talatyaq

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

Silky, Smooth Sexism

It’s always the adverts. I would have a more balanced blood pressure level and a regular heart rate if those 30 second slots didn’t interrupt my watching of the rest of sexism on television.

Let’s think about those advert slots; 30 seconds times by around 4 adverts between each break in a programme, here’s what they us about women.

1. A car advert tells us that a woman is the equivalent of a hood ornament

2. A men’s fragrance tell us that if a woman gets a whiff of you, her clothes should come right off.

3. A supermarket reminds us that grocery shopping and cooking are, obviously, jobs only for women

4. The beauty industry tell us that a woman needs better hair, better skin, better eyelashes; they way you look when you wake up is grim for the rest of the world (in my case, this might be a little bit true, mainly the drool down my chin).

Sometimes there, something about PPI or claiming for injuries, but that’s about it.

That’s a lot of information in two minutes. That’s a lot of sexism in two minutes.

BUT wait, it gets better. The beauty industry is usually one that makes me bury my head in my hands with its constant preying on women’s self esteem and reinstating values that tell us that if we are to look attractive (which we can’t do without them) it better be to please a man – forget what you want in life, or what gender you actually want to be with. We are so normalised to it that we have a tendency to shake our heads and move on, but every so often, even our normalised sexism drops its jaw in the audacity of the marketing world.

This time its Veet, now usually veet falls under the “normalised sexism” category; yes it’s a pants, usually it tells us to hold ourselves up to beauty standards (standards being a rubbish word to use) that are unfair and a very narrow definition of the word beauty, but it has outdone even itself. DON’T RISK DUDENESS (also don’t invent words, Veet).

Yup. That just happened. You may be shocked into silence, perhaps confused as to who thought this was a good idea or looking into the abyss wondering what part of this angers you the most. Well, let pick this apart and find out:

1. If you don’t shave your legs, you are a man

2. If you don’t shave your legs, you are unattractive to men

3. Men, you should be horrified at a woman with hair

4. She shaved yesterday and there is already stubble -If anything Veet, that is you telling us it’s not worth it

5. Women, you should feel apologetic for being hairy

6. Women, you should feel apologetic for the horror that may be on the face of a disgustingly sexist man who has only a patriarchal definition beauty and is, by the sounds of it, pretty undeserving of touching your stubbly legs.

7. Feeling womanly is reserved to those who adhere to these beauty standards

8. That Veet is just a bit homophobic.

9. That hairiness is something you should be worrying about around the clock, like an impending doom or hairy zombie apocalypse

10. It’s kind of also offensive to men with a bit of a belly and a beard. Jump on the feminist bandwagon beardy men.

AND women it’s not just who you wake up next to that should be horrified at your disgusting natural body growth, what would the pedicures think of you?!!

Apparently, the taxi driver and the emergency medical staff would also be disgusted and make you feel ashamed, but I can’t seem to find those ads anywhere on the net. (fine with me!)

Thanks Veet, in 30 seconds you’ve been quite an education. You’ve reminded me and countless others (just take a look at my Twitter feed) that lazy sexism is the staple of the marketing world and one we need to constantly question, highlight and tackle. So with that in mind, you can complain here:

http://www.veet.co.uk/contact-us-form.php

Or leave them a passive aggressive message on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/veet

Or let the company that owns Veet products know that this is all a little bit pathetic on Twitter: @discoverRB

I am off for a cup of tea and possibly some deep breaths.

Sexism, a PR dream.

What do you get when you cross a sexist company with a public relations team? The most disingenuous partnership in the history of all time. (ok, maybe not, but I like to be dramatic).

In the past two weeks it would seem that the patriarchy has over-dosed itself on “damage control” and is trying to recreate it’s image to the public by becoming charitable and health conscious. Laughs all round.

