Monday, 26 December 2011

Sometimes feminism makes me feel really lost...

When you stop wearing impractical makeup (i.e. any kind of makeup), plucking your eyebrows, shaving your armpits and legs, wearing impractical clothes (i.e. any kinds of skirts, or things made from delicate fabrics, high heels), having impractical hair (i.e. long hair), this means that you're no longer doing all the work you're supposed to be doing every day in order to look like a "proper" woman.

When you stop doing all these time-consuming, expensive, painful and restrictive things, you have more time and money on your hands, and, really, you should feel more comfortable. Sometimes it's precisely these time-consuming, impractical, uncomfortable things, however, that make us feel comfortable. It's comfortable to conform. To be what we're expected to be.

When you don't look like a "proper" woman anymore, people look at you weird, and that can get very tiresome. Going against what we're supposed to be like as women takes a lot of effort and you can feel very alone sometimes, and lost.

That's why I'm thankful for my partner, who is also a feminist, and who has supported my quest throughout the years! Thanks Dear!

Happy holidays everyone, and I'll see you in the New Year!


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Women on the verge of a festive breakdown

Coming up to the holidays, in Britain, the question "So how are you spending Christmas" is an even more popular topic than the weather.

One thing I take from listening to everyone's answers, is the fact that women are totally stressed out by Christmas. You haven't even finished your question, and you can already see their shoulders tensening, their eyes becoming disoriented, as they launch into a detailed list of how they're preparing for the big day, when they've started doing all their shopping for presents and food, what their day-to-day plan of action is to get everything ready on time.

Some, I hear, parboil their roast potatoes and freeze them, do dry-runs of their Christmas dinner, and most seem to have a detailed plan of what needs to be done when. Because apart from preparing food and presents, Christmas get-togethers with friends need to be squeezed in, somebody needs to pick up grandma, make sure the children do their homework and stay out of trouble, go to their "activities" such as carol singing and nativity plays and so on and so forth, have their costumes, nappies, and clean clothes ready...

The frenzie starts weeks before Christmas, sometimes as early as November, when I hear people saying how they're so glad they've already done all their Christmas shopping this year. And Christmas madness doesn't end on Christmas day, because someone needs to clear the table, clean up everyone's mess, wash the dishes, prepare beds and do the cooking for what is often a big family gathering for several days. An awful lot of planning is neccessary to pull that off, as meals for so many people need to be planned in advance, the food shopping must be done in advance as well, you need to find enough space in the fridge or freezer, make sure food keep long enough...On top of that, you need to make sure you've got enough towels and bedding washed and dried for your guests... and the list goes on and on and on...

Women get a pretty bad deal at Christmas, because they're still largely the ones doing all this work, organising everything, carrying the weight of the responsibility for the smooth running of things..while men are merely delegated to do a thing or two, such as picking up a tree and doing the dishes, which is only a fraction of this mammoth task.

An honest conversation before Christmas can help find out what everyone really wants Christmas to be like - for example, do you really need all those presents? Are there ways of making food preparation more communal and part of the big day? Would you not much rather not have to worry about presents,* have only a simple meal, and play board games all night?

Anyway, merry Christmas-madness, everyone!

*if you have kids, maybe one or two presents, rather than twenty, would do?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Why other women are always more beautiful

As I mentioned in my last post, girls competing with other girls, women competing with other women, is a behavioural pattern which we learn from the day we're born. But we can break that pattern!

I don't know about you, but it made me sick to compare myself to other women for so many years. I'm talking about other girls in school who were prettier than me, women in the street who were thinner, had smoother skin, nicer hair... Women in magazines. How could I waste so many years worrying about my weight, my skin, my hair, my face... Here are a few lessons I've learned over the years:

1. Photos of stars, advertising images, are almost always extremely heavily photoshopped. Read: it is not possible to look like this in real life. Follow the links and you'll see just how incredibly photoshopped images tend to be.

2. When you look at other women, you always spot their most beautiful feature - oh, I wish I had her legs! When she might in fact have a really ugly face.

A brilliant experiment is to look at other women as potential (sexual) partners for a few days. This means you no longer compete with them - an extremely empowering reversal of roles! Try it, it's really incredible. You don't need to actually flirt or make out with any other women, unless that's your thing. For this exercise, it's enough to just view other women as potential romantic interests.

