Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Bloody Did It!

I can't believe I've done it! I have completed NaBloPoMo 2008 and posted daily on this hippie blog and on my photography blog throughout November.

The Success! image above come from the funky typogenerator site.

You can see all November's photography blog posts and all November's incurable hippie's musings and rants blog posts.

It was really hard work at times, but a great thing to do as it has really got me back into the swing of regular blog posting again. Though I may have a few days off now!


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NaBloPoMo 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai in Mourning

From The Guardian.
India struggles to come to terms with the horror of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bad Week for the BNP. Ha ha ha.


BNP's Annus Horribilis continues... After last week's leak of their
entire membership list on the web (See SchNEWS 656), the flak has

* In our previous issue we linked to a website publishing the
membership list, but this has since been withdrawn due to personal
threats of violence to the webmaster. But don't worry you haven't
missed out, it is still online at

* This week the BNP were evicted from their merchandise warehouse.
Rented by Excalibur - the trading arm of the BNP - it stored such
lovely merchandise as replica military medals, Enoch Powell t-shirts,
'Great White' records and Union Jack mugs. Their ex-landlord made this
statement: "Evans Easyspace was aware of renting a property to
Excalibur, but were not aware of its links to the BNP. We have now
terminated their agreement and they are moving out at the end of
November." In response the BNP have announced that they actually
decided to move to better premises.

* While the BNP membership list revealed a litany of police, prison
officers, soldiers and even vicars, it also contains two paedophiles
- who were jailed last week for sexually abusing two
fourteen-year-old girls.

* In desperation over the disclosure of their membership list the BNP
has been forced into hiding behind the much-hated Human Rights Act.
They've also been firing off dubious legal threats to the likes of
Indymedia. The letter sent to Indymedia by Lee John Barnes LLB
(hons), from the "BNP Legal Affairs Unit", threatens to take legal
action, on the basis of theft, data protection and contempt of court,
unless the list of members is removed. For more of LJB's hilarious
antics check out

* This week, all but two of the thirty-three anti-fascists arrested
at the BNP's Red White and Blue Festival in August this year (See
SchNEWS 643) have had their charges dropped. Over twenty were
arrested for violent disorder after the group tried to blockade a
road into the fascist's knees-up. Others were arrested for failing to
comply with police directions on the mass demonstration.

* For more Fashwatch info see and

More such stuff at schnews.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Women demand asylum from rape

Press release from Black Women's Rape Action Project
On 25 November 2008, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we demand that the UK government meet its international obligations to provide protection to women seeking asylum from rape and other sexual torture.

In June 2006, Black Women's Rape Action Project issued the "Asylum from Rape" petition demanding official recognition of rape as torture and persecution, and practical help for women to overcome the many obstacles they face in making their asylum claims. Thousands of people have already signed the petition including journalists Victoria Brittain and Caroline Moorhead, lawyer Gareth Peirce, actress Juliet Stevenson and poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

An estimated 50% of women seeking asylum in the UK are rape survivors. Women are spearheading the movement for asylum rights and exposing the hidden atrocities in the asylum process. This self-help activity has encouraged opposition from many quarters, including high level protests against the detention of children and vulnerable people. The "Asylum from Rape" petition is one way of informing people about who seeks asylum and why, and is a tool to demand change.

We are calling on all concerned UK and international organisations to endorse the "Asylum from Rape" petition.

  • Whilst International courts recognize that rape is routinely used as a weapon of war and also as an act of genocide [1] , asylum claims by women seeking asylum from rape are routinely dismissed by the Home Office and the courts, flouting government guidelines, UK case law and international conventions [2] .

  • Whilst the conviction rape for reported rape in the UK is an appalling 6%, racism and official contempt for those who are from other countries and vulnerable compounds the sexism all women are up against.

  • Many women are accused of "fabricating" their account of rape. In other cases, sexual violence is dismissed as "simple lust" or "random acts" by "unruly officers", or women are told it is safe to live somewhere else in the country they fled.

  • Many mothers are also suffering the unspeakable violence of being separated from their children who they were forced to leave behind when they fled to the UK. See their campaign here.

  • Contrary to the government's own rules against the detention of victims of torture, over 70% of women in Yarl's Wood Removal Centre are rape survivors [3]. Some are imprisoned as soon as they claim asylum. The petition calls for an end to this "Detained Fast Track" procedure.

  • Many are being sent back to further torture because they weren't able to put before the UK authorities the full evidence of the rape and violence they suffered or were arbitrarily dismissed when they did. Most of the few women who have been able to stay in touch with BWRAP and Women Against Rape, report being raped or tortured again. Many are destitute and some have been forced into prostitution to survive.

  • Whilst only 7% of racist attacks in the UK result in a conviction, many women asylum seekers report increased racial violence, fuelled by government and media witch-hunts against so-called "bogus asylum seekers"

  • On this fifteenth anniversary of the creation of the post of UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, we urge the current Rapporteur Yakin Ertürk to intervene against UK government's policies which deliberately make women asylum seekers destitute and force women back to countries where they may face rape, other violence and even death.

Women in all of the above situations are available for interview. For more information, including how you can help, contact or call 020 7482 2496

1. In the coming weeks, three judges of the International Criminal Court in The Hague will decide whether Sudan's president will stand accused of masterminding the use of rape as a form of genocide against several ethnic groups in Darfur. [David Scheffer, "Rape as genocide in Darfur", Los Angeles Times 13 November 2008],0,4968269.story

2. "Misjudging Rape - Breaching Gender Guidelines & International law in Asylum Appeals", BWRAP & WAR, December 2006].

3. Legal Action for Women's research into women's rights violations at Yarl's Wood Removal Centre. [A "Bleak House" for Our Times, December 2005]

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Irene Fernandez Is Acquitted!

I posted yesterday about Dr Irene Fernandez, and have received the fantastic news that she has been acquitted!


Monday, 24 November 2008

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has acquitted Dr Irene Fernandez, co-founder and executive director of Tenaganita.

The first words as she was congratulated, Irene said, "I am free! At last I am free!"

A scheduled court appeals hearing, which was to last until Friday 28 November was today ended when Judge Mohamad Apandi Ali gave his decision and set aside her 2003 conviction and reversed the conviction and sentencing.

Minutes later, Irene walked out of the court-room, free at last, saying, “I’m relieved that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

“I spoke the truth (and now) the conviction has been set aside,” she added.

