women are persons.

Today in Mighty Girl history, a landmark Canadian women’s rights court case in 1929, known as the “Persons Case,” determined that “yes, women are persons.” The decision of the Privy Council was thanks in great measure to the efforts of Albertan social activist Emily Murphy, whose appointment in 1916 as the first female magistrate was challenged on the basis that women were not persons under British and Canadian law. While the Alberta Supreme Court affirmed her appointment, Murphy became determined to clarify the legal status of women in Canada. She and her supporters petitioned to have her named to the Senate, but Murphy was declined by Prime Minister Robert Borden on the basis that women were not considered “persons” under the British North American Act of 1867. In 1927, Emily Murphy and four other prominent women’s rights activists — Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parlby, together known as the “Famous Five” — appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada for clarification. They posed the question: “Does the word ‘persons’ in Section 24, of The British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?” When the Supreme Court ruled that it did not, the Famous Five took their question to the Privy Council, at that point the highest court of appeal for Canadian law. The Privy Council decision issued by its head Lord Sankey also made an eloquent argument for the continued progress of women’s rights in the British Empire: “the exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours. And to those who would ask why the word ‘persons’ should include females, the obvious answer is, why should it not?”

Rest: A Mighty Girl (FB)

women are persons.

Today in Mighty Girl history, a landmark Canadian women’s rights court case in 1929, known as the “Persons Case,” determined that “yes, women are persons.” The decision of the Privy Council was thanks in great measure to the efforts of Albertan social activist Emily Murphy, whose appointment in 1916 as the first female magistrate was challenged on the basis that women were not persons under British and Canadian law.

While the Alberta Supreme Court affirmed her appointment, Murphy became determined to clarify the legal status of women in Canada. She and her supporters petitioned to have her named to the Senate, but Murphy was declined by Prime Minister Robert Borden on the basis that women were not considered “persons” under the British North American Act of 1867.

In 1927, Emily Murphy and four other prominent women’s rights activists — Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parlby, together known as the “Famous Five” — appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada for clarification. They posed the question: “Does the word ‘persons’ in Section 24, of The British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?” When the Supreme Court ruled that it did not, the Famous Five took their question to the Privy Council, at that point the highest court of appeal for Canadian law.

The Privy Council decision issued by its head Lord Sankey also made an eloquent argument for the continued progress of women’s rights in the British Empire: “the exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours. And to those who would ask why the word ‘persons’ should include females, the obvious answer is, why should it not?”

Rest: A Mighty Girl (FB)

But what was she wearing? 
Katy Heng runs Tumblr blog called But What Was She Wearing: Stop The Cat Call, to document how what a person is wearing has nothing to do with the grotesque comments and actions spewed at them on the street. She is asking Tumblr users and those who are sick of hearing, “yeah, but what were you wearing?” from friends, to share and submit photos and stories about being catcalled to stopthecatcall@gmail.com or via Tumblr. The blog showcases these stories, some of which are excerpted here to shows you that what we all experience is a part of a disgusting culture that needs to end ASAP. 
Via bust.

But what was she wearing?

Katy Heng runs Tumblr blog called But What Was She Wearing: Stop The Cat Call, to document how what a person is wearing has nothing to do with the grotesque comments and actions spewed at them on the street. She is asking Tumblr users and those who are sick of hearing, “yeah, but what were you wearing?” from friends, to share and submit photos and stories about being catcalled to stopthecatcall@gmail.com or via Tumblr. The blog showcases these stories, some of which are excerpted here to shows you that what we all experience is a part of a disgusting culture that needs to end ASAP. 

Via bust.

Men – if you’re not a feminist, it’s fine, just move on
Emer O’Toole, the Guardian.

Men – if you’re not a feminist, it’s fine, just move on
Emer O’Toole, the Guardian.

Why is women’s body image anxiety at such devastating levels?

Emphasis added below. Headlines: only 60% (approx.) of British women aged 18 to 49 are happy with their appearance. However, 10 million women in the UK feel “depressed” about how they look (10 million!) and one-third avoid doing exercise because of insecurity about their body image. And, distressingly, girls as young as five are concerned about their size and appearance. FIVE!

To blame: advertising which focuses on unrealistic female “perfection”, a slew of “body positive” campaigns which promote patriarchal standards of beauty, and incessant, sexist focus on women’s appearance as the most important aspect of womanhood.