Let’s start with The Sun, that dearest newspaper that is has sexism so ingrained in it’s very design that it cannot muster the strength to realise that calling Page 3 a national treasure, is a disservice to the entire country and is so obnoxious that it can refuse the petitioning of some 180,000 people and stop belittling and objectifying women next to the most recent news of a footballer’s latest misdemeanor and a snappy pun about the benefits system. The Sun newspaper thought it would be an excellent idea to team up with a breast cancer charity and use Page 3 as a way of teaching people how to check their breasts and raise awareness of breast cancer, especially in younger women (well, of course younger women, the age range of page 3 is about 18-21 years, nobody wants to see real breasts that have been impacted by gravity over the years, right? Thanks.)

Now call me cynical, but this has to be the cheapest PR stunt I have seen in a while. Of course, I want women to check their breasts for early signs of cancer, of course it saves lives. But that’s not what this is about is it? No. If this was about women, about cancer and about saving lives, despite it being in The Sun, I would welcome it. This is about making Page 3 palatable and being able to say it serves a purpose other than providing men with kicks and profit margins. Let’s just think about it for a second. Somewhere in a meeting room, with what my experience tells me are probably only men, and if we are lucky one woman, they thought; “let’s use breast cancer to make us look better.” Lets USE breast cancer. Well The Sun, NO SALE, because most of us saw through it. In fact so much so, that the largest breast cancer charity, Breakthrough, had to release a press statement, explaining that they believe it “trivialises” breast cancer. That’s a whole lot politer than I would have been. Image

Those thinking that this is a serious feature or one that has depth, let’s ask The Sun a few questions:

1. Why is it about ascetically pleasing young women? Do older women not get breast cancer?

2. Why, if it is about breast cancer, and not objectification, are none of the women wearing any jeans?

3. Did you think through that maybe focusing on perky breasts is a bit of an insult to those who have had breast cancer or mastectomies?

4. Your largest readership is male (almost 60%), did that have any bearings on how this feature was put together? And if so, why, when it’s about women and their boobs, not men and their fancies?

Having gone the The Sun’s website. interestingly, I have to scroll down many pictures of breasts before I find a link to how I can actually “check em”. Once I click on the link, I then scroll down 2 more pictures of “Rosie” from Page 3 showing us how to do it, before any actual descriptions…But this is after I get told that I should “check em and then post em” (a picture on twitter) using the hashtag.

Breast cancer isn’t a profit making route, nor is it a way to create some good PR, The Sun, you have somehow made Page 3 more ridiculous to me. I didn’t know it was possible.

Onto the second company to stir rage. It’s a common theme in my life to switch on the television and be angry within, say 3 minutes, and Lynx is usually on the list of adverts to achieve this. But they have taken on a whole new image these days. It is normally a marketing campaign around women (literally) falling from the sky at men’s feet, crashing cars whilst being intoxicated by a man’s scent or having their clothes fall off. There is usually a general theme of women being there for sexual pleasure and that they are men’s entitlement, provided of course said men have sprayed themselves with lynx. What is not to like? That sure makes me want to buy it…women and men should be equally insulted (and no, this isn’t me not being able to take a joke, I enjoy having a laugh, I just don’t enjoy it being at women’s expense).

But now, they’ve taken on a political and charitable theme; It’s all about world peace, and how do we achieve world peace? By wearing new Lynx Peace and showing women (again, ascetically pleasing women) that you love them.

We have a soldier returning from war, a soldier in combat who decides to stop shooting and kiss a woman, what is meant to appear to be a dictator who instead uses his power to get his army to make a love heart and who we are (i assume) to think is a terrorist (yes, there’s elements of all kinds of prejudice thrown in) who instead presses a big red button to set off fireworks for his love rather than a weapon. The footnote of this is essentially, if we all loved women more, had a little sexy time with them and brought them grand gestures of love, war would end? Is that it? *head hits desk repeatedly*

