Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Instant Favourites

Here are two interesting posts that have recently turned up:

*Women just shouldn't have sex if they don't want to have babies.

I can imagine how well these very same men will take widespread constant refusal to have sex. Can't you? "You're a prude! A tease!" So how about men? Should they have sex with other men?

Ginmar lacerating some of the most common arguments from anti-choicers.

I also take issue with those protesting raunch culture being labelled “conservatives”. What could be more conservative than dressing up as a sex object, as men would like you to be? What could be more conservative than fitting into a commercial, plastic, popular mould of female sexuality? The author of this article is the conservative one for advocating women to carry on being what they have always been, and in turn maintaining his ‘right’ to objectify women as men have traditionally been encouraged to do.

Michelle pointing out a young man's rather dubious stance on our freedom to participate in, but not to object to, raunch culture.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Not even worth my awesome freehand skills.

Though, of course, they'd still keep a few of the 'older models' around to look after the babies and make dinner.
Addressing prefectural assembly members of the Liberal Democratic Party in Matsue, the 71-year-old Yanagisawa touched on the nation's declining birthrate and said, "The number of women aged between 15 and 50 is fixed. Because the number of birth-giving machines and devices is fixed, all we can ask for is for them to do their best per head, although it may not be so appropriate to call them machines."

Yep, it's the latest insult from the men who want us to do nothing but make babies - but this time in Japan! I'm personally fed up of hearing things like this where women's potential fertility is seen as their defining and most important feature, as I'm sure many others are. We don't all want to be mothers, and for those who do, not all of them want to be seen as potential Quiverfull wives. Stop assuming that they all want to 'do their best' by spawning as many offspring as their bodies and minds can cope with. If they only want one child (or none at all), for whatever reason, that's their choice.
So yes, Mr. Yanagisawa, you are right. It is not appropriate to refer to the women of your country in that way.

BBC story here

Sunday, January 28, 2007

London's Feminist Library needs YOU


The following notice is being circulated. Please feel free to pass it on.

Forthcoming Event


Dear Feminists

The management committee of the Feminist Library is calling an emergency meeting on Saturday 24th February 2007 to decide on whether to close the library for good. This meeting is a last ditch attempt to rally feminists to support our library and, if we are not able to come up with a solution, to discuss finding another suitable home for the collection. Those of you who
have not been in touch for a while might like to know that the collection now also includes 75 boxes of material that was the Women’s Health Librarythat we rescued from being thrown in a skip over the summer.

For a number of years the Feminist Library has existed in a state of permanent emergency, with a dwindling number of volunteers to take part in running the library, a precarious financial situation, uncertainty about its location, and a lack of womanpower to pursue crucial funding applications.

The current group of volunteers is no longer able to sustain the situation, and the library will be forced to close without an injection of new volunteers. Therefore the meeting will have a dual function: to decide on whether or not the library will continue to stay open, and to gather
experience, advice and new volunteers to reinvigorate the management committee, or help the committee find a suitable home for the collection if the decision is taken to close.

The meeting will take place at 11am at the Feminist Library on Saturday 24th February. There will be the opportunity to look around the library and to chat to us, followed by a more formal discussion.

Please distribute this invitation to attend as widely as possible. Feedback from the many feminist groups and individuals who have an interest in the library is very important to us, as well as the need to get extra help.

As a basis for discussion at the meeting, we are preparing a short document on the library’s current plight and what our future options could be. If you would like to receive a copy before the meeting, or have other questions, or are considering volunteering, please contact us by email
(feministlibraryappeal@gmail.com) or post (Feminist Library, 5 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7XW). If you wish to speak to us by phone, please include your phone number in your message and we will get back to you as quickly as possible, although it may take a few days. RSVP is preferred but not essential.

Charlotte, Gail, Jess and Polly on behalf of the current management

The Feminist Library
5 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7XW
Email: feministlibraryappeal@gmail.com
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/feministlibrary
Registered Charity no. 272410

It's highly unlikely I'll be able to attend, but I'm shocked that I'd never even HEARD of this place and am only now being told that a) it exists and b) it might not exist by the time I actually get a chance to visit London for the first time (goodness knows when that'll be). If you can go, if you think that preserving the opinions of women is important, then head down there and spread this message.

