lunes, 9 de marzo de 2015

The Guardian: International Women’s Day: the 10 best feminists

International Women’s Day: the 10 best feminists

On Sunday 8 March, it’s International Women’s Day. To celebrate, Helen Lewis pays tribute to 10 inspirational feminists
Have we missed someone from the list? Leave your suggestion in the comments below and it could feature in the alternative list next week

Aphra Behn
Portrait of Aphra Behn 1670
Portrait of Aphra Behn, 1670. Photograph: Oxford University
A playwright, translator and spy, Behn (also known as Astrea) has a good claim to being the first Englishwoman to make a living out of her writing. In the centuries after her death in 1689, her plays were dismissed as indecent because of their focus on female sexuality (“The stage how loosely does Astrea tread/ Who fairly puts all characters to bed!” wrote Alexander Pope in 1737). Recent feminist scholars have rediscovered her writing, and have made the case that the publication of her prose fiction Oroonoko, the story of a slave, was a key moment in the development of the English novel.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie photographed in Grosvenor Square in Central London
Adichie photographed in Grosvenor Square in Central London. Photograph: Richard Saker for the Observer
“Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” In the most high-profile pop-feminist moment of 2013, Beyoncé included these words – taken from a TED talk given by Adichie – on her single Flawless. In the talk, which has since been published as a book called We Should All Be Feminists, the Nigerian-born author asks: why are girls taught to shrink themselves, to compete for men, to limit their ambitions? She urges her audience to reclaim the word “feminist” and to say: “Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it.”
Nellie Bly
A formal portrait of Nellie Bly, an American journalist and around the world traveler.
A formal portrait of Nellie Bly, an American journalist and round-the-world traveller. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis
“No one but a man can do this,” Nellie Bly’s editor told her in 1886 when she suggested travelling round the world in less than 80 days. She would need a protector, he said – and how would she ever carry all the luggage a lady would need on such a trip? Bly didn’t worry too much about the first quibble, and travelled light, crushing all her belongings into a single handbag. She made it home in 72 days. That wasn’t the first time the pioneering American journalist had attracted attention through her work – a year earlier, in 1887, she faked madness to go undercover in an asylum, exposing its poor conditions and abusive staff.
Caitlin Moran
Caitlin Moran at her home in Crouch End, London.
Caitlin Moran at her home in Crouch End, London. Photograph: Sophia Evans for the Observer
Rarely has feminism seemed as much fun as it does in the work of Caitlin Moran. Her 2011 book, How to Be A Woman, covered a host of modern dilemmas – body image, abortions, motherhood, what to do when Lady Gaga invites you to share her loo cubicle – and kicked off a feminist publishing boom. The movement might be fuelled by anger against injustice, but who doesn’t need laughter and silliness in their life, too? Moran followed up with a novel that celebrated the sexuality of teenage girls – a subject too often marred by the prurient anxiety of their elders.
Andrea Dworkin
Andrea Dworkin in 2000.
Andrea Dworkin in 2000. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Observer
If you only know Dworkin by reputation – a big, scary man-hater who decreed that “all sex is rape” – then a pleasant surprise awaits. Seen through her own words, a different woman emerges: still strident, still unapologetic, but with a fierce intelligence and a bludgeoning prose style that will take your breath away. Dworkin’s brand of anti-pornography feminism might have lost the “sex wars” of the late 70s and 80s, but that doesn’t invalidate her career. As feminists, we need to come to an accommodation with foremothers who are inconvenient, exasperating – or sometimes just wrong.
Malala Yousafzai
Laureate Malala Yousafzai displays her medal during the awarding ceremony of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize at Oslo City Hall, Norway.
Laureate Malala Yousafzai displays her medal during the awarding ceremony of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize at Oslo City Hall, Norway. Photograph: Cornelius Poppe/EPA
The two great engines of progress for women’s rights are birth control and the education of girls. At the age of just 15, Malala became a symbol of the struggle to achieve the second of these goals when she was shot in the head by Taliban fighters in the Swat valley. Her survival inspired hope for the future – not just in Pakistan, but across the world. Last year, she travelled to Nigeria to put pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to “bring back our girls” abducted by Boko Haram. Now taking her GCSEs in Britain, Malala has dealt with her sudden fame with wisdom far beyond her years.
Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie shares a laugh with Bosnian woman Babic Lena.
Angelina Jolie shares a laugh with Bosnian woman Babic Lena. Photograph: Aziz/UNHCR
In the past five years, the film star has shugged off lurid headlines about her relationship with Brad Pitt to become an eloquent advocate of better treatment and support for victims of rape in war zones. Last year’s UN summit in London heard from grassroots activists around the world and was attended by then foreign secretary William Hague. Sexual violence as a weapon of war is one of the world’s most persistent human rights abuses : it is estimated that 12% of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo are rape survivors, and the crime affects thousands of men and children too. Brava, Angelina, for putting it on the international agenda.
Mary Beard
Mary Beard at The Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford.
Mary Beard at The Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. Photograph: Geoffrey Swaine/REX
Any young woman having a hard time at school or university should ask herself: “What would Mary Beard do?” The answer is usually: read another book, don’t worry about what your hair looks like, and take no crap from anybody. The Cambridge professor of classics memorably stood up to internet trolls by refusing to be ashamed when they made lewd jokes about her age and her body. She has recently opposed the trend among university societies for censoring feminists who have the “wrong” opinions on sex-work and gender. Just as importantly, Professor Beard makes it cool to be clever.
Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf photographed in the 1930s..
Virginia Woolf photographed in the 1930s.. Photograph: The Granger Collection / TopFoto
“Chloe liked Olivia” was Virginia Woolf’s nomination for the most startling sentence she had ever read. In her essay A Room Of One’s Own, Woolf attempted to reclaim English literature from its relentless focus on men’s lives, and she explored the material conditions that make it harder for women to be creative. The book was written in 1929, but it is just as relevant today, when women wrote 11% of the 250 top‑grossing films of 2014, and the latest VIDA (Women in Literary Arts) count found that three-quarters of the authors and reviewers in journals such as the New York Review of Books and the LRB were men.
Sir Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart in 2011.
Patrick Stewart in 2011. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Observer
Yes, Star Trek’s Captain Picard. In 2009, Stewart revealed that he had grown up in a household scarred by his father’s violence against his mother, Gladys. The police refused to help the family, telling Gladys: “Mrs Stewart, it takes two to make a fight.” Her son disagreed: “Violence is a choice a man makes and he alone is responsible for it.” At a time when funding cuts are hurting the women’s sector and specialist provision is being cut, the actor and activist offers a simple, heartfelt message: no woman should die, and no child should live in fear, because they cannot escape a violent man.

