Weekly round-up and open thread (14-20 December)

// 20 December 2010


It’s that time of the week again for flagging up the material we didn’t get around to covering in detail on the blog but want to let you know about. As ever, we’re just sharing links to articles that we think may be of interest (or were of interest to us!) and don’t necessarily agree with every viewpoint expressed in the posts listed.

Please feel free to add more relevant links or comment on any of the pieces linked below!

Helena Kennedy joins Julian Assange’s defence team (The Guardian)

Feministing calls to make December “Decembrow”

New study debunks research suggesting abortion leads to mental health problems (Guttmacher Institute)

Washington Post piece on the above study


Meredith Tax: Women have human rights too (The Guardian)

UKuncut guest post on lone protests against tax avoiders (by Bryony Evens, who staged a one woman protest in Topshop on on 4 December)

Women question the unusual zeal in pursuing Julian Assange for rape allegations (Women Against Rape)

Stem Cell Transplant appears to have cured someone of HIV

(Huffington Post)

Do you use Boy Words or Girl Words? Or the other words, but I can’t amember them. (thoughtsonblank)

Wik-Bee Leaks: EPA Document Shows It Knowingly Allowed Pesticide That Kills Honey Bees (Fast Company)

Student protests may be banned altogether if violence continues (The Independent)

A landmark for women’s rights in Ireland? (The Anti-Room)

Pictures of Diana and Charles indicative of the manufacture of men’s greater height (The Society Pages)

Government to press ahead with radical NHS reform plans (BBC News)

Measuring the value of culture: a report to the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS)

Filament readers review Salacious, a new feminist queer sex magazine

MooreAndMe: On Progressives, Rape Apologism, and the Little Guy (Tigerbeatdown)

Rape Apologist Bingo, Julian Assange Edition (Lightbox)

WikiLeaks inspires feminine hygiene billboards in Pakistan (KABOBfest via BoingBoing)

A new conversation: fat and health (Red No.3)

Charlie Swinbourne on criticisms of Cricketer Jimmy Anderson for taking paternity leave (The Guardian)

Judy Dench’s wonderful profane embroidery (Via Sarah Jaffe at champagnecandy and other Tumblrites)

Children write to Santa for basic needs instead of toys (USAToday)

Statement from Abortion Support Network on the disappointing ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on the challenge to Ireland’s abortion ban

Beyond Male and Female: The Biology of Who We Are (Daily Kos)

The link itself is from September but I’m told it seems to be picking up some commentary more recently. As has been mentioned, a well-illustrated anatomy lesson which also includes trans men and women is a rare thing so this is definitely worth a look.

Feminisnt: The feminist left vs Julian Asange: how a fanatical belief in every sex crime allegation hurts everyone

NB: The profile picture means this may not be suitable for workplace viewing

Addendum: As the title potentially indicates, this piece contains material that may be triggering

RH Reality Check on treating violence against sex workers as hate crime (to commemorate the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, December 17th, 2010)

Teresa Noll: The Sexual Politics of Meat Revisted (On the Issues Magazine)

First interviews from Women in Rock


Lonergrrrl: My feminism

The Onion’s ‘World’s 10 Most Powerful Women’ magazine cover

Captain SKA – “Liar Liar”

Captain Ska on “Liar Liar” (New Statesman)

Picture by Jorge Balarezo, shared on a Creative Commons licence.

Comments From You

Jennifer Drew // Posted 20 December 2010 at 8:57 pm

I wonder why pro-pornographer Feminisnt has her article on the Assange case included in this round-up. Feminisnt is another rape apologist and uses the same excuses/justifications as numerous other male rape apologists. She claims that yes rape is a terrible crime but then goes on to dismiss the two women who have charged Assange with rape. This is what Feminisnt says ‘Hysterics will no doubt claim that I’m defending rape or don’t take it seriously. On the contrary: I consider rape and sexual assault accusations to be so serious that they deserve extra consideration and yes, even questioning when it’s warranted. I think we’re obligated to turn a critical eye on potentially fraudulent allegations. As someone who recently sung the praises of vigilante justice, I’m clearly all in favor of exacting harsh physical and social revenge upon rapists, predators, and abusers – but if you’re going to do that to someone, you had better be sure.’

