It is the subject that divides feminists more than the subject of male presence in feminist spaces. More than what importance we place on being cis or not being transphobic. More than the luxuriousness of our bikini lines. More than whether or not we heat our communes by using putting bras in the brazier (I slay me). It is the subject of sex work. Should we support it or not? How do we define the peculiar line of 'selling your body' (if I seem biased, it's because I am)? Who is exploiting who here? Or are 2 (or more) consenting adults entering into an agreed service purchase? Argh, so many questions! What I do know as a responsible feminist is that we don't want the adult sex workers (note distinction from traffiked humans) who live this life, work this work, making any of the decisions over their lives.
Iain Banks Image: Stuart Caie
In an announcement that caused his website to crash, author Iain [M] Banks yesterday shared the devastating news that he has late stage gall bladder cancer, and may only have months to live. Squeamish Louise and Gareth pay tribute to the work of an extraordinary writer...
The announcement was beautifully written - emotive, with a strand of dark humour. Of course it was. But it was impossible to read without an almost physical reaction of sadness. Banks has written 26 novels - 14 as Iain Banks and a further 12 as Iain M Banks. But when he dies we'll be losing more than just a prolific author.
Breast exam. Image: SteveR
WOMEN! Are you a woman? Then you absolutely must have a smear test at the age of 20! It's a matter of life or death! No, actually 25. But it's still a matter of life or death! Glad that's over? Oh you have to have that every couple of years. Also you're hurtling towards a very necessary/unnecessary breast exam, do you check your breasts? Right, you must check them, you can do it anywhere. At the bus stop, at the till, doing the school run, nobody will notice. Oh no wait that's kegels. Do not check your breasts anywhere. Do your kegels like you've got a ping pong tournament approaching and check your breasts in a private moment.
As women get older we all know they begin to fall apart. This can be due to excess bloating, migraines, crow's feet, cellulite, excess bikini line hair and shameful constipation that results in flat hair. Also flat hair. As if those afflictions weren't enough there is also the possibility of cervical cancer and breast cancer to contend with.
Today is the first ever United Nations International Day of the Girl Child (The term 'Girl Child' here is used to highlight the particular struggles young women and girls under 18) . Today's International Day of the Girl was lobbied for by the people behind the Because I am a Girl...campaign Plan UK in order to have a “day in recognition of girls' rights and accomplishments”.
Plan UK hope, through new awareness, to generate more signatures for their petition to put pressure on UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to “lead action by world leaders to make girls' education a priority.”
Global statistics show that 1 in 3 girls are denied a secondary education due to poverty, discrimination and violence. If that doesn't convince you to add your signature how about the statistic that every 3 seconds a girl is coaxed, coerced or forced into a marriage?
More than a kitchen sink drama. Image: Micah Sittig
It's Monday, let's start the week with some positive news.
Conviction rates for domestic violence cases has risen from 69% in 2007-8 to 73% according to reports from the Crown Prosecution Service. Speaking on BBC Radio 4 today director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, who implemented a 4 year strategy, said they were taking “steps on a long journey”. It is important to note, as Starmer has, that while this is important progress it is just that: progress. On average a woman will experience domestic violence a total of 30 times before she will report it, the statistics we have on domestic abuse are no doubt inaccurate because so many cases go unreported and unacknowledged.
As part of the 4 year strategy concerning violence against women and girls Starmer has identified, with the help of women's groups and charities such as Refuge, the problem of reporting cases. In another interview with the BBC "There is still a significant problem in terms of encouraging people to come forward." Starmer acknowledged that there are some women who have reported DV in the past only for the case to be dropped, making the idea of reporting seem futile.
Baftaling Photo:Rev Stan
When on occasion I am called upon the defend women only awards, such as The Orange Prize, I shall cite the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2011 Awards and now the Bafta's Rising Star 2012 shortlist.
Both are open to men and women and both have recently had men only shortlists. The Bafta Rising Star long list comprised of the following actors;
Adam Deacon (Kidulthood and Adulthood), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn), Tom Hiddleston (War Horse) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor).
left: silicone breast implant right: saline breast implant
It seems xenophobes were right all along and the French and the British are not just different in nationality but we’re different species too. It’s a wonder there are any Anglo-French walking this earth and don’t even speak to me about Francophiles.
Yesterday the French government issued a statement they would pay for women with PIP breast implants to have them removed. A spokesman for the government Valerie Pecresse said: “It is a matter of urgency that all women who have had these PIP implants are identified and the implants removed.”
Over here in Britain the government has said any woman concerned about her breast implants should speak to the surgeon who originally operated on her, lalala. (I paraphrase)
Orot pupils in their immodest uniform
School girls in Bet Shemesh ranging from the age of 6 to 12 from an Orthodox Jewish community are being harassed on their way to school by grown men from an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, Haredim. The men call the little girls sluts and whores and throw faeces as their mothers walk them to the school gates.
I heard a report about this on the eve of Yom Kippur on the Today programme (I realise I seem to shoehorn some kind of shout out to the BBC in every piece I do) which you can listen to here but was unable to find any more coverage until today (proving my google skills aren’t up to much, the BBC [oh, HAI BBC] posted a report on the 10th). Harriet Sherwood in the today’s Guardian has also broached the subject.
Photo Generation Bass
I am not a sporty person. I avoided PE all through school but I was oddly drawn to boxing. Inspired (though not enough to actually try it and risk my nose, “now I’ll never be a teen model!”) by coverage of the sport in the, now sadly defunct, J-17 magazine. J-17 spearheaded a campaign in the 90s for girls to box competitively as boys were allowed to. In 1996 the ban on women’s boxing was lifted by the ABAE (Amateur Boxing Association of England). Now it’s 2011 and we’ve moved on. To skirts. Bugger the 2012 Olympics.
AIBA, (International Boxing Association) has requested the skirts be trialled to allow spectators to distinguish female boxers from men. During last week’s European Championships in Rotterdam two countries took up the new uniform, Romania and Poland. The Poland boxing coach Leszek Piotrowski welcomed the change, “By wearing skirts, in my opinion, it gives a good impression, a womanly impression.” The Poland team redesigned the skirts to make them more elegant.
In the UK and Ireland the skirts have received a different reception. Ireland’s 3 time world champion Katie Taylor commented, "I won't be wearing a mini-skirt. I don't even wear mini-skirts on a night out, so I definitely won't be wearing mini-skirts in the ring." British lightweight champion Natasha Jonas also dismissed the skirts, “nothing practical is going to come from wearing a skirt. The only people who would want to see women in skirts are men.”
Of course to wear skirts in any sport is absurd. Everyone would see your lucky pants.
This is a pre-teen bra
I think almost every woman has the same story. One day, they came home from school to be greeted by their mother. “There’s something on your bed for you.” And there it is. You don’t have to look inside the BHS/M&S plastic bag to guess that what’s burning a hole through it is a 28 AAA white bra.
Growing up is a cringe-worthy business. Anything that can be done to make the transition from girl to woman any easier is welcome. After the PR disaster that was the BHS Little Miss pre-teen padded bras (BHS, I just don’t think the Daily Mail is ever going to let that go) Tesco has designed a new preteen bra, Fleur First.