This exercise is a real eye-opener. It's worth it for this liberating feeling alone, this enormous pressure falling of your shoulders. It also helps you realise that physical features are only a part of what is interesting about another person.

3. It's a waste of time to be with a partner who expects you to conform to their (physical) ideal of a woman. Who expects you to shave your legs and whatnot, wear makeup, "do" your hair, wear particular clothes... You don't need to be with someone who expects you to be this cookie-cutter woman. It's a two-way street though: why should you determine what your partner is supposed to look like?

4. Finally, what liberated me from a whole load of pressure was to learn about feminism and to read the book Femininity, which shows you just how ridiculous and arbitrary all these aesthetic dictates are. This opens up a can of worms, though. While feminism will make you feel confident to stop worrying about your looks and to waste hours each week grooming yourself to conform to this arbitrary ideal of femininity, you will encounter a whole new set of pressures, as people will give you "the look" when they see your hairy armpits, other women will feel you're letting yourself down by not caring about your looks, and you may, quite simply, feel really lost for while. I'll say a bit more about my experience with that in my post on 26th December.

Surviving the holidays with your mother

Many women have close relationships with their mothers. Some even feel they're spending their whole life trying not to turn into their own mother, particularly when they're in a relationship (becoming their partner's mum) or once they have children.

Nancy Friday wrote a book about the mother-daughter relationship, and particularly about the daughter's search for identity. Its title is My Mother, Myself. Originally published in the 1970s, it's just come out in a new edition, which goes to show just how relevant it still is today.

I read this book when I was twenty, and I remember that it was one of the most important books I'd ever read. A bit like with Wifework and Femininity, I felt as though this books really had a profound impact on the way I felt about things.

Some feminist books are like that. When I first learnt about feminism, I talked to my aunt and she said that, when she first read Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex -a life-changing book for a whole generation of women- she remembers feeling really angry.

I don't think I felt angry after reading My Mother, Myself, but it put a lot of things into perspective. Feeling the need to compete with other women is one of the issues discussed in the book as a type of behaviour mothers teach their daughters. I thought this was a really really important section, and I think it might have helped me get over this sick competitive mindset that so many of us women share. Thought I think that what helped me eradicate it completely was a simple experiment I did for a few days, and which I'll write about in my next post.

Feeling comfortable with one's sexuality is another thing Friday discusses. She argues that, as children, we pick up on our parents' emotions more than on what they actually say. So when a mother talks to her child about sexuality, she might do so in enlightened terms, but her child will more likely pick up on the discomfort she feels when discussing sex. Friday thinks that this is why it takes several generations before feminism's lessons really take root and become 'comfortable'. Because there is necessarily a generation which learns about feminism but knows that it goes against all the morals they have learned, and they will transmit feminist lessons to their daughters together with a mixed bag of emotions. Their daughters will grow up in a world or more relaxed morals, so they will feel less uncomfortable about discussing sexuality with their children, and so on...(by the way, I don't want to imply that parents shouldn't transmit feminist lessons to their sons in equal measure!!!)

Most people who know of Nancy Friday do so because of her bestselling collection of women's sexual fantasies, published under the title My Secret Garden (1975). I don't know what that book is like but it seems to have hit the spot.

Anyway, I'm going to stop writing about My Mother, Myself for now, as it's been a while since I read it and I mostly remember that I found it important, but I don't remember all the details. It's sitting on my shelf, however, and I'll endeavour to have another look through it. Particularly with regard to body image and menstruation, because that was a real eye-opener!

Happy holidays to all!


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Trudi Canavan's feminist Fantasies

Dearest dears! As promised, I'm putting my "bubbly blogger" hat back on and here goes my new instalment of
blogging about feminism and sexuality. Today I thought I'd write about Trudi Canavan's feminism-infused fantasy novels, in case anyone's still looking for a really good book to read during the upcoming holidays.

Personally, I've read the Black Magician Trilogy, its prequel and sequel. The sequel is still missing one book, The Traitor Queen, which is to come out in late 2012, yay!

