Women's Fightback, Feminism

Chinese policy is eugenics, not liberation

Twitter has removed a tweet by a Chinese embassy account spreading “violent propaganda” about the alleged sterilisation of Uyghur Muslim women after receiving several complaints. The embassy shared an article from state-run media China Daily, which claimed the “eradication of extremism” in Xinjiang, an area of China with a large Uyghur population, has given women “more autonomy”. It said: “Study shows that in the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uyghur women in Xinjiang were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making...

Help sex workers organise!

The key and simple question at the heart of debate around sex work is: what best empowers sex workers to fight for themselves? The answer is unequivocally recognising their work as work and giving them the rights and means to organise: against the bosses in brothels and clubs, for better pay and safer conditions. The answer is not, no matter which way you look at it, to make their work more dangerous and make it more difficult for workers to seek help or exit the industry, which is precisely what the Nordic Model does. In her article “No to the Swedish Model”, Apsi Witana makes this point well...

A socialist-feminist take on Xmas films

It’s my last column of the year, so time for our socialist feminist Christmas film review. Muppets Christmas Carol: Like many Muppets movies this shows the Muppets experiencing and expressing the misery of capitalism. This is ameliorated not by working-class struggle but by benevolent capitalism, which had been faced with its own horrific reflection. This is the most liberal of the Muppets movies. The Muppet canon contains working class resistance to capitalism whilst ultimately accommodating to the power of capital. Why? In part due to the leadership of Kermit, who constantly curtails the...

Debating the "Swedish Model"

Apsi Witana writes (Solidarity 572): "Economic pressure and a reduced client pool also increased a client’s bargaining power — it meant they were now able to haggle for cheaper prices and demand unsafe practices or acts which a worker may have felt the need to accept out of desperation." Many prostitutes have to deal with this anyway. It sounds like what the Swedish model does is make the minority of high-class prostitutes who have chosen their line of work have to deal with what the vast majority of prostitutes who are already desperate have always had to deal with. Boo hoo. The countless...

Fight job cuts in retail

Arcadia, the owner of Topshop, Burton, and Dorothy Perkins, has gone into administration, putting 13,000 jobs at risk. In retail, 85% of Arcadia employees are women, while at head office 71% are women. It is also a young workforce. 75% of the retail workforce is under 35 while at head office 63% of the workforce is under 35. The company said the pandemic had had “a material impact on trading across our businesses”, and in fact it was already in difficulties due to a chunk of its traffic moving to competitors more adroit about going online. Hospitality and retail are the foremost sectors for...

Hair dye and Rapunzel

There comes a time in every woman’s life when she starts dyeing her hair. Unless she is so radical that she’s shaved it all off and become a Buddhist monk. As you grow older the temptation to shave it all off as an f-you to the fashionistas grows and grows. I mean, what’s so great about long hair? It didn’t do Rapunzel much good. Years and years growing it on her own in a tower and then some prince comes and climbs up it and says he’s saving her, the cheek, the downright cheek. OK, she was probably a bit bored living in that tower, but at least she didn’t have some prince tugging his whole...

Betterment without emancipation?

Marie Stopes International (MSI) has changed its name in recognition of the need to break association with the pro-eugenics views of Marie Stopes. The abortion and contraception provider will go by the name MSI Reproductive Choices. There had been debate in the organisation for some time about a name change, and they were spurred to action by the Black Lives Matters movement and subsequent discussions. Marie Stopes was an author and prominent women’s rights campaigner. She opened Britain’s first clinic offering birth control advice to married women in 1921, in the face of fierce opposition...

Thirteen murdered working-class women

The death of the killer of thirteen women has elicited an apology from the police for the methods and the language they used during their investigation. The role of the press and they way that they portrayed the victims has also come in for some heavy criticism. Which is right. When you hear their language in the context of today, it is shocking. But in the context of the time it was happening, the police and press fitted right in with the culture that affected all women. Those who had the advantage of class and money had at least some protection from the effect of sexist attitudes on their...

No to the "Swedish model"

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on sex work legislation, closing on 10 December. It follows a battle spearheaded by MSP Ash Denham, the government’s community safety minister, to introduce the criminalisation of the purchase of sex work (the “Nordic model”, or “Swedish model”, also implemented in France and Ireland). Currently in the UK, the purchase and selling of sex is legal, though various associated activities such as street work and workers operating from the same premises are not. National Ugly Mugs (an organisation that provides support and representation for...

Rebecca: feminist failure

This article contains spoilers for Wheatley’s 2020 Rebecca film, the 1940 Hitchcock film, and the original 1938 Daphne Du Maurier gothic novel. Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca, showing on Netflix, was always going to be haunted by Hitchcock’s 1940 film. Wheatley and screenwriter Goldman were right to try and create a new film adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s novel, rather than a remake of the Oscar-winning classic. They tried to give us a more explicitly feminist Rebecca, but sadly do not pull it off. Rebecca, in all her incarnations, is in many ways a feminist hero. She refused to let marriage crush...

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