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Thom Yorke
Wednesday 22nd November, 2006 12:30 Comments: 14
Or Thorn Yorke as stated on Sky News, when they reproduced:

The NME Cool List TopTen:

1. Beth Ditto, the Gossip
2. Faris Rotter, the Horrors
3. Lily Allen
4. Jarvis Cocker
5. Karen O, Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs
6. Kieren Webster, the View
7. Kate Jackson, the Long Blondes
8. Gerard Way, My Chemical Romance
9. Thom Yorke, Radiohead
10 Lovefoxxx, CSS

I'm not sure I'd agree with many of them. Beth Ditto (never heard of her, apparently she's a 15-stone lesbian activist from Arkansas), who fronts US band the Gossip (never heard of them), has topped NME's annual Cool List. The larger-than-life punk feminist was chosen by the music weekly ahead of Faris Rotter (never heard of him). I have, however, heard of Lily Allen and Jarvis Cocker.

Anyway, it got me thinking, it seems that lesbians often call themselves feminists, and there's nothing particularly wrong with that, except that women pretty much have equality nowadays and I often wish they'd shut the hell up (no offence to my female friends, but the few differences - and not disadvantages - that exist are often down to valid differences in gender and nothing to do with equality - e.g. if you want more pay and promotion you should demand more pay and apply for promotions; you still get better maternity leave than men get for paternity). I've also come across the term lesbian feminism (Google for lesbian feminist and click the top link for Wikipedia), but it seems to me that everything that it talks about is either covered by feminism or falls under gay rights. I think the term "lesbian feminism" should be banned.
Avatar Tania - Thursday 23rd November, 2006 06:38
I don't honestly agree that women's rights are equal with men's rights in a large number of places. Furthermore, just because *legally* in the UK we have equality, it doesn't mean that in practice this is actually carried out. There are an awful lot of men out there who still believe that the male gender is top dog and everyone else better just conform. Discrimination is not something that happens rarely, and there is still a lot of work to be done.

In the world at large, I would argue that wherever women are prevented from having control over their own bodies (yes that *is* a dig at pro-lifers), anywhere where they are prevented from having an adequate education, holding a job and earning money in their own right to the equivalent value of what a man would earn, anywhere where a woman is discriminated against because of her gender, the number of children she has or plans to have, and/or her marital status, there remains a place for feminism in the world.

'Lesbian feminism' though, sounds a bit odd. I wonder if it's just a way of expressing 'feminist extremism'...?
Avatar Yamahito - Thursday 23rd November, 2006 09:19
//(yes that *is* a dig at pro-lifers)//

Let's not get started on that one: shall we just agree that the need for abortions is best avoided from the start?

//women pretty much have equality nowadays//

Do you really think so? I think things now are more inequal than ever: it's just that men now have their fair share of inequalities as well as women. As far as feminism is concerned, one of the older ladies in the office pointed out to me the other day that there will always be a problem as long as women do not regard themselves as equal - and they don't.

I think it's also important to realise that equality != equivalence; men, women and person-to-person, we're all different and need to be treated differently *and* fairly.
Avatar Robert - Thursday 23rd November, 2006 10:26
just because *legally* in the UK we have equality, it doesn't mean that in practice this is actually carried out

But when that happens, it's illegal and the company can be taken to court. It's also just as likely, if not more likely, to happen if you're some form of minority (e.g. black, missing a leg, homosexual). The "old guard" are retiring (or dying), leaving fresh - and female - blood that have grown up knowing that women are not inferior creatures.

Discrimination is not something that happens rarely

As I'm sure you've noticed, not everyone is as accepting or tolerant of everyone else, but things are a lot better than they used to be. When you say discrimination, do you mean discrimination based on gender, or discrimination in general? Because the latter is too broad to be considered "women's rights".

