Some news

// 16 February 2009

So first off, yes there are no depths to which PETA will not sink,

PETA dresses as KKK

Yes apparently the American Kennel Club is much like the KKK according to PETA. Not sure how that analogy works, given I’ve not heard about the AKC lynching or burning bone shaped statues on pet owners lawns but there you go. I know we keep saying they are too easy a target but really, PETA, get a grip and work out offensiveness isn’t a good strategy. I can’t be the only vegetarian considering giving up that title because of you – I mean would sending “Not in My Name” messages help any? (This comes after vegetable sex adverts for the Superbowl ad breaks, “eggs are chicken periods”, BBQ-ing women, women as cuts of meat and naked women in sow crates. Obviously not content with, frankly, pissing off large numbers of women, PETA obviously has decided it’s time to be racially insulting too. JT at Pandagon has it best: PETA: Like Westboro Baptist Church for people who have a PETCO discount card.

Derek Simpson with Daily Star P3 girls supporting BNP vehicle British Jobs for British WorkersTalking of which, as a Socialist and a Trade Unionist, I do sometimes dispare of what Union Leaders think is acceptable, Stroppyblog rightly named Derek Simpson of Unite as “Tosser of the Week” for melding racism and sexism in one single publicity stunt.

As Penny Red has highlighted, British Jobs for British Workers is a BNP vehicle.

Meanwhile a posh boys school is advertising itself not just for it’s educational achievements but that it’ll teach boys to get their leg over too, or at least to track down adoring bimbettes…

Brighton Boys School Pupils can attract blonde moppetts apparently

Not sure what their point is apart from maybe a too heavy emphasis that homosociality doesn’t mean homosexuality. (H/T to Hoyden).

Meanwhile in London based news Tessa Jowell is leading a gender equality at the Olympics campaign to allow equal access to sporting events. Londonist is rather dismissive, arguing we’re already short on funding for sports people so women shouldn’t demand a fair crack of the whip in events.

And even if we could, in theory, create a Games of total equal opportunity between the sexes, would we really want to put more pressure on the venues and logistics by adding an additional 40 events to the mindbogglingly complex preparation programme at this stage?

There’s wearing your male privilege credentials on your sleeve….

Also in London news is the sad story that Lambeth Women’s Project is in financial trouble. I’d also add so is the Feminist Library based in Southwark. Both are valuable and important causes.

Comments From You

Ruth // Posted 16 February 2009 at 6:09 pm

Brighton Grammar School? Posh? Don’t think so :-)

To be fair, the old trope “boys who went to single sex schools have no social skills and think women are a different species” (*casts thoughtful eye on public-boarding-school-educated other half*) is still very much around, and isn’t it better to promote sociability and ease rather than clannish single sex arrogance? I’m not really seeing being able to mix with girls is sexist, and she may be thinking: “that’s an interesting point you just made, which I am about to demolish comprehensively once I finish this milkshake”…

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 16 February 2009 at 6:28 pm

Oh we can’t have men’s syncronised swimming can we? This sport is all about women engaging in showing off their bodies for the male spectators. Likewise female boxers no too masculine for women to participate. Oh the misogyny is endless. Men can undertake syncronised swimming because it takes skill, strength and team work. As for rest of reporting – the backlash against women’s rights is endless and in fact is increasing.Is feminism no longer necessary? Just read the above reports to see it is more essential than ever.

As for PETA, black women as well as black men were lynched by white male supremacists – so comparing the Kennel club to the KKK shows a total lack of respect with regards to the many black women and men who suffered at the hands of the KKK and their white male supremacist followers. Yes, I know white women supported the KKK but the ones with the power were and still are white men. Posh school for posh boys advertising puts it very succinctly – women and girls are males’ sexualised toys.

dan // Posted 16 February 2009 at 6:33 pm

Got to say not sure what the point is about the boys school ad from a feminist point of view, surely just trying to allay fears that single sex schools leave pupils with no idea how to interact with the opposite sex.