From their 2005 newsletter (PDF warning, but a good example of what they do):

The Feminist Library is the largest lending and reference library of contemporary feminist material in the UK. Established in 1975, the collection includes approximately 10,000 books, 1500 journals, 1200 articles, 1750 pamphlets and ephemera.
The library specialises in literature about the women's movement and holds archives from the Women's Liberation Movement. It houses both fiction and non-fiction books as well as a selection of journals from all over the world.
Much of this material is not available in other libraries. The collection includes books on/by working class women, black women, women of colour, Irish women, Jewish women, lesbians, older women and women with disabilities.
The Feminist Library provides information about women's studies courses, services and current events.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


It's a little late for Blogging for Choice day, but a quick note: I'm pro-choice because I look forward to a time when people don't feel the need to ask such a question anymore. The key to the phrase is 'choice' - legalised abortion isn't the same as mandatory abortion, and women who choose to abort a child all have their own reason - it is not simply a case of 'I don't want to have a child because I hate children.' More often than not, abortion is chosen either for health reasons or because the women doesn't want a child at that point in her life, perhaps because she lives in an unsuitable environment to raise one or wants to do other things in her life before committing herself to raising a human being. In some cases, one abortion allows more children to be brought into the world, as this image shows:

This was the only counter-demonstrator I saw, though I assume there were others at the end of the March on the Capitol Steps. I asked if I could take her picture and she explained to me that her mother, who already had a few children, had had a dangerous pregnancy and had to have an abortion to save her own life. She went on to have five more kids, including this lady, who was the youngest. She was convinced that because of the possibility of similar situations, there should be no laws against abortion. She was crying and the mother in me wanted to wipe her tears away. Some Pro-Lifers had yelled slogans at her, but as we were talking a beautiful young woman (in the next picture) joined us to engage in some real dialogue.

A woman who wouldn't be there if it wasn't for her mother having the right to choose a safe, legal abortion. By the way, the woman in the next picture listened to this woman's story and said that 'there was room in the church's teachings for cases such as her mother's'. But what of those who have no faith in a god? What of us atheists? Must we also abide by the teachings of an establishment we reject? The church isn't the government here, and I hope it never becomes so. I have no qualms against people who reject abortion on moral or religions grounds - for just as people may choose to have an abortion, so these people may choose not to have one. However, it isn't unheard of for such people, when they are actually faced with an unwanted pregnancy or one which endangers their health, to suddenly do a U-turn and seek that which they only yesterday sought to have abolished. If they succeed in their efforts to erode and eventually remove the right of women to safe legal abortion, what then? Let us not forget that abortion rates in countries where it its illegal aren't wildly different to those countries where is is allowed. The difference is in how many women actually survive the procedure with their life, health and fertility all intact - women have been having abortions for centuries regardless of how safe the procedure is, and if the only way to end an unwanted pregnancy is to pour hydrochloric acid or insert sharp objects into the womb, then believe me, many will do that.

A mother of 12 children, she had tried—unsuccessfully—to induce an abortion. "She came into the hospital with her intestines hanging out her vagina," recalls Jonas. "Then she died."

A quote from an article on when abortion was illegal in America. Read it.
Those that survive this may become sterile - so if they want children in the future they will be unable to do so. What is to be said of that? Is that 'protecting the unborn' through law?

Which is better, more 'pro-life'? Saving the life of one woman, or, by refusing to do so, destroying both her life and that of the future child you are also striving to protect?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

On 'freedom' and our rights.

I lost the link to it, but I read an interesting post somewhere today on how, despite being on opposing sides, the current Christian extremists of the Bush administration and the Muslim extremists seem to be 'defending' the same values. Bush accuses the 'terrorists', whoever they are at the present moment, of attacking our freedom, while he defends it. Unfortunately, his version (and, often, theirs) seems to apply exclusively to the male [insert religion/political preference here]s of the human race. So, with the aid of Answers.com, I'd like to provide them with a more accurate definition of what 'freedom' is:

1. The condition of being free of restraints. (For example, that means not trying to keep certain people, e.g. women, in one place, e.g. the kitchen/maternity ward, if they do not want to be there.)

2. Liberty of the person (note the neutrality of that word!) from slavery, detention, or oppression. (That means treating all women and all people of different ethnic origins/religions with the same respect that you demand, and awarding them the same privileges that you would allow yourself.)

1. Political independence.
2. Exemption from the arbitrary exercise of authority in the performance of a specific action; civil liberty: freedom of assembly.
(Being allowed to voice our opinions without being ignored or forced to shut up because they aren't YOUR opinions)

4. Exemption from an unpleasant or onerous condition: freedom from want. (Freedom from obligatory pregnancy, or 'pre-pregnancy'; freedom from being judged by our appearances simply because we are female.)

5. The capacity to exercise choice; free will: We have the freedom to do as we please all afternoon. (We want the freedom to choose between staying at home/going to work or staying single/getting married without having that choice influenced by a loss of rights or status in choosing one over the other. Freedom to choose an abortion if so needed, without being forced to either have one or to carry to term an unwanted pregnancy that may be harmful to us.)

