Comments from October 2008

This month, readers loved Ananya's review of magazines aimed at girls. Comments also flooded The F-Word's inbox during October in response to Karen James' piece about a breach of patient confidentiality when she went to get the morning after pill, as women shared their own stories

, 10 November 2008

Comments on the latest features and reviews

So, you really think we’re stupid, do you?, by Ananya

From aimee

Personally, I think it\’s amazing that a ten year old girl can be so

intelligent and perceptive despite the damaging influences of magazines

like this. Well done!

From Gloria Dawson

Ananya’s review of Girl Talk magazine was intelligent ans well written. I

felt like I was reading something I thought when I was ten but wouldn’t

have known how to put in words. I think she should send her comments in to

the magazine and the publishing company, spread her views amongst her

friends, and keep writing!

From Dr.J.Amalorpavanathan

Ananya ,you write well.Your reasoning is sound , your prose is

tight.Continue writing on many more things that you happen to see around

you.Let logic and logic alone be the corner stone of all your activities

including your writing. Looking forward to read more of your

writing.

From Sneha Krishnan

Perfectly true! I’m glad girls like you are actually thinking of these

things!

From Sarah Louisa Phythian-Adams

I read your article and couldn’t agree more. I felt very much the same

from my pre-teens and onwards – that something was distinctly wrong with

the world of being a ‘girl’. What you’re talking about is the

‘normalising’ of what it is to be female around a small (and frankly

stupid) set of ideals (that is making those ideas into what is considered

normal and everything else not). Popular media (that is magazines and TV

etc) have turned ‘girl’ into a brand and everything about being a

‘girl’ has to be pink, cutesy, giggly, looks obsessed, celebrity

obsessed and happy to say that everything else is for boys. I’m sad to

say that the magazines aimed at ‘women’ in the adult market pretty much

do the same thing – swap cutesy for sexy and there you have it – the

recipe for adult media fodder aimed at women.

It’s so heartening to hear that not all young women are swallowing this

rubbish! I worry about my nieces who are now in their teens. They think

I’m just their mad auntie who won’t let them in my house wearing their

Playboy jewellery(!) Perhaps you can get involved with your school

magazine/ paper as well? I would hope that young women might appreciate

hearing some feminist ideas from someone they can relate to – even if it

is just a break from the expectation of being this kind of ‘girl’.

From tom hulley

Thanks Ananya,

What a refreshing article. I loved the clarity of your presentation. In

fact, I want to show it to my (adult) social science students as an example

of using evidence to support an argument (They tend to just offer

opinions).

Not the first time I see that children are often wiser and more clearly

focused than adults. Indeed, I wish people would stop treating children

like children but like people!

Maybe F-word will invite you to be a regular blogger as you offer a

distinctive and very welcome voice.

Also it is heartening to find a young person saying ‘no’ to gender

stereotyping and peer pressure while asserting her own identity.

From Sally

Keep up the great work, Ananya! It’s obvious that you study hard and

enjoy it. You have combined insights about press-driven sexism, classism

and materialism into a single compelling essay. Policy makers who don’t

believe the media’s portrayal of girls is harmful and demeaning need to

read this article.

From lisa

There are some magazines aimed at girls which cover particular topics eg

horse riding, gymnastics. Otherwise try magazines which cover the

particular topic you’re interested in eg fishing, computing, martial arts.

These unfortunately are often aimed at males but at least they have real

articles and information. If you can read French or German they have

children’s (yes non-gendered !) magazines on a range of topics and even

children’s newspapers. This International Herald Tribune Article although

dated explains the general idea.

http://www.iht.com/articles/1999/01/27/kid.t.php

From Aideen

Re: So, you really think we’re stupid, do you?

I’m so pleased to see that young girls are carrying on the feminist torch

and critically examining the media – and from such a young girl too! The

article was very well written and she touched upon ideas which wouldn’t

have occured to many adults!

From Louise

I just want to congratulation Ananya on an incisive and interesting

article. Well done!

From Saranga

Too right! Sadly, the magazines (for heterosexual women) don’t get much

better as you get older. Company is alright, but is definitely geared

towards women who like clothes and makeup.

From Yasmin Keyani

Thank you Ananya for your article on magazines aimed at girls. As someone

a fair bit older than you, I only ever see these products on supermarket

magazine racks and even then I find them quite troubling. They are so

clearly just shallow, patronising, product placement vehicles. As such, it

is very heartening to know that at least one of their intended readership

is not taken in.

From Debi

Ananya, you rock! I really hope other young girls are inspired by you to

get interested in feminism – I think they will be.

From Karen Vaughan

The young lady that wrote about the inane magazines aimed at young girls

has just re-affirmed some of my faith in human nature. She appears to be

wise, balanced, aware of many social issues such as the points going to the

girl with the shortest skirt – sad but true! I am very impressed by her

article and wish her well for the future – stick to your principles and

respect yourself for doing so!

From Jennifer-Ruth

Ananya – you sound like a bright and intelligent person. I think that you

should send this article to the editors of those magazines and let them

know what you think!

From JENNIFER DREW

Thanks for such

an enlightening article. The writer of this article really knows and

understands how the editors of these magazines are deliberately attempting

to undermine young girls’ ambitions, differences and interests.

The writer of this article most certainly sees through the lies these

magazines are claiming.

By the way, you are so right, girls are not all the same and there is

absolutely nothing wrong in wanting to study. You do see how the quizzes

are designed to make girls think being intelligent and wanting to learn is

not something good but instead tries to make girls think such interests are

wrong.

There are a few magazines in the US which do not have this approach one is

Teen Voices. Like you I wish there was more variety of magazines for girls

because girls are not all identical.

Lastly I think your article was very well written and I’m so glad you have

spoken out. We need more voices like yours.

From Louise

Ananya, your article was very well written. I teach year 7 students in one

of the best grammar schools in England and honestly, I wonder how many of

my students would be able to write such a great piece of writing. You’ve

made my day ! I wish more girls like you would come forth and demand better

magazines_ I think lots of girls out there need to be encouraged to speak

out and voice their needs or concerns. So well done, and keep on writing,

you’ve got a real talent. Have you thought of having this article published

on other websites or in the newspapers ?

From Michelle

Nice one Ananya! Thanks for this really interesting insight into the some

of the content of these magazines, I agree they do seem to expect young

girls be one kind of person (pretty and giggly) instead of another (someone

who enjoys reading and learning).

When I was your age I also found these magazines to not represent girls

like me, who did enjoy learning and didn’t like dressing up, which I found

alienating and does make you feel like you aren’t good enough. As you say,

there shouldn’t be that message that says you should only be one way, and

of course you can be the sort of person who wants to do well in school AND

have fun!

I also agree that there should be some alternative magazines on offer for

young girls.

Keep on doing your thing, Ananya!

From Jennifer-Ruth

Ananya – you sound like a bright and intelligent person. I think that you

should send this article to the editors of those magazines and let them

know what you think!

From Fran

Thank you for sharing, Ananya! Your article was eye-opening for me. I

haven’t read girls’ magazines for years, and I didn’t realise just what a

bad message they were sending to their readers.

From hannah whittaker

In response to Anayas article I am extrememly impressed with the level of

intelligence she has displayed in this article at such a young age.

She will grow to be a fine politician and feminist. Well done Anaya

From Em

Everything you’ve pointed out is something thats troubled me a lot. I

have two 6 year old daughters and we struggle to find suitable magazine

material for them to read. Magazines aimed at young children are now too

boring for them, and magazines aimed at slightly older children are sickly,

and full of references to beauty, pop stars and dumbing down language. One

publication we subscribe to and love though is First News. I can highly

recommend it, my girls love it!

Confidential?, by Karen James

Karen James updates us on the situation

I said I would give an update when I had spoken to the head nurse. Well – I had a meeting with her last night and I am VERY pleased to say that she is now going to ensure that water is always available and offered to patients in the private room.

She also commented on the inappropriate assumptions made by the nurse I saw. The nurse was very apologetic and promised that staff will now be more proffessional in this manner and not jump to conclusions.

They are due to have a meeting soon on staff protocols and how they can improve privacy for patients and so they said my complaint came at exactly the right time. They asked if they could bring up my points and I agreed. Ok, these things should not need to be highlighted by me, but at least they are now being discussed. In fact, the head nurse was very cool and very interested in women’s sexual health and feminism so we are keeping in touch! I am very happy with the outcome so please convey this on my behalf.

From Sophie Platt

You poor woman! So unprofessional and indescreet. I’m just glad you

actually did something about it. So many others would either ignore it or

not bother to persue a complaint. Good on you!

Karen James, author of the article, replies

Thank you very much for all the support. I totally agree with you. I think in Britain too many people don’t complain enough, therefore services go downhill (especially for women), so I always complain in these situations! I am considered a very dominant woman and it terrifies me to think that another woman would go through that because I kept silent so I am glad I did.

From Mrs C

I feel for you as I had a similar experience with bad staff at a family

planning clinic.

I had to have a coil put as I was unable to get a morning after pill,

over a bank holiday weekend (this was a good 8 years ago now!). By the

time Tuesday came around it was over the morning after pill limit, so an

IUD it was instead! Needless to say it was a horrid, painful experience,

but I continued to bleed for weeks after, which shouldn’t have happened.

When I went back to the clinic to tell them I was still bleeding, the Dr.

examined me and silently went back to her desk. She wrote some things on

my notes then said very flatly -‘it seems you have had a miscarriage’. As

it turned out I was about 2 months pregnant which I was unaware of at the

time. Her response was emotionless and she treated me as if I had done it

on purpose. I was 19, had never been to a clinic in my life and i was

surrounded by girls younger than me that seemed at home there. I am still

disgusted by the way the Dr. talked to me and will never forget her words.

Obviously I was relieved at the time (which 19 year old wouldn’t be

relieved – my mother would have killed me!) I was too young to have a child

but who wants to be told in that manner. I never regretted having a coil

put in but her response to me made me feel dirty and immoral. If she

disagreed with it so much why was she working there? For me this was a

long time ago but it makes me sad to hear other women are still being

treated in the same way.

From Angela Erdal

Unfortunately I do not think this is a rare experience. When visiting the

local chemist earlier this year for the morning after pill, I was taken

into the cleaning cupboard (seriously! there where buckets and mops there)

and grilled about how I was going to make sure this did not happen again.

It was totally humiliating, especially when I can out into the crowded shop

and everyone stared as they knew why I was taken in there. I felt like a

naughty child not a 38 year old adult.

Karen James, author of the article, replies

The cleaning cupboard? Good grief – why didn’t they just use the public toilets and have done with it? I am really sorry you had to go through that. I have been through similar, and you are totally right in that it is very common. I am 36 myself, so I can relate how humiliating it is to be talked to like a child.

They really need to look more at personal circumstances and act accordingly. I don’t need someone my age lecturing me on my sexual health (well – any age actually!) But I think that your situation is worse, in that this wasn’t even a health facility, just an ordinary shop! It is no-one else’s business what you do with your body. I bet a guy wouldn’t get the same patronising response if he went in. Grrrrrr!!!! Sorry for the rant, but I know how you must have felt. And thank you so much for relating that to me. I was hoping to open up a dialogue about sexism in the NHS with this, I am happy I did.

From Lorrie

I made an appointment at the local surgery a little while ago for a

contraceptive injection. Over the phone I was asked what the appointment

was for and I replied that it was for an injection. Immediately, without

even the tiniest breath, the receptionist blurted “What *kind* of

injection?”. I told her that I’d rather discuss that with the nurse, thank

you very much. This isn’t because I’m ashamed of using the injection

(preventing unwanted pregnancies? How very dare I!) but because it had

nothing to do with the receptionist. Coming from a medical family, I’ve had

plenty of opportunity to ask, and receptionists have absolutely no right to

know why you want to see the doctor or nurse.

In any case, I paid for my cheek. When I arrived at the surgery a couple

of days later, I gave my name and told the receptionist I was there to see

the nurse. With a total lack of regard for the gigantic queue of busybodies

behind me, she leant up and crowed over the perspex, “Contraceptive

injection, is it?”

Sometimes I just want to give up.

From Shea

I’ve just read Rachael’s piece “Confidential?” and I have to say I’m

equally shocked. This was a totally unacceptable violation of the nurses

duty of confidentiality. What if Rachael had been there with her partner,

who on hearing what she was in there for started to get aggressive? That is

completely unacceptable. I think Rachael you should have said something at

the time (difficult I know) and definitely write to the health centre.

There is simply no excuse for behaviour like that, and as you said, if they

see a problem, why haven’t they remedied it?

Karen James, author of the article, replies

Thanks very much for your comments. And yes, I can totally see your point about if I had had a partner and he had got violent. And then of course, what if I had been raped and treated like that? It’s terrifying to think about.

I am single / I didn’t look guilty enough for having enjoyed sex – and I absolutely think that that is why I was judged so badly.

I really wish I had said something at the time, but, to be honest, I was just relieved to have my emergency contraception. And sometimes it really doesn’t hit you until you are away from the situation, does it? But I did make a verbal complaint to NHS Direct that very afternoon. I always complain in these situations because I think as a feminist, it can only help other women.

From Anon

I had a surgical termination in a south London hospital earlier this year.

I would say my privacy was compromised throughout the entire procedure,

from being left to wake up on an un-curtained bed with a backless gown

(promptly rolling over and showing the ward my bare arse complete with

bloodied sanitary towel) to being debriefed very publicly so the entire

discharge room knew what sort of abnormal bleeding I should look out for.

Pretty much the only person not reguarly updated on my progress was my

boyfriend, who was charged with picking me up afterwards and was treated

pretty shoddily by the hospital admin throughout.

From Jennifer Drew

I am horrified this medical practice is

operating a ‘moral sexual double standard in respect of women’s

sexualities. Would this practice operate the same principle if say, Mr.

Jones called in to see his GP and was told ‘take a seat Mr. Jones the

doctor will see you shortly about prescribing the little pink pill in order

to rectify your sexual dysfunction’. (I am not able to use the medical term

because it is viewed as spam). Or would Mr. Jones be told ‘take a seat Mr.

Jones the dr. will see you shortly in order to discuss STI’s’. Same thing

only difference is the biological sex of patient. Medical practitioners

are there to provide medical expertise to patients NOT to judge patients’

sexual activities.

But why is the onus once again on patients complaining? This is clearly

blatant abuse of medical practitioners power over patients. I am very

angry at this appalling situation. But of course men’s sexual behaviours

are seen as a right and autonomous unlike women’s sexualities which are

still being policed and controlled by those who sit in judgement on women.

Karen James, author of the article, replies

Thank you Jennifer for an excellent response to my article! You have put it exactly how it felt to me. And you know what? Now I have had the chance to reflect on it, the nurse I talked to wasn’t even so great when we were IN the private room. I remember her making stupid assumptions like: “So obviously he didn’t want to use a condom, which is why your’e here”!! I promptly replied “Er, I am not a victim just because I am a woman and no, that’s wrong” Also she said, “Well, he lives far away, you could see him at weekends or something”. “Yes”, I replied “I could, if I wanted to but I don’t.”

So Jennifer, you are so right. I felt judged – and judged and judged. But you know the worst judgement? That most people would rather I have been in pain than enjoyed orgasm. Also at the walk-in centre it was a Saturday morning, I was a little tired, had a short skirt on – and was alone. And THAT is why people made the assumptions.

Because if you need the morning after pill then as a woman you should be in a proper relationship and charperoned by boyfriend at all times! I was judged for being a women who likes sex! You are spot on about how I felt policed: the whole damn thing was set up to make me feel like a slut!

From Liz

Well done for complaining. You can also raise this with Patient Opinion

(www.patientopinion.org) – an independent group that aims to improve NHS

services by making sure patients’ views and complaints are passed on to the

right people.

From Jenny

While this was rather inappropriate, I doubt that many people in the

waiting room put two and two together and came up with ’emergency

contraception’ – they’re at the doctor’s for their own reasons and probably

have plenty of other things on their minds.

Karen James, author of the article, replies

Thanks for your comment on my article. I can see how your point is very valid. But I can also see that many sexist assumptions were used against me by the other patients that day. We all had to wait a couple of hours for appointments (as is standard at a walk-in centre on a weekand) so everyone was sitting about. Some of us chatted but most just looked around, bored. I think people decide on other people’s lives all the time, especially if you are trying to take your mind off being ill.

I was there on a Saturday morning, I looked quite tired. I had on a short skirt and I was alone. Whether we like it or not, people make judgements about others all the time (whatever condition they are in). So they judged me to have been waiting to get the morning after pill because of the elements I mentioned above – short skirt, alone, etc. That guy just echoed what others were thinking. And I knew he probably would be: I just did not need it confirmed for him by the NHS!

We’re all in this together, by Ariel Silvera and Sinead Ahern

From Sian

The history of abortion in Ireland and the UK was the best article I have

read for a long time. I’d previously any real knowledge of the history of

Irish women’s rights, this explained it informatively and concisely.

Incitement to rape, by Victoria Dutchman-Smith

From Anonymous

Thank you so much for putting into words what I have been feeling for the

last twenty years. I shall refer to your article when the topic of

“suitable dress” comes up, as it is bound to do in the near future, with my

12 year old daughter. I will use your article in “defence” against

potential objections from my husband, who would have me dress to deny that

part of me that would celebrate my sexuality. He thinks it’s inappropriate

for me because I am married – I have been struggling but failing to counter

this attitude since I was a feminist student who delighted in wearing

mini-skirts, but then slowly lost my self-respect as I became a

down-trodden wife and mother…… Hallelujah for this website, which I

have just discovered!

From ClaireM

In response to “Incitement to Rape”. I think these issues are well teased

out. As someone who experienced sexual abuse in childhood can I offer the

perspective that also the false perception of female sexuality, the social

premium put on good (or ‘slutty’) behaviour compounds the damage that an

abuser or rapist does. Something my mother said once afterwards was to

remember I was a normal healthy girl who would recover, not a china doll

with a scratch on it. Harsh but helpful message to hear.

From SarahLou42

I really enjoyed reading this piece, it articulated so well what I’ve been

trying to argue for what seems like ages with friends and others about the

need for a revolution in sexual attitudes. I particularly liked the

redefining of women from sexual objects to sexual subjects, I don’t think

I’d ever thought of it that neatly or succinctly before, though I’m aware

that many others must have. Thanks for a great article, and keep up the

good work.

From sophie platt

Brilliant! I used to work with a guy, a self confessed mysoginist, who

always seemed to be moaning about ‘who do women get all dressed up to go

out, and then when you approach them, they just ignore you.’ Err..yeah,

ever considered the fact that they just don’t find you attractive?! No, of

course, the problem isn’t you, it’s them..you ARE

From tom hulley

No and No! Not incitement to rape and not really a ‘tricky one’. Rape is a

wholly unacceptable act of violence. It is never the victim’s fault and it

is never excusable.

One of the myths that men use is that they have ‘urges’ that cannot be

controlled. If this were true then all men would need to be caged. What

many women may not realise is that men can stop at any point if they wish.

Believe me, if a man realises the footie has started, he can withdraw and

be downstairs in ten seconds. That’s love for you!

In a different context of violence, I take risks. When I walk under the

underpass where dangerous hoodies lurk (!) I might get mugged. Such

violence would not be my fault and I would not be accused of incitement or

contributory negligence or anything else. Unfortunately, we live in a

society that tolerates rape or, at best, excuses it. Women may be at risk

every time they go out. Indeed, they may be at risk if they stay in. They

do not create these risks.

