On February 26, 2007, Houzan Mahmoud received a death threat in an e-mail signed by Ansar al-Islam, the notoriously brutal jihadist group based in Kurdistan/Iraq.
Women's rights and Feminism
By Cath Fletcher
It “encapsulates pretty much everything we find objectionable and upsetting about representations of women and of sexuality as a whole”. What is it? Woman’s Weekly? A Mills & Boon novel? Heat magazine? Page 3? Celebrity Love Island? No, in fact, it’s “mainstream heterosexual pornography”, so described by Sofie Buckland in her article “Is Pornography Free Speech?” (Women’s Fightback, Nov 2006).
By Sofie Buckland
To write this article, I decided to go and buy some lads’ mags; they’ve become a byword for sexism and I wanted to see for myself quite how bad they are. I wasn’t disappointed — both the notoriously crude cheaper weeklies like Nuts and Zoo, and the glossier monthly “lifestyle” magazines like FHM and Loaded are plastered from cover to cover with a representation of women that could have walked out of a Carry On film. We’re all either the butt of sexist jokes or reduced to a perfect tanned and toned figure.
By Laura Schwartz. This article is taken from the latest issue of Women's Fightback. Read the contents here.
When I was first active in feminist politics in the 80s and 90s, we did a lot of campaigning to change the Police's treatment of domestic violence victims. We complained about the Police's habit of dismissing violence as "just a domestic", of belittling the women who suffered it and indulging the men who meted it out. All this campaigning paid off - women won the right to be interviewed by specially-trained female officers, new judicial procedures enabled women to give evidence in a more sensitive way, and the Police changed their attitude and now take domestic violence more seriously.
Or do they? The horrific case of Wendy Billing suggests otherwise.
OK, it's the latest in my occasional series of things that really really annoy me. And the latest is ... the Weight Watchers advert currently running on TV.
And in particular, the closing scene of the bloke pushing the child on the playground swing saying with a relieved smile, "I've got back the woman I married" (or words to that effect).
Prostitution and prejudice
Steve Cohen looks at the suprising history in Prostitution and Prejudice, The Jewish Fight Against White Slavery 1870-1939 by Edward Bristow, (Clarendon Press)
The issue of sex work has recently been dominant in both the popular press and also in feminist and left circles. One reason for this was the murder of five women in Ipswich. Another is because of government legislation introduced to outlaw trafficking generally and trafficking for sexual exploitation in particular.
The murder of five prostitutes in Ipswich at the end of last year prompted some discussion about how to improve the lives and safety of sex workers. A 400 strong Reclaim the Night march was held in the city at which Teresa McKay, chair of the trades council, spoke. Here are some of the points of view that were written on this issue at the time.
Respect is heading a campaign against sex and strip clubs in Tower Hamlets.
There is an important debate to be had about whether or how to oppose these venues, but I'm sure as hell that this is not the way to do it. Naming and shaming? Isn't that what the News Of The Screws does? Former Respect activist Liam MacUaid tells us that Respect members even plan to take photos of men entering the clubs and post them on the internet. Let's hope for their sake that they don't accidentally snap any of their favourite politicians.