Sunday, 27 February 2011

Taking down the "Sex is Cheap" sexism

A short article that pulls no punches in its criticism of the already-notorious Slate article that explains why men don't have to fear losing power to women in the bedroom, at least, because modern women "give it up" too easily and so have no power.
(Flashback to every horror film I see these days in which any woman who shows sexual initiative is punished for it by being eaten by the monster seconds later.)

    "I'll Make a Man Out of You"--essay on strong women in Scifi TV

    This was published (uploaded as a PDF by the author to her blog) several months ago now, but I've just come across this interesting master's thesis about the role of strong female characters in science fiction and fantasy television shows. A fascinating study of gender stereotypes/archetypes and feminist theory, and why this popular culture phenomenon is important.

    Ouch - why should we all be the same? Labiaplasty on the increase

    Having your vulva cut up to make it neater, the labia smaller or more symmetrical is becoming more frequent, according to this article , and some blame it on the availability of internet porn.

    From the article in the Observer , Sunday 27 Feb, 2011:

    A partner in the King's University research, Dr David Veale, a consultant psychiatrist in cognitive behaviour therapy, said he believed the surge in demand could be linked to easier access to explicit sexual imagery. "We haven't completed the research, but there is suspicion that this is related to much greater access to porn, so it is easier for women to compare themselves to actresses who may have had it done. This is to do with the increasing sexualisation of society – it's the last part of the body to be changed."

    What imposed norm do we need to conform to now? Are our bodies and our genitals really so overwhelmingly important - as objects? Seems to me that we just become aware of perfectly normal variations, only to wish to remove them at whatever cost, financial, psychological or physical.

    Is it all part of a rather worrying trend for people to seek surgery as a solution to problems, major or minor - gastric bands  rather than exercise and diet, nose jobs and boob jobs for minor imperfections, not just real deformities, and now labiaplasty?  Or are we increasingly scared to be different?

    On the same paper's website there's a debate about women, fashion and beauty and the models who, it seems, are thinner each year.

    Yet, I think my initial reaction has been too negative - lots of us are not going along with these things, are we?

    Saturday, 26 February 2011

    Send a message to UN Women

    UN Women launched last Thursday, amid fears that funds will be short - any suggestions, messages, what needs to be done, why women need a separate organisation within the UN?

    Link in title to Guardian article

    They are setting up a Flickr group to collect your thoughts, opinions and messages. From the article:

    you can submit your photo to our group If you are not on Flickr, don't worry - you can email your photo to and we will add it to the Flickr group for you. Please add some information when you post or email your picture so we know who you are, where you're from and what your message means to you. By posting your pictures in this group, or sending it to us in response to this request, you agree to let us use it on our site and potentially in the newspaper (though copyright remains with you at all times, and you will be credited).

    Do feminists all hate men?

    Suzanne Moore writes for the Guardian and the Mail on Sunday. But I think this article has more than a smidgen of truth in it. I expect the comments to prove her point.

    Coming back a few minutes later, well they do..and I'm going to have to go through with a fine tooth comb to see where she 'hates' or 'puts down' men as a group....

    Later still - why, why, why do so many men react as though they think women's dearest wish was to exterminate them? (Tempting as it is, with some of the comments below the article ;-) )

    Friday, 25 February 2011

    Traveller and Roma women

    I don't always agree with Julie Bindel, but this is an interesting article.

    It seems that the programme My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding has fuelled even more prejudice against travellers than there was before.

    More hopefully, many of the women now want their own children, especially the girls, to be more educated and independent than in the past.

    Wednesday, 23 February 2011

    Teenage pregnancies down

    I briefly saw an article in the Guardian on this topic - a reduction of approximately 5% between 2008 and 2009 (I think). I'm writing this from memory since the article has 'disappeared'.

    There was also a comment from someone working in that area, that their organisation is facing cuts. Yet another case of this government trying to save money now by storing up problems for the future?

    When I find more facts on this - or an article in the press - I'll add a link.

    Ha - found one in the Independent

    Wednesday, 16 February 2011

    Planned Parenthood "exposed" in New Jersey

    The recent video recording of an employee of Planned Parenthood in New Jersey “aiding and abetting” a pimp in obtaining abortions and sexual health care for underage prostitutes has provoked substantial media attention and condemnation.

    A clinic manager was shown – in an edited video – advising a pimp on how to obtain sexual health care and abortions for underage girls who he “managed”, without attracting the attention of the authorities to his activities.

    Planned Parenthood as an organisation say that this clinic manager was not working to PP policies, and she has since been dismissed.

    In fact PP have a policy of reporting sexual exploitation of young people, and following (what transpired to be) hoax visits to several of their clinics, reported their concerns about a possible trafficking ring.

    "When Planned Parenthood learns of an operation that exploits young women, we vigilantly work with law enforcement authorities to uncover and stop this abhorrent activity," said Stuart Schear, PPFA vice president for communications. "Planned Parenthood’s top priority is the health and safety of our patients and the health and well-being of women and teens across the country, and we have been in contact with federal and local authorities to identify the persons involved in these visits." (Planned Parenthood press release 24.01.2011)

    However, the incident raises several questions.

    How ethical is it for anyone to enter a clinical situation, in which the professional person they are consulting is bound (in most cases, subject to legal reporting requirements etc) by confidentiality rules, and to deliberately trick them into potentially controversial responses by asking for help using false and manipulative stories?

    Apparently 12 clinics were infiltrated in this way, but it is only selected sections of one of the consultations which have been made public. The selected video footage was obviously intended to show the clinic manager in the worst possible light in order to discredit the organisation for which she worked, and to push an extreme agenda.

    Clinics such as these exist in order to help those who need their services.

    Many clients may be under age and in difficult circumstances, and while clinic staff are obliged to work within the law, and would wish to protect their clients from abuse as well as unwanted pregnancies and infections, immediate reporting to the Police on a routine basis might not always be in the best interests of the group of clients they serve.

    Establishing trust with vulnerable young people is a vital first step in helping them, and also in encouraging others to come for help. Staff therefore have to tread a very fine line, and risk either not being able to help those in need, or finding themselves in trouble with the law.

    Right wing groups are exploiting this vulnerability of staff working with some of the most disadvantaged groups in society in order to advance their own cause. They are pushing for government funding to be withdrawn from PP, an organisation which provides abortion and other sexual health care.

    Campaigns to discredit sexual health care services are widespread, and not just in the United States. They represent attempts to stigmatise all contraceptive and sexual health professionals by association, and can be highly damaging to the important health services provided by organisations such as Planned Parenthood. It is to the credit of staff of such organisations that they continue to work to improve the lives of often disadvantaged and vulnerable people despite the constant threats of adverse media attention and violence with which they are faced.