talatyaq

Bringing you regular rage against the patriarchy, drenched in sarcasm and capslocks #FEMINISTFRIDAY

2014; The Good, The Bad and the Change Making

Lists. That’s what defines the end of a year. Lists of the year’s best films, songs, great bake off moments, Taylor Swift moments…basically buzzfeed type articles filling up my timeline (more so than normal).

And now we get to do the same for feminist fun. Was 2014 a good year for women? Did we come closer to smashing the patriarchy? What were the best sarcastic remarks said by my nieces? The last question being the most important there.

2014 was an incredible year, in Scotland I have never witnessed the level of political engagement and excitement we witnessed, on a personal note it was a year I was definitely pushed out of my comfort zone and lived to tell the tale. It’s also a year I learnt some hard truths about the feminist movement (or more accurately some within it) and how far we have to go before we can call ourselves inclusive and intersectional.

But importantly, I have continued the conversations with my nieces and many, many more young women and I can see that we have the chance to not leave this as merely a wave of feminism but a sustained movement, ready to take on any fight.

So here’s the 2014 list!

The Good:

He For She: In September 2014, at the UN Women’s Summit, Emma Watson took to the stage to talk about gender equality, why she is a feminist and what we all need to be doing to change this. It was, specifically, a call to men to take on the equality agenda. emma watson

Nicola Sturgeon: In November, Scotland swore in a new First Minister who happened to be a woman. Regardless of your politics, this is a great step forward for gender equality (despite the concentration by the media on her tartan shoes)

Ted X: In a super self indulgent move, I decided to make 500 people sit in a room and listen to me yap on about feminism, but it was a new audience, where, unlike most events, feminists were not preaching to the converted. Naturally, the minute it went online, sexists took to commenting and did an excellent job of illustrating every reason feminism exists *slow claps*

Revenge Porn made illegal: After on going campaigns across the UK, about the growing issue of sexual private videos and photos being uploaded as a form revenge against women, without their consent, the UK Government passed a new law to make it illegal, with a potential jail time of two years.

Woman Bishop: Reverend Libby Lane became the first woman Bishop for the Church of England and comes 20 years after women were able to become priests.

Malala Yousafzai (again!): She’s fantastic, I am in awe, and she is in this list again. Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize for her phenomenal efforts in fighting for the education of girls in Pakistan and the set up of the Malala Fund.

bey

Oh Bey, you cause me a feminist headache

Grazia Equal Pay Campaign: Grazia Magazine teamed up wit the Fawcett Society to push the Government to publish the pay gap of companies across the UK – I have reservations of course of a women’s fashion magazine leading this…but step in the right direction….?

Beyonce’s feminism (?): There is certainly a re-occurring theme in 2014’s feminism. It became more mainstream, it became celebrity focused in a wider way than before. There’s two sides of this, Bey dancing in front of a giant feminist sign during the MTV Awards, is a big deal. It got people talking, it introduced it to an audience that never talk about it, it normalised it for all those young women who say “I don’t want to call myself that”. The other side of the coin however; when you refer to yourself as “my man’s bitch”, make light of domestic abuse in lyrics and twerk…is that a feminism worth sharing…the whole feminist jury is still out.

The women of Turkey – who literally laughed in the face of patriarchy. After the Prime Minister banned women from laughing in public, naturally they went to the streets and online to do the opposite. Perhaps the silver lining is that this enraging and laughing at
sexism has set in motion the first Women’s political party in Turkey.

Chimamanda ngozi Adichie – the formidable Ted talk which makes an appearance in Beyoncé’s track “flawless”, was so successful that it came in a paperback version. Buy it, keep it in your bag. Feminism in a simple, honest and experienced form.

The bad:

Dapper Laughs: Nobody laughs at this, and if they do they are misogynists. Dapper Laughs is a little pathetic man, who made himself into a internet sensation by harassing women and calling it comedy. Thankfully ITV got the hint and didn’t give him a TV contract.

#GamerGate - Another dark corner of the internet, only lit up by the laptop screens of misogynists. Anita Sarkeesian a well known feminist who analyses and campaigns against the sexism in the gaming world has had to endure death and rape threats, culminating in having to cancel public appearances, alongside other women game developers. This is yet another example of the attempt to silence women and clutch the status quo.

Kim Kardashian breaking the internet – no, rather just breaking my keyboard as I bang my head against it. Particularly at the men that were no doubt amongst the decision makers around the image and its inherent racism.

#womenagainstfeminism – The Twitter hashtag that was a painful reminder of how far we have to go, especially given that the hashtag was created by women (women MRAs). The reality of course is, that the same old comments regurgitated into a modern platform saw women hold up signs stating they did not need feminism because they are not victims, they are not inferior or that they already have equality. Sigh.

The Sun and Check Em Tuesday – In an attempt to seem like reasonable, decent human beings editors of The Sun newspaper made their sexist printing of Page 3 into a breast cancer prevention billboard. Try again.

