Another weekend round-up

// 1 November 2008

Mercy Wanjiku has had her ‘removal’ date postponed after a last minute intervention – see womensgrid for more.

You may remember Northern Irish MP Iris Robinson, who made some vile homophobic comments earlier this year. Her husband and Northern Ireland’s first premier, Peter Robinson has publically stated that he agrees with his wife, that homosexuality is an “abomination”.

A woman in the US is suing a hairdresser, after she went to get her hair dyed and was told “We don’t do African-American hair.” Renee at Womanist Musing points out:

Why should she not have been able to walk into a hair salon and expect them to be able to cater to her needs. Hair care is one of the few industries that continues to be divided by race. One look at the magazines in the waiting area will let you know if you are in the right place or not.

This continues largely because black hair is deemed to difficult to deal with. Somehow the white hairdressers cannot be proficiently trained to deal with the high maintenance needs of a black woman….oh no their delicate hands can only deal with the silky locks of white people. In all of the years I have been going to salons, I have only ever been to one that catered to both white and black women alike.

Finn Mackay from London Feminist Network was on Radio 4 talking about her time at Menwith Hill Women’s Peace Camp – you can listen again, but only for about a week.

James Bond – aka “the pro-imperialist misogynist thug” – should be retired, argues Harpymarx.

While comments are still going strong on Laura’s post on PETA’s sexist tactics, here’s the animal rights group getting it right for once. Joan Jett! All those guitars!

Order a FREE ‘Vegetarian Starter Kit’ at

(Via AfterEllen)

Laura Kidd reminisces about the ’90s band Bis, in particular her feminist song “I’m a slut”.

At the Guardian, Stewart Dakers doesn’t appear to know the difference between “masculinity (traditional concepts thereof)” and “men”.

US women are paying more than men for the same health insurance! Pink Scare breaks it down.

Comments From You

Lauren O // Posted 2 November 2008 at 7:14 am

Good job giving credit where credit is due re: PETA. They do so much vile stuff that it’s easy to write them off, and it’s really admirable that you have the maturity not to. This ad probably wouldn’t have come to my attention otherwise. In the future, when I’m writing angry emails to PETA for the umpteenth time about some stupid thing they’ve done, I’ll tell them to do more ads like this. Maybe they’ll be more likely to listen to me if I can point to things they’ve done that I thought were effective.

BrixtonWoman // Posted 2 November 2008 at 5:31 pm

Er, black and white people’s hair *are* different.

I’m white; I live in Brixton and most of the hairdressers around me cater to black people. So I just don’t go there. I wouldn’t be offended if they said they didn’t do ‘white’ hair, I’d take that as a fact, annoying as it may be. I’m also a size 4 shoe and some salons won’t do my toenails as they are too small. And? No point getting huffy about it.

And no-one is saying all white people have ‘silky’ hair – I certainly don’t, it’s thick and insanely frizzy.

Like any trade, you are either trained in the specifics of a certain minority requirement, or not.

Maybe all hairdressers should be trained in both white and black hair. Why not suggest solutions like that, instead of whingeing on a blog?

Kath // Posted 2 November 2008 at 9:37 pm

Talking about credit where it’s due, Stewart Dakers article is spot on apart from the last sentence (and the headline, which wouldn’t have been written by him) :)

Jess McCabe // Posted 2 November 2008 at 10:32 pm

“Why not suggest solutions like that, instead of whingeing on a blog? ”

That is what Renee suggests! “Whinging on a blog” seems needlessly negative. Isn’t blogging a valid means to express our views and call for change?

Tony Moll // Posted 3 November 2008 at 6:41 am

I’m black. I know my hair different from white and Asian hair. I go to a barber that does my type of hair, they are mostly black.

It’s embarassing the way people maufuacture reasons to be offended.