Oh we already know who is telling lies and who is telling the truth – men tell the truth and women always lie whenever a woman or women charge a male(s) with rape – because men never, ever commit rape against known women do they? Furthermore men are the only human beings who are supposedly capable of defining what is and is not rape. This is called male supremacy and Feminisnt is an ardent follower of male supremacy.

At least Tigerbeatdown’s article is feminist and yes Tigerbeatdown doesn’t presume Assange is guilty but Tigerbeatdown does focus on how all women survivors of mens’ sexual violence experience and are subjected to a barrage of misogynistic insults and claims the female survivor(s) is/are innate liars.

That is the issue not Feminsnt’s claim she supposedly knows what is and is not rape. Does Feminsnt have a crystal ball by chance? One which tells her ‘yes all men are truthful and if they say they are not rapists we must believe them.’ This is what male supremacy system and its adherents claim – that they know what is and is not rape and woe betide any woman who does not match 110% exactly the male-centric stereotype of an appropriate female rape survivor.

Furthermore why have a known pornographer’s blog linked to Weekly Round -Up? One might as well have all the right-wing male supremacist news articles linked in order to promote the claim fword is unbiased and objective in its coverage of Assange case. News flash – pornography is not feminist it never was, isn’t now and never will be – but that doesn’t prevent pseudo feminists from exploiting feminism and using it to promote male supremacy.

Re: Beyond Female and Male (yes I’ve changed heading because it is not always male first and female second) intersex individuals must be delighted to learn they are in fact ‘trans women and men!’ Intersex individuals have consistently stated they are not ‘trans women or trans men’ but that does not prevent transsexuals and their advocates from ignoring intersex individuals’ rightful complaints.

News flash Beyond Female and Male mixed up their sex and gender terms because this article was supposedly discussing human sex characteristics not the social construction of gender.

Gender means how a biological female and a biological male is supposed to enact ‘femininity and masculinity’ because female human beings are supposedly innately inferior to male human beings and gender is used to ensure female human beings do not trespass on so-called male defined territory – e.g. science and technology.

Sex characteristics refers to a human being’s anatomy and wherein male humans have different sex anatomy to female human beings. Sigh!

polly // Posted 20 December 2010 at 9:06 pm

I have no idea whether or not Julian Assange is guilty of rape, and neither does anyone else. He hasn’t been through a criminal process yet.

The problem with second guessing any legal process and saying the accusations against him are not credible/politically motivated OR that they are true is the same for BOTH sides of the argument. Why not wait for a trial?

It is just as bad to decide he is innocent in advance, as it it to decide he is guilty in advance.

If this is all a cunning plot to get Assange, I have to say though, it’s a pretty poor one. It wouldn’t, as far as I know, be any easier for the US to extradite Assange from Sweden than it would be from the UK (I’m willling to be corrected on that if anyone has any better knowledge of the relative legal situations in the two countries). And given the international publicity surrounding him, it’s not exactly likely the USA are going to get away with just imprisoning him without trial, is it?

kinelfire // Posted 20 December 2010 at 10:20 pm

I love the Liar Liar and would download it, though Osbourne and Clegg randomly shuffling on my iPod would probably make me want to smash something. Like the Government.

