I found this piece by Dr Helen Pringle, ‘Killjoys, Wowser and The P-rn Wars’ in New Matilda so inspiring. I hope my fellow women’s activists will draw strength and renew their commitment to our cause, after reading it.
“Justice is an element of beauty as much as colour and outline on canvas.” – Mary Richardson
Were the Suffragettes puritanical? Hardly. As the debate over p*rn rages, the history of feminism is being mischaracterised as the terrain of wowsers and killjoys. Helen Pringle responds to Eva Cox
Eva Cox tries to portray feminists who have concerns about what she characterises as “tasteless porn” as simply being in the grip of “current anxieties about the dominance of markets”, and as linked to “puritanical” strains in the history of feminism. In the process, Cox has rewritten that history to police the boundaries of feminism so that it does not include women who have a concern with the power of images and words in pornography.
Cox also slips in a characterisation of some of the Suffragettes who campaigned for the vote as wowsers and killjoys. She laments, “Women members of the Christian Temperance Union fought for women to get the vote in the hope that women would vote to ban alcohol”. In fact, those women and others knew only too well the dangers that alcoholism posed to women’s safety and equality when it was linked to male entitlement.
The Suffragettes more broadly are often portrayed along Cox’s lines as delicate creatures asking for protection from “evil masculinity”. But when Christabel Pankhurst coined the slogan “Votes for Women … and Chastity for Men”, it was a call for an end to sexual subordination and damage of women often caused by the spread of VD through the prostitution of women. It was not a sexually puritanical claim. There is no evidence that Suffragettes, or in fact feminists, appreciated intimacy, love or beauty any less than anyone else. Read more>