Sexism and Fashion – Karl Lagerfeld (the fashion designer who prefers size zeros and has previously compared women to animals) decided to put on a women’s rights protest at the Paris Fashion Show. What better way to push the women’s rights agenda then have women in expensive clothes, bronzed and slim waving banners that made absolutely no sense. Essentially Feminism sells and is a joke to Karl Lagerfeld.

#BringBackOurGirls - Earlier this year, 276 girls were abducted in Nigeria, today is the 249th day since they have gone missing, approximately 230 are still unaccounted for. Only 5% of girls in Nigeria are given a school education and to date no government action has taken place to rescue them. The online rage from the international community lasted for around two weeks…

Hacking and blaming – Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence are hacked and threatened with nude photographs being published. Naturally, we blamed them for taking them in the first place rather than the misogynists using their personal lives as leverage.

feeding protest

What Filth!

Breastfeeding frenzy: Facebook bans photos of breastfeeding and Nigel Farage believes breastfeeding mothers should sit in the corner (cue tweets with nobody puts booby in the corner…love!). Seriously, there’s nothing more my angry hands can type on this.

Uncovering of Child Abuse; Rotherham and Jimmy Savile; It has been a year where our eyes have been widely opened to the historic and incessant abuse of young people (particularly girls). Vulnerable girls taken advantage of by men with power, position and entitlement. The media has attempted to uncover it, but too often considered what young girls wear and continued the references to “monster” and “villain” when describing abusers. By now, it should be clear, that “othering” of perpetrators is too simplistic.

The Change Making; campaigns for you to engage in and keep the fight going:

Women 5050: fighting for 50% women quotas in the Scottish Parliament, Councils and Public boards

5050 Parliament; Fighting for fair representation of women (currently 23% of MPs are women) in the UK Parliament- sign up and support the campaign petition

Powered by Girl: A group of young online campaigners, taking on media sexism particularly rape culture and fashion.

Media Diversified – whilst it’s been going since 2013, pushing us to consider sexism and racism in mainstream media, it gets a shout out for the amazing women writers.

Emily Matters: Talking gender equality and politics

Girl Guiding: Who have become more politicised of late (super exciting) and working on a manifesto for girls ahead of the 2015 general election.

Maslaha – a rare project bringing Muslim women and feminism together through teachings of the feminist perspectives within Islam (there are some there, it just depends who is teaching them…)

Scottish Women in Sport: Much needed attention to and celebration of women in sport in Scotland, especially given how many of them did us proud during the CommonWealth Games!

Well 2015, let’s be having ya! There’s plenty you’ll do wrong, but plenty more us feminists will make right!

Have a great rest of 2014 x

My feminism is better than your feminism

There is nothing more wonderful, than having your fight for social justice pissed all over. You know those moments when you’re busy trying to fight the patriarchy, making some kind of difference in the world, then hearing those words; “surely there are bigger things to fight.” or “You’re being naive about x” . Yes, because a movement representing 52% of the population, only has a single way to do things, and you must be its only leader *passes the dictionary at the page defining grassroots*

Well, to that, I do this:

giphy

Tina Fey thinks your lack of sisterhood is pants and you need to have a word with yourself

My niece had that sentence said to her for the first time this week, and the heartbreaking thing was, it was by a fellow young woman who shares her feminist ambitions. Ouch. It’s always easier to brush it off when a feminism dismissing man says it to you.

She was talking about No More Page 3, the campaign that has finally, made people question why I need a side of sexism left next to me on the seat on the number 12 bus. Sorry, not sexism, the right for women to be objectified in a daily tabloid, by men and for the profit of men.

Niece; “It was was weird, I just thought she would be on my side, we were talking about Page 3 cause one of the guys bought it into school, and she said it’s not that big a deal, we need to fight the big stuff. What? we’re in maths and these boobs are staring at you because the guys think it’s hilarious to shove it in the face of girls as they walk into class. of course it’s a big deal”

No More Page 3 has galvanised over 200,000 people to sign up and get rid of Page 3. My niece had signed up to the campaign and throughout the conversations about feminism and injustice I have had with her, it was the simple and coherent message of No More Page 3, has changed her from someone having a conversation about things with me, to someone who actively wants to change things. At 15 she wants to start a school petition, already, from where I am looking, No More Page 3 is winning. (well done pals!)

I have had my own experience of it recently, the absolute lack of sisterhood that comes with the idea that there is only your way, or that “my feminism is better than your feminism” read as “I am threatened by your way of doing things”. To me, it is the last straw that patriarchy holds onto for dear life, that when it comes down to the crunch, we fight each other rather than fighting it. Now, by no means do you need to be best pals with the woman next to you, my patience is far too short for that, but if she’s marching on a patriarchy smashing parade, don’t rain on it, yeah?