Shea // Posted 16 February 2009 at 6:38 pm

I though they had reached the pinnacle of pointlessly offensive and irrelevant with the vegetables for sex ad, but no I was wrong. They always manage to better themselves in terms of sheer stupidity.


Kath // Posted 16 February 2009 at 6:41 pm

Thanks for highlighting Derek Simpson’s activities. I am a member of Unite and will be writing to them to complain.

Anne Onne // Posted 16 February 2009 at 8:54 pm

PETA’s stunt didn’t surprise me, but it did sadden me greatly. By now, PETA are pretty much irredeemable as the biggest douchebags of this century to label themselves pro-any kind of rights whatsoever. They’ve used slavery and the holocaust as selling points, and taken advantage of the sexualisation of women’s bodies to somehow lead men to veganism by their penises.

Once more, with feeling: Being a supporter of the rights of group A (whatever that group or their needs) does not mean you get to trample over groups B,C, D, E and everyone else. It doesn’t mean ignoring their pleas for you to stop being a bigot. Being an ally means not cheapening the suffering of others when it’s convenient.

PETA are allies to no-one, not even the animals they say they serve. They’re nothing more than limelight-hogging self-publicists in love with the idea of being edgy and the misguided belief that all life forms are exactly the same and that therefore all comparisons are justified, no matter how insulting. They have no regard for marginalised groups in society, and seem intent on losing any allies they can by offending anyone else fighting for rights.

I really, really recommend Renee’s post over at WomanistMusings on the issue. And I say FUCK PETA. This kind of shitty stunt is completely inacceptable when KKK rallies are still occuring, and many of the people terrorised by them are still alive and can still be triggered. I’m caucasian and living in the UK, and I’d be deeply uncomfortable seeing people dressed like this walking around. I can’t imagine what some people of colour felt as they walked by these white privileged youngsters thinking they were being so edgy.

I can’t be bothered to say much about the school. Wow, mates and dates? Yeah, that’s such a high standard, something that’s pretty much expected and little to do with which school you go to. Now, put your penis away and quit showing off, shouldn’t you be educating these young men or what?

earlgreyrooibos // Posted 16 February 2009 at 9:29 pm

I can’t be the only vegetarian considering giving up that title because of you – I mean would sending “Not in My Name” messages help any?

I would love to participate in that initiative. I hate that people think as a vegetarian, I support PETA in any way, shape, or form.

missing words // Posted 17 February 2009 at 12:01 am

I really hope everyone who reads this signs the Lambeth Women’s Project petition. It’s been around for quite a while now, but they need at least 1000 signatures to use it, so please sign if you haven’t already – there must be at least 1000 F-word readers!

Louise Livesey // Posted 17 February 2009 at 11:27 am

Hi Jen, with all due respect I have to disagree on a couple of your points. Firstly denigrating the athleticism and hard work of synchronised swimmers is not on. There is far more to the sport than “showing off their bodies for the male spectators” and I actually find that idea rather insulting to athletes who work hard to achieve in their sport. You also rather strongly contradicted yourself by claiming it was merely voyeurism for the male gaze when women did it but was “skill, strength and team work” when men did it – why doesn’t the same apply both ways?

As for the idea that white women’s activities within the KKK is somehow less abhorrent than their male white supremacist counterparts – I also find that extremely insulting. White women were not naive flowers in the hate war against america’s black population – they were fully involved and aware. Their activities may have been slightly different (hiding evidence, washing out the blood stains, making accusations of rape, keeping black servants in a position of servitude so they couldn’t complain etc) but they were absolutely involved and as white women we shouldn’t in any way make excuses for their behaviour.

Louise Livesey // Posted 17 February 2009 at 11:42 am

Hi Ruth and Dan,

Firstly, Ruth, if you can read that into the girls expression you are a better woman than I!

