Tag Archive | "Heather Mendick"

In memoriam: Shulamith Firestone


On 28th August, Shulamith Firestone was found dead in her Manhattan apartment at the age of 67. Firestone’s 1970 book, The Dialectic of Sex, is a carefully argued and inspiring call for a feminist revolution that still feels ahead of its time 42 years later. I’d just finished rereading it when I heard the news of Firestone’s death via the Guardian’s obituary of her and as a tribute I have collected here some of the parts of that work that I found the most provocative and powerful in the hope that others will be moved to read or reread this classic of feminist theory. Firestone is perhaps best known for her call for women to take ownership of the means of reproduction, and so take advantage of advances in medical technologies to free themselves from their oppression. However, her work is far more wide-ranging than its represented as in the many textbook accounts. Here I look at what she had to say about schooling and about sexuality. The page numbers are taken from the 1979 Women’s Press edition.

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No more pens envy: Bic market female biros


When my artist friend Mary Yacoob excitedly emailed me a link to ‘bic for her’, the new pen for girls and women, after I’d checked it wasn’t April Fools Day, I started to worry about her sanity. Happily she reassured me that she also found the idea offensive but that I should check out the reviews. This little pack of pens has garnered a massive 288 customer reviews on Amazon, compared to just 9 for a standard bic pen multipack. The reviews are funny and angry at the same time. Saddler1993’s pithy review is typical, “I think this is possibly the best thing to happen since my Great Aunt Maisie chained herself to John Menzies in the ‘Drawing Pins For Women’ campaign of 1922. God bless you girl…. how far we have travelled!” I share a few of my favourite reviews here but if you’re ever bored in the office or the classroom or anywhere else, I’d recommend working your way through a few of them, they range in style from Victorian romance to dystopian science fiction. Read the full story

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Fame, Folk devils and Generation X-Factor


In recent months a number of articles have appeared in the UK national press, reporting renewed concerns about the impact of celebrity and consumer culture on young people’s aspirations. Celebrity culture features in these as a contemporary folk devil, conjured up as the source of various societal ills, and diverting attention from the structural causes of inequality. Read the full story

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Selling Science as ‘a Girl Thing’


When the EU launched a short viral video to publicise their It’s a Girl Thing! campaign to get more women into science, it all kicked off in the blogosphere and twitterverse. The 45 second promo, which looks like a cross between a cosmetics ad and a girl group music video, begins with a young good-looking lab-coated male scientist looking up from his microscope to the shocking (and arousing?) sight of three attractive young women dressed in very high heels and even shorter skirts. These women giggle and provocatively gesture their way through the ad, intercut with overflowing test-tubes, models of molecules, lipstick and other girlie and scientific ephemera. Oh, and one of them gets to elegantly scribble symbols on a transparent board. At the end their fashionable shades transform into equally fashionable safety goggles. The music, with its single lyric, reminds us: ‘Science – It’s a Girl Thing!’ So is this how to ‘sell’ science to girls? Read the full story

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Rejecting home for homeland: Carrie Madison and gender roles in TV’s Homeland


Homeland is a US television series based on an Israeli show, Prisoners of War. It centres on CIA agent Carrie Maddison, played by Claire Danes, who in dramatic opening scenes is told by a source that a US marine has been ‘turned’. When a few days later US marine Nicholas Brody, played by Damien Lewis, is rescued after eight years in captivity, Carrie is convinced he’s the marine in question. Alongside Brody’s heroic homecoming we follow Carrie’s increasingly obsessive attempts to prove him a traitor. Carrie’s an unusual female character so in this post we begin a conversation about her which we plan to continue as events unfold each Sunday night. We hope you’ll join in. The show is full of twists and turns so don’t read this unless you’re up to date with the latest episode shown on the UK’s Channel 4 (or you don’t mind knowing what happens in advance). If you’ve seen ahead of this and you add comments please alert us to any spoilers. Read the full story

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Learned to Kill? Now Teach our Children: A Critique of Troops to Teachers


The UK government, following the lead of the US, is devising multiple ways to get more ex-members of the military into our schools – as teachers, mentors, classroom assistants and basic skills tutors. Read the full story

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Rape and Reality TV


On Sunday night 15th January, an alleged rape was broadcast live on the current, twelfth season of Big Brother Brazil. Meanwhile, one week later, in the UK Celebrity Big Brother House one housemate pulled down another’s trousers. Both events raise questions about gender, power and reality in contemporary society. Read the full story

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Boffins and geeks: geek or chic?


The labels swot, ear ’ole, boffin, keeno, geek and nerd resonate meaningfully across generations of school-goers and echo through the terrains of popular culture. Our Gender and Education viewpoint started life as a conversation about our own research into how such identities are imagined and lived. We wondered: Has ‘the rise of the nerd’ meant that being a ‘boffin’ at school has lost its stigma? Read the full story

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GEA Responds to UK PSHE Review


GEA’s policy officer, Miriam David, coordinated our response to the UK government’s current consultation on Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and Sex and Relationships Education (SRE). Read the full story

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Feminist Ryan Gosling


Ryan Gosling is the star of three current films: political drama The Ides of March, noir action flick Drive and rom-com Crazy, Stupid Love. He’s also the star of the global gender politics phenomenon Feminist Ryan Gosling. This site picks up on and subverts the internet ‘hey girl’ meme which started with a series of publicity stills of Mr Gosling captioned with amusing romantic slogans. For example, a smiling Ryan says, “Hey Girl, Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for your yams and sweet potato pie.” A distraught looking Ryan says, “Hey Girl, sometimes I get so sad when we can’t watch Golden Girls together.” And, one of several topless Ryans simply says, “Hey girl, my shirt fell off.” This site’s an entertaining but odd mix of humour and romance and boasts an endorsement from Orson Welles, who, presumably from the afterlife, calls Gosling “The most awesomest, raddest, coolest dude since me.” Perhaps it is Gosling’s iconic performance in the romantic drama The Notebook that’s made him such a great blank slate for so many romantic imaginations. Although the over-the-top nature of many the slogans make this site as much a parody of romance as an indulgence in it. Read the full story

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