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News Round Up: 2nd June

2nd Jun 2013

News Round Up: 2nd June

Current odds are 7/4 for Mantel, with A.M Holmes and Zadie Smith close behind at 4/1.

The winner – who will be awarded £30,000 prize money and a bronze statue, the “Bessie”, will be announced at an awards ceremony on Wednesday. For the first time, those not attending will still be able to watch the entire ceremony live through a Google hangout on the HuffPo’s website – check it out here from 6.45 pm on the 5th.

Facebook and Penny check their privilege – to the disdain of Louise Mensch.

The laudable Everyday Sexism project claimed victory over Facebook this week, as the social network published an open letter promising to better recognise gender-based hate speech in user-generated content and to remove it more quickly. This follows only a week-long campaign by EDS, Women Action and the Media, and activist Soraya Chemaly.

Whether or not Facebook can carry out deeds as well as words remains to be seen, but it’s a worthy win for those of us feminists who believe that what we say and how we say it is just as important as what we do.

Perhaps not, though, for feminists like chick-lit splurger and escapee MP Louise Mensch, who this week unleashed an uncharacteristically disjointed</sarcasm> rant on her blog and in the Guardian against writer Laurie Penny and activist @jonanamary.

Mensch took umbrage at the type of feminism she sees typified by those two: “intersectional bollocks”, “privilege checking” and bizarrely, the word “cis” (this was coined by a German male scholar, not a hand-wringing Guardian reader in pottery earrings, Louise). She accuses the left wing of the movement of “frenzied internal debate about absolutely nothing.”

While wanting to make clear here that I find large part’s of Mensch’s article and general being completely ridiculous, it’s hard to argue with the frenzied internal debate point when the left’s response to this was to engage in what a large number of people may possibly have seen as frenzied internal debate.

Penny penned a glorious reposte to Mensch in the next day’s Guardian and feminist twitter feeds across the UK exploded in 140-character long, exclamation mark ridden arguments about privilege checking and conservative feminism.

Perhaps next time we shouldn’t feed Tory trolls, although on the other hand, as a brilliant tweet on Penny’s feed said, there’s a lot to be said for public debate on important social topics. Before this round up turns into another frenzied internal debate, let’s move on.

Stoke Newington Literature Festival – many women, looks fab

We’re pleased to see a strong, non internally-raging, feminist streak running through next week’s Stoke Newington Literature Festival. The wonderfully hip fest, founded by Liz Vater, will play host to Caitlin Moran and Suzanne Moore discussing modern feminism as part of the Mary Wollstonecraft lecture, and non-fiction writers Judith Mackrell and Claire Mulley looking at seven women who smashed social conventions. Right up our street!

Was there anything we missed? What do you think of the privilege checking debate?

Rebecca Winson