slemslempike: (discworld: Susan)
Last night I dreamt that Prince Charles had died. That doesn't appear to have happened, though Prince William did go to a shop on the Falklands.

Annie Lennox blames stridency for turning men off feminism. You can't tell whether it's her views, or the reporting of them, but I am, as ever, irritated with the idea that feminism's most pressing issue should be to think about how to include men, and that the reason men aren't included (aren't they?) is that feminist women are off-putting. Putting aside the urge to say GOOD, IT WEEDS OUT THE IDIOTS, there's never any analysis about if men (as a group) actually feel excluded, as opposed to uninterested, and if so, why that is, beyond an assumption that it must be something that feminists are doing wrong. It also occurs to me that Annie Lennox's assertion that she shouldn't have to hide her masculine side is at odds with her feeling that feminists need to be more welcoming and softer-spoken. He is forthright, she is strident. He is driven and focused on the issues, she is a man-hating harpy who should stop being so myopic and make sure that the men around her aren't made to feel uncomfortable.

Feminism should make privileged people feel uncomfortable (including privileged women). I am hard pressed to think of any social progress at all (if I may be excused a teleological flourish) that has been solely achieved by being nice and hoping people won't mind. It would be far more to the point to say that feminism (assuming that by feminism we mean mainstream Western feminism, as the media invariably does) should address the exclusion of people such as sex workers, working class, black, queer, and trans women, than that we should worry about men as a group.

Here's a very partial* list of sites and articles that do far more to address, and work to rectify, problems with mainstream feminism than people bleating about the poor excluded men.

http://blackfeminists.blogspot.com/
http://transfeminism.tumblr.com/
http://nefac.net/node/164 (bell hooks on class)
http://www.thescavenger.net/feminism-a-pop-culture/why-feminists-should-listen-to-sex-workers-732.html
http://queerfeminism.com/
http://www.grassrootsfeminism.net/cms/

* On account of I am at work without my usual bookmarks. Let us blame THE MAN and THE SYSTEM for keeping me down by not including "wittering on on livejournal" as part of my job description.
slemslempike: (Default)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12204525

Great - encouraging more fathers to take a primary carer role. It could be a really good move by the government to help change the way that childcare happens.


But:

1) "fathers will be able to share maternity leave with their wives" - Is it really only open to married couples? If so, that's appalling, and if not, the BBC should damn well know better than to write it.

2) "when she asked me I was more than happy to do it" - it's still presenting the responsibility for looking after babies as for women, who can choose to delegate it to (male) partner if they wish, rather than as a joint decision and responsbility. (Also that when his wife went back to work she wrote him loads of lists, so he didn't have the task of working out what to do - that's more of a handover thing, perhaps, but in context it grates.)

3) It's all about male/female probably married couples - can same-sex partners share? (I've also just realised that I don't know what happens for leave when the parents are men now, and whether this is something that could be improved.)
slemslempike: (discworld: Susan)
I got a copy of Letters to Ms. in Chicago, and bookmarked this letter to post, then forgot about it until now.

When I saw that in my spelling book they had "the Queen is the wife of a King," I got really mad. Even though I'm only nine years old, and only in the fourth grade, I've written five poems. One from the five I thought you might want to put in Ms. Here it is:

If you think I'm going to slave
in the kitchen for a man who is
supposed to be brave,
Then I'm sorry to say,
but you're wrong all the way,
Because I'm going to be an astronaut.


Anita Buzick III
Killeen, Texas
June 1975 issue


I like that very much. I hope that Anita kept writing poetry, and ended up doing something she loved.

Things

Sep. 5th, 2009 10:16 pm
slemslempike: (sharpe: whorse)
A link and a thought about men. )

And I like this poem: pick-up lines for feminists, which I saw linked in Bitch's feminist joke contest. (Sadly they have not yet got many good comments - I think the joke about waves is particularly poor, but I do like the masturbating one.) Anyone who says this:

your feet must be tired.
because you have been
running through my
mind and struggling
against the repressive
gender roles
that we have been
socialized into
all day.


to me is pretty much guaranteed a patriarchy-subverting consensual sexual encounter of a mutually satisfying nature to be determined through a fair and transparent system of democratic decision-making.

I went to the theatre in Manchester. )
slemslempike: (discworld: can't be having)
Further to Ellie Levenson's blanket approval of rape jokes, I really like this post by fugitivus about rape jokes. It's from a month or so ago, and I'm afraid I forget where I saw it being linked.