Much like The Sun, this is pretty cynical stuff. Let’s bandwagon an important issue and make some profit over it and let’s make ourselves look good rather than objectifying, degrading and sexist. This is also an example of why campaigners and organisations need to be weary of who they partner with; Last year, the theme for Peace One Day was around domestic abuse and highlighting why this is an endemic across the world creating nothing short of a war against women. So much so, that Peace One Day has partnered with the likes of the UN and anti violence campaigners to create the Domestic violence coalition. It is a shame that some reflection hasn’t been done on why domestic abuse is an endemic, why it is prevalent across the world; ask any women’s rights campaigner and they will tell you; it’s because of a global, institutionalized inequality, which allows us to see women as “less” and men as dominators. It is this force of inequality that allows domestic abuse to exist and often go unnoticed, and Lynx’s sexist advertising plays a role in allowing this inequality and the “lesser than” perception of women to exist. Lynx repeatedly use women in their advertising campaigns as objects, as things to be captured and for the use of sex; does this not sit on the spectrum of institutionalised sexism which allows violence against women to fester in society?

By creating these partnerships, whether with The Sun or Lynx, are we not also condoning how they represent women?

Both Peace One Day and CoopaFeel are organisations very worthy of media and advertising attention. I just wish they had gone about it a different way.

Valentines; What’s a feminist to do?

It’s valentines day. Now, I probably didn’t need to point that out, given there is no way you have walked down a street without it being slapped in your face: “£5 roses bouquet” Can only imagine they are of the highest quality, nothing screams romance like budgeting and “champagne meals for 2″ Because the restaurant doesn’t want your scummy single custom this weekend.

Valentine’s Day is like 24 hours where the consumer world reflects a Sunday meal with my family. A giant heart shaped microscope on your life, judging your singleton ways and your double bed with a single pillow. It’s like every aunty I know has suddenly set up an aisle in Tesco, so much so, that when I go to get a loaf of bread, I worry  that at the end of the valentines aisle would be my aunt and the latest “eligible” Batchelor she’s found. shudder.

I’m not a fan, but equally I’m not a hater, especially when one of my younger nieces makes me a card with hearts and glitter (quite literally) falling off it. But my older nieces asked me- can you be a feminist and like valentines day? Immediately I wanted to say “of course” so normalised am I to coming to the defence of feminism and trying everything to make sure people get we are not what the Daily Mail told you we were. But actually, it’s a good question, and one that feminists haven’t quite worked out.

I asked my niece what she thought of it, and she said s0me of the girls (young women) at school were obsessed with knowing they had a date or boyfriend that day, so they knew they were getting gifts, which makes her think feminists can’t like it. There’s quite a lot to unpack there. Firstly, the obvious issue of “having to have a boyfriend” this is something that doesn’t just exist for 16 year olds, it follows many women throughout their lives. I can’t walk into a family event without someone tilting their head any asking me if I was struggling with not being married (little do they know I am often tilting my head and asking them why they bothered to marry). There is an acute pressure on women to be in romantic relationships, and on top of that for these relationships to fit
heteronormative rules and traditional gender roles. And Valentines Day obviously emphasises that. On top of this, I was taken by the part of her sentence that said “knew they were getting gifts”. Of course Valentine’s Day again emphasises this with it’s roses, chocolates, teddies and flowers. But this isn’t just reserved to Valentine’s Day, in fact young women and men are often told that their affection is equivalent to gifts and that empathy and love is an after thought. It doesn’t take much to go from thinking a relationship is about gift giving to thinking it is about getting something in return for those gifts, or thinking that the gift giving excuses any behaviour… the problems are pretty evident.

There is also a problem here about young women and self esteem, and that for some it is equated to boyfriends and gifts.

So ok, if you feel the need to run to find a man, Valentine’s Day is not so femtastic. But it doesn’t need to be, surely, in 2014 we can have a valentines that is about loving all those who are close to you, regardless of the romantic undertones (as if they are that subtle) of the day?? Apparently not. I started doing a little reading and there seem to be two extremes, neither of which I like:

1. You like Valentine’s; you capitalist anti feminist demon: So one of the first articles I came across told me to reject all things to do with love, romance and Valentine’s. It can only come in a patriarchal package and therefore love must be rejected in all forms for you to be considered a feminist. Now, I’m not keen on anyone telling me what box my feminism should fit into, given I am already trying to push my way out of the box patriarchy put me in, so this viewpoint can shove it.

