Well, I'll go to the foot of my stairs...

Often startled, frequently amused, sometimes scared; rarely speechless. Can be found at witchywoo22@yahoo.co.uk

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Thank you Sarah...

...for this!

What kind of a blogger am I?

Your Blogging Type is Confident and Insightful

You've got a ton of brain power, and you leverage it into brilliant blog.
Both creative and logical, you come up with amazing ideas and insights.
A total perfectionist, you find yourself revising and rewriting posts a lot of the time.
You blog for yourself - and you don't care how popular (or unpopular) your blog is!

Well, hey.... you know why you read here now, don't you? ;)
This...

...is just brilliant. Made me laugh like a horse but also made me think 'hmmm.... it's not just women, then'.

I've put it in my faves....just as a reminder...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Witchy-woo's Wednesday Wow returns...

...this week with a couple of wonderful examples of feminist activism.

Firstly, if you haven't already seen it yet, Charliegrrl has posted a report of the Northwest Fems, Object and White Ribbon demonstration against lads mags outside the Labour Party Conference venue in Manchester - with lots of pics!

The account of the interaction between a police officer and a NW Fem is a perfect example of the hypocrisy that attempts to silence women when we speak about misogyny. And doesn't the look on the police officer's face speak volumes - or is it just me?

Secondly, Vicky Vengeance from Sometimes Feminists Aren't Nice has posted her email correspondance with the program director of her local community radio station about the repeated playing of a song that promotes practical women hating through gender based violence.

It's obvious from his response that the program director has only half read Vicky's objection and not only has he totally missed the point but he's attributed arguments to Vicky that she didn't even make. And it's all rounded off nicely with his assurance that he, the DJ and the radio station "have no intention of offending our community". Well, you have offended, dumbass, so do something about it!

What was that about women not being heard....?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What is this feminism lark, exactly....?

I know I’ve written
before about how my mum and I talked about feminism when I was young and that just seeing what was happening to her was demonstration enough, for me, that something needed to change. My mum might have sparked and fed my feminism - but it was my own experience that really fuelled it.

When I was 14 years old and discussing O Level options with my form teacher I told her that I wanted to take Technical Drawing at O Level. I’ve always had an artistic hand and, back then, I wanted to be a cartographer. I seriously wanted to make maps. The boys at my school did TD from the first year onwards while the girls did needlework - although girls did get a turn at woodwork and metalwork in the first and second year while the boys got a turn at needlework and cookery. It was quite a forward thinking school, for it’s time.

My form teacher was also my needlework teacher and I’m crap at needlework – always have been – mainly because of the unrealistic expectations an unskilled primary school teacher had of a shy and lateral thinking eight year old (me!). So I wanted to drop needlework O Level and take TD instead because I knew that, if I was ever to become a cartographer, TD was the place to start and I’d need that piece of paper that said I could do it. My form teacher (who was also my needlework teacher, don’t forget) told me that I couldn’t because:

a) “The boys have already done two years TD and you’ll never catch up.” Um, how did she know I’d “never catch up”? Given that I had an artistic hand that was universally acknowledged plus a strong desire to take the subject I’d have thought it wouldn’t have taken too big a stretch of her imagination to think that I might? Besides, the boys were just starting the O Level syllabus so I wouldn’t have been miles behind anyway.

But this was the doozy:

b) “It’s a boy’s subject. You only want to take it to be with the boys.”

That made me so furious! But how can a 14 year old argue with that - “It’s a boy’s subject”? So only the boys get to be the people who make the maps? Only the boys get to be the people who chart the world; the land, the oceans, the mountains and hills, the cities, the streets? Only the boys get to be the people who make the drawings that let us know where we are in the world?

Not to mention the “You only want to take it to be with the boys.” I mean, what?? Ok, so I was fairly popular - but I’m going to base my whole career options just on “being with the boys”?? I have brothers for crying out loud! I knew from age 4 that boys aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. She knew that.

But she’d said it and her evaluation counted - she was my form teacher. It was so.

And there my personal journey into feminism began. Not by proxy through my mum and not in theory through the books and articles I was reading. My own, personal journey resulting from my own personal, recognised experience of sexism. And, yes, that sexist judgement of me as a girl at age 14 totally altered the course of my life. Not that I’m not ok with my life – I’m extraordinarily pleased with where I am now (though, I have to say, it’s been somewhat hit and miss getting here - more luck than judgement, you know?) – but the same can’t be said for hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of other 14 year old girls across the globe who have had, or are having, far worse sexist assumptions made about their futures and are having to live them.