Anne Onne // Posted 3 November 2008 at 1:16 pm

BerixtonWoman, whingeing on a blog is not incompatible with causing actual change. It lets other people know what is going on, why it may not be acceptable, and what experiences people have. It’s a very important part of getting change to happen, and making people aware of issues.

It’s not right that someone should refuse a service because they can’t be arsed to do it, as the example with the nails. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that there should be legistlation for something like that, it is unfair for someone to be denied treatment because allowances will not be made for them because they are a bit different. I would argue that ethically, the person offering the service should make a reasonable effort to include everyone.

When it comes to the hair, we’re not necessarily talking about legistlation. We’re not necessarily talking about punishing hairdressers for not knowing how to handle the ‘other’ type of hair. However, it would be nice if women, whatever their hair colour and texture, could find a local hairdresser that would cater for them, and not have to be segregated on the basis of hair. Maybe the solution would be offering more hairdressers courses to learn how to deal with another hair type. Maybe they should be encouraged to take on mixed staff who can cater to both types. I bet part of the reason why people segregate to visit different salons is because they know that salons that cater to ‘other’ hair won’t cater to theirs. If they did, I suspect this would not be such a big issue.

The problem is also that this has not occurred in a vacuum. It occurs as a result of a culture that sees black people’s hair as being wild and impossible, something that should be tamed to emulate white people’s hair. In the past (and even now) black people, especially women are pressured to conform to a standard that requires a LOT of upkeep. If they choose to cut it short, keep it in dreadlocks, or in any way deviate from really high-maintenance long straightened locks, they’re seen as making a political statement with their ‘ethnic’ hair.

And the majority of salons catering to white hair (as well as the industry focusing on how blonde, straight hair is most desirable) is part of this problem, because it hides the reality that most people do NOT have ‘perfect’ hair, nor should they be made to feel self conscious by having most hairdressers not know how to deal with their hair. I’d understand a hairdresser specialising in a particular hair treatment (ie specialising in black people’s hair and the different maintenance it requires), but it’s entirely different for someone giving a service/runing a business to decide not to learn how to deal with what could be a sizeable chunk of their clientele. It’s the easy way out, and sometimes that makes business sense (more worp per the money you get, maybe), but on a social level, it’s not a good thing.

Jess McCabe // Posted 3 November 2008 at 1:45 pm

I fully agree with Anne. The point is not that all hair is the same – obviously it’s not. It’s to ask why it is that hairdressers are not routinely trained to deal with the hair of anyone who walks in the door.

Interestingly enough, I was reading the Observer Women supplement this weekend, and it had a long piece in it about the lack of black women in the modelling industry still. One of the issues mentioned was that make-up artists are only trained to work with white women.

Sabre // Posted 3 November 2008 at 10:47 pm

@ BrixtonWoman and Tony Moll

Interestingly, both your comments display a different privilege.

BrixtonWoman, of course you wouldn’t be offended if a salon ‘didn’t do white hair’, how could you be when most salons in this country do? Brixton is one of the few exceptions to the norm. I’m sure you didn’t mean to do this, but saying ‘it’s ok for me, I wouldn’t complain!’ doesn’t recognise the fact that this really bothers some people, whom you have just trivialised. Your situation of your ‘white hair’ being refused is not the same as ‘black hair’ being refused. That’s showing your white privilege, (and having thick frizzy hair doesn’t really make it less so).

Tony Moll, how great that you’re not offended yet feel it’s OK to sneer at those who are. You may be black but you’re not (as far as I know) a woman, so you won’t have experienced the pressure put on all women by society to place their worth in their looks from birth. You don’t have to be offended but don’t dismiss it if other people are. That’s showing your male privilege.

This was a good one for me to think about today. I’m not black and don’t have afro hair but it interested me that these comments highlighted to me how important intersectionality is. I may be wrong in my responses to the above commenters, and perhaps showing some of my own privilege? All I know is that I don’t try to trivialise or dismiss it when others are offended by something that has never affected me.

Perhaps it is a small issue but that’s not for me to decide.

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