New website gets off to a shaky start: Feminist Times provokes huge row with forced sterilisation article

Editor Charlotte Raven pulls controversial piece, admitting 'we got it wrong'

The founder of a new pro-women’s website has found out what it was like to live in feminist times after an article on forced sterilisation provoked a huge row, dividing its nascent readership.

Barely an hour before Feminist Times pulled the piece, Charlotte Raven, its editor, told The Independent that removing it would be a “bad idea”, insisting that upsetting some people is “what happens if you’re trying to voice uncomfortable truths”.

But she backtracked almost immediately, admitting “we got it wrong” as the article was taken down.

Raven sees the website, and eventual bi-monthly magazine version, as an antidote to glossy women’s titles and even daily newspapers that “airbrush people’s emotions” as well as their bodies.

She had hoped that pieces like the one on sterilising women, which was written by an unnamed contributor under the heading “Taboo Corner”, would provide scope for “honesty” lacking elsewhere.

The incident served to underline the minefield that is modern feminism, which remains as divided today as in its 1970s heyday. Raven herself even joined in, taking a mini-swipe at the best-selling author Caitlin Moran. “When I read [Moran’s book] How to Be a Woman it made me feel like we needed female voices who were being more honest.” She said the memoir had used “feminism as an alibi”.

David Cameron and glossy magazines like Cosmopolitan were also accused of “all using feminism as an alibi, as a marketing tool”, Raven said, adding that the Prime Minister was not entitled to call himself a feminist. “Men can be, but not him, because he isn’t [one].”

She also took issue with the new breed of liberal feminists, attacking campaigns such as “This is what a feminist looks like”, which was stamped across T-shirts, for their exclusivity. “The iteration only works if it’s on a very normal looking person wearing make-up, not a hairy feminist. Liberal feminism that seems inclusive is exactly the opposite.”

Anyone hoping to provoke a Twitter storm with Raven over her views will be disappointed, however, because she intends to avoid the social media site. “I’ve been absolutely tormented by the idea I have to use Twitter. I’m scared. I don’t want to be slagged off,” she said.

Feminist Times has been dogged by controversy ever since Raven disclosed the project six months ago, most notably after a legal threat forced her to abandon her original plan of reviving the iconic feminist title Spare Rib, which was edited by Rosie Boycott and Marsha Rowe.

She pledged that Feminist Times would represent diverse views, particularly those held by trans women such as the playwright Jo Clifford, who is on the website’s editorial board. She added that the venture would not just represent white middle-class women.

Flora MacInnes, editor of rival online feminist website Femusings, which launched two months ago, called Raven's decision to publish the “Sterilise Her” piece was “poor as it alienated a number of people”. But she said she didn't want to berate Raven's venture.

“Feminism is a complex, multi-faceted, disparate thing and so it's vital to make it intersectional and inclusive, not to sideline other cultures and groups, to listen to one's audience, which is difficult to get right but certainly possible.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing / PR / Social Media Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A thriving online media busines...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower