Oh, journalism…

// 21 December 2008

So, I was quoted in this story about feminism in The Times.

I spoke to the journalist for over half an hour, and made it clear that I support the protests against the series of beauty pagaents taking place at various universities, but I think that’s doesn’t come through at all from the way I’m quoted in this piece.

I’m not misquoted, I stand behind what I said, but I also fundamentally disagree with Gemma Soames’ argument.

Soames argues there is a ‘new feminism’ – but also that the protests against the university beauty contests are somehow not a part of it.

You could be forgiven, reading the headlines and opinion columns of recent weeks, for thinking that you had woken up in 1978. At protests greeting the recent Miss University London beauty pageants, there were screams of moral outrage, pickets at the entrances to nightclubs and yells of “Objectification” ringing out across pavements, as angry young women in duffel coats protested at cute young women in ball gowns. On the one hand, it was cheering to see that feminist activism had not died, but on the other, it might have struck you as looking a bit, well, retro.

I know this piece is in the “life and style” section of the newspaper, but dismissing political activists on the basis of what they’re wearing (duffle coats) and that, to you, they look a bit “retro” is beyond silly. At the end of this article, you’ll also find a guide to “new feminist” outfits:

Lipstick, heels,1950s dresses — think Dita Von Teese meets the Bloomsbury set — or girlie grunge (look to Courtney Love circa 1990)

Haha. It’s actually so silly I’m not sure what to say.

She then goes on to quote only feminists who disagree with the protests (apart from me, obviously, but then again she’s chosen not to quote me actually *saying* I agree with the protests). Which is, perhaps, why you could come away from reading this article with the mistaken impression that the protests against the beauty pagaents are about women wearing dresses and heels.

For Marie Berry, 27, who started up her own feminist magazine, KnockBack, three years ago, it certainly didn’t advertise a brand of feminism she identifies with. “I thought the protesters looked a bit silly, a bit like a stereotypical idea of what a feminist should be. The slogan was ‘SOAS is for education, not for your ejaculation’, but I don’t think it’s a gender issue. This competition wasn’t about men. It’s for girls.”

A beauty pageant might not be your average woman’s idea of fun, but these contestants were all girls enlisted at top-notch universities, and who all had chosen to be there. Targets ripe for feminist outrage? Not according to the American feminist Katie Roiphe. “I think the proper reaction to a beauty pageant these days is to be bored by it. I would have thought that old version of feminism, which was violently opposed to lipstick and high heels, had died out by now. It’s an extinct image of feminism — that you can’t be both frivolous and serious or care about clothes and read books at the same time. And, in a way, it’s sort of depressing that these same old-fashioned battles keep on being recycled.”

Take heart, sisters, for there is a new breed of feminist out there that is reinventing the ideology. Subscribing to the original feminist theories of equality (equal pay, equal rights and the importance of a right to choose), they pick the fights that mean something to them, ignoring the elements of feminist politics they find irrelevant. For Berry, whose zine is billed as the anti-women’s mags women’s mag (cover lines include ‘The magazine for women who aren’t silly bitches on a diet’), that fight is about how women are represented in the media. “KnockBack started as a spoof women’s magazine,” she says. “We despise Cosmo and Heat. They broadcast a fascination with getting boyfriends, getting married, make-up, appearance and gossip that appeal to the least desirable parts of our emotional spectrum — jealously, gossip and being mean. And that’s not what we care about. Being a girl isn’t like that for us.”

Though that doesn’t mean they can’t take an interest: “As a woman, you can’t not buy shoes and wear dresses. Plus all of that stuff is fun — it doesn’t take away from your power as a woman.”

Obviously, feminism is a spectrum not a single-minded ideology, so you are going to find some feminists who disagree. And that’s not a “new” thing, either. But that’s just part of what feminism is about – it’s not OK to choose some women from one side of this debate, declare them the ascendent feminists and leave it at that.

I think she’s totally misrepresenting the current situation. If anything, it’s clear that the most high-profile activism this year have been boring old protests, about boring old issues such as violence against women, campaigns around objectification, and, of course, in response to the attempts to cut the time limit on abortion.