I would argue that wherever women are prevented from having control over their own bodies

The argument isn't because of women having control over their bodies, it's about women having the right to kill their unborn child. We don't even believe in the death penalty in this country, so why can women kill an innocent child? I do actually think abortion should be an option for women, especially when you take into account things like rape victims. But allowing it to happen for babies with genetic abnormalities? That's the difficult decision.

anywhere where they are prevented from having an adequate education

Does that still happen nowadays? Can you really argue that when women continue to outperform men at GCSE and A Level? Many courses appear to be tailored towards the type of learning and work that women are better at: open book exams, short modular exams, coursework.

earning money in their own right to the equivalent value of what a man would earn

Did you not look at all the promotion statistics at your place? A huge number of men apply for promotion each year and fail to get through the paper sifts, but at least they gave it a try. And after everything that happens you still end up with a rather dodgy looking 50:50 gender split of people that are promoted, which I think is dodgy when 70% of the organistion is male. Once the women are promoted, there is no difference in pay between them and the men at that grade. In the real world, professionals generally have to discuss their salary, which is confidential, and if women want/accept a lower amount than men then it's their fault. At the lower end, minimum wage makes sure there is no difference based on gender.

the number of children she has or plans to have, and/or her marital status

Employers are not legally allowed to ask those questions anymore, and in any case why would anyone tell the truth if they thought it'd affect their chances of getting the job?

I wonder if it's just a way of expressing 'feminist extremism'

And what exactly is that? Feminism is meant to be about equality. Extreme feminism suggests either doing radical things (positive discrimination?) to fix any current perceived inequalities, or pushing their rights so far that women have so many rights that men are at a disadvantage?

we're all different and need to be treated differently *and* fairly

Very true, and exactly what I was getting at in my original post.
Avatar Fab - Thursday 23rd November, 2006 14:04
You can't treat woman equally in the genuine sense as men are not expected to have babies! But that doesn't mean any woman should be treated unfairly, discriminated against or paid less to an equivalent male.

The trouble is where do you define equivalent? A woman that stops work for a year or two to raise babies is socially desirable (baby's development), but just will not go up the seniority payscale during that time like an equivalent male. The problem is that our culture and work systems have not adapted sufficiently for women's equality. The small firm of 5 people will lose a year's profit if a woman goes on maternity leave, thus they discriminate out of necessity. There are workable solutions (the Scandinavians are good examples) but we are badly behind on our thinking.

But I think Tom may also have a point, the gaining of more opportunities has not necessarily made women happier. Sure they can go out and earn their own income, but they are expected to work with male designed confrontational not compromising systems and do a disproportionate share of the baby rearing. Statistically women have more mental health problems than men due to stress and a less than ideal work fit.
Avatar Robert - Thursday 23rd November, 2006 14:46
A woman that stops work for a year or two to raise babies is socially desirable (baby's development)

I agree that it's better for the mother to take time off work during the early years, but I know Tania doesn't agree and would jump straight back to work ASAP.

but just will not go up the seniority payscale during that time like an equivalent male

Six months or two years off work shouldn't have that much of an impact on a woman's career (especially if they plan on working for ~40 years). The main reason why men don't/didn't take similar amounts of time off is because until October 1st 2006, men couldn't usually get more than 2 weeks leave without having to use up their annual leave entitlement, and the idea of taking 6 months off work to look after their child and coming back to their old job was basically unheard of. With the new Work and Families Act 2006 men can now have paid leave if the mother returns to work before the end of her maternity leave period, e.g. if she goes back after 3 months and is entitled to 9 months maternity leave (eventually they hope to give mothers 12 months maternity leave). Our culture may need a shade longer to settle down to the new law that allows women to go straight back to work and let men raise the child, but the law is there if men and women choose to exercise it. If parents decide that it's better for the mother to stay at home and look after the kids then by all means let them.

