Recent Feminism Articles
Over the last twenty years at least, could the LGBT-rights movement been the most successful in changing perceptions across the western world?
A new poll by Ipsos Mori certainly suggests so, showing there has been a greater shift in attitudes towards same-sex marriage than even the place of women in society.
To gauge changing attitudes they asked one simple question on different gender roles.
The chart above shows fairly flat changes in attitudes across generations. But there are also clear distinctions between different generations – with those born before 1945 half as likely as all other generations to disagree with the statement.
The flatness of the lines suggests that views of gender roles are pretty much set from early in life. This is backed up by a study which shows that support for working mothers is set early in teenage years and remains steady into young adulthood.
Compare that with attitudes on same-sex relations
There is similar though less marked movement on attitudes towards same-sex marriage.
They also make a good point on why attitudes shifted
the impact of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s is very clear. Both the pre-war and baby boomer generations see steep increases in the proportion saying that sexual relations between adults of the same sex are always wrong, and it took almost a decade to return to 1983 levels.
While attitudes have changed even across generations on LGBT rights, Ipsos-Mori say that major events still significantly affect these views.
But it is still rather startling that attitudes have changed more towards LGBT communities than women over the last 20 years.
Of the British media’s coverage of the Delhi gang-rape case, a key aspect that has annoyed me is commentary by (white) people who’ve never been to India, very anxious to defend it from imaginary hordes of racist white people.
I’ll explain later why I find that problematic, but let me first focus on the factual issues. Yesterday, Emer O’ Toole wrote a piece for the Guardian that was fairly predictable in this genre of thinking. It was also an awful attempt at apology for India’s rape culture.
If she were a man and this was published in the Daily Mail or Telegraph there would been outrage – yet I’ve only seen embarrassed silence or even praise of the piece.
For example, this BBC article states, as if shocking, the statistic that a woman is raped in Delhi every 14 hours. That equates to 625 a year. Yet in England and Wales, which has a population about 3.5 times that of Delhi, we find a figure for recorded rapes of women that is proportionately four times larger: 9,509.
Firstly, the BBC makes the same mistake in taking the statistic at face value, but that is the number of rapes that were reported, not the number of rapes that actually took place. This is key distinction because no one who has dealt with Indian police would take them at face value.
In fact a retired police officer told the BBC in 2011 that the majority of crimes against women, including rape, were not registered by police. He estimated only one in nine cases of violence against women reported to the police were registered, because they were told to “keep the crime figures low”.
Secondly, out of the 625 cases in
India Delhi where a rape was recorded, there was only one conviction.
So while the the attrition rate for rape in the UK is around 7.5%, in Delhi it is 0.15%. In other words the attrition rate in Delhi is approximately 50 times lower than in UK – a vast difference – magnified by more women in India being unwilling to report rape. To not even include a caveat about reporting differences makes it fundamentally misleading.
Similarly, the Wall Street Journal decries the fact that in India just over a quarter of alleged rapists are convicted; in the US only 24% of alleged rapes even result in an arrest, never mind a conviction. This is the strange kind of reportage you tend to get on the issue.
Now she is comparing the overall Indian conviction rate to the US attrition rate – which are two related but different measures.
Besides, the article she links to points out that in cities like New York, the NYPD has introduced measures that increased its arrest rate for rape from 40% to 70% of reported cases
India’s pitiful conviction rate of 24% (which we know is the tip of a large iceberg) has actually been falling – down from 46% in the 1970s. Legal experts believe sexual assaults on women are jumping because the conviction rate for rape is so low.
And this is before we get into the millions of aborted foetuses and murdered infants whose parents wanted a son rather than a daughter. In 1961 approximately 975 girls were born in India for every 1000 boys. The Indian Census shows by 2001 this had dropped to around 911 girls. The state of Rajasthan dropped from 909 girls in 2001 to 883 girls per 1,000 boys by 2011.
Amartya Sen put the figure of India’s missing women around 100 million. It boggles the mind that an academic would try to compare these statistics at face value without caveats, and even then mangle up the figures so badly.
Emer O’Toole’s piece isn’t just misleading it is patronising and borderline racist because it fits in with that classic mentality where a white person has to come in and defend the brown person from the hordes of angry white racists. Thanks lady, but India doesn’t need saving from white lefties.