Comments From You

Rachel // Posted 21 December 2008 at 1:01 pm

I particularly liked the summary of what ‘New Girl Power’ entails at the bottom of the article. I’d best get out shopping ASAP and get myself the lipstick, high heels and 1950s dresses. I wouldn’t want to appear “retro”.

As a woman who doesn’t wear any of the above, this article just seems to be another way for the mainstream media to reinforce the notion that ‘proper’ girls wear make-up, high heels and skirts. I think it’s absolutely necessary that we now have a feminism which propounds choice as one of its main tenets, but this article doesn’t say that. It says that modern and cool feminists wear lipstick and dresses etc, and if you don’t then you’re an out of touch, old-fashioned feminist. And anyway, I know plenty of people who wear duffle coats and make up (sometimes even at the same time!)

Michelle // Posted 21 December 2008 at 1:51 pm

Interesting article.

I take issue with its central premise- that feminists protesting the uni beauty contests are ‘old-fashioned’ and that the best feminism is ‘feminism-lite’ i.e. interested in Politics, but still puts on some lippy. It’s still too radical a notion for mainstream media to understand that women should not have to subscribe to beauty norms, and that does not make us ‘old-fashioned, ill-tempered’ feminists. Also, these protests aren’t just against the beauty contests per se; they’re just one symptom of the way our (Western) society increasingly commodifies women’s bodies and places more value on our appearance than anything else. It’s still being protested, because it’s still a pervasive, discriminatory attitude that abounds. So, to be told that this feminism is ‘old-hat’ and needs to be nullified with lipstick and high heels – and should even take the focus off ‘gender’ – does piss me off.

Though there were some interesting points raised towards the end, wrt to the models working for equal employment rights; I certainly agree that you can be a model and a feminist, and of course just because a woman wears make-up etc does not mean she can’t have feminist politics.

But unfortunately, I think that was the message The Times was trying to get across- that the most acceptable feminism is the one that does subscribe to the consumerist, appearance-obsessed norm, and any other variety outside of that belongs to the ’70s, and is no longer necessary.

Jess McCabe // Posted 21 December 2008 at 8:03 pm

Hiya Michelle,

Yes, exactly, very well put!

I think that some interesting points were raised by some of the women quoted – the problem was more how the journalist framed it all. I don’t see models working for better employment rights is antithetical to protesting a beauty pagaent, which seemed to be the inference.

I think the point I was trying to get across in the bit of the interview she did quote me on, was that the whole idea of judging women on appearances is fundamentally a problem, whether that’s a beauty pagaent or saying “you can/can’t be a feminist if your wear make-up” or, indeed, “this feminism is alright, because you can be part of it and still wear make-up and dresses”. Even the fact it was in the style section; I mean, feminism just isn’t an issue of fashion, it’s (well, I see it as) social justice work.

Jess McCabe // Posted 21 December 2008 at 8:09 pm

Rachel – I agree. I don’t actually wear heels, or lipstick, and extremely rarely wear dresses. When I read to the end of the article, and I saw that, it did pass through my mind that perhaps if we’d done the interview in person, not over the phone, I might not have been quoted afterall!

Chrissy // Posted 21 December 2008 at 10:10 pm

Regarding the idea of ‘feminist fashion’ (I read the Times article this morning), it seems that one thing seems to have escaped the notice of those endorsing/supporting/seeing nothing wrong with these university beauty pagaents – be they for the enjoyment of men or women – and that is that for as long as women exist under, and mold themselves to, the male gaze, feminism in its own right can make no progress and claim no ‘liberation’. As long as women remain the ‘other’, pejoratively or otherwise, feminism will continue to stall.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 21 December 2008 at 10:24 pm

Ah another article which supposedly provides a balanced and ‘objective’ perspective on feminism and why some feminists are (horrors!) protesting against beauty pageants. But – and this is a big but – the subtle message remains the same – don’t rock the patriarchal boat girls (sic) because patriarchy doesn’t want any woman (yes women not girls) to seriously challenge male-dominant media and male-dominant propaganda which promotes the same old tired message. Namely, feminism is supposedly about individual empowerment and has no connection whatsoever with how women are still being reduced to male-defined stereotypes and whose only social role is to be men’s sexualised commodities.