Horry // Posted 20 December 2010 at 10:43 pm

There are some great links here, but is that to Feminisnt’s “The feminist left vs Julian Assange” intended as some kind of weird counterbalance to “Rape apologist bingo”? Just in case, I don’t know, actually being a feminist suddenly seems a bit too judgemental and one-sided? The problem with the former article isn’t anything to do with the author’s photo (although that said, someone with neatly trimmed pubes on an otherwise well-shaven body hardly deserve the title Furry Girl… ). The real problem, though, is stupid statements like “Women are generally given free passes given free passes to control, abuse, and seek vengeance that they would never be allowed if they were men” and the characterisation of those who accuse Assange of rape as “dangerous scoundrels who cry wolf just to get back at an ex” or “Swedish ladyfriends” upset because “he wasn’t looking to settle down and marry them”. This is a really extreme piece in response to what, as far as I can see, is not a mass of feminists confidently asserting that Assange is a rapist who doesn’t deserve a fair trial, rather (too few) feminists raising concern at the universal rape myths being trotted out in relation to Assange by people who wouldn’t otherwise call on them. I know this is a complex case, but if it’s so important to balance out reasoned feminist critique with misogynist diatribe, perhaps just linking to the Daily Mail at the end of every Weekly round-up would save time?

Kath // Posted 20 December 2010 at 11:20 pm

I’m surprised by the Abortion Support Network’s response to the ECtHR ruling. Most pro-choice campaigners here saw it as an incredibly positive thing. Finally the government will have to legislate to provide for abortions when women’s lives are at risk (including risk of suicide) as was ruled their right under the Irish constitution by the Irish Supreme Court almost 18 years ago. The European court did in fact comment on the hardship caused to the other two applicants but a majority of judges did not find their human rights had been violated (6 of them did). The fight’s not over, there’s still a long way to go but it’s a step on the way.

Kath // Posted 20 December 2010 at 11:35 pm

Obviously I understand the point of view of the ASN as they’re based in London, helping women who travel for an abortion, mostly through choice, not terminal illness. And these women should be entitled to abortion in Ireland too. But in Ireland we’ve been waiting so long for this, we knew we’d never get anywhere without legislation for the X case and now we might finally get it. It’s the start you see.

orlando // Posted 21 December 2010 at 12:20 am

That “Feminisnt” post is very disturbing. Please only go in if you are braced for some candid rape apologism.

JenniferRuth // Posted 21 December 2010 at 9:06 am

The Feminisnt link could do with a warning for victim blaming. Some of that was quite an unpleasant read :(

sianushka // Posted 21 December 2010 at 9:44 am

Decembrow? pah! i have never taken a pair of tweezers to my brows. they have always remained au natrel.

the comments under the women and human rights piece are awful. full of ‘what about the men-nery’ seemingly ignoring that a what about teh menz attitude is what is fuelling the ICC’s disregard for rape as a war crime. they see justice as something for men, not women. so, in fact, the cry should be ‘what about the women’. it’s so ignorant! and so boring…

Holly Combe // Posted 21 December 2010 at 11:31 am

@Jennifer Drew. With regard to the Beyond Male and Female piece, I personally tend to use “women and men/female and male” as my first default, in order to make the same elementary point you do here. It was written in that way in the round-up list on this site to accurately reflect the title used by Daily Kos (hence the italics).

Like the bloggers here, I think most F-word readers will be fully aware of the difference between sex and gender. I also find your comment about the identities of intersex individuals not being respected by “transsexuals and their advocates” rather generalising and needlessly disparaging. I don’t want this thread to be used as an excuse to frame trans people as calculating inconveniences to feminism so I’m not going to publish any more comments along those lines.

I am also not going to turn this round-up thread into a divisive debate about pornography as a whole. (For the record, I still don’t agree with your sweeping statement about it.) However, I will say I think there is a massive difference between including a link from a woman with past connections to feminism who continues to fight for sex workers’ rights and linking to “right-wing male supremacist news articles”. @Horry. I agree with the points you make in criticism of the Feminisnt piece -part of my reason for the disclaimer you’ll see at the top of the post- but made the decision to include it nonetheless because I still thought it was relevant. All members of the blogging collective contribute links for the round-up post and, though I can’t speak for the colleague who alerted me to the link, I imagine she did too.

