Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Guiding Girls into the future

So, in a previous post, I've mentioned my involvement in the Girl Guides Association, and also briefly mentioned how I feel the Girl Guides had benefited me personally as a Leader and a person, and how I think it will be a useful experience for another generation of girls as they begin to grow into young women. Which is why when this article was handed to me during a meeting one night, I thought it would be a great idea to share it here, for anyone interested in the organisation to read;


It's an article by GMTV, on their website, that focuses on how being in Guides can, and has, helped many successful women in the UK achieve their goals. It maybe short, but it's informative and inspiring.

Also, more recently, this article on one of my favourite sites, The F-word, by Clare Burgess;


I found it particularly interesting to read, as it gave me an opportunity to see the honest reception of someone new to Guiding and whether or not they found it a positive influence on the girls. Although the writer does examine and bring to light some of the aspects that they were not completely convinced of, I think she also saw the many benefits the girls enjoy, just the same as I have, from an organisation that was made for women by women.


This Theatre Couple...

Okay. Question. Not linked with anything else I've written before, but here it is. I may not be an avid theatre goer but I have been enough times to notice something very odd. Almost every time I've gone, there's this couple, woman and a man, round about in their 60's, maybe 70's, and they're always dressed to the nines. He's there, in a fine tweed suit, hair usually combed or slicked back and a carnation in his button hole (which you have to admit, has a certain amount of class), and she's in a smart formal dress, matching blazer and, ordinarily, wears a string of pearls. And nearly every time, I've seen a couple who fit this description at the shows I've been to; The King and I, Cats, Blood Brothers - they were there. Even The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Honestly. This couple were two rows ahead of me, still in their smart, classy outfits, among the corsets and the fishnets. I kid you not.

I'm not criticising, far from it, I love seeing these two people when I go to the theatre. I'm just curious, has any one else noticed this couple too? Maybe they're hired by the theatres for shows, like elegant seat fillers... ...

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Feminist Translations

Here's something I've learnt (and very quickly as well), admitting your a feminist can be a mixed bag, at times you'll have a great and positive experience where you meet people who are very like minded or curious about what you have to say, even if they don't totally agree they still want to hear your opinions and will truly consider them and, if your lucky, you get the chance to do this as well with what the person your debating with is saying.

Other times people's attitude towards you totally changes, it's as if you just admitted to bashing in puppies heads in with a mallet cause it makes you horny... okay, yes I exaggerate a little bit there, but I can state from experience that, without specifying any of my actual politics, I have had friends and co-workers instantly trying to, pretty aggressively, challenge my point of view... without really knowing what it is.

This change of attitude was triggered simply by me letting people know that I'm a feminist. Now, I'm not going to be getting into the reasons behind this particular phenomenon (I'm saving that for another day) I'd rather focus on one of ways this attitude manifests itself, namely, Instant Feminist Translations, this is where no matter how we word something or how diplomatic we are when talking to someone who doesn't share our view point some of the things that we say, write or otherwise express go through this type of transition and we are misquoted, have our words construed or are even totally mistranslated, leaving our real meaning left somewhere by the wayside.

Is it simple ignorance of people who refuse to see another point of view besides their own? Is it because they don't understand feminism in the 21st century or how it relates to them? Or is it that these people who twist the words of feminists are actually afraid of what we're saying because they feel it really makes a lot of sense but that means it forces them to look more critically at the world?

I really do not know, I personally think it can be a bit of all of those things, but as I said, the point of the post isn't to find the rhymes or reasons. I'm posting this as a way to write down and present to you some of the most commonly mistranslated feminist quotes I've come across and, hopefully, give either a helpful rebuttal to anyone who tries to use these on you and attempts to put words in your mouth so you can actually get your point across or even give a small education to someone who would normally use these kinds of presumptuous and occasionally accusing translations.

These following four are the main ones I thought of from personal experience.


Statement: The rape conviction rate is terrible. It's somewhere between 5-6%.

What it really means: The rape conviction rate is so low that it couldn't possibly be providing the victims with proper justice.

Translation: All men are rapists!

Statement: I'm Pro-Choice.

What it really means: I feel a woman should have complete authority over all parts of her body, including the uterus.

Translation: I hate babies, kill them all.

Statement: I am a feminist and I am a lesbian.

What it really means: These are two aspects of my life and personality and I am very comfortable talking about them.

Translation: I hate men just that much...

Statement: There are not enough women in politics.