My point was that I’m all for the social education of boys and girls, but the picture and caption rather imply that the the BGS boys will be trained in how to “catch” and pretty young adoring thing rather than actually learn to relate to and speak to people outside of their social group. It doesn’t show a BGS boy engaging in debate with a girl nor does it suggest that the rounded education will involve socialising them out of sexist notions of boys and girls. Rather the emphasis is that the boys will be able to get dates – socialisation for normative heterosexuality rather than anything more useful.

Yes education boys about girls, but lets do it in ways which doesn’t reinforce gender stereotypes and doesn’t rely on old notions of girls as sexual objects and boys as the clever and active ones.

lauredhel // Posted 17 February 2009 at 11:57 am

“Brighton Grammar School? Posh? Don’t think so :-)”

At $21 000 per year for high school just for tuition, it’s posh by any Australian standard!

What Louise Livesey said. Plus there’s the “We ship ’em in fresh” implication in this ad (as identified in the comments at Hoyden About Town) – the ‘dates’ aren’t people in their own right, they’re selling points for the school to advertise its manly-man programmes to cashed-up fathers anxious about their boys’ masculinity training. It’s downright creepy.

Legible Susan // Posted 17 February 2009 at 12:02 pm

Anne Onne,

That link actually goes to Facebook.

Anna // Posted 17 February 2009 at 12:50 pm

I don’t know. I do see where you’re coming from – feminist perspective but having attended an all girls’ school myself and generally been around mothers who sent their children to single-sex schools a big reason for not putting a boy in an all-boys school is because, well, he might not be able to interact with women at the end of it (surprisingly few people reasoned this about putting girls in an all girls; I think it was just assumed we’d be fine, for some reason). I do see how the advert is offensive but really all they’re trying to do is sell a product (the mantra of my school was ‘this is not a school, this is a business’) and it is well targeted at parents’ fears. Maybe it’s the parents we should be looking at? I don’t know.

Kez // Posted 17 February 2009 at 12:56 pm

Do you think PETA actually sit around thinking “Which marginalised group shall we exploit and offend next?”. Because it certainly looks that way. The Kennel Club are like the KKK? I wonder if any non-white people were involved in the planning of that particular stunt?

I frequently consider going vegetarian, but right now, this organisation’s crass antics are actively putting me off. So put that in your vegeburger and choke on it, PETA.

Louise Livesey // Posted 17 February 2009 at 1:05 pm

Anna – does that mean PETA are justified as well – after all they are trying to sell vegetarianism? The whole point is that advertising is part of our society and helps shape it and also responds to it. They don’t get a “Get out of jail free” card just because they are advertising something do they?

FruitSalad // Posted 17 February 2009 at 1:30 pm

I don’t think the image is objectifying – I agree with Ruth, it’s probably just meant to dispel notions of people who are privately educated in single sex schools being unable to relate to the other sex.

I find the ‘blonde moppets’ thing a bit problematic – isn’t the notion that blonde and conventionally attractive women are airheads, y’know, sexist?

Also about white women ‘making accusations of rape’ against black men – I dunno, yes, I’m sure this did happen sometimes, and I am NOT in any way saying white women were not involved in oppressing black people.

However, respectfully, I think feminists should be very careful about saying things that could (even if unintentionally) propagate the idea that women are liars and often make malicious false rape accusations. An idea that is all too prominent in society.

I find it odd that false accusations is listing alongside covering up lynchings/ hate crimes.

Is the use of false accusations actually documented as something that happened? (Genuine question – I don’t know a lot about this area).

Or could the idea that it was a tool of oppression have anything to do with general misogynist ideas about women being malicious liars and regretting sex?

I’m not saying that no white woman made false accusations that were at least in part racially motivated.

I understand the racist stereotypes of black men as overly sexed beasts that come into play, and the irony that while white men would have been oh so concerned and sympathetic to the alleged victim if her alleged attacker was black, should he have been white, they’d suddenly deny any rape happened. *sarcasm* ‘Cos civilised white men don’t rape!*/sarcasm* I mean, marital rape was legal in those days, no?

I just wonder.

