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Women in science

Oct. 25th, 2011 | 11:33 am
posted by: alitheapipkin in feminism_lives

I don't know whether this is of interest to anyone here, but I was listening to Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnett on The Life Scientific on Radio 4 this morning and it prompted me to write a short post about women in science on my journal here.

Does anyone here have any experience of being a woman in science? How does your experience compare to mine? Do you have any ideas how we find a middle ground between being seen as meek or as trouble makers for trouble's sake? Or don't you think it matters that her male colleagues think that of her given all she has achieved?
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Strauss-Kahn and Assange: sexual assault cases

Jul. 1st, 2011 | 10:52 am
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

The Guardian and New York Times have reported the case against Strauss-Kahn may collapse. Although "the sexual nature of the encounter between the French politician and the maid has never been questioned by either side" apparently incidents in her past such as involvement with a possible drug dealer may damage her credibility.

This story makes me angry because of the incredible classism I see in the media and expect to see in the law courts relating to this case. In real life someone I consider a friend said in all seriousness that she couldn't believe Strauss-Kahn was guilty "because people in high level positions like that don't do things like this". That's the opposite to my own instinctual feeling that rich and powerful men think of women in service industries as their property. I don't care if the woman was a drug-dealer, a prostitute or an organised crime boss - it shouldn't bear on this case. But once even a smidgen of disrepute gets attached to a woman she is hampered in rape trials. Remember the Ipswich murders? I recall the media reporting as being "many prostitutes have been murdered and one woman has been attacked". Certainly that was the tenor of the coverage.

In related news, Assange's extradition appeal case begins on 12 July. I am annoyed about this case as well because when the allegations came out various people were saying "how convenient" and "but it can't be true because the prosecutor threw the case out". There are details on wikipedia which explain more about the allegations. Michael Moore, champion of the "little guy" threw his hat into the ring to publicly state he disbelieved the allegations and that they were politically motivated. (More on Moore at Tiger Beatdown and earlier links about Assange here on feminism lives.)

What justice can women expect to receive from a culture that assumes that rich successful famous white men don't rape?

And to the anonymous commenter from last time, I say again that this isn't about "innocence until proven guilty" for these defendants. It's about media pre-judging of the honesty of the victims. I don't know if these men are rapists but I think it's plausible and the excuses being made for these men stink of rape-apologism.

I did have another paragraph on Roman Polanski and the excuses made for him but they make me too sick. If you have a stronger stomach than I do, Kate Harding's post from 2010 says it all.

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Feminism doesn't confront its flaws?

Jun. 16th, 2011 | 04:08 pm
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

Deborah Orr has a piece in the Guardian today... (and I've just realised my previous post was from the Guardian too) about feminism.

Why is feminism still so afraid to focus on its flaws?

It begins with the contention that what most exasperates feminists is other women who don't call themselves feminists. (While this does irritate me on one level it's not the thing that most enrages me as a feminist!) Orr trots out some old stereotypes which feminism hasn't shaken off and moves into recessionomics as a reason feminism isn't catching hold with the current generation.

Orr claims that the flaws feminism hasn't addressed are:
- "the blunt and somewhat stubborn emphasis on 'equality'"
- "At its most strident, feminism can be mistaken for an ideology designed to make women feel they are wrong to want [to be a primary carer for children]"
- "feminism has accidentally promoted the idea that it's pretty easy to work and have children, with the right support in place"
- "Pro-choice minds have to be closed to the idea that science can alter the age of foetal viability, because such acknowledgement, even in theory, might offer succour to pro-lifers."

I really disagree with all of this. Also with Orr for using words like strident and stubborn in regard to feminism/feminists! The emphasis on equality isn't wrong, it's not being a primary carer but being EXPECTED to be a primary carer that concerns feminists, no one ever said it's easy to work and take care of kids, and WTF is this thing about pro-choice people being anti science?

Additionally, what really grins my gears is Orr's bald contention that after you have children "Your priorities change. Work is no longer the most important thing, for a while anyway. Ambition can dissipate." What is this anecdata?! It might be the case for some women but not for all and what about men, are they subject to this alleged effect?

Oh it makes me cross. Which in turn probably makes me humourless. I can feel my legs getting hairy and my libido more lesbian.

What do community members think? Does feminism refuse to confront its flaws? Are these 'flaws' correctly identified? Is it just me who wonders what Orr's been smoking?

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The sexism of successful men

Jun. 2nd, 2011 | 10:13 am
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

Having buried the hatchet with Theroux, VS Naipaul has turned his ire upon women writers. In an article in the Guardian today he is quoted as saying:

"I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me."

"And inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too..."

"My publisher, who was so good as a taster and editor, when she became a writer, lo and behold, it was all this feminine tosh. I don't mean this in any unkind way."

