Femen’s aims are straightforward, broad and radical. A war on patriarchy on three fronts, calling for an end to all religions, dictatorships and the sex industry. The group has been offered a space in a rundown theatre in Paris as headquarters, and it is here I meet Inna, 24, at the start of a training session with 20 young Femen activists. She is giving instructions on the correct stance – feet apart, firmly rooted, aggressive. Femen warriors never smile, she says, they are not there to please anyone. The group has been protesting topless since 2010, using their bodies to attract attention, to lure journalists, and they have been roundly criticised by some people, who accuse them of playing into sexist stereotypes. Read more


Same-sex or heterosexual marriage: we’re all sharing love and life

For many people, life partnership has spiritual as well as personal dimensions, and civil partnership isn’t enough - new piece on Comment is free

Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images


Today, we want to defend Tumblr, after it was cowardly hacked yesterday.

Bim Adewunmi: You can hack it, you can bash it, but Tumblr’s still got it

Like any internet community, it is not without its flaws. Here, the hackers’ comments came uncomfortably close to a lot of Tumblr users’ excesses. It is sometimes a deeply silly place, keen on self-congratulation. It is also largely decadent, and because it is made of millions of fallible human beings, it’s not always terribly original or profound. But that does not mean it does not have the capacity to be those things, and it often is.

Tumblr is where I go to laugh, but it also a fantastic place to learn: this is where I first read about Trayvon Martin, for example. It often hosts some of the most eloquent and nuanced conversations about society, from gender to race to equality and social justice. It is a community that gives and shares and supports its own – only last night, I witnessed people organise a whip-round for a fellow Tumblr user who needed to get out of an abusive situation fast.

It can be a brilliant place, because it is a lot more than the sum of is parts: you get out of it what you put in. Not many sites can give you all of that and a gif of Chris Evans punching a bag in slo-mo. And for that reason, I’ll remain onboard. No contest.

Read the rest here

Great piece on Cif right now…


The Western media has chosen not to run the graphic pictures of the children killed in Gaza this weekend (nota bene: this is not the picture above, which shows members of the Daloo family during the children’s funeral yesterday).

Priest Giles Fraser asks: do pictures of children killed in Gaza force us to face a gruesome reality?

Let’s start slowly, carefully, with what can be said. Photographs show four small children dead on the cold aluminium surface of the morgue.

They are positioned in such a way that they look like they might be sleeping together. Are these pictures real? Are they staged? That already feels too suspicious a question to be asking so early on. And one’s emotional instincts will rail against the premature engagement of critical faculties. But one needs to bracket out the feelings just for a moment.

Earlier photographs have come in from multiple reputable agencies showing these children being pulled out of the rubble. Other images show numerous film crews witnessing the same event. The children’s bodies are accompanied by the press to the morgue. Those who are trained to spot discrepancies in this sort of story believe that it hangs together. The pictures are real, so it is concluded. And once that is accepted, one immediately feels more than a little uncomfortable that their provenance was ever questioned. Like disbelieving a rape victim when she first tells you her story.

So they are real. Dead children, killed by an Israeli missile while still in their pyjamas and the sort of clothes suited to playing in the street. The western media has chosen not to show them.

Read the rest here.

Photograph: Bernat Armangue/AP

Great piece on Cif worth checking out

The digital revolution may have brought us instant communication and easy textual gratification, but it hasn’t exactly been a boon for romance. Nor, intriguingly, has it done much for clarity. While students of English literature may have spent centuries trying to decode the meaning of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 128 (hint: it’s filth, sheer filth), Generation Text is left with the equally demanding challenge of intuiting meaning from a string of abbreviated characters. An online industry has emerged to assist stressed paramours in demystifying those ambiguous texts received the morning after a romantic liaison. The leader in the field is hit website HeTexted.com.

- read more on comment is free

“One of the foremost challenges of expat life is that of identifying when you earn the right to criticise the country that has kindly provided you with a home. So it’s always very helpful when someone else does it for you. Following today’s important news that the UK is a world leader in taking a cavalier attitude to spreading infections, I feel that I can finally lay it on the line: Britain, I love you, and in many ways you are much better than America. But you could really learn something from the Yanks about dealing with your snot.”

Today’s eyewitness photograph: Farmer Harald Wenske transports a harvest of pumpkins yesterday from a field that can be reached only by his traditional boat in Lehde in the Spreewald forest, Germany. Photo: Patrick Pleul

Pumpkin spice latte has made its way across the Atlantic. But forget this artificial flavour – squash is where it’s at for autumn, says on Comment is Free

“She deserves a shot because she possesses three skills crucial to the office of the president: making lemonade out of life’s many lemons, learning from her mistakes and taking the heat. Case in point: she was demonised as the political wannabe who killed healthcare reform; she was publicly humiliated as a cuckolded spouse from one of the most visible perches in the world; she was kicked to the curb during the 2008 presidential primaries by the senior white guys in her party, the ones who had never succeeded in becoming president themselves, but would be damned if they’d ever see her do it either (with all due respect to the late Ted Kennedy). And yet she took it all in stride.”
makes the case for Hillary Clinton to become president on 2016 on Comment is Free


Sam Wolfson on why your children are outsmarting you

This week, Benetton tried to drum up a new knitwear controversy with an ad campaign that celebrates the number of unemployed young people in the world reaching 100 million. In the ads, sullen-faced young businesspeople clad in lambswool blazers and merino facial hair stare dejectedly into the middle distance like Apprentice contestants trying to think of a name for their pop-up courgette stall. They all stand under the tagline “Unemployee of the Year”.

As part of the campaign, Benetton wants unemployed youngsters to pitch it ideas for community projects in return for a slice of a €500,000 (£400,000) fund. It says the aim is to motivate young people “to become actors of change against indifference and stigma”. Yeah, bog off indifference.

Read the rest here

Photograph: Smart kid: 16-year-old Tavi Gevinson has already published her first anthology. By Daniel Zuchnik

Great piece worth reading

The organic movement has arguably achieved a great deal. On the biggest issues, it has really won the debate. Most people now accept that you can’t just spray and inject your way to sustainable food production, that there is much to be gained from more integrated farming practices that deploy resources from the earth rather than from chemical factories. But as conventional farming adapts, the best way ahead becomes much less clear. If we want food that is good for humans, animals and the environment, the priority now is not to praise organics or to bury it, but to accept we must look beyond it.

Why have we fallen out of love with organic food? - By

Photograph: Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images