Fate is Chance. Destiny is Choice.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Blog For Choice Day

I just (barely) missed Blog for Choice day - but I've been reading some fab posts about choice:

Laura over at I'm Not a Feminist But...
Pippa at One Salford Feminist
Anji at Shut up Sit Down
Michelle at Lonergrrrl
Newt In a Teacup
Devious Diva

Although I think I've only read a few among many, but I think the above posts are definitely worth mentioning and are thought provoking.

My 2 cents are that yes, I think all women should have the right to an abortion. I feel that although it may be a difficult decision to make for some women, especially considering the pressure they get from religion, partners and family to not have an abortion (and guilt from pro-life groups), I feel that women who choose abortions as a gut reaction are given very bad press.

They are said to be 'taking the easy way out' - but what, I ask, is wrong with that? The choice is available to us in the West, and if needed, we should take advantage of it.

As Laura said, women should have the freedom to pursue their dreams, get the job they want, travel, study and so on without the hindrance of a child at that period of their life, or when they already feel they have enough children, or when they just don't want children at all. I support women's control of their own bodies and fertility.

I myself have thought long and hard about such a "controversial" subject and I normally come to the conclusion that yes, I would want an abortion because I am not ready at all to have the responsibility of a child. Let alone the fact that I would miss out on a lot of experiences, don't even having a paying job at the moment (I volunteer) and am planning to do an MA this October. I think when I have a child I would rather not be living at home and have completed my studying, travelling and experienced living with my partner for a while. There's nothing wrong with having a child, but I feel that abortion should be thought of as a valid choice for women.

People don't like it when women say they support abortion. All the old gems come out like 'but its a new life!' and 'you're murdering a child!' and so on. Women fought long and hard to get those rights and we're not giving them up so easily. People think abortion is only okay if the woman has a need to do it. I think it's important that society's perception of abortion is challenged. I also think it's possible to be pro-life AND pro-abortion, just like being anti porn and sex positive. Because I have a genuine respect for life, but not if it means the woman who gives birth to a child really doesn't want it.

So heres to women's right to choose abortion: long may it still be a choice.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Women and Films

Inspired by Alyx's post about films that perhaps touch on feminist subjects or show women in all their multi-dimensional splendour - this has made me think about a post I was planning on doing about how women are portrayed in films, particularly films of the action/adventure/thriller type that are mostly occupied by men.

Some of my favourite action/adventure/Sci-Fi films, such as Indiana Jones, StarWars, The Matrix and Lord of the Rings to name a few, put women in fairly stereotypical roles, although the few female characters they do have are interesting: Princess Leia, Senator Amidala, Trinity, Arwen and Eowyn - which are much stronger characters, than for example, in Indiana Jones (where all the the female characters serve as either sexual love interests or are rather wimpy).

Although the characters are interesting and not (extremely) one dimensional - they still serve as the love interest to a male character in the movie. Trinity, for example, although strong and quite kick-ass, still wears the regulation tight PVC outfit and is Neo's love interest. And both Senator Amidala and Princess Leia in StarWars are love interests at some time or another. Arwen is the love interest of Aragorn, despite being a somewhat strong woman.

It's my feeling that within most hollywood movies, women serve as the element of feeling/compassion - a way of showing us the more emotional side of a male character's personality. As well as being stereotypical, and not showing how strong and tough women can also be, it shows the bias of society in thinking that women are emotional and therefore not rational (as men supposedly are).

In many action movies, women serve as nothing but the sex object, as decoration showing the status of particular men. Some of the language used to describe women in movies is particularly derogatory and objectifying. It is shown in many movies that pornography, prostitution and strip clubs are 'manly' things to take part in - seeing women as sex objects to be consumed. Rape is depicted in such a way as to seem sexually titillating and not the horrifying abuse of human rights that it is.

One film I take issue with is Sin City. So many reviewers and men in particular have said it is an 'arty' kind of film, a breakthrough (!) - and although it looks good, it makes me feel uncomfortable because of the depiction of women. The band of prostitutes are oversexualised (thus re-inforcing women as the sex class) and also, despite supposedly being 'strong' women, need the 'help' of men on several occasions.

The one career woman (lawyer/parole officer?) is shown in a scene as naked and, despite being a lesbian, her body is on display to the male viewers, inviting comment (as the male in the scene with her naturally does - saying something along the lines of 'if you weren't a lesbian I would definitely sleep with you').

The women in the film give the impression of empowerment but they can only take action against others with the help of a man (Clive Owen), who has had a previous relationship with one of the prostitutes. This suggests that because he has possessed her body in the past, that it is okay for him to help them (as a rule, the prostitutes don't accept help from men, particularly cops).

I've had a peek before at Frank Miller's graphic novels in a bookshop, and I have to say that the content is extremely misogynistic and objectifying for women. It seems that a lot of people think that looking at female bodies in this way is appreciation of women (which is the arguement that many pornographers also use) - but it is not, because it encourages the view that women are the sex class, defined by their bodies.

Okay, it's just one film, but I hate to think if one film is this misogynistic, and is considered the 'film of the year' (when it was released) - then what will be the 'film of the decade'?

