Women's Fightback 14, June/July 2012

Feminism vs religion

Published on: Wed, 06/06/2012 - 17:07

This year in Britain we’ve seen Christian fundamentalism asserting itself.

In London, Brighton and Manchester we have seen pro-life pickets outside abortion clinics, where women are harassed and told lies about the effects of abortion. Fourtunately those pickets have not gone unchallenged by pro-choice campaigners.

But increasingly, on our streets and university campuses, pro-life organisations hold stalls and workshops distributing anti-abortion propaganda.

Now Catholic (“pro-life”) charity Care Confidential is seeking to bring all its affiliated centres up to “commissioning status” standard

RadFem and transphobia

Published on: Wed, 06/06/2012 - 16:59

RadFem 2012 (14-15 July) is billed as the place to explore “the realities of women’s lives”.

There’s plenty I could say about how and why I disagree with RadFem 2012’s politics — it’s anti-porn, anti-men, anti-sex worker, and more. But something else stands out, and is making many feminists (justifiably) angry.

The conference slogan is “women together for liberation”, but on closer inspection what they mean is “women born women living as women” (an amendment from earlier “biological women”).

“This isn’t transphobia!” cry RadFem 2012 organisers — it’s not about excluding some people but

French right defends bosses' right to sexually harass

Published on: Wed, 06/06/2012 - 16:53

We have heard shocking words from the UMP [Sarkozy’s right-wing party which ruled until the last French election], such as “scum” [“racaille”] or “cancers” when talking about young people from poor areas or the unemployed.

We also have seen the right pin the bill for the economic crisis on the workers — for example, with the pensions reform.

This open aggression, this class hatred, at least had the merit of being a straightforward attack to which we could react. But the establishment has also passed a whole number of reforms in great secrecy, during the school holidays or even at dead of

Challenge “rape culture”!

Published on: Wed, 06/06/2012 - 16:47

The sorry saga of Ched Evans, the Sheffield United player found guilty of rape, has revealed the alarming prevalence of what has become known as “rape culture” — the unquestioned acceptance of myths around sexual violence.

Rape Crisis identifies these myths as including: that rape happens because women are outside alone at night; because women dress or behave “provocatively”; because women don’t say “no” clearly enough; because women were drunk; because women don’t fight back, scream or run away; because men cannot control themselves; because some men are psychopaths; because men who have no

Anti-fascism must not be anti-women

Published on: Wed, 06/06/2012 - 16:43

Hope Not Hate’s efforts to bring down fascist organisations in the UK are admirable. I’m sure Nick Lowles, the main force behind the campaign, was pleased with the wipe-out of local BNP council seats in the recent elections. For his efforts in these results, I commend him.

However, my initial response to seeing his blog post on 30 March “Let’s stop the racist pornographer” was derision. Of course I agree that Steve Squire, owner of a sex shop and alleged seller of date rape drugs is not a suitable person to be in the London Assembly. But on reading other posts Lowles has placed on his blog, I

A positive view of Asperger's?

Published on: Wed, 06/06/2012 - 16:32

Detective Saga Noren in The Bridge was fairly clearly high-functioning autistic, having Asperger Syndrome or being somewhere nearby on the autistic spectrum.

This portrayal was, I felt, broadly positive. Saga is an intelligent woman, capable in her field of work, with focus and a useful detachment.

Her personal and emotional life was atypical, but not in a particularly negative way. Her autistic-literal thinking was shown in amusing ways too: on one occasion in a nightclub, a man she fancied offered her a drink and walked away bemused when she refused; she followed him to explain that she

Lines of enquiry

Published on: Wed, 06/06/2012 - 16:28

The Bridge was the latest BBC4 programmed Scandinavian crime dramas, which sentenced it to inevitable comparisons with previous successes such as The Killing.

As someone who really rated The Killing, I initially fell into this trap: being dissatisfied by the first couple of episodes, wanting The Killing theme music to kick in, etc. But by about halfway through I think The Bridge definitely held its own, and managed to keep the intensity of drama throughout, whereas I feel The Killing began to tail off towards the end.

This came from investment in the characters from the beginning, although at

Can drama be feminist?

Published on: Wed, 06/06/2012 - 16:24

In the study of arts-based subjects, the tendency might be to apply theories (“isms”) to pieces of art as a kind of critique, as a way of approaching a text, etc, from a certain perspective, in order to write a convincing essay.

For example, I remember being asked to write an essay by choosing a play, and choosing two critical theories to critique it with. Although I think it is more insightful to approach a playtext with the broadness of a political or social context, trying to interpret anything I could find in Aphra Behn’s The Rover as “socialist feminist” is not very helpful.

First, “isms

Save the Women's Library

Published on: Wed, 06/06/2012 - 16:14

The Women’s Library, which has been housed by the London Metropolitan University for ten years, could be closed. The library holds the biggest collection of literature dedicated to the history of women and attracts around 30,000 visitors every year.

In March London Metropolitan’s Board of Governors decided to find The Women’s Library a new home or sponsor, or to run it as a skeleton service from December, reducing opening hours to one day per week.

Vice Chancellor Malcolm Gillies has said the university can no longer fund a service that is used by so many from outside the institution and

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