Fab, you frequently refer to the Scandinavians when talking about child support etc. but I've mentioned before that they're not such a shining example. Firstly, the high payments are affecting their economy. Swedish parents are entitled by law to 480 days off work when they have a baby. This must be shared between both parents and they have to take at least 60 days each. They get 180 kronor per day, paid by the state, for the first 390 days regardless of who stays at home, and a flat rate of 60 kronor per day for the remaining 90 days of their leave. The only way they can afford to maintain it (and other benefits) is to have a statutory personal income tax rate that's almost 50% higher (SE 56.5%, DK 59%, FI 52.1%) than that of the UK (40%).

DWP have an article that makes interesting reading:

[guaranteed maintenance] would be extremely expensive and is not without risks. The cost of guaranteed maintenance depends on the level at which it is set and the rate at which it can be reclaimed from non-resident parents. Guaranteed maintenance removes the financial link between non-resident parents and their children as the state becomes responsible for collecting and paying child maintenance. This, combined with the fact that non-resident parents know their children will receive maintenance, whether or not they pay, may have a negative impact on compliance. Guaranteed maintenance is used in several other countries, including Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Germany. In such cases, guaranteed maintenance operates within a different welfare environment where labour market participation among lone parents tends to be higher. As a result, it is difficult to make cross-national comparisons.

With the Nordic pattern's spread across Europe, Britain's out-of-wedlock birthrate has risen to 40 percent. Most of that increase is among cohabiting couples. Yet a significant number of out-of-wedlock births in Britain are to lone teenage mothers. This a function of Britain's class divisions. Although the Scandinavian welfare state encourages family dissolution in the long term, in the short term, Scandinavian parents giving birth out of wedlock tend to stay together. But given the presence of a substantial underclass in Britain, the spread of Nordic cohabitation there has sent lone teen parenting rates way up. As Britain's rates of single parenting and family dissolution have grown, so has pressure to expand the welfare state to compensate for economic help that families can no longer provide. But of course, an expansion of the welfare state would only lock the weakening of Britain's family system into place.

At present, only men who have made 44 years and women 39 years of NI contributions get a full pension. The pension is reduced if there have been any breaks. For whatever reason, women haven't been very vocal at demanding the same number of years and claiming a pension from the same age as men. Slackers ;)

The new Pensions Bill, if/when it arrives, will mean that people will get the full state pension even if they have made only 30 years of contributions. This also makes it a more level playing field, but it may also harm the economy if less money needs to be paid in before you claim a full pension. The change was actually made in an attempt to reduce means testing among pensioners.

Moving on to more unfairness, and something that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon: under the current rules, a wife (and not a husband) is automatically entitled to a basic state pension equivalent to 60 per cent of her husband's basic state pension, even if she has not paid one year's NI contributions!

Also, women can clock up something called "home responsibilities protection" if, for example, they are claiming child benefit, which reduces the number of years it takes them to build up a full NI record. I'm not sure if men can do the reverse, I certainly hope they can.

the gaining of more opportunities has not necessarily made women happier

Are women ever happy? ;)
Avatar Tania - Friday 24th November, 2006 17:59
But when that happens, it's illegal and the company can be taken to court.

In the UK, yes. In the US, yes. Elsewhere..? Not always.

As I'm sure you've noticed, not everyone is as accepting or tolerant of everyone else, but things are a lot better than they used to be. When you say discrimination, do you mean discrimination based on gender, or discrimination in general? Because the latter is too broad to be considered "women's rights".

You can go for 'in general' too, because discrimination on other grounds still occurs, but in the context of this debate, I'm talking women's rights specifically. And again - things are better IN THIS COUNTRY. Elsewhere, this is not necessarily the case.

The argument isn't because of women having control over their bodies, it's about women having the right to kill their unborn child. We don't even believe in the death penalty in this country, so why can women kill an innocent child? I do actually think abortion should be an option for women, especially when you take into account things like rape victims. But allowing it to happen for babies with genetic abnormalities? That's the difficult decision.

