Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I was babysitting for the Frog (my friend's toddler) tonight and one of the stories I read him was the Lorax. The last page goes like this:

UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It´s not. SO...
Catch! calls the Once-ler. He lets something fall.
It´s a Truffula Seed. It´s the last one of all!
You´re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax and all of his friends may come back.
It seemed like so much responsibility to put on such a little baby, I got upset and teary reading it to him.* The world felt like a heavy weight today, and I didn't want to give it to him.

* Just to clarify I haven't completely changed my politics - I don't think the unless... is one boy and one Truffula seed (lots of children is a different matter), but it was close enough to upset me.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The short answer

Apparently Clint Rickards lawyer* asked the jury what Clint Rickards motive in raping this young woman could be.

Possibly because he's an abusive misogynist rapist, who got off on being able to abuse his power without consequence and who thinks he's entitled to women's bodies as a matter of course.

* It astonishes me the things the character claims his lawyer can make about Clint Rickards, all things considered - I thought they were regulations about that sort of thing.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

It's not anti-feminist to go on a diet, it is anti-feminist to write a diet book

I've just read two very irritating articles in the guardian. Both purport to be about feminism and dieting - but both make Linda Hirschman's version of feminism look like it belongs in 'Notes from the First Year.' Zoe Williams article is called You're Vain and Stupid and the first sentance says: "Women who fixate on their weight should relinquish their right to be taken seriously." I don't even know where to start with this - when did women even win the right to be taken seriously? But the real reason Zoe Williams argument is not feminist is because it asks the question 'why do women fixate about their weight' and answers it 'because they're stupid'.

Feminism's most basic tenet is women's problems are structural and political, not individual. "Because women are stupid" is rarely a feminist answer to any question.

Even more annoying was India Knight's reply to Zoe Williams (who are these people? I don't know either - apparently they're people that guardian readers would have heard of) titled It's not anti-feminist to go on a diet (thanks to Big Fat Blog for the link). This is a misleading start, because India Knight didn't just go on a diet, she wrote a diet book. At least part of her living now comes in telling other women how to lose weight. If this article is anything to go by she drums up business by making fat women feel worse about themselves (she asks "Why is it good to be pleased that you look like a pig?")

What is so awful, so anti-feminist, about her article, is the narrative she tells about being fat:

You may occupy a great deal of physical space if you're very fat, but in everyday life, it's as though you weren't there. Sales assistants stare blankly through you. Men pretend you don't exist, or start calling you "mate". You wonder whether your children are embarrassed to be seen with you in public (the answer to that one is yes, probably). You wish you could go for a bike ride with them, but you're too self-conscious, because you look like a potato balanced on an ant. You can only buy clothes in specialist shops, and these clothes are as undesirable as you have started to feel. Your self-esteem - well, I was going to say "plummets", but it's hard to plummet when you've reached rock bottom.
She's right - it sucks to be a fat woman in our society, it really fucking sucks. But every single example she gives isn't directly about being fat, it's about how people react to fat people. Her argument appears to be that men treat fat women like shit, so the solution is to stop being fat. That doesn't resemble any kind of feminism I know.

She reaches a low point when she suggests weight loss as a solution for an abusive relationship:
just as I cheer for the woman whose husband puts her and her weight down every single day. One of these days, he's going to have to stop. One of these days, she and her new-found confidence aren't going to take it any more.
On first glance this is relatively trivial issue, which reminds me about everything that irritates me about the Guardian. But it's actually about a much more fundamental issue, which is how we define feminism. This is what happens when we suggest individual solutions for collective problems. We all need to find ways to live as best we can with the problems that living in a misogynist world creates and I'd never criticise anyone else for feeling the need to lose weight or obsess about food. These sorts of survival mechanisms are neither feminist nor anti-feminist, they're what you've got to do. It's when your survival mechanisms make life harder for other women, for example if you denigrate fat women and reinforce society's idea about the relationship between morality and food, then that's anti-feminism. I think Emma Thompson summed up this dilema brilliantly:
As an artist, you can choose not to sell women down the river. When I decide, for instance, not to diet myself into a starved condition to play someone like Dora Carrington, then that's a political act. And I was being lampooned by male journalists, saying: Who would want to sleep with her? She's not that kind of shape. So I paid the price, but I would never betray other women in that way. I just wouldn't do it and I've never done it. She pauses.... God, I've gone on every single diet under the sun, but I've never got slender in a very particular way for any role.
No being a feminist doesn't give us magic powers to exit from a world that's obsessed with our bodies. But it does mean, at a minimum, that we have a responsibility not to add to that pressure. For Emma Thompson that means she didn't lose weight to play Carrington, for most of the rest of us it's simpler, but possibly incredibly different, we have to stop talking about food and our bodies in any way that reinforces the hatred other women have for their bodies.