Recently, Julie Bindel wrote a piece about how feminism is at risk of becoming toxic as it attacks individuals instead of the wider issue. It’s 1000 words of “let me explain real feminism to you” and by the time I got to the end, I was exhausted. The reality of the article is, Bindel is essentially, telling those newly energised by feminism, that they have got it wrong, go back, start again and learn your lessons. Fighting the acceptance of the pathetic Dapper Laughs attempt at humour, fighting the welcoming back of Ched Evans and the likes of Robin Thicke’s questionable musical talents, is not getting to the root cause of patriarchy and therefore, stop it and do something better.

As a campaigner, I know that bit my bit, chipping away at the ice is how you get to the root cause, because the root cause on it’s own is overwhelming and sometimes, it’s hard to even identify. Every time someone signs the latest petition on whichever pathetic sexism our society has endorsed, we gain another potential activist, who after feeling empowered to do something, will work on those root causes. Every time a Dapper Laughs comedian is shut down, broadcasters are forced to think twice about who they contract next and importantly that there is a growing movement that will question them about it. Surely, that is part of the root cause? Julie Bindel was on Radio 4 earlier this year and when asked about Page 3, said “people ask why you want an end to this, it is the insidious nature…the drip, drip effect of it being in a newspaper”. Well surely, the likes of Dapper Laughs, who finds street harassment and abuse hilarious getting a tv contract is another example of the “drip ,drip”.

I don’t want us to look back on these last couple of years as a “wave”, we need a sustained movement, that only happens when we show every attempt to “chip” away at the patriarchy iceberg a little respect.

You might be a young feminist who has done her homework or an old hat who has “been there and done that”, but you haven’t done it through the eyes of every feminist. Our movement is at it’s best when it is diverse and inclusive; that means fighting Dapper Laughs and fighting welfare reforms that disadvantage women, getting rid of page 3 and tackling sexism in our justice system.

Every bit matters, every feminist matters, your feminism and your definition of sisterhood needs to be confident enough to handle that.

The flaw in the argument

If smashing patriarchy was easy, it would have happened by now.

That was my opening gambit to my nieces this week. You see, they were discussing women in parliament at school, and one of them had a conversation which involved a teacher interjecting with “that will be a woman first minister, who says woman can’t be whatever they want!”

My niece smiled and was pleased that her teacher was acknowledging the abilities of women to be as accomplished as men. She was confused at my face however, when she told me of this. There’s was nothing but cynicism and exhaustion across it. Think Professor McGonagall meets Toby from the West Wing ( that’s about as topical as my popular culture references get).

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I explained to my wonderful nieces, who I have to say are some of the most articulate and inquisitive young women I know (pretty sure I’m at least 10% of the reason for this…), that this wasn’t because I am used to having to fight nor was it because the glass is half full for me. It’s because we see the surface and assume there is nothing more.

Nicola Sturgeon, regardless of your political affiliation, becoming FM is a good thing, and yes it has got to do with her being a visible, powerful woman in public life. But using that as an argument for women being equal is fundamentally flawed.

As a feminist campaigner, I am told time and time again that my work isn’t needed, it’s 2014 woman can;
– earn a living
– have any job they want
– own property
– run their own lives and bodies
– vote
…to name a few, so what’s there to moan about, women have got it now.

Why then is it that women, earn on average 17% less than men for the same job, despite making up the majority of the workforce?
Why is that women can have any job they want, provided it’s not a CEO position or in science, engineering or tech?
Why is it that 1 in 4 women will be subject to violence and women across the world are unable to access safe abortion?
Why is it then, that despite being able to vote and run for elections for 7 decades, make up 34% of the parliament and 25% of councils?

It’s called institutionalised inequality; where despite there being rights, attitudes and action do not meet the needs of these rights and maintain a system where equality remains on the surface rather than at the core of our society.

It’s there on paper but not in reality.
Much like Harry Potter and WestWing characters, although it took considerably longer for me to realise this than it did understanding inequality. Don’t worry, I’m seeking help.

We have three women leading major political parties in Scotland- credit to them, because they do this while facing these institutionalised attitudes- such as a media more concerned with how shrill their voices are, what they are wearing, if and when they will breed and what a cat fight between them would look like.

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Take the equal pay act. Women should be paid the same as men. Done. Or not…over 40 years of it being on paper and not being a reality. Just one example of how equality sometimes only reaches the surface.

It’s for this reason that campaigns like women 5050 are so necessary. We need to see women in charge and we need to put mechanisms is place to make that happen.

And yet still, despite all of this evidence I hear
“but women should be there on merit not gender”
So are we to think women don’t have the merit- that’s the only reason they aren’t there? That’s pretty damn insulting.

“Equality is happening, you shouldn’t have superficial mechanisms”
Equality doesn’t just happen. It has never just happened. It happened because people who were under represented or oppressed fought to be noticed by those who had privilege as a standard. Why can’t women fight for it. If we wait for it to “just happen” it won’t be in my lifetime and perhaps not even in the lifetime of my nieces. What’s the big problem with pushing equality ahead? Who loses out?, from where I see, it’s only those who have perhaps had too much for too long.