¿Una salida por la vía del enemigo común no es prolongar el pensamiento paranoico conservador? El respetable intelectual Amos Oz opina en LA Times

Amos Oz: "Alas, last summer we experienced the meaning of 'conflict management.' It sentences us to the next Lebanon war, and the one to follow; to the next Gaza war, and the many to follow; as well as to a third, fourth and fifth Intifada in Jerusalem and the West Bank, all spilling over to our streets. The resulting collapse of the Palestinian Authority would mean the emergence of Hamas or a more extreme successor, with untold casualties on both sides. That is what 'conflict management' is all about."

Two states


For its survival, Israel must abandon the one-state option


Let's start with a matter of life and death. If there are not two states, there will be one. If there is one, it will be Arab. If Arab it is, there is no telling the fate of our children and theirs.
One Arab state from Jordan to the Mediterranean. Not a binational state. For to expect Palestinians and Israelis, having inflicted so much pain on each other for so long, to suddenly turn a page onto harmonious, co-equal cohabitation in one state seems delusional.
Thus, absent two states, and as equality in binationalism is a fantasy, the prospects of one Arab state undoing our Zionist dream looms large.

In an attempt to delay it, the land from the river to the sea might be governed by a zealot Jewish dictatorship, characterized by racial fanaticism, forcing its will on both an Arab majority and Jewish opponents. It would face international boycott, internal bloodbath or both, until it was forced to give way to the inevitable: one Arab state.
So what about a two-state solution? Many argue that it cannot happen on this side of the horizon. To them Yasser Arafat was too strong and mean for such a solution, and his reasonable and thoughtful successor, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, is too weak. Hence, they preach keeping the two-state option alive via “conflict management.”
Alas, last summer we experienced the meaning of “conflict management.” It sentences us to the next Lebanon war, and the one to follow; to the next Gaza war, and the many to follow; as well as to a third, fourth and fifth Intifada in Jerusalem and the West Bank, all spilling over to our streets. The resulting collapse of the Palestinian Authority would mean the emergence of Hamas or a more extreme successor, with untold casualties on both sides. That is what “conflict management” is all about.