2. Use Valentine’s to learn to love yourself; aside from the slight nausea this makes me feel, there is a point, take out the partner and make it about you and what you appreciate about yourself and your feminism. Aright, that’s fine. Until said article told me to write myself a love letter, or go on a feminist date to prove Valentine’s day wrong…I think we might be giving Valentine’s Day more importance this way, which was entirely the opposite aim. Also, I AM NOT WRITING MYSELF A LOVE LETTER. GEES.

I then realised that I was looking in all the wrong places and my niece can have her questions answered by the one and only bell hooks.

20140214-144858.jpg

bell hooks is the only feminist writer I have had the privilege of reading who talks about love and what it means as a feminist. I’m pretty sure bell hooks wouldn’t really mind valentines day (admittedly I have never actually talked to her…one day). Bell hooks explains love in the clearest and yet most sophisticated way; that love removed from the facade of romance needs to be based on equality, empathy and justice. Without these pillars it’s a lie. And for a feminist what better definition than that?

In her book All About Love, hooks describes how patriarchy has distorted our view of love and taught us, both men and women to lie, to appear powerful or powerless. May not sound like the pink fluffy treat you were hoping for on this day, but it’s a necessary read. By no means is hooks saying that love doesn’t exist or that love itself is a terrible thing, she is in fact, explaining that the dominance of power and patriarchy is a disservice to love and an injustice to women in all types of relationships.

So all the roses, the chocolates and the nauseating pink might be nice, but essentially they only count if they are based on justice and equality. Hooks goes further to say love should be worthy of this foundation in all aspects of our life:

To love well is the task in all meaningful relationships, not just romantic bonds.

How about dropping the roses (alright ok, give in and buy them) but why not gift wrap a copy of bell hooks’ All About love? That’s my kind of valentine’s day…I’ll await by the door for all your gifts…

To The Women That Never Were

It’s a brand new year, well it’s been a brand new year for 24 days, but lets say I was still recovering from the ‘holiday’ and attempting to get back into the real world. Admittedly I had to ease myself in by watching Mary Poppins and Elf twice a day for the first two weeks.

But I have entered the real world with a bang, and not a good one.

The purpose of these blogs is to create a feminist conversation by retelling the conversations I am having with my nieces, who range between the ages of 6 and 16 (there has been a lovely new addition recently, but I thought I would let her learn a few words first before I introduce her to feminism, although I’m hoping those words are ‘smash the patriarchy’).

There are many reasons why I decided to start this (2 years ago now!). Firstly, because schools don’t, secondly because of the conversations and feelings I heard them having and the things they were beginning to see in the world, and thirdly because of the culture they have inherited. Like me, they have all inherited parts of an Islamic culture.

So last week, this was the front page of The Independent.
20140124-122944.jpg

Que utter outrage and utter heartbreak from me. In Britain, in 2014, in a so called progressive society, we have unborn children being aborted for being girls. Let me make one thing very clear; This is not about abortions or reproductive rights. Anyone foolish enough to use this as an argument for “pro life” argument, fundamentally misunderstands social justice. This is about infanticide and misogyny.

Usually, if something has had such an effect I will talk about it to my nieces. But this one I found myself stumbling over. How do I explain to young women (lets not even try to get to my younger nieces) that has the been born to different families, they may never have been born at all, simply for being women. I have had many conversations with my nieces, difficult ones, explaining that society has prejudices against them and there are some in this society that hate them for their gender. We’ve talked about rape, we’ve talked about harassment, we’ve talked about racism. But this one I found painfully difficult.