Back to the story, the perfect response by my niece’s teacher would have been;
“that will be a woman first minister, who says woman can’t be whatever they want! Well except for patriarchy, that gets in the way…let’s base today’s class on how we can smash it…”

One day. (But not by sitting and waiting)

How to spot a sexist

I’m back! If you live in Scotland or have picked up a paper in the last, say 2 years, you’ll understand why I have been busy…

But be happy in knowing my nieces were still getting their political education, especially as two of them had turned 16 and were able to vote – naturally I made them watch a documentary about suffrage to make them understand the depths of the responsibility. I remember the first election I was eligible to vote in, I strutted up to the polling station card in hand, pride in chest, standing on the shoulders of women fighters before me. I had a little speech prepared and walked to the table, started the sentence “It was in 1918 that…” but was cut off by a cold glare and a “just give me your address please, take this, then go to the booth”. Turns out the woman at the polling station was less excited about my political right of passage.

But let’s return to this weeks Feminist Friday. I still maintain that social media is a fantastic thing, I mean without it I wouldn’t be able to tweet this relentlessly to serve my narcissism and have you read my words. But it is also a platform for idiots, particularly anonymous misogynistic idiots. Well this week we have a brand new hashtag to unpick – #HowtoSpotAWifeMaterial – 5th top trending UK/US trend earlier this week.

That’s right women and men, just take to twitter and you will be able to find out if you or your partner make the cut of what is patriarchy’s definition of wife material (that addition of the word material really brings home how far away a wife is from being human, don’t you think?). I sent my nieces screenshots of this (we didn’t have a chance to meet this week) and the reaction was hilarious from “If you tweet crap like that you are never going to actually have a wife” to “Some of these things are what Granny says to you aunty?” (the last one being particularly unhelpful yet in some tweets, accurate).

So how do you spot wife material? Well women, you aren’t it. Not one of you. No seriously not one. Because you have to be everything, all the time, apparently.

I mean the whole thing is awful but let’s take it in tweet categories. To be a decent wife you must be:

Sexually available at all times:

“She wakes you up with sex”

“She greets you home from work like [picture of naked woman bent over]”

“She detects when you’re horny and gets on it”

“Never lets her man leave the house hungry or horny”

Has a “perfect” appearance;

“doesn’t have A/B cup boobs”

“Ass like Nikki, Height like Ciera, face like Beyonce”

Home help:

“She make you dinner while you play Fifa with the boys without complaining”

“She washes all your dirty clothes on a saturday morning”

“She’ll wash and iron”

Obedient:

“She doesn’t have a password on her phone cause she should have nothing to hide”

“She doesn’t give you back talk”

“She won’t be bitching or complaining to her slutty girlfriends”

“Her only male friends are her man and Jesus” (No, this is actually real)

And yet…

“Doesn’t get her opinions from men only” – ironic since this was a man, giving his opinion, on how women shouldn’t get their opinions from men…right.

“Not caught up on how she looks all the time” – but you mate above just said…oh, now I’m just confused.

“She had self respect” – well, not sure you qualify mate, you dropped yours by jumping on this hashtag

“focuses on her studies”

A quick look through and you see how easy it is for people to close their eyes to self reflection. tweets and tweets of what women should be, lists of contradictory expectations, yet every single one is an expectation derived from patriarchy.

Be everything to everyone else but yourself, don’t make it obvious you’re being everything, and definitely don’t complain about having to be everything.

Whilst the hashtag may be “How to spot wife material” it easily translates into “how to spot a sexist” pity the tweeters don’t quite realise what they are advertising about themselves…

Anti Feminism isn’t trendy, it’s painfully common

Well hello there, and welcome to Feminist Fridays. For new readers, this is a fortnightly account of, essentially, how the rage induced by misogyny is likely to send me to an early grave, for regulars, well, no doubt your grave will be next to mine.

This week we turn our attention to online Anti Feminism movement, like THAT’s a new thing. All you folks on Twitter or blogs talking about how feminism isn’t needed cause you think it’s the modern, cool thing to do…aw, bless.

My nieces are online (much in the same way as I breathe, they instagram) and they have come across a lot of anti feminism, but they assured me it wasn’t anti women, it was talking about how feminism is wrong and how men have really hard lives that feminism ignores and sometimes makes worse.

“Is this true Aunty? I thought feminism was about making a better society and that men and women benefited?”

blog pic1There has been an serge of women declaring how much they don’t need feminism; for some it is because feminism hates men (I mean this is just boring), for some it is because they themselves do not face inequality (because what is a social justice movement, if not solely about the individual…), for others it was simply that perhaps they liked cooking food and being a girlfriend. Well, I hadn’t realised that feminism advocated eating only take-outs and remaining single for the entire duration of your life.

I do not condemn/belittle these women, I point out that this is an example of patriarchy and the use of women against women as a tool of reinforcing patriarchy.