What it really means: Because of the 'Glass Ceiling' that has been internalized by our society and accepted for so many generations women find it harder to go further in male dominated sectors.

Translation: Women should rule the world!!!


Well, there you are, my four main 'Instant Feminist Translations', I've seen them used in ignorance, used to silence someone or even used as a rather ill thought out zinger to bring a feminist down a peg or two. But even if all you got from this post was entertainment at least we can take these sorts of attitudes, hold them up to a Patriarchal society and go, 'We're on to you, love!' (cause it can't just be me who does that... right?).

If you can think of any of your own Feminist Translations please use the comments section cause I would really love to hear them.

John Battle, MP at Guides

Last year my Guide troupe were able to have the Leeds MP, John Battle visit us to present two Baden Powell awards and have a Q + A session with the girls. I felt this was a good subject to blog about and particularly a feminist subject since Mr. Battle was one of the politicians who voted for shortening the time limit on abortions.

During the questions we got to find out why this was and the MP's plans and opinions on our area of West Leeds.

Everything I write here comes from the notes I made on the night, so this re-count is not word for word, however the questions and answers are still accurate to what was said on the night.


The questions started with one from a selection the girls had arranged the week before, which was, 'When are we getting brown bins?'. John Battle answered that he completely agrees with brown bins and will actually look into why we haven't received them and when this most likely be.

The nest question was from one of the younger girls which was, 'Why do people eat chocolate?'. Mr. Battle couldn't really answer this, but he said that he does like chocolate but tries to eat apples whenever he can. He did also confess he has a weakness for something called Fry's Chocolate Cream.

Then we discussed graffiti in the local area, focusing on a pub called The Golden Lion (which we mistakenly called The Crown). Mr. Battle told us about a team made specifically for cleaning graffiti. He stated if he didn't have it sorted in 2 weeks to contact him (that's 2 weeks from the 25th of September).

We also asked him why the glass outside one of the girls houses hadn't been cleaned up yet. He admitted the Council should be working on that and that he will look into it for her, he even took a note of her address to do so.

After that, one of the girls was quite forward with asking him about the Guiding funds for computers, which he did say wasn't easy, he gave a couple of suggestions such as fund raising . he also asked is we needed brand new computers and mentioned applying to colleges to get second hand ones. An idea that went down pretty well with our unit leader.

Next we asked 'Why are more women not in politics?', he started by stating that men won't get out of the way, he went on to tell us that when he went to Parliament in 1987 he was surprise that there were only Gentlemen toilets. Mr. Battle would also like to see a woman take his job after him. He also believes that women are the best leaders because they are more co-operative and peaceful. He even said his 'hero' is Helen Clark, the New Zealand politician and mentioned other countries that seem to have benefited from female leaders such as Argentina and Germany.

One of the girls asked about a bus stop in Pudsey which had been dumped with a large amount of rubbish on it. John battle took note and says he'll talk to the MP for Pudsey about it. (UPDATE: The girl who asked this question let me know that the rubbish was cleared away last month)

After this, one of the older girls asked Mr. Battle why he voted for limiting the abortion time limit. Mr. Battle was very confident and concise in his answer, he explained that science shows that children can live after a certain time in the womb and he doesn't want to put doctors and nurses in positions where they would have to kill people.

Afterwards the discussion moved to the issue of smoking and the sale of cigarettes. Mr. Battle says that he does hate them but also says that he can't and shouldn't take away people's free will to make their own decisions.

We ended the Q + A on the possibility of traffic lights being set up at the four way junction at the top of Armley Town Street, which I think would be a great idea and help prevent the accident that will inevitably happen up there some day, so watch this space, if this goes through I'll will certainly be updating on it.


After the discussion all the leaders, including myself, felt that it had been a really positive experience for the girls. It was the type of constructive and different activities that kept me continuing on with the Guide Association. But this evening , even though it was very interesting for the girls, did shed a bit more light on John Battle's views, particularly with women's issues.

I believe Mr. Battle is a politician who wants to do the best for the people he represents, that is the impression he gives me, he got involved in politics because he wants to help people and make a difference for his community.
However, there are parts of his answers that are very telling about his politics on Women's Rights. While he wishes to protect doctors and nurses from the possible moral issue they would face with an abortion and is even considerate of the potential life developing inside the womb he fails to even register the person who really will be the most affected and therefore, really the most important person involved, which is of course the living, conscious woman who wants the abortion in the first place.
And only a moment later says that he shouldn't take away people's free will.

If you would like to contact John Battle, MP, you can find his contact details on his website;