Tuesday, August 30, 2005

standing? gadgets? revolution?

I'm back!
I'm busy tonight.
Just read Urban Chick's post on women's toilets.
Reminded me that it's a favourite rant of mine.
But what's to be done about the endless queuing?

1 - We could lobby for more toilets for women in public places e.g. theatres, towns, festivals etc. -especially the places where we pay - e.g taxes pay for public toilets, ticket sales pay for theatre toilets.

BUT - more toilets = more space needed for building, more water etc. - bad for the environment unless the toilets use grey water.

2 - We could learn to pee standing - lots of advice here on Restrooms and MyVag. There are some people advocating provision of female urinals .... not a bad idea - except could be a problem if you're wearing trousers...the She-inal looks possible though not sure about the hose - doesn't sound clean.

3 - Problems with technique can be reduced by using gadgets. All of this assumes that it's reasonable to expect us females to learn a new way of peeing. Many men in the world sit to pee so why shouldn't we?

What a dilemma.. in the meantime I'll just stamp and shout when I'm out and about and have to QUEUE!!!


You are having an experience that involves being ignored or hearing the same excuses over again - and it's related to issues of equality, rights, oppression etc.

What do you do?

Carry on as usual?
"Hijack" the situation by dominating the conversation with some statements about oppression, making your point and stating that it is unacceptable?
Withdraw your labour, saying that you will not engage until you see evidence of committment to positive action?

Working to make changes on a large scale in the world - what works? Gradual slow change? High impact revolutionary change?

If we gently challenge, over time people suffer anyway - e.g. poverty/ mental illness/ discrimination can entail a long slow painful death/ low quality of life.

If we revolt - this can involve high numbers of victims in the short term.

Which is best?

I tend to vote for revolution.

But then - I also think that staying internally personally committed to values and beliefs and acting accordingly day-in, day-out - whilst it's absolutely draining - if we act together in solidarity, despite not seeing evidence of the impact we have, we know that we are winning. If we stop, we have lost and those in power have won.

Take the anti-Iraq-war protests in the UK. Tony Blair appeared to ignore them, despite the huge numbers of people who took part. So what do we do - stop using our vote in the belief that it's pointless giving our views? Then oppression really has won. Whoever then gets into power is there through apathy. Democracy may be flawed - what isn't. If we don't sign up to the democratic process - we have to identify an alternative that is better.

I can see major faults in what I am saying even as I type - it's such a circular debate..... I know that if we vote against the current power, then the opposition that we don't want to have in power may get in by default.

Any suggestions?

water and song

"If I were to construct a religion, I should make use of water".
That's what Philip Larkin said.
Me and a close friend were talking last week and we also thought that water would be important in devising a new religion - we don't want a deity, an icon, a guru - we would worship water with, amongst other things our voices.

Maybe I'll write a song.....

Sunday, August 28, 2005

free association 3

I find this more difficult each time. The TV is on and that is a distraction, but here it is anyway...
  1. Girlfriends:: love
  2. Here to stay:: earth
  3. Call me:: shortly
  4. Frustrated:: sex
  5. Public school:: yuppie
  6. Glitch:: computer
  7. Cheese:: chives
  8. Director:: theatre
  9. Pivotal:: image
  10. Exclusive:: design

Thursday, August 25, 2005

parents with learning disabilities

Last week there was a lot in the news about the high numbers of parents with learning disabilities that have their children taken away from them. The guardian covered a particular story where a couple had their 2 children taken away by Essex social services.

There is a good article on Woman's Hour that you can listen to. It is an attempt to balance the views. There are those who think that we are too liberal if we say that it is everyone's right to be able to choose to parent and to have the support we need in that parenting. They are compared to those who think we do not treat people with learning disabilities fairly and that children and removed from their parents too readily.

It seems obvious to me that we are an intolerant society and even if we only consider the economics of the issue - it is far better to keep a child with it's parents and support the family as much as needed, than to split families up just because of the parents intellectual capacity. There is a big difference between parents who intentionally abuse or neglect their children and those who lack informationk, guidance and support to care safely. It is easy to provide people with support and appropriate guidance.....

best of the best...