It’s for a whole host of reasons. But perhaps to understand the main reason, you need to know a little more about my life. I am the youngest of a family of only daughters, that’s something I celebrate, but not everyone thinks I should. I am also from a Muslim background and culture, which it would be naïve of me not to recognise, as a factor in this. Whilst *some* progress has been made, within the Eastern cultures  (and in my case, specifically, Muslim culture) having a son is still more preferable than having a daughter. But, let’s not pretend that it’s isn’t an issue in all cultures, if it was a non issue, feminism would be much further progressed.

In Muslim culture, like most, having a son means having someone to carry on the family name, take over the family business, bring income and glory into the home. Forgetting of course, that I have an income, I can develop business skills and I can choose to keep my surname- but “its not the same”. When a daughter is born, a family may be happy but they won’t be publicly happy, when a son is born, it is expected you will give out boxes of sweets to your family and friends. That’s how vivid and ridiculous the distinction is. From birth. Your inequality and injustice starts from a box of sweets. This is gradually changing now, as generations move on, and thankfully every single one of my nieces births were celebrated.

Back to my situation, there are many daughters in my family, and of course, it’s probably due to the pressure on my parents to have a boy. I grew up with people asking my mother if she had any sons, after replying no, she would get a tilt of the head and a stabbing sentence: “well, I guess Allah didn’t have that planned for you”. No instead he “planned” for awesome, strong, intelligent daughters… sucks to be us…

Thankfully and rightly, this pressure didn’t cause what the front page of the Independent reports. At no point would it even have been a thought to not bother having a child if it turned out to be a girl. My heart breaks for the women that never were; the daughters, the sisters. The ones that could have been inventors, could have been public figures, could have made the world a better place just by being in it, but were denied the opportunity, simply for their sex. Equally, my heart breaks for the women who may be forced, often by men and misogyny to abort unwanted girls. The purpose of reproductive rights are choices for women, in cases such as these, the choice no longer exists and is abused by the very portion of society that would penalise them if they were to  make the choice to have an abortion under any other circumstance.

It’s enough to make you weep, to make you exhausted and to make you wonder if there is any point in changing things, when this is how deep rooted and hopeless things are. Given that the point of these conversations on feminism with my nieces are about giving them strength, and given that this broke a veteran feminist like me (in comparison) for a few days, I think I worried whether I should put them through feeling this sad.

But it is of course necessary to talk about and to change, and when I find the courage I will talk to my nieces in detail about it (but first they can read this and gather their own thoughts).

Feminism can become stronger in the face of this, because we need strength to continue to fight for the women that never were.

To those women; the fights for justice are in your honour too and in your memory for everything you could and should have been.

*It has been pointed out to me that the Independent article is flawed – and of course it is, it is not written in the interests of women and choice, it is written as a method of instigating moral panic – but equally, it would be wrong for our movement not to be strong enough to have this discussion, because it does happen. But we must always ensure that at all times women have true choice; whether that is to give birth to a girl or not. 

Faux feminism, Islamophobia and that article

I thought I was done for the year. I really did, but then Twitter reared its ugly head and I found myself having “debates” (that’s me being polite) about an issue which is in fact, a non issue.
Yesterday, The Guardian published this from Laurie Penny. Here’s the summary: There are bigots who abuse feminism as a mechanism to spread their hate of Islam.
What happened after was a release of hate towards the article for quite frankly writing about the accurate and obvious. How on earth can we take seriously the sentence “save Britain from radical Islamic sexism, women deserve better” from someone holding up a banner saying “Burn mosques” any other day. Bigotry is bigotry, even when it uses the mask of feminism to make itself more palatable.
But I was uncomfortable with some of the article, and I understood some of the (real) feminist backlash (although I would have preferred it to be a backlash leading to a debate rather than the, all to common personal attack, of “my feminism is better than yours”).
Firstly, and possibly most importantly, this article would have had more value coming from a Muslim feminist. If anything we should be pointing the finger at this and wondering where these voices are in mainstream media – much of the same happened during the niqab debate.
Secondly, Laurie seems to pit one type of sexism against the other. She mentions gender segregation in Universities as a lesser issue being used to create Islamic hate, which for some it will be, any ammunition for racism. But gender segregation is, to me, a big issue, and when Universities UK puts out guidance which gives more importance to the religious belief of one speaker than an audience with women, we have a problem. We also have a problem when Universities UK puts feminism in inverted commas. It is a threat to what public spaces look like for women.
Thirdly, whether western sexism or religious sexism, all of it needs to be eradicated. The most pertinent line in the article is this:
We are the fools, if we believe that accepting aggressive distinctions between nice, safe western sexism and scary, heathen Muslim sexism is going to serve the interests of women.
We cannot stand by and allow Islam, or any religion, to be purposefully interpreted in a way to allow disadvantage and often atrocities against women. I don’t care where in the world it’s happening and what shape or severity it takes. Equally, we cannot and will not allow racists and misogynists to use the feminist movement as a tool to fake their support of women and spread their vile agenda.

