Women's Fightback 14, June/July 2012

Feminism vs religion

This year in Britain we’ve seen Christian fundamentalism asserting itself.

In London, Brighton and Manchester we have seen pro-life pickets outside abortion clinics, where women are harassed and told lies about the effects of abortion. Fourtunately those pickets have not gone unchallenged by pro-choice campaigners.

But increasingly, on our streets and university campuses, pro-life organisations hold stalls and workshops distributing anti-abortion propaganda.

RadFem and transphobia

RadFem 2012 (14-15 July) is billed as the place to explore “the realities of women’s lives”.

There’s plenty I could say about how and why I disagree with RadFem 2012’s politics — it’s anti-porn, anti-men, anti-sex worker, and more. But something else stands out, and is making many feminists (justifiably) angry.

The conference slogan is “women together for liberation”, but on closer inspection what they mean is “women born women living as women” (an amendment from earlier “biological women”).

French right defends bosses' right to sexually harass

We have heard shocking words from the UMP [Sarkozy’s right-wing party which ruled until the last French election], such as “scum” [“racaille”] or “cancers” when talking about young people from poor areas or the unemployed.

We also have seen the right pin the bill for the economic crisis on the workers — for example, with the pensions reform.

Challenge “rape culture”!

The sorry saga of Ched Evans, the Sheffield United player found guilty of rape, has revealed the alarming prevalence of what has become known as “rape culture” — the unquestioned acceptance of myths around sexual violence.

Anti-fascism must not be anti-women

Hope Not Hate’s efforts to bring down fascist organisations in the UK are admirable. I’m sure Nick Lowles, the main force behind the campaign, was pleased with the wipe-out of local BNP council seats in the recent elections. For his efforts in these results, I commend him.

A positive view of Asperger's?

Detective Saga Noren in The Bridge was fairly clearly high-functioning autistic, having Asperger Syndrome or being somewhere nearby on the autistic spectrum.

This portrayal was, I felt, broadly positive. Saga is an intelligent woman, capable in her field of work, with focus and a useful detachment.

Lines of enquiry

The Bridge was the latest BBC4 programmed Scandinavian crime dramas, which sentenced it to inevitable comparisons with previous successes such as The Killing.

As someone who really rated The Killing, I initially fell into this trap: being dissatisfied by the first couple of episodes, wanting The Killing theme music to kick in, etc. But by about halfway through I think The Bridge definitely held its own, and managed to keep the intensity of drama throughout, whereas I feel The Killing began to tail off towards the end.

Can drama be feminist?

In the study of arts-based subjects, the tendency might be to apply theories (“isms”) to pieces of art as a kind of critique, as a way of approaching a text, etc, from a certain perspective, in order to write a convincing essay.

Save the Women's Library

The Women’s Library, which has been housed by the London Metropolitan University for ten years, could be closed. The library holds the biggest collection of literature dedicated to the history of women and attracts around 30,000 visitors every year.

In March London Metropolitan’s Board of Governors decided to find The Women’s Library a new home or sponsor, or to run it as a skeleton service from December, reducing opening hours to one day per week.

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