Victim-blaming poster campaign. )
slemslempike: (nemi: Angry Pike)
"My husband has a badge that he picked up from the Fawcett Society, an organisation that promotes equality between men and women. It says 'real men are feminists'. I love him for having it - maybe that's why he got it in the first place - but I'd probably be embarrassed if he wore it in public."

I hated this book.

Some of you may have seen Ellie Levenson's post on the f-word, where she says that in-fighting harms feminism, and we should all just get along. (She also says that she's deliberately baited other feminists with whom she disagrees in order to get publicity for her book, but apparently we shouldn't let that bother us.) Someone in the comments (the comments are great, you should read them if you haven't yet) pointed out that her entire post reads like an attempt to pre-emptively stall any criticism of her book. If I'd written this book I'd be frantically trying to raise the shields too - if I had to sum it up in one word, it would be "facile". But I don't have to sum it up in one word, so I've written five thousand. (Don't judge me - I've had a lot of work to not do this week.)

The Noughtie Girl's Guide to Feminism is written to try and make all women call themselves feminists. However, I don't know why Levenson wants women to call themselves feminists - in order to make feminism palatable to her imagined audience, she strips it of all meaning. Feminism is "what you want it to be", and any choice is a feminist choice as long as you think it's okay. She does have some understanding of material inequalities, talking about the pay gap and a few other things, but she doesn't really talk about how these come to be, so there's no analysis of what might be the causes. It's a bit like the cargo cult*1 thing - she sees the problems, but misses out large stages, so she thinks it will be solved if everyone calls themselves feminist. She is at great pains to say that you don't have to think anything in particular to be a feminist, you don't, in fact, have to think at all *2.

Long. Ranty. Some swearing. )

I should point out that the very last chapter of the book is "Forward Feminism", where activism is actually suggested. These are mostly, again, very individualistic options (and, in some cases, contradict what she's been saying in the rest of the book). But, in fairness, she does try to suggest somewhere to go with feminism once she's redefined it almost out of existence. And that's what most frustrates me with this book. It's the first UK based popular feminist book of its kind since 1999 (when Natasha Walter's The New Feminism was published), and it covers important topics, and could have been used to help young women work out what they want from life, and how and if feminism was something that could be a useful tool. But it doesn't. And I feel, somewhat irrationally, perhaps, betrayed.

The standard response to any criticism is "well, why don't you do better". For a start, I don't think that I could write a particularly good book about feminism for young women, and in any case, I procrastinate enough already. But more than that, I think that this is the only sort of book about feminism that would get published and marketed widely (it seems to be in a promotion in Waterstones). I do not think that there is a huge secret conspiracy against feminism (I think it's out in the open), but, as I understand it, people publish books that will make them money. It is easier to sell a book that is utterly unchallenging, that dismisses a political position that the media already finds distasteful, that promotes rather than dismantles stereotypes, and that may as well be a generic women's magazine. I won't quite go as far as saying that I would rather give a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid, but I do think that this book is not helping anyone.

*1 I was concerned about using this as a reference, because I think it gets brought into discussions in ways that are distinctly dodgy, but then I realised that as if I, as a feminist, decide that the choice I want is to use it, then it is ergo a feminist choice!!!
*2 I think that there is a great deal of pressure on young women to work on themselves, to act in certain ways and to achieve (there's lots about this in girlhood studies - Anita Harris's work is excellent), and that feminism can be a contributing factor to these pressures. But there is ALSO pressure not to criticise things, especially as a feminist, and Levenson pays no attention to this.
slemslempike: (feminsm: Girl Power)
I've been reading Dale Carlson's Girls are Equal Too, an American feminism-for-teenagers book from 1973. While it talks a lot about structural and material discriminations, its focus is mostly on highlighting how gender is constructed, and that the innate rubbishness of girls is not actually a fact.

While it's perfectly true that you have excellent legs for standing or running on and an able mind to think with, avoid using them at all costs. Use only the hands, to clap with. And when you get tired of clapping for your boyfriend or eventually your husband, don't worry. You can always have sons and clap for them. (Not your daughters, however. Remember, they, too, have to learn to be stupid, inferior, and passive.)

Some vague half-thoughts. )

Girls are Equal Too is the earliest feminism-for-teenagers book I've looked at so far. My favourite, probably, is Feminism for Girls: An Adventure Story, a British collection from 1981.

Feminism for Girls: An Adventure Story. )



I'm not aware of any particular youth texts from pre-second wave eras at all. They really form a key part of later feminisms, proliferating in the 1990s, and starting to be written much more by actual girls/young women instead of by older women.

I didn't ever read a book like this when I was growing up, and I don't think I know of anyone who became interested in feminism in this way. Conversations with people on lj mostly seem to have people reading things like The Female Eunuch or The Second Sex, rather than anything particularly for young people. I don't really know how useful/effective I think they are - if there is actually a need for what are essentially recruitment/evangelical texts. I certainly have problems with how they try to sell feminism to people, and what is considered acceptable to jettison in order to have a smooth, glossy mass-market appeal.
slemslempike: (books: slemslempike)
A Good School - Richard Yates
Sit-down Comedy: Stand-ups Swap the Stage for the Page - Malcolm Hardee and John Fleming
Rearview Mirror - Caroline B Cooney
Sand Trap - Caroline B Cooney
Size Fourteen is Not Fat Either - Meg Cabot

February books, spoilers for most of them. Anger for one. )
slemslempike: (feminism: body is a battleground)
Virtually every time I read an article on the f-word, think "my word, that's a pile of crap" and click through to comments, it turns out to have been written by Abby O'Reilly. Today's was no exception:

Why Facebook's photographic stance is actually perfectly reasonable and in no way anti-breastfeeding.

In particular, I was irritated by the ways she starts out by saying that she doesn't upload photographs of her own naked breasts that she's taken, which leads into the justification that therefore nursing mothers shouldn't upload pictures of their breasts. I hadn't actually been aware of the thing about facebook no-breastfeeding stance. FFS. I am also heartily sick of feminist writing taking a pretence at "reasonableness" and objectivity when actually it's just ill-thought through bullshit.
slemslempike: (Default)
I found this site linked through Hoyden About Town.

Two further things I hated are:

1. "Our bras are designed to position the breasts halfway between the shoulder and the elbow, which is what clothing designers intended."

Yes. Definitely the solution to this problem of clothes not fitting is for bodies to fit the whims of the designers, not to encourage designers to recognise that there is no one body size and shape and maybe there could be a broader range of fits and styles.

2. "You cannot slouch in our bras."

I DO NOT WANT CLOTHES IN WHICH I CANNOT SLOUCH. I like slouching. I know it's not "attractive", (and probably makes clothing designers really mad) but that doesn't say "comfort" to me, it says "constricting".


Our windows are in. But I don't have a curtain rail anymore, something to do with the supports being too brittle. Which is fine, we can get a new one. But I don't know how to put it up and I'm worried I'll do it wrong and it will all break.
slemslempike: (feminism: body is a battleground)
Last night Jen and I watched The Sex Education Show, mostly because it was there. As a result I've just emailed a complaint in to Channel 4, because the show featured a panellist saying that a young woman was "laying herself open to sexual assault" because she had multiple partners*. And no-one challenged it, in fact it was presented as known fact that this was some sort of side-effect that naturally arose from sexual contact. I hate making comments/complaints about sexual assault to programmes because every time I've done it so far I get a response saying that I am clearly over-reacting. Which I am not. I had half thought that I might avoid this by just mentioning it on the TV questionnaire thing I do for GfK, but they didn't give me a write-in box.

Other things that were bad:
The presenter was unbelievably annoying. I realise that she's attempting to go for the pal-y, everywoman thing and is therefore asking questions of the family planning nurses etc that she knows are obvious, but she sounded like an absolute moron. SHE PRETENDED NEVER TO HAVE HEARD OF KEGEL EXERCISES. And then she tested them by wearing high heels for a few days and claiming that it was a lie because she hadn't noticed any benefits. Even I know that exercise doesn't work that quickly.

When they did a run-down of contraceptive options for women, they said that there were 13 (? can't remember the exact number) possibilities, but only told us about the top five (by usage), which were implant, injection, coil, condoms, and pill. Then the presenter idiot said that because the vast majority of women used the pill and condoms, they clearly didn't know about things like the diaphragm, rather than, say, HAVING MADE AN INFORMED CHOICE NOT TO USE IT. Also - condoms are likely to be so high because they prevent STIs. They also didn't discuss any of the side effects and problems of hormonal contraception even a little bit.

