Comments from November 2008

Comments received during November

, 28 December 2008

Comments on this month’s features and reviews

‘The useless organ’, by Maggie Lee

From Claire

I felt very lucky reading Maggie Lee’s article about hysterectomy. I was

diagnosed with a large but early-stage ovarian tumour at 24 and feel so

fortunate to only have lost one ovary. I still felt even that as a huge

loss though. Something I couldn’t feel had gone, but I could definitely

feel the absence and I still can.

From Nora W. Coffey

Your article about the devastating, far reaching impact of the loss of

orgasm after hysterectomy expresses beautifully and precisely reflects what

millions of women report to the HERS Foundation about their experiences.

Women will heed your warning, it’s truthful, it’s irrefutable, and it’s

powerful.

I established the Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services (HERS

Foundation) in 1982 as a result of my own experience. The loss of uterine

orgasm and the impact it has on every aspect of my personality,

physicality, sensuality is absolute. I am deeply saddened at the loss of

maternal feeling. I love my three children as much as ever, but I too feel

as if an invisible bond has been severed.

I believe we can stop this madness in the U.S.

and England. They will never give it up voluntarily, we will have to take

it away from them by enacting a law that will require every doctor to

provide HERS DVD of Female Anatomy: the Functions of the Female Organs to

every woman before she is told to sign a hysterectomy consent form.

HERS anatomy DVD has been viewed by more than 500,000 women. From their

responses we know that women who are told the consequences of hysterectomy

choose not to allow the surgery to be done to them.

From Ruth

This is definitely an issue that needed addressing and I’m sorry to hear

of your woe. When you get a really female predominant health problem it

becomes patently obvious that “women’s health” issues, as such, are

acomparatively very badly understood. Yes, you hear a lot of noise about

how more money is spent on breast cancer than prostate and this is a sign

that feminism has gone too far etc etc, but I believe this is because

breast cancer kills a much younger demographic than prostate – and, in

fact, there are many “women’s health” problems that are still staggeringly

poorly understood – even in rich Western countries. It is a huge

feminist issue and oddly one about which you seem to hear very very little

in comparison to issues of sexual harrassment etc – so very well done for

addressing it.

For example, contrary to popular belief, constipation predominant

irritable bowel syndrome, while it can be mild, is frequently an extremely

severe disorder. It is also overwhelmingly a female problem. The treatment

of severe IBS patients by doctors is a travesty and I strongly believe that

of the reasons IBS patients as a group are classified as a bit neurotic and

our suffering underestimated is that so many of us are young women. I once

tried to describe to a doctor how I had seen my symptoms worsen over time

and was told – “You probably just think they’re getting worse, but they’re

not really”. I’ve tried to picture it, but I genuinely can’t imagine that

being said to a 45 year old man. I believe studies have definitively

proven that angry and disgruntled women are more likely to be classified as

over-emotional, rather than just be treated as righteously angry. This

results in a general wild underestimation of the suffering that IBS can

cause, and a subsequent reduction in the calls for research funding into

the basis of the condition and of bowel function in general.

I detail this because I believe that it is a perfect example of the

situation with many other women’s health problems – less general weight

given to women’s testimony by the medical profession results in

underestimation of the suffering that condition causes and a consequent

reduction in the calls for research funding into the basis of the

condition. It is a hugely under promoted feminist issue.

From sailor

Thankyou. My mother tells a similar story. No mans sexual pleasure would

be so needlessly discarded. Nor would the organ essential to that pleasure

be viewed as an unnecessary extra.

From Soirore

This makes me so sad, I really feel for you Maggie. That most of these

procedures are likely to be unnecessary as well is shocking. It may be no

surprise that the medical profession doesn’t take women’s sexual and bodily

experiences seriously but it doesn’t lessen the impact it’s having on

thousands of women every year.

This needs to be understood as the cultural treatment of female sexuality

in the UK; our doctors cut out our wombs because they don’t think sex or

other physical experiences we have are valid.

From Debi Crow

I just want to say your post really spoke to me, even though I have not

had a hysterectomy (although I have been “threatened” with one) – and I

really hope you are successful in suing your doctors.

From Rhona

So what do we say?