It was a day of double surprises. The defence lawyer, M. Puravalen had asked that the motion of appeal stay. Turning the Public Prosecutor Shamsul Sulaiman, the judged then asked if the prosecution opposed the motion.

“Having been served the type-written notes, and having thoughtfully studied the notes, I have decided in the interest of justice, that justice itself would not be served by opposing this appeal.”

“You do not oppose, does that mean that you concede the case?” the judge asked.

“We do not oppose the appeal,” was the quiet reply.

The defence then asked that the conviction and sentence be set aside. The came the final surprise. From the bench, the judge gave his decision. “In the light of the respondent and Public Prosecutor is not opposing the appeal, I set aside and reverse the conviction and sentencing.”

The court room erupted into continuous loud cheers which the judge had to wave down. It has been thirteen long years, too long for anyone to wait to have their name cleared by the courts. But Irene has finally found closure.

Surrounded by her family, friends, colleagues and supporters, Irene said that the rights of defenders must be upheld. Ultimately, it is the people that we work with – migrants and refugees – that have been handed this victory. There is also vindication in the work that Irene does, and the organization that she heads.

Finally, to Ms Moganambal, who is Irene’s defence lawyer – from Irene and Tenaganita –we thank you and we love you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dr Irene Fernandez

Dr Irene Fernandez is an amazing woman who has done great work promoting the rights of migrant workers in Malaysia. After publishing an article on the living conditions of these workers, she was arrested for 'maliciously publishing false news' in 1996. She was on trial for 7 years, found guilty in 2003 and imprisoned for a further year. Despite being released after this, her passport is held by the courts and, as a convicted person, she was barred from standing as parliamentary candidate in the 2004 Malaysian elections. Despite her restricted civil rights, she carries on her everyday life and continues her work.

She was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, in 2005.

Her appeal is due to start today, the 24th November 2008, and the petition below is demanding a return of her rights, and those of other human rights defenders.

Please read on, and sign.

From the Global Sisterhood Network.

Dear Friends,

We have drafted a petition letter for Dr. Irene Fernandez's freedom.

Dr. Fernandez is a staunch human rights activist and is the director
and co-founder of Tenaganita, a Malaysian NGO that promotes the rights
and welfare of migrant and agricultural workers. She is also a
Steering Council Member of Pesticide Action Network Asia and the
Pacific (PAN AP) and the People's Coalition on Food Sovereignty
(PCFS), among many organisations. In 2005, she was given the Right
Livelihood Award for "her outstanding and courageous work to stop
violence against women and abuses of migrant and poor workers".

In 1995, Dr. Fernandez published a report on the living conditions of
migrant workers in Malaysia's detention centres. She was charged with
'maliciously publishing false news' against the Malaysian government
in 1996. After seven years of trial, the longest in Malaysian judicial
history, she was found guilty in 2003. She was allowed bail pending
appeal. Her civil rights are now restricted, but she carries on her
everyday life and continues her work.

The trial of Dr. Fernandez will resume on 24th- 28th November, 2008
and this may be the final round of hearings in the High Court in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia.

We call on organisations, institutions and individuals to support Dr.
Fernandez by signing the petition letter which is addressed to the
Malaysian government and other institutions in Malaysia, and is posted

By signing the letter, you and your organisation or institution will
appeal for justice and rights of human rights defenders like Dr.
Fernandez and it may give her the freedom to continue her work with
migrant workers as well as helping communities achieve genuine
people's Food Sovereignty.

Please circulate widely.

Thank you.

Norly Grace Mercado
PCFS Secretariat

See also heart's post on Irene.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Penalising the Punters

This is one of the only articles I have found which is positive about Jacqui Smith's proposals to criminalise men who buy sex from women who are controlled by a pimp. She has had to field some real hostility to the proposals and, from what I have seen, has stuck to her arguments and reasoning and is refusing to compromise. Good on her, we need more of that.

These proposals becoming law could make a huge difference to women trafficked, forced and manipulated into prostitution, and would be a great start to creating justice for women in this country.

Penalising the Punters

The home secretary has caused a storm with plans to change prostitution laws. She tells Julie Bindel why she is following the global trend to target men who buy sex

When I meet the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, on Wednesday afternoon, she is at the centre of frenzied press attention. She has just announced planned legislation to target those who buy sex from trafficked women, and though she has been talking about the subject all day, she shows no signs of flagging. She tells me she is "very proud" to have taken this step. I ask what motivated it. "I thought it was important to continue to look at the way in which we tackle prostitution," she says, "and we had not, until this point, looked at the impact demand has made on the sex industry." She explains that demand is one of the main reasons so many women are involved in the sex industry, including those who have been trafficked here to service the market. "We need to send out a message to men and to society in general, that most women do not choose to be in prostitution, whereas the buyers have free choice."

The proposals follow a six-month governmental review of the demand side of the sex trade. It should soon be a criminal offence to pay for sex with someone who is controlled for another person's gain - and it will be no defence for buyers to claim that they were unaware that a person was trafficked, pimped, or debt-bonded to their drug dealer or landlord. Kerb crawlers will also be penalised more than they have been: police currently have few powers to deal with a kerb crawler on a first offence, but the expected new law will remove the need to prove repeat violations. Police will also be given powers to close premises associated with sexual exploitation.

An estimated 80,000 women are involved in street, escort and brothel prostitution in the UK. According to government statistics, 4,000 women and children have been trafficked into prostitution in the UK at any one time, but the police suggest the real figure is far higher - studies have found that at least 70% of women working in UK brothels are trafficked from places such as Africa, Asia and eastern Europe. The fact is that a thriving sex industry, left to operate largely without government or police interference, is naturally a green light for traffickers keen to make easy profits in a welcoming environment.

The proposed new legislation has attracted both approving and angry attention from commentators, but one of the interesting aspects of this move is that it reflects an international trend. Lithuania and Finland both have laws similar to Britain's new approach, making it illegal to pay for sex with a trafficked woman. In Norway - where procuring, pimping and human trafficking are already illegal - the government is in the process of introducing legislation that will outlaw the buying of sex, but not the sale. This follows the lead set by Sweden, which criminalised all buying of sex almost 10 years ago, after a feminist campaign prompted by the suspected murder of a street prostitute called Catrine da Costa. The law prohibiting the purchase of sexual services in Sweden came into force in 1999 as part of the larger Violence Against Women Act, with the parliament defining prostitution as a serious form of male violence against women and children - harmful not only to the individuals involved, but also to society at large.