When the aforementioned young woman was talking about her sexual history, they never once asked her if she'd enjoyed herself. Because that's IMMATERIAL. They did, however, bring in a friend of hers to judge her on television, and the friend bought along a boy who explained to us that obviously men would sleep with a woman who was promiscuous, but they'd never go out with her, because those are the unassailable, unchangeable, FACTS. The best way to stop girls being called slags is by them not being sexually active, not by changing attitudes.

It was, predictably, incredibly heteronormative. Still, next week they apparently have a young woman discussing her bisexuality. Unfortunately, I suspect the presenter may well use it for a discussion about "ooh, do you think you really can like boys and girls".

Things that were good:
There was a woman from the family planning association who was quite great about abortion. THAT WAS IT. THE REST OF IT WAS TERRIBLE.


*The young woman herself was not happy about her sexual history, and I am not saying that she should have been fine about it. But the whole discussion around it centred on multiple partners as the problem, rather than her emotional issues or lack of condom use. As we all know, only having sex with one man is a sure-fire route to emotional security and sexual well-being!
slemslempike: (x: underwater penguin)
The film festival is on! I didn't manage to book everything I wanted, but I'm hopeful that some of the things I missed might be in the best of the fest on Sunday and I might be able to get tickets then instead. I have a block of tickets for things that mostly I don't recall the synopses for. I can only hope that I made good choices, and have a pleasant surprise waiting for me when I get to the cinemas.

First of all I went to see Milky Way Liberation Front. )

The next day I saw The Wackness. )

After a short break I went to see Pageant. )

Today (Sunday), I went to see Jules et Jim. )

After that, I went to see Alone in Four Walls. )

Now I have a break in films until later in the week, when I am seeing Dummy, Love and Other Crimes, A Film With Me In It, Transsiberian and Princess of Nebraska. I am feeling that I would like to see more documentaries though, so I'll probably see what else is on and what I can fit in. [Bah! For two of the films I missed out on (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Stone of Destiny are part of best of the fest, but they clash, and I will have to Decide.]

It's just as well that the film festival's on at the moment, because there is NOTHING on television. It's appalling. I can't believe how much of a difference freeview makes. And, I suppose, going to bed at a reasonable hour. Although earlier I caught the middle bit of some property show or other, and the voiceover said "so, we need an office for [the man] and a big kitchen for [the woman]", and I grumped quietly to myself, but then decided that this was unreasonable, as sure, they'd chosen a traditional gender roles couple, but if that's what they wanted then fine, BUT THEN, not five minutes later, the presenter man said "so, who does the cooking?" and IT WAS THE MAN. Perhaps they decided that it sounded unbalanced to have two rooms for him, but more likely it was hideous gender fascism at work yet again. Women like kitchens! Men do not like kitchens! I bet he doesn't want an office at all, they just forced it upon him in case he had any dangerously modern ideas about actually spending time with his eventual children. Anyway, it turned out that what she really yearned for was an upstairs bathroom, so they could have had that in there instead. Or are bathrooms too unisex?

Also I have a new icon. It is my tattoo underwater, and [livejournal.com profile] humanfemale took the picture.
slemslempike: (Default)
Earlier this week I read an article called 'An unusual pessary of dough and cocaine'. I thought that this was pretty much going to be the pinnacle of my article-reading day. Not so. In the same issue of that very journal:

Might not be work safe, depending on your work... )


Other stuff )
slemslempike: (x: Raised Eyebrow)
From the pen of Dr Alexander Gunn, author of The Privileged Adolescent: An outline of the physical and mental problems of the student society, published by the Medical and Technical Publishing Co, in 1970.

I have so far only read the chapter on "Sex on the campus", because that is naturally what interested me in the first place. Here, we learn that, on university campuses:
"promiscuity (OED = 'indiscriminate mixture') as by definition girls who cohabit with more than one partner in, say, any one year, is agin less than 1 per cent. Indeed, promiscuity in the sense of the girl who 'sleeps around' is seen by university physicians as a sign and symptom of psychological disturbance - the girl is invariably, quite severely emotionally disturbed and her sexual behaviour is but one aspect of her illness." (35)


Then there is "a detailed survey carried out by the author" in which "an attempt was made to definte the social and psychological attitudes of those female students who were...regular users of the 'pill'." (35-36) I bet he carried that survey out. I bet it was very detailed indeed. Perhaps a phone survey, with most of the questions replaced by heavy breathing.

