It’s Carnival time!

Over on A Second Thought (hey, we’re all good with gratuitous self-reference here!) I tend to refer to the place as my own, virtual pub, with myself as sole proprietor – which is great, because that means that for the first Carnival of Feminists of 2009, the virtual drinks can be on me! Happy January everybody, and thanks to everybody that sent in reccomended reading.

I’m not the most organised of people, and didn’t specify any particular themes. Which meant that I got a whole host of great, wide-ranging submissions, and had to try to classify them. And, of course, I did this in the most logical and least time-wasting way possible… with the cunning use of lolcats!

Roughly speaking, we’re talking Science here, which means we range from articles that are actually about science to ones which merely go crazy with the number-crunching:

Veronica at Girl With Pen writes eloquently on Why We Need a Scientifically Literate Citizenry.

“Science is portrayed as the only field that uses big words… and thus intimidates many to think one needs to be a rocket scientist to be well, a scientist.”

Greg Laden in his eponymous blog talks in great length about  The Natural Basis For Gender Inequality.

Barry Leiba at Staring At Empty Pages does the number-crunching in Women, millitary academies, and sexual assualt.

What we worship, how we worship it. With a little social commentary thrown in, for good measure.

Lindsay from Female Impersonator writes about  Gendered Language and Early Christian Thinkers in part 4 of an ongoing series.

The Professor from Professor, What If…? asks herself: What If You Could Buy Social Justice (part 4 – the Church of Disney).

Jender, writing at Feminist Philosophers, provides the only social commentary entirely unrelated to worship here: On Tomboys.

Yep, some feminists get angry. And looking at the posts below, you can see why.

Genevieve from Une Femme Plus Courageuse gives us a Question Based On Usual Blog Patterns

Steph sends in a post from …Or Could Be Again about one guy’s opening words: I Don’t Mean To Be Weird Or Gross But…

Jane Doe from Written On The Body tells us Alanis in OK Magazine: Hopefully this is all a misunderstanding

Brianna J at Fourth Wave Feminism posts about  Male Authenticity

On parenthood, and who gets what share of the dirty work.

Renee at Womanist Musings writes about The Easy Bake Oven In My Vagina: The Role Of The Good Mother

Bad Mom, Good Mom posts about Virginia Woolf in You Call That A Feminist Icon?

And finally, a Feminism 101 category!

Renee from Womanist Musings is back, and on the subject of  The Illegal Hijab

Nandita sends in a post from Cold SnapDragon about A Guard At Kotla Ferozshah. I’m using my host’s perogative to also reccomend the latest post, A Rape-Defense World, because it goes very well with:

Marcella’s post at abyss2hope on Understanding and Misunderstanding Genuine Consent

Lindsay from Female Impersonator appears again to point out that Fashion Is Not Political News, part 3 – Catty Bitch Edition

Lastly, I had a late submission from Robin Reed from the National Women’s Law Center. It’s a video post by Melanie Ross Levin, one of her colleagues, which I didn’t want to include without a transcript, but luckily, it’s short, interesting, and she sent me a nice email about it!

“Hi, I’m Melanie Ross Levin with the National Women’s Law Center and I’m so, so happy to report that the House of Representatives just passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.  This is huge news that we should all celebrate! Now the ball’s in the Senate’s court to do the right thing by women and pass both of these important peices of pay equity legislation very quickly so that President Elect obama can sign them in his first few days in office. Take a moment to write to your senators to make sure that they know that these acts are important to you. Information on how to do that is available on our website. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done so far to help pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. I can’t wait until they’re signed by President-elect Obama and we can really celebrate!”

And that concludes the Carnival for this time. There’s been so many good posts to read, I can only assume that you’ve all decided that I don’t really need to pass my exams!

Submit an article to the next Carnival of Feminists using the Carnival Submission Form, and check out past editions and future hosts here.


Just a quick one this time – I’m entertaining family for the weekend, so have less time to get irate about the foolish and shockingly outrageous things I find online.

And shockingly outrageous it definitely is, because the anti-choice campaigners are getting involved. Reported in the Guardian:

“Rawnie Chapman-Kitchin, 15, was aghast when her teacher compared abortion to Nazism”

Whatever happened to the good old days, when I thought that abortion was something I could rely on to be available if I needed it, when I thought that it could never be taken away from me?

I pity the young women in these lessons, that’s for sure.

Onwards, before I get too upset, and I find myself somewhere in the BBC’s education pages, looking with incredulity at the “news” that stereotypes can become a self-fulfilling prophesy:

“Professor Heidi Mirza argues that race-based statistics feed into racial stereotypes which can themselves become “self-fulfilling prophecies”. “

As she says,

“For example, people say: ‘Blacks are good at sport; Chinese are good at maths and make good food; Indians have good business sense’.”

