Women's Fightback 11, November/December 2011

Liberal feminism: the individual is key

Published on: Thu, 24/11/2011 - 17:54

Women’s Fightback is a socialist-feminist paper. Sarah Wright examines another feminist trend, “liberal feminism.” Future issues of Women’s Fightback will explore more “other feminisms”.

In a few words, a liberal feminist campaign would oppose anything that gets in the way of gender equality.

But the fundamental thinking of liberal feminism lies in a belief in the capacity of the individual woman. Changing the basic structures of society itself is not the issue: it is more about changing the laws that block women’s liberation. If this is done, women can change themselves and prove themselves

The Cleft

Published on: Thu, 24/11/2011 - 17:49

Nicola Stott reviews Doris Lessing’s The Cleft. Let us know if you have a book you would like to review.

I like Doris Lessing and was looking forward to reading The Cleft. It’s certainly not a new book, but many of the themes still feel relevant to me.

Unusually, the story is told by a male Roman historian working his way through ancient manuscripts which detail the beginning of humanity as an entirely female event.

The story is therefore told by a man who at points in the story relates events to his own life. It’s an unusual way to tell a story, especially a story which is so vague with

Campaigning for women's rights in Iraq

Published on: Thu, 24/11/2011 - 17:41

Emily Muna gives an account of an interview with Houzan Mahmoud of the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq.

When you meet an extraordinary person, it can be in the most mundane of places.

Our interview with Houzan Mahmoud, of the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), a socialist-feminist activist, was carried out in a softly-lit, sleek little café, not far from Hampstead station.

Houzan was born in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1973; she is a socialist and campaigner for women’s rights in Kurdistan, Iraq and the Middle East.

A striking woman, with lots of beautiful, dark hair, sharp eyes

Support sex workers' rights

Published on: Thu, 24/11/2011 - 17:33

By H J McQuarrie

Sex work is probably the most contentious and divisive issue within contemporary feminism.

Whilst radical feminists see the sale of sex in any of its forms as inherently oppressive, socialist feminists position themselves alongside workers and as such extend solidarity to those working in the sex industry.

Supporting the rights of sex workers is complex, however, as the sex industry in its present state is built upon a system of inequality and oppression. How should we, as socialist feminists, support our sex worker sisters?

The main difference between socialist and radical

No more sexist banter!

Published on: Thu, 24/11/2011 - 17:22

By a Tube worker

Sexist banter is almost commonplace in my job as a London Underground station assistant.

For the last five years I have challenged individual comments, but not really known how to tackle the underlying issue. I have even felt unconfident of how important the issue is. Thanks to a survey on workplace sexism, produced by my union, the RMT, challenging sexism has started to get easier.

Recent examples of sexist banter include my male colleagues commenting on women’s bodies: “Look at it”, “Look at that thing over there”. Also, discussing my prospects of promotion to the grade of

Violence against women a class issue

Published on: Thu, 24/11/2011 - 17:13

25 November is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Many women’s organisations will mark the date with events and meetings.

In the UK one woman in four experiences domestic violence at some point in their life, and one in four experiences rape or attempted rape.

Yet in the face of this refuges, rape crisis centres, counselling and advocacy services, which were already stretched, are being cut further. Other attacks, such as the cap on housing benefit, will make it harder for women to leave violent relationships as they are priced out of housing.

Stigma around the

Women in the fight against cuts

Published on: Thu, 24/11/2011 - 17:08

Unison has almost one million women members, who will be an important part of the current struggle to defend our pensions.

The proposed changes will hit women hardest, since so many are working part-time to juggle caring responsibilities with work, and earning significantly less than men.

Women receive significantly less than the average public sector pension which is, in any case, hardly extravagant at £7,800 a year.

The average is £3,500 for women in the NHS and £2,700 for women in local government.

Women also make up the majority (two-thirds) of public sector workers. Thus they have

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