Becoming absorbed in a really good book is such a wonderful thing. With Canavan's (her name always makes me think of "caravan") gripping books, the bonus is that they are not full of sexual and gender stereotypes. She's created multi-facetted gay and lesbian characters, and characters which call into question what it really means to be a man or a woman, feminine or masculine.

Check it out, her gender-bending starts right on the first page of the Black Magician Trilogy!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


just a wee note to say I'm not dead. I've been busy with such trivial things as writing up a PhD thesis and applying for jobs in academia. But now I'm back! I'm happy that so many people have viewed this blog and seem to find the information I've put on here useful.

It's funny really, how you blog and then your blog takes on a life of its own while you go away and twiddle your thumbs. The most popular post is the one written by my guest reviewer Stilltorik. Dammit!!! Cunning editorial choice, that was! Looks like I'm going to have to bring him back to do my work for me again.

Apart from that, it's a bit weird that when you google me, the third search result is What is a multiple Orgasm. Next thing I know, people will think I'm a porn star. I wonder whether this will put potential future employers (who aren't in the porn industry)  off? Well, just another risk I'm just going to have to take.

Hasta la vista, cyberpeople!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

End homophobia and transphobia! An article in "Le Monde"

It's absolutely unacceptable that homophobia and transphobia still exist, yet they do:( Today's Le Monde contains an interesting and disturbing article dealing with homo- and transphobia in Croatia and the European Union. The reason for the article is the brutal attacks on a Pride march in Split. For those who read French, here's the link and a teaser:

"Samedi 11 juin, à Split, en Croatie, une marche pacifique des Fiertés a été brutalement attaquée par des milliers de hooligans ; des dizaines de personnes ont été blessées. Les opposants à la manifestation étaient bien plus nombreux que les policiers. ...."

For those who don't read French, here's information dealing with the events in English:,1142

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Martin Winckler: Le choeur des femmes

I warmly recommend Martin Winckler's 'Le choeur des femmes' to those who read French and are interested in critical writing about women and gynaecology. Winckler has written a number of other successful novels, and at least one of them has been translated into English (The case of Dr. Sachs). Here's a teaser:

je me fous d'entendre que je suis belle; ceux qui commencent comme ça sont en général mal barrés. Je n’aime pas non plus qu’on me demande ce que je fais et qu’on fasse mine de s’y intéresser. Ce que j’aime, ce sont les types qui me traitent comme leur égale. Comme si j’étais des leurs. Qui aiment les bras de fer intellectuels même s’ils sont face à une femme, qui savent gagner sans vanité et perdre avec élégance. Qui savent attendre. Et se laisser faire quand je décide de leur sauter dessus – qui ne s’imaginent pas que je vais devenir une petite chose soumise sous prétexte que j’ai le feu aux fesses et qu’ils y mettent la main

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Test for Men: How feminist are you?

Here's a test I found online which contains a number of interesting questions. Others I'm not sure about. But judge for yourself!

source: "Are you a Manarchist?", 2001

I. Do you ascribe to either:
A) Passive-Aggressive Patriarchy:" (often come across as a victim/helpless/inneed/dependent and get women in your life to be your physical and emotional caretakers? to buy you things? to take care of your responsibilities? pick up your slack? use guilt or manipulation to get out of your
responsibilities and equal share of the work? do you treat your female partner like a "mom" or your secretary?)

B) "Aggressive Patriarchy:" (Do you often take charge? Assume that a woman can’t do something right so you do it for her? Believe that only you can take care of things? Think that you always have the right answer? Treat your female partner like she’s helpless, fragile, a baby or weak? Do you put down your partner or minimize her feelings? Do you belittle her opinions?)

2. How do you react when women in your life name something or someone as patriarchal or sexist? Do you think of her or call her a "PC Thug," "Feminazj," "Thin-skinned," "Overly-Sensitive," a "COINTELPRO-esque" or "Un-fun?"

3. Do you see talking about patriarchy as non-heroic, a waste of time, trouble making, or divisive?

4. If a woman asks your opinion, do you assume she must not know anything about the subject?

5. Do you believe that women have "natural characteristics" which are inherent in our sex such as "passive," "sweet," "caring," "nurturing," "considerate," "generous," "weak," or "emotional?"