That certainly includes writing a diet book or saying that fat women look like pigs.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Notes on a trial

I've been following the trial, of course I have. Every chance I get I search google news (selecting sort by date so I know I haven't missed anything). Every night I listened to Morning Report and Checkpoint. The defence in rape trials (and often the prosecution) are depressingly revealing about our attitudes towards women, men, sex, rape and consent. So here are some thoughts about this trial.


I've been continually disgusted by the defence, particularly Clint Rickards'. His lowest point as a person was his abusive cross-examination of the rape survivor. But the cynicism of calling an ex-All Black is pretty mind-boggling too. The ex-All Black was supposedly testifying that Clint Rickards was in a cast in 1983 and 1984, despite the fact that he couldn't remember when Clint Rickards was in a cast, and Clint Rickards' doctor testified as well.

I just hope the jury is smart enough to see through these nonsensical theatrics and understand that even friends of ex-All Blacks can rape people.


The defence asked the woman involved why no one came when she screamed in a suburban neighbourhood. Because it's completely unheard of for a violent man to attack a woman within a suburban house and no-one to do anything about it.

The defence must have been reading the lego bible


Clint Rickards was questioned about his work undercover and he said that he only lied 'to the criminal classes.'

There is actually a joke in there, but it's dependant on knowing the suppressed information. So I'll leave readers who know the information to construct their own joke.

Overheard in an Otaki pub

My Mum called me last night, she'd been watching the rugby and she thought I'd be interested in a conversation she'd overheard:

"I reckon he's guilty"

"They're all guilty the whole pack of them."

"They say she's lying, but we know what went on. Why would she lie? Why would she put herself through that?"

The men must have been in their sixties - they didn't look like they'd had an easy life.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Hard Day

It started with the paper. The awful, horrifying, sickening details of what those men had done to that girl reported so clinically. The required numbers of 'allegedly' and 'according to...' interspersed with the torture of a teenage girl.

Then, everytime I'm near a computer, I search google news - trying to find out what's going on in court on an hour by hour basis. It doesn't take much to upset me, and most major bits of news from court are more than enough.

I know there are women for whom this trial is much, much harder than it is for me. I feel really lucky, because I'm not alone - all day I've been talking to women who are having the same reactions. We talk in a sort of short-hand - because we've said it all before. Me? I keep saying "she was 16 years old".

How many women's testimony equals one man's testimony? It seems like an awful lot.

Scum of the earth

It's a good thing for Clint Rickards' lawyer John Haigh that he's not held to the same standard of testimony as rape survivors. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Rickards defence lawyer John Haigh QC told the woman she had got "absolutely the wrong man" and that the incident never happened.
How can she have got the wrong man if it never happened? If Clint Rickards wasn't there then how can he instruct the lawyer on whether or not the incident happened?

Of course no-one is going to cross-examine John Haigh on the most traumatic event of his life. They're not going to call him a liar and claim that he can't be believed.They're not going to adjourn court when he starts crying and then start right back up again.

Don't even bother with everyone's right to legal representation - because this sort of representation is only the right of the rich. John Haigh is in this for the money and Clint Rickards is the only one who can afford him.

Apparently John Haigh also told the jury to disregard some erroneous information that has been in the public domain. I wonder what this information could be? All the information I've heard has been entirely roneous.