Male violence against women an issue? No, because it is so passe – that was last decade’s news – now we are all equal according to the media – so long live misogyny and deliberate male misrepresentation of feminism. Yes, the writer is female but her views are from the male perspective and I’ve no doubt the male editor had the last word on how this pseudo objective article was to be written and published.

Jen // Posted 21 December 2008 at 10:59 pm

Hah, I did wonder about that when I read it this morning. They’ve actually put it in the “Style” magazine, which would probably explain the unnecessary focus on lipstick and shoes…

Chrissy // Posted 22 December 2008 at 7:20 am

The article, now I think about it, does what a lot of Style magazine (from The Sunday Times) articles do, and focuses on a kind of desperate consumerism. It attempts to package feminism up into a neat little particular socio-economic package, with a dress code, prescribed reading, and a pre-decided list of ‘dos and donts’ (it seems, indirectly), and turns its idea of feminism into something commodifiable and marketable. What it doesn’t address/realise is that all this is not outwith patriarchal control – beauty pageants ARE ultimately a patriarchal design! If these ‘girls’ had the choice, if it really came down to it with no ‘male gaze’ and no patriarchal interest (sorry to labour the point again) would they even be considering spending their time standing in line for a beauty pageant?

Jenn // Posted 22 December 2008 at 9:59 am

Frustrating, isn’t it? They’ve dismissed protestors as a bunch of duffle-coated humouless hairy idiots (although I’ll thank them kindly not to speak ill of duffle coats!), then quoted someone who supports the protests with a thought-out and nuanced opinion (i.e. you) as being on the opposite side.

Then again, if it was me I’d think twice about giving an interview to any newspaper, because that’s what they do, take whichever parts of what you say are convenient for them and cut out the rest. Pretty sure the Guardian do the same, that’s the only way they could get any quotes that support their pretty laughable theses about modern feminism (less laughable than the Times, it’s true).

And I mean, 1950s dresses and lipstick? Dita Von Tease? Welcome to 2002, pretty much. Besides, it’s pretty much hipster libertarianism they’re describing there.

And, while I do wear heals and listick and all that stuff (well, and duffle coats, their polar opposite apparently), and I don’t particularly support those particular demonstrations because there is something of the historical re-enactment about them, I agree that those beauty contests are massively problematic.

Besides, you’d think that feminism was all about women finally understanding they could do what they wanted the whole time. Got that women? You never were oppressed, it was all in your heads!

Still, if anything I don’t think the life and style section of any newspaper should be writing about feminism, and it’s perhaps a bit naive to give them soundbites in the first place, because this is how they will use them. And, it’s not like any worthwhile kind of feminism needs these guys anyway. As the guy on the MC5 album said, “this is the high society”.

Leigh Woosey // Posted 22 December 2008 at 10:30 am

You know, I’m probably going to draw some fire for this but I think it’s necessary.

It is difficult being a male feminist. Maybe not as difficult as it is being a female feminist, but that doesn’t make it a stroll in the park. Everyday you have to resolve the cognitive dissonance of why everybody else is okay with sexist jokes/ objectification/ leering at passers by and you’re not. Everyday you have to figure out a way of not joining in or raising an objection without being called a spoilsport. Everyday you have to put up with the fact that your gender politics make you seem odd or less male, even if only in the eyes of people whose opinions you don’t really value. And everyday you’ve got to convince yourself that it’s worth it. That it’s the better alternative to simply going with the flow and indulging your privilege. That it’s better to abstain from looking than to take advantage of the fact that a woman is wearing revealing clothes. That it’s better to ask for change than to accept things as they are.