6. Ease or facility of movement: loose sports clothing, giving the wearer freedom. (Woot! Comfy apparel!)

7. Frankness or boldness; lack of modesty or reserve: the new freedom in movies and novels.

1. The right to unrestricted use; full access: was given the freedom of their research facilities.
2. The right of enjoying all of the privileges of membership or citizenship: the freedom of the city.
(Citizenship should not hinge on religious beliefs. Being accepted for/being dismissed from a job should not hinge on race or gender unless there is a VERY good reason for doing so; very few workplaces have such reasons.)

9. A right or the power to engage in certain actions without control or interference: “the seductive freedoms and excesses of the picaresque form” (John W. Aldridge). (Uh... anarchy?)

Add your own definitions!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Hillary Clinton FOR THE WIN!

Hillary Clinton has just announced on her website that she is forming a commitee to run for presidency next year. I'll edit this later if I learn enough about her and Barack Obama to find out how good an alternative either of them would make to the Republicans, but until then... WOO!

2008 - anything's better than Bush. Apart from the rest of the Republican party.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

About the comments

Yes, I know a couple of you have sent in comments that I've done nothing about. That's because, in all my clear-headedness, I forgot to verify them. As I don't see them as trolling (I know you guys, and know your intentions) rest assured they will be posted up at the weekend along with my replies to the questions you asked.

In the meantime, I have prelims to sit.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Quotes of the Week

Though not necessarily from this past week. A couple of posts that stuck in my mind.

All the equality legislation in the world hasn’t altered the fact that while women have proven able to become one of the men in the workplace, men still haven’t become one of the women in the home.


Tipping the cotton-elastine blend.

Yeah, I'm digging out old artwork again. Not to say much, simply to point out that, if those people on the cutting edge of fashion truly saw the way you dress as a form of personal expression, they wouldn't mind and thus wouldn't ridicule people who choose not to follow the latest trends. The amount of times I've heard comments and had people burst into obvious giggles just as they pass me merely because I am wearing (shock horror!) a long skirt is starting to make me loose faith in the ability of humans to grow up and get used to the fact that some people just don't like skin tight jeans or the current fashion of cropped tights/leggings under short denim skirts. I'll be wearing my velvet drapery with pride, thank you very much, and I shall be striding down the streets with the supreme satisfaction of wearing exactly what makes me feel comfortable and good about my appearance.* Yes, that includes the zany top with the mismatched sleeves. It's real fashion! EVERYTHING GOES!

One thing I have noticed is the increasing number of girls who sent the 'catty' remarks my way who, only a year or two ago, were hardly the most sartorially up-to-the-minute. In biology, we learn about the huge capacity we primates have for learning from our environment. If my suspicions are correct, they may have attracted a certain amount of flak for their appearance at some point between then and now, as the transformation from 'plain' to 'fashionable' seems to be rather dramatic to be a simple evolution in their clothing tastes; perhaps they have learned from others that it is acceptable to ridicule those who obviously dress differently. The general public and their media has certainly become more judgemental (in the most open minded way, they swear) as of late.

In conclusion: I'm fed up with people that go about judging my appearance who then get really offended when others judge them by their own. I'm neither a prude nor religiously orthodox**, to answer the two most common comments. Leave me alone before I smother you with my voluminous sleeves.

Hm. Perhaps it's time to show them that top.

Then again, maybe not.

*Also, the material feels fantastic to wear and touch. Those of you who have ever worn large amounts of velvety material will know what I mean.


Monday, January 08, 2007

How very telling.

I was very surprised, upon reading the sitemeter report, that my humble little webcomic, usually only viewed by people who know me, had been getting so many hits - more in this past week than in the last month. Upon closer inspection, however, I discovered that it was all thanks to my response to Anonymous. Read through it, and try and pick out the key words that brought people from as far afield as South Africa. A hint - it wasn't the word 'feminist'.

My opinion of Internet porn users is made worse with every search word I read. I wouldn't mind if it weren't for the fact that there are a fair few guys I know who are porn users and a good deal more that I don't know about who probably are as well. I wonder if they use these same search criteria in their quest for masturbatory material. There's plenty of violence and rather disturbing fantasies in there. I find out even more just by reading through the blogs in the list at the side. Ignorance was bliss, a lot of these things I wish I'd never read - and am even more sorry that people actually find these things appealing. The kind of things associated with rape, pain and even death for millions of women worldwide are associated with sexual pleasure for millions of porn users worldwide. That is seriously messed up. And don't say it's merely 'natural instinct'. While the most basic aspects of sex are likely innate, a lot of it, including courtship and sexual practise are heavily influenced by other humans and external stimuli. The eroticisation of control (almost exclusively by men) and violence (almost exclusively against women) has lead to many young men and even women growing thinking that that is what sex is all about, and an upsurge in rape (and many traumatised women not realising that what they have experienced is defined as rape, not 'just sex'). Before, it was virginity and chastity belts. Once feminism really came into it's own, sex was all about showing forcing her to recognise that he is still in charge. Defend it all you want. Have a look for yourself. Don't refer me to porn sites - I don't care that there are 'alternatives' which are 'woman friendly' or that not all porn sites show rape (how do you know?). These search queries seem to say a lot more about what some people want to see than the images that they may actually see.


