Tag Archives: Feminism

Feminist activism in song format!

13 Nov

How great is this song?!


‘Hands off, crazy’ by Coochwatch.com.

The things you find on the internet when avoiding uni work at 11pm…

(If you hear someone humming ‘It’s my vagina…’ absentmindedly while lugging a pile of books and a three-year-old around a university campus somewhere in a tiny UK town, that’ll be me, probably!)

Happy International Day of the Girl!

11 Oct

Why is there an International Day of the Girl, and not of the Boy? Because most days are for boys.

The Gaga Palaver

28 Sep

I like some of Lady Gaga’s songs, she has some ‘banging tunes’ to quote my crazy ex-neighbour. But somehow it has always struck me as problematic how she portrays herself/is portrayed – almost as if she should be a sort of feminist icon, but just isn’t. Maybe she is, I haven’t examined what she does/sings/wears/says in any great detail at all really, but I am usually intrigued by analyses of famous women’s role in society.

Then I went to a great talk on a generally feminist topic, a quick google-stalk of the speaker brought up this paper, and all became clear. Taking apart Lady Gaga as a person/woman/fashion icon probably won’t do anyone any good or get us anywhere, so this paper deals with some of her lyrics.

“While Stefani Germanotta’s performance of Gaga reveals the constructedness and artifice of identity in true postmodern style, the lexical choices in Born This Way mobilise a conception of sexual identity that is rooted within essentialism.”

Event: Mapping Feminist Movements, Moments, and Mobilisations

27 Sep


This looks like a great conference which aims to examine some really relevant, recent phenomena. I wish I could go.



Call for Papers

“The Lady Doth Protest… Mapping Feminist Movements, Moments, and Mobilisations”

Women have long participated in and led a wide variety of protests, feminist and otherwise. Their historical participation in movements against, for example, colonialism and militarism; for equal rights and civil liberties; on livelihood issues and against capitalist expansion has routinely thrown up questions about feminist knowledge, praxis, and personal-public life. More recently, the visibility of women on a global scale in the ‘Arab spring’, the North American ‘occupy’ movement and activist marches like the ‘Slut Walk’ and ‘Muff March’ phenomena, makes revisiting debates on women and protest apposite. At the same time, the ‘war on terror’, the so-called death of multiculturalism in Europe, the racialization of religion, and women’s global participation in fundamentalist mobilisations and armed struggle raises new questions concerning the interstices between race, religion, class, sexuality and citizenship. These questions that feminism(s) needs to (re)consider whilst contextualising women in protest and protest more generally lie at the heart of this conference theme. We seek to critically reflect upon the concept of feminist protest – its discourse, image and impact, and to examine the possibility of creative feminist engagement across a spectrum ofmomentsmovements and mobilisations.

We conceive of the term ‘protest’ in its widest sense as both formal and quotidian contentious action existing in a variety of practices including activism, critical pedagogies, literature, film, technologies, art and aesthetics – all of which coalesce around the challenge they mount to multiple hegemonies. By unpacking the concept of protest and expanding existing notions of the political through a feminist lens, we seek to understand how feminist protest, in particular, responds to and emerges within/in spite of, the challenges of our contemporary world. In exploring feminism’s relationship with a wide variety of contemporary concerns, social movements and across a range of disciplines, we invite papers from across the arts, humanities and social sciences, that aim to address the possibilities and complexities of feminist mobilisation within the socio-cultural, political, economic, and pedagogic specificities of the temporal spaces we currently find ourselves in. Topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

• Women and protest: theoretical, historical, and contemporaneous concerns;
• Sexual and gendered economies of neoliberalism, recession, and austerity;
• Gender, securitization, counterterrorism, and nationalism(s);
• The impacts of new forms of (transnational) activism and protest politics on feminism; connecting theory and practice;
• Critical pedagogy and feminist scholarship in times of continuity and change;
• The poetics of protest: literature, music, film, and art;
• Race, Class, Gender and the State;
• Spirituality, Faith, and Religion;
• Feminist temporalities in protest;
• The language and rhetoric of protests, movements and feminist mobility;
• Non or anti-feminist protest;
• Sexuality and protest, and heteronationalisms

Please send panel proposals (600 words) and 250 word abstracts for twenty-minute papers to the conference organisers at: conf2013@fwsa.org.uk

Panels proposals should be sent by 15 October, 2012 and individual paper submissions by 30 October, 2012. 

