What does a woman look like?

Excellent blog post by Michelle

Source: What does a woman look like?

What is it with women arbitrarily defining other women? How does someone wake up in the morning and decide they are the gender police, taking up Gandalf’s role and his line of “you shall not pass”? Goodness knows I can barely manage to remember to put my own glasses on in the morning (probably because my eyes aren’t open). No way in hell am I ready to start judging others.

Trans women are women: simple as that!



I’m in full agreement. Let’s get rid of ‘ette’ altogether. Urg!

language: a feminist guide

Boy: hey dude!
Girl: I’m not a dude, I’m a girl.
Boy: OK, dudETTE!

The feminine suffix –ette is alive and well in the 21st century. It has several entries on Urban Dictionary (I’ve quoted one of them above), and I keep stumbling across it in unexpected places. Like the online magazine Gadgette,  ‘the smart woman’s guide to tech, style and life’. (‘Have you ever been talked down to about tech?’ the editors ask. ‘Offered the pink version of a laptop, or asked to flash your breasts to try a new smartwatch? We have’.) Or Stemettes, an organization dedicated to ‘showing the next generation that girls do Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths too’.

These are both feminist enterprises (though only Gadgette actually uses the f-word), and both deserve credit for tackling the problem of sexism in science and technology. But what are they doing with these twee, girly…

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Yep! Words matter a lot

In Others' Words...

I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.

Maya Angelou

Someone posted a link to this article on Facebook this morning, and it caught my eye.  As many of you know, I lost my brother in law to suicide almost two and a half years ago.  The article dealt with the manner in which we talk about suicide.  Specifically, it focused on the expression “committing suicide.”  I imagine most of us have used that expression many times, and never thought about its origin.  The reason that “committed” is part of the expression, is that until fairly recently (the last fifty years or so) suicide was a crime.  As in, committed murder, committed armed robbery.

I will not dwell on the sheer jackassery of suicide being an illegal act, as though the notion of a jail sentence would deter someone who is…

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What’s yours called?

My teen and I have often lamented that there are no decent, non-clinical terms for female genitalia.

language: a feminist guide

Content warning: this post contains offensive language of a sexual nature. As does the real world.

Ignorance and prejudice about women’s sexuality has a long and depressing history.  When I was at school in the early 1970s, we were sure women didn’t have testicles*, but we weren’t entirely clear on what they did have. What passed for sex education in those days should really have been called ‘reproduction education’: it was all about wombs, ovaries, and the fateful encounter between the egg and the sperm. The parts of our bodies we could actually see and touch were either passed over in silence or shrouded in euphemism.

But that was 45 years ago: it’s a different story for girls growing up today, right? Well, maybe not. In a survey of a thousand British women carried out in 2014 , half of the under-35s could not locate the vagina on a…

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Why women talk less

We have some way to go before things change.

language: a feminist guide

This week on Newsnight, Evan Davis talked to three women about all-male panels—a subject made topical by the recent popularity of a tumblr set up to name and shame them. Why, he asked, are women so often un- or under-represented in public forums? Are they reluctant to put themselves forward? Are they deterred by the adversarial nature of the proceedings?

The women offered some alternative suggestions. Women don’t get asked, or if they do it’s assumed you only need one. Women aren’t seen as experts, unless the subject is a ‘women’s issue’. The age-old prejudice against women speaking in public means that any woman who dares to voice her opinions can expect to be deluged with abuse and threats.

But while all-male panels are obviously a problem, they’re only the tip of the iceberg. Just ensuring that women are represented on a panel does not guarantee their voices will…

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Breastfeeding – It’s Perfectly Natural – Get Over It

I was reading a controversial Facebook post the other day (always designed to increase one’s blood pressure!) about women being told to ‘cover up’ when they are breastfeeding outdoors. The reasons people, well mostly other women, gave for this necessity ranged from sad to laughable to quite outrageous.