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Here’s an easy list of what feminism fights for:

Social justice for women and girls across the world

Tackling institutionalised sexism and misogyny at all levels of the world (small or large scale)

For women to have choice; choice to have children or not, to stay at home or not

Creating a society where women make choices based on their needs to societal expectation or harassment

Here’s what it is not;

telling you not to wear make up

telling you not to wear heels

Telling you to not be in a heterosexual relationship

Telling you to not have children

Telling you to hate men

Telling you, you can’t be a stay at home mum

Telling you that all men hate women

Telling you to that women need to be superior

Telling you that men do not face any prejudice

Are we done? Probably not…FYI I am wearing a floral dress, have long straightened hair and have make up on whilst I write this. In your face.

The Women Against Feminism backlash is build on an ill-informed and inaccurate foundation. And it turns out a foundation which benefits from the destruction of feminism for men’s needs;

The men’s rights movement apparently now has different leaders- women. One of which was the creator or #womenagainstfeminism (who states that “rape culture” means all men are rapists – news to me) She must be so proud. Of course cynical me would say that this is the MRAs trying to legitimise themselves, the cynical me would say that this is another classis attempt to derail feminism, the cynical me would say this just another patriarchal force. Feck it, the non cynical me says it too, because it’s pretty bloody obvious.

Men’s rights activists and these women leaders of the movement have a particular gripe with feminism, in that it only furthers the cause of women. No sh*t Sherlock. The point of it being a cause focusing on women, is because NOTHING ELSE DOES. But here’s the hilarious part, there bits of it that also helps men – yes, in this privileged world men live in, even feminism is helping them.

Simply because feminism is abut creating a more equal place for women and girls, this means erasing patriarchy – and patriarchy creates problems for men too;

Men and mental health – it is often stated that men are more likely to die by suicide and less likely to come forward for mental health support. This is indeed true., Why? Because we have made emotional wellbeing “feminine” and therefore less than. We have created the idea that talking about emotional and asking for help is a female/inferior thing and therefore men must not bow down to that. they must have a stiff upper lip and suppress their emotions. Blame Patriarchy.

Men and Child rearing – an argument used is that men are not given adequate paternity rights or are mocked for being stay at home fathers. Why? Much like the above, because we have feminised caring, being at home and child rearing- it is the women’s job and it is an attitude developed over generations and sustained in our society. An attitude which says “women look after, men go out and work”. Blame Patriarchy.

Men and work stress – another argument is that men are expected to be promoted, to have top successful jobs and make all the monies. We are in a society that has created an identity of men through only a narrow scope of achievements, so much so that when a woman makes these types of achievements it is not recognised or is understated, because it is not expected of her. Blame Patriarchy.

Men and education – A final argument (mainly cause this will get repetitive) is that boys are discriminated against in education, that it is more beneficial to girls. Is it though, because repeatedly we read studies that tell us boys and girls do well at the early stages of primary school and then boys tend to drop off, much in the way girls tend to drop off in science by the time they hit secondary school. I wonder what could be happening here? I wonder if it is social construction? I wonder if girls to less well in science because they are not expected to engage in that subject and I wonder if boys do less well and a younger age, because the expectation is that they “will be boys”, will manage to get by and will be too busy playing outdoors This issue is absolutely about gender stereotyping and you know what? Blame Patriarchy.

It’s not that difficult; man, woman or prefer not to identify in arbitrary gender binary, feminism is a fighting force for good, shouting about how much you hate it, is really just shooting yourself in the foot.

10 minutes (well 9 and a half)

So this is a bit of a cop out for a feminist Friday – but I am going to pretend that it counts. 

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to give a Tedx Talk. Now, when this first came about I, in an absent minded manner (with the support of an over enthusiastic friend) say yes, that sounds like a great idea. However, on the morning of it was a less great idea, particularly when I felt myself folding into the foetal position when someone said “mic check on stage”. It was a fascinating experience though, despite causing me the fear along with nausea. It was interesting to be giving a talk to people who are there for a whole host of reasons not necessarily because feminism was somewhere on the agenda. It was a day where feminism was spoken about along with sport, maths, health and corporate communications…pretty diverse. But also exactly where feminism should be – talking to people who aren’t necessarily already on board. I was on stage near the end of the day (so essentially rocked back and forth, back stage for about 7 hours (the volunteers kept checking up on me, pretty sure one had the ambulance on speed dial, bless him). But the warm welcome, the nodding of the heads of the women in the room who knew exactly what I was talking about and the pensive faces of the men, who knew this was important and wanted to listen. That’s worth all the nervousness (I mean, I’m not doing it any time again soon, but worth it…)

You can watch it here; 

In summary; it is the journey of a woman from birth to adulthood and the sexist hurdles she is forced to climb. 

It went online two days ago and it took one hour before a misogynistic troll decided that it was “feminist hate”, that I was a t*at, that feminists are man haters who should shut up and die, that men have problems too (cause I must have subliminally said “by talking about women’s rights, it means men shouldn’t have any-there’s not enough to go round)…and so followed the rest…beautifully illustrating patriarchy and, well making my point for me. Thanks trolling pals. You must have such a delightful life to be so easily rattled and so insecure by women standing up for themselves.