Here’s the deal: Laurie Penny wasn’t telling us that she is turning a blind eye to the sexism in the misused culture around Islam, she’s telling us that we can’t let one silence us or let us turn a blind eye, to western sexism. Where she may have got some of it wrong was is in the way she chose to express it. What we need are feminist Muslim women getting their opinions on the platforms they deserve to be on and we need to push the fight against all shades of sexism, no matter where or who it comes from and no matter how uncomfortable it seems.

2013; The Good, The Bad, The Change Making

Well, somehow we have got to the end of 2013, and it’s time to reflect and consider how on earth the last 12 months went by so quickly, particularly without the rage finally getting to me and ending in throwing my laptop out the window, feminist rock star style.

The purpose of this blog was originally a place for me to get angry after the BBC’s 2011 list of top women, and was meant to be a one off, but since has become a much bigger part of my life as it has since become a place to write about the feminist conversations with my nieces – which I adore, and apprarently some of you do too – so thanks for your comments, tweets and posts.

sandwichBut let’s look back and see what happened in 2o13,

I’m going to write you a sh*t sandwich….

The Good; Feminist excellence that has given us hope and strengthened the movement:

Malala: I don’t need write much of an introduction; but from 2012 local campaigning to allow girls to be educated in Pakistan lead to her being hunted and shot by the Taliban, Malala came to be operated on in the UK and started her education there. Throughout the last year, she continued to campaign for girls rights, was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, addressed the United Nations, had her biography launched and casually went on a speaking tour with Gordon Brown. She is 16. (Just for the record, I managed to get up AND got to work…so we’re all achievers….sigh)

Wendy Davis:  became a hero in my feminist history by staging a filibuster in the senate house lasting a phenomenal 11 hours. She was staging a protest to prevent the passing of a bill that would see almost 90% of the abortion clinics be shut down in the name of “protecting women and children” read as “interfering in a woman’s body, because that’s exactly where a government should be, in your lady bits” 

Caroline Lucas: Aside from being an excellent MP, Caroline Lucas led a debate on removing The Sun from the House of Commons whilst it published it’s degrading Page 3, took on grumpy old men who know nothing about women’s liberation and equality and did it all whilst wearing a “No More Page 3″ t-shirt, breaking a whole lot of boring rules, and making Westminster debates a lot more exciting.

Next Year’s Oscars: We had “We saw your boobs” in this year’s Oscars where Seth McFarlane decided to degrade the talent of women actors to their breasts. Nice work, you cheap -shot- shooting, comedy- lacking prat. However the silver lining being that Oscar big bosses are considering going in the Golden Globe direction and having an all women hosting panel form 2014 (the first ever in 86 years)

Chime for Change: So I can’t say that the event didn’t cause me turmoil – its a mixed message to talk about empowerment and on the same stage sexualise women artists, but let’s just take it at face value, because on paper, we had Beyone, Madonna, John Legend and Florence and the Machine, coming together to campaign and raise funds for health, education and empowerment of girls and women. That’s pretty damn cool.