"With regard to domicile, it does not seem to make any significant difference as to whether the girl lives in lodgings, hostel or flat as to whether she uses an oral contraceptive or not." (37)

My god! They'll do it anywhere!

And, finally, I regret to inform you that "[there] is no satisfaction to be had from promiscuity beyond the spinal reflexes" (41) NONE WHATSOEVER. (Yes, I know what he means by spinal reflexes. But it amuses me to suppose that he doesn't. Also he says that these spinal reflexes are "rare" in young women.)


I wish this counted as work.
slemslempike: (discworld: can't be having)
A little bit ago [livejournal.com profile] nineveh_uk posted about The Faber Book of Blue Verse, and I liked the poems she posted so much I went and got myself a copy.

I found it an odd read. It's not a collection of erotic verse - the blurb calls it "candidly sexual literature", and says that the collection features work which "demonstrated humankind's touching, tender, ribald, coarde and technically adept explorations of that perennially fascinating subject - sex".

There are a couple of poems I really liked, and lots that made me laugh. Some I found very jarring though. There are quite a few poems that are about rape, some overtly ('Rape' by Tom Pickard), some less so. The collection opens with 'Eskimo Nell', which I didn't know, and which has a man shoot a woman through the vagina in an attempt to kill her. I was feeling pretty angry about this, because I felt that a collection that purported to be about sex ought to be about consensual acts rather than sexual violence. Thinking about it though, I think that as its not erotic, it's more blurred and perhaps should include a broader collection of experiences than I first thought.

Then I realised that this thing that bothers me is that it's all one sided. There are only poems about the experiences of rapists - there is nothing comparable about the experience of women, or men, who have been raped or sexually assaulted. So "blue", which implies something playful, something designed to offend people but make other people laugh, can encompass the experiences of being the one who assaults, but the experiences of those who are assaulted are not admitted, as this might undermine the whole thing. Ugh. I'm not explaining this very well, it went much better when I was thinking about it in bed. I should never have got up.

The closet the collection comes is 'the thing you'll like best' by Zoë Fairbairns )

I really, really like that.

I also liked Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's response to Jonathan Swift's The Lady's Dressing-Room, which is The Reasons That Induced Dr Swift to Write a Poem Called 'The Lady's Dressing-Room', which ends:

'She answered short, I'm glad you'll write.
You'll furnish paper when I shite.
'
slemslempike: (girlsown: seven sisters)
I finished reading Sally Mitchell's The New Girl today, and thought I would post two of the illustrations from the book.

The first is an illustration from a 1910 story in Girls' Home, called "Handsome Harry, the Girl-Man", in which "Harriet Nash is fired for resisting the manager's sexual harassment and is unable to find another job. Discouraged, hungry, looking for something to pawn, she pulls out the box that her brother left behind when he went to sea. Nothing but clothes...Oh! With her brother's wardrobe and her hair chopped off, she discovers that life is much more pleasant. She enjoys freedom of movement, the absence of insults from men, a very good job as a trollyey driver, and some healthy competition with her workmates in an athletic club."

Handsome Harry, the Girl-Man )

The second is a Punch cartoon celebrating Agnata Frances Ramsay's 1887 achievement of being the only candidate to get first class in Cambridge's Classical tripos. I had seen it before, and it's nice to see it again. It crops up in the book as part of a discussion including Philippa Garrett Fawcett's "above the Senior Wrangler" moment in 1890. Mitchell also notes that fictional retellings often lessen her acheivement, because it's just too fantastical to repeat straight off.

First Class Ladies )

Also, I didn't watch Dawn Goes Lesbian, but Jen did and I am vicariously disgusted. Anna Pickard at the Guardian watched it too, and had a similar response.


Last night we went out to the Meeting House restaurant, which we hadn't tried before, to celebrate Alice's being a dancer of distinction. The food was wonderful. I had cod fishcakes with chili sauce and pickled leaves to start, then pheasant-breast on mash with small squares of black pudding and a red wine sauce, and their carrots were lovely too. Mmmm food.
slemslempike: (x: orders not to move)
I've been looking at Viola's Bookshelf, which I saw linked at Hoyden About Town. It's a project where they take (publicly available) fiction and swap the genders. I've seen various things like it before, but mostly short snippets rather than full length fiction. It's a really interesting way of making the implicit assumptions of gender more apparent.