*touches wood, as I am lucky enough not to have been raped* I am very aware that being a white, middle-class, educated woman, who does not tend to drink a lot or dress (and I hate this word, its use is ironic) ‘provocatively’, those priveleges may well contribute to my being seen as more credible if I was raped, if the rapist was not white and/or was working class.

And it would actually feel pretty shitty to realise that fact. To wonder if racism or classism is making conviction more likely. Because we want more convictions for rape, but we don’t want to encourage race or class prejudice.

Otoh, if alleged rapist was equally ‘respectable’ then, well, it’s a different story.

And I have read about police officers claiming that they’d believe a prostitute was raped over a ‘respectable’ woman because the latter would have more to hide – clearly not wanting to damage zomg her precious reputation!!

Just saying that a complex web of multiple oppressions is going on, and the only question should be: did a rape happen, based on the evidence?

Agree about PETA campaign – it’s appalling. I too would feel uncomfortable with seeing people in KKK costumes walking around.

This comment has gone on for long enough. Thanks for reading.

Leigh // Posted 17 February 2009 at 1:44 pm

I remember reading a blog entry/ article by one of William Jagg’s school cohort. He remarked how being isolated from females led them to idolise them and have no idea how to react to them, certainly did not develop the ability to see them as thinking, equal human beings. This isolation and lack of integration, when combined with drugs and other mental problems, unleashed terrible consequences.

Damned if I can find the article now.

Sabre // Posted 17 February 2009 at 1:57 pm

The Grammar School advert: The school seems to be trying to show they produce socially adequate boys. Mixed feelings about the image. On one hand, the girl shown could be either a mate or a date. On the other, she’s the main focus of the image and is gazing keenly at the boy. Is there some subtle message about her sucking the straw or am I reading too much into it?! Also they make it seem like boys never interact with girls, don’t some of them have sisters, female cousins, friends outside school? Oh yeah I forgot it’s not about interacting with girls, it’s about GETTING girls!

PETA – I might send them a letter saying every time I see another of their awful adverts I’ll eat a steak. And send them a picture of me doing it, with the caption ‘I hate your advertising so much that I’ve resorted to eating more meat in protest’. Or for brevity maybe just the classic ‘Fuck you PETA’!

The Olympics – where there’s a will there’s a way! We haven’t even built the Olympics facilities so there’s time to figure out a way of incorporating womens participation in more (if not all) sports.

I’d like to know why the Paralympics aren’t run alongside the Olympics rather than afterwards – in Beijing they had the closing ceremony before the Paralympics! It seems stupid, and if it’s to do with facilities then something more should be done at the design stage. Can anyone tell me why the Paras are done separately and afterwards?

Louise Livesey // Posted 17 February 2009 at 2:25 pm

Speaking as a blonde woman myself, to say that the model is being presented as a blonde moppet isn’t a comment on the model (who may have a double PhD in astrophysics and cancer research for all I know) but about the way she is constructed in the image.

On your point about rape – yes it was used by white women, Jo Bourke’s A History of Rape has some interesting stuff on this and links to more readings on the topic. It isn’t unfeminist to say some women have used accusations of rape or other sexual crimes as a tool of oppression of black men. It’s admitting women are not uninvolved in other power structures and that we must take responsibility for that history.

Kez // Posted 17 February 2009 at 2:38 pm

I think the “mates… and dates” phrasing is a bit unfortunate – it seems to suggest that boys can have mates (who are boys) and dates (who are girls) and never the twain shall meet. Surely girls can be mates, as well as dates? (And some of those boys might even want to date each other… although I’m guessing the school won’t want that idea in their advertising!)

I suppose you could interpret it as saying girls can be both mates and dates, but it didn’t come across like that to me.

polly styrene // Posted 17 February 2009 at 2:39 pm

As a vegetarian who still craves bacon butties, I have long wanted to boycott a PETA event by setting up a counter protest. Wearing T shirts saying “I’d rather eat meat than join PETA” a group of veggies would cook and consume some yummy bacon. Mmmmm.

