls” on every

label. Talk about going back in time! I think sexism in Language is still

an important issue. I can’t understand either the use of the terms “lady”

and “ladies” in many contexts nowadays either and how many people are

afraid to use “woman” and women”. I’ve noticed that many women’s football

teams are still referred to as “ladies” teams, to me this sounds really

patronising as well as trivialising.

I also dislike terms such as “male nurse” and can’t see why the gender of

a nurse matters any more. Stereotypes in language still seem to dominate

so much – one example I saw last year were Mothers’ Day Cards for young

children to send – there was a pink one that said on the front “from your

little girl”, but a blue one said “from your little man”. Why couldn’t the

card have said “from your little boy”? It seems people are reluctant to

use the word “boy” even to describe boys because they don’t think it sounds

“manly” enough, like the way boys (as well as young men) are often called

“lads” – something I personally can’t stand.

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