What a delightful man.

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Badminton would be more popular if women wore skirts

May. 16th, 2011 | 10:33 am
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

Badminton chiefs have been attacked over "sexist" plans to force women players to wear skimpy skirts instead of shorts or face a fine at the London Olympics.

The proposed new dress code would come into effect for this summer's world championships at Wembley Arena and would also apply to the 2012 Games.

Badminton World Federation chiefs believe the skirts-only policy - which they have backed after advice from sports marketing giant Octagon - will boost flagging audiences for the women's game. But the new rules, due to be enforced at the weekend, have been delayed by protests from top players.

From an Evening Standard article, also picked up via the F-word.

How on earth can this be justified? Raising the profile of the sport =/= making women's bodies more visible.

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The burqa/niqab ban came into force this week in France

Apr. 15th, 2011 | 12:57 pm
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

Post from the F word about it here.

I still can't believe this has actually happened. Okay, I know that some view wearing the veil as oppressive. But you don't fight oppression with oppression, right?

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Working Girls

Mar. 22nd, 2011 | 12:42 pm
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

Has anyone else been watching this series on BBC: Working Girls?

It begins with a brief run through of the history of women in work and then focuses on a young woman living in Britain today who (despite several generations of female ancestors who worked) chooses not to work. Most of these girls are living on benefit, with contributions from family. (Although one explained her income as "I move in very good circles and my friends are happy to give me £5000 in the same way I might give 50p to a homeless person".)

(The show uses the term 'girls', but these young women are usually in their early twenties.)

Each week the focus is on two young women who go to work for two successful female businesswomen, spending a week working 9-5, usually gearing up for some big event. Half way through the week they meet (separately) with the programme historian who tells them about their ancestors.

I've seen three episodes so far and the pattern seems much the same in each one. The young woman starts out surly and uninterested in work. "Work's boring" they say. The female businesswomen are shocked and some begin a rant about how as a tax payer they are subsiding the girl's lifestyle (I award extra points to those who manage to rein in this impulse). The young woman begins to work in a lackluster don-t-give-a-damn way. There is usually a row and occasionally the young woman is thrown out of the workplace. Then either the businesswoman has a heart-to-heart with the young woman and gives her a second change or the meeting with the historian opens her eyes and she resolves to really try. They usually end up much more motivated at the end of the week and do go one to some form of employment.

Things that interest me about the show are:

1. How rarely feminism is actually mentioned. One young woman this week said "feminism has ruined things for everyone, traditional values are better" but that's the first time I've heard the word used.

2. The class disparity between the participants.
The age disparity is not that great. The business women are often late 20s, early 30s. The 'girls' are early 20s. But despite the business women insisting that "you have to start from the bottom" I doubt that many of them actually did. One completed a law degree and used her savings to start a company. Another was a successful model and parlayed that into starting a fashion design firm.
But the girls seem to live on identical council-estates, generally with parents who are in lower income brackets. They typically leave school at 16 without many, if any, GCSEs.
There's no engagement from the programme makers with the concept of the benefit trap and although the young women don't mention it in those terms it's a real factor for someone with few qualifications. This is why the "my tax pays for your lifestyle" rants stick in my craw somewhat.

3. The inspirational effect of the genealogy research.
I'm surprised that this actually does seem to work. Looking back on their female ancestors' experiences makes the young women genuinely emotional and seems to have a huge inspirational effect. I'm intrigued by this. I can't quite get my head around why it works so well. Perhaps because these young women have very little understanding of history? One was shocked to discover benefits didn't exist when her great-grandmother came to England from the Caribbean.

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Now soft-drinks can have self esteem issues too!

Feb. 11th, 2011 | 12:33 pm
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

With Pepsi's new "skinny can"!

“Our slim, attractive new can is the perfect complement to today’s most stylish looks,” said Jill Beraud, Pepsi’s chief marketing officer, in a press release. The company also states that the Diet Pepsi Skinny Can is “taller,” “sassier” and a “celebration of beautiful, confident women.”

You couldn't make it up. Well you could - but it would be TRUE!


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BBC ageism

Jan. 11th, 2011 | 03:44 pm
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

Countryfile's Miriam O'Reilly wins BBC ageism claim (link to Guardian website).

The BBC's response is positively weasel-like. According to the GUardian article their response was:

In light of the tribunal's ruling, the BBC said it would give additional training to senior editorial executives and issue new guidance on the fair selection of presenters. The findings "raise questions that need to be addressed by the whole industry", the corporation added.

"We accept the findings of the tribunal and would like to apologise to Miriam. We will be speaking to her," said the BBC in a statement today.

"The BBC is committed to fair selection in every aspect of our work and we clearly did not get it right in this case.

