Knowle women are number one

Posted: June 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: diary, events, Women | No Comments »

Thank you to the marvellous women of Knowle for welcoming me with such enthusiasm at the library yesterday. As promised (if a day later than I said) here is a list of five of my number ones:

  1. Gilead – Marilyn Robinson
  2. Sacred Hunger – Barry Unsworth
  3. Disgrace – JM Coetzee
  4. Silence – Shusaku Endo
  5. The Hours – Michael Cunningham

This is not a TOP FIVE I hasten to add – just five novels, off the top of my head, that I gave five stars when I read them.

Thanks again for a very enjoyable afternoon – and I’d love to put one of the pictures here that some of you were taking. If you leave your email address in the comments I’ll get in touch. Mxx


Outthinking the pimps

Posted: March 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Women | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

It was International Women’s day on Monday and I thought I’d share some correspondence between myself and a couple of valued friends. It would be great to know what other women out there think – so please comment or get in touch and Happy (belated) International Women’s Day to you all.

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From Sam:
Just wanted to use this occasion to draw your attention to three things (among many) that I have noticed over the last few weeks.
Firstly, the recent Shane Meadows film called This is Abuse commissioned by the government and directed at teenagers to address recent very worrying increases in violent sexual and emotional abuse in teenage relationships.

Secondly, the recent Home Office sponsored Sexualisation of Young People Review led by Dr Linda Papadopoulos which calls for changes in the laws governing advertising and marketing, particularly but by no means limited to the internet, to address increasingly overt sexualised images directed at children.

Thirdly, the recent Haven – Wake Up To Rape survey which reported various worrying trends including 54% of women surveyed thinking that rape victims are responsible for being raped.

I don’t know what you see, but what I see (among other things) is a rise in Pimp Culture where we as a society are ‘turning out’ young women and grooming them to accept as normal levels of violence and abuse where their ideas of self-worth reside entirely and only in their attractiveness and availability to men. (See among other discussions Penny Marshall’s piece in the Mail 6.3.2010, Charlotte Raven in the Guardian 6.3.2010 etc).

I don’t have much of a public voice, but I urge those of you that do to speak up and encourage debate on these subjects or we will very shortly find ourselves waking up in a country and a culture we don’t want to live in and that we don’t want our sons and daughters to live in.

As Steve Biko famously said:

The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.

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From Mez:

I have passed this on to various other women – worth everyone thinking about it but I fear I/we will be preaching to the converted. Am I being pessimistic? I have felt for a long time that we need to mobilise and negotiate a new kind of feminism – I’m not sure what it will look like (I’m not good at formulating isms or ologys) but as it stands there’s nothing for young women to get their teeth into or at least they don’t feel that feminism has anything to do with them – whenever I mention the F word in seminars or lectures they look at me as if I’m mad!

They’re simply NOT educated about feminist issues and I, personally, would press for women’s studies I some form to be part of PHSE in secondary schools along with contraception/ethics/drug and alcohol info. These things should be addressed at a fundamental level so that young women can be supported (and inspired) and have some strategies and confidence to stand up to seemingly irresistible peer and media pressure. I applaud the government for producing the This Is Abuse videos (read about it last week) – but it needs to go further.. Much further.

It’s late – I’m crapping on rather but I feel strongly about this too… and as I said in my forwarded version (which was as concise as my reply to you is baggy) —- I simply add ‘hear hear’ – but where this is a shortened form of ‘hear him hear him’ I advise us all to ‘hear her, hear her’.

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From Sam:

Yes, I completely agree that education is the issue.  I think our generation of women assumed that the argument for equality was such a no-brainer and the gains of our mothers so enshrined in law (in as much as they have been…..) that we didn’t need to restate it all to following generations, that it would be understood and accepted.  This was a big mistake, I think, and we are reaping the rewards of this now. We therefore need to get a bit clever about how we ‘re-sell’ ideas about gender respect and equality to the yoof – and this is where you in particular are vital I think.  Marketing, particularly via internet, viral campaigns etc etc is so much more sophisticated now – we don’t have to tub-thump this time round.  We need to tickle them, please them, shock them, infiltrate them.

If five year olds (and their parents) can be conned into walking around in t-shirts saying ‘Jailbait’ or ‘Hot Sexy Babe’ in sparkly letters they can also be persuaded to want one saying ‘Rocket Scientist’. We’ve just got to outthink the pimps…..