When this law was introduced, there were an estimated 2,500 women in prostitution in Sweden. Today there are around 500. And what is particularly impressive is that the number of women trafficked into Sweden is now between 200 and 500 a year - the lowest tally in Europe. Some anti-prostitution activists in the UK are disappointed that Smith has not followed Sweden and criminalised paying for sex in all circumstances. I ask why she has taken what might look like a half measure, and she cites a recent Mori poll which found that the majority of people do not support a blanket ban - but well over half agreed that paying for sex with a trafficked woman should be criminalised. "It is best to go with the grain of public opinion," she says, "rather than try to do something which may be met with resistance at this moment."

Another country that has targeted punters is South Korea. Here, the move towards criminalisation began in 2002 after brothel fires in which 14 women died - it transpired that the brothel doors had been locked from the outside by pimps and were only ever opened to allow buyers entry. In 2004 the South Korean government criminalised the demand side of the sex trade, with punters facing a year in jail or a fine if caught paying for sex. This has massively reduced the sex trade in a country where prostitution once brought in an estimated $21bn a year - 4% of the gross domestic product. Now the red light areas are largely deserted, and bed spaces in the many government-funded refuges for former prostitutes are usually full. (The South Korean government has dedicated substantial resources to helping women leave the industry, something Britain has yet to do.)

Even the Dutch - long notorious for their legalised brothels - are moving towards increased regulation of prostitution. For years, the story given by the Dutch was that legalising brothels had been a solution to the myriad problems associated with the sex industry. Then last year, Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen admitted that legalisation had been a failure. "We want in part to reverse it," he said, "especially with regard to the exploitation of women in the sex industry. Lately we've received more and more signals that abuse still continues." Members of the UK government visited Amsterdam in 2007 as part of the demand review, and did not like what they found. "Ministers came back clear that the problems of illegality and abuse are not solved by legalisation," says Smith. "On the contrary, there were still problems with organised crime and trafficking." Many of the Amsterdam brothels where women pose in windows are now being closed by police, as are the street tolerance zones where men could once buy sex without threat of arrest.

As the Netherlands has found, legalisation doesn't seem to be the answer, and the reason for this international push towards criminalisation seems to stem, at least in part, from the experiences of other countries where the sex trade has been liberalised. In 1984, for instance, Victoria was the first Australian state to legalise prostitution, and the main arguments put forward for the move (including by pimps and brothel owners) were that this would sever prostitution from organised crime and make the trade much safer for the women involved.

The reality does not match that early promise, as underlined by the occupational health and safety advice that is handed out to women by states that have legalised the trade. Women are advised to pretend they have a stomach upset if a buyer "insists on anal sex without a condom"; they are told to be careful when injecting local anaesthetic into their vagina, as it can mask more "serious injuries". (The idea that anyone would inject anaesthetic into their vagina is a stark reminder of the trade's brutality.) Then there is the advice that women should "learn basic self-defence", "be aware some clients can be rough" and that, when visiting a buyer's home, they should check for signs of a planned gang-rape, including loud music and too many cars in the drive.

This suggests that legalisation has been far from successful in protecting women's health and safety, and there is also good evidence that it has failed to stop the illegal sex trade. There are about 400 legal brothels in Victoria, and far more illegal ones. This reflects the situation in Nevada, the only US state to legalise brothels, where the illegal prostitution industry is currently nine times larger than the legal one. The fact is that anywhere that liberalises prostitution quickly becomes a prime destination for punters - many more pimps will set up business there than are legally approved.

In the UK, Smith is bracing herself for more criticism from those who consider the new laws part of a "nanny state" approach to government. One man wrote on this newspaper's website that he was so appalled at the legislation that he would never again "vote for a female in ANY election, local or general". Smith laughs at this, and tells me that she believes she is doing the right thing.

"We are trying to get the vast majority of the law-abiding public to help protect vulnerable women," she says. "I am willing to accept that there are women out there who say they have chosen to sell sex, but they are in the minority, and laws are there to protect the majority. In this case, the majority of women in prostitution want to get out, and suffer violence and exploitation. If there are women who have made a free choice, there are more who have had no choice".

Friday, November 21, 2008

How I Spend My Days

Like, seriously. It's true! Oh, without the working bit.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thought for the Day

"Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past": Lily Tomlin

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

BNP Leak

Someone leaked the 2007 membership list of the racist British National Party, it was published on a website then withdrawn, but not before others had grabbed it. It is being published by wikileaks (which appears to have gone down due to the demand) and is also rapidly spreading through bittorrent files.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the situation. Channel 4 news summed it up quite well:

BNP leak - a liberal's dilemma?

Should somebody exposed for supporting the BNP lose their job? It is your average liberal's nightmare dilemma. Do you defend the right to free speech and the right to privacy or smile quietly that those you find abhorrent are getting their comeuppance?

The leaking of a membership list by, it is suspected, disgruntled former BNP activists has caused mayhem. A police officer, prison officer, several teachers, nurses - even a vicar - are on the list. A radio DJ who freelanced for talkSPORT has been blacklisted.

A police complaints investigation is underway in Liverpool because police and prison officers are explicitly banned from belonging to the BNP. And the teachers’ unions have come out and said they think teachers who support the BNP should lose their jobs, even though there is no obvious mechanism to do so.

There are reports of intimidating phone calls to those on the list, and recriminations that Nick Griffin and his cohorts were unable to keep data protected.

So what should and will happen? If one of my children's teachers was exposed as a BNP supporter, would I accept their right to private political views or demand their sacking? Is it any different to them being any other kind of extremist?

Certainly, their actions in the classroom would be under severe scrutiny, and it is hard to see how there would be any trust that the teacher could be left unsupervised.

It is not that BNP supporters are necessarily monsters - just that their actions are likely to be influenced by their opinions, and their opinions are incompatible with fairness. The law seems to be way behind the reality. And BNP members could in theory fight for their jobs through the courts.

So as long as those memberships were secret there was no problem. But now everything has been exposed, employers will have to do something. Very few people are prepared to debate with the BNP on television. They don't want to encourage us to give them a platform.

But we think there are questions to ask Nick Griffin so we will have him on tonight. And we'll also be hoping to get on one of those people who think BNP supporters should lose their jobs - especially in frontline public service posts.

I'm watching Nick Griffin on the programme now, describing others as fascists!

