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The Ninth Carnival of Feminists February 22, 2006

Posted by Winter in carnivals, feminist blogging.

Welcome to the ninth carnival of feminists. Fix youself a drink and settle in. I do hope you all still have some space left on your blogrolls. We’ve organised the posts broadly into subject areas, but obviously there is overlap.

Section 1: Feminism

One of the primary purposes of the feminist blogging community is, of course, to advance feminist thought. We spend a lot of time discussing and debating this subject with ourselves and each other, so we thought we’d start this carnival with a round up of posts which are primarily about feminism.

The Biting Beaver offers a very thoughtful post about women and patriarchy, asking “Should we be blaming women too? At what point do women stop being innocent victims and start being held responsible for the role they play? Do they ever? Are they ever responsible for their actions under a repressive society?”

Muse and Fury wonders how often do we downplay our politics? – “whether it be on dates, with colleagues, family, parents, bosses, grandparents, children, neighbours? Sometimes do we just need to get along? Just keep our mouths shut – get in, get what we came for, get out? Uggh – am I really about to say, “be nice, quiet, polite girls?

Brownfemipower from ‘Woman of Color Blog’ writes brilliantly about women of color and identity politics. Everyone should read this post.

Emily from Fiercely feminist unpacks some of her problems with feminist theory: “i believe, fundamentally, like bell hooks, that feminism is the fight for the liberation of all peoples. i believe that we cannot seperate realms of domination and exploitation by measures of race, class, sexuality, or gender. if we do that, we get debates over who is better in ’08: condi or hillary. and if those are my choices, i’m seriously moving to another planet.” What one person means when they call themselves a feminist is very different to what another person might mean by the word.

Earlbecke, from the wonderful new blog ‘Definition’ throws the net wide with an open letter to all the liberal straight men.

Dora deconstructs a supposedly feminist critique of the Vagina Monologues.

Irrational Point from ‘The Soapbox’ discusses the role of men in feminism.

In response to an argument that prozac is the answer to women’s low self-esteem, Aspazia asks
Are we ready for this medically enhanced post-modern Feminism?

Meanwhile Kelley Bell puts down her thoughts in the form of a poem.


It has come to our attention that some people don’t like feminism very much! Well, well, never mind because we’re quite equipped to deal with them.

Claycomb from ‘Raining Cats and Dogma’ doesn’t think much of Caitlin Flanagan: “Of course, her most frequent tactic is to set up “FEMINISM” as a straw man that elides multiple feminisms while vastly oversimplifying any individual feminist arguments, taking the kind of cheap potshots at an abstract ideological bogeyman that she says “FEMINISM” does with “PATRIARCHY.””

Apurva Mathad takes an Indian perspective on anti-feminism in response to attacks on one of his friend’s blogs: Look deeper.

Blitzgirl responds to an anti-feminist review of Ariel Levy’s book Female Chauvanist Pigs.

Joida from ‘Buried Voices’ objects to a sexist university paper. Has he been too hard on them? You decide.

In at the very last minute because it’s brilliant, we have The Patriarchy Phrasebook from Laurelin.
Section 2: The issues that matter

On Violence, Rape and Sexual Harasment

Witchy Woo from ‘Well I’ll go to the foot of the stairs’ considers the case of Christopher Lumdsun a man sentenced for the man- slaughter of his wife on the grounds of diminished responsibility, even though he stabbed her in the back with a 12cm kitchen knife that had somehow found itself in a bedside drawer and proceeded to stab her in the face and neck so many times the pathologist couldn’t count the wounds. How exactly did this happen?

eM from ‘The Compulsive Confessor’ offers a wonderful post which really captures the insiduous, even subtle, nature of the power relations involved in sexual harassment : “He didn’t listen to me saying “No” softly, over and over again, till I said, “NO” and he saw my expression, the fear in my eyes at the sudden realisation that boys were so much stronger than I was and that Small, fast asleep in her room, probably wouldn’t be able to hear me if I yelled and what was I going to do and he said, releasing my wrists, “You know I’m a nice guy, right?” Right?

Holly from ‘Self Portrait As’ is shocked to come across someone searching the internet for a Sorry I date raped you card”. Yes, because getting one of those would make it all better wouldn’t it?

Just when you thought it was safe to take your vagina to work, Emmy from ‘Gendergeek’ finds that sexual harassment is alive and well on Wall Street.

Heo Cwaeth tells us about her “friend” Lenny, a man who thinks that being a woman means enjoying sexual harassment.

Zuzu from Feministe takes down a dirty old man who likes to use his power to oogle young women in his office and call it a compliment because, obviously, women just luuurve being publicly humiliated.