Is a fully complete reproductive system (overies ubes and womb) inherent

to the ‘female experience’ or is it merely an ‘add-on’?

I don’t mean to sound in any way dismissive of the author’s experience – I

am merely asking questions that have been forming in my mind the more I

learn of feminism and alternative lifestyles.

What *is* being ‘female’? Is it the posession of a (supposedly)

functioning set of organs or is it more than that? If just about biology,

what does that say about trans individuals? Can they *ever* hope to

identify with the female experience or are they just ‘cosmetic’?

On the other hand, what about women who are infertile, have undergone

radical surgery or those who choose not to have children – are they less

‘female’ because of their inability or unwillingness to reproduce?

>p>Fundamentally, this question comes down to – are women, as a biolgoical

sex, willing and/or able to be categorised according to our reproductive

abilities? I’m no doctor, so I would welcome input from somebody who has

more knowledge than I on exactly how the existence or non-existence of the

female reproductive system has an effect on the definition of the self as a

‘gender’.

Responses welcome. :)

From Ruth Moss

How traumatic this entire procedure and the aftermath has been, and how

brave of the author to write about it and use her experiences to enlighten

us about this issue.

I think sometimes misogynistic hatred of women’s bodies is often played

out as misunderstanding of how they work; misunderstanding, because they’re

not important enough to care about getting it right.

A very powerful article.

I wondered also, on a personal note, if the author had thought about

contacting an organisation such as “birth crisis” or the birth trauma

association? I know that this issue isn’t surrounding birth itself, but

these organisations often help women who have undergone unneccessary

sterilisation or hysterectomy as an aftermath of a difficult birth. They

themselves may or may not be able to help, but might be able to offer

pointers to someone who can? I just read the article really concerned in

case the author wasn’t getting some help from somewhere, as this sounds

like such an awful situation.

For what it’s worth, and probably not very much as I’ve not been there,

you have my sympathy – and my anger.

From Denise

Maggie Lee’s experience was (is) awful, and I can perfectly understand her

wanting to warn other women in the hope that they avoid the kind of

suffering she went through and still has to endure. But I would like to say

that hysterectomy doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

I had a hysterectomy eleven years ago because of a fibroid which was

causing horrifically heavy, prolonged periods that made my life a total

misery. Tampons, even super size, would leak after about ten minutes, so I

always had to wear night-time pads – I had cupboards full of them and

didn’t dare leave the house without a few stuffed in my bag. I also ended

up so anaemic that I was one step away from needing a transfusion. Iron

tablets and injections couldn’t keep up with the blood loss. In the end

(after having tried other methods which failed and having informed myself

fully about my condition) I decided I wanted a sub-total hysterectomy,

keeping ovaries and cervix. A sub-total hystie is a simpler procedure and

used to be the norm until some doctors decided to start whipping out the

other parts as well! A lot of doctors now are realising that wasn’t the

wisest thing to do. Having said that, you do have to be informed and

forthright about what you want. I was lucky to find a gynaecologist who

respected this. They also know that it’s best to respect the patient’s

wishes as far as possible.

I had the op and recovered much quicker than I expected; I think that was

because, apart from the fact that I’d had a less invasive procedure, I was

so happy and relieved to be done with all that horrendous bleeding. It

wasn’t until it was sorted that I realised just how depressed it had been

making me. It really was a new lease of life. And although the op was done

eleven years ago, I still haven’t noticed any menopausal symptoms. I also

have great orgasms!

I felt that in my case a hystie was absolutely necessary, and I’ve never

regretted having it done – on the contrary. I wouldn’t like other women to

be scared off unnecessarily. I read quite a lot of scare stories in

magazines, etc, which did put me off for a while. The best thing is to

fully inform yourself about your condition, then try and find a sympathetic

doctor (there are some!).

P.S. I’d just like to add that I also read a lot

of articles/books which told me I’d feel bereft, ‘castrated’ and ‘not a

real woman’ any more if I had a hysterectomy, and that my sex life would be

ruined. This turned out to be absolute bullshit.

Beyond boob jobs – how might the credit crunch affect women?, by Carolyn Roberts

From Ruth Moss

Really interesting article – and as you point out, pretty much the only

one of its kind (amongst boom and bust puns).