On the Guardian:

We need to talk about body image. New findings from the 2014 British Social Attitudes survey reveal that only 63% of women aged 18-34 and 57% of women aged 35-49 are satisfied with their appearance.

In a world obsessed with women’s bodies, we are bombarded with images of them, usually undressed, often in dehumanised pieces, at every turn. But though we see women’s bodies everywhere, it’s only really one body that we’re seeing, over and over again. Usually a young, thin, white, toned, large-breasted, long-legged, non-disabled body.

Funnily enough, that’s not what most women’s bodies look like. But the airbrushed media ideal is so powerful and so omnipresent that women find themselves comparing their own bodies to it anyway, and finding themselves wanting. The results are devastating. A recent report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image found that girls as young as five are worrying about their size and appearance, and that one in four seven-year-old girls have tried to lose weight at least once. And, as the BSA survey results show, a preoccupation with body image affects women throughout their lives, not just in their youth. It holds women back by eroding their confidence both at work and socially. New research coinciding with Body Confidence Week found that almost 10 million women in the UK “feel depressed” because of the way they look and 36% avoid exercise because of insecurity about their looks.

Rest: the Guardian.

Universities won’t be a safe place for women until they’re a safe place for feminism

Glosswitch on feminism, university campuses, university study, and the important role of the NUS in ensuring women’s safety. (And on that: the piece links to the 2012 NUS LGBT Campaign Policy document which discusses the role of feminism on campus in detail.)

A decade later, the piece means something different to me, and not just because I am now some prudish old biddy telling other women off (or rather, once you’re past a certain age, that’s the role you’re automatically shoved into). It’s only now I can look back on my time at university and admit to myself that I didn’t really feel safe. It’s not that I feel ashamed of anything I did or didn’t do; I just wish I had been able to feel bigger and stronger and bolder. I wish I’d noticed the way men encroached on my space and, instead of seeing any challenges to male sexual entitlement as heartless inter-feminist slut-shaming, I’d thought a little harder about whether broader structures did in fact need fixing.  The reason I couldn’t do this is because, ironically, I was too scared. I was “called upon to be silent” and “to withhold critique”; I didn’t know all the things I couldn’t say because I never even tried to say them.

It’s a kind of self-monitoring, an internalised backlash that prevents you from having to engage with how bad things are. All the same, however bad things were for female students then, it seems they are worse now. Time was when male students at least pretended they knew they were being sexist and that it was all some joke; today, as the NUS’s “That’s what she said” study and other reports of on-campus sexism indicate, the atmosphere is altogether harsher and more openly misogynistic. While membership of student feminist organisations is growing and more and more women are speaking out, it feels like a losing battle. Male entitlement shows no sign of abating and to make matters worse, it has become more and more difficult to pinpoint why this is happening, as an increasing number of feminist concepts are declared off-limits.

[…] If feminism cannot engage in a critical analysis of gender and sexual objectification then feminists can only ever be on the defensive, plugging leaks here and there while wondering why the flood won’t recede. Involvement in feminist debate should not require an oath of allegiance to the commoditisation of female bodies, in exchange for which one might get the odd consent lesson for all those men who, funnily enough, still feel entitled to female flesh. In today’s universities female students are being held to ransom not just by braying rugby lads, but by male students who believe gender-nonconformity is compatible with continuing to police women’s physical space and intellectual boundaries thanks to the acronyms SWERF and TERF. It’s hyper-conservative behaviour beneath a thin veneer of rebellion – perhaps a slick of lip gloss, but nothing so daring as thinking women have the right to question the very structures that hold them down.

Rest: New Statesman.

feminism helps everyone.excellent. rest of comic here.© rasenth.tumblr.com

feminism helps everyone.
excellent. rest of comic here.
© rasenth.tumblr.com

Recently, a young woman asked me how we can make feminism more accessible to men. I told her that I don’t care about making feminism more accessible to men. In truth, I don’t care about making feminism more accessible to anyone.

I care about making the liberties that men enjoy so freely fully accessible to women, and if men or celebrities claiming feminism for themselves has become the spoon full of sugar to make that medicine go down, so be it.

But it irks me that we more easily embrace feminism and feminist messages when delivered in the right package – one that generally includes youth, a particular kind of beauty, fame and/or self-deprecating humour. It frustrates me that the very idea of women enjoying the same inalienable rights as men is so unappealing that we require – even demand – that the person asking for these rights must embody the standards we’re supposedly trying to challenge. That we require brand ambassadors and celebrity endorsements to make the world a more equitable place is infuriating.