I have more to say about John Haigh's reported statements to the jury about a previous trial involving these men. But unfortunately suppression orders make it very difficult to do so - I will just say that the same suppression orders that stop me pointing out how very wrong John Haigh's argument is, may have the same affect on the crown.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Rapist cops

Imagine you're a sixteen year-old girl. You've grown up in a small town where jobs aren't getting any easier to find. Your boyfriend is a cop, which has its advantages. One night you're at a friend's house and have some drinks - you'd probably be able to get into bars, but alcohol is much cheaper from an off-licence. Some of your boyfriend's cop friends show up, but they don't object to underage drinking any more than he does.

Readers from New Zealand probably know where this is going.

25 years ago Bob Schollum, Brad Shipton and Clint Rickards dragged a 16 year old girl to a bedroom while she was struggling and screaming. They handcuffed her and indecently assaulted her.

What would you do? Where would you go? Who could help you?

Clint Rickards, Bob Schollum and Brad Shipton are standing trial for the crimes they committed agains this woman. They are rapists, who used the power their uniform gave them to abuse an unknown number of women.

Monday, February 12, 2007

What do we value

I have a candidate least favourite person of the week, it started with a press release from Judith Collins (it's not her - although she's always a good candidate):

Napier businessman and Hell’s Pizza franchisee Richard Stevenson says an employee of his quit her job when a WINZ staff member told her she would earn more on a benefit.
He wasn't paying much more than minimum wage and didn't offer a guarantee of how many hours she was going to work from one week to the next. She had a ten month old baby and this job required her to work nights (where there is very little, if any, subsidised childcare available) and he made no offer to help with childcare). She would be better off on the benefit, and that's not WINZ's fault, it's her employers (You can listen to him on Morning report but I didn't couldn't finish it I hated it that much).

It's not exactly breaking news that I think employers suck. But my real point is why the outrage? Why do we consider making pizza to be a more worthwhile than raising a ten month old baby? I'm not knocking the work involved in making pizza. I know enough about the work-conditions that they work hard. Although I can't eat pizza anymore (I'm severely dairy-intolerant) I appreciated it when I could - and anyone who appreciates any object should value the labour that went into making it. Neither am I saying that looking after a child is the only possible work that a child of a ten month baby could or should be doing.

But looking after a 10 month old baby is work, and it's valuable work. Most of us have eaten pizza, but all of us have been looked after when we're 10 months old (even Judith Collins and Richard Stevenson), and we should appreciate that labour far more than we do. What every person who raised their voice in outrage is saying is that making pizza is a better use of that woman's time than looking after a 10 month old, and I disagree.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Riley was the anarchist

I promise that this will be the last time I write about the Buffy comic books until the book is actually released in March. I'd also like to say that while I'm definately a fangirl - I'm not quite as single-minded as I may seen - I've thought about many (well several) other things besides the Buffy comic book recently. I do have two

I've decided to buy the comic, no matter how much the art-work offends me. This is from a recent Joss interview about the theme:

In a way, it’s a larger answer to the same question. And the question is, why are people afraid of powerful women? Why is misogyny streaking through every single culture? Why is the world like that? The world is not as it should be, and Buffy has now created a bunch of people with enormous power who kind of realize that. And the people who realize they realize that are not pleased about it. She’s answering the question that I answered with Buffy; she’s confronting it directly and on a global scale. Not that it starts with her picketing and that she’s become activist girl. She’s still fighting demons, but she’s starting to realize that there is more wrong with the world than just a bunch of monsters.
I'm pretty sure I can deal with some pictures that say 'no girls allowed' for that story.

But what I really wanted to write about was an comic that's been put out called Buffy: the anarcho-syndicalist:
The story unfolds much like that of a typical Buffy episode, with our "proletarian heroes" rescuing innocent people from the clutches of various evildoers (Klansmen, fascists, and capitalist vampires).
My first question is: Did these people even watch the show? The Wish? Anne? Buffy's rescued innocent people from the clutches of people expropriating their labour before.

Then there's the image:I wish I was surprised. I wish I didn't know exactly what the art work would look like before I clicked on the link. I wish I was a little bit less used to left-wing men who think they're so cool, radical and alternative, and yet make it really clear that they don't really give a shit about anything but their cool, radical alternativeness.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The tino rangatiratanga flag

I have decided to keep the tino rangatiratanga flag on my blog. I put it up in response to this call. I thought I should write a little bit more about why I put it there and what I mean by it.

Article two of the treaty guarantees Maori tino rangatiratanga over their lands, villages, and all their property and treasures (that translation is from Obviously this clause has been broken many, many times, but it is in the treaty. The claim for tino rangatiratanga is not a radical claim, but a most basic one.

All too often discussion of the treaty of waitangi gives this document an almost mystical status. There are references to the principles of the treaty of waitangi, or it is referred to as a living document.

I think this is bollocks. The treaty of Waitangi is a historical document, written by actual people in a particular historical time and place. They were not all knowing and had agendas of their own. They were unable or unwilling to even translate what they had written in English accurately into Maori.

This time last year Reading the Maps reproduced a Communist Workers Group leaflet the treaty is a fraud:

The question is, why on earth does the left need a piece of paper to tell us that Maori are an oppressed and dispossessed people? If the Treaty did not exist, would we not champion Maori land rights? Do we ignore the right to self-determination of the Aborigine peoples, because they never signed a treaty?
I agree with this analysis - anti-capitalists, anti-colonialists, must reject the legitimacy of any action by the British government in the 1800 - whether it's taking a country by force or signing (and breaking) a treaty.

The CWG seem to be implying that this must mean that Maori should not organise around treaty grievances. I don't think that follows - I think powerless people can claim their rights under the current legal system, even if they're are entitled to much more. But even if I did agree in principle, the most basic right to self-determination is the right to determine your struggle. It is not up to me, the CWG, or any other Pakeha to direct the Maori movement for self-determination.

So when I fly the flag of tino rangatiratanga, it is not becuase I think the treaty of waitangi, a document written by colonisers, define Maori rights in this land, but because I see them as the most basic of rights that Maori hold.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

We don't like to make our passions other people's concern

Audra Williams has a really great question":

I said at a Mediawatch board meeting this weekend that I feel like it's impossible to get upset with young girls dressing in revealing clothing without also signing onto the notion that it's possible to dress as if you are sexually available. I would like to talk about this, because I feel like most people disagree with me but I can't find a way to separate those two streams of thought.

What I mean is, I feel like people around the table believed that girls were dressing as if they are sexually available, and I don't think it's POSSIBLE to dress as if you are sexually available.

I don't understand how the same feminist women who fought for the idea that the way someone dresses is NEVER a green light for sex can now say that teenage girls are "dressing like skanks" or use terms like "prosti-tots"?

I think the point she's making is a really good one. It's one thing to talk about the range of clothing available to girls, it is quite another to make any sort of comment about the girls that wear them.

But I actually want to take this off in a slightly different direction. One of the comments on my recent post about the Buffy comic books talked about the artist 'sexualising' Willow. I really object to that language. The character of Willow was sexual - she once spent an entire episode in bed (and not in a bad way like Buffy and Riley). Giving someone larger breasts and an impractical garment doesn't sexualise them - it objectifies them, and being sexual and being an object of desire are not the same thing.

Of course this conflation is hardly rare. There are many, many different ways women are taught that for us being sexual is being desired, rather than desiring. It is very hard to shake this idea off entirely. Women who do not fit the conventional idea of what is desirable have no way to be sexual.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be wanted, and I imagine most people find being found sexually attractive a turn on. The problem is that women's sexuality is reduced to our desirability, and the extent to which we conform to a code of desireability, defines whether or not we're seuxal.

Women can't fight this by changing what we look like and particularly not by criticising what other women look like. Instead we need to reject any analysis which buys into the idea that women's sexuality and appearance are one and the same and to talk about women's desires and sexual agency, so that the next generation of girls knows that what they want matters.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I was so excited

I'd like to apologise about the amount I seem to be writing about the Buffy Season 8 comic book. Yes, I'm an obsessed fangirl, but it's mostly becaue comics are a new medium to me. I find the sexism in comics new and kind of shocking, so I will be writing more about it than anyone wants to know.

So this is the cover of the third Buffy comic book:

That's supposed to be Willow - who has grown a foot, had breast implants and stole Buffy's pants. She has also apparently spent the years since we saw her last searching out the single most impractical garment ever made to wear as a top.

Bah - I was so excited about season 8, but I'm not sure I can take it if every female character is drawn for men.

Joining the fun

You scored as Anarcha-Feminist. Anarcha-feminists put a strong emphasis on the importance of patriachy, arguing that all forms of hierachy can be traced back to man's domination over woman. Although associated with the 1960s, the movement has its roots in the theories of Emma Goldman and Voltarine DeCleyre.











Christian Anarchist


What kind of Anarchist are you?
created with

Although not actually an anarchist I thought I'd join in the fun. It's not inaccurate - although I don't believe that all forms of hierachy can be traced back to man's domination over women, and put very little emphasis on the patriarchy. I'm not quite sure about what the difference is between anarcho-syndicalist and anarcho-communist (I'm sure someone can explain in the comments).

I thought a lot of the questions were quite ridiculous. There were a couple which asked me whether the means of production should be owned by the workers or the community, which I couldn't parse in any way that made sense to me. I believe that everyone who is able to should do some socially useful work, and therefore the workers and the community would not be two seperate groups. But I'd expand the definition of work out much wider than capitalism does (I'm looking at you reproductive labour), and I don't think people who are unable to work (but think if work was designed for people not the other way round most people would be able to do some socially useful work). So I answered disagree to both those questions.

As for this question "As most workers are male, workers self-management will not neccessarily lead to freedom for women." it's borderline offensive. Since when are most workers men? Women do the majority of the work in this world, and I'm not going to sit back while anyone, even a stupid internet quizz, ignores that fact. But I ticked agree, because I think the point (behind the bad wording) was that men dominate in many more industries than women and that wouldn't change even if the boss disappeared (in Britain in the 18th and 19th century there were reasonably regular strikes by male workers about female workers working some roles in the textile industries).

Tino Rangatiratanga

David Farrar had something to say about the debate over the Maori flag:

But there is a lesson here about why it does get so many people heated up. For decades the flag has been portrayed as the flag of Maori sovereignty. To the average NZer they read that as a flag rejecting the Treaty of Waitangi, rejecting a pakeha presence in NZ and rejecting the concept of New Zealand. It is seen as making a highly political statement. You can argue whether it should be seen at that, but it is.

This is flag is the flag of tino rangatiratanga. This is the second article of the treaty:
Ko te Kuini o Ingarani ka wakarite ka wakaae ki nga Rangitira ki nga hapu - ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani te tino rangatiratanga o o ratou wenua o ratou kainga me o ratou taonga katoa. Otiia ko nga Rangatira o te wakaminenga me nga Rangatira katoa atu ka tuku ki te Kuini te hokonga o era wahi wenua e pai ai te tangata nona te Wenua - ki te ritenga o te utu e wakaritea ai e ratou ko te kai hoko e meatia nei e te Kuini hei kai hoko mona.
It is nonsense to say that Maori claiming tino rangatiratanga are rejecting the Treaty of Waitangi. The Maori right to tino rangatiratanga is in the treaty.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Maia vs WINZ: The Reassessment

A week or so ago I received a letter from WINZ telling me that since I had been on the unemployment benefit for some time I should come in for a reassessment to check that the unemployment benefit was the best benefit for me.

I felt like writing back and saying that I had been on the unemployment benefit for two weeks and that it was not the best benefit for me, the Invalid's benefit or the DPB would be much better. Both these benefits involve more money and less hassle from WINZ. But as I didn't think I was eligible for either of those benefits just at the minute could they just leave me alone.

Of course, it turns out they were lying. They had no interest in reassessing to see if the unemployment benefit was right for me. All they were doing was giving me another hoop so they could cut off the benefit if I didn't comply (the person who ran the 'seminar' said rather gleefully that everyone who had attended the seminar six weeks ago, but hadn't attended this one, would have their benefit cut off).

It didn't begin well - the case manager asked us if we went to the Sevens. As it happens I think I would rather go to an All Black match. At least at normal rugby games the clothes aren't part of the extremely obvious and offensive gender coding.* But even if I thought the Sevens were awesome I get $263 a week, where was the money for a Sevens ticket going to come from? Was this trying to trick us into having money we don't have? Was it trying to entice us to get a job so we could enjoy the thrills of lots of drunk people? Or was it just inane chatter?

Then it was time to assess our job seeking activities. As it happens I've got two weeks of work starting Monday - so that was rather easy for me. But the tone of the whole activity was 'what have you done wrong that you haven't done work. The other woman in the 'seminar' with me was a trained teacher.** Guess why she hasn't got a job? When the school holidays . But when the case manager was out of the room she talked to me about how shitty it felt to apply for job after job and be rejected. If you're going to look for work for an extended period of time, you need confidence that it isn't personal. Having WINZ tell you you've done something wrong because you haven't found a job in six weeks over January isn't going to help.

Then I saw a case manager (not my case manager - I suspect the relief was mutual - my case manager was running a different seminar) who told me to continue ringing the call centre every week to report my job seeking activities and make another appointment in six weeks.

What drives me completely nuts about this whole process is how much it's about ticking boxes. You couldn't quite ring the call-centre and tell them that you job-seeker activities for the weeks have involved harvesting carrots - but it's close. As long as you string words about applications, interviews and calling employers, they write that in. No-one who was having problems looking for a job would be supported by this. For those of us who do know how to find work it's just busy work in the hope that we'll fall down the cracks.

* The dress code at the Sevens for men is to dress up as someone with less power than you have (muslims, women, homeless people), while the dress code for women is to dress up in sexual a way that emphasises how little power we have and how much we are supposed to focus on pleasing men.

** I said it'd be the educated white girls who made it through the hoops and onto the benefits - it's such a stupid system.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Silly - poor people don't get choices

Brownfemipower has a really interesting post about the governer of Texas's decision to make the HPV vaccine compulsory for all girls sixth grade or above. This would also make the vaccine available for free for those who were uninsured or whose insurance doesn't cover the vaccine:

I’m really conflicted about the news that the governor of texas just wrote into law the requirement that all girls get vaccinated for HPV virus (the same one that causes cancer).

Unlike a lot of Texans who oppose the shot, I don’t for a minute think that this shot is going to cause girls to run out and screw anything that moves. But as a parent who has had to make the decision to vaccinate my child (or refuse to, depending) for anything from ear infections to polio–I’m really wondering if this governor is writing this requirement into law because he’s some big lover of women (as a lot of the leftist blogosphere seems to be thinking), or if he’s just gotten himself some pretty pocket money from the drug companies who make this vaccination (according to the article, at least 6000$ in campaign donations).
In New Zealand there is an immunisation schedule, and immunisations on the schedule are free (see we still have some tatters of a socialised medicine system left). However, there is no requirement for parents to get their child immunised, either before starting school, or at any other time. I am a strong supporter of the HPV vaccine going on the immunisation schedule, because I believe all women have the right to protect themselves from cancer. But here, we don't have to make any trade-offs.

As I understand it the only way a vaccine can be available to all, and publicly funded in America is if it is compulsory before a child can attend school (there are exemptions available to parents for conscience reasons). I can understand the public health argument which says that a kid must be immunised from certain infectious diseases before they start school (I don't necessarily agree with it, but I understand it), disease can travel very quickly among unorganised children at school and this can cause an epidemic. But this logic does not apply to the HPV vaccine, HPV is a lot harder to contract than measles, so it isn't going to spread round a school in the same way (it is clear that the vaccine is as important for later in life as it is for 6th grade, unlike other vaccines) and any genuine worry about the disease spreading would require both boys and girls to be immunised. There appears to be two reasons to support compulsory vaccination, either because your in the pay of the drug company, or you believe that it's important that poor women get access to the vaccine (or both). Neither of these are based on genuine health concerns.

This puts feminists in an impossible position. I'll leave it for American feminists to discuss how they deal with this problem, I'll just be glad that I don't have to choose between access and choice.

Joss News

I was sad to read that Joss Whedon was no longer going to write/direct Wonder Women. Not because I particularly care about Wonder Woman, in fact all I know about Wonder Women is her outfit, but because I'm enough of a fangirl that any Joss is good Joss (here's hoping someone leaks the script on-line sometime soon - links welcome). Although what I actually want is for Joss to go back to television. I enjoyed Serenity, but I'd rather have had that story over a season of TV than a couple of hours of movie (and I think it probably would have cost about the same).

But Joss did an interview with MTV about the Buffy Season 8 Comic book, and I've officially become excited:

And speaking of Sunnydale, did anyone really think no one would ever notice if an entire town was destroyed? Now the army is involved, deeming Buffy's squads terrorist cells. "They got power, they got resources and they got a hard-line ideology that does not jibe with American interests," one general rants. So in addition to her regular crew of monsters and vamps, Buffy's got a new battle coming her way.

Be still me heart - Buffy fights against the 'war on terror' - what could be better than that?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Looking Professional

Amy at Feminist Reprise has a really interesting post about shopping while fat when she was trying to buy cloths for an interview. Even with the help of readers she couldn't get anything suitable for less than $300:

Add to that the cost of my time (and Rebecca's, and Heidi's, and Pony's) to do all this research. That's for one outfit, for one interview. All of you who, if you had to, could trot down to Ross Dress for Less, TJ Maxx, Old Navy, The Gap, or best of all, a Goodwill in a ritzy neighborhood**, and find clothes in your size that would tell an employer that you're a responsible, socially acceptable, employable adult--how much do you think you'd spend on an interview outfit? Anything close to $300? No? That's thin privilege.

I think Amy has misnamed the problem. I've written in different ways why I find the term thin privilege problematic. But actually it's not the way Amy uses privilege I disagree with as much as the 'thin' part.

Being able to easily buy clothes (and even more so op-shops) is something that many people take for granted. I can wear clothes from enough mainstream stores to make shopping for clothes reasonably easy, but there are lots of places I know I shouldn't even bother looking in, and so I understand how much harder life would be if I was just a bit larger.

But my friend Betsy, she has real problems buying clothes. She's small, and her body is an unusual shape. When she had an office job finding appropriate clothes was an expensive nightmare. She couldn't buy a single pair of work quality trousers, she had to get them made up (luckily WINZ paid). She never found a suitable pair of formal work shoes - they probably don't exist, and couldn't be made. Despite this, despite the effort and expense, her manager told her several times that she needed a more professional image. Presumably it never occurred to the manager that this actually involved more than popping down to a ridiculously expensive store and buying more clothes. It never occurred to this manager that the standards she preached wouldn't be available.

The experience of being able to find clothes that fit reasonably easily and affordably is something that many people take for granted.* To call this ability 'thin privilege' ignores the other reasons clothes don't fit people's bodies. I think it is really unproductive to divide these experiences - so if Amy is writing the story the reader can buy clothes because of thin privilege, whereas if Betsy was writing the clothes the reader can buy clothes becaue of able-bodied privilege.

I think it's really important to name our problems right - and there are plenty of thin people who can't find clothes that fit them. Those people (and their supporters) should demand that clothes are made for the people who wear them, rather than for profit,** and we can all demand that our ability to do work is not judged by our an appearance standard that some people will never be able to meet

*Of course there are other people who could theoretically buy clothes at mainstream stores or op-shops but can't afford to buy clothes at all.

** My banner at that protest would all be about cup-sized shirts and togs.