I particularly like the one that said “I’m siting back and watching feminism die with popcorn”. Oh yee of little faith, I’m not going anywhere, nor are any of my feminist sisterhood, dear little delusional women hater – We’re just getting started. If you do a little reading (try not to strain yourself) you’ll find most people are actually talking about a feminist resurgence, that’s right, I can only presume it’s the stuff of your nightmares, I guess it’ll be me sitting with the popcorn first. 

Thank you for reigniting my love of feminism and thank you for being so beyond the point of rationality that you are in fact almost a parody of misogyny. 

The story I tell includes pinkification of girls, street harassment, violence against women, victim blaming, media objectification, women in science, the pay gap and more. If you care about these issues like I do, get involved with those trying to change things:

Everyday Sexism

The Women’s Room

Everyday Victim Blaming

No More Page 3

Object

Let Toys Be Toys

End Online Misogyny 

We love feminism…now that it sells?

It’s the start of the summer holidays and whilst parent are putting together their plans for their kids now that there is no school and childcare is unavailable or ridiculously expensive (thought I’d drop that in there), I, as the dedicated Aunty that I am, have put together a spreadsheet of feminist lessons for summer. That cheer you hear in the background – That’s all my nieces. Fact.

The reason for having these discussions with my nieces is simply because nobody did it with me, and that had consequences. We are in a society where whilst we can be pleased with the progress we are making, much of this progress comes with a caveat of sexism – think the invention of twitter and consequential creation of trolls. We are in the juxtaposition of having more awareness of the issue, yet the issue of sexism increasing and evolving. The consequence being the normalisation of inequality.

Some of this juxtaposition can be seen in a little video that has been doing the social media rounds. Now I got through the first minute and I immediatelty thought – This is brilliant, this is exactly the problem, let’s talk to girls and boys about it. The video has young girls, young boys, men and women talking about what “like a girl” means, pointing out that we are using a word to describe 52% of the population as an insult. The last woman says “Why can’t run like a girl also mean win the race! AMAZING Right?!

yeah… but then my heart sinks because it’s to make you buy something. It’s not a public service announcement, it’s not just because it’s something that needs to be said. It’s to encourage you to buy Always sanitary towels. Sigh. feminist killjoy

You see, my problem isn’t with the product, perhaps it’s not even the fact that a feminist theme is being utilized to make you buy something (no, I lie, it is this, this pisses me off), it’s with the cognitive dissonance of using a feminist narrative alongside a painfully stereotypical marketing strategy.

Here’s a previous Always Ad which tells us “Even though it’s your period, you should still feel beautiful. Now this beauty doesn’t come from the inside, there are lipsticks and power brushes flying around. Because beauty means make up – just like a girl?

Here’s another which tells us that daily panty liners are “like a moisturizer, like lacy undies, like make up and like a dress” Just like a girl?

I don’t always want to be the kill joy. You know like that “friend” who you never invite to nights out, but somehow ends up there, and tell you the story of how wrong everything is around you? (I’m not that bad.) but the reality is,  if this is a direction Always and other retailers want to go in, GREAT, do it. but you’re going to have to leave the casual sexism behind. You cannot “rewrite the rules” whilst simultaneously endorsing patriarchy’s rules of women and advertising.

It’s similar to the way I feel about Dove and their “real beauty” campaign, which says hear us with out empowering message “women come in all shapes and sizes, young and old – that’s great and should be celebrated” *quiet voice* also buy our skin smoothing, wrinkle reducing, hair changing products…”

So maybe some PR geniuses have figured out that selling things by making women feel like crap isn’t working. GOOD, it’s shit, stop  doing it. But there’s a lot more to PR than an advert of the month – there’s an ethos – please re-write the rules to that, make it something I would happily say is “just like a girl”.

Now, I’m off to tell some kids santa isn’t real, the tooth fairy is their parent, and that the ending to Toy Story is a lie – all of your toys end up in that giant inferno. Feminist Kill Joy OUT.

Surprise! World cup sexism.

Have you ever considered just what happens around a table of marketing or advertising professionals? I can only assume that either everyone is asleep or that there is some form of time machine taking us back to a place where sexism was even more blatant and more readily excepted. Of course we can also assume that the people around the table are mainly men… It takes a certain level of arrogance or perhaps some form of cognitive dissonance to give the green light to blatant sexism and use the stage of the 2014 World Cup to do so. We’re only a week in and so far we have sexism overload. Just like…

1. Pringles

This is happening everywhere. It's an endemic of women nagging and yawning and men shouting at screens...

This is happening everywhere. It’s an endemic of women nagging and yawning and men shouting at screens…

Where men are being men, watch football and hiding it from their nagging wives or girlfriends. Obviously.

2. Mcdonalds

Where they almost got it by including a woman playing football…but she’s wearing heels and a little dress whilst on a night out…I think that might be the sole point.

