Women's Liberation

Positive side-effects

Issue section: 
Issue: 

"These days, nobody seems able to 'keep it in their pants' or honour a commitment! Raising the question, is marriage still a viable option? I'm ashamed to admit that I myself have been married four times, and yet I still feel that it is the cornerstone of civilisation, an essential institution that stabilises society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy."

This was Raquel Welch's response on CNN to this month's fiftieth anniversary of the arrival of the pill in the US. Her somewhat internally contradictory argument (she loves marriage so much, she's done it four times!) is that the advent of oral contraception has led to the breakdown of "family values" and rampant promiscuity. She is not alone in putting that case. Tory politicians such as Iain Duncan Smith have argued against making contraception more available to girls, paradoxically claiming it will lead to higher teenage pregnancy rates.

The rise of Islamophobia

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Anti-Muslim racism is on the increase. Dave Weltman looks at how Muslims have been scapegoated in Britain and across Europe.

The trend towards making anti-Muslim racism "respectable" continues to grow relentlessly throughout Europe. There is the success, for example, of those who look likely in the next few months to win a ban on Muslim women wearing garments to cover the face - whether citing "security" concerns in Belgium or "defence of national values" in France. In Switzerland the recent outlawing of minarets through a referendum is being looked upon by reactionaries across the continent as a step towards normalising the arguments that portray mosques as "alien" and threatening cultural impositions.

Interview: Sheila Rowbotham - Women who dreamed of emancipation

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

A new generation is taking up the struggle against women's oppression. Sheila Rowbotham spoke to Judith Orr about her latest book celebrating women who were fighting for liberation 100 years ago

Your new book, Dreamers of a New Day, explores the period around the turn of the 20th century. What motivated you to write about this period?

The book has a very long history. When I was writing Century of Women I worked through the period and summarised different aspects of politics and work. But I had material that I wanted to explore in more detail that didn't really fit into that very terse format.

Letter from Spain

Issue section: 
Author: 

In the wake of controversial proposals by the Spanish government, Tamara Ruiz reports on the fight for abortion rights

Controversial proposals by Spain's Socialist Party (PSOE) government to modify the country's abortion legislation have led to waves of protest both by the right, which wants them withdrawn altogether, and by a revitalised women's movement which points to their severe limitations.

The corporate seduction of feminism

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Socialist feminist and US academic Hester Eisenstein spoke to Sally Campbell and Judith Orr about her book, Feminism Seduced, and the challenges facing the women's movement in the US and worldwide.


What do you think about the first year of Barack Obama's presidency?

I didn't share the excitement and the enthusiasm that a lot of my colleagues on the left had about Obama. I distinguish his actions from the symbolism of his being elected.

21st century feminism

Issue section: 
Issue: 

"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat."

The novelist Rebecca West wrote this nearly 100 years ago. Today women who want to differentiate themselves from doormats face some of the same problems. More than 40 years after women's liberation became part of radical politics it seems incredible that there is still so much confusion and division about what feminism is.

New Labour equality flagship on the rocks

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

New Labour has had 13 years to tackle inequality but the underfunded and toothless equalities watchdog falls far short of what's needed.

Working people in Britain now largely take it for granted that it is wrong to be bullied or discriminated against for being a woman, black, disabled or gay and that there are legal powers and workplace policies which exist to challenge such discrimination. In the last quarter of the 20th century a smorgasbord of equality legislation was adopted in response to campaigning by the women's movement, anti-racists, and LGBT rights and disability rights activists.

Z is for Zhenotdel

Issue section: 
Author: 

When thousands of women workers went on strike on International Women's Day in Petrograd, Russia, in 1917 they had ignored advice from Bolshevik party leaders to "keep cool".

Once they were on the streets the Bolsheviks went all out to build their struggle. Leon Trotsky would later write, "Women's Day passed successfully, with enthusiasm and without victims. But what it concealed in itself no one had guessed even by nightfall." For that day's action was the trigger for the Russian revolution that was to transform the lives of millions.

Sex education

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Last month the mainstream press reported on Romanian born student Alina Percea who "auctioned" her virginity on a website so that she could "afford to pay for her degree".

The 18 year old woman, who lives in Germany, had the intention of applying for a degree in computing and had "hoped to be able to afford to move out of her parents' home" but was still lacking funds.

Playing a part against injustice

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Oscar winning actor Julie Christie talks to Sabby Sagall and Judith Orr about her work and political commitment and how she feels about the media treatment of women in the public eye in the age of celebrity culture.

Your first film was Billy Liar in 1963. It was about a woman, Liz, who wanted to challenge conventions and live her own life. Were you aware in your own life about women's changing expectations at that time?

I had absolutely no understanding of the social historical meaning of anything then, let alone of the part I was playing. She was a beatnik, not yet of the 1960s. It's just after the war. Billy represented the fears and repression of post-war Britain and Liz the very beginning of a new culture which youth called "freedom".

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Women's Liberation