Looking at the leaked list, it's quite intriguing, especially the extra little snippets of information which appear alongside some of the members' details, for instance, "activist - Makes kites with BNP logos etc.", "ESOL teacher" (who could be worse to teach English to Speakers of Other Languages than someone racist?!), "Willing to give teaching re. BNP home-schooling" and "Resigned 17/9/07 (confused re. Party policy on ethnicity)" (confused how? If there's anything that is clear about the BNP, it's their policies on ethnicity!).

The information in the file consists of names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and other information such as profession, date of joining, reason for leaving. have produced a map of the UK with indications of member numbers in each region.

There are children listed in the file, with their ages, and that makes me very uncomfortable indeed. Other people on the list are reporting receiving threats by email or by phone, and of course that can't be condoned. But then I do also find it difficult to have sympathy for people who are active members of a fascist political party.

We can't have racist people working as teachers, as doctors and nurses, as police officers and prison officers. Their attitudes would be way too likely to affect how they taught black kids, how they treated black patients, how they dealt with black offenders. I can totally understand the unions and employers being concerned - I would be, too, and hope they take action quickly and effectively.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pretty Cravings

Today I woke up with a really strong craving. I *had* to be somewhere pretty. It didn't matter where it was, as long as I was surrounded by prettiness.

I went out to Bradfield, so close in proximity, yet so far from the city centre in every other way.

I love living in a city. I also love living in a city that's so close to the country.

A bit of soul food that has helped lift my mood a bit.

See also today's photography blog post on the subject.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Will You Join Me to Help Free Burmese Human Rights Activists?

From Campaign for Burma

Over the past few weeks, the ruling military regime in the Southeast Asian country of Burma has locked up over 100 human rights activists and sentenced them to long terms in prison.

They join with Aung San Suu Kyi, the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient, as political prisoners in Burma.

Just as many people came together to help Nelson Mandela when he was imprisoned in South Africa, I want to do something to helps Burma's political prisoners and Aung San Suu Kyi in their courageous struggle for human rights and democracy.

Will you join me in signing an online petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon? The petition asks him to take immediate action to secure the release of all political prisoners in Burma, urges him to travel to Burma, and asks him to support a global ban on weapons sales to Burma's military regime.

As you may know, Burma is ruled by a brutal military dictatorship that uses torture, systematic rape, and political arrests to suppress a nonviolent democracy movement. Last year, a peaceful march lead by Buddhist Monks called the "Saffron Revolution" was violently crushed by the Burmese military. Nearly 2000 political prisoners remain in jail. The regime continues to use intimidate the movements leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi.

I hope you will join me in helping to stop these abuses. A great organization -- the U.S. Campaign for Burma -- is leading this effort.

You can sign the petition by going here

Thank You!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

UK Government Sells Out Tibet

How can they have done this? And so sneakily and quietly.

See the Free Tibet Campaign wiki entry, the Friends of Tibet blog, the T for Tibet campaign site, the International Campaign for Tibet, and the Free Tibet site who have already responded to this situation with:

U.K. Policy Angers Tibet Ahead of Beijing Talks

The Tibetan government-in-exile criticized Britain's move to more explicitly recognize China's sovereignty over Tibet, a dispute that could complicate talks between Beijing and representatives of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

The U.K. has long acknowledged Chinese control over Tibet, but its policy for nearly a century has stopped short of formally recognizing Tibet as part of Chinese territory -- a stance that bothers China's government. In a statement on Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called that past British policy an "anachronism" and effectively abandoned it, saying that the U.K. does recognize Tibet as "part of the People's Republic of China."

The shift is largely symbolic, but some analysts say it could further weaken the position of the Tibetan exiles in ongoing talks with China. Britain's stance was unusual among foreign governments, and its rejection of that position could undercut Tibet's argument that it wasn't seen as part of China before Chinese troops occupied the territory in 1951.

A British official at the foreign office in London said on Friday that Mr. Miliband's statement represented only a clarification, and that the U.K.'s actual position hasn't changed. On Friday, Thubten Samphel, spokesman for the Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharmsala, India, said: "Before 1950, we had many treaties with British India government in which Britain recognized Tibet as an independent country." For the U.K. to say now that it always saw Tibet as a part of China is "testifying to [a] falsehood," he said.

The Tibetan statement came as two high-level Tibetan emissaries arrived in China for five days of talks, starting the eighth round of negotiations since 2002 over the future of Tibet. The last round ended with an impasse in July, during heightened international pressure on China before the Beijing Olympics in August.

British officials said Mr. Miliband's statement was aimed at helping the negotiations.

The Dalai Lama has said repeatedly that he seeks not independence, but autonomy and the ability for Tibetans to worship freely and maintain their culture. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the British statement.

China welcomes UK Tibet decision

A senior Chinese official has welcomed the UK's decision to recognise Beijing's direct rule over Tibet.

Zhu Weiqun, who is leading talks with Tibetan exiles, told the BBC the move had brought the UK "in line with the universal position in today's world".

But Mr Zhu would not say whether it might be linked with Prime Minister Gordon Brown's efforts to bring China into a new world economic order.

Beijing says Tibet has been part of the Chinese nation since the 13th Century.

Many Tibetans disagree, pointing out that the Himalayan region was an independent kingdom for many centuries, and that Chinese rule over Tibet has not been constant.

After a brief military conflict between China and Tibet in the early part of the 20th Century, Tibet declared itself an independent republic in 1912.

China sent troops to Tibet in 1950 and summoned a Tibetan delegation the following year to sign a treaty ceding sovereignty.

Since then there have been periods of unrest and sporadic uprisings as resentment to Beijing's rule has persisted, most recently in March, when there were riots and demonstrations both in Tibet and surrounding provinces.

Q&A: China and Tibet

The Chinese government says rioters killed at least 19 people, but Tibetan exiles say security forces killed dozens of protesters and were guilty of repression.

"I simply don't agree about repression," Mr Zhu told the BBC. "Tibetans are our brothers and sisters."

"Innocent civilians were hacked or burnt to death last March. In one shop, five girls, one of them an ethnic Tibetan, were set on fire and killed. Criminal acts like these have been dealt with according to law. Do you call this repression?"

On Monday, talks between Chinese officials and Tibetan exiles on the future of the Himalayan region ended after they failed to make any progress.

Mr Zhu is a vice-minister of the United Front Work Department, which conducts negotiations with Tibetan representatives.

He blamed this week's deadlock on the Tibetans, whom Mr Zhu believes still want independence.

The Tibetans have yet to comment officially, but the Dalai Lama, the head of exiled Central Tibetan Administration, has previously said he does not want independence for his homeland, only meaningful autonomy.