On a personal level, actually for quite a few female friends of mine it’s

been the other way around; I know quite a few full-time Mums who have had

to go back to paid work before they had planned to. And for me personally,

my plan to eventually go part time to spend more time with my child has had

to be shelved – we just can’t afford it now.

Probably just a very small part of a very big picture.

Again, it’s good to see someone actually writing about this subject and

taking it seriously.

From debbie holmes

recession is nasty,

but, if you look at history,

it serves a second purpose.

rebirth.

in the last 10 odd years, things in the uk have got out of hand, simple

values have been replaced with one-upmanorwomanship, and commercial trash.

good hard working talented people have been sidelined, why?? because the

money was rolling, and who needs talent when everything is going swell.

times are changing,

but for some, nothing changes, there are millions of people who have been

struggling even through the good times, and they were overlooked.

for any person, who is talented, fair, and works hard, this is your time.

all the pressure to have champers every day, and get a boob job, or the

latest fashion will fade away.

roll on the bad times!

From Shea

I loved Carolyn Robert’s article on “Beyond Boob jobs” but I hoped for a

bit more in depth analysis, which as she points out is lacking from

mainstream media. There are multiple factors being missed here. Women are

more likely to be employed by small businesses, and these will feel the

impact of the coming recession hard, as will other service industries,

retail, hopsitality etc also heavily dominated by women. My worry is also

about whether a new Tory government would seek to abolish working tax

credits which many families rely on, but which would relieve some public

spending burden. To do so would leave these families in dire straits. I

also think in some ways the social situation which excerbate the crisis, it

is said the death and divorce keep the housing market going, but obviously

that is problematic in the current circumstances. I do agree with the

conclusion that poorer women who lack secure employment and who have poor

credit scores and therefore likely to have to put up with exorbitant

interest rates will suffer enormously. But I think the recession also bring

into sharp relief the fact that many female graduates will struggle to find

work with huge student loans to service and/ or a mortgage and to do so on

less money than a man doing the same job. I think it is hard to imagine

that women will leave the jobs market wholesale, this in itself would have

a huge worsening effect on the recession . Great article though, I really

enjoyed it.

Carolyn Roberts, author of the article, replies

I agree with you, there are so many other aspects to this issue that should be discussed. I particularly agree with your comments about the possible impact of a future Tory government – in fact, there’s probably a whole separate article looking at the potential impacts on women of different electoral outcomes.

I also agree that it’s very unlikely that women will leave the workforce entirely, but I do think there’s a risk that in a time of fewer jobs and tightening belts, women may be under even more pressure to adopt traditional parenting roles to allow men to continue to be the “breadwinner”. Undoubtedly these are interesting times and I do hope the mainstream media will start to do some proper analysis, beyond the “how can women still buy foxy clothes” approach they’ve taken so far.

Women in physics, by Frances Downey

From Carol Morris

A clear, concise and interesting report by Frances of her visit to Seoul.

It re-energises me to increase my efforts in relation to female education

of which girls and women in science is a crucial part. Thank you Frances.

From Mark Headey

Many years ago I was chatting to a woman who had been a fellow engineering

undergrad and was, at that time, doing post-doc research. She had been

asked to go along to a 6th form college to inspire the girls. She refused.

“Ask me to go and speak to 13 year olds,” she explained, “before they make

their GCSE choices and I might be able to do some good. Otherwise, I’ll be

wasting my time and theirs.”

Frances Downey, author of the article, replies

I think it is worth going to talk to any age group about science. I go back to my old college once a year to speak to the A level science students, both male and female, about doing a science degree. But equally I talk to my step-dad, a London black cab driver, about science books and news articles he has read. I take your point that once students have got to a certain point in their education going to talk to them about doing a science degree isn’t particularly useful. However I believe strongly that you can inspire an interest in science at any stage in someone’s life, and that is just as important as inspiring a 16-year-old to take A level sciences. So I disagree with your friend, you should take every opportunity to spark people’s interest in science, maybe they won’t all go off to do a science degree, but they might take a bit of understanding which will help inform their opinions on scientific issues in future.

