Women's Fightback, Feminism

Miss World can flee to England: millions of Nigerians can't

By Nicole Ashford An estimated 200 people have died and tens of thousands have been left homeless in the riots sparked by the Miss World contest in Nigeria. There is a long history of conflict between Muslims in northern Nigeria and the mainly Christian south. Islamist influence has been growing in the Muslim areas of the country, and an increasing number of states are adopting sharia law - bringing them into conflict with the national government. The recent trouble began after a newspaper suggested that the Prophet Mohammed would not have disapproved of Miss World and might even have married...

Beauty queens' boycott for Amina

You probably wouldn't expect Miss World contestants to be leading the way in fighting for women's rights. But already seven beauty queens have announced that they will boycott this year's Miss World contest, due to be held in Nigeria in November, in protest at the sentence of death by stoning handed down to single mother Amina Lawal ) under sharia law. Amina was sentenced to death in March 2002 after admitting having had a child while divorced. A first appeal against her sentence was rejected on 19 August, and she is now appealing to a higher court. Contestants from Belgium, France, Norway...

Bread and Roses: Women, war and fundamentalism

by Vicki Morris From a sense that "women" have something distinctive to say on the threatened war, and from a sense that they are not getting a chance to say it anywhere else, a number of groups recently held a women's teach-in titled "War/anti-militarism; fundamentalisms/ secularism; civil liberties/anti-terrorism legislation". They were Act Together, Southall Black Sisters, Women Living Under Muslim Laws, Women Against Fundamentalisms, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and Women in Black. About 100 women attended. The atmosphere was rather hushed. This was to do with the...

Bread and Roses

by Nicole Ashford Girl Power? Theresa May has become chairman of the Conservative Party. None of this politically-correct "chair" or "chairwoman" business for her. She's going to modernise the party. In particular, she's going to enhance its appeal to women, ethnic minorities, gay people. And so on. (As far as I can tell, the whole thing's much more about Iain Duncan Smith not wanting David Davis using the party machine as the base for his leadership bid in three years. But the spin is that the Tories are now into girl power.) I don't number very many Tories among my acquaintance. A total of...

Bread and Roses: We want it all!

The Guardian's recent series of articles on the legacy of feminism was very Guardian women's page. Sometimes irritating, middle-classey, kind-of-socialisticy, anti-globalisationy kind of fare. Nonetheless I found myself broadly in agreement with the conclusions - even with those of the dreadful (ex-SDPer) Polly Toynbee. What is "feminism"? A short definition is - a belief in equality for women with men. But the feminist goal, as Katherine Viner analysed quite well, has come to be associated with the watered-down reformist/capitalist spin on equality, that is "equality of opportunity". Feminism...

Yorkie (and everything else inlife) is for girls!

Sometimes sexist advertising really cheeses us off. Here is how one young reader, Rebecca Barnett, broached the subject with the manufacturers of Yorkie chocolate bars. DEAR Nestle and whomever else it might concern, I'm writing to tell you how appalled I am with your "new" Yorkie wrapper. It is sexist and encourages a patriarchal view on things. The Yorkie wrapper says, "IT'S NOT FOR GIRLS!" Do you want girls to stop eating Yorkie bars? As for "NOT AVAILABLE IN PINK", most girls don't like pink from about the age of eight! This is encouraging the "girl = pink, boy = blue" taboo. I have to say...

Women fighting fundamentalism

It took an atrocity thousands of miles away to draw the world's attention to the plight of women under the Taliban. The most extreme anti-woman regime in the world was helped to power by US arms and training, and tolerated for 5 years. When it came into conflict with the US, suddenly its treatment of women was condemned. The danger is, with Afghanistan 'sorted', women's rights fall off the agenda, and vicious anti-women regimes, on which the Taliban modelled themselves, flourish. Women of Afghanistan were not 'liberated' by the fall of the Taliban. The interim government contains jihadi...

Sylvia Pankhurst and Democracy

The development of industrial society threw masses of women into the factories. Whole industries, like the cotton industry, had a majority of women and children workers, existing in terrible conditions of super exploitation; as Marx put it in Capital, “Robbed of all that had previously been considered necessary for life".(1) Middle-class women, on the other hand, were thrown into the home. Whereas previously such women, wives of artisans and so on, had taken part together with their husbands and children in production, now they became ladies of leisure, locked into the home. They were deprived...

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