I’ve been doing some straw poll research recently and, almost universally it seems, those who identify as feminist or pro-feminist, see their feminism as a journey – an integral part of their life and as fluid and organic and ever-growing and developing as they are themselves. And I’m the same.

My loyalty to and passion for women’s human rights springs from my own experience as a woman/girl child/female and every day my experience reinforces that loyalty. I learn something. Every day. Something happens, or I read something or I see something or I talk to someone or I just follow a train of thought to the end of an analysis but I learn something everyday. I also argue the feminist toss – with everyone, really - including other feminists. Their experience is different to mine, their lives are different, their knowledge and attitudes are different to mine – hell, sometimes, their whole idea of feminism is different to mine! It's a really difficult journey to describe.

But I’m no longer 14 years old and my feminism is no longer confined to my own experience. It’s grown a lot and now encompasses and examines the large-scale sexist injustices that women/girls have to live with on a global scale. Not that my journey is over by a long shot – that’ll happen the day I die, I guess – but my feminist vision is a lot bigger than it was when I was 14 and it no longer rests simply with what’s ok , or not ok, for me.

Is it 51 or 52% of the world population that are female? Whatever, it’s far too many individuals to count. But I know one thing for sure – almost every one of that 51/52% of female people are ruled, judged and made to behave in certain, sexist defined ways by patriarchal/racist/capitalist ideas and practices that restrict, confine and/or label them as “other” – always “less than”. Some accept that status, some even seem to welcome it. Some seem to think that by playing along with it they’ll be granted some kind of ‘elevated status’ or that they’ll gain some personal/political power. Some even seem to think they’ve got the upper hand – or some kind of different hand - because they enjoy what the patriarchy says they like. But, I’m thinking, not the majority.

And I’m not about to blame any woman for doing what she has to do to survive. I blame the patriarchy for putting her in that situation in the first place. Just want to make that clear…

And I know that this blog is read by some who feel their feminist journey is just beginning so this post is by way of a warning, really. Because once you start looking, you start to see more, and more…..and yet more of the sexist injustices and patriarchal assumptions and oppressions of women that simply serve to keep things the way they are - the way the patriarchy likes them - for women as people; no matter how they’re dressed up to appear somehow different or appealing to women/girls. Once your feminist journey has started it doesn’t stop. It does become part of who you are. It becomes undeniable.

And, yes, I acknowledge that when I was 14 my journey was all about me. I’m not saying that’s ‘wrong’ – I was young! - I’m just saying that feminism as a political movement has to be about women, not ‘woman’.

For me – now – my feminism is about considering the impact of the toxicity of patriarchal capitalism, in all its forms, on the lives of women everywhere and fighting that. I’m not about to accept the lowly place that patriarchal capitalism affords women without a fight – no matter how many individual women may be seemingly ‘happy’ with their lot within that power structure. It’s toxic for the vast majority of the rest of us. Too many women and girls die as a result of it – actually or figuratively - and that’s what I’m fighting. I realise that, in concentrating on that, I’m leaving out particular feminisms and I make no apologies for that. But I am aware. If you think I’ve missed something then please tell me – if only to make me aware.

But that’s my feminism.

Feminism’s an individual journey and I’m still travelling. I slip up sometimes. I miss things. I let things go unchallenged sometimes. I still make patriarchally influenced judgements, even after all this time – I’m as indoctrinated as the next woman after all - and, yes, it’s a struggle sometimes. It’s by no means ‘comfortable’. I get pissy and fucking angry sometimes. There’s no way I’ve ‘arrived’ and I’m always open to discussion and debate and, hell yeah, a slanging match if needs be (it has been known).

At least, these days, it’s no longer ‘all about me’.

There is a small but growing group of other, like-minded feminist women with whom I identify. We don’t always agree but we always discuss and, yes, I guess we’re all coming from the same place in that we all believe patriarchal capitalism and all its toxicity is bad for women, bad for people – bad for the world. I had no contact with anyone like that when I was 14. Oh... wish that I had....

Incidentally, I was eventually thrown out of needlework O Level by my form teacher who had fought so sexistly for me to stay in her class because TD was a “boys subject” and I only wanted to take it so that I could “be with the boys”. I was crap at needlework. She already knew that. I was an artist. She already knew that, too.