Sexual activity, provocative behaviour etc never merit violence as a

response. Rapists are always wholly responsible for acts of violence and

these acts actually have no connection at all with sexual activity.

Appallingly low conviction rates are based on misunderstanding this. There

is much more to sex than penetration but even if a woman has ‘let a man in’

it would be quite reasonable for her to tell him to stop as she has changed

her mind or feels uncomfortable or whatever.

A man who cannot accept ‘no’ is not only worthless but not safe to be let

out. Yes, there are tricky aspects. Persuasion, lying and trickery are all

part of the complexity of relationships but violence has no place.I am

pretty sure men know this and choose to ignore it.

Yes, Victoria, the ‘grey area’ is a figment of the imagination -a made-up

convenience for people who not only should but actually do know better. I

appreciate that your piece is more considered and better reasoned than my

rant but I thought it useful for a man to say that there are no excuses for

a change.

From Virginia

Great article :) makes me wonder if I should restrict my language as using

phrases like “bugger me it’s cold this morning” could then be used against

me if I was assaulted. No free speech for teh womenz: too dangerous.

HPV vaccination – the debate isn’t over yet, by Kit Roskelly

From S

This is a really interesting article and I can see where you’re coming

from.

However, I have to point out that I’m 15 and my feminist mother doesn’t

want me to have the jab.

We don’t yet know whether the jab will have any side affects later in

life. I definitely agree with most of what you are saying but please bear

the fact that this will factor in some people’s decisions.

From Celia wangler

It is itnerestging to note that this seems to be a turnaround in policy.

Until recently women who had “positive” smear test results were treated,

including having surgery, with no mention being made that this could have

been caused by a sexually transmitted virus or that simple actions such as

using a condom could help protect them.

From Chloe

In response to Kit Roskelly’s article on the HPV vaccination in schools, I

agree that schools have “a responsibility to protect their pupils’

health” – which is why I’m glad that St. Monica’s School in Greater

Manchester has decided against distribution of the vaccine on school

grounds.

While I agree that it should be up to young women to decide whether or not

they are vaccinated, personally I don’t see any point in the vaccine (young

men aren’t being vaccinated even though it could potentially help them too,

and you still need to get regular smear tests – which a lot of women don’t

realise). Many of my friends think that the vaccine is some kind of miracle

protection against STIs, and don’t know what a smear test is. Surely we

should be informing young women (and men) about proper STI testing instead

of parading some miracle cure that is really rather pointless.

Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies

That suggests to me that the descriptions of the vaccine need to become more realistic in the media – not that it shouldn’t be given to girls routinely. If it stops some women dying of cancer, it’s a good thing. That’s it as far as I’m concerned.

From Jennifer Drew

Missing from the debate is the fact the HPV vaccine does NOT PREVENT

CERVICAL CANCER neither does it protect girls from HPV viruses. HPV

viruses are numerous but the pharmaceutical company promoting this pseudo

vaccine is claiming it will protect heterosexually active young women.

If that is the case why then are not young boys also being targetted since

research has consistently shown HPV viruses are predominantly passed from

male to female via heterosexual penetrative sexual activity. Why are girls

only being targetted? Is it because females are once again being treated

as guinea pigs? Why aren’t boys being offered this vaccine? Is it because

STI’s and HPV are still presumed to be predominantly passed on from female

to male?

This HPV vaccine does not work and there is clear evidence the

pharmaceutical companies have not undertaken sufficient research or testing

before ‘claiming this wonder cure.’ HPV has been around for centuries

and not until HPV is claimed to cause cancer do we suddenly hear

pharmaceutical companies suddenly creating a miracle drug. Remember

pharmaceutical companies are only concerned with profit not women’s health

or lives.

Gardasil has invested a very large sum of money in heavily promoting this

pseudo vaccine and the reason as I stated above is profit. Australia, the

US and Europe have been heavily targetted and Governments too have fallen

for the pseudo claims pharmaceutical companies have made

Evidence is there but the media, governments and sadly some feminists are

refusing to listen. Opposition to the HPV vaccine should not be framed

around whether or not young women will supposedly become more ‘promiscuous’

rather it is about women’s and girls’ lives. Of course boys are supposed

to ‘naturally’ become sexually promiscuous because male sexuality is still

widely perceived as being autonomous whereas female sexuality has to be

controlled and policed. Hence the reason for promoting this pseudo

vaccine. If the vaccine were to ‘work’ then it would supposedly save

Governments’ large sums of money in having to contribute and finance

women’s health.

I suggest we need to learn more about the facts and increasing evidence

that HVP vaccine has and does cause very serious and long-term side

effects. The issue is not about ‘female sexual promiscuity’ but about

refusing to accept pharmaceutical companies’ claims and dicing with real

women’s and girls’ lives.

There is evidence being complied via this website and it is a

multi-international one. Feminist scientists have publicly stated their

opposition to pharmaceutical companies claims but of course feminist

scientists are once again being ignored.

Here is the link to website:

http://womenhurtbymedicine.wordpress.com/

From Cara

All you need to know is: the vaccination has to be given at this age to be

effective *when they are old enough to legally have sex*.

I don’t get it. It’s not like the school is telling girls to go out and

sleep with every man in sight when underage, which *would* be

irresponsible! All they have to say is, this vaccine will take a few years

to be effective.

There is a happy medium in sex education. It should be neither “just say

no!” or “yeah, go have sex now!” but IF you choose to have sex, wait until

you are at least 16, and be responsible.

But then the right wing religious nutters have never been about women’s

health…no, just controlling their sexuality.

From Shea

I just want to say how brilliant Kit Roskelly’s article on the HPV vaccine

is. I agree with every word and further I really think this should be in

The Guardian, or the Independent and if Kit isn’t a journalist she really

should think seriously about a career in that profession, because her

writing is excellent.

I just want to add to the paragraph on young people that these outmoded

attitudes adults have to young people and this vicious victorian morality

our society tries to impose is probably part of the reason our young people

are the unhappiest in Europe.

We’ve posted on the blog about Prossy Kakooza’s fight to gain asylum. After she was granted refuge status, she sent in this comment

From Prossy Kakooza

Could you please extend my thanks to all your readers for all their

support during my campaign to stay in the UK. They have helped change my

life and i will forever be grateful for that. All my love, Prossy.