Actually, I think abortion should be available to any woman, for any reason she pleases. "I don't want it" is a perfectly valid reason. When you have to carry a child for 9 months and go through agony to give birth to it, then you have a right to debate the rights and wrongs of abortion and not, imo, before. I don't agree with it occurring late in a term, but anything before 4 months and, I'm afraid, it's not a child, it's a blob of cells. It's not alive. It's not got a head or heart or any of the things that make up a person. It's a blob of cells. It has no more rights than a cancerous growth does.

There is no man, woman or child in this world who should *ever* have the right to prevent another woman from having an abortion *if that is what she wants*. That's basic. You take that right away and you get women in back streets being butchered by 'surgeons'. You get them stabbing themselves in the uterus with knitting needles and other accoutrements just to get rid of their pregnancy.

Whether or not you agree with abortion, the alternatives to legalised, freely available abortion are just horrific.

Having said that, I would much rather live in a society where it wasn't necessary, and where women (and men) protected themselves adequately from unwanted pregnancy (and not forgetting STDs). But there must be a fallback, and there must be options. Are the child's rights more important than the mother's? HELL NO.

Does that still happen nowadays? Can you really argue that when women continue to outperform men at GCSE and A Level? Many courses appear to be tailored towards the type of learning and work that women are better at: open book exams, short modular exams, coursework.

That's great in the UK. Try telling the Afghans that their women have the same rights to education as the menfolk. Let's see how far you get, shall we? What about various countries in Africa? Hmm? You seem to think that because "things are ok in the UK" that's where feminism should stop. Think again!

Did you not look at all the promotion statistics at your place? A huge number of men apply for promotion each year and fail to get through the paper sifts, but at least they gave it a try. And after everything that happens you still end up with a rather dodgy looking 50:50 gender split of people that are promoted, which I think is dodgy when 70% of the organistion is male. Once the women are promoted, there is no difference in pay between them and the men at that grade. In the real world, professionals generally have to discuss their salary, which is confidential, and if women want/accept a lower amount than men then it's their fault. At the lower end, minimum wage makes sure there is no difference based on gender.

Again, just because it's all peachy in the UK, doesn't mean that it's all peachy elsewhere. Feminism is about more than just "fixing things up for the sisterhood in my neighbourhood", it's about making sure that women ALL OVER THE WORLD have the same rights, opportunities and legal protections as we do in the UK, if not better.

Employers are not legally allowed to ask those questions anymore, and in any case why would anyone tell the truth if they thought it'd affect their chances of getting the job?

*In*the*UK*. See above.

And what exactly is that? Feminism is meant to be about equality. Extreme feminism suggests either doing radical things (positive discrimination?) to fix any current perceived inequalities, or pushing their rights so far that women have so many rights that men are at a disadvantage?

Man-haters, basically.
Avatar Robert - Friday 24th November, 2006 19:22
In the UK, yes. In the US, yes. Elsewhere..? Not always.

Most of the people that I hear calling themselves feminists are only concerned with their own country, they don't think globally, and this is often because these other places have far more serious issues that need to be worked out first. There's no point in fighting for women's rights when human rights aren't even in place. Sell the idea of fairness and equality first, if it's done well then women's rights won't be an issue.

You seem to think that because "things are ok in the UK" that's where feminism should stop. Think again!

I think feminists should concentrate on places where unfairness and inequality based upon gender still exist, places where they can make a real and noticeable difference. In countries where there is already so much unfairness based on other things (e.g. religion, race, class) it is somewhat futile to complain about women's rights.
Avatar Tania - Saturday 25th November, 2006 18:33
I could not fail to disagree with you more. Women's rights are such a fundamental part of a civilised society that failing to campaign for them and ensure that they are respected in all areas of the world is totally reprehensible.

I'm afraid I think that the fact an otherwise educated, open-minded and sensible man would suggest it futile to campaign for women's rights in areas of the world where other issues are also discriminatory factors merely reaffirms to me the necessity of feminism in the world.
Avatar Fab - Saturday 25th November, 2006 20:16
I think Rob has a point there though. In countries where women are second class citizens just above or level with anyone handicapped, stupid, deformed, of the wrong class/race etc you are going to really struggle to explain this concept of feminism. If you link it with human rights and democracy, in the cultural mindset (or let's face it, backward barbarians!) of that country what you are trying to promote is totally discredited.