  • It’s unnecessary
  • It’s immodest
  • Women are doing it for attention and should just stop
  • It could cause any man who sees breast tissue to go on a hormone fuelled rampage of raping and pillaging (okay I am paraphrasing here!)
  • It is damaging and/or distressing for children to see

I’d like to address each of these points separately:

Breastfeeding in public is unnecessary and immodest

Having breastfed both my children, including publicly, I feel adequately qualified to address this point. In the early months especially, babies feed a lot. An awful lot! Sometimes it seems like they are permanently attached to your breast, so unless you wish to become a prisoner in your own home you have to go out sometimes and when you are out the baby may get hungry or just want the comfort of feeding.

Now people suggested covering the baby’s head with a cloth or even expressing milk to feed from a bottle. Some even said use formula. Seriously! I have nothing against women using formula if that suits her family but that is just a slap in the face to a woman who enjoys breastfeeding and may have struggled with pain and lack of sleep to get it right. How dare someone say such as thing because they are uncomfortable with the fact that nurturing a newborn naturally involves the breast.

As to the covering up – breastfeeding is a skill and a mother needs to see what she is doing initially to get the baby latched correctly. For those who have never done it, a badly attached baby is incredibly painful for the mum and results in poor milk flow for the hungry baby. Besides which, mothers and babies like to look at each other and some babies hate having their heads covered. Additionally, once the baby is attached, the breast is hidden by the baby’s head so I can only conclude that those who complain are actually uncomfortable with the mere though of breastfeeding rather than the supposed flesh on view.

Lastly expressing milk – My firstborn was ill just after birth and I had to express milk. It is not a task for the feint-hearted especially when you factor in all the other stresses of a newborn such as lack of sleep, feeding etc. but the most disheartening thing was that my baby WOULD NOT drink from a  bottle. At all! Ever! I would have loved it since it would have enabled my partner to do some of the night-time feeding so I could get some sleep. Or even to go out for a few hours with friends, without the baby – but NO – babe had different ideas.

So to those who think it is unnecessary to breastfeed in public, you could be consigning some women to house arrest.

Breastfeeding in public

This is a picture of me breastfeeding my second child while the older one is far more interested in ice cream. There is absolutely no bare skin showing to anyone except me, and the baby. England in March is far too cold for flashing your boobs 🙂

Women are doing it for attention

OMG! This is just not worth even addressing except to say that yes I realise some women have had mass breastfeeding protests but other than that – Seriously – Get over yourself!

Men Can’t Cope

I was paraphrasing when I wrote: It could cause any man who sees breast tissue to go on a hormone fuelled rampage of raping and pillaging but that was the gist of some of the comments (mostly from women, sadly!).

Good grief – I’m quite speechless really! All I can say is that if this is the case, which I highly doubt, then MEN need to control themselves better. As with rape, this is not the woman’s problem.

While breasts have been sexualised they are not sexual objects – they are designed to nurture infants. I find it sad that people can view with disgust what to me, and many others, is a beautiful sight. Something is deeply wrong with such a society. The UK and the US need to take a leaf out of the book of the Europeans who have a far healthier attitude to nudity, breastfeeding and sex.

But Think of the Children!

How many time is this old chestnut going to be trotted out?

Yes let’s think of the children shall we:

  • The little boys in adult bodies who snigger and giggle at the mention of breasts and feel jealous and resentful of their children.
  • Or the girls who grow up ashamed of their bodies and struggling to feed their babies because they’ve never seen any one else do it and feel inhibited and judged. In the past children grew up watching others breastfeeding and no doubt listening to tips about latching, positioning etc but these skills are being lost.

Children who grow up seeing breastfeeding see it as perfectly normal and some quickly lose all interest. Others sit next to you feeding their doll or teddy while chatting. All quite delightful and no cause for alarm.

It’s a Public Health Issue

If you don’t care about any of the above maybe an appeal to your wallet may work?

Ask yourself how much money your government spends on treating gastroenteritis in infants because of badly sterilised feeding equipment. We could cut that cost if more women felt comfortable breastfeeding.