The Virgin Daughters, a review by Dawn Kofie

From Ligeia

When my daughter turned 14 or so she came to me and said ‘I think I’m

ready’…being as this came out of the blue I had to ask, as to what she

thought she was ready.

Sex.

Being a single mother of two, a girl and a boy, trying to juggle the world

with just two hands and one job, I was understandably taken aback.

Having been through the proverbial ringer sexually from a vindictive ex

green beret stepfather with a pedolphilic tendency, and a cruel streak, and

then having been raped by a friend of my ex husbands…I knew I had a

complete arsenal at my disposal to put an end to any hopes or dreams of

Cinderella sexualities.

But I have tried to raise my kids as normal as possible, which is quite a

feat coming from my world. That said, I asked questions and listen to the

answers. I shared some things, only the complications of engaging too

early, before you know how you feel. I told her that rushes are

fabulous…but there is often fall out from them. So take your time, date,

get to know each other, discuss what you both want out of the encounter

with one another.

She pondered this for quite some time. And decided two things…one, that

she was glad I was upfront with her and that I took her seriously, and two,

that would decide for herself.

That said, she will be 21 in February, and still has not engaged in sexual

encounters…but that is not for a lack of trying. She feels empowered by

her own sexuality, and wants the first time to be with someone she cares

about.

Naturally she complains…and she is hilarious about it because she very

simply states, she couldn’t get laid in a room full of hormones because

they guys she has dated all wanted to wait till marriage.

This causes quite a conflict for her…since she also believes that there

is no reason to be married to bad sex.

She is after all just under 21…she’ll figure it out. But as it all

relates to this article….? The simple matter is this, I informed my

child of the realities of sexual relationships, now armed with that

information she knows that quality is far better than quantity and a true

feminist does what SHE wants, not what society or her parents dictate is

appropriate for the label.

What ever my daughter does, so long as she does it and feels empowered by

it, is fine with me…but then, it doesn’t really matter how I feel about

it.

This was a good article. I will send it on to others.

Comments on older features and reviews

Whose feminism is it?, by Annika Spalding

From Ruth Moss

Absolutely agree – and actually on occasion I have found myself wondering

if I even call myself a “feminist” any more (I always decide that yes, I

do, fwiw).

I’ve found some of my deepest held feminist beliefs challenged to their

very core over the last eighteen months or so, especially those concerning

motherhood.

But at the same time it is feminism that has given me all the rights and

advantages that I probably take for granted (e.g. the vote, for starters!)

I think there are a lot of women out there, who feminism helps on a daily

basis, who would never identify as “feminist” because of the way its

perceived. And I think sometimes that although a lot of that is perception

and “straw man” arguments, I do genuinely think we need to think if

sometimes, just sometimes, we are adding to those perceptions.

From not an object

I think Annika raises a very important issue but one that can’t easily

be resolved. One situation in particular came up in my mind whilst reading

her useful article. It is that of the French ‘feminists’ advocating for

the ban of the headscarf versus the French feminists who want to wear it

and see it as a feminist symbol. Unfortunately the two sides don’t seem to

accommodate each other in their own definitions of feminism (I object

particularly strongly to the position of the ‘pro-ban’ feminists who do not

seem for one second to have engaged with the ‘anti-ban’ folks). In the end,

however, I am sure this situation leaves many women feeling like they want

absolutely nothing at all to do with feminism in France since the seemingly

state-sponsored feminism has no space for women who fall outside those

feminist’s very strict boundaries of what constitutes acceptable female

clothing, behaviour and so on. This is a very sad situation indeed.

Fortunately it doesn’t seem to have a mirror situation in the UK.

Confidential?, by Karen James

From Sam

It might have annoyed you that those 40 people knew what you had done, but

i dont understand why you have put it on this site that you needed a

‘morning after pill’ after all those forty people probably didnt know you

and wouldnt have gone and told their friends that you had gone in to the

clinic for contraception.

now it is on here almost the whole world have access to the information

that you ‘dared to have sex’.

From J. C.

Okay, so I think Karen James is being a tiny bit paranoid……and

only in puritan Britain would ppl do the adding up like that.