On Reproductive rights

Natalie from ‘Philobiblion’ reports on the The International Planned Parenthood Federation’s estimate that 19 million women worldwide will have an unsafe abortion in 2006: “Just meditate on that number of a minute – 70,000 women a year, every year. That’s twenty-six 9/11s, every year. Man-made and man-dictated laws are killing that many women every year.”

‘Abortion Clinic Days’ considers the intersection between medicine and politics in relation to the prescription of Accutane, a drug which cures cystic acne, but causes severe birth defects if the user becomes pregnant. Unfortunately, the intersection of politics and medicine precludes an honest discussion of risk: “Bad politics and bad medicine yielding heartache for real people.”

Rad Geek looks at the Abortion debate in Australia.

‘The Bad Feminist’ argues that abortion is not always the most important life and death struggle for feminism and it should not necessarily be our highest priority.

On Sexual culture

Nubian, the ‘Blac(k)ademic’, writes powerfully about the erasure of black lesbians in popular culture: “i am invisible. you do not see my face television or in cinema. you do not hear my voice in the popular songs rotating on bet, mtv, or the radio. you do not see me because i am a black lesbian and we do not exist.”

The anti-pornography v. sex positive feminists debate continues. Arwen from Rants for Invisible People posts on ‘Pandagon’ about her own stance: “I have read the discussions about porn, burlesque, and BDSM with interest all round the feminist blogosphere, and I have the odd sensation of being in both camps and neither.”

Andrea from ‘Vociferate’ attacks the idea that anti-porn feminists are just jealous.

Bitch Lab analyses the word “Slut” (via some interesting observations on shifts in sexual culture): “In the US, slut is an epithet deeply bound up with claims about someone’s social class. To hurl the name is to suggest someone is not a member of respectable middle class society. So, in this case, it’s a concept that we have to look at in so far as we ask about how it’s not just gendered, but “classed.”

Laura from ‘I’m not a Feminist, but’ takes a hard feminist look at the phenomenon of pimps and hos parties: “Sorry, say that again, you’re inviting me to a PIMPS and HOS party. You want me to dress up as a ‘ho’, my boyfriend as a ‘pimp’, and you want us to parade around in public in this fashion. And this is in aid of…your BIRTHDAY. Right…”

Trish Wilson discovers a sane district in the US where they’ve decided to avoid abstinence only sex education.

Anti-Music blog reminds us that homophobic discourse is derived from sexism and sexual subjection.

Michelle from ‘Mutant Cat’ objects to the recent Cover of Vanity Fair featuring a very naked Scarlet Johansen and Keira Knightly and a very clothed man. At the very least, he should have his kit off too.

On Sex Work

Alyx from ‘Mad Sheila Musings’ explains why prostitution should not be legalised in Western Australia: “Prostitution is not liberating, it doesn’t subvert stereotypes and, contrary to the libertarian’s view, prostitution couldn’t exist without patriarchal morality, because the latter is what makes the former so damn compelling.”

Andrea from ‘The Shrub.com’ tells us about a group of prostitutes organising to boycott a computer game which glorifies the violent murder of sex workers. Good for them.

On Motherhood

‘Red State Feminist’ addresses Stay at Home Moms and Housewives who believe that feminism disapproves of their choices: “Feminism is about choices. Feminism gave you the choice to stay home – suddenly, it was no longer required. The majority of feminist thought would like to see parents and caregivers treated with respect, and some would like to see parents and caregivers given fair compensation in various ways, for the work they do.”….. [But, let’s face it], “Being a stay at home mom is great – if you are middle class, or wealthy, and have someone to support you.”

Kactus, from ‘Super Babymama’, brings out the racism and classism inherent in media scare stories about “bad” welfare mothers: “what we have here, if it is true, is a woman who sounds like she needed a LOT of help managing a big hoard of kids…But instead we get a lesson in manipulating public opinion.” You’ll probably want to read the follow up post as well.

Molly from ‘Molly Saves the Day’ questions the notion that stay at home parents always make the best parents: “We can idolize stay-at-home moms all we want, but the truth is, there’s no way to tell whether these mothers who are nobly “opting out” of the labor market are decent parents … The notion of deciding whether someone is a “good” mother based only on whether she attends to her child full-time, rather than on her actual interaction with her child, makes my blood boil, especially when bad parenting abounds.”

Inkspill writes about choosing to be childless: “Not everyone is meant to be a parent. It requires a sacrifice of the self at all levels of existence. The argument that our sole purpose on the earth is to reproduce our own kind is the most pessimistic kind of truth that there can ever be”.

Jess from the ‘F-Word blog’ comments on the idea that Britain is suffering a “Baby shortage”: Women Warned: Procreate.

On Marriage

Sarahlynn from ‘Yeah, But Houdini Didn’t Have These Hips’ muses on the politics of changing your name on marriage: “At what point does it become unprofessional? At what point does it begin to effect the way all women are seen in a professional setting?”