I welcome anti-racist whites but this was another botched attempt to try and white-wash India’s awful record to fit an existing narrative. The country is being heavily criticised by Indian women because it has deep issues that need to be exposed and ridiculed and over-turned. I’m not alone on feeling this either, see this tweet by Mona Eltahawy and Shereen Shafi.
I’ve seen Indian men post that piece on Facebook and say stuff like ‘see, I don’t know why people these women are protesting, it is just as bad elsewhere‘. I find that deeply worrying that writers for the Guardian are willing to feed this attitude.
PS, I’m writing a reply of sorts to her piece for the Guardian for tomorrow morning.
Also, thanks to Ally Fogg for some of the stats.
Sometimes people miss the wood for the trees. Owen Jones says that ‘Sexual violence is not a cultural phenomenon in India – it is endemic everywhere’.
As Owen summarises a key strand of thinking, one that many have referred me to, I think its worth challenging as it can be counter-productive.
I’ve not yet read one piece in the media that says violence against women and/or rape is exclusively concentrated with Indian men, and that western societies are utopias in contrast. Until this becomes a narrative I see no need to become knee-jerkingly defensive.
2. It’s counter-productive to lump all countries together when they have different cultures, laws, biases and records on protecting (or not) women. It would be ludicrous for example to say both Sweden and India are doing the same on violence against women.
The reason why campaigners point out that it is way better to be a woman in Canada than India is because they want the latter to improve and challenge its own record. If you disregard the differences then there is no pressure on countries to improve their laws.
3. Violence against women is a cultural problem. There is no getting away from this fact. It is culture that leads to a country’s laws and culture that discourages or encourages this violence. And it is this mentality and culture we need to challenge if we want people to behave differently.
It is culture (education, religion, media etc) that sends the messages to men that women are sexual objects, and somehow less equal than men. It is culture that builds the masculine ideal; which includes violence, controll and domination. (You must remember that men rape men and women can rape men. The same with domestic abuse, women aren’t always the victim.)
By saying it is a ‘male’ problem, you imply that it is somehow hardwired into their brains from birth, just because they possess a penis rather than a vagina.
Of course such views are also prevalent in other countries, but South Asia is getting worse and a huge proportion of humanity lives there. It is imperative on all of us to loudly show solidarity with the women there who want to be heard, instead of hiding behind moral relativism and fear of sounding ‘Orientalist’.
4. Trying to avoid talking about India lets the government and many Indians off the hook. This unwillingness to point fingers for fear of looking racist is counter-productive because it allows some Indians and their government to brush the problem under the carpet and pretend things are the same as in Canada. They’re not. To see meaningful change you have to prod and poke and expose.
India has a woman problem – that’s not just me saying it but Indian women themselves. Listen to them. Or instead of Rashmee Roshan-Lall you could ask Urvashi Butalia. Or see how Shazia Nigar points fingers. Some Indian women even want chemical castration as an option.
Lastly – I’m not saying this is an Indian-only problem either. I would be equally outraged if it were to happen here too, but it happens much more in India. It also seems hypocritical to point out that Uganda and Iran have a terrible record against gays, and Israel has against Arabs, while trying to avoid pointing fingers at India (or Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for that matter – they all have very similar cultures).
It would be rather sad if people avoided showing solidarity with women who want to challenge Indian culture to change, for fear of looking racist. That is a road paved with good intentions going straight to hell. Come and join the Southall Black Sisters demo on 7th January.
Last week, a group of students at the University of Toronto protested against a Men’s Rights Activist, Warren Farrel, from being given a platform by their university.
The event was set to be fairly minor and only a few tweets and a couple of posters acted as publicity for the protest. Police turned up in order to forcibly remove the students from the entrance of the hall. The whole thing was caught on camera by Men’s Rights Activists, with the most “violent” moment consisting of one young woman out of a group of fairly calm students calling somebody “fucking scum”.
So, imagine my surprise when an online witch hunt aimed at one girl, who did nothing provocative during the event, began to unfurl.
The personal details of Emma Claire, a Canadian blogger and something of a friend of mine, were posted and scrutinised in the public eye by the website A Voice for Men. The writing attempted to answer the question on nobody’s lips: “Who is Emma Claire and why is she so hateful?” The article tries to “seal her legacy” so that “anyone who ever does an internet search on her name again will be aware of [her feminism]” the author states. The comment section indicates a consensus between the author and readers, with one of the top-rated comments saying:
“I wonder if she will ever be rejected for a job, and wonder if it was because this came up on a google search for her name? I wonder if in future years, she will regret the event she recorded her ‘legacy’ at.