- Roxanne Gay’s take on making feminism more palatable and trendy and accessible and “friendly”, The Guardian.

I put this in the Sunday roundup yesterday but I am flagging it again. Roxanne Gay - the self-proclaimed “bad” feminist - rightly points out that making feminism more palatable (i.e. to those who feel threatened by having their status quo challenged) is not the end game here. It shouldn’t take a stamp of approval from the rich and beautiful to make it acceptable and/ or important.

ebola.on i’m not gonna lie: pinterest: feimineach.found on twitter: @fathems

ebola.
on i’m not gonna lie: pinterest: feimineach.
found on twitter: @
fathems

No nation, worldwide, without barriers to reporting rape (womanstats.org).
Look at these data (from the WomanStats project) on the strength of cultural barriers to reporting rape worldwide. (Click image for larger.)
For instance, in Britain, Ireland and the US there are “cultural barriers [which] regularly keep women from reporting rape.” In Germany and Italy, the cultural barriers “are intense but a woman is not under risk of possible physical duress if she does report the rape”.  She IS under possible physical duress in several parts of Africa and the Middle East.
Only in Canada, France, Australia, Norway and (if I have made them out properly) Switzerland and Austria are there “some [fewer] cultural barriers top reporting rape”. 
But, according to these data, there is nowhere where there are virtually no cultural barriers to reporting rape. Let me say that again: there exists not one nation where there are no barriers to reporting rape. Not one.
Found on twitter (@WomanStats).

No nation, worldwide, without barriers to reporting rape (womanstats.org).

Look at these data (from the WomanStats project) on the strength of cultural barriers to reporting rape worldwide. (Click image for larger.)

For instance, in Britain, Ireland and the US there are “cultural barriers [which] regularly keep women from reporting rape.” In Germany and Italy, the cultural barriers “are intense but a woman is not under risk of possible physical duress if she does report the rape”. She IS under possible physical duress in several parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Only in Canada, France, Australia, Norway and (if I have made them out properly) Switzerland and Austria are there “some [fewer] cultural barriers top reporting rape”.

But, according to these data, there is nowhere where there are virtually no cultural barriers to reporting rape. Let me say that again: there exists not one nation where there are no barriers to reporting rape. Not one.

Found on twitter (@WomanStats).

F*ck me, I’m Fresher.
Below is a link to a list of 10 things that women shouldn’t have to go through at university. One would think that it goes without saying - that any of these should never need to be highlighted - but we know (from students themselves, I add) that women at university have to battle with sexism and misogyny their whole way through university, and particularly in Freshers’ Week.
I took this picture on freshers’ week. It is non-gendered (i.e. non-targeted), as I noted at the time, but we all know enough now about campus culture in Freshers’ Week to know what it means.
On the Guardian:*

For female students starting at Emmanuel College, Cambridge this month, a depressing welcome awaited. Student newspaper The Tab reported on a leaked email encouraging members of an all-male drinking society to “smash it (/the girls)”.
A student at a different university reported to Everyday Sexism that they had overheard a student halls rep telling a fresher: “I’m going to treat you like a dolphin, segregate you from the group until you give into me.”
Others from different universities report “points systems” for games such as “fuck a fresher”, “seal clubbing”, or “sharking” – where older male students win points for sleeping with first-year girls. (In some cases, extra points were reported for taking a girl’s virginity or keeping their underwear as a trophy.) In many cases, these are the people supposed to be looking after freshers as they settle in.

And:

Female students wanting to get involved in clubs and societies often find themselves pressured or coerced into highly sexualised and often degrading initiations, from simulating oral sex to giving lap dances or taking their clothes off.

And:

Being told to ‘get back in the kitchen’ or ‘make me a sandwich’
Recent years have seen a depressing return to retro sexism, particularly at schools and universities. As I’ve visited institutions up and down the country, countless students have reported coming up against “old school” sexist comments like these, not just in social situations but also when trying to contribute in academic sessions or lectures. Rape jokes are also commonly reported.

Always hilarious, that one.
And, of course, the bantz!

Perhaps worst of all, when female students try to challenge this litany of misogyny, they often come up against the defence that it’s just “banter”, it’s all just an “ironic” joke. It’s hilarious to rank women out of 10 and laugh about raping them and post anonymous public judgments of their appearance online, because nobody really means anything by it! The defence is an incredibly effective silencer, branding anybody who dares to complain as uptight or lacking a sense of humour. But the truth is, in 2014, it shouldn’t be possible to write a 10-point list of the abuse women have to brave in the process of learning. There’s nothing funny about it at all.