This can mean teachers have certain expectations about pupils based on their ethnic group, she argues.

What can I say?

On one of the walls in my student union, there’s a group of four people – two young men, two young women – involved in different sports. Is it surprising that the one black person (a man) is pictured playing basketball?

That picture is relatively innocuous, although possibly not as thought out as I would have liked. But those kinds of stereotypes are everywhere – and some of them, as suggested in that article, can and do hurt.

Back to the Guardian for the last one for tonight, because I’m starting to feel in need of something fragile to break, and in the education section is a story of discrimination by a private school.

Unfortunately, this is not discrimination in the normal way that private schools do so well – that is, financial discrimination – but instead, discrimination of a somewhat nastier style:

“The school made the 13-year-old boy, who suffers from a connective tissue disorder, stand still in detentions lasting up to 40 minutes, rendering him unable to walk afterwards.”

Right now, I don’t feel I can analyse this is a coherent or non-expletive-filled way, so I’m just going to let the story stand on its own. For the moment at least, I have no words.

I know that, once again, I’m a little late with this story, but in my defense, I did see it unfolding during the week. In any case, I think it bears repeating.

According to the BBC,

“BNP members have told BBC News they have received threatening and abusive phone calls and e-mails after a leaked document was published online.

The membership list includes police officers, who are banned from BNP membership, teachers and soldiers.

It includes names, addresses, telephone numbers and jobs of 12,000 people.”

Before I start ripping into the party, I would like to say this:

No matter what these people think, there is no need to publish their addresses or phone numbers.

Names, yes. Jobs, yes – especially since some jobs are incompatible with BNP membership (or rather, it is unbecoming in some professions to have links to far-right nutjobs). But phone numbers? Addresses? That’s cruel and unnecessary.

And it’s still there. Not that I’m going to help anybody get to it, as such, but under ten minutes with Google and a bit of common sense, and I had a chance to get that list. I’m hardly a computer whizz-kid, and frankly, the idea that I could drum up a way into so many people’s lives like that is pretty scary.

Some people have also created “heat-maps” of the areas with most members, thanks again to Google – don’t you just love that handy map feature?! Although I won’t link to them, I will say that they, at least, have been appropriate with the data so far – in explaining the map, the creator says this:

“I deliberately only pulled out postcodes from the file, converted those to latitude/longitude, then stripped a chunk of precision off the end. It gives a vague location, probably to street level, but it’s certainly not accurate by any means.”

Because, you know what? Nobody deserves to have threatening phonecalls made to them for being a member of a political party. Not even Robert Kilroy-Silk, the most odious right-wing nutcase I can think of right now.

All of that said, this does give me an opportunity for semi-gratuitous self-reference. Because I don’t like the BNP. I’ve never liked the BNP and it feels nicely ironic that it should be the people who don’t agree with anything the EU does that have to invoke the Human Rights Act when something goes wrong.

I wrote about them back in May, fuming because they’d managed to get one of their candidates elected to the London Assembly.

In the interests of good writing, I went back to their website to check that what I’d written then still holds true. Unsurprisingly, nothing has changed, but in the course of my search, I came across the leaflets that they use when campaigning.

Which was nicely timed, in fact, because I see in the news today that 12 BNP members have been arrested, suspected of distributing racist material in Liverpool.

Their organiser says that “There was nothing unlawful in the leaflets – all the contents of the leaflets had been carefully vetted, or they would not have gone out.”

And, unfortunately, for most of those leaflets, he’s right. Although the underlying message shines through, they are – in the main – worded too carefully to be able to prove with quotes. Look at them together, though, and you start to see the pattern. There are 12 leaflets listed on the website, 3 of which have no racist content that I could find. They relate to Labour, the Lib Dems and crime. They’re revolting in other ways, but that’s not really what I want to think about right now.

Seven of the remaining nine leaflets mention – with differing levels of venom – immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees and the like, with the other two focussing on presenting Muslims in a negative light. Much of what they say is factually inaccurate, which already damns it in my eyes, but even those statements that are not technically untrue are disgusting.

For example, their anti-EU handout says that “millions of Eastern European gypsies… can now travel freely to Soft Touch Britain”. In the context of the leaflet, this is clearly being presented as a Bad Thing – but why? Could they be playing on people’s prejudices against gypsies, I wonder? Unfortunately, this is about the most obvious example I could find. And statements disguised better than this are very hard to call people out on.

Bizarrely, I find myself hoping that the leaflet that the 12 were handing out was as overtly racist as possible Forget what you’ve heard about “bleeding-heart liberals” – when it comes to bigotry, I’m about as intolerant as it gets!