punk phd / feminism / motherhood

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Raunch Culture

There's been lots in the papers over the past few weeks regarding Ariel Levy's book Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture in for instance, The Guardian and The Daily Mail. So is raunch culture liberating women or actually destroying them? I'm favouring the latter position. In the Mail article the writer notes the grooming of young children, dressing them in clothes which imply a level of maturity which they don't possess. I think it's particuarly worrying when you look at some of the clothes now on sale in children's shops, clothes which are little imitations of what their 'yummy-mummys' are wearing. I remember the uproar in the papers about a year ago about thongs which were aimed at young girls. I think that kind of thing is disgusting. I don't believe in little girls wearing short skirts and high heels. Dress-up in the your home, fair enough, but to walk through the street in?!

Back to the notion that raunch culture is in fact destroying women, I think Levy is correct in implying so. I hate the current over abundance of women with huge fake tits, blonde extensions, all-year tan and such. I was thinking about the different waves of feminism the other day and I was thinking about the argument that the UK hasn't seen a third wave yet and I thought wouldn't it be lovely to have a third wave which centered around academia and such, but getting slightly off topic (perhaps I'll come back to that idea another post), I do think it's terrible the way these women feel a need to look a certain way and to be construed as sex objects for men. I really do think a women with brains is far sexier and I would love there to be a counter-revolution against this raunch culture where we reclaim the position as intelligent women and give younger generations worthy role-models. I'm getting slightly vague and confusing again I think. Should learn to argue coherently.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tory Tax Breaks

In the Daily Mail yesterday there was a piece on pg2 regarding David Cameron's pledge to reintroduce tax breaks for married couples and on reading through the piece there were a two things on my mind...

David Cameron last night pledged to reintroduce tax breaks for married couples as he gave his backing to mothers who choose to stay at home to look after their children.

At first I liked the sounds of a tax break but when it spoke about Cameron's backing of stay at home mums it really just sounded like a reinforcement of the male breadwinner ideology with the mother at home looking after the children and the housework and the father out earning a living.

Aides said the move, which will be examined by one of Mr Cameron's policy groups, would also apply to gay couples with young children who have entered into civil partnerships, but not to unmarried couples.

I thought it was excellent that gay couples were also being recognised by this policy but yet what actually constitutes here as 'gay'? What about those couples whose sexualitys don't fall into this neat little box? And, why the hell are unmarried couples exempt? I think it's terrible sometimes how unmarried couples are treated. Why, for example, should a cohabiting unmarried couple with two children who had been together for, say, fifteen years not be entitled to the same rights as a married couple? I myself am very wary of the institute that is marriage and deep down I don't really believe in getting married because it is predominantly a christian concept and I largely oppose christianity as a religion.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Banning of Purity Rings at Girls' School

Reading this earlier was slightly worrying. Fair enough there is the whole issue that the school could be seen as discriminating against those of a Christian faith, but that aside I think there's the bigger picture to think about. The number of teenage pregnancies in the UK is quite disturbing and even more worryingly we have girls as young as 12 giving birth. Society should really be focusing on tackling this issue and I think a lot of that should be going on in schools. What message is a school sending out to its pupils if it is banning abstinence rings? Shouldn't perhaps these girls be congratulated on choosing not to become another statistic? (Noteably I would add that perhaps they are not so much choosing as having been indoctrinated by their faith, and that they are not so much choosing for moral and informed reasons as so much that it is merely a requirement of their religion but regardless they're hopefully not going to contribute to our rising teenage pregnancy rates).

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Does a Problem of Failing Boys Really Exist?

With regards to this issue it might be wise to consider statistics on GCSE attainment which suggest that perhaps it is more the case that girls are merely continuing to improve, rather than boys failing. In 1993/94, 48.2 per cent of females achieved 5 or more GCSE grade A*-C compared to 39.2 per cent of males. This pattern persisted in 2003/4 with 59.3 per cent of females and 49.2 per cent of males (National Statistics). I use these statistics to reflect how boys are not so much failing at school, having indeed improved on previous attainment levels, as they are failing to catch-up with their female counterparts. Why should this be such a problem? As Chris Keates (NASUWT) notes (The Guardian, 14/06/06) there is perhaps now an overemphasis on the failing of boys with men trying to “fight their corner”. I believe that this overemphasis is somewhat unnecessary. The gender gap in performance in schools does not appear to have a detrimental effect on males as a whole giving the gender pay gap and occupational segregation that exists. Much research shows that despite females generally outperforming males in education they tend to still be concentrated in less skilled, lower paid employment. Tony Selwell’s argument that males are failing now in the jobs market as well as in education is somewhat laughable.

Selwell argues that the curriculum has become feminised, with an overemphasis on coursework and a lack of nurturing of male traits (The Guardian, 13/06/06). Selwell could be criticised for assuming a position of biological determinism, a position which is highly contested by many feminists, and of homogenization. It is perhaps dangerous to accept the view that all boys thrive on competition and leadership or need to participate in physical activity, just as it is to accept the idea that all girls are outperforming the boys - what about those who are not? In terms of assessment, not all boys excel in exam conditions as opposed to coursework and this varies from student to student, male to female. Maybe we should now concentrate on addressing the way individual students learn and focus on training them in the various modes of assessment, rather than blame the failing of boys, or indeed the achievement of girls, on their supposed inherent traits.

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