Khalidah from ‘Mind’ discusses the problem of traditional arranged marriages in a changing culture.

Rombo from ‘What an African Woman Thinks’ hits on a friendship wrecking problem between Christian single men and women in their thirties: “apparently, on a page that keeps getting left out of my bible, God said to be single past thirty is a SIN in capital letters.”

On politics

The Mad Kenyan Woman explains why the respect for older men or, as she puts it, age as fetish in Kenyan culture, presents a lot of political problems.

The Religious Policeman explains why there hasn’t been much progress in allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia.


Nzingha from ‘Nzingha’s soapbox’ insists upon the right to question within Islam, particularly in relation to misogynistic rulings: “It is the thought that one can’t question the legitimacy of a scholars ruling be it based on the foundation of the Qur’an and sunnah or of the major madhab or scholars that I have a huge problem with especially living in Saudi Arabia. I find it impossible to suggest that women here can not question the rulings that do nothing but hamper them and oppress them within this society. I find it impossible because I see it as a total injustice and a grave error to do so. I am of the view that everyone has the right and the duty to rise up against what they may deem is wrong.”

From India Annie Zaidi discusses the provisions that Islam makes for women and the sad reality for them in India.

The Raving Atheist examines whether feminist pioneer Betty Friedan’s sexual ethics were consistent with traditional religious doctrine

On popular culture

Rae from ‘Soft Graffiti’ critiques the feminism of Pink’s latest video “Stupid Girls” in is quasi feminism better than nothing?: “Frankly, girls need more than athletics and a keyboard to stave off the pressures of shallow femininity. They need more than a funny video that shows as much tits and abs as Brittany Spears. They need more than a timorous sense of superiority over the ’stupid girls’. What young women need, and rarely get, is media literacy, which Pink hints at but can never declare as she is using the same soul-sucking means to promote her own career.”

Mickle from ‘The True confessions of an Hourly Bookseller’ talks princesses.

On Women blogging

Black Looks tells us where the African women bloggers are.

Tom Head from Jackson Free Press looks at the anti-feminist attitudes of some “liberal” male bloggers and suggests “If you think liberalism implies feminism, think again”.


‘Goddess Musings’ talks about gender politics and sport, in particular the idea that women athletes just aren’t really tough enough, so when they get hurt…well weren’t they asking for it a bit?

Section 3: The Body

If there’s one thing we can say about the feminist body, it’s very productive. We’re delighted with the range of posts we’ve received on our chosen theme. They prove again and again that the phrase ‘The Personal is Political’ is more relevant than ever.

Koonj from Hu blog speaks out against the hurtful psychological assault launched upon women’s bodies in the media and advertising: STOP hurting me she demands, “Stop hurting my sisters. Stop hurting us.”

Maia from ‘Capitalism Bad, Tree Pretty’ declares the necessity of getting personal when it comes to talking about body politics, because we can’t analyse the political implications of food and women’s bodies, unless we talk
about what that means personally.

As a male teacher and youth leader, Hugo discusses the responsibilities of helping young people deal with the pressures of being faced with unattainable body ideals: “We must all acknowledge the plain reality that our students and others will always filter what we say through their understanding of the bodies they see us in.”

The Happy Feminist also decides that it’s time get personal and talks about her own body image issues: “there is no denying that distorted body image causes intense and debilitating personal suffering among huge swathes of our female population (as well as a growing number of male sufferers). I know because I myself spent years in the grip of that suffering.”

When it came to choosing a post from Mind the Gap to include here as is the host’s privilege, it was a little difficult because we’re a blogging collective and it didn’t seem fair to just pick one. So, here are the three best posts from our recent body image week: confessions of a binge eater from Naiades, what I learned at school by Bat Girl and Body Discipline by Winter.

Lingual Tremors writes brilliantly about her own experiences of weight gain and loss in relation to feminism and women’s body image: “I wonder, with my own significant feminist history, with my own feminist publishing, with my own feminist studies, if I could find myself lost in culture, how do we expect young girls–adrift in public schools with no feminist consciousness–to find their way?”

Pamela K Taylor meditates beautifully and poetically upon body image in relation to Hijab, motherhood and getting older.

Sue Richards from My Menopause Blog writes about her eggs: “I have preferred my eggs to remain unhatched or scrambled. My fertility has never been of interest to me. Which I realize is a bit odd given all the ticking of the biological clocks that seem to deafen and torture the female population around the world.”

Liz from Granny Gets a Vibrator writes brilliantly about being a middle-aged woman who lifts weights: Hey Lady,You’re a Freak! . She observes, “When I hear women expressing a fear of weight lifting, what I am really hearing is a fear of being powerful.”