More on the Guardian.
— * It grates on me that these pieces (you know, for the wimmin) are so often in the Life and Style section on the Guardian. Because sexual harassment and horrible, sustained sexism is the same as throw cushions.

F*ck me, I’m Fresher.

Below is a link to a list of 10 things that women shouldn’t have to go through at university. One would think that it goes without saying - that any of these should never need to be highlighted - but we know (from students themselves, I add) that women at university have to battle with sexism and misogyny their whole way through university, and particularly in Freshers’ Week.

I took this picture on freshers’ week. It is non-gendered (i.e. non-targeted), as I noted at the time, but we all know enough now about campus culture in Freshers’ Week to know what it means.

On the Guardian:*

For female students starting at Emmanuel College, Cambridge this month, a depressing welcome awaited. Student newspaper The Tab reported on a leaked email encouraging members of an all-male drinking society to “smash it (/the girls)”.

A student at a different university reported to Everyday Sexism that they had overheard a student halls rep telling a fresher: “I’m going to treat you like a dolphin, segregate you from the group until you give into me.”

Others from different universities report “points systems” for games such as “fuck a fresher”, “seal clubbing”, or “sharking” – where older male students win points for sleeping with first-year girls. (In some cases, extra points were reported for taking a girl’s virginity or keeping their underwear as a trophy.) In many cases, these are the people supposed to be looking after freshers as they settle in.

And:

Female students wanting to get involved in clubs and societies often find themselves pressured or coerced into highly sexualised and often degrading initiations, from simulating oral sex to giving lap dances or taking their clothes off.

And:

Being told to ‘get back in the kitchen’ or ‘make me a sandwich’

Recent years have seen a depressing return to retro sexism, particularly at schools and universities. As I’ve visited institutions up and down the country, countless students have reported coming up against “old school” sexist comments like these, not just in social situations but also when trying to contribute in academic sessions or lectures. Rape jokes are also commonly reported.

Always hilarious, that one.

And, of course, the bantz!

Perhaps worst of all, when female students try to challenge this litany of misogyny, they often come up against the defence that it’s just “banter”, it’s all just an “ironic” joke. It’s hilarious to rank women out of 10 and laugh about raping them and post anonymous public judgments of their appearance online, because nobody really means anything by it! The defence is an incredibly effective silencer, branding anybody who dares to complain as uptight or lacking a sense of humour. But the truth is, in 2014, it shouldn’t be possible to write a 10-point list of the abuse women have to brave in the process of learning. There’s nothing funny about it at all.

More on the Guardian.


* It grates on me that these pieces (you know, for the wimmin) are so often in the Life and Style section on the Guardian. Because sexual harassment and horrible, sustained sexism is the same as throw cushions.

LOVE/ HATE: MORE ON TV’S VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN (TW)

There is a lot of violence against women in Love/ Hate: inter-personal violence within a relationship, implied abuse of sex workers, stalking and intimidation, and, of course, that rape scene.

I knew it was coming because I had read about exactly when it takes place in the series so that I could decide, right up the point, if I could actually watch it. The criticism the scene received was such that I thought that I might not be able to. When it came to it, I did. And my conclusion: dear gods, that was horrible and brutal, but it could have been worse. And here’s why.

First, the scene had no nudity at all. In general terms, sexual violence against women on television involves the victim being naked (and, of course, perfectly proportioned and conventionally beautiful) so that the scene is, ultimately, titillating and arousing for the viewer. Note, I do not, in any terms, find it so, but that is the purpose of the nudity. The violence, then, becomes secondary because the female body is presented for enjoyment. Love/ Hate did not do that and it is to its credit that it centered the violence and brutality.

Second, the scene was realistic. Evidence suggests that women (and girls) get caught up in the middle of male-led gang violence all the time. Their bodies are used as objects and for revenge. This scene in Love/ Hate was a mixture of both and its violence, brutality and inhumanity was deliberately (I think) depicted.

Third, the immediate aftermath of the rape was also realistic: the victim was deeply upset, frightened, sickened and confused (of course). The people around her were the same (though some had other priorities with the perpetrator). In the extended aftermath, instead of wrapping up and moving on (as is common with such storylines), the reality of the impact of the rape on the victim is clearly written, harrowing, and given considerable airtime.