And articles like the Times piece linked above? They are not only confusing, they are massively discouraging. Not to men who are already feminist, who have pretty much already made their mind up to stick it out (although personally it raises the questions of ‘oh, what’s the point’) but to those who might be. To those who don’t know what it’s all about it says: ‘Feminism nowadays means girls can do whatever they like, so even if it’s sexist it’s okay’, ‘Feminism now means not thinking through your actions and what implications they may have’, ‘ Everything’s okay now, so you don’t have to change a thing!’

Worst of all the over-arching message is: ‘Women don’t want to be Feminists, not really, so there’s certainly no need for you to be’. Now, for someone who has years of experience, reading and reflection as a feminist it’s comparatively easy to look at things like girl power and come to various conclusions such as there being a variety of feminisms, practitioners of this new feminism not being very educated about culture or patriarchy, feminism is constantly evolving or being co-opted as a marketing tool (as it was with the ‘old’ girl power). But what about those who don’t have that background to inform them?

For the men and women new to being feminists, those facing the decision to push there heads into new spaces, what encouragement does this provide? How does this say ‘it’s okay to challenge your assumptions about gender’ or ‘it’s okay to not conform to society’s expectations of your sex’?

Milly // Posted 22 December 2008 at 11:08 am

What a terrible article. She just sprinkles quotes from feminists throughout the piece to give her lipstick=empowering argument gravitas. And at no point does she actually engage in WHY people are protesting in the first place.

Sabre // Posted 22 December 2008 at 11:11 am

Oh noooo, I thought I was a feminist but I haven’t been wearing the right clothes! Thank you The Times for setting me right. I’ll go swap my trainers for some Manolos right now!

Maybe this will interest some young women into feminism? Shame that the message was basically, ‘Hey it’s ok to be a feminist, you can still be pretty!’ Cos that’s the main aim in life girls – to look good!

Funny how anti-beauty contest protesters were described as retro but the contest itself wasn’t.

Elly // Posted 22 December 2008 at 12:02 pm

I like how the article seems to imply that the “new” feminism is better than old school one because women can do what they want, like wear lisptick and high heel.

Except, well, they can do what they want as long as they keep women enough: you can’t not wear dresses, you can’t say no if you are asked “would like to look better ?”, and apparently, you shouldn’t wear duffel coats either :o

For an article which criticizes “old” feminism because it is judging women, I find that it is doing it quite wrong.

Eleanor James // Posted 22 December 2008 at 2:33 pm

It is exceptionally heartening to see this response to the article, as I have just spent the last hour writing a response to send to the Times. It hard to channel the earthquake within into elegant prose.

The agenda of the article is perfectly clear given that Soames has conveniently forgotten to contact our group Miss-Ogynist University of London and thus conveniently omitted our aims, objectives and true reflection of the issues at stake.

The opening focus on the duffel coated un-“Style”ish protesters vs the “cute young women in ball gowns” underscores our entire argument and resounds through the entire text. Soame’s contention that we oppose pageants because we can’t be in them is as anthropomorphic, overiterated and dull as her posited vision of Second Wave feminism itself, and as incredibly misguided as her notion of the Third Wave as it stands today.

F-Words support on the pageant campaign really is invaluable. If any of you are interested in helping to build opposition for the final of the pageant come to our planning meeting 7th Jan, 6pm Institute of Education Bar or contact me on women@soas.ac.uk

Thanks again sisters (and brothers!),

Eleanor James

Women’s Officer

SOAS Students’ Union

Miss-Ogynist UL campaign group…


Jenn // Posted 22 December 2008 at 2:36 pm

More to the point, also, who is to say that all the quotes weren’t obtained much like Jess’s was?

Jess – have you ever thought of compiling a resource to help feminists deal with the press? Because you have some inside knowledge of how it works, you’ve been interviewed a few times, and you know how it goes. There are a lot of very young women involved in feminist groups out there, who might potentially be contacted in the same way, who don’t have any experience of dealing with the press – so it could be a way to avoid them getting stung in the same way.

As for any points made in the article – meh, they’re not really worth arguing with, they’re obviously about as grounded and substantial as your average yoghurt advert, the point of the article isn’t to make points about feminism, anyway, it’s to give you a kind of girlpower rush surrounding your sartorial choices and send you shopping for their advertisers’ goods. (captain obvious strikes again)

I’d suggest using your copy as kitty litter – kitty will make some far more relevant ‘points’ on the paper that way than the life and style section of the Times even attempts to.