I wonder, and I hope all of the above happen.” – Steve_85
Claire, 19, attended the rally and was later spotted in a photo by somebody from the website. After hunting down her old internet history, they discovered she had posted facetious tweets about the protest in its lead up. Apparantly, this is all the justification needed in order to publish her personal details online, all in the hope of scuppering future chances at a job.
Incriminating evidence included a couple of blatantly satirical tweets like: “Political position: kill all men, hail Satan” and a separate plea to friends and family to help her save up for a “Misandry” tattoo.
According to the website, Emma Claire has now been added to “Register-her.com” an online register for “False accusers of rape, murderers, pedophiles, and rapists”. Unfortunately for this satanic teenager, she was refused the opportunity to commit any of these crimes on tape, as she only appeared in the MRA’s video for a grand total of two seconds, doing nothing more than holding a banner next to friends.
The supposed expose of Emma Claire has revealed the dark side of internet vigilantism to counter one of the redeeming qualities of the online world: the prevailing existence of freedom of speech.
A Voice for Men has every right to call protesters whatever they feel like. They can dredge up old tweets by a 19-year-old girl only tenuously involved with the event in question. If they think it helps the brotherhood, they can even blatantly aim to harm the career prospects of a student picked at random, just because he or she has different beliefs.
Nobody should be afraid of holding a banner for fear of feeling the wrath of online dissenters, and those who make would-be protesters feel this way are not champions of free speech, they are champions of fear tactics, and no group on the left or right can call itself a an ally to free speech whilst employing them.
Whatever one’s opinion of the Men’s Rights movement, this kind of behaviour is no different to the artless strategy employed by Red Watch: It should be denounced by anybody who believes in the right for people to protest without anxiety or apprehension.
I have emailed email@example.com, the internet providers for the A Voice for Men website, in order to raise concerns about the legality of posting the details of Emma Claire. For the sake of future protesters who will be targeted for nothing more than holding a sign, I hope that others will do the same.
This was first posted to Maya Esslemont’s blog
Hot on the heels of the Daily Mail re-branding stalking as romance, the BBC reported yesterday that tributes are being paid to a man who shot his wife before killing himself.
I honestly cannot think of another situation where tributes would be paid to a man who committed a violent crime.
The police describe how the man, who was the leader of the council, shot his wife and then himself. But this doesn’t seem to be the news story. The news story instead is about the tributes made by councillors, colleagues and neighbours to the man who:
typified what’s good about the town and the district of North Norfolk
It’s a story about how the flag on the council building is flying at half mast, how despite ‘being from different parties’ he was ‘always very good to deal with’, how he was a ‘good public servant’ who was ‘respected across the political spectrum’.
No-where is it really mentioned that by shooting his wife, this pillar of the community murdered a woman.
It seems that it’s only when crimes are committed against women does the media try to mitigate it by assuring us that – apart from in his relations to his wife – the man with the gun was a ‘good guy’.
On the Yahoo report on the former story, one of the commenters says:
Probably another domestic incident gone wrong
It’s a telling comment. It’s not murder, it’s a domestic incident gone wrong. That’s how this story can so easily be re-framed, to be one about how tributes are being paid to a man who shot his wife and then killed himself. It’s just another example of how our culture refuses to acknowledge what violence against women and girls looks like.
It reminds me of the man who killed his wife and only got eighteen months because his actions were ‘out of character’ and he led a ‘respectable and successful life’.
The deaths of the women became subordinate to the story of the man. The way the media reports violence against women matters. It has an impact on all of us women.
This year, according to the OneinFour Twitter feed, 104 have lost their lives as a result of gender based violence.
The Church of England’s General Synod rejection of female bishops is a sad thing. Rob is understandably cross.
I don’t wholly disagree with him, but I think it’s worth remembering that the Church of England:
- was created by a woman (Henry VIII’s Church rejected the authority of the Pope, but remained Catholic in doctrine; it was Elizabeth I who turned it into a solidly Protestant church after Mary I’s attempt at Catholic, erm, revivalism);
- is headed by a woman (Liz’s namesake, defender of the faith);
- had a massive “yes” vote to the ordination of female priests from both the House of Bishops (0% female, 94% ‘yes’) and the mixed-sex House of Clergy (29% female, 77% ‘yes’);
- saw the vote defeated for failing to achieve a two-thirds majority in the mixed-sex, non-ordained House of Laity, made up of democratically elected representatives of churchgoers (46% female, 64% ‘yes’).