Ellie // Posted 17 February 2009 at 3:00 pm

Are grammar school in Australia at all similar to English grammar schools though? Is there a perception over there that people who attend posh all boys schools are shit at talking to women?

I think that would have an effect on how we should perceive that advert. Any Australians?

lauredhel // Posted 17 February 2009 at 3:41 pm

Ellie: In my experience, the supposed awkwardness of single-sex-school graduates is something “everybody knows”, without any actual evidence. Well, with no evidence beyond “This one guy I knew in uni….” Counter-anecdata seem to have no effect on this received wisdom.

The major single-sex schools have been paired up with “brother/sister schools” since the year dot, typically for collaborative classes and projects involving music, theatre, debate, dancing classes, etc. There’s nothing novel about the concept of ‘exposure’ to the opposite sex within same-sex schooling, it’s absolutely routine.

However, this particular style of advertising which emphasises romantic conquest as a selling point is new (as far as I know).

I’m trying to imagine the concept gender-flipped, and I’m struggling.

As an aside, also note that BGS doesn’t even have boarders; it’s a day school only. So the school is somehow trying to claim responsibility for the dates their students are supposedly scoring in their own time.

Ellie // Posted 17 February 2009 at 4:54 pm

lauredhel – fair enough I just thought they’re might be a cultural component that British people could be unaware of, not one that would necesarily make this a more acceptable advert but one nonetheless.

Anna // Posted 17 February 2009 at 6:07 pm

No, it doesn’t – I was just saying the problem was perhaps more of a societal issue than with that particular school. I find your argument to be pretty strawman to be honest – just because I’m skeptical about this particular issue doesn’t mean I support PETA, or their appalling publicity stunts.

Ruth // Posted 17 February 2009 at 6:42 pm


my mistake; I couldn’t read the smallest print and assumed this was a UK ex-Grammar-turned-fee-paying school: when set against Eton etc, those are often more ” two earners, going without holidays and a new car for ten years to put Johnny through school” territory than “Rolls Royce, uniformed nanny, flat in Chelsea and mansion in the country” land.

I see your point about it being a day school, though the same rumours do exist re. social skills for those as well as boarders.

lauredhel // Posted 17 February 2009 at 7:10 pm

There may well be some more local specifics that I’m not aware of – maybe a Melburnian will happen along?

Liz // Posted 17 February 2009 at 10:52 pm

I hate PETA as much as anyone and think that stunt is appalling however I’m also really disappointed by the “In your face PETA I’m going to eat a steak and I’m veggie!” type of messages.

Firstly I think to say “I’m not going to be veggie because X are promoting it and they are sexist morons” (however true) is just as daft to me as just doing something because everyone else is doing it. If we saw a group doing something abhorrent while saying they were a feminist should we then reject feminism just to spite them?

And if we really wanted to spite them I doubt they would care or even listen, as has already been pointed out, they’re not for anyone but themselves.

There are also some wonderful groups and people who actually do what PETA claim to do and they at least deserve support.

Qubit // Posted 18 February 2009 at 1:35 am

I certainly think there is a stereotype attached to single sex schools that their students are socially awkward and unable to interact with the opposite sex. I think the school looks like it is trying to counter act this image and point out that its pupils have a normal romantic life, not that they have more partners or a better chance of getting a partner because of the relationship.

To analyse the image and say things about the girl is quite difficult I think. Yes it is shown with her being relaxed and obviously admiring him but this is kind of a prerequisite for a relationship. it looks like they are both having fun and she looks casual but wholesome. It is meant to represent a date so both of them looking too intellectual would be weird.

I personally don’t see anything wrong with it. It does suggest that the stereotypes surrounding single sex education need to be challenged though.

Anne Onne // Posted 18 February 2009 at 1:56 am

@Legible Susan: Ahaha, so you’re right! My apoligies. Renee’s post is here for anyone who wants to read it,and the comments might be good, too. I don’t know if she’s gotten rid of the trollish comments, her insightful posts tend to get a lot of ‘but why is this racist, it so isn’t!’ trolling.

As for the advert: I get the ‘people who are in single-sex eduaction have less interaction with the opposite sex, so might be less able to socialise with them’ angle, and trying to address that, but in the cultural context of men always having to assert their virility and woman-getting prowess, it still rubs me the wrong way. There are better ways to point out that one can go to such a school and be a well-rounded individual (and it’s certainly possible: social factors, personality and how they are taught to interact are more important than how many hours in school they face people of the opposite sex. Especially since many boys in mixed schools can still be clueless and entitled when dealing with girls…) without resorting to the ‘look, single-sex educated guys can bag chicks, too!. Maybe it’s that the assumptions behind the advert are as offensive (all boys are hetero, and must prove their manliness by having lots of dates) as that which it’s working against (single-sex educated boys can’t possibly be good with girls). I can’t see parents or prospective pupils being swayed by an advert, either.

Anne Onne // Posted 18 February 2009 at 2:04 am

And about the sports story; it’s funny that it’s only when it concerns women that the issue is suddenly trivial or unaffordable. People suggesting cutting men’s sports down are met with incredulity, but denying women the chance to compete at all is somehow OK?

It’s the story some minorities have heard since forever: everybody’s got it tough, so other people’s rights come before yours. It’s the men’s turn.

Screw that, if we’re to have any sports we should aim for equality. What’s the point in having diverse sports only to include just men? It’s hard to balance funding, but pretending women athletes don’t exist so you can save money is not fair.

lauredhel // Posted 18 February 2009 at 12:24 pm

Ruth wrote:

“my mistake; I couldn’t read the smallest print”

Ah, yes. I think Louise forgot to link to my post, where I have the full text for accessibility, and a link to the source with an enlarged version. Sorry for any confusion!

Louise Livesey // Posted 18 February 2009 at 12:31 pm

You’re right Lauredhel, bad me – sorry!

Ruth // Posted 18 February 2009 at 3:44 pm

I think that most people don’t really think they need any evidence to conclude that all-boys schools are likely to produce boys who are less able to interact with girls as equals than those from mixed-sex schools. They probably see it as a ‘Well, duh!’ conclusion.

Single-sex schools are the daily expression of the idea that boys and girls are so different from each other that it is harmful to their education to even share the same classrom. Any man or woman who comes out of such a school with the idea that the opposite sex are human has gained this idea in spite of their education, not because of it. (Women tend to do better at this because the culture as a whole is constantly reminding them that men ARE human, but WOMEN aren’t.)

As far as the anecdotal evidence goes, mine is 30+ years out of date, but, at the age of 14, I went to watch a school play at a local, private, boys-only boarding school (which has since gone mixed-sex) because I knew one of the (day) boys from the school who was appearing in the play. I have never felt so stared at in my life, before or since. I felt like crawling under my chair to get away from it. I certainly had never felt like that in the presence of large numbers of boys from my own, mixed-sex, school.

I was wearing scruffy trousers and a polo-neck jumper, and no make-up (I don’t ‘do’ make-up), but I was a female of approximately their own age, and therefore a mysterious, alien creature.

Amy // Posted 18 February 2009 at 9:09 pm


I very much think their goal is, piss a few feminists off – worth it to gain a ‘cool- doing- what- everyone- else- is’ image.

Fine, show a pretty woman, naked woman in the right context – (on a planet we’re not viciously oppressed). As with the virgin airline ad there’s a glimmer of it trying to be sexist. I would say PETA is actively exploiting sexism; as opposed to the old adage ‘sex sells’. Needless to say it sells to both genders, but this isn’t their point. Invisibilise a gender and you’re making another the more powerful and flattering it. They themselves look aggressive as opposed to whiny soft idiots who keep showing you a cute picture of a monkey.

Sexism is hip and the backlash against feminism as carried out in the mass media is also hip at the moment. They’re riding in on the waves! By pissing one group of people off, blacks, women – they look aggressive, higher up the ‘ad- chain’. Pushing people down to make themselves look big, what the school bully does; and what advertisements CAN do to sell things.