Sexism kills women. Actually and figuratively.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Ok. Women and age...

...or 'aged' women. However you choose to look at it.

Two things have struck me today. One is the idea that fashion designers have decreed (yeah, ok, some while ago now - it's only just become apparent to me, alright?) that because women (generic) are happy and comfortable wearing jeans and a t-shirt - the most favoured clothing style of the most recent "yeah, so what? fuck you" brigade - then the uniform of "fuckability" has to be one that illustrates, nay, demonstrates youth. Middle aged women wearing the stuff of patriarchally defined fuckability needs to be changed, whether they're saying "fuck you" or not.

Youth, for women under the gaze of the patriarchy, largely means "barely legal (for sex)", "immature" - like, 'not impregnated yet ' - yes? So the comfy uniform for all women has to be made somehow different for the 'young' women and so the designers make the apparent youth - or first time impregnablity - of women implicit by exposing the midriff - the stretch mark area. And hasn't it reached ridiculous proportions!? Jeans and a t-shirt, comfy? Yes. Jeans about to fall down any minute because they're so low slung they have little or nothing to cling on to coupled with a t-shirt that barely takes notice of the weather comfy? No way.

I'd thought the pierced belly button thing was mark enough that a female had yet to be impregnated with the seed of the most studly in her cohort but, no. Apparently, we are all so blind that we cannot see a female's impregnability and we so totally, absolutely need the confirmation that the fashionista's so kindly provide... And I'm not talking evo-psych here so don't even go there - ok?

Why is it different for boys?

Which kind of brings me on to my next point about women and age....

Are men daft?

I ask in good faith - I'm not meaning to be snarky (though I acknowledge that, for some, I'm pressing buttons they might wish didn't appear so obviously) but it seems to me that men (generic), while they're taught by the patriarchy to espouse everything "young" about women/girls physicality, have no concept of the wisdom or humanity of the *older* (i.e. post pubescent) woman.

It's been brought to my attention that, as women grow and mature, we know more and become more knowledable - about ourselves and the ways of the world. Knowledge = real power - yes?. Women who have that kind of power absolutely cannot be acknowledged, acclaimed, adored or glorified. Women who have real power are "bad", therefore women's age is bad because women who have the knowledge that age bestows upon them are 'bad' by definition.

We're all told it's about 'reproduction'. The evo-psychs and pop-psychs frame our (women's) scariness in terms of our capacity to gestate. But it isn't about that, is it? Not all women choose to reproduce. Not all women can reproduce.

These are half framed thoughts that, I think, have a path to tread.

Walk with me?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Do you ever think about...

...who might actually be reading your blog?

I've never given it much thought, to be honest. I look at my Site Meter stats from time to time (latest search words - 'get your tits out for free') but they don't really tell me much about who is reading. I know that regular commenters are regular readers and I guess that bloggers who have this blog on their blogroll look in from time to time but, apart from that, I don't have a clue.

So imagine my amazement on being informed that Sheila Jeffreys had directed someone this way. Yes. Sheila Jeffreys!

Cripes.

It feels like being told that Catharine MacKinnon reads what you write; or Germaine Greer, or Diana Russell or Catherine Itzin, Shere Hite, Julie Bindel, Kate Cook - or any other feminist thinker I've ever been wowed by.

It's kind of scary.

But it's also incredibly validating.

All the self-identified "sex-pos", 'feminist' men in the world can tell me to fuck off - as one or two already have. The radical feminist community is strong and brave and solid - and if sex-pos, 'feminist' men are telling me to fuck off and Sheila Jeffreys knows this blog exists, well, to my mind, I must be doing something right.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It's time for Witchy-woo's Wednesday Wow...

...already! Wednesdays come round so fast these days, don't you think? I can barely keep up.

Anyway, my wow this week comes from Molly Saves the Day. With this post, Molly is opening the floor to questions from all those silent blog readers who are interested in but, as yet, uninformed about feminism. And I think that's a brilliant idea.

We all resent those Willfully Ignorant Trolls who expect us to be their 'homework bunny' even though they have no interest in or commitment to learning about feminism and our (rightfully) dismissive messages to them, as Molly points out, could scare off the genuinely curious who have honest questions about feminism:
when what they really need are honest, thorough answers to their queries that reflect current feminist thought AND personal beliefs.
Molly invites us all, as feminists, to join in - both in contributing our thoughts to the questions asked on her blog and by creating a similar space on our own blogs from time to time.

Isn't that a fab idea?

Monday, September 11, 2006

The five year anniversary of 9/11...

...is being marked by bloggers in a variety of ways. Some simply extending sympathy and goodwill in their rememberance, some recounting where they were and what they were doing when events began to unfold and some offering global political analyses of events, then and since, while others describe their hopes and fears for the future of humankind. It's as you'd expect, really.

Well, mostly...

Dawn Eden is using this anniversary to further her vilification of Planned Parenthood because they offered free services to the women of New York City for two weeks after their city was trashed. Her take seems to be that PP were cynically using the tragedy that had just occurred in an attempt to ensure that
no baby goes unaborted just because their mother lacks the money to take his/her life
Doesn't that strike you as odd? I simply cannot imagine hoards of women rushing to have free terminations prompted by a terrorist attack, can you? I can imagine lots of women needing fresh supplies of lost contraceptives in a hurry or tests for STD's because they're worried about recently discovered symptoms and have no means to pay for those services because of the chaos. Or simply wanting pregnancy tests. But Ms Eden singles out their abortion service as the only reason why PP offered their services for free - and her diatribe against them is her way of marking the loss of 2819 actual lives?

Having read the Planned Parenthood rememberance of that day I know who I'd prefer to have around in the event of an emergency.

Contrast Ms Eden's piece with this one from the Catholic News Agency in which some women made pregnant by rape or incest feel they're being used as a political football in the US abortion debate. According to the piece
studies cited found that approximately 70 percent of pregnant rape victims chose to give birth rather than have abortions, even though the option was made available.
If true*, that kind of gives lie to Ms Eden's impression of women gleefully gathering their skirts and running to New York City's PP clinic for a no-questions-asked termination in the wake of a devastating terrorist attack.

9/11 resulted in the loss of many lives and, according to this site, the estimated number of children left without a parent is 3051. Personally, I find that far more tragic than the fact that free reproductive and sexual health services were made available to women for a fortnight after the devastation of their city and the complete and total disruption of their lives.

I think the accusation of cynicism rests better with Ms Eden, personally.

*I realise that, being a Catholic enterprise, this News Agency will not be operating without bias.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Cheers!



















It's my birthday today and I'm already celebrating in usual style. (hic!)

Every year people ask me "what do you want for your birthday?" and every year my first response is "world peace". Someone actually got me a key-ring that said 'world peace' on it once...
Nice - but not good enough!

I've got my birthday off work and I plan to stay in bed until I want to get up. I shall then open my sackloads of cards and presents whilst eating a leisurely breakfast of... ooooh, I don't know yet...something yummy.

I'm being taken out to eat in the evening so keep a look-out for my pissed post before I think 'oh my god! you can't say that' and delete it. And on Sunday I'm going to Santa Pod - woo-hooo!

I'm quite enjoying getting older, actually. It's not half as scary as it's cracked up to be (for a woman).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Yeah, I know...

...two posts in one evening!

*tuts*

But there is a reason - I've been tagged by both Ms Jared and Spotted Elephant with questions to answer about my blogging habits. So here goes...

Why do you blog?

Essentially, because I've bored all my friends rigid so now it's the turn of strangers!
*joke* (I hope.)


I blog because I'm a radical feminist and, because we're few and far between out there in the real world, it's a lonely place to be. Seriously. I know that anyone would think we were on the verge of revolution when you hear/read all the hysterical venom directed our way but the truth of it is we're very, very small in number. We just work hard and what we have to say is BIG. I blog because it connects me with other radfems around the world who genuinely know where I'm coming from so I feel less isolated. I am part of the radfem blogging community - part of a movement - and I know I'm not alone.

How long have you been blogging?

Wow! Since February! Doesn't time fly.

Self portrait













Note the glass of wine? And I do have a cigarette in the other.


Why do readers read your blog?

I'm not sure. Some readers have met me in real life and that tends to cement positive connections made on the internet - I've made some ridiculously good real life friends through blogging and boards and suchlike. And the radfem blogging community is solid and supportive. Others, though - those stray commenters who turn up out of nowhere and stay - I really don't know. simply wondered says "your shit is good". Maybe that's why.

What was the last search phrase someone used to get to your site?

"underwear vest bra comfortable PE -buy -sell -shop" Seriously! It's a strange world.

The most frequent search phrase that leads people to the foot of my stairs is "Hugh Heffner birthday".

Which of your entries unjustly gets too little attention?

None. I think they all get the attention they deserve.

Your current favorite blog:

I think that's a really unfair question! There are so many excellent blogs written with intelligence, wit, passion, humour and honesty it's too difficult to pick just one. But if I had to, it'd be a toss-up between Twisty and ginmar.
Oh, and I so miss Kaka.

What blog did you read most recently?


Trash Talks Back

Which feeds do you subscribe to?

Yep, I've seen them mentioned. Do I know what they are or how they work? Nope.

What four blogs are you tagging with this meme, and why?

Laurelin in the Rain
reSISTERance
I'm not a feminist but...
Ethically speaking

because they're all women 'from the internet' who I've actually met and consider as friends.
Witchy-woo's Wednesday Wow...

...was generated by Pippi's invitation to Blog Against Classism. The whole idea was brilliant. It produced excellent posts that covered classism from a variety of angles and perspectives. Every single one of them taught me something and made me think in ways I hadn't done before.

So, thank you, Pippi, for putting that out here and thank you to everyone who posted - all the posts would be 'wow's' in a usual week but this week they've all come at once and they've certainly diverted my gaze away from my navel! If you haven't read them yet I urge you to check out Villa Villekulla for the links.

My pick comes from Trash Talks Back. Written with urgency and conviction, TNTrash's post points to what needs to be done to erradicate classism from feminism. Just to get you started...
I hear women of color tell me, and more radically-political white women, too that feminism has become "whitewashed," that feminism promotes an "ivory-tower" mentality, it's hidden and confined in academia, and is crafted purely out of theory and not within the grasp of those working-class women of color, without much regard for how things would play out in "material reality."
...and...
I feel that a shortcoming among the women's movement is it's acceptance of the current governmental/electoral system and willingness to spend lots and lots and lots of resources attempting to "work" said system, or use "proper channels" to strive for some sort of abstract "equality" in a world system where that "equality" CANNOT exist.
...and...
It seems to me that if this feminism stuff is going to work, we have to be able to come together and agree on a more radical politics, on formulating a politics where we are all first fully human. We have to understand that it's not a free "choice" that makes us "unequal" to men.
...and...
What we fail to see is where our practice, daily, illustrates how classism has eaten away at feminism as activism and the women's liberation movement as a whole.
Oh, the whole thing is fab. Trust me, go read.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Blogging against classism...

...as inspired by Pippi of Villa Villekulla.

Pippi said:
I will blog against classism. I want to write about my experiences and thoughts on poverty, class and classism. Please join me by also writing a post on the day.


My post.

I grew up in relative poverty as I’ve described here. My father was a poorly paid psychiatric nurse with a penchant for whisky and women. He wouldn’t allow my mother to work so, with four children and their mother to support plus his ‘hobbies’ to pursue, there really wasn’t enough money to go round.

There are commonalities between both sets of my grandparents. Both my grandfathers were educated, professional men – middle class, I suppose - who married working class, uneducated women.

My maternal grandfather was a doctor in General Practice. He was held in very high regard by the community who had genuine respect and love for him. My mother’s family were well off. The family’s social standing in the community remained long after my grandfather’s death just before world war 2. Their means of support, however, became extremely tenuous under the nazi occupation of France.

My paternal grandfather was a professor of linguistics at an educational establishment in Liverpool. He was also an alcoholic who, come payday, would head straight to the pub and blow a whole month’s salary on drinking himself into a stupor. Sometimes, my paternal grandmother would send my father and his three brothers out to scour the Liverpool pubs when they were only little in an attempt to prevent him from spending all the money. This wasn’t always successful.

So both my parents grew up as middle class poor.

This was translated into working class poor when they met, married and had children. While psychiatric nursing isn’t considered a typical working class occupation, the fact that it was – and still is – so poorly paid determined that my parents didn’t own property. We lived in a council house in a street full of council houses. We didn’t have a car or a TV and I can remember the excitement of getting our first fridge on hire purchase when I was about ten years old. We were obviously ‘poor’ – not the poorest in the street but more poor than the families of the lorry drivers and foundry workers; the obviously ‘working class’ who made up the other residents in the street.

We may have lived in relative poverty but my mother, with the approval of my father, attempted to maintain the values and behaviours she had grown up with and my parents shared the belief that education is key. Ours was the only house in the street that was full of books. From art to poetry, science to architecture, the classics to contemporary fiction, books were everywhere and, as children, we were encouraged to read. We didn’t have TV but we had radio – usually tuned to the Third Programme while my mum listened to classical music and opera during the day and the Home Service when we came back from school. We listened to plays both ancient and modern, concerts and comedies and, of course, Children’s Hour with ‘Uncle Mac’.

Both my parents were Socialists and neither could be described as snobbish. I think my father thought of himself as a working class hero in that he used the experience of poverty of many of his patients in his analysis of their illness when in discussion with their psychiatrists and when interviewed by the media. (My father was jointly responsible for the day to day running of a unit that was revolutionising the treatment of schizophrenia. He was interviewed about it several times by various TV networks around the world and features were written about both him and the unit in the UK broadsheets.) My mother, having experienced nazi oppression during the war, was vehemently against any and all oppression of the human spirit. She saw “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer” as the vilest oppression – a reduction in opportunities for the many for the comfort and benefit of the few.

I have the feeling that they might have come across as fairly aloof to our neighbours but this would’ve been purely due to a lack of shared interests rather than any delusions of grandeur. My mum didn’t play bingo and detested ‘gossip’, my dad didn’t keep pigeons or go shooting rabbits. As a family, we were liked well enough but considered a bit ‘odd’. Not having a TV meant we couldn’t relate to the conversations and catch phrases that became part of popular culture. We went to France for our holidays (paid for by my maternal grandmother and always without my father) and this was considered strange in a street where most children went to Butlins - if they had a holiday at all – with both their parents.

As children our parents taught us not to use the colloquialisms that were popular in our street and we were always called on bad grammar or pronunciation. My dad always said “If you can’t speak English properly you’ll never be able to read or write it properly either.” I don’t know how right he was with that but all of us learned to read very quickly and we all read – everything we could get our hands on – and so our horizons were broadened and we learned more. We were clever kids and that showed in our performance at school. I’ve since been told by a contemporary at that time that, because of the marked differences between our family and the rest of the street, we were thought of as “posh”.

But we were as poor as church mice. We had nothing. I’ve said before in the post about my mother that she made all our clothes apart from our underwear – I was about nine or ten years old before I had anything new made specially for me; prior to that I wore the much repaired things my sister had grown out of. We were well fed because my mother could make a meal out of just about anything – her priorities were a) make sure the rent’s paid and b) make sure the children eat properly. We had no toys to speak of. I always had some paints or crayons because I had a talent for painting and drawing but I used to use the least bloody sheets of paper that the butcher wrapped the meat in to draw on. When I’d exhausted those I was allowed to draw, in pencil, on the tiling around the fireplace till the next week when the butcher’s van came round again. I quickly understood that my artwork around the fireplace wasn’t meant for keeping! Generally, my siblings and I invented games to play with one another.

Our house was shambolic by comparison to those of most of our friends in the street. My mum kept it spotless but there were no carpets anywhere – lino downstairs, bare boards upstairs – a fireplace in every room but a fire was only ever lit in the living room during the winter; second hand furniture as old as the hills and already worn out before it became ours; no little niceties anywhere at all. Everything was threadbare.

We were poor amongst the poor. N
ot the poorest in the street but we definitely lived in poverty: and yet we were thought of as “posh” because of the differences in values and behaviour that my mother brought with her from bourgeois France and my father’s unshakeable faith in education and learning that had been passed on to him by his own father in his more sober moments. We were as much of an enigma to friends who lived in the bona fide “posh” part of the village for the same reasons – a father who worked as a medical professional, a mother who preferred opera to bingo, clever, well spoken children – all the signs of middle class but we obviously had no money because we lived in a council house. I guess we didn’t really ‘fit in’ anywhere.

This background of a childhood where stereotypical thinking around perceived ‘Class’ and its relationship to observed (or hidden) codifiers meant that the concept of ‘Class’ confused me for a long time. I didn’t understand how it could be applied to lives led by individuals when the signifiers can be so blurred. It wasn’t until I read Marx in my early twenties that the political realities of Class clicked in my brain.

Is it human nature to make judgements about people and put them into boxes according to pre-conceived, stereotypical notions? Because that’s how I grew up – being moved from one box to another depending on what the person doing the judging saw. The poverty or the culture. The hand-me-downs or my knowledge of the Impressionists. The poor or the "posh". All notions of social class that, once I’d read Marx's analysis, had their meaninglessness confirmed. It seemed as though the concept of social class was a red herring designed to distract the oppressed from their own oppression and keep them striving to do “better” for themselves and, in so doing, make more money for the bosses. Emphasis on social class meant distraction from political class and the imbalance of power relations.