I put some comments on the BBC woman's hour site about the Best of the Best Orange Prize winning novels over the last ten years that I have read. You can listen to the debate about having a prize for women only on the woman's hour site.

I have read 5 of the 10 -
Larry's Party - Carol Shields
A Crime in the Neighbourhood - Suzanne Berne
The Idea of Perfection - Kate Grenville
Property - Valerie Martin
Small Island - Andrea Levy
and found it hard to decide which one was my favourite.

I got an email asking me if I would be willing to be recorded talking about the novel I like best.
I chose one and have just been recorded by a really friendly helpful woman named Corinna who put me at ease. My ramblings will be used on woman's hour next week to trail the vote that is coming up in late September - so go onto the website to read about the 10 novels and vote for your favourite! The winner will be announced on the 3rd October.

And listen out for the trails - you might hear me......

Sunday, August 21, 2005

free association 2

This week's offering from Luna Nina with my responses.....
  1. Fan:: belt
  2. Scum:: of the earth
  3. Lily:: of the valley
  4. Humid:: greenhouse
  5. Ghetto:: blaster (that shows my age!)
  6. Remember me?:: who?
  7. Polished:: surface
  8. Compose:: music
  9. Squish:: berry
  10. Future:: perfect

If you want a go - you can copy the code from Luna Nina

I am quite dozy with sleepiness as I do this - so I am confident that these are my immediate responses.

Not sure what they say about me.......

Friday, August 19, 2005

free association 1

Thanks to Luna Nina for this one.

Each week she posts ten words to which you can respond to with the first thing that comes to mind. "Rules are, there are no rules." There are no right or wrong answers. Don't limit yourself to one word responses; just say everything that pops into your head.

This is my first go -
  1. Idiot:: guide
  2. Rocket:: power
  3. Liability:: judgement
  4. Harmless:: creatures
  5. Stringy:: beans
  6. Theater:: tickets
  7. Gwyneth:: Paltrow
  8. Use it or lose it:: brain
  9. Sonic:: boom
  10. Pucker:: lips

what is it?

Wikipedia says
"Feminism is a diverse collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies, largely motivated by or concerning the experiences of women, especially in terms of their social, political, and economic situation. As a social movement, feminism largely focuses on limiting or eradicating gender inequality and promoting women's rights, interests, and issues in society.
Within academia, some feminists focus on documenting gender inequality and changes in the social position and representation of women. Others argue that gender, and even sex, are social constructs, and research the construction of gender and sexuality, and develop alternate models for studying social relations."

Germaine Greer believes that women fighting for equality is a poor aim - why want to be equal to men - their position in society is not so desirable in a world full of war, poverty and abuse. Greer's aim is for a new world order - freedom for all regardless of gender. She says "Women's liberation, if it abolishes the patriarchal family, will abolish a necessary substructure of the authoritarian state, and once that withers away Marx will have come true willy-nilly, so let's get on with it."

So - feminism could be the big challenge to capitalism - thinking back to the post I did on the Beauty Myth on the 8th August - it seems obvious that if we spend less time investing energy in making our appearance conform to the stereotypes, add to that time saved by not conforming in other ways - we have more time to get together with other women - solidarity is essential.

froom is a way for us to get together online if not in person. I intend to blog on froomblog about this same topic.

Revolution can only be achieved by working together.

Monday, August 15, 2005


I have decided that from now on I will have BUDs - Bleeding Uterus Days - whenever I have a period. I got the idea from this amazing website MUM - the Museum of Menstruation. There is a brilliant and funny long list of words and expressions used to describe periods...and that's where I got BUD from - well I found BUS (bleeding uterus syndrome).