@Sianushka. Bravo to that! I managed not to pluck my eyebrows for years and can honestly say it was something I didn’t even think about, but I started looking at my face more closely a few years ago when I developed a skin condition. Predictably, the stray hairs ended up getting zapped. I think Feministing highlight a good point here and I’m pleased to see it’s all about “a cause of your choice”, as this means the cause can be smashing the beauty myth! (I spoke about this on the radio last week but I don’t think the programme’s available anymore.)

Holly Combe // Posted 21 December 2010 at 12:06 pm

(To clarify my last point about “smashing the beauty myth” as the potential cause itself… I say this because I tend to agree with criticisms of memes, actions and campaigns that claim to “raise awareness” of an important cause such as Cancer prevention, while barely doing any such thing.)

Sarah // Posted 21 December 2010 at 12:41 pm

I’m with Horry on the Feminisnt post. I haven’t seen any evidence of a feminist outcry against Assange (unless you count some valid points about not throwing out a rape allegation before it’s gone to trial.). A lot of her post made me really uncomfortable (especially “Women are generally given free passes given free passes to control, abuse, and seek vengeance that they would never be allowed if they were men”. Uh… huh?).

Keeping an open mind means just that. It’s easily done without making slanderous comments about the girls involved.

Julie // Posted 21 December 2010 at 11:56 pm

I believe the right of Wikileaks to publish articles exposing the US/UK military should be absolutely defended. The rape allegations are a separate issue, and we must not jump to any conclusions.

If I may I would like to include a link to an interesting article from the website ‘Lenins Tomb’:


sianushka // Posted 22 December 2010 at 9:05 am

Julie, i agree with wikileaks as a website, and its right to publish should be defended. my issue is that many of the left wing have decided in advance of the trial that because assange runs wikileaks, he cannot be guilty of rape or sexual assault. they have decided to assume that it is an international conspiracy, and written off the allegations as absurd, overblown or a tizz, because they cannot comprehend that someone who does a good thing (wikileaks) can do a bad thing (rape).

Julie // Posted 23 December 2010 at 12:44 am

Allegations of rape should always be taken seriously and investigated, no matter whom the accused is.

And the accused, no matter whom they are, should always be entitled to a fair trial.

Helen // Posted 23 December 2010 at 7:42 am

I’m afraid I must take issue with Jennifer Drew’s comments about the ‘Beyond Male and Female’ link. My reading of Rei’s original post was that it was primarily concerned with anatomy, and not so much about socially constructed notions around sex and/or gender. From that perspective, I think it’s entirely relevant to those intersex people whose genital configurations are deemed unacceptably atypical (by a medical profession that acts as an arbiter of the cultural stereotypes of what’s generally meant by ‘male’ and ‘female’) and who go through enforced genital mutilation, often as babies or infants. *Nothing* to do with the old anti trans trope that we’re all just out to co-opt intersex people’s lives to our “cause”, whatever that may be. As I understand it, intersex is not about gender identity; it’s about fundamental human rights to bodily autonomy.

It seemed to me that the point being made by Rei was that *all* our anatomies, as human beings, have more similarities than differences, particularly in utero, and the post was something I found as informative as fascinating – and it certainly didn’t require what I would call an old-school feminist analysis being imposed upon it, any more than it required a particularly trans narrative to be overlaid. And Rei talks in depth about socially constructed elements elsewhere in other posts at HuffPo, which are easy enough to find from the original linked post.

Jennifer Drew // Posted 23 December 2010 at 10:21 am

It is routine for male supremacists to dismiss feminist voices as ‘making a sweeping statement’ and such claims are designed to silence women who oppose pornography and/or male domination over women in any shape or form.

For the record I did not make a ‘sweeping statement’ but I certainly raised the issue of why Fword considered it appropriate to link to a pseudo feminist and furthermore one who openly promotes porn. Of course porn in this pseudo feminist’s view is ‘fantasy’ and hence cannot possibly reinforce misogny or men’s common dismissal of women – because we unlike men are not human. Hence no human was harmed in the making of pornography!

Not going to open it up for debate? I was not attempting to do so – I was merely stating the fact fword are duplicitous by on the one hand claiming to be feminist and yet on the other opening promoting misogyny and male contempt for women.

Kat // Posted 23 December 2010 at 3:58 pm

It’s good to see that you’ve put up a note about the Feminisnt piece, as it was quite upsetting. I don’t see why it’s neccessary to give a platform to what is little more than a fairly mainstream victim-blaming perspective though. With the media and much of society the default response is to victim blame, to regard rape as “sex”, and to highlight false accusations… There’s hardly a culture of instant belief to combat -even on the left. The myth about how most rape accusations are false is already given enough airtime. No sensible person is realistically going to put themselves through publicly presenting themselves as a survivor if they are not, considering the degree of character assination enacted upon accusers and the possible threat to personal safety that may result. That post was just yet more (triggering) rape apologism.

Holly Combe // Posted 23 December 2010 at 4:17 pm

@Jennifer. As a feminist involved with a site containing viewpoints from a variety of feminists, including those who oppose pornography, I actually find being compared to male supremacists who seek to “dismiss feminist voices” pretty offensive. I’d suggest saying such a thing is potentially silencing to the many feminists who do not share your viewpoint about porn.

News flash – pornography is not feminist it never was, isn’t now and never will be

I have to say I’m still struggling to see this as anything less than a sweeping statement. I know it’s inconvenient for some activists that there are feminists out there who aren’t against pornography as a whole but we exist and generalisations like the above are dismissive and monopolising. I admittedly don’t call out that sort of thing whenever I see it because I often have other priorities and, to be honest, I’d rather spend time finding common ground with feminists who I don’t agree with on that particular issue. For that reason, I still don’t want to turn this thread into a divisive debate about that subject but I think I’m entitled to refute an opinion that is stated as if it’s a fact when there are plenty of feminists who disagree.

I’d also like to point out that including a link to stimulate debate and discussion with a disclaimer saying we don’t necessarily agree with every viewpoint expressed in the posts listed is hardly “promoting misogyny and male contempt for women”. Indeed, valid criticisms of the piece have quite rightly been published. (I’d suggest the fact Feminisnt “promotes porn” is hardly the point.) That said, I am completely bemused by your assertion that Feminisnt somehow sees women as “not human”. I think I see the point you’re making about porn being framed as fantasy when it is actually real people involved in it but to make such a statement about Feminisnt -not to mention referring to her as a pseudo feminist when she doesn’t even identify as a feminist anymore anyway- seems like a bit of a leap to me.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 23 December 2010 at 5:11 pm

I haven’t read the Feminisnt link but I want to point out that The F Word has never had a ‘stance’ on porn either way and it has been that way since the very begining e.g.:


I’m still surprised that people still expect this website to take one view or another on this, and get angry when we don’t restrict our intepretation of feminism to a single viewpoint, when it’s obvious that feminists have many divergent views on pornography.

If this is ‘duplicitous’ then I’m afraid we’ve been this way for a very long time. I’m tired of continually pointing this out, and really, long-time readers of this website should know this by now.

Anyway, grump over, seasons greetings to you all!

sam // Posted 27 December 2010 at 6:19 pm

I haven’t read the Feminisnt link…”

Readers are pointing out that The F Word’s officially neutral feminist position on acquaintance rape is distressing. One woman is saying this is not unrelated to defending the production and sale of documentaries in which prostituted women being prostituted (some are raped, some aren’t, and it’s almost impossible to tell the difference.)

The neutral thing to do would be to take a few minutes off adamantly declaring The F Word’s prostitution neutrality and read The F Word posting that promotes rape apologism as legitimate feminism.

Holly Combe // Posted 28 December 2010 at 9:10 am

I don’t think any of the opinions expressed by the writers on this site over the years have been neutral about any kind of rape, so I think it’s preposterous to say the F-Word somehow has a neutral position on acquaintance rape, let alone an officially neutral one.

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