Friday, 5 October 2007

no shame!


i went to my first feminist meeting last night and it was really inspiring.

as a writer, i feel that my feminism kind of informs most of what i write, as much as any other part of my life does, be that family, sex, work, adventure, drunken nights out...all of these things form my character and make up my experience. having a political and personal frameowk of feminism around me allows me to explore themes and experiences that i have had through the perspecitve of how i see my place as a woman, as i see my place as myself.

i don't really have that many politics beyond feminism. im not a socialist, im certainly not a communist. i am left wing and i have strong political opinions. but i believe the old feminist maxim that the personal is the political. i believe this enables me to see my own life and aims and objectives clearly and with purpose.

modesty part two

keeping you updated with my shalit ( adventures.
once upon a time there were gentlemen and there were ladies. ladies wore long dresses with frills at the bottom of their skirts, gloves to the elbows and carried parasols behind which they could hide virginal blushing faces. gentlemen walked at their sides, holding elbows and attending to the ladies needs, whilst never acting improperly. should a young scamp dare to speak out of turn to the lady, her modesty was her protector, and he would feel shame at his impropriety. there was no rape. modesty forbade it. there was no anorexia. modesty forbade it.
once upon a time there were gentlemen and there were ladies. with charles II on the throne, the women wore low cut dresses with slight wisps of slik covering their full breasts.
These women married men and then became mistresses of other, richer men. There were ladies who lived under bow bells and hitched their skirts about their knees and plied themselves as wares.
Once upon a time Clarissa worked for a rich man who cornered her and took what he wanted, once upon a time Lucrece gave her husband's friend food and he took her to, once upon a time Lavinia went a walking and her cousins found her and they raped her and cut off her hands and tongue, once upon a time rape never happened because rape wasn't officially a crime.
Once upon a time ladies would take to their beds with lachrymose eyes and a melancholy sigh and they'd say no to food and they'd sigh even more. Their bodies would fade but still they wouldn't eat, and people would whisper she has the vapours, she has consumption, she has hysterics. They didn't whisper anorexia because the word didn't exist, so how could anorexics exist.
These problems have always existed. Wendy Shalit asks - why are none of my grandmother's friends anorexic? Why doesn't she look a little harder.
As the Shakespeare who she is so fond of quoting says:
"A rose by any other name."

modesty - part one

at last ive started reading wendy shalit's book "a return to modesty". this has been all over the feminist blogosphere lately, and ive been meaning to read it to see what she has to say for herself, rather than purely read criticism of her.
hhm. well, im not very far in to it, but so far i am unimpressed. yes,i think she clearly addresses some of the problems that increased sexual freedom has caused - ie losing the right to say no, feeling like you HAVE to have sex, all this is pertinent and representative of issues and dilemmas women face. however, it is her reasons and solutions that i am having problems digesting. her methods and her stats are also subject to question. for instance, as interesting as the ancedote that her mum banned her from sex ed is, using to try and prove that not going to sex ed means she doesn't feel the need to "hook up" with men isn't a very strong approach or offer much support to her theory. it is a personal example, and therefore cannot really be used or substantiated in a sociological study.
i can't help but feel that the idea of returning to modesty is suggesting a tendancy to put the blame for problems with an over sexed society on to women. ie, we gave up modesty and now, surprise surprise, we are being coerced in to sex. (her lines, not mine) it doesn't seem far enough away from she wore a short skirt, so she was asking for it.
maybe i like wearing mini dresses, and maybe i like wearing baggy jeans and a hoody. maybe somedays i like being quiet and unassuming, and other days im loud and bolshy. it doesn't make any difference to me demanding respect from people around me.
im not sure if she's missing my point or im missing hers.