Daily Archives: Wednesday 27 February 2008

54th Carnival of Feminists

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa. Greetings, greetings, greetings to you all. And welcome to the 54th Carnival of Feminists.

Starting in the country of my birth, Aotearoa New Zealand, and with a guest post on my own blog, Julie Fairey, who long blogged under another name, writes about the process of becoming a mother. The ex-expat Stef writes about celebrating the other rich relationships in your life on Valentine’s Day, and Make Tea Not War talks about her moment of realisation when reading Doris Lessing’s autobiography, that this writer who was so critical of other mothers, had walked out on her own two children. Stargazer Anjum writes about the wage gap, and laments that a woman who speaks out about it will be labelled, in an effort to shut her up.

Travelling with the sun, and moving to the country of my adoption, Pavlov’s Cat scratches and snarls about people who insist on calling all women “Mrs”. The Hoydens have a WTF moment over Blow advertising (NSFW) – that this link may not be safe for work says it all. Penguin Unearthed writes about identifying as a mother; many women emphasise their identity as a mother, perhaps to reinforce that mothering, or parenting, is important work. Blue Milk teaches her daughter to use a v-word, and it’s not vagina.

Moving west again, to India, Nandita Saikia wants to feel comfortable in her own skin. Creating harmony with Pavlov’s Cat, Unmana writes about the process of deciding not to change her name when she got married.

Blogging from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, ex-pat Jane muses on relationships on Valentine’s Day.

In the continent where human beings first began, What an African Woman Thinks reflects on her identity, and states loud and clear, I am not my tribe. Writing on Reproductive Health Reality Check, Florence Machio makes the same point, but she claims membership of The Tribe Called Woman.

In the country where the language that we use in this carnival first developed, the Archbishop has suggested that sharia law might be a jolly good thing. There’s everything to say about this, and nothing. Natalie Bennet, founder and co-ordinator of this carnival, takes him on, in Sharia and the out-of-this-world archbishop.

Debs has made a transition and shifted house, but not before making a statement about porn. A post on Socialist Unity debates using a medieval image of Venus to advertise an art exhibition. Is it art or is it porn? (may be NSFW, depending on how your workplace has sets its censors).

The F-Word lets us know that you, me, and anyone else who calls themselves feminists are destroying the English language. But evidently, feminists are so busy destroying the English language that they have forgotten their proper task, replacing the police in defending women: Cruella-blog discusses just who is responsible for stopping ‘honour’ killings.

Over the Atlantic to the Americas. In Canada, Miss Vicky has some not so offhand remarks about turning 40. Unrepentant Old Hippie opposes the Unborn Victims of Crime Bill; in her words, “it isn’t a sneaky foot-in-the-door stealth attack on reproductive rights — it’s a jackboot kicking the door wide open and stomping on the faces of women… forever.”

The election in the middle latitudes of North America, the United States of America, concerns us all. Some election blogging – the Young and Broke Amanda Gleason assesses the race so far. Menstrual Poetry writes about Republican front-runner John McCain’s position on abortion. It’s sneaky moves he’s making there. Obama: was he or wasn’t he sexist talking about Clinton getting down periodically? Mad Kane’s Political Madness thinks it’s a textbook case of subtle sexism. Feministe whistles up a storm on the same topic. But Karnythia at The Angry Black Woman contemplates breaking up with feminism.

Elsewhere in the US, the Muslim Hedonist grapples with explaining the facts of life to her daughters. However, as Cara writes, even explaining the facts of life merits being labelled immoral, according to some. Further facts of life – Mad Melancholic Feminista writes about motherhood and work. Yet more facts of life from the Feminist Philosophers – why girls don’t think they can do math.

Rage Against the Man-chine rages against Bratz dolls and their outrageous hyper-sexualisation. A Broad Writes a Letter about primate sexuality, celebrating the huge range of ways in which women are able to display sexuality in the land of the free.

Shakesville says it: what’s not to love about the wonderful Emma Thompson. Ornamenting Away calls bullshit on the time in a man’s life when he must make a choice; he gets to make a redemptive choice, but does she?

Viva La Feminista gives us two posts about a doctor who performs abortions, and the book she has written. And from the blog on womenstake.org, how to make moms happy on Valentine’s Day.

Barry Leiba gives an account of a Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Museum. And echoing Stef who urged us to celebrate the friendships in our lives, and like the Dinner Party, celebrating the women in our past, Shana Thornton-Morris recalls and rejoices in the friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

So I have sketched a path around the world, and we are back to the start of the day again, in New Zealand.

Haere ra. Farewell.

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If you are would like to host the Carnival of Feminists yourself, contact the festival founder and co-ordinator, Natalie Bennett, on natalieben[at]gmail[dot]com. It’s great fun doing the festival – give it a go!

For London and UK based feminists, the Feminist Library in London has recently re-opened on Saturdays from 11-5.

What’s a parent to do?

I find this story disturbing on so many levels. A known pedophile is deported back to New Zealand. His modus operandus is to approach kids in streets, carrying a kitten. In his last place of abode, police found a soundproof cell in the backyard. He watches kids with binoculars. Of late, he has been hanging around schools.

Police have warned schools and parents in the area.

On the one hand, this man has committed no crime in New Zealand. So now, in effect, he will be stigmatised in the community where he lives, punished for a crime he has not committed, and may never commit.

On the other, this is not exactly a safe person. I know that as a parent, of primary school age children, I would be deeply alarmed. You bet I would be talking to my children about not approaching strangers, and walking them, or driving them to and from school. Mollycoddlying them, in fact.

One of the consequences of that will be criticism for being risk-averse, for wrapping my children in cottonwool. We are constantly told that children these days have no freedom to explore, to be unsupervised, to learn to look after themselves.

From a parent’s point of view, supervising children, walking to school with them, not allowing them to roam around the neighbourhood, reducing risk, is all about seatbelts. To be sure, the chance of a child being attacked, assaulted, raped by a pedophile is very low. But the consequences, if it does happen, are exceedingly bad. So metaphorically, we get the kids to wear seatbelts.

I have, only once, in 42 years, been involved in a car accident. I have never, ever, been in an accident when I have been driving a car, in 25 years of driving (aside from dents in carparks). But I always, always, wear a seatbelt, and I always, always, ensure that my children, and other passengers in the car, wear seatbelts. No one criticises me for that, even though it seems that the risk of an accident is exceedingly small. In fact, transport police and road safety campaigns urge me to belt up.

Why then, do I get criticised for not allowing my children to walk home by themselves? Especially if there is a known pedophile in the area.