In countries like Jordan, there is a very discreet, but quite powerful women's movement. Jordanian women don't have to wear the veil and although far from perfect, they are treated far better than Saudi Arabia despite the close ideology. These feminists are pushing the concept of democracy, civil rights and civic society first, women's equality second. If you have the former, it is much easier to get the latter. They are using their power as keepers of the household to push the men in the right direction and educating their children to be a little more flexible in their thinking. It took us over a century to get it all fleshed out to the level we are at, it takes time and dedicated effort to bring about lasting and positive change.
Avatar Robert - Saturday 25th November, 2006 23:20
I'm afraid I think that the fact an otherwise educated, open-minded and sensible man would suggest it futile to campaign for women's rights in areas of the world where other issues are also discriminatory factors merely reaffirms to me the necessity of feminism in the world.

If women go around telling backwards undeveloped society that women have rights, they are simply going to be ignored, or find it virtually impossible to get their message through. Tackle the more immediate and bigger issues first (e.g. human rights and democracy in China), sell the concept of equality and fairness, and then tackle discrimination based on gender.

What you're suggesting is a bit like treating the superficial head wound and ignoring the gaping hole in the chest. There are not infinite resources and infinite campaigners, you need to choose your battles carefully and wisely. This is exactly why medical/emergency personnel use triage to select patients who require immediate transport to the hospital to save their lives as opposed to patients who can wait for help later.

These feminists are pushing the concept of democracy, civil rights and civic society first, women's equality second. If you have the former, it is much easier to get the latter.

Exactly. If you can convince societies to treat all human beings equally, it makes it a lot easier to fight for gender equality.
Avatar Tania - Sunday 26th November, 2006 14:15
Exactly. If you can convince societies to treat all human beings equally, it makes it a lot easier to fight for gender equality.

At what point did I state that general human rights shouldn't be campaigned for at the same time? You've added two and two together and come up with frelling 90!
Avatar Robert - Sunday 26th November, 2006 17:14
At what point did I state that general human rights shouldn't be campaigned for at the same time? You've added two and two together and come up with frelling 90!

You never said they shouldn't, but you also never said they should.

You've never mentioned human rights before now, you even said at one point "in the context of this debate, I'm talking women's rights specifically"; Fab and I mentioned human rights as you can't just try and solve the problem of women's right specifically, you need to look at the bigger picture. I never said that you aren't campaigning for human rights, all I've been saying is that feminists should fight for things like human rights first, not "at the same time".

If you're going to fight for women's rights in a country that doesn't have men's rights or human rights then it's probably hard to spot where the unfairness and inequality lies, as the system and the whole of their society is screwed. It's hard (and somewhat stupid) to campaign for equal pay and equal maternity leave in a country where they're barely paid enough to live, and anyone can be fired, locked up or killed for almost any reason, and maternity/paternity leave doesn't exist. Immigrants (male, female, any age) can also find it impossible to find work. Campaigns over here aren't going to change anything for women there, and campaigns over there will more than likely see you thrown into prison - it's alleged the Chinese government does that a lot. Perhaps we should sort out the famine problem and tackle AIDS in developing countries before demanding equal pay for women?

Get everyone onto a fairly level playing field, then smooth over any remaining bumps. Don't try and smooth a mountain down, it's never going to look flat no matter how hard you try. Women's rights (and gay rights etc.) are more about refining a society that already believes in equality and fairness.
Avatar Tania - Monday 27th November, 2006 09:13
Whatever.

Can you do me a favour please and temporarily disable my access to this site? I'll read things via LJ if you post them there. I'm not going to go into my reasons in (semi-)public. Thanks.
Avatar Robert - Thursday 30th November, 2006 12:55
http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30400-13554744,00.html
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