Comments on older features and reviews

Whose feminism is it?, by Annika Spalding

From Balbinder Kaur

having just read Annika Spalding’s article ” is feminism reaching women of

of colour?” i have to say the answer is no, as a woman of colour and

having worked in the community for the lasd 8 years i have found that women

of colour do not see themselves as feminist and part of that is due to the

cultural barriers that they face on a daily basis, it is ingrained into

them from an early age that they are the weaker sex, and that the mans

wishes are paramount.

having said that i have found that the younger generation of black, asian

or mixed race women who have been born here and schooled here are getting

the message that their views and opinions do count. They have the right to

voice objections without the fear of abuse or vitriol. having two neices in

their 30’s it amazes me how different their upbringing was to mine even

though i’m only 7 years older than my oldest neice. So maybe we are getting

there but it’s going to be a long uphill battle to get the message across.

From Cara

While I completely agree that feminism should be made more accessible,

there is a difference between that and dumbing down/ diluting feminism to

people who are never going to be receptive.

I am not being classist. I work with, and consider a friend, a black

single mother from Brixton who dropped out of school with no

qualifications, had 2 kids by the age of 19 and worked 3 crappy part-time

jobs to support them. She got sick of this and started doing evening

classes; she now has an OU degree and a good job (well, of course :-)).

But movements have always been driven by people who are educated and

articulate, and that’s not really a bad thing, is it? I’m not saying

feminism should be some exclusive club with its “in” language but, well,

isn’t campaigning for equal pay, choice, etc. and against objectification

of women in the media – things that will actually benefit lower

socioeconomic group women – better than trying to persuade them not to buy

Heat?

I’m not saying that “we” know better – I’m saying, these women probably

aren’t interested in feminism because they don’t have the time or income –

it’s more important that the *results* of feminism benefit them.

Also, I’m not sure being a stay-at-home wifey is ever a feminist choice,

or that such women will be interested in feminism.

Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies

I couldn’t disagree more. If movements put off and alienate the people they’re meant to be represent and advocate for, there’s a serious problem. That doesn’t mean every woman has to be an activist, but if you turn up to a feminist meeting and feel excluded and shut out because you haven’t got a women’s studies degree or whatever, there’s something very wrong.

It’s only a bloody tampon, by Gemma Bolwell and Harriet Chandler

From jd

Maybe the old man was shocked to discover that menstrual blood is red and

not bright blue as depicted on T.V. ads.

But to be serious, even though sanitary products are actually advertised

nowadays, menstruation is obviously still a massive taboo. I thought things

had moved on from when I was a girl, before the T.V. ads, when you wanted

to buy “things” you had to whisper and point at the offending items on the

top shelf of the corner shop and the mortified man behind the counter would

grab them and shove them into a massive brown paper bag to save everyone’s

blushes (the bag had to be massive back in the 70s. Do you remember how big

the pads were back then?)

I just remember the shame and secrecy surrounding the first few years of

my periods. I am 45 years old and I was talking to a friend aged 54 and she

told me that her mother used to make her write down the name of the

protection that she wanted and pass the note as discreetly as possible to

the shopkeeper.

I would genuinely hate for this to continue to cause shame and

embarassment for young women today. It is something completely natural and

should be celebrated and not hidden away.

With regards to the play I feel that if only one person left the theatre

because of the tampon’s inclusion then the play should continue in its

entirety for the full run. I bet the same old man would not be in the least

offended by the use of stage blood to depict wounds in a war scene. It’s a

cowardly decision to take the item out and simply colludes with the view

that periods are shameful.

From Anita

Hi, I’ve read this article and I’m relieved that someone at las has

written something about it. I remember watching some tampon advert on

YouTube and when I read the comments I was shocked. All I saw is ”filth,

disgusting and shameful”. I asked myself why would the people feel

disgusted about seeing a bloody tampon, but laugh at someone throwing paper

rolls on the trees? I mean if there was a comedy with a scene with throwing

TAMPONS it would be disgusting, just because it’s a normal, ordinary thing

all women use just like a tissue, a toilet paper or a plaster.

Your article remainded me when I was in Poland and it was around some time

when the pope was supposed to visit the cuntry. During the time he was in

Poland, all the tampon and pads adverts were BANNED from TV. Reason? They

didn’t want to ‘upset’ the pope. Now this shows that there are also

religious issues with somethig so normal and natural… I mean, if for the

pope, a menstruation is filthy and gross, why don’t he complain to God to

make the women different?

Why men should care about gender stereotypes, by Alex Gibson

From rogelio meza

OMG! i really loved your article especially your quotes. That was excatly

what I was looking for. Thanks for having this article available for

persons who are willing to know about the “role of genders”. Our teacher

assigned us to research about this interesting topic. I hope you keep

writing about this and again THANKS! Sorry about any grammatical errors

and spelling.

From Chet

In point of fact, men do have an equivalent of feminism – it’s called

“feminism.” Feminism isn’t about special rights for women, it’s about equal

rights for people without regard to gender.

Abortion: still a feminist issue, by Irina Lester

From Gwen Randall

Thank you so much for your article. I live in the US where abortion rights

are very much in jeopardy.

I was just thinking that we need to start talking in plain terms about

abortion, miscarriages, fertility, fetal development and the environment of

the womb.

If abortion is murder, then are repeated attempts to conceive when you

know you are prone to miscarriages also murder, or at the very least

reckless endangerment resulting in the death of a child? In cases of

miscarriages, there’s not always something wrong with the fetus. The

chronic fertility issue could be a tipped uterus, large fibroids, blood

type issues, hormonal issues, diabetes, and etc. So, if abortions are

banned should women who qualify for high-risk pregnancies be forcibly

sterilized because their bodies murder healthy unborn children?

It’s really amazingly easy to fertilize an egg considering the profound

consequences. As a society, we need to understand that there is some moral

gray area here. As women, and as families, we need to be able to make the

choices ourselves, privately, about whether the fetus is a fully formed

life or only a potential life.

Abortions are certainly not new, you can even find references in the Old

Testament referring to whether you need to compensate for a fetus the same

as a person (you didn’t have to) and referring to the legal practice where

men could bring unfaithful women to the Temple for a drink of magic “bitter

water” to terminate the pregnancy.

So, yes, they aren’t new but they are much safer (as is all medical care).

We don’t have to agree with each other, but we do need to support the

overall health of women and their current and future families. And since

women will continue to have abortions as they have since time immemorial,

then abortions need to be legal.