Ellie // Posted 22 December 2008 at 4:17 pm

Is it too patronising to suggest that women can be sexist? Does that mean we’re not listening to women who are suffering at the hands of patriarchy at the same time as perpetrating the same system? Does it alienate women who choose to dress in heels and wear lipstick that their sisters think they’re doing women in general a disservice?

i wish an article would address these issues acus i can’t figure them out.

also, whats with the use of ‘girls’ all the way through, what happened to ‘women’?

lisa // Posted 22 December 2008 at 5:01 pm

This is an interesting lesson in how important it is for women to be very careful with the mainstream media – and for the protestors to avoid failing into the old ’70s feminism’ trap which will be used against them. The media loves nothing better than to portray 2 groups of women in conflict. Divide and Rule is used time and time again to undermine any progress women make – mothers v. non-mothers, women in paid work v. women in unpaid work, ‘feminine’ women v. ‘androgynous’ women, straight-bisexual v- Lesbian and perhaps most effectively old v. young.

This last one is perhaps the most effective strategy as the protestors could have so easily been warned by older women who’ve seen this happen time and time again ! The ‘Stay away from those feminists girls or no man will want you’ line is as as old as the hills as is ‘Of course it’s modern and cool to want ‘equality’ especially if the men like seeing you in a short skirt in the office but NEVER forget your primary function as a sex toy’.

Older feminists start to feel like goldfish in the bowl – just that each circuit is about a decade – just long enough for the young-old separation to occur.

Jess McCabe // Posted 22 December 2008 at 8:45 pm

@Jenn Because I did so well with The Times, obviously I’d be the right person to compile such a resource :-)

polly styrene // Posted 22 December 2008 at 10:58 pm

Tips for dealing with the press:

1)Be proactive, it’s much easier to contact a journalist who you think will be friendly (look for journos, particularly columnists who have written sympathetically about the topics you’re talking about). Most national newspaper columnists have e-mail addresses attached to their columns, so e-mail them.

2)Prepare a simple press release. You need a contact number/name, a brief description of what the action/campaign is about, all the important details (who, what, when, where, why) and a couple of sound bitey quotes that they can print straight off.

3)Be aware that most journalists have an agenda, and try to find out beforehand what the overall slant/tone of the piece will be if approached for comment. Google the journalist to see other stuff they’ve written.

4)Don’t be afraid to turn things down if you don’t think you’ll be represented sympathetically. Media coverage isn’t everything. Be very wary of people looking for rent a quotes, or live debates on air – you really need to prepare and have your facts and figures to hand if you’re going to participate in anything of that kind.

The above have worked more than once for me. The Miss-ogynist campaign has done incredibly well in terms of press coverage/publicity overall I think, so I hope they’re not too depressed by this piece of nonsense.

Oh and from reading Phoebe Frangoul’s other work, I suspect she, at least, wasn’t misquoted.

denelian // Posted 26 December 2008 at 8:36 am

i am here from Twisty’s blog, I Blame The Patriarchy.

i just wanted to stop by and reiterate Twisty’s thanx, for your comment on her blog. it really helps *me*, at least, to know that someone can be that quoted-out-of-context, that it is possible that all those people (or at least many of them) are feminist-who-don’t-feel-they-have-to-be-sexpots.

glory // Posted 30 December 2008 at 12:03 pm

I read that dumb article at my parents on Xmas day and snorted diet coke through my nose.

This was followed by a slightly damp rant about how I’d bet my selection box they’d spoken to a bunch of interesting and thoughtful women with a range of political interests and hand picked (or hand crafted) a bunch of quotes on frocks to make contemporary feminism look as deep as an American Apparel advert.

I happen to like pretty frocks. But the idea that they’re a newsworth aspect of my identity as a feminist offends me plenty.

Amy // Posted 7 January 2009 at 11:09 pm


Talk about missing the point?

Pick-and-mix feminism? Well, what’s wrong with some feminists ‘picking’ to protest against beauty pageants?

This sort of article always, always annoys me – there’s always such a stench of ignorance.

Erika Gardiner // Posted 12 January 2009 at 2:11 pm

Having only in the last couple of years become interested in feminism I may be accused of naivete but I feel I should be honest enough to say that it was the Times article that even alerted me to the fact that websites such as the F word were running. It was enlightening to me (having only really experienced feminism in terms of literary criticism) that Marie Berry and others felt the same revulsion at the ideas expounded in magasines such as Heat or Marie Claire about what women should be interested in and who they should be. Yes, I feel that the article was badly written and the suggestion of a ‘feminist outfit’ is (as Jess has noted) completely laughable and totally missing the point. But what I think the article did show was the fact that women have been alienated by what was supposed to be ‘their’ movement. Being 20 I have very limited knowledge of second-wave feminism but it has always been presented to me (yes, most likely by a patriarchal media) as a movement that was only supported by man-hating, braless angry women who would most likely see me as a traitor to the cause if i dared to wear high heels. Rather than presenting a ‘feminism-lite’ or rebranding to make feminism more acceptable perhaps what the article meant to say (however unsuccessfully and one-sidedly so) was that women have become so caught up in blaming and judging each other for not being the ‘right’ kind of feminist (or, as in Heat and such others for not being the ‘right’ weight or in the ‘right’ clothes etc) that we have half forgotten what we were fighting in the first place.

Our focus should be empowering women to make choices and decisions for the right reasons, under no cultural or social pressures; not about chastising those who we see as objectifying themselves. Failing to do this will only serve to alienate the younger generation and be ultimately detrimental to the feminist cause.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 12 January 2009 at 4:25 pm

Just to pick up on one small point, the ‘pick-n-mix’ phrase actually came from a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek article I wrote for this site a looong time ago. Levenson did credit me when being interviewed but the journalist ommitted this in her article.

I don’t agree with everything that’s said in the Times article, but I still believe that the concept of pick n mix (although obviously silly), maybe communicates the message that there is no one way to be a feminist, and that many of us are enthusiastically finding out about many different kind of feminisms, and then making up our own personal feminism kind of like a jigsaw puzzle, rather than buying it ready made off the shelf and fitting into a mould (sorry for all the mixed metaphors there!).

It was never meant to imply that feminism is not serious or important.

Finally I think Erika’s comment is useful in that it does show that even imperfect, annoying news stories can have a positive effect by making people aware that feminists do exist.

Jess McCabe // Posted 12 January 2009 at 4:41 pm

Erika, I’m glad to see that at least the article had some positive repercussions. Even if I do think it was misrepresentative, at least it’s encouraged people to visit the site, where they can find out for themselves what we’re all about :-)

The downside, though, is that I worry that as many women are encouraged to look more deeply into feminism by the article, there may have been many more who might have felt alienated, and been put off by the impression that feminist communities are just another place to go get judged for not being fashionable enough, etc! The point which I tried to make to the journalist on the phone, was that we need to do away with the whole business of endlessly setting up standards and expecting women to measure up. It’s mainstream, sexist society that constantly interrogates women’s appearance, as is demonstrated by this article.

The thing is, I think at least the image of feminists in popular media has been carefully constructed to play on exactly the worries that patriachal culture instills in women and girls – which values women based on acceptability to men (hence calling feminists ‘man hating’), being quiet and nice and compliant (hence ‘angry’), etc.

As Sandrine pointed out so well in her feature responding to the article:

For an article critiquing “old feminists” for allegedly judging women on the basis of their appearance, comments about the outfits of political activists are more than a little hypocritical – and say a lot about attitudes underlying the piece.

Suswati // Posted 14 March 2010 at 1:53 am

I think she missed the fundamental point of the protests. As one of the co-organisers, for one there is no such thing as a new wave of feminism, lipstick or any other ridiculous tag to associate with it these days. Feminism has always been in place, however covert it seems; after all, the International beauty pageants were only dismissed some 15 years ago: NOT just from the 1970s. We encourage choice for women, what we don’t believe is that these businesses should make money out of women’s choices. It is like the beginning of women’s liberation all over again, handing what we believe to be our freedom on a platter that is sold back to us. The company in report, has no association with our universities, which makes it a breach of our safe-space policy, as we get continually harassed by men because of the pageant.

I think the fact that they dismissed a trans women from the final; did not even let her into the building, can suggest the type of discriminitory behaviour in question as well as the fact that there were go-go (lap dances if you prefer) as entertainment. And if it really was about the intellect of these clearly intelligent women, then the questions asked would not be Sex and the City directed questions. It makes them sound more patronising towards the contestants.

Ally // Posted 14 March 2010 at 1:35 pm

As someone who doesn’t identify with the brand of feminism opposing the protests, I can see how the article would encourage pro-beauty feminists to feel less excluded by feminism, something which all feminists desperately need if they want to achieve many of the desperately needed feminist objectives such as equal division of child care, equal pay, and increased representation at the top of professions.

As to declaring one form of feminism the winning form, from the perspective of most readers of Style magazine,it is. It is a form of feminism that is acceptable from their point of view, and is likely to gain greater widespread support.

Julie K // Posted 15 March 2010 at 9:45 am

“As a woman, you can’t not buy shoes and wear dresses.” Ha ha. Well, it may be difficult to avoid buying the odd pair of shoes to walk around in (though I don’t somehow think that was what she meant), but I wasn’t aware that wearing dresses was now compulsory.

FeminaErecta // Posted 15 March 2010 at 11:49 am

“As a woman, you can’t not buy shoes and wear dresses.”

Er, yes you can. Just like you can also not do everything the billboards tell you and occasionally think for yourself without a newspaper telling you its ‘cool’.

I love how this is a recommended website that subsequently rips the article to shreads! Excellent work.

Femina Erecta // Posted 15 March 2010 at 12:05 pm

“I do feel it’s time for those feminists to step aside,” says Frangoul. “It’s like, we’re grateful for what you did, but it’s time for you to hand over. We’ve got a different world-view, and we might have something different to say.”

What? What have you got that is different to say? What has changed so much in the past twenty odd years? Do women not get paid less than men for doing the same jobs any more? Are the femo-centric professions of care, beauty and administration somehow magically paying their workers as much as manual labourers get? Is childcare universal, good and affordable to all, with both working mothers and fathers not stignatised for being so? Do women have free choice over their bodies and what happens to them? Are all women in the world enfranchised and treated equally, and with respect? Oh no, no, they’re not, are they. So why don’t you go and paint your nails and tell yourself how great your life is since you became so liberated? Utter, utter consumerist nonsense. You have been conned.

Kate // Posted 15 March 2010 at 2:48 pm

I don’t understand – the founder of KnockBack says she’s not interested in “being mean” because “being a girl isn’t like that for us” and then they use a cover line like “The magazine for women who aren’t silly bitches on a diet”?! What is that if not an unkind comment about women who diet?

Expatista // Posted 15 March 2010 at 9:46 pm

My heart goes out to you for being misinterpreted for the journalist’s own end. Your quote could have been taken to mean that the whole pageant-debate thing is retro, not the protesters. I totally support this kind of protest and I should really get off my bum and join them!

Journalists are working in an increasingly stingy and tabloid-oriented environment these days. We are taught to “overseason” articles with cliches and pseudo-philosophy to make them more palletable, and we are also taught to be pityless about using quotes out of context. Sorry to make anyone even more cynical about the papers, but in my most recent National Union of Journalists class I took to brush up on a few things, it opened with our teacher saying that you should strive to be as subjective as possible (i.e. establish a strong bias and stick with it) and that the more uncomfortable someone you interview is about your questions, the more likely their answers will be useful to you.

So… how about we use the press for what it’s good for next time and create a bit of a stir doing a protest in full evening dress? In full makeup and the most glamourous gowns we can find. we can wear price tags or sashes saying things like “for sale” or something.

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