...and that, my friends, is EXACTLY how what was supposed to be a short comment turns into an unplanned rant.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Here's to you Martha...

... you really haven't got a clue.
Yup, seems I've been targeted by the oh-so-dull Martha, aka Booboo, aka Marian. A little bit of websearching has revealed some of his posting history, and with help from Laurelin and subsequently Trolbuster, have filled in the gaps. Despite posting under the name of Martha, however, he appears to be using an IP address similar to Jack Goff - another troll. How strange. Reading his blog is real good fun, not least due to his transparency. Using all the evidence I gathered, plus the first few words of the comment he left without realising that I have moderation powers, I have built up what I think is a very accurate picture of this rather irritating troll's current form.

Yes, I bet he talks like that. A word of advice to Martha - don't refer to those that you would have us believe to be your own tribespeople as 'sand niggers'. It's a bit of a giveaway. Also, I can tell what country all the visitors to this blog are in, and you seem to be situated in North America. It even tells me your city and state. If I'm mistaken, well, there's only one other possibility for the day you commented, and it ain't Afghanistan.

This is fun. Would anyone else like to draw a portrait of their troll(s)? Tell me if you do, I'd love to see.

Mature female = rape target

I was blearily skimming through the news during the wee small hours this morning when I came across this report from the BBC on a nine year old girl called Ashley in America. Ashley suffers from a condition which 1) has suspended her mental state at that of a three-month-old baby and 2) effectively renders her helpless as she is unable to talk or move herself around, though she can move her arms and legs. She is a fully conscious human being and has a full life expectation; however, her life depends on constant care and attention by others as she very clearly cannot take care of herself (she's been nicknamed 'Pillow Angel' by her parents because she will not move from where she is set down - usually on a pillow). Because of this, her parents have taken surgical steps to 'improve the quality of her life' whilst simultaneously making her 'easier to care for', a means to the aforementioned end. Along with hormone treatment, Ashley has undergone surgery to have her uterus and breast buds removed (she is already entering puberty at the age of seven). As Ashley will never be able to raise a child, this is to 'reduce the discomfort' of menstruation and the growth and presence of breasts, which will be especially uncomfortable for Ashley because she comes from a family of large breasted women and such organs will make lying down, something she does almost all the time, extremely uncomfortable. (There is also a history of breast cancer in the family.) Thus, to improve her quality of life, these ostensibly unnecessary organs have been removed. Along with hormone treatment, this also suspends her development; Ashley will remain in a child's body for the rest of her life, to make carrying her easier, reducing her chance of various health problems associated with increased weight and severely limited movement and, in her parents words, she will retain more dignity in a body that is healthier, more of a comfort to her, and more suited to her state of development.

Now, I understand these concerns. All of these, while they have been seen by some as providing mere convenience to the carers, also allow more comfort to the child and increase the effectiveness of care provided to her. It is not something I'm going to go into because I have extremely mixed feelings on the issue ( a) She cannot consent to such drastic changes to her own body, but b) she may well be more comfortable and happier without this that and the other, but c)... ) that will just make this post ramble on endlessly. BUT, and this is where my ears prick up and I KNOW what I think, there is another reason for the surgery (emphasis mine):
The operation [removal of the uterus] also removed the possibility of pregnancy if Ashley were ever the victim of sexual abuse, they said.
The removal of the girl's breast buds was also done in part to avoid sexual abuse
but was carried out primarily so she would not experience discomfort when lying down, the parents said.

Does that not worry anyone? That one of the reasons for removing a young girl's sex organs is an attempt to ward off rape? The parents are going to be the primary carers of this child, but they are probably thinking forward to a time when they will be unable to look after her. What does it say of society when parents will resort to surgery in part to protect their child? Also, it is highly unlikely that they would have listed 'prevention of sexual abuse' as a reason for removing all signs of sexual maturity from a boy. I, for one, am appalled that this has become a such concern. A future carer is seen as a potential abuser unless this child REMAINS a child. But even then, it's a good idea to remove the womb, just in case. Is there no way of ensuring they find a carer/carers who will look after Ashley without taking advantage of her regardless of her physical appearance? And why is it HER body that is seen as potentially provocative? That sounds similar to the old rapist's excuse of a woman provoking him (and thus deserving it) through her appearance. I'm not saying that the parents see their child as such, and I do think that they genuinely have their child's best interests at heart, but is this not a symptom of something... wrong with society?
I advise you to read what Ashley's parents say and make up your own mind.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Quick note...

I've added a couple of older posts (correctly dated) from another blog which I now hardly use. So now you know why the page is suddenly longer.