But this happend to me in Germany, once while pregnant, I had to fill in

my form and then wiat in a mini-room. Another owman came into the

mini-room and they pulled a curtain round her, then the hurse turns to me

and goes: “So you’ve been pregnant twice before, and did both pregnancies

end in a termination or did you have a miscarriage?” In a real breezy

voice.

Also, once my mate got the Morning-After-pill at Tesco’s, abd the chemist

assistant called through to the chemist: “Another one for emergency

contraception for you!” REALLY LOUD.

It’s okay, though, we don’t need to be ashamed

From not an object

i’m glad rachel brought this issue up. i’ve had the same experience

although for me the worst part has been trying to say in a stage whisper

that i want an appointment for the morning after pill or to get free

condoms. however quietly you try and tell the receptionist however people

will doubtless hear what you’re asking for. i do think there should be a

more subtle way of doing this, perhaps even indicating on a form out of

sight what you’re there for if its a sensitive issue. i find it so

embarassing that other people over-hear these rather personal issues,

particularly if the receptionist then decides to converse in a loud voice

about the issue!

From Glory

Responding to Rachael’s article ‘Confidential’ it’s not great practice to

ask a person to use the water cooler publically, but the morning after pill

is not the only orally prescribed medication that a practice nurse or nurse

at a walk in centre would adminster under supervision. It could also be

some other procedure such as giving a nasal spray which most people would

want to drink water after to clear the taste.

It’s likely to be against health and safety to have a drinks dispenser in

a clinical room due to risks of contamination. In the clinical room the

nurse may be treating infected wounds etc.

But that guy in the waiting room sounds like an idiot.

Karen James, author of the article, replies

I realise that there would be other medical reasons that someone would need to use a water dispenser.

However, during my meeting with the head nurse, she did say that there is already a water tap in the clinical room – and that the water tap dispenses drinking water. she has promised me that she will now always give patients the option to use this tap instead of the water dispenser outside.

I do not know if a water dispenser in the clinical room would be against health and safety – but you seem to know what you are talking about so I am happy to concede this point. However, the nurse did not indicate to me that a water dispenser would contravene these regulations and she did say she would consider it. Again, if I am wrong about that, I am happy to concede the point. Just thought I should explain. And yes, that guy was a prat!

From RayBM

I just wanted to say that I fully sympathise with your anger on this

subject – it seems that “patient confidentiality” does not extend to the

waiting room and this issue is not confined to your clinic/surgery or just

to Women.

Karen James, author of the article, replies

Thank you for the comments and support on the article! I fully agree that condfidentiality does seem to be quite a misnomer as far as I and many other NHS patients are concerned. And I am sure there people of both sexes who go through such experiences. But I do think (and judging from the responses I have been getting) that there is still a special kind of bias reserved purely for women who are sexual and need access to either the contraceptive pill (in my case) and also the STI clinics.

For example: a few years ago, a female friend of mine relayed a story of when she had to go to the local clinic to have tests to see if she had any STI’s. She said that the male doctor first asked her whether the sex had been forced (ie: rape). When she said “no” he replied that she should have been married then and proceeded to grunt with disgust after every question he asked her. This was not isolated either. Many other women had said he was exactly this way with them. I do hope they took action against him.

It is significant because her then boyfriend then told me that he had had to get the same tests a year before (prior to meeting my friend) and he had seen the very same doctor. He reported no such questions or dissaproving attitudes. In fact, the doctor was very jovial with him. I have heard about (and been through) many such cases recently.

This is certauinly not to disagree with you that men’s privacy can also be flouted in an appalling manner (and please – if you have any stories about this, feel free to share them with me). I just think that the ridiculous stereotypes of “sexual women=slut” and “sexual man=stud” are still, very much alive and well today in society and in the NHS. thanks again, for the support. I appreciate it.

From Viola

In response to the article on the morning after pill, a few years ago me

and my partner of five years had an accident with a condom, and I had to go

get the morning after pill. The pharmacist, a man in his forties, withheld

the medication from me to ask ‘Now, missy, I want to ask you – was a one

night stand worth all this bother?’

I couldn’t quite believe it.