Meanwhile, Jen from ‘Where the Revolution’s Gonna Begin’ Theorises Breasts.

Tenacious One defends the tiled images of her body on her blog background. She wants to stand for a “A counterpunch to the gut of all things considered beautiful, powerful, intelligent and relevant in the mainstream…and sometimes in our own movements for change.You’ll have to continue to simultaneously read me and assimilate me visually if you really wanna truly get me, seen?”
N.B. If you’re reading this in the office, you might not want to click on this one right now!

Stella from ‘Where the Cornflakes are’ explains why it’s the gynocologists that have a problem: “She’s such a twit that I really shouldn’t have been surprised when I read the letter that began – “Stella has severe Osteogenesis Imperfecta and is wheelchair-bound. Surprisingly, however, she is sexually active and requires contraception.” Read the rest and be outraged.

More outrage from Twisty of ‘I Blame the Patriarchy,’ who recounts the god awful story of Nia, a young woman taken off the drugs that helped her schizophrenia because her doctors decided that she’d prefer the voices to being fat. She didn’t, as it happens.

Bookdrunk from ‘Rhetorically Speaking’ takes a critical look at the notion of cosmetic sugery as empowerment in an article in the Observer Woman magazine: “Rather than claiming ‘all cosmetic surgery is bad,’ we need to argue why we should presume – as in the tone of the Observer article – that all cosmetic surgery is beneficial.” Indeed.

Shakespeare’s Sister also considers plastic surgery and desperation it represents. Ok, in such a body obsessed culture, we might all be tempted …. but how desperate do you have to be to attend a botox party?

Dangereuse Trilingue discusses an honest-to-god sexism spat in the French geekosphere concerning an advert for Firefox using scantily clad women. The problem here is “about making a particular type of heterosexual male gaze directed towards conventionally attractive female attributes the norm, via using it, and the object of the attention, to incite people to do something entirely unrelated to eroticism and female bodies: use a particular web browser

Textaisle from ‘Arbusto de Menacity’ asks what’s the use of a 24-inch waist?.

Ann from ‘Feminist Law Professors’ asks whether the blog ‘Go Fug Yourself’, which makes fun of female celebrities, is funny or not?.

Feminism, as some have observed, is not a little like the red pill offered to Neo in the Matrix, and a raised consciouness is not with its problems. ‘Grace from Avast! Feminist Conspiracy!’ argues that we must be open to admitting the discomfort with ourselves and our bodies which can be caused by our own feminist principles. Feminism doesn’t always make life easier in this respect.

Jess from ‘Burninglibrary’ also takes a self-reflexive approach problematising her relationship with her feminism and her body, asking “Is it possible to be a fat-positive feminist who also conforms to strict self-imposed dietary rules?”.

Educand from ‘Andragogy of the Op-Eds’ argues that failing to care for oneself does not necessarily constitute a feminist objection.

Spotted Elephant from ‘The Bipolar View’ talks honestly about the gap between her intellectual feminist awareness and her emotional feelings about her body: “I reject societal pressure for women to fit one physical model. But I still feel ugly, and it still matters to me. I’m furious that I feel this way. I’m enraged that it still matters to me.”

Nut, from “Welcome to the Nuthouse” has has a conversation with her mum about interview suits. Haven’t you got a skirt???

On a rather different note, Kalinara from Pretty, ‘Fizzy Paradise’ hated growing up as a white *girl*.

Finally, Lorraine from Culture Kitchen sings the body electric, and celebrates the female body and “its endless capacity for pleasure.” Hallelujah! A good one to end on.


Now we couldn’t just let this February carnival pass without a few Valentine’s Day posts could we?

Kat, ‘The Geeky Feminist’, draws attention to the fact that heterosexuality doesn’t always do itself any favours. How disturbing is this window display?

Valentine’s Day certainly brings out the arse in some people. Amanda from ‘Pandagon’ finds John Tierney using his column to make excuses for men who don’t want to lower themselves to picking up the degrading women’s work of caring for the people you love. Charming.

Andygrrrl suggests an alternative, how about Susan B. Anthony Day?

Sour Duck sends us a Valentines from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. All makeup users should read this post.

Ok. That’s it for this carnival. Thank you for reading. Thank you to everyone who submitted and nominated posts. Thanks to all the people we “stole” good links from and thanks to Natalie for all her help.

Carnival No 10 will be on Indian Writing on March 8. Nominations should be sent by 5th March to indianwriting AT gmail DOT com. Or you can use the submission form at the blog carnivals page.

p.s if you enjoyed this Carnival of the feminists, you might also like The Carnival of Bent Attractions and The Big Fat Carnival.

Oops! forgot to mention the Radical Women of Color Carnival. Sorry.