Welcome to the second Carnival of Feminists!
It seems fitting to begin with a post which tackles a big issue, namely, what exactly is feminism? Inspired by an entry from the first Carnival by Mind the Gap! in Wales which wondered why a lot of women still insist they are "not a feminist", Cristy, from Two Peas, No Pod in Laos, goes further and asks why so many women preface their remarks with "I'm not a feminist, but…"
The personal is political and there's no personal space as politicised as the female body. Women are preoccupied with our own bodies, men are obsessed with women's bodies, governments and religions are fixated on controlling what we do with our bodies.
Starting from the inside, I'll use my one-link privilege as carnival host to point to a post about realising that my menstrual cycle is well past its use-by date.
Working outwards: Ancrene Wiseass lost a lot of weight during a relationship breakdown but finally realised she could never be thin enough. Yet neither could she entirely stop her self-dissection. Skin deep: Sour Duck sifts through her thoughts on make-up, deciding that it's not enough to assert that women should simply give up cosmetics. In Bangladesh, Bring Your Own Shisha points out that hundreds of women a year are facially disfigured in attacks with acid - the cruellest form of woman-hating.
The Religious Policeman, a Saudi man living in the UK, examines some visual guidance to female students on the correct way to dress in public – it's a matter of heaven or hell… Another kind of fundamentalism, American Christianity of the early 20th century, saw women as ungodly. Spinning off from a book which describes the anti-dancing attitudes of that religious movement, the Agnosticism/Atheism Blog points out that girls, not boys, are seen as embodying the 'sinfulness' of dancing. And in dance, girls are meant to be led. So discovers Elsewhere when she goes to beginners tango in Alice Springs, central Australia.
So it's on to sex and Ariel Levy's book on the rise of "raunch culture" has been a hot topic among women bloggers. Amanda from Pandagon in Texas didn't know what all the fuss was about, but almost choked on her salad when an example of 'female raunch' walked past. Is it really a slippery slope from lipstick to labiaplasty? Single mother Gianna, of She Sells Sanctuary on the east coast of Australia, also considers raunch culture, beauty and misogyny. She thinks raunch could in fact be a healthy response from women.
Susie Bright knows a thing or two about raunch. She thinks the day she got off the pill and onto condoms was the best health decision of her life. Happy Feminist is certain that the number one factor that allowed her to navigate sex and romance as happily as she has is that by the time she reached her teens she had internalised the messages of feminism. To the same end, Muse and Fury links to an audiocast by a Canadian sex educator who encourages women to discover what gives them pleasure.
Of course, sex isn't always pleasurable or freely chosen and often has unwelcome consequences for women.
Ellen of Ellen and Jim Have a Blog Too explores the symbolism of the breast, especially the baring of one breast to suggest availability.
Feministe Jill in New York reiterates the 'deadliness' of GWB's Global Gag Rule, under which the US will not give funding to any organisation in another country which pays for abortions with its own (non-US) funds or so much as mentions abortion or lobbies their own government for reproductive rights. But things are different in Britain, where Antonia attended a pro-choice meeting in the House of Lords, attended by several members of parliament. [Which just goes to highlight the double standard of the Bush rule - it only applies to developing countries which are dependent on American aid, not to the UK which is a close ally but rich enough to be allowed its own policy on reproductive rights.]
Suki has a strong Opinion on attempts in one Australian state to make women who seek late-term abortions for psychological reasons wait 48 hours as a ‘cooling-off’ mechanism. And in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, Philloillogica is unimpressed by a pigtailed six-year-old anti-abortion demonstrater.
There was a big reaction amongst US bloggers to an October column in the New York Times by Maureen Dowd about the female backlash against feminism… 11D expresses her own backlash against Dowd.
Jory in California Pauses to think about men, women and money – who pays for what in couple relationships?
In Kenya, African Feminist Sister is still at the flirting-in-the-office stage and wonders about the pressure on men and women from the patriarchal 'rules of engagement' in dating.
Half Changed World in Washington DC does not think it's necessarily a violation of feminist principles if she picks up her husband's socks – for her, marriage is a matter of compromise on both sides. After reading Carole Shields' last book Unless, Dawn of This Woman's Work in Ohio thinks back over how she compromised herself as a writer in her past relationships with men.
The politics of inspirational women
Many bloggers, men and women, black and white, right around the world, noted the death in October of American civil rights activist Rosa Parks. Jeanne D'Arc of Body and Soul contrasts the dignified photo of Parks under arrest for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white person with a photo of Republican politician Tom DeLay, recently arrested on corruption charges.
We are Still Here, in Seoul, commemorates the deaths of another three notable women. Crunchy Granola's family held a feminist Sukkah ceremony, drawing pictures of strong women and talking about what they admired in them.