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

From Inaske

In Germany there’s a weekly mag for girls AND boys (something this country

has yet to invent), called Bravo. Because it targets all teenagers, the

topics are more diverse. Of course, they include celebrity news, music,

film and such but also sports, politics (racisms, cruelty to animals,

bullying, technology etc) and others. Most importantly, the mag provides

ample and competent sex and relationship education (including pictures of

naked bodies, how very shocking!). Sex education in German schools is

roughly as bad as in English ones, so Bravo really does a service to

society. There’s little they don’t cover. I felt a very informed and

sexually confident teenager thanks to Bravo.

Check out www.bravo.de if you speak a little German. A lot of the

navigating is in English anyway.

And if you don’t like what you can buy, make your own teen mag. You

obvisouly like writing, so why don’t you get some of your friends together

and make a mag for your classmates. It doesn’t need to be glossy, it’s the

content that counts, as you so rightly pointed out.

Don’t cha wish pop was more empowering?, by Kerry-Lynne Doyle

From colette mcculloch

A very thorough, well thought through and enlightening essay, i really

enjoyed reading this. Good to see such a young femal talent on the

journalistic sphere! An inspiration for myself.

Female commentator kicks off barrage of sexism, by Katherine

From Jamie Alexander

While I am opposed to this change I do feel sorry for her with all the

abuse she has recieved, but she has just started her commentating career so

maybe she just needs some experience and time. I didn’t like Alan Smith

when I first heard him, but like him she has some league football

knowledge, although obviously not at the level of most of the commentators

we know and love today. I do hope that she reaches that stage, but she

will need to ride the storm for a long while now.

Deconstructing masculinity, by Sheryl Plant

From Jago Pearce

Masculist and Feminist have much in common. Gender is the original false

double bind.

I really think there’s a great opportunity for feminists and Masculists to

work together in synergy.

What isn’t argued over, has to be gold.

What discussion do we know of between these movements?

‘Feminists are sexist’, by Catherine Redfern

From Anonymos

Feminists are mostly sexist because they want over-equal rights on issues

that only affect themselves positively. If it wasn’t, they would have

called it equalism rather than feminism.

Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies

Feminism is, yes, about advocating for women; that’s because our culture and society is male-dominated. Men lose out from living under patriarchy in numerous ways – you’ll find plenty of feminist writing about how men and boys are expected to conform to a particular idea of ‘masculinity’, and the consequences if they don’t, for example.

However, men in general also benefit from living in a patriarchial society – you might want to check out Barry Deutch’s male privilege checklist, before really arguing that feminism should be called ‘equalism’.

The Perfect Vagina, a review by Amy Clare

From BrevisMus

I agree with the September review about C4’s programme My Perfect Vagina –

this was an excellent programme going some way to uncover the problems with

the notion of a ‘perfect’ (read: childlike) vagina and society’s attitude

to women’s bodies, and to reassure women that they are *normal*. However,

shame on channel 4 for subsequently showing two episodes of its

Embarrassing Bodies programme featuring labiaplasty done on normal women

who were worried they were ‘ugly’ without even offering them counselling or

suggesting that they were normal (which they were).

One step forward, two steps back.

X-Men: The Last Stand, a review by Shelley Rees

From Ryan Roberts

This is in response to your article on X-MEN 3. I thought your argument

concerning Mystique was very strong, and I would have to agree that this

script destroyed her character. I, however, do not agree as much with your

argument against Jean. You ignore the fact that she is the ONLY level 5

mutant known. SHE, a mutant woman, is the most power mutant known. you

also ignore that Cyclops is an emotional, vulnerable character. And worst

of all, you ignore Storms as a strong female character. She takes over

leadership of the school and the XMEN and is constantly underlying

Wolverines vulnerability to Jean, not the other way around.

The problem with pink, by Michelle Wright

From rachel

feminism gone mad! If pink is what reaches out to the public; young, old

and inbetween who is anyone to criticise? If buying a pink ribbon when

your shopping makes your 6 year old daughter ask “that’s pretty mummy why

are you wearing that?” surely only good can come from that! I have, as

have a number of people I know, suffered a loss from this evil epidemic

that seems to be sweeping the female, and as rightly pointed out, male

population. Without question it is not pretty in treatment or always

‘rosy’ in future but in my mind if Pink is what draws attention in our

commercialised, appearance driven world then who are we to judge; but

instead join everyone in putting our pink t-shirts, ribbons or bras on in

helping a very worthwhile and much needed charity! One that you might just

need one day …….let’s hope not!