3. River Island

Where it is acceptable to link gagging and domestic abuse to world cup watching…well it’s funny right? Cause women nag…this never gets old. (this has now been removed, but let’s just stop and think about how it was ever allowed to be there).

4. Currys

Who think that women want to watch gardening programmes, wildlife documentaries and dramas about castles so couldn’t possibly understand a man’s need for sport. (I laughed a little as I typed this).

5. The Sun

Well, given that this is about sexism, it would almost be unfair to not include the most sexist tabloid in British media (not an easy title to win). The Sun in its infinite wisdom took Page 3 out in their 2 million copy give away…apparently to cover more news. Well how about making it permanent, you know, with being a NEWSpaper and all, or perhaps it was a (very) quiet realisation that fewer people would be interested in a free copy of objectification. In the link above,  The Sun’s “how to guide” of World Cup watching includes the line “Grunt hello to the wife as she comes home and then ask her to take over barbecue duties”. Seriously.

6. The t-shirts…yes, all of them. 

There are few t-shirts you can buy of the World Cup which don’t objectify a woman or express general sexist commentary. This one in particular has had to be pulled but…after being made…after being sold…after it being pointed out by women. Then it was pulled.

7. Flags…apparently.

I never knew flags could be sexist. Actually that’s a lie, I did know that, everything can be made sexist, especially if patriarchy can help someone make money. You can have your very own world cup flag for the team you support. But who wants those boring regular flags which actually represent countries, how about one with boobs on it? Yours for only £15 plus postage and packaging. Buy now and we will throw in the demeaning of women for FREE!

There are so many reasons to be annoyed by it, from all quarters of life:

 

If you’re a woman;

Because sexism is everywhere and it’s pathetic and exhausting

Because hey, women might like watching football too.

Because you don’t nag

Because every time this happens on TV we are endorsing the ridiculing of women

If you’re a man;

Because maybe you don’t like football

Because maybe this is patriarchy backfiring on the backward expectations of men

Because maybe you look at that and think “hey that’s a really shit way to portray women”

If you’re a marketing expert/work in advertising;

Because this is REALLY lazy

Because sexism doesn’t actually sell

Because you have some responsibility of changing the status quo and the tired, outdated stereotypes it comes with

The World Cup is a world stage, it’s a shame we can’t use it to portray women positively.

Yes all women Vs Not all men

My nieces have finished their exams and look distinctly more human again, now that they have freedom from books and studying, what better way to use up their time than talk to them about feminism and current affairs. They were very happy about this (this may just be my interpretation of their facial expressions).

They are constantly on their phones and constantly online, I recently realised it wasn’t simply to follow One Direction on Twitter, it was also to follow Hillary Clinton and BBC news (remind me to never underestimate them again). Through the power of social media, they have the news at their finger tips constantly. This is good, generally. But it wasn’t this last week.

They read about Elliot Rodger in a 140 character tweets:

“Sexually Frustrated killer Elliot Rodger guns down victims”

“six dead in Virgin Killer rampage”

“I will kill all blonde s*uts says Virgin Killer”

“I don’t even remember being his friend, shock as virgin killer’s former schoolmate named as someone he hated”

Elliot Rodger was a 22 year old student who carried out a series of murders on his campus and in a shopping mall killing 3 men and 3 women. He intended to kill all women and blamed it on his lack of sexual contact and women who had rejected him. He believed they were wrong to ever reject him and that they need to be killed for their wrong doing. Now read the tweets again.

The media uses mental illness, his sexual status and his childhood to justify his murdering. Aside from this creating a whole lot of dangerous and uncalled for stereotyping, not even when the perpetrator outlines in a video manifesto of murder that he hates all women, does the media call it what it is; misogyny.
Here is an excerpt from his video manifesto script:

“I will slaughter every singly stuck up blonde slut I see inside there;

Girls, all I’ve ever wanted was to love you and to be loved by you, and wanted a girlfriend, and wanted sex, I wanted love, affection, adoration.

You think I’m unworthy of it, that’s a crime that can never be forgiven.

If I can’t have you, girls, I will destroy you. [laughs]

You denied me a happy life and in turn, I will deny all of you life, it’s only fair. I hate you, all of you.”

Understandably, my nieces were shocked by this, they were confused about how someone could do something, and they were confused about how someone could hate all women, to the point of wanting to see them all dead. My niece said, “I don’t think he was well” and she is right, I don’t think you can be well to do something like this, but I do think his illness was called misogyny. And it’s important we call it that.

It was a difficult, painful conversation and badly thought out news channel tweets didn’t help it. However it sparked something else on Twitter; #yesallwomen. Explaining how any misogyny impacts all women and how we need to desperately take this on and change our society. I pointed my nieces to this as the best education of the issue; from women directly and from the same source that had disturbed them so much. Of course this didn’t last long and instead was trolled by #notaallmen and #feminismiswrong…

It’s pretty pathetic to have to troll social media consciousness raising, because you are so insecure about what masculinity is. Every tweet on #notallmen is redundant. If any of those using it would have read just a few tweets or even done a quick Google search they would have had a simple query answered; Not all men are misogynist but ALL women suffer the consequences of misogyny, and the focus of feminism is the latter. Simple as that.