"We will ensure that senior editorial executives responsible for these kind of decisions in the BBC undergo additional training in the selection and appointment of presenters, and produce new guidance on fair selection for presenter appointments...

I'm not sure why the Grauniad is quoting "The BBC" here, as though corporations could speak. The person who made that statement is the vile Alan Yentob. I know this because I stoatily saw him saying it (on BBC news, which added a frisson of amusement).

Sadly not the first time and unlikely to be the last that women are dropped from the BBC in defiance of age-related discrimination being illegal. And who believes that the promised training is going to transpire?
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Assumptions make an ass out of Assange-supporters

Dec. 17th, 2010 | 11:25 am
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

There've been a fair few posts about this in a community not far away but I thought it was time for a round-up of links on the Julian Assange rape allegations and the problematic nature of the support he's had from liberals.

Here are some links to feminist posts on the subject. (I'm skipping Naomi Wolf's post but it's referenced in some of the posts I am linking. That's because I've made a deliberate decision to link the posts I think are *good* and Wolf's was one of the problematic ones.)

I'll add more as I find them. Please share any other posts you've seen that you think rec-worthy or interesting.

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Gawker servers compromised: affects Jezebel accounts

Dec. 14th, 2010 | 02:47 pm
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

"This weekend we discovered that Gawker Media's servers were compromised, resulting in a security breach at Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Gawker, Jezebel, io9, Jalopnik, Kotaku, Deadspin, and Fleshbot. "


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I'm sorry, your -ism is showing

Dec. 1st, 2010 | 09:48 pm
mood: discontentdisturbed
posted by: shade_scribbler in feminism_lives

Ah, the wonders of Facebook, you can reconnect with people you stopped talking to 10 years ago, or who you shared a geographic and pedagogical history with once upon a time...

And then you can watch them post links and comments that make you cringe.

Today I was on Facebook - I spend too much time there, it is my vice. I read a post and link by a friend from high School (that is ages 14-18 roughly, for my non-American friends). This particular link was not anti-feminist, it was anti-religion. To be specific it was mocking religion. Now I have a personal policy that when racism, or sexism, or religious prejudice happens in front of me I say something. I left a very mild rebuke - "this does not reflect well on you" and said person unfriended me, whatever.

But it got me thinking, in this mixed media age, and even in person, how do you deal with it when you are confronted with sexism, racism and what not? I have on many occasions called people on sexist remarks. I have found that the response to being called on sexism is more positive than other "-ism" issues.

I don't comment on blogs, or news stories or anything else where the trolls live, but I take things like the wall on facebook as I would a conversation happening in front of me or in earshot, after all these are people I know.

It isn't that a person doesn't agree with me, it is when they make comments that are just not respectful to other human beings, I just can't keep my mouth shut.

So I as you all, how do you handle these issues? Thoughts? Stories?

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Activism in action

Nov. 25th, 2010 | 01:06 pm
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

I got this from sf_drama:

After the men's ice hockey team paints a large breasted woman on a board in the common area of UNC (with the caption "Come watch us score"), the Feminist Students United group took action and painted an adjoined board with slogans such as "SEXISM AROUND THE CORNER" and "THIS IS WHAT RAPE CULTURE LOOKS LIKE." The ice hockey team is appalled, and immediately paints over the image and issues an apology.

Full story here: http://www.dailytarheel.com/index.php/article/2010/11/hockey_teams_cube_sparks_discussion_about_rape_culture

(Do not read the comments to the article unless you want to be enraged further.)

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Better Popery than female bishops

Nov. 8th, 2010 | 01:03 pm
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

Five Anglican bishops are to leave the Church of England and join the Roman Catholic church in protest against the proposed ordination of female bishops.

details inside the cutCollapse )

I think it's interesting that these bishops see the ordination of women bishops as such a sticking point that they'd join another church. I don't think Rome would necessarily confirm them as bishops either. So they'll be losing their ministries, their careers, their standing in the church - and having to relearn their faith from a RC point of view. That's a powerful amount of negativity towards the ordination of women.

I'm certain readers of this community will be divided on the relevance and value of the Christian church at all. However I do think it's encouraging that the Church of England is aiming (in a slow and fumbling way) to be more inclusive. There's still a long way to go though. The CofE has a pretty unimpressive record on LGBT issues as well. Which I suppose isn't surprising given that in 2000 years most people in the Christian communion remain unconvinced that women can be priests.

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A question of Elevation

Sep. 1st, 2010 | 02:07 pm
posted by: frax in feminism_lives

I just spent the long weekend with my out-laws and my partner and being as we are all advocates of social justice and we haven't seen them since the coalition took over we had a lot to talk about.  And we talked a lot!  It was great but it set me on the road to thinking where to take my activism, feminism and social justice next and that has been an interesting and intense few days so I wanted to throw some of it out there for feedback.

My current thinking process in activism comes from two completely different experiences and perspectives I have been currently looking at.

1) I read a lot of good feminist and womanist sites and blogs and many people are excellent at challenging the media, politicians, companies etc.  This is valuable and important work but I also see a lot of conversations descend into endlessly calling each other out on various forms of privilege such that by the end of the conversation the main (and possibly very valid) point of the original article is lost and the debate hasn't really achieved anything other than dividing a community were everyone is trying to achieve social justice. I do believe that making people aware of privilege has an important place but I don't think it is always being used effectively.

2) Secondly I am noticing a pattern of "othering" in the main stream media alongside the hugely right wing political agenda which is currently being pushed in the UK.  When politicians, media outlets and separate out people in society to condemn them - "benefit cheats", "single mothers", "immigrants" "civil servants with gold-plated pension"etc. we never get the real story, that these are real people not evil or immoral constructs but this line is fed to us so successfully that when benefits are cuts etc. it means it is a lot easier for the country as a whole to swallow without question.

So these are the two things I have been thinking about and I have been thinking about them in the context of my own activism.  I think if there is a hole in the feminist movement at the moment it is one of constructive and concerted elevation of all peoples who are marginalised.  I perceive that there is a problem with being patronising here and I seek to avoid that but surely what the movement could be doing alongside all the excellent criticism we are doing is also creating a concerted space to really elevate and showcase the great stuff done and achieved by women, and all marginalised peoples. Surely it would be harder to dismissed vulnerable groups if everyone was better aware of the great achievements within those groups.*

I think if there was a concerted elevation movement happening it would be a lot harder for us to create enemies out of each other both within the movement and the wider world.

Obviously these are just some musing I am going through at the moment in an attempt to find my space in the current movement.  Any views gratefully received.

* My baseline position is that every human is valuable and should be valued regardless but I think that there is an argument for going beyond simply valuing people because they are human but also elevating and promoting their achievements.

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F word post on intersectionality

Aug. 24th, 2010 | 11:06 am
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

The F word has an excellent post today on privilege, the dangers of playing oppression Olympics and the importance of intersectionality. You can find it here: Oppression Olympics and The Privilege Paradox.

Intersectionality is a word I only learnt last year but has clarified for me how oppressions link up (untidily) and that being an ally requires intelligent thoughtful listening.

Privilege is a word that has come to be thrown around rather too casually. Some people now view the word (and the concept behind it) with great hostility. Perhaps the word has been used too often by victims of oppression to attack or accuse potential allies. Intersectionality puts privilege into perspective for me. I can acknowledge that I am privileged on some scales and in some contexts while simultaneously recognising that there are also scales and contexts in which I am disadvantaged. Fortunately for me, the former categories outweigh the latter.

At my work we have equality and diversity training. like how those words go together. I like the way in which we're brought to an understanding that equality is not treating everyone the same and that diversity can be invisible. (Our latest facilitator didn't know the word intersectionality though, so there's still some way for us to go!)

What do others think about the words and concepts in the article I've linked. How do you see the intersection of oppressions? Is the language of modern feminism helpful to you or do you find it off-putting?

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Semenya free to compete

Jul. 7th, 2010 | 08:46 am
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

South African athlete Caster Semenya has been given the all-clear to return to competition by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The 19-year-old world 800m champion has been out of the sport for 11 months after undergoing gender tests.

"The IAAF accepts the conclusion of a panel of medical experts that she can compete with immediate effect," said a statement from the athletics body.

"Please note that the medical details of the case remain confidential."

Semenya could now choose to compete in the World Junior Championships in Canada later in July, with October's Commonwealth Games likely to be her main focus this season.

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Geek feminists

Jun. 10th, 2010 | 12:25 pm
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

I thought members here might be interested in Geek Feminism, syndicated to LJ as geekfeminist.

I've only just started following it so I can't comment much about the quality but I've found the last few posts interesting although I wasn't convinced by their 'Fashion and the Female Geek' post.

If anyone has some other useful feminist links do post them. The list on user info page could probably do with an update, so check what's there and what might fill the gaps I'm sure exist.
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Diane Abbott in Labour leadership contest

May. 20th, 2010 | 10:38 am
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

Diane Abbott is standing for the leadership of the Labour party in the UK.


A left-wing backbencher, Diane was also the first female black MP. She is the only woman to stand so far in the contest. Harriet Harman has said she will not stand.

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(no subject)

May. 14th, 2010 | 09:21 am
posted by: booklectic in feminism_lives

This is awful. (Link is about sexual assault in mental health wards.) Bad enough that these things happen at all, but to have the authorities adopting this attitude? I'm speechless.

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