The Pursuit of Happyness, a review by Dwysan Edwards

From patricia

i dont think that your critique of the pursuit of happyness was fair.

sure they made a big deal about a dad trying to do right by his son. yes

there are alot of single mothers, i am one myself. but there are things

that are for us in that situation. for example WIC, it stands for women,

infants and children…women, not parents. or welfare or in the many cases

child support. all of which a man has little or no chance of receiving.

to be fair many women dont take advantage of those things but also for

every one that doesnt, there is one that abuses it because they know they

can. now i know i am speaking of america and it may be different in the uk

but i feel that you were a little hard on this movie for unfair reasons

Bad mothers, by Claire Riley

From Kristen Pfeiffer

Clair Riley. I thought your article was amazing!!! I am working on a

paper how women who do not desire children become sort of social outcasts.

Thank you so much for making it ok for a woman to be a woman without a

husband or children. More power to you. Peace and Love

Why It’s time for the ‘battle of the sexes’ to end, by Laura Baldwin

From Braystud

I believe you lasses should get this

through your heads:We lads will

ALWAYS judge you by your bodies,

especially your boobs!

Get used to it,girls!!!!!

‘Honey! Your vagina needs a mint’, by Samara Ginsberg

From Tom

The Vagina Institute is a joke and Samara’s article is right in many ways.

I do, however, wonder about any guy who would truly have their ideas

influenced by this rubbish. My feelings about what I like and or don’t

like about a vagina (I really think I like them all!) are my own and not

going to change because some bullshit website with an alterior sales motive

tells or implies that I should.

I would suggest that what this does is gathers a group of “believers” in

their ideal vulva model and reinforces and affirms what their genetic

disposition already has them desiring. The people who subscribe to this

belief are necessarily shallow, insecure and petty. Any woman who has

either a “pretty” or an “ugly” vagina would be wise to stay far away from

them lest they end up in a relationship who’s foundation is the size,

shape, tightness of their vagina… What a basis for a life long

commitment! ” I hereby take your pussy, to have and to lick, to fuck and

admire as long as it stays tight and small. Should it stretch or deform

(nevermind what happens when you give birth) I have the absolut right to

leave you and find a better pussy and you and yous should at that point go

away and fade into the distance”

Large inner lips and an “available” clitoris (one that is readily exposed

from its cozy hooded home) all have neve endings that when licked, sucked,

caressed and rubbed by various methods bring waves of pleasure to thier

owner and when the giver of this pleasure has the well being and best

interest of his/her partner in mind the both of you will have fun, intimacy

and pleasures that will enhance your lives.

See the Vagina Institute for what it is.. a somewhat creative albeit

transparent to all but the terminally naive, attempt to, by misdirection

and untruths, to get people to buy a product or service that they have to

sell… not unlike a lot of advertising in this country!

Be happy with the vagina that you have… it is as unique as your

fingerprints and your DNA. Find someone who loves you for YOU and you will

have someone who loves your vagina… not because it conforms to some

bullshit standard, but because itis yours and it is a part of the most

wonderful and intimate pleasure centers that humans are able to enjoy!

Just a stripper, by Natasha Forrest

From Fawn

WOW! You’ve touched on a subject that has been hard for me to talk about

for years. The love/hate relationship ALL women have with being an

“object” is rarely discussed. I, myself, used to be a stripper, and always

felt like I had to hide it from new friends, as if they wouldn’t want to

hang around some “ex-whore”. Honestly, I think we women are harder on each

other in comparison to men. If we, women, could come together, despite the

in-bred philosophy of what a “good girl” is , and realize that we’re all on

the same team…we’d accomplish so much more. How are men to repsect us if

we don’t even like or respect each other. I blame some of this on men, but

it’s 2008! It’s a new day and WE really need to get it together! PS I’m

considering going back into the field again, this regular day job stuff is

for the birds! You said it perfectly, it’s a balancing act, BUT! With it,

stripping gives a woman freedom, flexibility, capital, and don’t forget

POWER.

