Tagged: feminism

On things that surely shouldn’t need saying.

There’s a lot being said and, I’m sure, a lot more that will be said on intersectionality within feminism (good); its misunderstanding and mispresentation (bad); and the fact that while intersectionality may be an off-putting term to use, it’s not that hard to understand because for many women (hell, and men) it constitutes lived experience. I write for Bad Reputation in part because we strive to “do” intersectionality all the time, although I don’t think we overuse the word. Intersectionality in part, for me, is about recognising that people have it tough even if they aren’t you. I’m just going to add this.

A frustrating number of arguments against ‘academic/middle-class feminism’ and for ‘populist, accessible feminism’ seem to hinge on a false dichotomy, presenting women outside academia and/or the middle classes as exclusively focused on material issues because that’s all their working-class, comprehensive-schooled brains can cope with, with middle-class women obliged to condescendingly lower their expectations when dealing with such exotic creatures. So, in this model, women are either empowered and oblivious high-theory feminists, or they’re Vicky Pollard. This erases any number of valid and complex identities.
As a comprehensive schoolgirl whose educational trajectory has gradually removed me from the context in which I grew up, but not eradicated my affinity with it, part of my attraction to feminism – as to other ideologies of emancipation – was the chance it offered to analyse and articulate my own experience. I wasn’t intellectually incapable of doing so, nor did I need any condescending interventions from above to explain things in short words. I’d just ask this: please stop using ‘working-class’ as a synonym for ‘uneducated’, ‘uneducatable’, and/or ‘unable to deal with complicated concepts’. Just stop it. It’s inaccurate, it’s condescending, and it’s really unhelpful both to feminism and to most everything else. We should all be thinking harder.
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On Thatcher: Icons and Iron Ladies.

A spectre is haunting London. My daily commute, never a joyful affair, has recently been granted a further dimension of irritation by adverts on buses, hoving into view with tedious regularity, bearing the image of Meryl Streep dolled up as Mrs Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Thirty years on from her rise to power, and after a minor rash of small-screen depictions – Andrea Riseborough in The Long Walk to Finchley, Lindsay Duncan in Margaret – Streep will now portray her on the big screen, the prospect of which I could have happily lived without.

Having as I do firsthand experience of Thatcher’s impact, her government’s break with prevailing consensus and bloody-minded devotion to neoliberal orthodoxies, an objective and rational evaluation of the woman is probably beyond me. That said, her presumably impending death, although I do have a longstanding appointment at a pub in King’s Cross to dutifully raise a glass, is something I’ll be largely indifferent to. It won’t matter. Thatcher as a person has far less bearing on the current world than what she represents. The damage has been done, the battle lost, and much as I might appreciate a Truth and Reconciliation Commission into the 1980s, Thatcher and her co-conspirators are by now too old and whiskey-soaked to be held to any meaningful account.

Efforts to humanise Thatcher, even when they enlist Meryl Streep, seem discomfiting and deeply bizarre. What she means has transcended what she was, is and will be. The purpose of this post, therefore, apart from being an exercise in detachment for me, is to look briefly at some aspects of Thatcher’s image in political and pop culture, the effect of her gender in her role as a woman in power, and her political legacy. Quick, before the next bus goes past.

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Why ‘Chav’ is a Feminist Issue.

Chav, n. British slang (derogatory). “In the United Kingdom (originally the south of England): a young person of a type characterized by brash and loutish behaviour and the wearing of designer-style clothes (esp. sportswear); usually with connotations of a low social status.”
– Oxford English Dictionary

1. The C word

If ‘cunt’ is reportedly losing its power to shock or offend, don’t worry, other c-words are available. ‘Class’, for instance, appears to have become unsuitable for use in polite society these days, while ‘Chav’ has never been so commonplace in the respectable parlance of those who would never dream of using any other c-word so blithely. Owen Jones’ book Chavs, a welcome and necessary analysis of the latter phenomenon, identifies it as a culture ‘created and then mercilessly lampooned by the middle-class, rightwing media and its more combative columnists’, and examines the word’s place in current political and cultural discourse in the context of a simultaneous narrowing of socio-economic opportunity. Continue reading