6. Do you make fun of "typical" men or "frat boys" but not ever check yourself to see if you behave in the same ways?

7. Do you take on sexism and patriarchy as a personal struggle working to fight against it in yourself, in your relationships, in society, work, culture, subcultures, and institutions?

8. Do you say anything when other men make sexist or patriarchal comments? Do you help your patriarchal and sexist friends to make change and help educate them? Or do you continue friendships with patriarchal and sexist men and act like there is no problem.

Sexual/Romantic Relationships and Issues

17. Do you make jokes or negative comments about the sex lives of women or sex work?

18. Can you only show affection and be loving to your partner in front of friends and family or only in private?

19. Do you discuss the responsibility for preventing contraception and getting STD screening prior to sexual contact?

20. Do you repeatedly ask or plead with women for what you want in sexual situations? Are you aware that unless this is a mutually consented upon scenario/game that this is considered a form of coercion?

21. During sex, do you pay attention to your partner’s face and body language to see if she is turned on? Engaged, or just lying there? Do you ask a woman who she wants during sex? What turns her on?

22. Do you ask for consent?

23. Do you know if your partner has a sexual abuse, rape, or physical
abuse history?

24. Do you stay with your partner in a relationship for comfort and security? Sex? Financial or emotional caretaking? If you’re not completely happy or "in love" with your partner anymore? Even though you don’t think it will ultimately work out? Because you’re afraid or unable to be alone? Do you suddenly end relationships when a "new" or "better" woman comes along?

25. Do you jump from relationship to relationship? Overlap them? Or do you take space and time for yourself in between each relationship to reflect on the relationship and your role in it? Do you know how to be alone? How to be single?

26. Do you cheat on your partners?

27. If your girlfriend gets on your case for patriarchal behavior or wants to try to work on the issues of patriarchy in your relationship, do you creak up with her or cheat on her and find another woman who will put up with your shit?

28. Do you agree to romantic commitment and responsibility and then back out of these situations?

29. Do you understand menstruation?

30. Do you make fun of women or write them off as "PMS-ING?"

Friendship Questions

31. Do you tend to set the standard and plans for fun or do you work with the others in the group, including women to see what they want to do?

32. Do you talk to your female friends about things you don't talk to your male friends about especially emotional issues?

33. Do you constantly fall in love with your female friends? Are you friends with women until you find out that they are not in love with you too and then end the friendships? Are you only friends with women who are in monogamous or committed relationships with other people?

34. Do you come on to your female friends even jokingly?

35. Do you only talk to your female friends (and not your male friends) about your romantic relationships or problems in those relationships?

36. Do you find yourself only attracted to "Anarcho-Crusty Punk Barbie", Alterna-Grrrl Barbie," or Hardcore-Grrrl Barbie?" (The idea here being that the only women you arc attracted to fit mainstream beauty standards but just dress and do their hair alternatively and maybe have piercings and tattoos) Do you question and challenge your internalized ideals of mainstream beauty ideals for women?

37. Have you ever heard of or discussed "sizeism" and do you think it is low on the oppression scale?

38. Are you aware of the fact that ALL WOMEN, even women in radical communities,
live under the CONSTANT PRESSURE and OPPRESSION of mainstream patriarchal beauty standards?

39. Are you aware of the fact that many women in radical communities have had and are currently dealing with eating disorders?

40. Do you make fun of "model-types" or "mainstream" women for their appearance?

Domestic/Household Questions

41. When was the last time you walked into your house, noticed that something was misplaced/dirty/etc. AND did something about it (didn’t just walk by it, over it, away from it or leave a nasty note about it) even if it wasn’t your chore or responsibility?

42. Are you constantly amazed by the magical "food fairy" who mysteriously acquires food, brings it home, puts it away, prepares it in meal form and then cleans up afterwards?