Despite the stalled discussions, Mr Zhu made it clear that China wanted them to continue.

"China has done everything it can to talk to the Dalai Lama," he said. "The door is still open."

The exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, leaves hospital in Delhi on 16 October
The Dalai Lama's "middle way" seeks autonomy but not full independence

In a little publicised parliamentary statement on 29 October, UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband gave his strong backing to the talks and also backed the Dalai Lama's call for autonomy as a basis for agreement.

Mr Miliband also referred to a historic agreement dating back to the early 20th Century, which acknowledged China's "special position" in Tibet, but asserted that Tibet had never been fully part of the country.

Describing the policy as an "anachronism", he asserted: "Like every other EU member state, and the United States, we regard Tibet as part of the People's Republic of China."

Mr Zhu said his government appreciated the British statement.

"I think this is a recognition of an already existing objective fact," he said. "It has also brought the UK in line with the universal position in today's world."

BBC World Affairs editor John Simpson says Mr Zhu diplomatically sidestepped the question whether the British decision might be linked with Mr Brown's efforts to bring China into a new world economic order; though that is certainly what many observers think.

They also think the Dalai Lama's position has been weakened by the UK's decision, our correspondent says.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Four Things Meme

Four Jobs I’ve Had:

1. Tour Guide
2. Music Teacher
3. Sexual Health Worker
4. Secretary / Receptionist

Four Movies I Can Watch Many Times:

1. The Sound of Music
2. Thelma & Louise
3. Shine
4. Amadeus

Four Places I’ve Lived:

1. Lancashire
2. Yorkshire
3. Aix-en-Provence
4. That's about it, unless I'm forgetting somewhere

Four TV Shows I Love(d):

1. Have I Got News For You
2. Mock the Week
3. The Wire
4. QI

Four Places I’ve Vacationed:

1. Tunisia
2. Turkey
3. Italy
4. France

Four Websites I Visit Often:


Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:

1. Somewhere sunny
2. Sleeping in my bed
3. Aix-en-Provence
4. Mexico

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Feminist Carnivals

I found out yesterday that my Access to Feminism post, about (dis)ableism in the feminist community has been featured in the 68th Carnival of Feminists. They have randomly called me Penny, but that doesn't matter, it's nice they spotted and included my post. The issue does need to be brought out into the open.

There are some other interesting posts in the Carnival. What a crazy random happenstance talks about Feminist Dealbreakers - what constitutes a 'dealbreaker' in the relationships in her life. Behaviours or attitudes which force an end to a relationship with someone. For her, it can be people who claim to be feminist pro-lifers, for instance.

Reading the post, and the discussion continues in the lengthy comments section, got me thinking. I realised I have different deal-breakers depending on who the person is! Most notably if they are new to my life I deal break quickly and firmly, for instance someone being anti-choice or pro-pornstitution writes them off instantly), whereas people I have known for many years I seem more able to tolerate some of those things. Partly because huge numbers of people from my childhood (half my family, many of my friends), are Roman Catholic and so being 'pro-life' was kind of the default. Hell, I was!!

I guess I feel I can't expect my old friends to change in order to remain friends with me, but I don't have to put myself through trying to make friends with a new person with whom I am fundamentally opposed.

Jill at Womenstake wrote "Pro Life"? Puh-lease! about how misleading the term actually is, when preventing access to family planning, contraceptive and abortion services and products can indeed put lives at risk.

I didn't need to read Is Sarah Palin a Feminist Icon? No she's not. People get this mixed up, like Margaret Thatcher must be one too, for being the first female Prime Minister. No no no no!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This Blog Will Change Your Life

For the last five years, I have had a diary that would change my life. Five years!

It gives you mad tasks to do, from making the Dalai Lama get angry, to making citizens arrests, to matching your mood to the stock market, and blaming the full moon for everything.

As I'm starting to get appointments and things for 2009 I decided it was time to get my next year's diary so I went to Waterstones on Sunday, with an open mind - to get my favourite of the diaries there. Something that, knowing I would use it most days for a year, would stay interesting and not bore me. I looked at the numerous ones on sale but guess what... I ended up with This Diary Will Change Your Life 2009

I hope it will. I'm nothing if not original.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Open Letter to Barack Obama

by Alice Walker

Alice Walker on expectations, responsibilities and a new reality that
is almost more than the heart can bear.

Dear Brother Obama,
You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us
being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you
know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history.
But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried,
year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to
be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is
almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not
intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed,
because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a
different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through
all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the
spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would
actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take
your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and
character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only
sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster
that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for
bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you
do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make
a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your
gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your
family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon
become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their
wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have
smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no
way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of
thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse
not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real
success, which is all that so many people in the world really want.
They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the
attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is
because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside
job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most
damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain.
Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess
a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to
have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in
disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of
the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this
we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting
a Bible with which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the
sinner." There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more
torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit.
This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women,
children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented
by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he
confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally,
it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible
leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection
to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges,
purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch
you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and
lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that,
kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of
us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy, Alice Walker

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Fundies Say The Darndest Things...

Fundies Say the Darndest Things is a site which is always worth a visit. People post totally bizarre or outrageous things said by Christian fundamentalists, and others can vote and comment on them.

It sounds maybe puerile, but that's until you see the quotes by the fundies... then you realise who is being sensible here and who's not.

    Some examples:

  • I believe that the husband and wife should vote as one: meaning that, after discussing the possible options, both come to a mutual decision and the wife strengthens the husband's vote with hers. I think it's a shame if the wife disregards her husband's opinion and "cancels" his vote by choosing the opposite. And in my opinion, the same is true for adult unmarried daughters - they are under their father's authority until marriage.

  • But imagine some stranger came knocking on the door of your house and asked if he could move in and live with you. How much would you welcome him? You would certainly see him as "the other," and in many ways he is. He is not part of your family.

    The request of gays to be "married" might be similar, even for a tolerant person like myself. The request to be married is a request to move into my "house"--the order of my society that has been traditional for thousands of years.

  • If those 40 million babies had lived, there wouldn’t be so many jobs for illegals to steal from Americans!

  • I believe it's in the heart of the earth. I suspect that earthquakes happen because hell is enlarging itself. But's that's my opinion.

  • In the 7th grade we always said grace before leaving the classroom to go to lunch and the whole class recited the 100th Psalm each morning. You weren't afraid to walk your own neighborhood after dark or even considered closing your windows at night since we had no AC in those days. Lock your car at night? What for? No reason to do that. They're wasn't car hijacking back then either. No one committed suicide either.

  • But Andrew, I beg to differ. All that science is really BS. If you have a penis, you're body automatically wants to find its way into a vagina, not into another dude's asshole.

  • God help us. We just voluntarily put an Antichrist in power. Hope you all enjoy socialism which will invariably take even more of your rights away. When you realize that I will say I told you so.

  • "An Anderson (SC) man who had alleged his father attacked him with a baseball bat "to cast the demons of homosexuality out of him"

    Wishful thinking. More fathers should have such courage and take moral responsibility.

  • He explained that the ham came from a type of black-hoofed Iberico wild pig that wanders around eating acorns, "which turn into delicious fat in its muscle tissue, and also make it really healthy for you." That drew a chuckle from the reporters Obama had brought along. "All I know is it tastes good," said Obama. "That was delicious."]

    Obama is a pork eating muslim to throw us off the trail

  • It is sad to see how mislead some of you people are. Abortions don't turn a profit? Not true! Aborted babies are used in vaccines and the medical establishment is trying to get more women to have abortions because the demand for vaccinations have gone up in recent years!

  • I accept and agree with equal rights. They already have these though. Every single homosexual is entitled to marry someone of the opposite sex anytime they so choose.



  • Woman seem to think they are only beautiful when they are undressed as they show their flesh off?

    I find it funny. Woman are just our slaves and they will always be. God puts woman to slave them selfs to only one man their mate. Which by the way is suppose to be someone that loves her. The devil slaves her to all the world.

There is, as expected, and as you have seen, much horror at the election of Barack Obama, commonly referred to in these fundie circles as Hussein (his middle name) with references to him being a Muslim (which he is not). I was ever-so-slightly amused by the reference to impending OBAMANATION though, I have to admit.

I don't think the quotes on FSTDT need much commentary, they mainly speak for themselves in their ignorance, prejudice and bile. But if you want comments, click on the links. I won't make any because, rather like Thatcher or Dubya, you can't much parody someone that is already a total parody of themself.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Amnesty International Greeting Cards Campaign

A few days ago I spent a few quid in the Post Office, doing my bit for the AIUK Greetings Card Campaign.

The annual Greetings Card Campaign brings people across the world in touch with each other in a simple way - sending a card with a friendly greeting or message of solidarity to someone who is in danger or unjustly imprisoned. These are prisoners of conscience, people under sentence of death, human rights defenders under threat because of their work, and others at risk.

The campaign, which runs from 1 November to 31 January, offers hope and encouragement to the people who receive our cards. It can also help bring about change - the impression their international mail makes on police, prison staff or political authorities can help keep them safe.

There are 30 people, families or groups listed, for whom Amnesty International think that receiving greetings cards would support them, help them in their campaigns, or draw attention to their situation. Realistically, I knew that I couldn't send cards to all 30, if only because of the international postage that I would incur, so instead I chose 9 recipients. I chose all the women, and one of the men in Guantanamo Bay.

I used some of my photographs to make cards, and wrote encouraging messages based on the advice given by Amnesty, and got them posted.

It is a really worthwhile thing to do - it's easy, it doesn't have to be expensive (you can choose as many people or as few to send cards to), and it can make a massive difference to the people who receive them. Some have had relatives missing for years, others in prison; many, many desperate situations.

Amnesty provides full information about what you should or shouldn't write, whether the cards or messages should be religious or not, whether you should mention Amnesty or add your own address.

Seriously, just go there, pick some folks and get writing a few cards. Small things can make a huge difference.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

All About Me

From Sunday Stealing.

I am: cold

I think: that antibiotics make me feel iller than what I had in the first place

I know: that the weather will improve again

I have: a brother and a sister

I wish: that toothache would stop waking me up all through the night

I hate: spiders

I miss: my Dad

I fear: being sick

I hear: radio four

I smell: incense

I crave: brie and bacon panini

I search: for some filter tips

I wonder: whether feminism will ever make itself redundant

I regret: getting into debt

I love: photography

I ache: when I miss someone

I am not: as mobile as I used to be

I believe: in the goodness of people

I dance: to Erasure

I sing: when I'm on my own

I cry: when I'm scared

I fight: with myself more than anyone else

I win: competitions occasionally

I lose: things all the time

I never: eat bananas

I always: want more sleep

I confuse: architects and archaeologists

I listen: when people talk

I can usually be found: online

I am scared: of many things

I need: to be philosophical about it all

I am happy about: the friends in my life

I imagine: there's no heaven

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Chinese Takeaway

It is three years today since my Dad died.

In so many ways it's still so hard. Some things have got easier, the coping day-to-day with the loss, but when the pain hits, it still hits just as hard as ever.

The more photography I do, the sadder I feel that I can't share it with him. When I discover a great new recipe or learn an obscure piece of vocabulary, he's the one I want to tell.

Tonight I got a Chinese takeaway. Dad was a great cook, and when cooking foreign food he always strove for authenticity. He wanted to make Indian food like people in India make it, make Thai food like people in Thailand make it. Similarly when he was eating out, he wanted to go to the curry houses that the local Asian population ate at. When he did some work in Lahore in Pakistan, he avoided the tourist food places and instead found where the locals ate out.

So whenever I go in the takeaway I went to tonight, I think of him because it is very popular with Chinese students. This suggests authenticity. And they have a menu in mandarin on the wall, which is clearly different from the English language menu because of the number of items, and the prices. Whenever I'm in there I imagine my Dad asking the guy who runs it what's different about the Chinese-language menu, what makes those items more popular with the students and others from China, which item was most popular with the Chinese guests, and could he please have that. I smiled as I imagined being faintly embarrassed by all of this, too.

As it was, my takeaway tonight was as inauthentic as it gets - chop suey and chips, both as rooted in the West as is possible. And tasty it was, too.

I miss him. Painfully, frequently and deeply.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Women Deserve Better

Today's the first time in this daily blogging business where I'm really struggling for what to say.

It's only day 6 so I hope this doesn't continue! I did today's photography blog post this morning, but it's here on hippie blog post I'm having trouble with, mainly because I feel entirely lacking in words.

There are plenty of subjects available, it's the actual writing about them that's the problem.

So for today, I will let someone else's words do the talking, originally seen on the f word blog.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Man Done Good

So, a black man is to be the most powerful man in the world. The first black President of the USA. Even as the polls and such were improving over the last few weeks, I didn't quite believe it could happen, especially since the weirdness of Bush becoming President (two elections ago) when he didn't actually win the most votes.