I found MUM through visiting Mooncups website. Both Urban Chick and Your Emotional Neuroses Only Serve To Amuse use cups/ keepers to catch their uterus blood. I am going to look into mooncups for myself - I have recently managed to buy Natracare pads - hard to get hold of in the town I live in. Anyway, reading their posts reminded me of conversations I have had with friends about the term "sanitary protection" to mean products for catching blood - as if women's uterus blood is unsanitary and people have to be protected from it? So what do you call pads/ tampons?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I have been invited to contribute to froom - feminist women on the web. It is a new on-line women's network.

I am also a member of the shared blog - froomblog - which I have put my first post on already. I am not sure what to write about next.

The current topic on froom is women who inspire us.... there are so many - writers such as Germaine Greer, Naomi Wolf, Virginia Woolf, Marge Piercy, Marilyn French, Margaret Atwood.....and friends who are strong and supportive as well as open, vulnerable and whom I can support in my turn....there names are many.

I have got some ideas about other issues to write about - I think I will post something about female gender specific titles - e.g. Ms v Mr, Lady v Lord....

This is a great page to read about good practice in use of personal pro-nouns and other forms of language that are gender specific. Found it from a google search.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Beauty Myth

I am reading the Beauty Myth.

naomi wolf Posted by Picasa
It is hard going. This is the second time I have tried to read it. I keep getting stuck in the 2nd chapter - it's so dense and full of facts that are very depressing. I find it fairly overwhelming, but really need to read it.

The first chapter has some significant figures and Naomi Wolf's turn of phrase is so clear in explaining how the goalposts keep moving for women.

"The closer women come to power, the more physical self-consciousness and sacrifice are asked of them. "Beauty" becomes the condition for a woman to take the next step."

"Beauty" is a characteristic that despite being very subjective, women are measured against. In the workplace, the law says that some jobs require a person employed to be attractive- this used only to apply to jobs like glamour model, but now Wolf demonstrates by quoting actual employment law cases, is applied to all jobs.

"Since 1971, the law has recognized that a standard of perfection against which a woman's body is to be judged may exist in the workplace, and if she falls short of it she can be fired. A "standard of perfection" for the male body has never been legally determined. While defined as materially existing, the female standard itself has never been defined. A woman can be fired for not looking right, but looking right remains open to interpretatation." Moreover - "working women do not have access to legal advice when they get dressed in the morning...confronting constantly the dualistic experience of being "feminine" and "businesslike" at the same time, while they do not perceive men experiencing the same contradiction."

So - do we dress to look smart and plain, or attractive and feminine?
"dressing for business success and dressing to be sexually appealing are practically mutually exclusive because a woman's perceived sexuality can "blot out" all other characteristics...Since women's working clothes - high heels, stocking, make-up, jewellery, not to mention hair, breasts, leg and hips - have already been appropriated as pornographic accessories, a judge can look at any younger woman and believe he is seeing a harrassable trollop, just as he can look at any older woman and believe he is seeing a dismissable hag." It doesn't matter which we do - it will be wrong.

Would wearing a uniform sort the problem out? Wolf thinks not - "Women dare not yet relinquish the "advantage" this inequality in dress bestows. People put on uniforms voluntarily only when they have faith in the fair ewards of the system. They will understandably be unwilling to give up the protection of their "beauty" until they can be sure the reward system is in good working order."

I heard today on Radio 4 "Woman's Hour" that the average make-up wearing woman consumes four and half kilos of lipstick in her lifetime, and exposes herself to 200 synthetic chemicals before breakfast. It asked the question - why do women continue to do this and other things (like wearing high heels) which may harm their health? Do women control, or are we controlled by, our beauty practices?

We carry on making ourselves conform to the beauty norms, the demands of which cost us a larger and larger percentage of our income, and hope that we are rewarded accordingly.

Can you imagine what we would achieve if we did not spend hours each week buying clothes and cosmetics, applying cosmetics, removing body hair, styling our head hair, and more to the point thinking about all of this? We would be high-flyers indeed! Society has to put all these hurdles in our way, as despite them, we still achieve great things.... If we were paid according to our actual worth rather than according to what we are led to believe we are worth, the economic system would collapse. The status quo has to be upheld for this reason alone.