The signs of ageing, by Catherine Redfern

From Jan

I spend so much time with women friends who want to only talk about

cosmetic surgery, their flaws and how they feel so bad about them, ageing,

etc. How I wish I could have friends who liked to talk about ideas and

books and language and tell jokes and laugh and stop all this nonsense that

looking young and beautiful is all a woman is about….depressing…..I am

55 and I want to forget about the wrinkles on my face and enjoy the company

of my women friends if they would just talk about another subject

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

From Virginie Fostroy

As a 16-year old teenager living in just another hard-core Roman Catholic

country in Latin America (Costa Rica) I must say that I truly “envy” the

young people in Britain. Our government has a strict no-sex policy,

abortion is still completely punishable by law (5 years in prison, usually

2 or 3 years without a chance of parol) and I have found that these topics

are simply impossible to discuss. I am pro-choice. I am a feminist. But I

am also a woman, and these radical communists (sorry, not trying to insult

anyone, just saying the truth) think that I am nothing more than a liberal,

good for nothing, lesbian. I am not even homosexual to start with, but have

a 16-year old girl being able to talk with “high-level” politicians about

something else than football, and there you go- you’re labeled.

Unfortunately, I live in a retrograde society that seems unable to evolve,

and every day that goes by makes me think this is a change that will

probably never happen.

HPV is something that concers every human being. Not only us feminists

and certainly not only women. I have had (male) friends that have been

vaccinated in order to be more unlikely to transmit the disease, and I am

getting my third and final shot in february. Fortunately, we have private

hospitals that offer the option of getting this shot, but it’s not a

nation-wide movement. The shot is extremely expensive, and for a

middle-class person simply not a concern. Women here still live in an

awfully restrictive position, to show just a simple example of this, we are

having a debate on wether the day-after pill is abortive or not, and if it

isn’t- is it necessary to make it available for women?

People cringe when they hear about feminism, they think about the

“bra-burning lesbians that think they are better than man” . This “taboo”

remains untouched by most people, and I am increasingly appalled to hear

some positions the young people (my generation) have.

What can I do? My only wish right now is to flee to Europe and never come

back- but I’m stuck here for another two or three good years. I am glad

that Great Britain has reached enlightenment, and I truly hope the Catholic

Church remains ignored- the current situation I am in is truly…

Well, a nightmare.

Anyone that could possibly give me advice on how to raise awareness in a

quiet yet solid way, please, contact me.

And keep on doing the incredible things you do in order to achieve

equality and freedom as you have done so brilliantly in the past- you

ladies (and gentleman) are really the builders of our future. Thank you!

Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies

If anyone wants to get in touch with Virginie, please feel free to do so via The F-Word.

General Comments

From Garry

How I got here is beyond me, my mind has a tendency to wonder. But I need

you to clear something up for me. You said “All have validity, and none of

them should have to apologise for their focus.” You were talking about

different approaches to feminism. To me, equality for everybody is the

only way to go. But feminist that believe and focus on the unfounded notion

of women being the superior sex is a bit outrageous. Any equality seeking

individual would have to agree with me that notion walks on line with Nazi

Germany’s antisemitism. Its like me saying “I fight for equality of human

kind…well except the equality of Eastern European people”. All I’m

saying is that everybody needs to understand that both sexes are equal in

their own very unique ways. The human species would not have survived

without the presence of both sexes; or any other mammal for that matter.

We work perfectly together in a very quirky way; but nature is weird like

that. Men and women are physiologically different. We have different

strengths and different weaknesses. Our brains even work differently…yet

are both so well equipped for life and adaptation. I think we need to stop

putting people in corners. It gives everybody a sense of entitlement and

inflates their ego so much. We shouldn’t let our egos get the best of us.

If we are constantly looking out for ourselves, what happens to the larger

picture? The world as a whole. Look at the world today. All caused by

everybody looking out for what’s in THEIR perceived best interest. It

can’t be blamed on men. It has to be blamed on humanity; leaving only

humanity to change.”

Jess McCabe, editor of The F-Word, replies

So, Garry believes in equality for everyone, but movements to achieve the liberation and equality of women are comparable to the Holocaust? Right.

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