Doc Brown: (swoon) rapper and entertainer extraordinaire, takes on the feminist fight to remove Page 3 and misogyny- He loves boobs, just not in The Sun – cheers pal

Banknotes: For some the campaign wasn’t the right issue, it was too small, to insignificant, a waste of time. Well it was a campaign that got the headline, got women and their role in history on front pages, made feminism more mainstream and took on the Bank of England…and won. I’d say it was worth it.

Dubai Women Drivers: Dubai women stuck their fingers up to one of the most oppressive and sexist governments of our time and decided to get behind the wheel to protest the driving ban, which seeks to ban their movement and freedom and prevents them from going anywhere without a male chaperon

One Billion Rising: It caused a campaigner like me some angst, What were we changing? Who were we asking? But it got people talking about violence against women in a non victim blaming way, in a way that was mainstream and a way that made people who normally walked around with their eyes shut, have them open. Mainly because the dancing would have been pretty difficult. And i have to endorse anything that gave me the opportunity to dance to Aretha Franklin’s RESPECT outside parliament.

Bollywood takes a feminist tone: Having grown up with Bollywood, it is about as far away from feminism as Robin Thicke is from being a decent human being. But an actress took on the fight when she was asked about the status of women in India, calling the country regressive and was criticized by a journalist for being negative. She shouted down the journo with facts, passion and determination. Pretty damn awesome.

The bad; the bits of 2013 that reignited the rage and reminded us why feminism matters (you can read a version of this here)

The Coalition Government, in amongst targeting the most vulnerable in society and dis-proportionally damaging the lives of women, they also had a reshuffle. We went from the dizzy heights of five, to four women in cabinet. Bravo.

Julia and Hillary. This year we saw Julia Gillard and Hillary Clinton reduced to…chicken. Whether on a badge or a menu, powerful women were described as “2 fat thighs, 2 small breasts and left wing” by their male opponents.

Twitter and Facebook: Twitter became an unsafe space for women who were simply expressing an opinion. We had Caroline Cairo Perez and Stella Creasy MP, threatened with assault, rape and death, for using their 140 characters to galvanise support for women’s rights. The irony was lost on the twitter trolls. Along with this, Facebook decided that rape jokes, revenge pictures of ex girlfriends and slut shaming websites, didn’t contravene their terms and conditions. Apparently, social media is run by the oblivious.

Victim Blaming: As every year, this was a feature of 2013, we had A Barrister use the term “predator” to describe a 13 year old abuse victim, the start of a twitter #Ibelieveher to combat the constant stream of victim blaming, and rape apology throughout the media just because the perpetrator was rich, powerful, famous, or just a man.

Robin Thicke; he made a come back that we all wished he hadn’t. He described making his video as “a pleasure to degrade women” and why wouldn’t you when the lyrics are calling women “good girls” that he “knows they want it” and that he would like to “Tear that ass in two”. He then tried to call himself a feminist. No pal, just no.

Those UNI LADS: Stirling Universities Sports Club ended up on youtube after it decided to provide the public with some entertainment on a bus singing about rape, miscarriages and sexual abuse, then there’s Glasgow University’s debating society that heckled sexist comments at women debaters and then did nothing about it. University, the place where people broaden their horizons and apparently, get an opportunity to give oxygen to their ingrained misogyny. But that’s ok, it’s just a laugh.

Wimbledon – sometimes we forget out ingrained sexism is in our society and especially in sport. Well, it became perfectly clear when the Wimbledon Women’s Champion, Marion Bartoli, was described by the BBC commentator John Inverdale, as someone who was “never going to be a looker”. I was hoping she would take her title winning racket and smack Inverdale with it.

Nottingham Police revealed just how far we have to go to erase victim blaming in their Christmas safety campaign, by focusing on the drunkenness of women and trivializing rape in a poem.  I can imagine all the women who will feel safe after this.