I was especially taken with this:

Sam had two giant chocolate labs and a very, very patient boyfriend named Laurie who’d put up with anything except being dragged around Dolores Park at 6 a.m. by 350 pounds of drooling canine.

Sam reached for his Mace as Alex jogged toward him, then did a double take and threw his arms open, dropping the leashes and trapping them under his sneaker. “Where’s the rest of you? Dude, you look hot!”


compared with this:

Alex sleepily mashed the keys on the laptop next to her bed, bringing the screen to life. She squinted at the flashing toolbar clock: 4:13 a.m.! Christ, who was pounding on her door at this hour?

She shouted, “Coming!” in a muzzy voice and pulled on a robe and slippers. She shuffled down the hallway, turning on lights as she went. At the door, she squinted through the peephole to find Sam staring glumly back at her.


Having it a normative assumption that male Sam will taken mace as a matter of course when walking his dogs, and be so alert for the possibilities of assault that he automatically reaches for it when there is a woman around, suggests that it's a "bad" neighbourhood. But it isn't, it's a normal neighbourhood, and it's the normal precaution that many women take. And then female Alex, rather than worrying about noises in the early hours of the morning, or trying to make it seem that she's not alone, is able to go to the door alone and without fear.

(I'm not saying that all women have these behaviours, but that they are not unusual, and that especially in fictional representations of women's lives, are often assumed to be necessary.)

I was also taken with this passage:

“Lass gets back to her hotel room after a brutal day of campaigning door to door, fires up her laptop, and types ’hot asses’ into her search bar. Big deal, right? The way we see it, for that to disqualify a good woman from continuing to serve her country is just un-American.”

I'll be interested to see the other stuff they do.



The fear thing reminds me of the things I didn't like about Being Human. It bothered me that the victims we saw were female - fairly traditional shots of eroticised female fear. We see the vampire killing/vampirising a woman, when the werewolf changes for the second time his ex-girlfriend is in danger of being eaten by him, and she has previously been assaulted by her boyfriend. There's also the woman in the bar who meets the vampire, and I felt uncomfortable about her representation, because along with the vampirised woman, she doesn't know that she's in danger, and it plays into the idea that women must always feel fear, and if they don't then they're responsible for the consequences. The ghost is the only one of the three supernatural beings who is not shown putting anyone in danger, and more than that, there is the suggestion (I thought) that she herself had been killed by her boyfriend. Also - why are all (or mostly - there was one whom I thought could potentially have been being not-male) the vampires at their meeting male? Either they're mostly going around siring men, in which case it was an even odder thiing that they opened with him biting a woman, or the women aren't allowed to attend the meetings. (Although if they're halfway as annoying as the portrayal of the bitten woman who shows up later as a vampire, perhaps I should be thankful. You can tell she feels more powerful as a vampire because she's acting more sexily.)

Shoes

Jan. 16th, 2008 04:41 pm
slemslempike: (b5: spiders)


The F Word just linked to this Harvey Nicks ad. It is obviously vile in many ways. It plays to a very specific discourse of femininity, it makes the men into headless pieces of meat, the sole black man is second from last desirable, the shoes are UGLY...

But the part that really annoys me is that THERE IS NO LINE. We are meant to infer that it goes up to the right, but really, it could be opposite, or squiggly or zig-zag, or any such scientific term. But it is not showing us anything. And people are goig to use this to say "oh, silly women, you're getting all het up over nothing, the ad isn't saying that trainers make you undesirable or that fat men are automatically ugly, you're making it say that with your own silly stereotypes! You're the baddy here!"

I hate them.

Though it has reminded me that I wanted to post pictures of my new boots. I love them.
slemslempike: (nemi: Angry Pike)
There's been a news story in England about a police officer being shot, though not fatally. This is obviously pretty nasty,

However, I am angry with the press coverage of the incident, and especially the reported comments of Lancashire's Acting Assistant Chief Constable, Jerry Graham. Yahoo! (I check my mail there, I don't rely on them for news, thankfully) quote him as saying:

"It troubles me greatly that at a close confrontation level, someone is shooting not only a police officer but a female one who was clearly identified."

What the fuck? Why on earth would he think that shooting a female police officer is worse than a male one? Is it interfering with their strategy of throwing women at (male, of course) criminals and hoping that their famous chivalrous instincts kick in and they put down their weapons to catch her? That's probably the only way in which the quote makes the vaguest sense.

The BBC don't quote this in their (shorter) story, but have headlined it "Armed robber blasts woman officer". In a follow-up story, "Arrest after woman officer shot", they end with this:

Pc Johnson is the latest female officer to have been shot while on duty.

In November 2005, Sharon Beshenivsky, 38, was shot dead as she tried to stop an armed robbery on a travel agency in Bradford.

Three months later, trainee officer Rachael Bown needed emergency surgery after being shot in the abdomen while attempting to apprehend a suspected burglar in Nottingham.


Women just aren't cut out for police work, poor lambs, as they aren't equipped with a penis with which to deflect bullets. Seriously, what on earth is the point of that? To imply that only women get shot? Or that when men get shot it doesn't really matter? Unfortunately, the answer is fairly obviously that the point is to reinforce the idea that real police officers are men.
slemslempike: (discworld: can't be having)
Most of the feminist blogs I read have picked up on this story - that there is an article published this month in Sex Roles journal that "proves" that feminists have happier, more stable heterosexual relationships than non-feminists, and that the negative stereotypes are unfounded.

This is a pretty pleasing report, and I planned to put it online for our students to read, mark, and inwardly digest. I got permission, but thought I'd better read the full article first in case there was anything else that I wanted to highlight.

HUH. The abstract talks about "negative feminist stereotypes (i.e., that feminists are single, lesbians, or unattractive)". I was a bit perplexed that they would leave that unchallenged (that any of those things are in fact negative), but figured that you are short of space in an abstract, so have to kind of rely on people knowing that these are the kind of things that get trotted out as negative by anti-feminists.

They never challenge it. Not once. Throughout the whole 13 page article, there is no suggestion whatsoever that being single, or gay, or unattractive is not a problem, that people might conceivably be content with, even proud of, these attributes. The introduction reiterates the so-called negative stereotypes without explaining why they are considered negative, either by the authors (if this is the case), or by those that seek to denigrate feminism. "Feminist stereotypes are also unflattering; feminists tend to be stigmatized as unattractive, sexually unappealing, and likely to be lesbians".

Again, no context whatsoever. It is a psychology journal, so it's mostly about statistics and correlation between the data. Admittedly, I am not particularly interested in quantitative research (which this is), but I don't think it is asking too much for it to be reflective while it is telling us about null hypotheses. I think their methodology is a little strange ("They also rated their popularity with the other gender. The items were, “It is not difficult for me to get a date,” “I am frequently hit on for sex,” “I seem to be very popular with the opposite sex,” and “I was popular (datingwise) in high school"") but kind of fits in with what they're trying to do.

The "negative stereotypes" part lies dormant throughout their first study, which is with students, and then rears its head again in the second study, with older men and women. In the concluding part: "we found no support for the accuracy of stereotypes suggesting that feminist women are likely to be lesbian, single, or sexually unattractive–in fact, they were more likely to be in a romantic relationship than nonfeminist women. Thus, we found no evidence for the accuracy of negative stereotypes that, if true, would likely impinge on women’s relationships with men." I know what they're trying to do - I understand that the research is coming from a pro-feminist place (even if it's not where I would stand), and that they're trying to do their bit to change the anti-feminist backlash. But this is an academic paper, and I don't think it's asking too much that they be more reflexive with their work, and don't propagate misogynist and homophobic attitudes, even if unwittingly.

Heaven fucking forbid that women should be neither straight, sexually attractive nor romantically involved. As a content "none of the above" I'm a bit personally outraged. However, the main thing is that feminism is not about pleasing men*. It is not a bad thing not to want to have sex with men, it is not a bad thing not to be in a relationship with a man, it is not a bad thing not to fit into the conventions of being attractive to men. And pseudo-feminist research that does not acknowledge this, that fails to take up the opportunity to refute the innate negativity of these stereotypes, even while proving them untrue, is failing feminism.



* While feminism is good for everyone (except possibly Ann Coulter and Pat Robertson), and as such is in fact beneficial for men, a large part of feminism is breaking away from the pressures of having to please (an idea of) men the whole time.

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