43. Do you contribute equally to domestic life and work?

44. How many of the following activities do you contribute to in your home (this is a partal list of what it takes to run a household):
A: Sweep and mop floors and clean carpets
B: Wash and put away dishes
C: Clean stove, countertops, sinks and appliances if they are messy and each time after you have prepared food
D: Collect money, do food shopping, put away food and make meals for people you live with
E: Do house laundry (kitchen towels, bathroom hand towels, washable rugs, etc.)
F: Clean up common room spaces, even if it’s not your chore
G: Pick up other’s slack
H: Deal with garbage, recycling, and compost
I: Take care of bills, rent, utilities
J: Deal with the landscaping and gardening
K: Clean bathrooms and make sure bathroom is clean after you use it
L: Feed, clean up after, and take care of housepets

Children & Childcare

45. Do you spend time with kids? If you do, do you spend time with children (yours or anyone's) in a way that is gendered? do certain things with boys and other things with girls?

46. If you are a father, do you CO-parent your children? (Spend equal time AND energy AND effort AND money to raise them)?

47. Do you make childcare a priority? (at both activist events and in daily life)

48. Do you help make the lives of single mothers in your life and community easier by finding out if and how you can assist?

49. Have you politicized your ideas about child rearing and parenthood radical communities? Do you believe that individuals who are in the movement have children or that the movement has children?

Multi-Category Questions:

50. When was the last time you showed a woman how to do a task rather than doing it for her and assuming she couldn’t do it?

51. When was the last time you asked a woman to show you how to do a task?

52. Do you get emotional needs met by other women, whether or not you are in a romantic relationship with them? Or do you cultivate caring, nurturing relationships with other men in which you can discuss your feelings and get your needs met by them?

53. If a woman discusses with you or calls you out on your patriarchy, do you make an effort to be emotionally present? Listen? Not emotionally shut down? Not get defensive? Think about what she said? Admit you fucked up? Take responsibility/make reparations for the mistakes you made? Discuss your feelings and ideas with her? Apologize? Work harder on your own shit to make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes again with her or other women?

54. Do you look inside yourself to find out why you fucked up in these relationships and work to both change your behavior and be a better anti-patriarchy ally in the future?

55. Do you organize regular house meetings or activist meetings to resolve conflict in the house/group?

56. Do you use intimidation, yelling, getting in someone’s physical space, threats or violence to get your point across? Do you create and atmosphere or violence around women or others to threaten them (i.e.: throw things, break things, yell and scream, threaten, attack, tease or terrorize the animals or pets of women in your life)?

57. Do you physically, psychologically, or emotionally abuse women?

58. Do the women in your life (mothers, sisters, partners, housemates, friends, etc.) have to "remind" you or "nag" you or "yell" at you in order for you to get off your ass and take care of your responsibilities?

59. Do you talk to other men about patriarchy and your part in it?

60. When was the last time you thought about or talked about any of these issues other than after reading this questionnaire?

Scoring: ALL MEN need to work on issues of patriarchy, sexism and misogyny.
However, this questionnaire may point out to you areas of particular focus or concentration for your own anti-patriarchal/sexist/misogynist process and development.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Attachment Parenting - turning mums into slaves of their children?

Attachment parenting is a form of parenting adopted by a lot of parents/women these days, to various degrees.

I found an interesting article on attachment parenting by Erica Jong, who sees it as a modern form of women's slavery... I think she raises some very good points, reflecting my own worries when I see women mothering their way into depression as they feel that they must focus all their energies on the child, which also means that they feel they need to give up their out-of-home jobs. Also, as Jong argues, attachment parenting only works for very rich parents.

I'm wondering what people think about this, especially parents.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

International Women's Day - because the rest of the year belongs to men

Today is international Women's Day (because the remaining 364 days are Men's days).

Judi Dench and Daniel Craig have made a mock 007 clip which really hits the nail on the head:



Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The "OMG Am I a Macho?" Questionnaire Part I

So, I'm trying to put together this OMG Am I a Macho? questionnaire for anyone eager to find out. My Marxist friend gave me the idea when he asked for a scientific method to determine where he is on the macho scale. Anyway, I've tried really hard to come up with a catalogue of questions, but I find it difficult to do so without sounding presumptuous or producing a thinly veiled rant about former boyfriends. So far, I've come up with the following:

  • do you drive a sports car? Or would you really like to?
  • do you constantly feel like the women around you need your protection?
  • do you feel like you're the bee's knees and women are just waiting for you to approach them wherever you go?
  • do you like women primarily for their looks?
  • does your partner do the bulk of your cleaning, cooking and ironing?
  • do you regularly do weights and crunches? Do you know what a triceps is and how many grammes of chicken you must eat along with your protein powder so your abs become defined? Or do you wish you knew?
  • do you shave your bermuda triangle? Too abstract: your ball sack/the base of your penis?
  • do you like to impress women by defeating other men?
  • do you agree with the following statement: men should hold doors open for women, and not the other way round?
  • do you think women shouldn't be doing a man's job? And a man shouldn't be doing a woman's job?
  • do you think women should be the primary carer of your children?
  • do you have two mobile phones so neither of your two girlfriends gets suspicious?
So that's a little list, but I'm not happy with it, to be honest. The idea is that the more of these you answer with a "yes", the higher you are on the macho scale. Women who agree with many of these statements can consider themselves machos too, if they want. Any input, just send it my way and we can see if we can come up with an "OMG Am I a Macho" questionnaire Part II together.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Hello Brazil!

Hello to my friend who has become the first visitor of my blog who is from Brazil!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Guest review: Susan Maushart's book "Wifework"

author: Stilltorik

Today, it won't be your usual writer. As a special blog consultant (and also as the one who has the chance to share his life with our enthusiastic blogger), I've been asked to write something about a book I've recently read, Wifework, by Susan Maushart.

I've always been a feminist at heart, and started to read a few books on the subject. But more often than not, books are either too academic and cryptic, or too engaged, which unfortunately usually means biased. As a scientist, I just don't understand the crypticness (some might call it theory) of academic books, and I really don't like biased arguments, regardless of the energy the author might have.

Wifework, well... lies somewhere in between. It tries to have an academic rigour without being too cryptic, even though it has a clear position on the subject. The book starts with a very cynical and controversial stance: men in marriage are useless, and women have no reason whatsoever to marry, as they have everything to lose and nothing to gain. But I think what she's really trying to say here is that marriage nowadays is completely unfair to women, and things HAVE to change.

Initially, I must admit I was very sceptical: "Come on, she's overdoing it". And to a certain extent, she is. But then, she illustrates her point throughout the book with very valid arguments and gives examples where women (and men) will recognize themselves, and realise how deep-rooted the wife's and husband's traditional roles are, and how we still reproduce the roles our parents and grandparents had, even when we think of ourselves as a modern couple.

Overall, this has been a very interesting and enlightening book. When my partner first read it, she was very disillusioned with marriage and the concept of the couple in general. It took a few weeks before she would have faith in them again. But I think it changed us both, and certainly made us realise how much of an effort we still need to make to be able to call ourselves "a fair couple".

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Masturbation in Cinemas now!!!!

Yay, what a catchy title. I'm quite pleased with myself. If you actually thought I'd write about anything other than masturbation on cinema screens, I, like, totally fooled you! Because all I was going to say is:

-According to my ... uhm ... research, Natalie Portman's masturbation scene in Black Swan is totally realistic-

Seriously though, further to my post on female orgasm How do women orgasm, the scene where Portman starts masturbating in bed (before she discovers her mum is in the room), is a highlight in the history of the depiction of female masturbation. In fact, I've not seen any better depictions than that.

Oh and now if you're going to ask that annoying question again, "but why is it not like that in the porn I watch?", I had an exceptionally witty reply all ready to go:

-go fuck yourself. Literally-

But then I thought again and decided to go for my old "I guess I must be wrong then, right?" ;-P

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Hello China!

Yay, my blog had its first reader in China today! Welcome!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Wetlands (Feuchtgebiete)

I read a laugh-out-loud funny book over the weekend called Wetlands. It's Charlotte Roche's take on female sexuality and hygiene. Read it, seriously, it's delightful.

Parental leave, or: the pinnacle of injustice

The Yuppie of today can shop around for countries (and employers) with the best parental leave arrangements. I had a bit of a look around the internet today and saw that there are countries where men get ZERO paid parental leave. Very few countries today offer men the same amount of paid parental leave as women.

I think men should get the same amount of parental leave as women. If I had children, not only would I want to be able to have some paid parental leave, but I'd also like my partner to be able to take the same amount of time off. I think that if it's always the woman who stays home, that's exactly how imbalances in childcare arrangements fall into place. Why should women be the primary carer?