I tend not to make judgements about people on how they live. People’s lives are complicated and it can never be said that because someone’s on benefits they’re lazy or that because they’re wealthy they work hard. It’s people’s actions in conjunction with what they say that informs me. Marxist analysis of Class is the one that most resonates with me but, in any discussion of Class, I always maintain that I belong in Class Woman.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Random observations during half an hour...

...in a shopping mall on a Sunday afternoon.

Small girl - six, maybe seven years old - wearing white, strappy sandals with thin high heels. Not quite stiletto's, but almost. I don't understand why shoes like that are even made for children...

Big bloke walking about wearing a t-shirt that said YOUTRYTOREADTHISWHILEICHECKOUTYOURTITS. Very funny. Ha ha. I'd have poked his bloody eyes out if my companion hadn't noticed my fury and hurried me along. That'd teach him.

Trendy sports shop selling clothes and basic equipment. Lots of sporty type pictures and posters all over the place - pictures of men swinging golf clubs, pictures of men looking strong and in control in their trendy sports vests looking directly at the camera, pictures of men in action - kicking balls, running about - you know the kind of thing. One picture of a woman. A tennis player facing away. Long plait down her back, racquet in one hand and with the other she's lifting the skirt of her tennis dress to show us all her teeny tiny underwear barely covering her bottom.

Half an hour...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Witchy-woo is re-defining herself...

...in the wake of recent experiences in the 'blogosphere'.

Seems to me that 'feminism' as a grassroots political concept that had the wellbeing of all women in mind has been corrupted by the patriarchy. Seems to me that, these days, if you have a vulva that kinda must make you a feminist, somehow. Seems to me that having a vulva kinda means you have to make it perform for the guys, somehow - and that, somehow, makes you a feminist, yunno?

Whether you're selling it, parading it, sliding down a pole with it, having it abused, shat on, spat on, beaten or abused, made 'less than', stripped, dressed in lace and 'fineries', wanked over, lied about, drooled over or stalked - there are elements of 'feminism' that try to make all/any of that kind of 'ok'.

Well, not this 'feminist'.

If this is what feminism has become - some kind of huge 'yay! it doesn't matter what happens to other women as long as the world/my man/any men/dig me and I can big up my own, individual sexual predelictions/means of survival/act out of my own abuse/bollocks to any other woman who doesn't hold the same patriarchally capitalist defined values as me' you can count me out. I'm not playing.

So much hard work has been done by so many women to make women, globally, not 'less than' and yet the patrirarchy seems to have succeeded in imprinting it's own values on so many. I wonder why.......seriously, I so wonder why.

But that's neither here nor there. The fact is that feminism, as a political movement, has been hijacked by the dominant ideolgy. We have 'raunch culture' - women supposedly expressing their 'sexual' selves - after all, what are women if not 'sex' as defined by the patriarchy?. Funny how women's innate desires about faux lesbianism absolutely and accurately reflect the supposed fantasies of men, isn't it? [/sarcasm] At the same time we have 90% of prostitutes wanting NOT to be prostitutes (well, would you? Think about it for 10 seconds...), we have women tortured and abused in the making of pornography aimed to get people (men) 'off', and we have women defending the 'rights' of other women to accept their lot as some kind of sex slave to the sweaty, stinking cock of the patriarchy. Other women's lives, seemingly, are expendable to some 'feminists'.

And that's 'feminism'?

Bolleaux.

This feminist, this woman who is deeply concerned about the lives of women and girls - globally - does not agree that all this is undertaken in the humanitarian interests of women. This is NOT feminism, from where I sit. This has nothing to do with female emancipation or equality. This is just more of the same old, same old and I, for one, am not buying it. I will not depend on the patriarchy for my survival, nor that of my daughter nor any other person with a vulva.

Feminism is now led by the nose by patriartchy?

From now on, I'm to be described as a Womanist.

I realise I may be (mis?)appropriating a woman of colour term - that hasn't escaped my notice. It was introduced to me as 'an ancient term for a woman who cared about women'.

But that's what I am! A womanist - I am a woman who cares about women. The patriarchy (and all it's sychophants) can go fuck itself - I am a womanist and I'm proud of it. I care about the survival and progression of women and I'm proud of it. I'm proud of women. I'm proud to be a woman.I am proud of my re-definition.