Women's Liberation

Identikit Hot

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How the media uses technology to create unrealistic images of women


"Our interest is in the appearance of sexiness, not the existence of sexual pleasure, passion isn't the point... Hotness has become our cultural currency, and a lot of people spend a lot of time and a lot of regular, green currency trying to acquire it. Hotness is not the same thing as beauty... Hot can mean popular. Hot can mean talked about. But when it pertains to women, hot means two things in particular: fuckable and saleable."

Recipes for Disaster

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To blame unhealthy children on women is ignoring what the market has done to childcare and people‘s lives in the last two decades.

Talk about not having it all. Women are expected to work longer, but then get the blame when anything goes wrong with their kids.

According to the Economist, "The increase in female employment in the rich world has been the main driving force of growth in the past couple of decades. Those women have contributed more to global GDP growth than have either new technology or the new giants, China and India."

Interview: Ariel Levy

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'Raunch culture isn't about opening our minds to the possibilities of sexuality. It's about reiterating one particular shorthand for sexiness'

In her book Ariel Levy decries the rise of "raunch culture", which sees pornography and stripping passed off as a form of women's liberation. Levy spoke to Judith Orr about her work and the debates it has sparked.

From "Bus Pass Boob Jobs", the title of a recent Channel 4 programme about women over 60 getting breast implants, to the packed pole dancing classes at Cambridge university - society seems to be embracing an image of women's sexuality that in the past would have been identified with the world of pornography.

Plays for Today

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Playwright Henrik Ibsen was more than a pioneer of modern theatre: he carried a torch for all those who fight for women's liberation.

I was once told by one of my school teachers that he loved Shakespeare's King Lear because "everything is in there". By which he meant murder, adultery, pride, jealousy... you get the idea. I feel much the same about Henrik Ibsen. The Norwegian playwright, who died 100 years ago, wrote a body of plays which can rightly claim to have heralded modern theatre. They continue to have a profound social impact.

Going Backward

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Under neo-liberalism women are only 'liberated' as long as it means equal rights of exploitation and being commodities for the market.

Sometimes I feel I'm going back to the 1950s. There seems to be an endless parade of mostly women in the media telling us that we can't have it all, and that women who choose careers without giving due thought to how and when they will have children will regret it. You really wouldn't be surprised to see a young Doris Day pop up with advice on how to keep your man, or a new game show on how to beat your biological clock.

Abortion: Still Right to Choose

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It started with the Cosmopolitan interviews - all three party leaders expressed personal unease over the abortion issue, but Michael Howard went one step further by stating that the time limit on abortions should be cut from 24 to 20 weeks, and that the current law allows what is 'tantamount to abortion on demand'.

The current debate over abortion may not become an election issue, as almost 80 percent of the British public are pro-choice. Britain is largely more secular than the US, where abortion was an election issue last year and some doctors and nurses work in abortion clinics fearing for the lives. But that does not mean that we do not need to be vigilant about defending what is already one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. The anti-choice lobby, like the pro-hunt lobby, are disproportionately advantaged in terms of wealth, privilege and political influence.

Women on the Front Line: Altered Images

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As the media panic about a 'nation of fatties', Hazel Croft looks at the pressures on women to conform to an ideal shape.

It's hard to pick up a newspaper or watch the TV news without being told that we are all getting too fat. Obesity has become the major health issue in both Britain and the US. Food, diet and body image are political issues. Whether or not we're overweight or get a nutritious diet is not down to our personal quirks of choice or our own culpability when we choose to eat a cream cake rather than an apple. On the contrary, our diet and how we feel about our bodies are intimately bound up with the structures and organisation of the capitalist world we live in.

Women on the Front Line: Rage Against the System

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Sally Campbell explains why women lead the fight against Blair and New Labour, while Tash Shifrin spoke to some leading activists.

Further down the page are just some of the women who are on the front line against Blair, war and capitalism. Recently we have seen movements arising with an unprecedented level of involvement by women. One of the most enduring images in the last few years will be the school students in Parliament Square on the day the bombing of Iraq started - young women, in their school uniforms, being dragged along by police because they refused to move. Women have been prominent at the World and European Social Forums that have taken place throughout the world over the last few years.

Mind the (Gender) Gap

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Shocking new figures have put equal pay back on the agenda.

A batch of recent statistics on the role of women in the labour market highlight the fact that widespread discrimination has not gone away - even though women now make up virtually 50 percent of the workforce in Britain. The figures on pay discrimination are particularly scandalous given that it is now more than 30 years since the Equal Pay Act came into force and - despite all the ballyhoo about 'Blair's babes' - there has been hardly any shift in the gender pay gap since New Labour came to power.

Women and Work: Balancing Act

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Sally Campbell investigates claims that 'time is the new money' for women workers.

The wildcat strike by British Airways (BA) check-in staff at Heathrow Terminal One in July was a fantastic example of workers refusing to accept that we have no power over the multinationals. The unofficial action sparked media frenzy. There was a general agreement that this dispute was new and different from the strikes of yore because it was about time and life issues rather than money.

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