Sexism is one of the few remaining oppressions which is acceptable. Hundreds of women complain, but their complaints are laughed off as a nuissance. Ads just get away with it, maybe *under* pretences ‘sex sells’, but there’s darker water.

Further degrading women is like a symbol of power. What real men do and what women must secretly want (porn + patriarchy). We’ll speak out against it, but controversy only steps them up a game. This controversy is relevant to a time of relative confusion we’re experiencing, where men and women are now we’re effectively ‘equal’ (cough); and the backlash against women.

Adverts always exclude groups to sell something. The older market is cruelly cast out as a target so they can sell more to the hip and youthful. Adverts went a bit indie recently and excluded anyone who wasn’t in with the latest mullets and boringness. And likewise us feminists seem to be shat on lately, so PETA, virgin and the likes can swing with the dudes.

Sally // Posted 18 February 2009 at 9:59 pm

Personally, the part about the single sex school I find irritating is how, exactly, do they teach boys to interact with girls? Do they ship girls in for special lessons? Or teach the boys some techniques, suggesting all women can be won over in the same way? Either way, seems a bit sexist to me.

Mephit // Posted 19 February 2009 at 2:01 pm

Re. Ruth’s comment about “single-sex schools are the daily expression of the idea that boys and girls are so different from each other that it is harmful to their education to even share the same classrom”.

There’s evidence to say that boys actually do better academically in mixed classes, while girls do better in single sex ones. This is partly because teachers (perhaps unconsciously) focus far more on boys in mixed classes, paying them more attention. When attention is deliberately divided equally, boys start to complain that attention is actually unfairly divided in the girls’ favour!

FruitSalad // Posted 23 February 2009 at 12:58 pm

Hi Louise,

With all due respect – it wasn’t clear to me (and I may have been missing something) that you were commenting on the *way the model was presented*. I know you weren’t personally attacking her, but ‘moppet’ and ‘bimbo’ type comments do feed into the dismissive way society treats girls and women who present as stereotypically ‘feminine’, especially blonde ones, as airheads, and you did seem to be implying that those girls and women are somehow objectifying themselves – i.e. it seemed a comment on them in the real world, not on the ad.

I’ll certainly give that a read, thanks. I just found it hard to read something that seemed to say women make false rape accusations. I wasn’t accusing you of being unfeminist, just commenting on this. I can see you were responding to Jennifer Drew’s comment and meant it in that context, but something in me still went ‘hang on a minute’. As for that, I’m sure she can speak for herself, but I don’t think Jennifer Drew meant to minimise racism, more to say that the PETA campaign is both racist and sexist – which it is. I read her point as being that back at the time the KKK was very active in the US, and yes I know racism still exists now OK, but at that time women were little more than the property of men. She’s saying that we have to remember that women lacked agency and status, with which I completely agree. Not that they were mere dupes or ‘flowers’, but just that they had limited agency. Fwiw, I wonder how many of these false accusations by women were to cover up willing sex with black men because she would have been killed or beaten for doing that, by MEN – her father or brother (or husband, not justifying cheating but strikes me that reaction is a little disproportionate. Or perhaps women making false rape accusations at the urging of male.

I mean, not saying that was *all* cases or that it’s OK to make false rape accusations, but it’s complex. We have to remember that men viewed women as their property, and heartily encouraged black men to be wrongly accused of rape, not because of concern for the woman involved,

I’m not saying the women had *no* responsibility, I’m saying it’s mitigated somewhat. Women have far more agency today (in ‘western’ societies) , so I’m not saying this about today, either. And no, women aren’t uninvolved in other power structures than gender, of course.

That said, black men aren’t uninvolved in that gender power structure, i.e. are involved in the oppression of women.

I don’t think I’m responsible for things that happened in history, when I wasn’t even born (hell, my grandparents weren’t born) then. Would you argue, and again, I mean this as a genuine question, that German people today are responsible for Nazi atrocities, even when they weren’t even born? And I’d certainly argue that they should be aware of that history, and sensitive to it; as white people should be with racism. I certainly learned something about the history of racism, and I genuinely will read about this false rape charge thing, and I try not to be racist; but I think that’s all I can do.