Another particular film - Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - the adaptation of the acclaimed game - is also contradictory in that although Lara is, ideally, a strong, inspiring woman, the film played upon her being a woman=sex by showing gratuitious near nudity (which wasn't needed).

Jolie commented in an interview that the editors of the film also enhanced her bust area to draw in the 'teenage boys': perhaps this was to detract from the fact that the film is kind of crap anyway and that Lara's character doesn't live up to the tough, tombraiding kick-ass legend.

There is also a bone to pick with the game itself (although the game being a landmark breakthrough as she is the only female action star among a male dominated genre) because of the inflation and deflation of her bust, and the distortion and manipulation of her figure (which unfortunately, gets mentioned in every article about the game itself as evidenced by my partner's playstation/gaming magazines).

Articles apertaining to male characters rarely get this scrutiny over the way they look rather than focus on the game (which is supposed to be the point!).

However, taking my cue from Alyx, some of my favourite films (some of them also feature in her list) that touch on feminist subjects and/or show well rounded female characters are:

1. Kill Bill vol.1&2
2. Thelma and Louise
3. Lady Vengeance
4. The Color Purple
5. Frida
6. Chocolat
7. Amelie
8. Children of a Lesser God (because Marlee Matlin is fabulous!)
9. Princess Mononoke
10. Howl's Moving Castle
11. Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind
12. Rabbit Proof Fence
13. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
14. Girl, Interrupted
15. Ever After: A Cinderella Story
16. V for Vendetta
17. Bend It Like Beckham
18. The Hours
19. Now and Then
20. Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
21. Gone with the Wind (both the book and the film - Scarlett is one strong woman)
22. Spirited Away
23. The Miracle Worker (about Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan)
24. The Craft
25. Laputa: Castle in the Sky
26. 10 Things I Hate About You (Julia Stiles is great as the Shrew)
27. Alien (1st film most of all)

Alyx has put down much more films than I have and has asked if anyone can think of any more?

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Is the BBC turning into Channel 4?**

I’ve been keeping informed with emails from London Feminist Network Yahoo group about this programme ‘Consent’ which is being aired this week or next week at 10pm. **Amendment: this is in fact the wrong programme name. The programmed being aired on Channel 4 at 10pm Sunday 21st Jan is called 'Consent' and then the programme I am referring to is called 'The Verdict', which is going to be on BBC2. However, these two programmes seem remarkably similar. I'm wondering if they are linked in some way?***

The problem with this programme, apart from the fact that viewers will be drawn in by the ‘cliffhanger’ idea of whether a rape victim is telling the truth or not, is that there has been no indication from the BBC that they have consulted the proper channels – so they have not sought information from rape crisis organisations or police units for rape victims and survivors and so on. AND the jury will be celebrities!!! Add to this mix Jeffrey Archer – who has been in prison himself – and you have a recipe for misinformation and the assertion that women are innate liars, especially when it comes to rape.

The entire focus of the programme will be on whether or not a woman who has been raped is telling the truth. Especially since (apparently) the rapist (the accused) will be a “famous” man. This shouldn’t invalidate a woman’s claim that a man raped her. Neither should whether a woman was drunk, wearing a short skirt or low cut top, or what her sexual history is.

When a man is raped, I doubt they bring up his sexual history or what he was wearing or how much he had been drinking. The double standard is still very much in evidence in the justice system. Rape conviction statistics are at an all time low – precisely because juries and judges bring bias with them into the courtroom (juries inevitably read about ‘false claims’ of rape in the media – which is much more pervasive than reporting about rapes that HAVE been convicted).

It is extremely difficult for a woman to admit that she has been raped, let alone go to a police station and give evidence. I imagine it would be very disempowering – having to be examined and then having to be cross-examined when you are the one that has been raped. Then having to stand up in court and see your rapist get away with it because it’s his word against yours. And women who have been through all that then have to deal with the reaction of society – if the rapist is found ‘innocent’ when he is not – then the woman will no doubt be considered a liar.

And the misperception of rapists as ‘monsters; men who are maniacs or psychos’ is rarely the case. Many men who rape are just as normal as any man you see walking past you in the street – granted, they think it’s acceptable to see women as sex objects and think it is acceptable to view women as existing for their gratification and don’t respect them – but they are generally men that have families and friends and have normal lives. The media usually just reports the cases that are viewed as particularly striking for some reason or other (ie. When it’s a case of drunken consent or one person word against another etc).

And I refuse to believe that men can’t stop once they’ve started – when a woman says no, she means no, and a man CAN stop. I seriously don’t believe that men are driven by their sex drive, and it’s impossible to stop. Why is man’s sexuality higher and more important and more uncontrollable than a woman’s? The view that men can’t control themselves paints them as uncontrollable, primeval beasts which cannot be trusted at all – and is this a flattering picture? I don’t think so – I think this discriminates against good men.

I won’t be watching 'The Verdict' and I will be complaining to the BBC at:

Phone: 08700 100 222
Textphone/Minicom: 08700 100 212
Write: BBC Complaints, PO Box 1922, Glasgow G2 3WT

There doesn’t seem to be an email address on the BBC website but there is an online complaints form at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/make_complaint_step1.shtml

**This is a reference to the fact that Channel 4 has become extremely mediocre over the past two to three years (Big Brother etc).

***If you want to complain about the Channel 4 programme which is on Sunday 21st January at 10pm, the contact details are as follows:

Advertising Standards Authority
Mid City Place
71 High Holborn

Telephone: 020 7492 2222
Textphone/Minicom: 020 7242 8159
Fax: 020 7242 3696

I'm not sure whether the Channel 4 programme is the same as the BBC2 one, but people are welcome to watch and critically evaluate the programme or complain.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007


It's been a very confusing few days trying to figure out what has been happening within the feminist blogsphere.

What I have worked out is that: several people whose blogs I read frequently have been, or are, unhappy, and this makes me unhappy too. I've always tried to step back and let things take their course but sometimes I worry that people are going to get badly hurt by something somebody says on a comment thread or in a post. Because no matter who says what or who believes what, we are dealing with heightened feelings because blogs are very personal spaces - which should be respected.

Respect is important - whether or not we agree with somebody, we should sometimes all agree to disagree and just get on with fighting the things that matter. I've been guilty of getting worked up with trolls in comment threads before but I've kind of learnt to take it easy and realise that you can't bend people round to thinking your way if they are determined to stick to their views at any cost.

I'm not a separatist feminist, neither am I lesbian, but I respect women that are true to themselves. I've always been attracted to men, and my partner is male. I don't think this makes me any less of a feminist, because I care very much about women and their wellbeing. Sexuality is about being what most makes you happy - about attraction and complex layers of what attracts you to a person - whether male or female. I don't believe it's 'biological imperative', and I don't think it's about 'choice' either. I think it's something that draws you to a person, and its not necessarily something anyone can explain.

Everyone comes round to their views in their own particular journey, with nuances and complex twists that not everybody shares - so therefore not everyone will have the same view about the same thing. Agreeing on particular points, and yet not always agreeing with other things - this is what makes life so much more interesting and stimulating. So long as we agree that life needs to be improved for women.

Radical feminism is a way of seeing the world, it's examining the Patriarchy in all it's forms. Just like noticing when something isn't accessible for a deaf person; seeing the world through the eyes of someone who notices things about the world that could be, and needs to be better or different in order for the world to be a better place. Life is full of different experiences and its important to respect that, no matter how much we disagree with something.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Happy New Year

So..it's 2007 - I hope everybody had a great time welcoming in the New Year whether they were partying the night away or staying in with their family watching TV (which is what I did - albeit in Edinburgh with my partner's family).

I've got a few gripes I'm going to whine about - particularly the rising train fares which is a thing close to my heart considering that my partner is in Edinburgh and we both have to fork out the extortionate prices. I don't understand the reasoning behind the fare hitch because we don't really see any of the so called 'improvements' that they've all been talking about.

Also, considering the fact that I've been travelling on GNER trains for almost 6 years and have seen and experienced first hand the prices raising steadily and the service, dare I say it, getting worse or just staying the same. Consider this - I am deaf and they still use loudspeaker announcements and no text announcements. You would have thought they could afford at least putting up a live text thing in each carriage as I've seen in some buses/bus stops and other trains (although these are few). GNER has a lot to answer for. We pay first class prices for a standard to mediocre service (on more than one occassion my reserved seat has been occupied by someone without a reservation who wouldn't budge and I've also had to stand for 5 hours in a packed train a few times, even with a seat reservation).

My partner and I travelled on an easyjet flight on Boxing day from Stansted to Edinburgh because there were no trains running - and the fare was much cheaper than a single on the train, even with taxes added (£20ish each - a train fare would likely be around £40 with a young person's railcard). It was a bit of a hassle getting there as its about a 30 minute drive from where I live - and then we had to check in and go through security and then wait around for about an hour, but I have to say it's much more exciting and has better service by far compared to trains, even on a budget airline.

I don't think it would be convenient to fly all the time though - Edinburgh's airport isn't close to my partner's house and Stansted isn't easy to get to without a car (my dad drove us on boxing day). Which is why I feel so angry and frustrated with the rising train fare prices.

My new year 'resolutions' are just generally to have a good year, much better than last year which was difficult for my family - my sister being unhappy, my dad being unhappy and my mum being unhappy. I just hope they all find some happiness in this coming year. My other main resolution is - yes its cliched - to lose weight and get fit.

Especially considering I have PCOS and a danger of diabetes. Its not to do with my appearance because I am happy with myself and the way I look (most of the time!). I do feel quite unhealthy because I don't exercise regularly enough and love my chocolate! My doctor thinks exercise is the key as I've got a very slow metabolism - and despite eating healthily, exercise is the only thing that will help. So...I'll be getting active this year! :)

I think it was quite a good year for me personally as years go - graduating, going on holiday, finding feminism and going on the Reclaim the Night march. And finding more confidence in myself socially towards the end of the year.

But whatever this year brings, I hope everyone is well and happy.

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