The all-male boys-club dinosaurs voted almost solely for equality, the still-male dominated clergy were overwhelmingly for equality, and the mixed-sex representatives of the Church’s congregation (which is itself about 65% female) were the most bigoted of the lot.
In other words, if the Church wasn’t so keen to give regular churchgoers a say, female bishops would totally be a thing already, and the massive blow to both PR and moral authority of voting for discredited Pauline nonsense wouldn’t have happened.
Or to address Rob’s specific point: the people who benefit from the Church being part of the state; the people who are part of the state in the sense that he means, are overwhelmingly in favour of the church meeting civilised, liberal egalitarian norms.
The Church is only inegalitarian in the only sense in which it is separated from the state: because the people who vote in House of Laity elections – people who make it to the Anglican church every week, you get the idea – are vastly more bigoted than its clergy, its bishopry, and the population at large.
Far better if it were governed by the democratic will of all the people who it represents (the majority of English people still identify as Church of England), or none at all.
I was going to add, I don’t know why the female-dominated C of E congregation choose to elect representatives (both male and female) who hate women.
But on reflection, I’m pretty sure it’s that, although many women whose views mirror those of Ann Widdecombe in rejecting the C of E’s modest levels of inclusivity and egalitarianism have opted to join the Roman Catholic Church (which, obviously, has none of either), some have stayed with what they know. Sadly, yesterday’s vote is likely to keep them on board for longer.
UPDATE: thanks to Colin in the comments below, and others on Twitter, for pointing out that I’ve misunderstood the House of Laity electoral system. I thought it was chosen by STV from an electorate of church congregations; it isn’t. It’s chosen by STV from an electorate of Lay Members of Deanery Synods; they are the ones who are elected by parishioners – so there’s an extra step of busybody-with-too-much-time-on-their-hands between the congregation and the House of Laity.
The Church of England will maintain its prohibition on women bishops. This news signals the moment is ripe for disestablishmentarians to pounce.
The careless, irresponsible, short-sighted, tone-deaf, out-of-touch, shoot-yourself-in-the-foot, desecration-of-duty, cut-your-nose-off-to-spite-your-face, living-in-the-dark-ages, missing-the-wood-for-the-trees decision to promote misogyny would never be accepted in any public organisation, commercial company, or lay-charity.
Now is the time for disestablishmentarians to remind everyone that the Church of England is part of the State. The case must be made that an institution that endorses and promotes this kind of misogyny cannot continue to be an official part of the British state.
This simple and persuasive argument should be presented to politicians and the public for renewed discussion. It should routinely be included in any talk of constitutional reform.
The Church of England does not appear to take tax-payers’ money, so formal disestablishment is revenue neutral. It would not entail the closure of any Churches. It would not hinder the practice of religion any more than it does for the many non-established Christian denominations or other faiths. But it would end state complicity in institutionalised sexism.
If you download this Powerpoint presentation, which was produced by Dr Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship in conjunction with what was then (2007) the ‘Alive and Kicking’ anti-abortion campaign, you find a slide – number 47 – with the following title:
What about abortion to save the life of the mother?
The second of the three bullet points on that slide reads as follows:
there are no medical circumstances justifying direct abortion, that is, no circumstances in which the life of the mother may only be saved by directly terminating the life of her unborn child’. (Irish obstetricians, 1992)
Two investigations are under way into the death of a woman who was 17 weeks pregnant, at University Hospital Galway last month. Savita Halappanavar (31), a dentist, presented with back pain at the hospital on October 21st, was found to be miscarrying, and died of septicaemia a week later.
Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar (34), an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.
This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country”.
She spent a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped.
Needless to say, one wonders now whether ‘Irish obstetricians’ – and Dr Peter Saunders, of course – would care to revise their opinion?
Somehow, I doubt that they will – the anti-abortion lobby will inevitably concoct some sort of bullshit excuse to try and conceal the despicable truth in this case, that woman a died unnecessarily and in agony because Irish Catholic doctors refused to perform a termination that could have helped to save her life.
And these people have the nerve to call themselves ‘Pro-Life’.
Ireland and the world were shocked and appalled when the story broke that a young Indian women Savita Halappanavar died unnecessarily in a Galway hospital because she was denied a termination of pregnancy. The cause of death was septicaemia as a result of a miscarriage.