Louise Livesey // Posted 23 February 2009 at 1:21 pm

I am not going to argue about the “moppet” phrase, we don’t always get it right, that was probably wrong of me, I was referring to her construction within the advert and meant no offense to other blonde people (including myself).

On rape accusations – some women do make false rape accusations and I say that as a campaigner and researcher in the field of sexual violence against women. We have to face facts that it’s not an either/or situation – the false report rates seem, according to the best research, to be at a lower level than other false reports but they still happen. That said they are disproportionately punished as well and it’s seemingly easier to claim “false allegation” and prosecute the woman than investigate and prosecute the rape case in the UK at the moment!

I don’t think we should seek to excuse white women’s racist behaviour in the same way I don’t think we should seek to excuse black men’s sexist behaviour. And I’m not diminishing the individual and social pressures on women (some of whom, for example, almost certainly claimed rape after consensual sexual activity with black men) and yes white men were also involved in that but white women are not somehow exemption from examining their racist pasts. Arguing but “black men can be sexist” isn’t a response to the fact which women were actively involved in racist activities in all sorts of whats. Its a bad ally in the struggle who’d point to behaviour of the oppressed to justify behaviour of the privileged. On the specific cases – read the Bourke book, it offers answers to your wondering in a well-considered way.

Nowhere did I argue white women alive today are responsible for the actions of their antecedents (in the same way I wouldn’t argue that the majority of German women today are responsible for the deaths in the Holocaust). But as a “white” woman I do acknowledge that I daily benefit from white privilege and that has historical roots, I acknowledge that because I hope to be an ally in the struggle against racism and that involves acknowledging the ways in which I benefit from it.

FruitSalad // Posted 23 February 2009 at 2:21 pm

Thanks for the response. No worries about the blonde thing – it was only my opinion.

‘On rape accusations – some women do make false rape accusations and I say that as a campaigner and researcher in the field of sexual violence against women.’ Of course they do, I didn’t mean to deny that either.

‘That said they are disproportionately punished as well and it’s seemingly easier to claim “false allegation” and prosecute the woman than investigate and prosecute the rape case in the UK at the moment!’ Absolutely! It is enraging, isn’t it? And that was the context I read your comment in, I now realise that may have been a mistake.

‘I don’t think we should seek to excuse white women’s racist behaviour in the same way I don’t think we should seek to excuse black men’s sexist behaviour.’ Agreed.

‘And I’m not diminishing the individual and social pressures on women (some of whom, for example, almost certainly claimed rape after consensual sexual activity with black men) and yes white men were also involved in that but white women are not somehow exemption from examining their racist pasts.’ No, I wasn’t saying we are.

‘Arguing but “black men can be sexist” isn’t a response to the fact which women were actively involved in racist activities in all sorts of whats. Its a bad ally in the struggle who’d point to behaviour of the oppressed to justify behaviour of the privileged.’

Perhaps I wasn’t clear. I was in no way saying that to justify racism. I simply meant that black men have male privelege, while not having white privelege, in the same way that white women have white privelege but not male privelege.

‘On the specific cases – read the Bourke book, it offers answers to your wondering in a well-considered way.’ I’ll definitely do that.

‘Nowhere did I argue white women alive today are responsible for the actions of their antecedents (in the same way I wouldn’t argue that the majority of German women today are responsible for the deaths in the Holocaust).’ Thanks for clarifying – I read ‘we must take responsibility for that history’ as meaning that, perhaps wrongly.

‘But as a “white” woman I do acknowledge that I daily benefit from white privilege and that has historical roots, I acknowledge that because I hope to be an ally in the struggle against racism and that involves acknowledging the ways in which I benefit from it.’ Sure, as do I (and I acknowledged the ways in which white women still do benefit from it in the case of rape in my original post; I also hope I acknowledge other ways).

Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds