Feminism fights back

A note from the editor

Hazel Healy

‘So, pink or blue?’

The sonographer was prodding my belly.

He grabbed a different ultrasound. ‘She’s using the wrong one,’ he said irritably of his colleague, standing next to him – who presumably had a name, and one that he knew.

Apparently the link to feminine pink or boyish blue – and associated life choices – starts in the womb, already established while my foetus was still gulping down amniotic fluid in preparation for breathing.

‘If you mean boy or girl,’ I said, with as much stiff dignity as I could muster, on my back, smeared in cold gel, with the sonographer’s hand resting casually on my crotch, ‘then yes, I would like to know.’ After more prodding, her sex was revealed: it was a girl!

Growing a girl, while I work on this feminism edition, brought the issues into sharper focus. It’s the world I have experienced as a woman in my lifetime and it’s the one that awaits her too. I wonder, how will she navigate the vagaries of consent? Persistent inequality?

But while concerned about what she’ll be up against, I have also been impressed by the fantastic women whose work is likely to make the world that bit more equal by the time she starts to make her way in it.

We were lucky to be able to draw on the expertise and experience of all-round internationalist feminist, the writer Hannah Pool, who has acted as Contributing Editor for this edition.

Women are celebrated throughout this magazine – Mixed Media reviews solely female authors and filmmakers, and this month we’ve elected to highlight Yemeni political activist Tawakkol Karman in Agenda. We are also excited to welcome comedian Kate Smurthwaite, who has a beef with cupcakes.

Elsewhere in the issue we check back in with developments in Haiti and analyse the propaganda war in Ukraine.

Hazel Healy for the New Internationalist co-operative.

The big story

Girls strike a pose for an advert for GoldieBox. One of the companies bucking the gendered toy divide, it makes engineering toys for girls.  Photo: Nick UT/AP/Press Association Images

Girls strike a pose for an advert for GoldieBox. One of the companies bucking the gendered toy divide, it makes engineering toys for girls.

Photo: Nick UT/AP/Press Association Images

Is there a feminist spring?

Women’s rights has got its mojo back – and not a minute too soon. Hazel Healy takes stock of the challenges ahead.

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The Gender Inequality Index is a composite measure that reflects inequality, reproductive health, empowerment and the labour market.

Feminism - The Facts

Facts for feminists - the twists and turns along the road to equality.

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Shaking off the shame around vaginas: The Shoreditch Sisters Women’s Institute display their vulva quilt in London. Photo: Shoreditch Sisters WI

Mitts off my muff

Nimko Ali is a brave, straight-talking, Somali British woman, who is revitalizing the campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM).

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Illustration: Kathryn Corlett

When rights go wrong

From empowerment-lite to love-jihad, Rahila Gupta explores the perils of hijacked feminist agendas.

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Illustration: Lulu Kitololo/Asilia

Women on the edge of time

What can different generations of feminists learn from one another? Leading Indian grassroots activist and author, 68-year-old Kamla Bhasin, connects with 16-year-old Londoner Lilinaz Evans, co-founder of the Twitter Youth Feminist Army. Facilitated by Hannah Pool.

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Rihanna antidote: Odaymara Cuesta from lesbian Cuban rap duo Las Krudas.

Virtuous woman or raunchy sexpot?

Ikamara Larasi dismantles one-sided caricatures of black women in pop culture.

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Feminist book club

Bloggers, activists and artists share their favourite books.

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‘No to fascism!’ Provocative and emotive posters and images have become commonplace in Ukraine’s propaganda assault.Photo: Alexander Ermochenko/AP/Press Association Images

When propaganda rules

Powerful, persuasive words and images in Ukraine’s information war have led to casualties of truth on all sides. Lily Hyde observes how, as Crimea and East Ukraine break away, a war of words turns lethal.

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A youngster sits outside the headquarters of the Movement for Liberty and Equality of Haitians for Brotherhood (MOLEGHAF) in Fort National, Port-au-Prince. The grassroots group has been vocal in its criticism of the country’s UN mission.Photo: Brian Fitzpatrick and Michael Norby

‘We’re fighting for a change’

The TV cameras have long departed, but four years after the earthquake, Haiti remains a country in crisis. Brian Fitzpatrick and Michael Norby report from Port-au-Prince on how hunger and violence rule the roost in a situation nearing boiling point.

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DSEi arms fair in London, September 2013.johnhilley.blogspot.com under a Creative Commons Licence

Corruption in high places: Britain’s involvement in the arms trade

Andrew Smith speaks to Nicholas Gilby, author, campaigner and winner of a landmark case against the British government. 

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YES: Danielle Leigh.

Can plastic surgery be liberating?

Feminist blogger Danielle Leigh and filmmaker and former model Susan Hess Logeais go head to head.

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Activist street art in San Francisco.Photo: Franco Folini

Social change is written in the streets

Fifty years ago the Civil Rights Act was passed into law in the US. Movements not governments propel change, believes Mark Engler.

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Illustration: Sarah John

Heart still beating

Bangui’s main market is the pulse of the city. Ruby Diamonde goes shopping.

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Illustration: Igor Lukyanchenko

Open Window: perspective

Igor Lukyanchenko from Ukraine with ‘Change of Perspective’.

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On the move: Tinariwen, with Eyadou on the far left, are touring for the next two years.

And finally...

The bass player, composer and songwriter with Malian ‘desert blues’ band Tinariwen talks about his first guitar, instability in Mali and his hopes for an autonomous Tuareg territory.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews

Toronto HotDocs Festival 2014

Toronto HotDocs Festival 2014

A pick of top films by women directors.

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Music reviews

Music reviews

Queen Between by Susheela Raman; Tzenni by Noura Mint Seymali.

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Book reviews

Book reviews

A Cut-like Wound by Anita Nair; Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones; The Hidden Light of Objects by Mai Al-Nakib; and The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon.

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Also out there...

Also out there...

A few more reviews that didn't quite make the 'best of' list.

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