In the name of the father…, by Sarah Louisa Phythian-Adams

From Anita

When I asked my mum why couldn’t I have her second name but my fathers,

she said that she wanted me to have her name but when she went to some

registration office or whatever it is (that was just after I was born) the

woman behind the desk said it HAS TO BE the father’s name/my mum’s partner’s

name. But my parents were never even married!!! It can’t be the law, it’s

just this woman’s opinion and because of her I have to live eith my fathers

name even when I don’t know him very well and we’re not close at all. Does

it mean that if I get accidentally pregenant at some party where I don’t

know who’s who, and I’ll decide to keep the baby but don’t know the father,

should I travel across the country to find this guy to ask for his last

name because otherwise my child won’t be ‘called like it should be’?!

Across the porn divide, by Debi Crow

From Sue Mayer

This article is an attempt to calm passions, but it is I think confused by

some contradictions and a lack of focus that is inevitable from a well

intentioned perch on the top of a fence. We should not be afraid of robust

discussion, but welcome it. To denigrate the necessity of rational argument

as merely “playing tit-for-tat” is not really helpful in advancing the

process of understanding the origins of basic attitudes and the history of

our culture. The issues we find hardest to talk about and agree on are not

necessarily the most important ones just because people feel most strongly

about them and perhaps encouraging that idea is not what we need to do, and

on porn at least – laugh at its absurdities.

Part of this process should be to encourage the separation of personal

attitudes to porn or prostitution from rational arguments on public policy,

and recognise that for some people departing from deeply ingrained

religious attitudes will be very difficult and give them time.

Any “battle of words” will only end when it ends! And it is obviously

not yet finished and for some people, prostitution and pornography, like

the wider battle over abortion never will be over. How it is conducted is a

different matter.

Arguments are fought, and won or lost, anything in between is merely a

truce – a waiting time. Those who support a WRTC have to be constantly on

guard from those who would take us back to the backstreets. But this is not

a game or a competition, it is a constant struggle to keep up and when

possible advance. (To continue the macho war-like rhetoric that is so much

part of our culture.) And to discuss it in terms of whether or not the

discussion should be had, can itself be diversion from necessary argument.

To say that there is a “stand-off” is to assume that there are two

equal sides to a conflict and that is not always, or even usually the case,

certainly not on ‘prostitution’. The realistic argument is not between

prostitution and no prostitution, but between illegality and legality,

voluntary or coercive and exploitative sex (inside or outside of marriage)

And underlying these arguments are centuries of punitive attitudes and a

refusal to recognise the basis of these attitudes that are also clearly to

be seen in the current attitude of many people to sex education, sinful’

sex, family and child support that is ‘based on the ownership of women.

Objective, rational discussion has to be the basis of all public policy on

matters of sexuality and reproductive autonomy. And in the interim we have

to prevent action that will further damage the people involved and play to

the populist anti-prostitute gallery. And as a feminist I see no reason why

I should want to, or have to avoid, rational, evidence-based argument on

this issue.

An important part of the discussion that often gets lost, is the

difference between permissive attitudes and legislation and restrictive,

mandatory legislation that does not allow room for individual autonomy for

women on issues such as consensual sex.

Where there is disagreement we must engage with it and not try to suppress

it. We are adults and should be able to cope with disagreement. We must

reject the idea that women are like children, unable to fully grasp what is

good for them. I agree with the dictum, ‘Progress comes through

conflict’ and whether it is prostitution or pornography we should respect

the right of women to agree or not. But progressive social policy has to be

fought for, as every other progressive step has had to be fought for. I

think it is patronising for anyone, including feminists to think that they

could or should assert their views over those directly concerned and who

know most about it.

And why should we content ourselves with only talking about things on

which we agree? We want support and bonding, but not just a comfort zone

to avoid the difficult issues? And it tempts me to cry “Come on women –

shape up.”

Personally I feel that the obsessive concentration by some feminists on

these issues, plays to the media tune that ‘sex and the penis’ is the

most important, or only subject worth talking about! In the same way that

some men think that being opposed to the extremes of abusive treatment of

women makes them feminists, opposition to prostitution is taken by some as

conditional for feminism. I believe that this perhaps it hides confusion

and a lack of perspective on traditional attitudes that we should be aware

of. For some people, any sex outside the traditional teaching of the

patriarchal religious model, whether it is homosexuality,

‘fornication’, prostitution, sex for pleasure or even solo sex, is

sinful and must, one way or another, be punished, and for some no amount of

evidence or rational argument will change their views, for many others is

it just a matter of time.

I am no part of any “stand-off” and do not seek to impose my views on

those who disagree with me. I am not a blogger, and do not intend to become

one, but I have for many years outlined my views on the Internet; on

websites and our group files section*on prostitution – as a concept that in

other forms is widespread in our society, yet gets little or no criticism –

on paternalism and patriarchy and my view on attitudes to prostitution.

I publish my views, to save repeating them over and over again every time

the subject comes up – for anyone to respond to if they wish; and in turn I

respond to any publicly expressed views on the subject that I think are

harmful to women. It is up to people to justify their own position but not

impose or attempt to exclude other opinions as was done recently at an

event called ‘Feminism in London’ that specifically excluded members of

our group for views on prostitution that did not accord with the

organisers.

I facilitate a feminist meetup group in London. It is a secular group open

to all feminists to discuss any issues. I support the views of

International Collective and the Safety First Coalition and others against

criminalisation, but we do not have a ‘party-line’ and our discussions

encompass a wide range of issues, many of which are never touched by other

feminist groups.

There are already many existing groups that “work together in a

concrete way in the real world to actually achieve something” such as the

Fawcett Society and the Pro-Choice organisations, or are specifically set

up to address the abuse of women e.g. ‘dis-honour’ killing, to aid

asylum seekers, women in prison or trafficking of women, and they are a

very necessary and effective part of feminist action and I would hope to

help to feed in new feminists who are looking for such activism towards

those groups and provide an additional platform for them if they want to

use it. But IMO it is important to recognise the pernicious but largely

ignored underlying traditional attitudes that cause abuse, and stifle ALL

the campaigns, and progressive campaigns in general.

Trying to prevent discussion of difficult issues is neither necessary nor

desirable, if we are to avoid well-meaning but misguided activism that

fuels campaigns that are not in the best interest of women.

The only possible solution for disagreement is to respect our right to

keep talking towards either a consensus or success for the best option.

I agree that language and terminology is important

‘anti-criminalisation’ is not the same as ‘pro-prostitution’ – just

as anti-abortion is no more pro-life than pro-choice is pro-life. And I

certainly agree that feminists need to hear opinions that may be alien to

them because they challenge deeply entrenched cultural attitudes.

Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies

I think this is kind of an object lesson in what Debi talks about in her article, regarding the way to sensitively describe other feminists’ viewpoints. Because it’s not conducive to working together or progressing past decades-old arguments, to have it implied that because you support criminalisation of the demand side of prostitution, that means you must hold a whole load of anti-sex, homophobic, hard right views.

‘Feminists are sexist’, by Catherine Redfern

From Mr Man

Feminists are sexist, its a simple fact whether they know it or not. There

is nothing complex about it as feminism aims to improve everything from

womens place in the home to womens place in the work and womens health.

Feminists at the same time as doing this do not make sure mens rights are

not threatened. Indeed feminists tend to be aggressive and reject all

criticism of women by men.

Over all, feminism is the scum of our society and must be stamped out. It

wasnt always this way, but is now. No feminist or woman in support of

feminism deserves respect from men, and those men who do are foolish. Women

are given priority in all aspects of society and more money is spent on

them than men by the government. Its just pure selfishness, a disgusting

behaviour that is repugnent to most men. Most men are not even aware they

have lose human rights and are treated as second class citizens and that is

why it is so easy for women to continue taking all they want from society

without concern to anyone else or the human cost.

Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies

Does that mean it’s a human right for men to be paid more than women for the same work (to take but one of many examples)? I think by “human rights”, you might have meant “unearned advantage and privilege”.

Sisters! Some of us are mothers, too!, by Ruth Moss

From Irina

“Sisters! Some of us are mothers too” is a good article and Ruth makes a

valid important point.

I see feminism as neither a propaganda of child-free lifestyle nor

propaganda of motherhood. It is about letting each individual woman do what

feels right to her without fear of criticism, and encouraging any choice

she makes about having/not having children.

I am not sure though what “feminism” Ruth refers to in her argument. I

cannot say much about contemporary feminism as fword is the only blog I

read, so I have no opinion here. But as to traditional feminism, I am sure

it was pretty much about mother’s rights as well.

Yes, maybe those feminists of the past didn’t campaign for stay-at-home

motherhood but they’d be fools to, given that this was the only option for

women in those days and it was bloody rammed down every woman’s throat. It

is NOT to have children, or have both kids AND career that made sense to

campaign then.

Now it is a bit different, i agree, but not dramatically different as it

still seems that every dick, bob and harry are quick to castigate women for

whatever they choose or not choose to do, and how.

As a childfree woman i always distansed myself from openly aggressive

childfree crowd, and never used the world “breeder” towards mothers. It is

to disrespect one’s own mother first of all!

I however see nothing wrong with saying “I don’t like children” about

which there was a debate in fword blog recently. I think there is a

misunderstanding, that people who say they don’t like children are only

saying that they neither have an open dislike of them not have particular

strong liking you see in some cooing and awhhing adults. That it, these

people are more or less indifferent to children but would never do any harm

to them.

I was once in such a situation: a colleague at work brought her daughter

of my age and her 2 small girls to our staff canteen for lunch, and another

colleague leaned over and asked me, out of blue “Do you like children?” I

was taken aback by such tactlessness because she clearly asked only to get

a positive answer (well, of course who’d dare say anything different when

in presence of a young mother and her children!!) THis rhetoric question

pissed me off so much so i decided not to say the expected but truth and

said: “No. I don’t. I don’t dislike them but i don’t particularly love

them. I guess I am indifferent”.

Contrary to what one might imagine, nothing horrible happened, nobody

called me a selfish bitch who’d die alone and be eaten by my cats. But I

hope that colleague learned her lesson not to ask inappropriate questions

in wrong situations as she might not be able to handle the unexpected and

unbargained for response.

Lots of people rightly pointed out in the debate on a blog that childfree

might get a bit too defensive and upfront because they do get their share

of shit from everybody else in regard to their choice. Mothers don’t get

the same stick for fulfiling the womanly duty they are expected to.

I agree that we should watch our language in regard of “popping the sprog”

or “getting up the duff” – pregnancy and child birth are no joke. When i

think about pain, potential health risks involved in it I suddenly seem not

to be so comfortable about using such light dismissive terms for it.

On this note, I would like to take an issue with you for, in turn, taking

an issue with Nino for using “child birth as self-harm” notion. I though

this was a greta thing to say , and very right too. Some how you cannot

imagine that giving birth can be self-harm? Well, just because for you it

was wonderful experience and that you did id willfully, doesn’t mean it is

like this for every other woman.

I can think of many examples where giving birth is an act of self-harm!

Think about a woman faced with unplanned unwanted pregnancy and who gives

in to pressure from others, carries pregnancy to term and gives birth

buying into an idea that only now she as a woman is worth of anything.

Imagine the opposition to an idea of abortion some women have, how they

actually GET convinced by others that yes, you mUST sacrifice yourself for

the baby, or that an embryo as a potential baby is more important than you

dreams about education, good job, maybe different boyfriend than the one

you got pregnant by. How the whole idea of an unwilling mother’s self-worth

is eroded in favour of the idea of womanly sacrifice, Yep, that’s it, fun

is over.

Don’t even get me started on cases where a woman falls pregnant by a

violent partner and her sense of self-preservation is so nonexistent that

she even doesn’t consider that there are other options than to give birth.

In my view any pregnancy that is against a woman’s will is self-harm.

If you are brow-beaten into giving birth and becoming a mother, not being

able to tell all these sanctimonious arseholes where to shove it (and mind

you, many people still love an idea of motherhood as PUNISHMENT – for not

using contraception, for not fearing enough, for “having too much fun”, for

being too young/too old to have sex, for being too equal to men and

therefore in need to be reminded that you are different and lowly in fact)

– if you buy all this bullshit and start internalize it then yes, giving

birth in such circumstances constitutes self-harm.

Ruth Moss, author of the article, replies

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my article.

I just wanted to write and let you know I had a discussion by email with Nino about the comment in her article and we sorted it all out. Really the issue I had was that she had not clarified what she meant by birth as self harm – from the way it was written I had inferred she meant all birth was self harm when in fact she was referring to specific instances.

‘Who… me? I’m just a housewife’, by Samantha Jay

From Amanda Harding

In response to Samantha Jay’s article I feel that what she has to say is

very important, with respect to both the issues she raised regarding mental

health and women’s domestic arrangements. Well said and if more people

spoke out then inevitably female solidarity would become the norm instead

of alienation. Well said Jen!!!!!! Respect where it is due.