Finally – It’s Called Breastfeeding!

One last thing – please stop using the euphemism: Nursing. Nursing means caring for the elderly. If we can’t even say the word breast what hope is there!

woman to woman: we need to talk

I’m not sure, I ever saw other girls as competition, but I was certainly dismissive of them as a teenager.

rockstar dinosaur pirate princess

bullshit memeI didn’t have very many female friends as a young teenager. I didn’t have many male friends either, I have to say. A combination of moving around a lot and being pretty socially awkward and (with hindsight) not finding it easy to recognise people meant I found it hard to form close friendships. Or even casual ones. I was quite late into my teens before I found a group of friends (mainly thanks to Sir Terry Pratchett.)

When I DID meet this group of friends, it was largely boys from other schools (I went to an all girls school) with a smaller group of girls. When I went to university, again I struggled to make friends, and ended up hanging out mainly with a bunch of stoner dudes who thought it was hilarious to try and  get me to swear as I rarely used swear words (I blame them for…

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On the Bonfire – Re-blogging and Ranting

Lego Advert 1981 This constant ‘genderising’ of everything is driving me insane, and it seems to be getting worse. IN the 1980s we have the following, fabulous Lego advert. Then in 2012 we had the whole Lego Friends controversy.Now it’s not the sets themselves that bother me – I actually like some of them. It’s the marketing. They have “For Girls” all over the box.
This of course leads to two problems: First it suggests that the other sets are only for boys and second, that boys cannot play with these sets. The same is true of the whole Rebelle series of Nerf guns.When, and by whom, was it decided that pink and purple were for girls and orange and green were for boys? Personally, I like purple and orange but not pink and green.
OMG! I’m having a gender identity crisis – or just maybe assigning gender to colours is crap and people should be able to like what they like without worrying about what ‘message’ it sends!
Then again what would be even nicer is if we stopped thinking in binaries altogether, since not everyone considers themselves to fit within the gender binary.

Good Morning, Good Morning!

bonfireboxes1 copyTheme: Get it off your chest.

Written by Emmeline May*, Brilliant Guest Blogger

Lately I’ve been building a bonfire in my head. It’s a pretty big bonfire. I’ve stopped expressing myself in actual words and have found myself merely screaming “F**K THIS SHIT. PUT IT ON THE BONFIRE!” at the computer screen. Or the TV screen. Or, on one occasion, at my friend across the table at lunch, which surprised her so much she dropped her fork.

The bonfire is made, largely, of pink and blue boxes. Pink boxes contain all the things which tell women how and what they are meant to be and like. Blue boxes contain everything men are meant to do and be and want.

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Disney’s Aladdin and the Bechdel Test

I’m not a huge fan of Disney. I was a tom-boy as a kid, so princesses and damsels in distress – blurgh! I wanted to be killing dragons with my own sword, not watching some male do it for me. Still do!

I came to realise as an adult that I don’t actually hate my own gender, I just hate the typical portrayal we are constantly bombarded with. It’s all so bloody black and white and incredibly limiting. Men are strong, testosterone-filled heroes who wear blue and women are simpering, brainless idiots whose only purpose in life is to find a man, whilst wearing pink.

Anyway, what has this to do with Aladdin?

Well, we were chatting after tea and the discussion turned to Robin Williams. I loved him as the genie, he really made that film and the songs were fab. My son, who was probably about three last time we watched, said he didn’t remember so we put it on.

My son chuckled when the Sultan chases Iago round on the magic carpet but otherwise sat stone-faced and totally unimpressed and my daughter said, “I’d forgotten how annoying Jasmine is.”

“Indeed!” I said, “But to be fair her father is even more annoying.”

At the end, daughter said, “Well! That wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test

“The what?” I said.

She gave me one of those withering looks teenagers are so good at. After she explained I agreed with her.

We did like Maleficent though and my favourite Disney film is ‘Fantasia’.