Irony was of course lost on the people of twitter, as a hashtag stating “not all men  are misogynist”, was using classic patriarchal methods to silence the solidarity and experiences of women. Kind of screwed up your own point there.

Starting the tag not all men, was purposefully created to derail women’s conversations, however it backfired. Massively. With both men and women explaining, ranting and often with fabulous wit, the absolute pointless and patronising endeavour of this social media stunt.
20140529-200759.jpg

Thankfully #yesallwomen has won the patriarchal social media battle (this week) as the hashtag is STILL going strong today and had been a source of education for many:

When mainstream media is unable to call a story of violence against women what it actually is, it is the job of social media and “ordinary people” to take forward and shout about it; and keep going in the face all the silencing and abuse, because, yes, all women, feel the consequences of.

Our Acceptance of Blurred Lines

Hey BBC, you did good.

I watched Kirsty Wark’s programme on sexism in 2014, and it was brilliant. It explored how deep rooted sexism is, how easily it can ignored. Most importantly it showed Kirsty’s disgust and the darkness that exists across our society when you stop to actually think about that joke, that lyric or that advert. It clearly made people uncomfortable and sexism should make people uncomfortable. The show analysed the sexism that happens every week after Question Time. Each time Stella Creasy, Mary Beard, Harriet Harman, or Ruth Davidson get asked on (which is rare enough) they are abused in the most abhorrently misogynistic way across social media. It is vitally important that this is highlighted and people are made to feel ashamed of their conduct. These are misogynists hiding behind anonymity, silencing women out of public life. Well done to the programme for revealing that this silencing of women is the responsibility of everyone and that just because it happens on Twitter, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening in real life. 

You can watch it here.

The programme importantly highlighted how normalised sexism and misogyny is today, and what it reveled was that when you accept even one aspect of sexism, you are more likely to accept the next level of “up” of inequality. Go to 21.30 minutes and we hear from a psychologist who tells us that a man who holds some sexist views perceives sexual harassment or “humorous” sexism as acceptable and even empowering. These individuals were more likely to accept the under-representation of women in parliament, a decrease in women services and inequality in the sharing of household chores. Kirsty Wark excellently explains that when we laugh along, dismissing it as a joke, as bystanders, we endorse the sexist views some men hold and therefore reinforce it to be stronger. 

But there is another dimension. It isn’t just “some sexist attitudes” that we may be reinforcing, it is a sexist society we live in. Having some sexist views is the norm, in fact seeing everyone as equal and being free of prejudice is actually an abnormal mind to have. Because everyday we encounter sexist messaging; we are brought up in that environment and we are normalised to it. To divide people as definitely not sexist or definitely sexist and therefore more impressionable, is actually pretty disingenuous. 

The part that left me speechless (not an easy thing to do) was the longest standing editor of Loaded Magazine (yes, it’s hardly a surprise). He said that Loaded “celebrated” women (to which, much to my happiness Kirsty Wark shook her head and laughed), he then said he believed people were intelligent enough to decipher that the magazine is not endorsing objectifying women…right.

Kirsty Wark showed said editor the Blurred Lines video, to which he said “I don’t think that’s so bad”, when she showed him the “we saw your boobs” clip from last year’s oscars he responded “that’s not funny, that’s why that’s not ok”, He was shown a “I’m feeling rapey” t-shirt and said “that’s not funny, that is misogynistic” But here’s the problem, it’s not about how funny it is (aside from that being pretty subjective) it’s about what it says about women, whether someone laughs or not. 

The former editor of loaded magazine also goes on to say essentially poor men feel bad, that’s why it’s happening. Wholly missing the issue of why women are made to blame for that feeling or indeed why that feeling exists at all. 

There is a continuum here, which is a nuance missing from some of those objecting to the idea that sexism exists today. What is ok and what is not ok, in fact is essentially one in the same. All we are doing is increasing our tolerance to what is not ok. Let’s take a look at sexism according to that editor:

Loaded magazine – ok

Loaded magazine content – ok

Blurred lines video -ok

Blurred lines lyrics – ok

T-shirt with domestic abuse – ok

T-shirt with explicit rape joke – Not Ok

When you put it in a list like that, that definition of “ok” and “not ok” is pathetically redundant. Every single aspect of what comes before the “Not Ok” plays a role in developing a culture of tolerance to sexism and misogyny. From rape jokes by unimaginative comedians, to the latest music video, from rape threats on twitter to killing prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto; all of this contributes to a culture where the “not ok” is becoming further removed and more misogynistic every day. The tolerance level to sexism is already dangerously high and those blurred lines, when you think about it, are not actually all that blurry. 

Amazing work Kirsty Wark. Can we have a programme like this every week? Please?

 

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