Hi! Thinking of starting up a feminist activist group, gathering or collective in your city/town/village/hamlet? Whether you're setting it up at university or down the pub (I favour the latter - partly because I am not at university, partly because pub) one of the first things you should consider is whether or not you intend this to be women only or not. If you decide it is to be women only you have to decide whether you mean cis-women or people who identify as women. It's only two decisions and yet, and yet. You have to consider the notion of 'safe space', the idea that you might want to be welcoming (I hear people like that stuff) to all or some and what will work for your feminist gathering. The same goes for a feminist book. Is your intended audience women or feminists?
A few years ago I wrote a thesis on Drag Kings. I wrote about music hall and the advent of women on stage. And I wrote about Drag Queens. I have written before about how my feminism has changed dramatically over the years. Because most people's gateway feminism is Greer I think many cis white feminist women will tell you that they went through a period of...hmm not dislike but maybe a belief that drag queens were taking the piss out of womanhood. And anyone who lives to be The Whole Woman will no doubt feel a scepticism about trans (I am not saying drag and trans are by any means the same incidentally - but I note often reasons for hostility are weirdly similar). That is putting it lightly. It is put lightly because transphobia is not properly recognised yet. A dinner party won't suddenly fall into an uncomfortable silence because someone uttered a transphobic slur in jest. But it's time we moved on from Greer's chapter on "Pantomime Dames" and recognise that we are seeing a threat in the wrong places.
It was St George's Day this week, as a Palestinian soldier with Greek parentage it is only natural that St George should be multicultural England's patron saint. Although St George is actually a pretty busy patron. When he isn't slaying dragons, England shares him with various other countries and cities. He is also the patron saint of those suffering from leprosy, plague, herpes and syphilis. As Nick Clegg suggests the separation of Church and State, we think it might be time to adopt a patron saint of our own. There must be some twiddling the thumbs with only a couple of professions and diseases to patron over. Here are some we think might suit Squeamish...
The noble How-to has been about since the dawn of time. Or at least since the dawn of writing. Or at least since the dawn of print. It's been around a long time now. It's lasted millennia/centuries because there is no end of things people need instruction on. Also the terrible revelation of your 30s (uh, so I hear) is that you realise nobody really knows quite what they're doing and having a definitive guide to ignore brings comfort and a warm glow. The How-to can range from how to make a cake, to how to put shelves up to how to be a human. YES. Our insecurity knows no bounds it seems and Country Life knows this. Hence the publications of its rules for men in the wake of its new Gentleman of the Year Award.
There are a few things that I love, that I'm very enthusiastic about. Riot Grrrl, feminism, comedy, Monkey Island. But I would never dare call myself a 'fangirl' of anything. Not because I think it's derogatory (fan woman sounds kind of silly) but because a fangirl is, to me, a very specific person that - while I might 'fangirl out' over something - I don't qualify as. She is a woman (or girl) who has great knowledge of something - usually comic based - which she can discuss enthusiastically and will travel great lengths to feed this passion. It might seem extreme to some people who have other passions - but while we might smirk at men who attend Comic Cons and spend huge amounts of money on toys (ACTION FIGURES) and assume they have difficulty meeting women (see Big Bang Theory) we don't hate them.
Recently Washington-based think tank The Pew Research Center revealed the results of their 2013 Global Attitudes survey. They asked 40,117 respondents in 40 countries what they thought about eight topics frequently discussed as moral issues: extramarital affairs, gambling, homosexuality, abortion, premarital sex, alcohol consumption, divorce, and the use of contraceptives. Respondents were asked whether this is morally acceptable, morally unacceptable, or not a moral issue. The findings are not totally surprising. As the Center stated: "African and predominantly Muslim countries tend to find most of these activities morally unacceptable, while in advanced economies, such as those in Western Europe, Japan, and North America, people tend to be more accepting or to not consider these moral issues at all."
To take an arguably 'Caitlin Moran' simplistic, black and white, hairy and bald vulva approach to feminism, let's say you're a woman, with a functioning set of lady bits (I told you we were going Caitlin here for a sec). Let's say that you're a sex worker with a desire to do other things in your professional life (obviously you AREN'T because we're taking the simplistic feminist approach). Let's say you find yourself pregnant. Oh yeah, also you had breast implants. On the NHS. Are you still allowed to have an abortion if you so desire one?
It probably won't surprise you that my answer to that question is...yes. Yes you are. Because I believe in every child being a wanted child and pregnancy is dangerous, even now.
Good Friday to you dear reader! As we begin the Easter celebrations we remember that this religious holiday is about so much more than decorated bonnets, bunnies and egg shaped chocolate. No, Easter is about the resurrection, new life, hope! With the true meaning of Easter on our minds we thought about celebrities (we like to be relevant and 'clickbait' is our watch word) who have fallen by the wayside. Who are too far gone for even the Big Reunion to breathe new life into their careers. Well former celebrities and ex famous people, it's Easter and your career can live again!
Sometimes a word or phrase (or, of course, set of initials for when you tire of forming words - YOLO) you haven't seen before begins to pop up everywhere. You notice it a couple of times but think it unimportant. Then it pops up more and you start to wonder what it is. But, like, not enough to Google it or anything. Then it becomes shorthand for something and finally you find yourself suddenly questioning: WHAT IS THIS NORMCORE?! Oh, it's an "emerging cultural trend". A trend in which you blend in. You're so normal that you are the core of normality and, by extension, anonymity. Although to be anonymous you have to wear one of those masks. There is a whiff of the self congratulatory about Normcore and the wiped clean faces that apparently come with it. Oh don't mind me, I just don't bother with anything frivolous - and for frivolous re: femme.
Surprise! We've come top in something! The great British lion roars again! And he's roaring: "Alright sweetheart, show us your tits!" UN special rapporteur on violence against women Rashida Manjoo has been on a 16 day fact finding mission, travelling across Britain to examine the state of violence against women. And hey! Rashida's been to Algeria, Bosnia, Italy, India, Croatia, Azerbaijan and more but we, us, the UK can lay claim to being the most sexist! FIST BUMP! It's not just how sexist the country is but how we parade it, Rashida says: "Have I seen this level of sexist cultures in other countries? It hasn't been so in-your-face". Are we surprised? Well, yeah. Even those who have experienced high levels of sexism, even avid readers of Everyday Sexism and Edwina Currie expressed surprise and even doubt.