Instead, conflict resolution deserves a closer look. In the last 100 years there has been no more promising moment for ending the conflict than today's.
It is not that our neighbors have converted to Zionism. Nor have they suddenly endorsed our right to this land. But the major regional players — Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, others in the region as well as in North Africa — face a destructive threat that is commonly recognized as far more ominous than Israel. Both Iran and Islamic State are responsible for sleepless nights in the capitals of these states. Against this backdrop Israel is now perceived as part of the solution, if cooperation with us can be legitimized by ending the occupation and addressing Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

Twelve years ago we were presented with the Saudi Peace Initiative, later endorsed (with some modifications) by the Arab League. I do not suggest embracing it as is. But engaging the Saudis and others in a discussion of our reservations with this historic reversal of the old rejectionist Arab position is long overdue. It would open the door to two states and regional security.
An inescapable truth — however controversial — is that the 1967 Six Day War was our last decisive victory. For in war the victor is not necessarily he who inflicts greater destruction but he who obtains his objectives. Having set no political objectives for recent wars we could neither expect nor claim victory, and the absence of objectives reflects a reality in which none of our national objectives are attainable by force.
This is not to say that military force is useless. Quite the contrary: It is essential for our survival. Indeed, all too often it has shielded us from destruction. But let us not confuse legitimate self defense — where there can be no compromises — with the illusion of forcefully imposing our political will on others.

And yet our policy is still designed to impose our will by force. By the 100th anniversary of this failed notion, it is time to recognize its arrogance and futility.
Settlers and their supporters at home and abroad tell us that this land is ours by right. What is that right when much of the world — most of the Arab world included — recognizes our right to the State of Israel within the “green line” but uniformly rejects our right to the rest? When it recognizes the right of Palestinians to a state next to ours but dismisses demands for more?
The settlers and their extreme counterparts among Palestinians fail to recognize that rights — however divine — that muster no international legitimacy, belong in the prayer book, not on the national agenda.
Now there is an effort to dictate policy to the United States, regardless of consequences to our most important strategic alliance.

Yet David Ben-Gurion drew the correct conclusion when he taught us that the state of Israel should never find itself without a strong global ally. Today, solid though our alliance with the U.S. is, its durability is not unconditional. It requires nurturing. It certainly must not be subjected to repeated malicious challenges.
In this context we must distinguish the permanent from the transitory. Our alliance with America is transitory. It is incumbent upon us to constantly invest in perpetuating it. On the other hand, our presence next to the Palestinians and in the midst of the Arab world are permanent features of our reality and should inform our choices.
Likewise, the potency of hostile forces — from terrorists to nuclear powers — will change. Thus the superiority of our defense capacity must be permanent. And nothing is more destructive to our security than going it alone, uniting the international community against us and undermining our alliance with the U.S.
Conversely, leading a dynamic peace effort with our Palestinian neighbors under the wing of the Arab Peace Initiative could go a long way in forging a supportive international and regional coalition and in defusing tension in the territories, all contributing to national security.
I am not naive. Peace is no toy resting on a shelf for us just to reach out to have. It is not simply the reluctance of Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak or Ehud Olmert to pay the price that thus far has deprived us of it. Our Palestinian counterparts contributed plenty to past failures. Indeed, there is enough blame to be shared by all involved, third parties and sponsors included.
Consequently, I promise no quick fix, no easy implementation. I empathize with the legitimate fears of millions of Israelis who recognize the need for parting but do not trust the Palestinians for providing security. But I anticipate grave consequences if we don't part with the Palestinians. For I cannot reiterate enough: It is either two states by choice or one — Arab — state by default.
My premise is simple and straightforward: We are not alone on this land. To my Palestinian friends I say the same: You are not alone here either. This little house of ours must be partitioned to two smaller apartments. And let there be a good fence between them, contributing to good neighborliness.

Once divorced, let us experience coexistence and leave notions of possible cohabitation to future generations. Ours is not a Hollywood western of good vs. evil. It is a real life tragedy of two just causes. We can continue to clash, inflicting further pain. Or we can be reconciled via separation and compromise.
In the land of the Bible one is deterred from competing with the legendary prophets of old. Still, one may state that in the Middle East the life span of “never” or “forever” is between three months and 30 years. My days in uniform during the Six Day War gave way to the Egyptian and Jordanian visas in my passport.

Those who argued vehemently against yielding territory “three times the size of Israel” for peace with Egypt never envisioned that peace standing decades later. Their arguments then and now against peace with the Palestinians reflect the same fear of the unknown, the same reluctance to take risks for the prospects of a better future despite the certainty that the status quo is an illusion, to be replaced with the unacceptable.
As with Egypt and Jordan, our dispute with the Palestinians shall not be resolved overnight. Yet with quality leadership, here, too, the “impossible” can have a short shelf life.
Israeli writer Amos Oz is the co-author of "Jews and Words" and the author of many other works of fiction and nonfiction. This piece was edited and translated to English by Nimrod Novik.