Obama is far from perfect, but shit, compared to McCain and Palin, it was vital he won. I haven't heard anything about the Palin of the Obama campaign, Biden, but it seems he is vice-President elect so no sudden wiping out of him by the voters. (I remember when the 1997 general election results were being counted here in the UK, I was desperate for the Tories to lose power to Labour, but for Tony Blair to have lost his seat so not be PM).

Of course when I say Biden is the Palin of the Obama campaign, I mean technically (i.e. running mate, potential vice president), rather than ideologically!

While US politics affect us here, affect most of the world in fact, we do get disproportionate coverage of such things, compared to what we hear about the rest of the world.

When the election campaigns were starting, months ago, at the top of each news report, there were groans all round. And the process was going to be so looooong, these November elections so far away. I, and many, were bored of the American elections by about May.

But these last few days, the possibilities... peaked my interest again. And the whole thing paid off.

Congrats to Obama and supporters. Let's hope he does a better job than his shambling predecessor.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Access to Feminism

Among the many words which I may use to define myself, two key ones are feminist and disabled.

You wouldn't think these two identities are mutually exclusive, they certainly shouldn't be. Feminists, fighting for equality and justice for women, include black women, lesbians, refugee women, disabled women, don't they?

Some references:
Feminism, Gender & Disability:
. Non-disabled feminists continue to treat disability as a
side issue, an optional extra and in no way part of the so-called mainstream
academic or political debates
. The disabled people's movement - while
many and sometimes the majority of its activists are women - is still
informed by political and theoretical debates which strangely sideline
women's experiences and issues.


A failure to understand the social model of disability lies at the heart of the
dominant reaction to the situation where children are having to provide
support to their disabled parent. Challenging the medical model of
disability and the dominant concepts of independence and dependence can
help us to promote disabled women's human and civil rights.


As Liz Crow writes in Encounters with Strangers, we need to put back the
experience of impairment into our politics. We need to write about,
research and analyse the personal experience of our bodies and our minds
for if we don’t impose our own definitions and perspectives then the non-
disabled world will continue to do it for us in ways which alienate and
disempower us.

Feminist Disability Studies:
The author discusses shortcomings in the women's therapy community's response to disabled women and suggests some analysis of the phenomenon of what she calls the "active unwillingness to know."


DePauw reflects on the often misunderstood and ignored intersection of gender and disability, an intersection she sees as a "final frontier." Feminist issues often have revolved around the female body and the exploitation of it; when disability issues are raised, it can work to disrupt and complicate issues of exploitation and control of female bodies and identity.


The feminist movement is not sufficiently conscious of its own "ableism." Feminists who criticize the traditional sex roles of wife and mother are insensitive to the fact that women with disabilities are taught that they are asexual, as oppressive a message as that conveyed by heterosexism. What is more, feminism's strategy of complete separation from patriarchal society ignores the fact that women with disabilities experience constant and tangible barriers such as physical inaccessibility. The writer suggests that women with and without disabilities need to communicate, so that a new critical feminist anthropology can be engendered; an anthropology that will take not only gender into account, but also sickness, disability, and age as powerful shapers of self and society.


This paper analyses how disability informs and complicates gender identity for women with disabilities and demonstrates that disability is a feminist issue. The first section underscores the dual silence of women with disabilities who remain largely unheard of, both in feminist literature and in the disability rights movement.


The second section of this paper suggests possible points of entry into several debates within feminist literature that would be broadened or transformed by a disability perspective. Issues of reproductive rights, control of women's bodies, newborn's right to treatment, the construction of gender as informed by disability, and sexual representations are among the issues analyzed.


the last section of this paper analyzes various strategies for change, including standpoint or minority models and strategies within feminist thought that may be useful or emancipatory for women with disabilities.


how applying a “disability lens” and reflecting the values and vision of disability feminism can help us bring the voices and visions of disabled women and girls to the policy arena and to feminist research, policy and advocacy agendas.


feminist critical analysis does not usually recognize disability as a category of otherness (as it does with race, class, and gender) unless the study specifically states this focus.


an articulation of feminist Disability Studies as a “major critical subgenre within feminism.” She asserts that feminist Disability Studies can be located in the broader area of identity politics if discourses of the body marked as deviant are included.


Feminist disability theory augments the terms and confronts the limits of the ways we understand human diversity, the materiality of the body, multiculturalism, and the social formations that interpret bodily differences. The essay asserts that integrating disability as a category of analysis and a system of representation deepens, expands, and challenges feminist theory. To elaborate on these premises, the essay discusses four fundamental and interpenetrating domains of feminist theory: representation, the body, identity, and activism, suggesting some critical inquiries that considering disability can generate within these theoretical arenas.


[Feminist disability studies] situates the disability experience in the context of rights and exclusions. It aspires to retrieve dismissed voices and misrepresented experiences. It helps us understand the intricate relation between bodies and selves. It illuminates the social processes of identity formation. It aims to denaturalize disability. In short, feminist disability studies reimagines disability.”


The nature of the problems faced by disabled women are such that they need to be addressed by both the feminist and disability movements. But the fact is that they remain invisible within the women's movement at large.


The author examines disability from the perspective of disabled women. She focuses on the social model of disability rather than a medical model and asserts that disability is another form of oppression experienced by women. She argues that disabled women have been excluded from both the women's movement, which is oriented toward non-disabled women, and from the disability rights movement, which is oriented toward disabled men. Using the history of black feminism, the author argues for a reframing of the analysis in which to explore the simultaneous experiences of gender and disability.


Disabled women activists have, however, been equally critical of the failure of mainstream feminism to recognise the disability perspective.


the incompleteness of feminism without the inclusion of a disability perspective.


The author discusses her anger and frustration with feminism in two ways: first, that disability is generally invisible from feminism's mainstream agenda, and second, that when disability is a subject of research by feminists, the researchers objectify disabled people so that the research is alienated from their experiences rather than attempting to understand the experiences of disabled women.


[she] calls on nondisabled as well as disabled researchers to continue to study the ways in which the nondisabled society oppresses its members with disabilities. Lastly, she argues that disability research is of great importance in the general understanding of the perpetuation of inequalities in society.


leading activists explore the ways feminism can and must acknowledge disabled women for the benefit of all. Revealing the ways in which disabled women have been rendered nearly invisible, it shatters received feminist wisdom on a wide range of core issues. Offering cogent evidence of the many ways in which disabled women's experiences would revitalize feminism today, Encounters with Strangers makes an invaluable contribution to a more inclusive understanding of disability rights, outlining how new and vital alliances may be achieved.


