Wednesday 23 December 2009

Carnival of Feminists, 23/12/09: Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Season's greetings, and welcome to this special festive edition of the Carnival of Feminists.

As we're so close to the holidays, it's tempting to fill this space with cheery, unproblematic links and posts celebrating all our gains and pretending all's right with the world. This winter in particular that process seems especially hypocritical, so I've decided to just say bollocks to it. Here is a Carnival full of righteous indignation, intersectionality, rage and renewal.

As it's Christmas, let's start by remembering that the personal is political. A guest blogger at The F Word has some words of advice for fellow survivors of childhood abuse on dealing with the holiday season - which, for many victims, can involve unwanted proximity with their former abusers or with those who were complicit.

Even for those of us lucky enough not to have to face our abusers over the dinner table, Christmastime nearly always throws up a few feminist dilemmas. I've often found myself squeezed in with blithely misogynist members of my extended family, trying to explain why certain remarks are hurtful without causing an almighty row. An exciting-looking new blog, Stop Sexist Remarks, is here to help, with tips to challenge bigotry and stop sexist jibes in their tracks: Setting Boundaries in 15 Words or Less.

You might also want to take a look at a humourless festive rant I posted here at Penny Red this week, in which I get all pissy about the contemporary fetish for retro-domesticity.

Sometimes anger is important. Even at Christmas, when even more than usual women are expected to be placid, to keep the peace, to make things nice for everyone else, anger can be constructive, and it can be precious, and it's possible to stay tapped into to that vital stream of political awareness and personal rage without souring your appreciation of life's many joys. In that spirit, here are some excellent, topical posts full of incisive anger:

Radical Profeminist offers a powerful, angry and constructive response to man men's perception of their own 'suffering' at the hands of feminism, in one of the finest feminist posts I've read all year.

Guest blogger Dumi Lewis writes at Racialicious about the politics of being an ally.

Sara Ahmed at Comment Is Free reminds us that climate change is also about gender justice.

HarpyMarx reports on institutional police misogyny, brought to light once more by the case of a murdered woman failed by Greater Manchester Police

And the brilliant Womanist Musings offers a timely dose of WTF over the latest jolly commercial racist misogyny outing in celebland.

Rape, intersectionality and the language of victim-blaming -the feminist blogosphere is currently awash with powerful, courageous discussion of rape - and not only rape itself, but how we fight rape culture by working to change the language we use to describe rape, criminality and victimhood. Of particular concern this month has been the victim-blaming language used by authorities nominally responsible for rape prevention. (The following posts may be triggering for rape survivors):

On a new blog,, a brave survivor of rape at Tufts university speaks out about how her experience was dismissed by college authorities because she didn't resemble the 'perfect victim' - in part because she is a woman of colour. She describes the 'intersectionality of discrimination' that she faced with dignity and depth.

Kate Harding at Salon offers a powerful dissection of the shocking case of a 12-year-old girl being told by site supervisors at her middle school that she had 'asked for it', and that her attacker's 'hormones' were to blame. Jezebel has more.

In the UK, Dark Purple Moon tackles the graphic, distressing 'anti-rape' adverts currently being featured all over the London public transport system, reminding us that rape doesn't just 'happen'.

In slightly better news, In a Strange Land has details of a new rape prevention programme to train bar staff in reducing the risk of rape. The programme is refreshingly free of victim blaming language, in part because it was compiled in conjunction with anti-rape educators. And this week Al Franken's anti-rape amendment has been signed into law in the United States, which would 'withold defence contracts from companies like KBR if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court", after Jamie Leigh Jones was prevented from seeking justice for her charge of gang-rape by Haliburton (via Shakesville). Slowly but surely, and with tireless work from feminists of all genders, the dialectic of the rape culture we are living in is beginning to falter.

So, that about wraps it up for 2009, no pun intended. It's been a really exciting year for feminism online and in the meatspace, and next year looks set to be even more jam-packed. Watch this space for details of the next Carnival; meanwhile, on behalf of the new-and-improved Carnival of Feminists, it falls to me to wish all readers and contributors, of every faith and none, a happy holiday and a tolerable end to this crazy bloody decade. In sisterhood. x


  1. I just wanted to leave my thanks somewhere for your article "Moving Towards Solidarity" on the f word. You framed the reasoning behind anti-trans feminists and their subsequent shortsightedness very well... as a transwoman-in-training I originally couldn't wrap my head around it.

    Your blog also seems to have a scrumptious collection of links that will keep me busy and I look forward to your continued activism! Have a happy holiday, new year and/or whatever else comes your way.

  2. Great carnival, Penny Red. Many thanks for linking to my piece of the rape-prevention programme. I was astounded to read a newspaper article about rape that had not a word of victim blaming.

  3. Great carnival and thanks for the link. I look forward to reading the other submissions.

  4. This is great. Thanks for your hard work!

  5. Thank you for this, I can't wait to read them all. Love the work you're doing, please keep it up and I'll keep reading!

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