Feminine Feminism, by Laura Wadsworth

From barbara

I do understand where this girl is coming from. She is well under way to

deconstucting her feminine rituals and understanding choice and power from

precription and pressure. I was a tomboy until I went lezbo. When that

happened I suddenly felt free enogh of re-examine all the feminine rituals,

make up, hair products, outrageous feminineity, wigs, long nails, super

stilettos etc… I had avoided except for very rare indulgent special

occations like a gala or a ball. because I suddenly realised now that I was

lesbian, I didn’t have the acusation that what I was doing was “selling

out” “buying in” for the male gaze. I could really back up with my fresh

dyke-card that I really was doing it for myself, thank you very much. But I

still got pressured and quizzed and accused – and every single girly ritual

I did had to go through the same deconstruction of why I was doing it. My

femininity is deconstructed and queered. I love it. I love shaving,

especially taking the whole furr off the muff – not because it makes me

look like a child, but becaue I love the feeling of having bare skin being

touched. having hair desensitises my skin. I love my make up – my artful

colour palet that is my playground and operatic canavass for warrior

goddess masks to be exposed on. My stilettos are my unshealthed swords and

have kicked a bloke or two in them. My corset and push up bra is my battle

armour.

I love looking for the perfect shade of lipstick as I know it won’t ever

be found. it’s a soothing, stress relieving way of shopping for a colour of

paint in a hectic day – stopping in at the chemists can relieve my

whirlwind london AUGH for a cool and cheap £2.99 and a relaxing 10 mins of

looking through paint colours.

And far from what people think, being a femme feminist you are always in

gender battle mode – for your friends and partners rights and for

assumptions being made on your own gender. People don’t understand that

assumptions about my femininity are sexist – even if it comes from other

feminists. When they challenge me on it, I challenge hem back about their

pections about being pink and girly beink weak and stupid and insipid. if

that isn’t sexist, then I don’t know what is.

Why my son wears pink, by Penni F

From Ceri

In response to ‘Why my son wears pink’ I just wanted to say to Penny F

from one pagan feminist to another, that I did the same with my son, and

he’s 9 now and I really believe it made a difference. Indeed despite what

all the ‘raising boys’ books tell you to expect, though he won’t wear pink

or tops with flowers on any more, his hair is still long, and he still

holds my hand and kisses me in public, and cuddles his bunny in bed.

What Not To Wear say to your co-worker, by Kelly Draper

From Joanna

I thought Kelly Draper’s article ‘What not to say in front of your

co-worker’ was excellent. Karen, I honestly don’t know how you restrained

yourself from punching your colleagues for having the GALL to tell you they

were thinking of putting you forward for that programme. How DARE they!! I

am so mad just thinking about it. I think I’d cry if someone said that to

me. My God, what a sad sad age we live in. Only one flaw: I will defend

Heat magazine as actually they have always been very good as far as body

image is concerned: the then-editor stated that images of women are never

airbrushed or digitally altered in his magazine, and they regularly run

body-positivearticles on what men think of women and the results are

always very uplifiting. I see Heat as female friendly in that respect. The

others however, no.

Sex and the City the movie: Having your (wedding) cake and eating it, a review by Catherine Redfern

From Elise Nubberstein

…not to mention charlotte helped big & carrie get back together on the

television show, did we really need to see it once again in the movie? why

couldn’t big have died of a heart attack right before or after the wedding?

jerked around for 10 years & then poof, life is over, message being; treat

those you love with care. …and hello, on the tv show-miranda never loved

steve, gets knocked up by steve, he grows on her after time, she decides

she’ll settle for him, things aren’t great (shocking really) he cheats &

she’s out of there, end of story. she should not have taken him back. steve

jumping off the brooklyn bridge would have made for great viewing! but

seriously, miranda never really loved him, think about the show. they were

just two people who made a baby & tried to make the best of it. oh and just

one last thing, the gay italian wedding planner guy & stamford are suddenly

are in love? WTF? WHY??? they both happen to be gay men? oh that’s right

because it makes for a tidy little ending. BOGUS! totally bogus.

disappointed. I was expecting more from this movie.

You’re a 44-year old man: the Michael Jackson Interview, a review by Catherine Redfern

From Katerina

BRILLIANT artical!! I’m not a feminist but I do feel that Michael Jackson

is being unfaily treated just because he’s a man. A woman in his situation

would not be subjected to the same scrutiny and biased view.

The Perfect Vagina, a review by Amy Clare

From Ellie Stewart

I have just read Amy Clare’s article ‘The Perfect Vagina’ on which she

comments on the recent documentary exploring the increase of women under

going labioplasty in this country.

The article is incredibly insightful and intelligent, and yet points out

obvious truths that so many people either ignore or deny. The fear and

hatred of the vagina and female sexuality is rife in our society. I think

it has existed for a long time, but porn has done so much to make this

hatred normal. The influence of porn has spread beyond top shelf magazines

and lap dance clubs to every teenagers computer, music videos and

advertising. With men being brainwashed by these images of women, real

women feel under enormous pressure to look like the image of women porn

promotes. The other day I commented to my boyfriend on how Pamela

Anderson’s vulva (which most people will have seen in her and Tommy Lee’s

home-made movie) not only has no hair on it at all, it also appears to have

no visible labia at all. It is literally just a slit. My boyfriend was

confused: ‘aren’t some women’s vagina’s just like that?’

Amy’s point that: ‘we live in a society where images of male sexual

fantasies and desires are ubiquitous but where women’s own sexuality is

still seen as something to be feared, hated and sanitised’ is a view I have

staunchly held for a long time, and yet, when voiced, has been met with

derision and accusations of my being ‘uptight’.

Thank you for writing such a brilliant article Amy. If only Nuts would

print it!

Amy Clare, author of the article, replies

Ellie, thank you for your kind and encouraging comments about my article. Unfortunately the accusation of being ‘uptight’ is something all feminists deal with on a regular basis, hopefully the more we communicate with each other via sites like The F Word, the more we can remind ourselves that we are not uptight, we are rightfully angry about those aspects of society which are harmful to women. I would love to see some kind of critical thought or even balanced opinions in the men’s mags, but sadly I think the day Nuts magazine prints something non-misogynist will be the day we all buy particularly large hats specifically to eat them.

From Anjum Mouj

I am so pleased to read this article and really impressed that it has been

wriiten so well and articulates much better than I could (and I’m much

older) the frustrations of these gendered streotypes in young girls

magazines. Thanks so much Annaya I will post this like to all my nieces

and nephews!

General comments

From Natalie Dunn

Hi all,

I just wanted to thank you for making me feel proud of who I am and what I

stand for.

Due to this you have encouraged me to begin a British feminism group on

facebook and just wanted to inform you that I have posted a link to your

website so that other young females can feel the same as me.

Many thanks

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