Unfortunately, little research has been conducted on this issue as it effects the lives of women with disabilities, which may reflect the belief that the lived experiences of many women with disabilities are not important nor perceived as valid by mainstream researchers.


It is part of my work as a nondisabled feminist to interrogate my own ablism and to look for the opportunities disability analysis provides for fuller theorizing and activism.


Disabled women's issues, experiences, and embodiments have been misunderstood, if not largely ignored, by feminist as well as mainstream disability theorists.


Beginning as separate enterprises that followed activist and scholarly paths, gender and disability studies have reached a point where they can move beyond their boundaries for a common landscape to inspire new areas of inquiry.


the cross section of oppressions that is created when a woman is black or a lesbian is much more mediated than the cross section of oppressions created when a woman is also disabled.


one of first articles reporting on the exclusion of women with disabilities from the “mainstream” women’s movement,


feminist critiques of these norms have virtually ignored the pressures on women who do not have full use of their bodies.


by arguing that the myth of bodily perfection and appearance norms which deny the experiences of disabled women contribute to the denial of disability and therefore are oppressive.


One group, however, continues to remains mostly invisible in feminist research; disabled women. Disabled and non-disabled feminists have expressed their deep concerns that the voices of disabled women have been missing in most feminist texts so their lives are unknown, their contributions unrecognized and the effects of social discrimination and inequality in their lives ignored.


We need a feminist theory of disability, both because 16 percent of women are disabled, and because the oppression of disabled people is closely linked to the cultural oppression of the body. Disability is not a biological given; like gender, it is socially constructed from biological reality. Our culture idealizes the body and demands that we control it. Thus, although most people will be disabled at some time in their lives, the disabled are made "the other," who symbolize failure of control and the threat of pain, limitation, dependency, and death. If disabled people and their knowledge were fully integrated into society, everyone's relation to her/his real body would be liberated.


feminist theory has neglected to incorporate the perspectives and experiences of women with disabilities, and that these perspectives must be included in future discussions of feminist ethics, the body, and the social critique of the medical model.

Disability is a feminist issue:
Disability Rights are a feminist issue because women know what it’s like to be infantalized and treated as lesser people. And we should know damn by well that it isn’t right. Not for us, and not for anybody.

See also Domestic violence and disabled women.

Okay, so that's a lot of quotes but you get the point. Feminism needs to integrate disability politics, needs to embrace disabled women and our experiences, to be fully feminist. Excluding disabled women from feminist academia, analysis, activism and community not only is crap for the disabled woman, it prevents feminism from becoming all it needs to be to liberate women.

I am drawn to blog about this because of a recent experience with a local feminist group. They appear radical, have done some great actions and one woman I have had contact with who is involved in this group is a vocal advocate for women.

I am on their email update list and recently enquired if there was a lift at the venue because they meet upstairs, as there was an upcoming meeting I was considering attending.

I got a reply saying that no, there wasn't a lift. They kept asking the pub to provide one. She asked whether I had any suggestions for alternative, accessible venues.

I replied to that email with several suggestions, and questions to find out more about the group so I could see if I could come up with any further ideas to make the meetings accessible to physically disabled women.

I had no reply to that email. I don't think she liked my suggestions because she had originally said they were not keen to sacrifice the atmosphere of where they already meet, whereas to make the meetings accessible would mean to meet elsewhere. Given that the venue is inaccessible, and they don't want to meet elsewhere, what suggestion could I possibly make that would seem acceptable?

Of course, as I never received a reply I can only speculate on why my suggestions (which she had requested!) and questions were ignored.

Then later I received an email with minutes of their latest meeting. There was no mention in the minutes of accessible venues at all. This showed me just how little Sheffield Fems seem to care about allowing physically disabled women to become involved in their feminism.

I felt dejected and totally invisible. It is not good enough for women who are supposed to be fighting for women to not even acknowledge this huge issue.

Sometimes I can do stairs, sometimes I can't. That isn't the point. Which women are they empowering? Which women are they supporting? Which women are they liberating?

Not me.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Photography Blog Latest Posts

Alongside hippie blog I also have a blog which is specific to photography - called, imaginatively, Philippa's Photography. I am doing NaBloPoMo over there as well, so here are links to my first 3 of those posts, and some other more recent ones that I hadn't linked to yet from here.


Free Tibet

Locked and Chained

Crouching Texter

Fudge Fudged

Graffiti Artists' Feet

World Mental Health Day

Bandstand in Weston Park

Popular Funk

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Used Stamps charity list is no more.

Some years ago, I was trying to find out which charities accepted used stamps as a form of fundraising, and realised there was no central list of such places.

As a result, I did much research and compiled as comprehensive a list as I could, both national and international, and put them up at

The site has had 30,950 hits and created many comments and enquiries to me. Many charities have received stamps to help them raise money and it's been great to be the source of such a resource.

However its success has also been, I'm afraid to say, its downfall. I get so many emails telling me about new charities which collect stamps, or charities listed which no longer collect stamps, or from charities wondering how to fundraise with used stamps, or from people wanting rare stamps, that I cannot keep on top of it.

The list needs constant attention, which I cannot give it.

I considered leaving the page up with a note at the top saying that it was out of date and that visitors couldn't rely on the information provided, but realising this would cause hassle to the listed charities who no longer fundraise with stamps has now led me to remove the information entirely.

I feel sad! But I have to be realistic. In case anyone, for some reason, really really wants to see the final list, you can do so here, but I cannot accept any responsibility at all for the information there. If in doubt, it is best to assume it is out of date and not reliable information any more. Despite the work put in to it, times change quickly.

Last December I posted this information about a way to help charities fundraise with used stamps. It is perhaps the most reliable information and you can find all the info you need there.

You can see more of what I do online here at

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Saturday, November 01, 2008


So, I am embarking on National Blog Posting Month. It seems rather insane to attempt to blog daily on not one, but two blogs when they have been so neglected of late, but that is in fact the reason I'm doing it. I love my blogs and they deserve more attention. NaBloPoMo seemed the perfect way to refocus on them and get disciplined in regularly posting again! I'm not trying to do NaNoWriMo at least!

The 'national' aspect of the name is somewhat odd, given that it is avowedly international, but I'll forgive them that.

So, keep checking in here and hopefully there'll be new things for you to see every day. Check in on my photography blog too.

Happy blogging!