Music and Women’s Liberation

26 Sep

This evening, as I was bopping along to my recent discovery Veronica Falls (no idea if they are feminist) with my daughter while cooking dinner, I remembered an announcement that had arrived in my university inbox a while ago and thought it might be nice to share the occasional feminism-related event with my readers.

I have always been interested in the link between music and activism. It just seems that music creates various emotions in most people, and it is frequently used in media/popular culture portrayals of demonstrations/uprisings, as well as to get young people interested in political activism in the first place through campaigns such as Love Music Hate Racism. At the end of the first year of my A-Levels everyone who was doing history had to choose a coursework topic for year 13, regardless of whether or not they were actually going to take history then. I had a nervous breakdown every time I so much as thought of my history teacher, so it was obvious to me that I would not carry on, but the pretend-topic I came up with to fill the last four weeks of term – the role music played in bringing about the end of the German Democratic Republic in 1989 – was almost enough to make me reconsider the importance of my mental health. Almost, not quite though. I don’t know if music played any kind of role, or if anyone has researched this, but it turned out that someone I knew during my undergraduate degree did his PhD thesis on the role of television during reunification, so popular culture provides fertile ground for researching trends in society. If you’re interested in this kind of thing (popular culture/music and politics), definitely check out the work of UK academic John Street, he is amazing.

Aaaanyway, so much about ‘PhD topics infinitely more relevant to real life than mine’. What I actually meant to say is the Women’s Liberation Music Archive is touring the UK, showcasing “rare ephemera and artefacts such as posters, songbooks, t-shirts, instruments and fliers” as well as films, interactive installations, photos, music, and ten oral histories. The exhibition has already been to Cardiff, and will be in Manchester, Glasgow and London for a couple of weeks each between 1 October and 13 January. The website gives a great overview of bands, so it’s worth having a look.

Check it out: Feminist Values make for more stable relationships

24 Sep

Very ‘ha! In your face!’ article . Take that, government which takes advice on families and relationships from abstinence-only groups.

Feminism and High Heels

22 Jul

When women say they enjoy wearing high heels, I never know what to think. It always seems quite silly to me because surely there’s nothing enjoyable about shoes which, in essence, massacre your feet and slow you down.

At the moment, I always wear flat shoes, usually trainers, because I do a lot of walking and toddler-chasing. This makes me feel extremely frumpy next to glossy-haired Boden/Brora/Joules-clad yummy mummies whose clickety-clack strides seem to express some sort of efficient and in-charge mumsiness that I can only dream of. It’s the same when it comes to women my age who I see going to work in the morning in their pencil skirts and high heels.

I remember reading a few years ago on a former schoolmate’s Facebook ‘About Me’ page that wearing high heels made her feel empowered, and as she works in the fashion industry I thought, oh yeah, certain things could be seen as oppressive, but if you actively choose them, it’s empowering – that old chestnut again (see pole dancing, burlesque, making/watching pornography etc.).

But today, thanks to Ms. Magazine, I came across a really excellent explanation why that’s all rubbish: according to fashion historian Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator at Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum, quoted in the Huffington Post,

“the power that high heels seems to convey is very sexualized power. And very sexualized power is false power, because in order to be sexy someone has to find you sexy, and so the power actually is in the beholder.”

I find that really thought-provoking. It makes sense to me. If one thinks slightly further, the above view might mean that sometimes when women try to feel powerful, or even do feel powerful, they aren’t actually succeeding, but rather asking for permission (which is denied because women are objectified and therefore powerless), and degrading themselves.

Does this mean that I will never wear high heels again? Probably not. They are still part of the expected attire on nights out, and eventually I hope to be able to partake in this pastime again (as long as I can be in bed by 11). If I officially stopped wearing high heels, I’d officially be a frump with no fashion sense and therefore no personality worth getting to know, or a weirdo who enjoys being the odd one out. But this realisation made me wonder: ages ago I came across the idea that we define ourselves through consumerism, i.e. we buy things in order to express who we are or want to be, which I think is an accurate assessment of most people’s habits (and certainly my own). So women buy high heels to portray a sexy and/or powerful persona, but actually they were pushed into this decision by societal pressure, so by wearing high heels they demonstrate how little power they have.

Yes. This is a whole post about shoes. It’s late. Where’s the wine?