Wednesday, 12 March 2008

55th Carnival of Feminists

Ladies, gentlemen, girls, boys and anyone else out there in the meatspace: welcome to the 55th carnival of feminists! I'm immensely honoured to have been asked to do this, and would like once more to extend my admiration to Natalie Bennett at Philobiblon for starting and maintaining the event. Virtual kowtowing out the way, let's get down and reasonably dirty with the global hyper-sisterhood.

As luck would have it, this edition of the Carnival straddles both International Women's Day and Women's History Month in the USA. As feminists, we are as diverse in our personal politics as the kitchen at a socialist's birthday party at one in the morning, when the conscience-lesbians are clustered in the corner with the hidden vodka, the marxists have occupied the table with all the crisps, and someone's anarchist girlfriend has nabbed the damn bottle opener again. There is no single politics of feminism; accordingly, responses to IWD and WHM have varied dramatically across the blogsphere, and our political diversity and ingenuity is something to celebrate in itself.

International Women's Day
Saturday saw worldwide celebrations and protests taking off to mark this Soviet-originated festival, along with some heartfelt writing. UK feminists were on the move, with the Million Women Rise event attracting thousands of supporters despite the biting rain; again, the demands of the march were as varied as the groups who attended, but the most comprehensive and well-expressed summary of its aims comes from the Feminist Fightback website. The F Word has the best round-up of the march itself, with some great photos that really capture the atmosphere of freezing optimism. Personal responses to International Women's Day were a theme, with posts at menstrual poetry and here at Pennyred; A good round up of world responses can be found at feministing, and stroppyblog has a nice strident reminder of reasons to be grateful for a century and a half of back-breaking work by feminists across the world. It did make me start humming this song from Mary Poppins, but I'm not sure that's altogether a bad thing.

Unfortunately, the spread of feminist ideas across International Women's day has led to a small number of unwelcome clashes. Hats off to Blacklooks for alerting us to the exclusion of sex workers and their supporters from the Million Women Rise event in London. The unilateral last-minute exclusion of Terisa Mackay of the Solidarity 1st Coalition to Decriminalise Prostitution from the speakers' stage is particularly shocking in the context of a day which was meant to be all about solidarity.

Feminism is a leftfield philosophy, and as such will always benefit from individual groups' ability to define and discriminate on the basis of nuance. This also means that we will never all agree on precisely what is and is not an acceptable stance within feminism. It's in this spirit of promoting diverse and challenging forms of feminism that Uncool Blog speaks up in defence of the 'sex-positive' tone of the 53rd Carnival of Feminists; and yes, a certain amount of meta-Carnivalling keeps us on our toes from time to time. Feminist erotic writer SelenaKittyn has a great post on nuances of feminism within pornography and radical objections to the sex industry, just squeezing in under the deadline. All of us, from hard-line Radfems to pro-sex-work Socialist Feminist activists, must recognise that our diversity is part of our strength, and that we will get nowhere fast by pitting ourselves against one another whilst consumer-capitalist patriarchy giggles anthropomorphically on the sidelines.

Diversity was the theme at Women'sspace, which hosted its own Carnival for US Women's History Month drawing together a wide variety of analytical feminist voices. One of the best posts from the event is up now at WhatTamiSaid, negotiating the preconceptions of different generations of potential feminists across North America.

Gender inclusivity is another issue which continues to divide the feminist left; the notion that men are also worked over by endemic sexism, misogyny and strict gender binaries and should be allowed, indeed encouraged, to take up their place in the feminist movement, is a contentious one at the best of times, but particularly on International Women's Day (the clue is in the name). Despite this, TehPortlyDyke at Shakespeare's Sister posted a brave and engaging piece on robbing the hearts of men on the 8th; the 189 comments (and counting) are worth a read all by themselves, as is the follow-up post on the 10th. Elsewhere, MissAvarice has a fantastic post on the semiotics of 'femme', picking apart tired gender binaries and looking at gender identity as a 'matter of intent'. Jo Christie-Smith looks at men's role in preventing violence against women, whilst at Pennyred I had a little splurge about intra-feminist misandry and the immense scope for positive change.

The under-reported issue of feminism and mental health is a field upon which we can lay down our weapons and put our talented and attractive heads together for some reasoned and only moderately bloody patriarchy-dissection. It's great to see Crazy Like Us up and running; let's hope the site goes far.

Finally, to remind us all why we're here, hats off to menstrual poetry and TheFWord for drawing attention to this piece of clit-itchingly irritating misogynist marketing filth. And the prize for least progressive clip of the month goes to: The G4 channel. All together now: 'I'm cheap and fun! In fact, I'm just peppy!'

And by the way, my vibrating features HAVE been disabled. Until next time, in solidarity,



  1. Actually, my least favourite ad of the moment is the l'oreal 'beauty is giving more!' ad that you can't get away from. It manages to showcase perfectly
    1) female aging as bad
    2) women having a duty not to age
    3) 'beauty' as the cardinal female virtue
    4) 'beauty' being equivalent to 'specifically masculine appreciation'
    5) feminine worth being dependent on self-abnegation
    6) feminine satisfaction being contingent on self-sacrifice.

    It's like Griselda, but without the benefit of any eternal salvation. And it pisses me off...

    Sorry. Bit of a personal rant there... :oS

  2. Thanks so much for including me--twice!

  3. Hi Penny Red,

    Good carnival!

    I was at the demo last Saturday and was appalled that Terisa was denied a platform.

    I wrote about it here:

  4. Thanks for directing me to The wii advert is disturbing for me, but I know my daughter finds this stuff playful and inoffensive. Am I out of date at 48 years old?

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