Her husband Praveen repeatedly asked for a medical abortion to be carried out to reduce the risk to his wife’s life but was denied this, allegedly being told by the doctors ‘this is a catholic country’. Such a statement about Ireland, which is supposed to be a liberal and secular republic, is a disgrace.
The actual law regarding abortion in Ireland is currently in a state of ambiguity. The Irish Supreme Court ruled twenty years ago that abortions in cases where the life of the mother is at risk are legal.
Over 4,000 Irish women travel to Britain every year for abortions. Irish TD’s (MP’s) have repeatedly brought forward bills to the Irish Parliament (Dáil Eireann), yet no legal progress has been made on this issue, for fear of all of Ireland’s main political parties losing the votes of elderly conservative voters.
Ireland is disrespecting the rights of its citizens; Catholic and non-Catholic, as an increasing number are, with numbers rising for the last twenty years. Politicians have tried to avoid talking about this issue for twenty years, constantly hoping for a better time to discuss it.
Even in 2012, where there is no longer any threat of backlash from now powerless Bishops in the Catholic Church, a majority. A poll conducted by Sunday Times ‘Behaviour and Attitudes’ in September showed that an overwhelming majority of 80% of voters would support a change to the law to allow for abortions in cases like Savita’s where a mother’s life be at risk.
The Irish Labour party, currently in government as a junior-coalition partner, with the centre-right Fine Gael leading, are openly pro-choice, although earlier this year unanimously due to their party whip, rejected a bill proposed by Clare Daly and Joan Collins, two members of a small left-wing coalition called the ULA, that would finally legislate for the decision held by the courts in 1992. This was to avoid causing a rift in the government.
Such politicking with a serious issue is a shame, and Ireland’s international disgracing is a result of this should be taken very seriously by the government.
The Labour government have been criticised for this by the Campaign for Labour Policies, an activist group that calls for more progressive policies in the Labour Parliamentary Party.
Spokesperson Mags O’Brien said today “The Labour Party must immediately initiate emergency legislation in the Dáil to allow for termination of pregnancies based on the X case. The needless death of Savita Halappanavar in University Hospital Galway could have been avoided.!
With Ireland now internationally embarrassed, with the story being reported across the world, it is up to the government to finally legislate for Abortion, to prevent another tragic and unnecessary
A longer and slightly different version of this article originally appeared on at the University Observer.
by Elly Badcock
The 2013 Epsom Derby marks 100 years since Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison was killed under the King’s Horse.
Acting on the slogan ‘Deeds not Words’, Emily made the ultimate sacrifice. She leapt in front of Anmer, the horse belonging to King George V.
This was an act which placed the Suffragette cause firmly in the public eye. She brought attention to the Government’s contemptuous refusal to treat the movement seriously, the disgraceful torture the Suffragettes faced in prison, and she couldn’t be ignored.
Although the press were predictably derogatory about her protest – the Morning Post called it a ‘mad act’ and focused heavily on the fate of the horse and jockey – there can be no question that Emily’s willingness to sacrifice her life for the vote brought home the importance of the cause to a new generation of women.
Emily was amongst the most militant of the Suffragettes, and their mass protests and civil disobedience were instrumental in bringing the vote to women across the UK. But she never lived to see the change she helped engender; she died from her injuries two days after her heroic act.
Every time we stand at a ballot box today, we should be reminded that it took women fighting, marching, and dying for us to cast our vote.
The road to the ballot box is lined with the force-feeding tubes that imprisoned Suffragettes faced at Holloway Prison, and the daily abuse they faced for their struggle; it’s littered with social exclusion, pain, and the bodies of women like Emily, who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.
Of course, the struggle for women’s liberation cannot end at the ballot box either. We have many battles left to face; but it is women like Emily who showed us we are strong enough to fight them.
For that reason, the Emily Wilding Davison memorial campaign has been formed. We are calling for a minute’s silence at next year’s Derby, to commemorate 100 years since Emily’s courageous actions.
The campaign has already gained support from a huge variety of public figures; from Jeanette Winterson, author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, to Frances O’Grady, newly elected head of the Trade Union Congress.
You can join them in signing and sharing the petition here.
The campaign launch will be on November 29th, 6.30pm at Firebox. We’ll hear from Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers as well as the relatives of Suffragettes Sylvia Pankhurst and Alice Hawkins. Please join us on the day, and help us remember this brave Suffragette.
NEWS ARTICLES ARCHIVE