Maryanne, Living in Egypt, writes about the life and death of her mother-in-law – a woman she may not have always liked, but certainly loved.
Black Looks showcases poems and books on women's contribution to the struggle for independence in Zimbabwe. BibliOdyssey highlights the work of an 18th-century European botanical painter while the Other Mother discovers that her toddler daughter has already learnt the name of at least one female artist…
After a distressing public blog argument, a sorrowful Laura at Sills Bend decides to re-publish some photos from her series on public statuary in Melbourne – this ornate Victorian memorial was dedicated to Annie Springthorpe who died in childbirth and who was 'Pattern Daughter, Perfect Mother and Ideal Wife'. [This site might be slow to load for dial-up connections.]
The politics of motherhood
Jody, of Raising WEG, posts two poems by Australian Gwen Harwood which express very different views of motherhood – in one she is “eaten alive” by her children; in the other, content to know that her children “walk the earth”. Most mothers know this ambivalence. Loobylu in Melbourne has a job illustrating the diary of a new mum – and it brings back awful memories of life with a newborn. A sleep-deprived Bright Red Shoes finds that the more she realises how challenging motherhood is, the less critical she is of other mothers.
The gorgeous and divine Tertia of So Close in South Africa takes part in a virtual book tour about mothering boys.
Like many working mothers, Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony in Melbourne relies on after-school care – but a corporation has taken it over. Out goes the hippy craftswoman, in comes sports, sports and more sports for her children…
Founder of this carnival, Natalie from Philobiblon reviews The Gender Politics of ICT, the book of the papers from the 6th International Women Into Computing Conference, which asks 'where are the women in computing and allied fields' and 'why and how does the lack of women matter?'
Rhetorically Speaking in Edinburgh scoffs at an article in The Times speculating on whether gender has anything to do with the ability to do Sudoku brain teasers, after a young woman becomes the first national champion.
I Blame the Patriarchy wants to do a study of all the studies which conclude that women are not men and thus weird. (I blame the patriarchy too!)
Politics at work
Fair pay for meaningful work and respect for unpaid work – these were the heroine’s goals in Louisa May Alcott's forgotten novel Work. Blue Earth Notes, in the US Midwest, wonders what Alcott would make of today’s world of work.
Not much, if comments from two prominent men are anything to go by.
Adman Neil French caused a wave (of revulsion) in the feminist blogosphere this month with his comment that women are ‘crap' at their jobs. Scottish Gendergeek Emmy hopes that the glass ceiling shatters and sends a shard into part of his anatomy.
Kathy of What Do I Know? writes an open letter to British ‘celebrity chef’ Gordon Ramsey, after he served up some tasteless misogyny with his denigration of women cooks. (She says she failed utterly as a stand-up comedian?)
I wonder if Ramsey even approves of women on the service side of the food industry? Landismom of Bumblebee Sweet Potato recommends a book of oral histories on waitressing.
Moment to Moment's Kate in Western Australia suspects that women are less equipped to stand up for themselves in the workplace and bargain with their employers – hampered by their conditioning to be nice girls and not make a fuss.
Evelyn survived the tsunami and plans to return to Thailand for the one-year anniversary. She asks: can women tackle solo journalism? (I have no doubt she can.)
October was National Coming Out Month in the US and All Facts and Opinions wonders how the coming out of five-time Olympic gold medallist Sheryl Swoopes, a professional basketballer, will impact on other women in sports.
How easy is it for us to identify with and make connections with other women across the barriers of class, race and nationality? Bloggers from the developing world especially challenge me to make the leap of imagination and empathy…
Uma from Indian Writing meets a little girl and her mother on a visit to Kashmir.
Riverbend, girl blogger in Baghdad Burning, tries to discuss the proposed Iraq constitution with her next-door neighbour over some tree-pruning.
Saudi Arabian ‘chick’ Farooha translates a female columnist's article, Imagine Being a Woman.
So that's it, the carnival is over, until the next - which will be on Sour Duck in two weeks' time - that's November 16. Email submissions to duck.sour (at) gmail (dot) com. (And any time you want to know what is happening with the carnival, check the home page.)
My aim with this second carnival, apart from continuing the high standard of the first, has been to showcase bloggers from my own corner of the globe, Australia, and to try and gather posts from as wide a geographical spread as possible. But there are still huge swathes of the globe which are totally unrepresented here and others that are vastly under-represented, so I don't count myself as entirely successful. Please join me in trying to remedy that for the next, third carnival – start exploring women's blogrolls now!
Thanks very much to all who sent nominations. I've done my best to get writers' names, blog names and posts' intentions correct. If I've failed, please email and I'll fix it as soon as possible.[susoz.au at gmail dot com]
And if you don't think you should be here at all, perhaps you're one of those people who say: "I'm not a feminist but ..." The news is, you are!