News and Views

// 27 November 2008

Here’s a really powerful reminder that, in the words of bell hooks, feminism is for everyone:

The definition of feminism does not require a diploma or other proof of graduation. It is not reserved for those who teach women’s studies classes, or to those who majored in women’s studies, or to those who graduated from college, or to those who graduated from high school, or to those who graduated from Brownie to Girl Scout. It doesn’t care if you went to Princeton or the school of hard knocks. You can have a PhD, or a GED, or a degree in mixology, or a library card, or all of the above, or none of the above. You don’t have to write a twenty-page paper on Valerie Solanas’s use of satire in The S.C.U.M. Manifesto, and if you do write it, you don’t have to get better than a C-plus on it. You can really believe math is hard, or you can teach math. You don’t have to take a test to get in. You don’t have to speak English. If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.

Ban Ki Moon’s statement on the elimination of violence against women is here

We do not know the true number of victims, but we do know that there are far more crimes than ever get reported, and far fewer lead to arrests. In too many places, rape still carries a stigma that forces women to avoid the courts that should exist to protect them. In some countries, victims are brutalized twice: first during the crime itself, and then by the justice system…Even when perpetrators are identified, they often go unpunished, especially if they are working in the police or military…Even more disturbing is the age of many victims. In certain violent areas of Haiti, 50 per cent of the young women have been raped or sexually assaulted. Of the handful of courageous victims who do seek justice, one in three is under 13. During one particularly violent month earlier this year in Liberia, the majority of reported rapes were committed against girls under the age of 12, some of whom were not even 5 years old.

But should be read against an international background where Turkey stopped an anti-violence against women march with barricades and violence; where China is blaming isolated cases of sexual violence against women by other women on women becoming “unfeminine” and emulating male superiority rather than their apparently innate “weak and tender” attributes (the crimes are horrific, the explanations are also horrific) and where Black Women’s Rape Action Project points out that the UK still doesn’t recognise sexual violence and rape as acts of torture for women seeking asylum.

Santa has been sacked for inappropriate behaviour. I have to say the excuses of Andrew Mondia (the Santa in question) are just banal assertions of male privilege – “I am innocent it’s other people with dirty minds misconstruing it”, “My “elf” told me it was wrong but she’s a woman so what does she know” and “Damn those codes of behaviour now I’m a victim because I won’t get given money for propositioning women”.

Meanwhile a lesbian soldier has had the sexual harassment she experienced acknowledged by an Employment Tribunal who have ordered the Ministry of Defence to pay almost £190,000 in compensation.

Carol Sarler has a take on the “Gordon Ramsey has an affair” story by telling off Sarah Symonds (the “other” woman) for not playing the rules? Those rules are classist in the extreme relying on old upper and middle class notions of “mistresses” as routine but are also venomously anti-woman. Mistresses are apparently “sorry little bits on the side” who are now getting “uppity” because of feminism, instead Sarler argues a mistress should accept that she “gets the sex and, if she’s lucky, a bauble or two…[but] she may…do nothing whatsoever to bring misery to the people he really loves….She has no status at all – not as wife, widow or even proper friend.” And the title of this delightful piece? Why don’t trollops know their place any more?

Finally researchers from Bristol University are doing a survey about women and violence funded by the Women’s Institute. It has the potential to be the biggest such survey ever undertaken. Follow the link to take part.

Comments From You

Alice // Posted 27 November 2008 at 12:14 pm

I was hoping The F-Word would pick up on that disgusting piece by Carol Sarler. I noticed Gordon Ramsay’s betrayal of his wife is considered for roughly one sentence; apparently it’s all the fault of the “vicious blonde” with whom he had the affair.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 27 November 2008 at 2:25 pm

Andrew Mondia obviously thinks all women want to emulate what male customers of lap dancing clubs expect – namely the sexual servicing of their male genitalia by women. Memo to Ban Ki Moon just who are the individuals committing violence against women? It is a rhetorical question because time and again that word ‘male’ is deliberately missed out. Is it so frightening to use this word when defining the male gender of perpetrators. Note, the Chinese journalist reporting on the isolated (and yes it was isolated which is why it was reported) cases of Chinese women committing sexual violence against other women was immediately reported within the very first sentence. Yet routine acts of male violence against women are always written in the passive tense – meaning gender of male perpetrators is always hidden.

‘Re media coverage concerning Gordon Ramsay indulging in an

extra-marital affair. Once again the ‘other woman’ is being targetted

as a ‘scarlet woman’ but let’s put the focus where it belongs namely

with Ramsay. I do not know why Ramsay chose to engage in an extra

marital affair but if blame is to be allocated then the person

responsible is Gordon Ramsay because despite being married he chose to

engage in an extra marital affair. Focusing on the woman involved in

this extra-marital affair is deliberate and calculated woman blaming

which conveniently hides Ramsay’s responsibility and accountability.

Calling the woman involved in this affair misogynistic names serves to

reinforce patriarchal sexual double standards. For too long men who

commit adultery have had their actions excused or else justified because

women are always blamed for men’s sexual behaviour.’

The woman soldier who for once received justice when her charges that a male superior Army NCO had deliberately sexually harassed and attempted to force her into unwanted sexual contact, was trivialised in today’s Metro. Apparently deliberate and calculated male sexual harassment which often includes threats of sexual violence is irrelevant compared to the injuries suffered by soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. Conveniently omitted is the fact individuals when joining the Army know this will inevitably place them at some point in so-called ‘war zones.’ Female soldiers when joining the Army do not anticipate or expect to have to endure male sexual predators who consider it their right to enact so-called male sexual privileges by treating lower ranking female soldiers as ‘mens’ sexualised commodities.

lisa // Posted 28 November 2008 at 9:36 am

The Mail publishes the usual drivel BUT …

Whilst the Ramsey’s personal life isn’t really any of our business – I’m intrigued why an alleged 4 occassions of sexual activity become ‘an affair’ and the woman he was with becomes ‘a mistress’. Maybe I’ve lived in France too long but a mistress is a woman that a man has a relationship with and is in effect an unofficial wife. He is supposed to provide her with a flat, money for her keep, money for any children born, presents and even money for business projects (her cover story as it were !) – e.g. Coco Chanel was extremely successful in being kept by very wealthy and influential men and opened her boutiques with their money. He is even supposed-expected to socialise with her at certain events and with certain people.

Surely GR had opportunistic casual sex with SS on 4 occassions – not an affair lasting 7 years !

What Tana and Gordon ‘do’ about this is their business. Many, many people (male and female) struggle with monogamy especially as the years go by. How many outraged commentators have NEVER been tempted EVER ??? Why the assumption that Tana has NEVER so much as lusted after anyone else, kissed someone else, done more with anyone ???

Monogamy whilst obviously a breeze for some, is work, hard work, for others both men and women, in hetrosexual and homosexual relationships so can we have some perspective please !

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