Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Date rape is just a "disagreement between two lovers"

So last month, David Cameron made his stance on rape abundantly clear. If he is to make PM (god forbid), I welcome these proposed changes in law.

Unfortunately, John Redwood, a senior Conservative party member has rather muddied the waters, apparently "backed up" by Cameron, with comments made on his blog about the different ways stranger rape and date rape should be treated and prosecuted.

From his blog:

"They [the Labour government] decided to set date rape alongside stranger rape. Again, none of us want men to rape women, but there is a difference between a man using unreasonable force to assault a woman on the street, and a disagreement between two lovers over whether there was consent on one particular occasion when the two were spending an evening or night together.

"Labour's doctrine of equivalence has led to jury scepticism about many rape claims, in situations where it is the man's word against the woman's and where they had agreed to spend the evening or night together. Young men do not want to have to take a consent form and a lawyer on a date, just as young women have every right to go on a date and to say 'No', having it respected."

Disgusted beyond belief. Only just over 5% of rape trials end in prosecution in the UK, and the vast majority of those are already stranger rape cases. Crisis centres across the country are closing because of lack of public funding. Much as I loathe Vernon Coaker, in this instance I agree with him. I await a statement from Cameron with baited breath...

Thursday, 13 December 2007

More on postfeminism/the third wave

Bizarre seminar today. The final class of the semester for this module - a Feminism 101, if you like (although I got pretty bored of analysing pop culture through the same, repetitive theoretical framework towards the end).

So we're talking about bringing feminism out of the academy -- where, admittedly, it's now most influential. Tutor eventually presents her idea of what The Third Wave is, and I'm pulling a face, thinking 'no, no, no - this is not my experience of grassroots activism and the community at all'. She's saying that (unlike the second wave!?) the Third Wave is made up of white, middle-class American women who see an entitlement to be feminine almost as feminism itself. And I'm sitting there feeling quite confused, and my classmates are doing the same. And eventually she says "So you disagree, verte?" And I start blabbering on about how the Third Wave is heavily influenced by postcolonial and queer theory, and the intersections this particular 'wave' has with queer communities and sexual minorities, and the majority of my classmates who are involved in any kind of activism say much the same, and she looks completely mystified.

A feminist academic, who's written for twenty years on feminism and pop culture, looks mystified by the concept of this feminism.

So who's she to tell us we need to get feminism out of the academy, that it's OUR responsibility, if she's not taking that responsibility herself enough to know what younger women who identify as feminist, or whose thought is heavily influenced by feminism, are about? Eventually she asked us to send her some links.

I'm writing an essay for her and am going to attempt to unravel the Third Wave and the postfeminist using a specific example that's currently a bit of a cultural phenomenon over here. I find it bizarre that these feminist academics who write the 'postfeminist', who moan and whinge about what feminism ISN'T doing, what we're NOT achieving, and, as she so kindly puts it, are actually UNDOING, are so out of sync with the world at large that they're missing what the grass roots movements are actually up to. Whether we're blogging and commenting and discussing, or forming groups like Queer Mutiny or Feminists Against Censorship, or working for think tanks, or volunteering, or running women's/queer festivals, WE ARE THERE. The Third Wave does exist. In the UK we have very little prominence or access to mainstream politics, but that doesn't mean we're totally invisible.

And it's about time we stopped being ignored.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Vile Bodies

So I've been following all the threads about cosmetic surgery... From here to here, and back to Renegade.

I have to ask .... why is there this 'feminist' move towards hatred of female bodies? Since when did being flat-chested become some kind of feminist badge of honour? And why are some choices regarding bodies more equal than others?

So what's the message from Angela and Ginmar? Hate your female body. Let it become a site of self-hatred. Because if you don't already hate it, some feminist will come and hate it for you.

Your body will never be yours as a feminist unless you give it over as property of the sisterhood - to be critiqued, poked fun at, abused, examined, spoken for, or misunderstood.

Way to go, feminism.