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Muslim feminist reading list

I've never encountered any writing that looks at feminism and Islam, let alone written by Muslim feminists. I wanted to fix that, so I asked on twitter: "Muslims, feminists: any good writing on feminism and Islam out there?" Here are the answers I got:

Eilidh Elizabeth said:

Fatima Mernissi, Lila Abu-Lughod, Azadeh Moaveni, Pardis Mahdavi, Therese Saliba, Kecia Ali, Ziba Mir-Hosseini

zara said:

http://haleemaakhtar.wordpress.com @haleema_kabir

to which Haleema Kabir replied:

@zaraisfierce @mclduk http://haleemakabir.wordpress.com >.< ♥

I've not read any of these yet, but it's great to have some starting suggestions. Thanks!

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Rapists know your limits

There's a poster produced by the UK government recently that says:

1 in 3 rape victims have been drinking. Know your limits.

I can imagine there are people in a design agency somewhere trying to think up stark messages to make the nation collectively put down its can of Tennents for at least a moment, and it's good to dissuade people from problem drinking. But this is probably the most blatant example I've ever seen of what people have been calling "victim blaming".

If your friend came to you and said they'd been raped, would you say "You shouldn't have been drinking"? I hope not. And not just because it'd be rude! But because even when someone is a bit tipsy, it's not their fault they were raped, it's the rapist's fault.

It sounds so pathetically obvious when you write it down like that. But clearly it still needs to be said, because there are people putting together posters that totally miss the point. They should also bear in mind that a lot of people like to have a drink on a night out, or on a night in. (More than half of women in the UK drink one or two times a week, according to the 2010 General Lifestyle Survey table 2.5c) So it's actually no surprise AT ALL that 1/3 of rape victims have been drinking. What proportion of rape victims have been smoking? Dancing? Texting?

(By the way there's currently a petition against the advert.)

On the other hand, maybe it's worth thinking about the other side of the coin. People who end up as convicted rapists - some of them after a fuzzy night out or whatever - how many of them have been drinking? Does that matter? Yes, it matters more, because rape is an act of commission, and it seems likely that in some proportion of rapes a person went beyond reasonable bounds as a result of their drinking.

So how about this for a poster slogan:

1 in 3 rapists have been drinking. Know your limits.

(I can't find an exact statistic to pin down the number precisely - here I found an ONS graph which tells us in around 40% of violent crimes, the offender appears to have been drinking. So for rape specifically I don't know, but 1 in 3 is probably not wide of the mark.)

So now here's a question: why didn't they end up with that as a slogan? Is it because they were specifically tasked with cutting down women's drinking for some reason, and just came up with a bad idea? Or is it because victim-blaming for rape just sits there at a low level in our culture, in the backs of our minds, in the way we frame these issues?

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because it's for men too

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Here is the news: a woman in a dress

Here is the news: a woman in a dress

Here is the news: a woman in a dress

Here is the news: a woman in a dress

| feminism |

Women on magazines

There are plenty of women in pop culture and quite a few who I specifically respect for the way they've carved their career; but it's depressing what a large proportion of them fall back on the lad-mag shoots and related strategies for their celebrity. No-one should deny a woman's right to pose for lads' mags etc, but when it's the overwhelming trend for women in pop culture you should start to worry.

There are people who I thought were cool but then unexpectedly got their tits out for some mag or advert. Gail Porter and Nicole Kidman are the two that come to mind, both of whom seemed as though they were getting on fine without selling their skin. They have every right to do it - but famous people are role-models as well as gossip-fodder, and it shouldn't be so common for a woman to have shown off her bits in the course of celebrity, because it's on the way towards being compulsory. The only two young female celebrities I can think of who haven't been near that are artists like Björk and Tori Amos, and coincidentally enough they're both commonly referred to as weirdos in the media.

I was prompted to write this after stumbling into a supermarket. The first aisle was magazines, and it was really weird how uniform the covers of the mags were - a load of blonde, white, straight-haired pouting women - and I'm including the lads' mags as well as the women's mags here. Does anyone else find it weird how similar the covers for lads' mags and women's mags are? Fewer clothes in one variety of course, but still. And the uniformity! The women on the front of Loaded magazine look exactly the same, month in, month out, unless of course I'm mistaken and it really is the same woman every month.

Scarlett Johansson was the only woman in this row of faces that seemed to have something to say, although it was something about fashion and ethics - one of those subjects that comes round every 5 years or so.

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Carnival of Feminists, issue 3

Carnival of Feminists, issue 3 is out, and there's lots of tempting things to read. I'm at a conference at the moment so no time to read them, but I'll download them to my computer and maybe read them on the train or something. The author refers to one of my Ladyfest articles which is very kind - thanks!

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Feminist / Riot Grrrl reading

I've been reading some articles about riot-grrrl related subjects. The absolute best one I've read so far is Congregating Women: Reading 3rd Wave Feminist Practices in Subcultural Production by Doreen Piano (what a name!) - a really well-written article which places zine-writing and riot-grrrl in the contexts of feminism, punk, consumerism …

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