I am just two episodes on at this stage but I understand that the series continues to portray the victim’s ordeal realistically and sensitively, and that is commendable. I will certainly report back if that is not the case. As portrayals of rape go, then, Love/ Hate did a creditable job. That was a relief to see.

An infrequent #thinkyblog on feimineach.com.

gloria steinem. bonus props for appearing on the good wife. on anonymous was a woman: pinterest: feimineach.

gloria steinem. bonus props for appearing on the good wife.
on anonymous was a woman: pinterest: feimineach.

When white characters are continually constructed as righteous, heroic, and virtuous people while non-white/foreign characters are conceptualized as greedy and treacherous, it reinforces social ideas that are already in place about the value of whiteness and the wickedness or otherness of non-white/foreign bodies and identities. The heroes are white, the victims are white, and the villains are not. That’s the pattern. The next time you watch a film that follows this paradigm, consider its implications.

Actually, Camille Paglia: One in Five Women at My School Deals With Rape or Attempted Rape

Below is a challenge to the statements made in a piece by Camille Paglia (who, notoriously, makes the rather confusing claim that she is a feminist while touting various anti-women/ anti-feminist messages) about rape on campus. Pagila argues, first, that claims of campus rape are “overblown”; second, that it is young, middle-class women’s naivety that gets them assaulted; and, third (in more traditional victim-blaming), that college students should know that “bared flesh and sexy clothes” are just too tempting for “savage” rapists (because we know that rape is about atavistic dispositions, amirite).

Last week, Camille Paglia wrote an article for Time that argues that colleges pay too much attention to rape culture. The day after Paglia’s article was published, Jennifer Freyd, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon, where I’m a sophomore, published a report finding that one in five of my fellow female students had experienced rape or attempted rape during their time at the school. The report was shocking, especially considering the fallout over a sexual assault case involving three student athletes that came out last spring.

According to Paglia, this is just another of the “wildly overblown claims about an epidemic of sexual assaults on American campuses.” But I beg to differ. In her Time piece, Paglia advocates that colleges should focus less on preventing non-felonious rape, (which sounds a whole lot like Congressman Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape”) in favor of spending more resources on preventing abduction and murder. These crimes are serious issues, specifically considering the recent death of Elizabeth Thomas and disappearance of Hannah Graham. But Paglia takes it a step farther by arguing that “hysterical propaganda about our ‘rape culture’” not only detracts from preventing this supposed “ancient sex crime” of abduction and murder, but take attention away from academics.

It is true that certain high profile sexual assault cases have been in the news lately, such as Emma Sulkowicz’s Carry the Weight project at Columbia University, but to say that rape culture doesn’t exist and that it’s taking away attention from other issues is poor thinking at best.

Rest: Bitch Media.

See also:

Gender and the Meaning of Prison

This is fascinating. It’s striking that so many women (small sample though it is) felt “saved” by prison because it got them away from their abusive partners. Male offenders who have desisted often report that prison saved them because it offered some sort of deterrent from future offending but seldom (never, perhaps) because it removed them from abusive situations. The stories below highlight, again, the very different lived experiences of men and women in prison. There is more research to be done here.

One of the things that was most striking to me was the conversation with a group of female lifers.  The women, the students, the chaplains, and the instructors (including me) were all sitting in a circle, coming together in the larger group to ask questions and hear different perspectives after spending time in the morning in small group discussions and sharing prison brown bag lunches.  The testimonials that have stuck with me came after the chaplain – who was clearly well-loved and respected  by the women in the group – gave a prompt: “Prison saved my life because…”

Approximately ten different women responded with their stories: “Prison saved my life because…”  As anyone who has studied gender and crime might suspect, many of these women were entangled in very abusive relationships when they were in the community, and the perception was that the violence they were experiencing would have only continued to escalate until they were killed by their partners/associates or possibly driven to take their own lives.  One of the older women succinctly – and honestly – rephrased the prompt to explain that her going to prison may or may not have saved her life, but it likely saved the lives of others in the community.

The thread of this conversation was striking to a number of us, made much more so by the fact that – even when given a similar prompt – not one of the men in the medium-security prison credited prison with saving his life.  I have heard men in prison make such assertions in other settings, but it was a stark contrast to have such a large percentage of the women claim that prison saved their lives, while not one of the men made this claim.

More: Gender and the Meaning of Prison (societypages)