Saatchi – That’s right the headline starts with the perpetrator not the victim. We had bystanders ignoring Nigella Lawson being chocked, we had Saatchi blame his abuse on her drug use and the Daily Mail giving us tips on how to get Nigella’s court look

The remains of the Arab Spring. Whilst there was a fight for freedom, apparently women’s rights were not part of that agenda. In 2013, in Egypt, women had to be surrounded by a safe zone to protect them from frequent sexual assaults from the very men protesting for freedom and UNICEF estimated that a staggering 91% of the female population had been subjected to Female Genital Mutation. In Libya, there have been significant increases in kidnapping, random arrests and abuse of women.

Mainstream Media; Where to start?! Adverts where women are objects, films where women are objects, videos where women are…objects. Well, Miss Representation takes care of that here

*leaves laptop to take a long walk and consider life*

I’m back. And that’s not because I have reduced my levels of rage, but because there is a place to take action with it and change the status quo:

The Change Making: Without campaigning for change, we wouldn’t have even got this far, we’ve still got a long way to go, but we can do it, provided we keep trying, here’s a few places you can do that:

Rewind Reframe – A campaign for young women to take on Music videos sexism and mainstream music industry

No More Page 3: Taking on the fight against The Sun and it’s “traditional” misogyny

End Victim Blaming: An online campaign to fight the victim blaming culture in news and media

Lose the Lads Mags: UK Feminista and Object are working together to get Lads Mags away from Supermarkets

Counting Dead Women: An online petition to pressure the Home Office to publish the reality of gendered abuse and the causes of death of the estimated 2 women a week who die at the hands of a current or ex partner

Let Toys be Toys: UK wide campaign to end gender segregation of toys in stores, limiting the imagination of children and creating sexist minds.

Female Genital Mutilation – Daughters of Eve is petitioning the Home Office to implement a strategy to eradicate FGM, which it is estimated 66,000 women in the UK have been subjected to.

Everyday Sexism – Social Media campaign collecting the stories of women experiencing the “normalised” sexism of our society

Because I am a Girl – Plan UK’s campaign to get the 65 million girls out of school back into education and empowered.

So there you have it, a review of sexism and feminism in 2013 (although, there are things I have missed, so please feel free to add ones you think should have been on the list below). xmas-card

Feminism has been in the spotlight a lot this year, we’ve campaigned for change, but for the first time in a long time, it’s actually made the headlines and created momentum. The problem with that being, that it’s creating momentum in a patriarchal society, one which knows a trend that is worth jumping onto and creating an helpful PR spin with. It’s a subtle enemy feminism needs to be aware of, mainstreaming it is fine, provided it’s women campaigners leading it wherever it goes. Just because the noise making got some attention, now is certainly not the time to let our voices become any quieter – the fight hasn’t been won yet.

But for now, watch your Christmas telly, pull on your questionable Christmas jumpers and spend time with the family you will no doubt argue with.

See you in 2014.

(Not so) Leading Ladies.

It’s cold, the weather is changing, we’re all at that point where we are pretending to work, when actually just trying to restrain ourselves from buying presents online – no? Just me? Ok. Well, let’s warm the cockles of your heart with a little feminism, where mulled wine would make you feel warm and add a glow to your cheeks, I will pour fuel on your fire of feminism and get your anger to warm you up.

As ever, my nieces and I have been chatting about things that come up in their lives that relate to feminism (so that’s pretty much everything, as they are finding), and if things don’t come up, I create an environment where I point out things and then find a tedious link; “oh look there is a tree, isn’t mother nature wonderful, speaking of mother’s and the parental role of women….” you see how I am exceptionally subtle in my ways.

This week they pointed out the tediousness themselves by saying, hey Aunty, you remind us of this woman on TV, Mindy. Mindy is a gynecologist in “The Mindy Project” and is possibly the only Indian woman I have ever seen as a protagonist on mainstream TV, apparently that’s not why I remind them of her…as I was repeatedly convinced of. Having watched the show, there may be some other reasons… But it started a question about women in mainstream TV and sitcoms. Now, there was lots we talked about, they went through Made in Chelsea and Hollyoaks, and rightly, pointed out that many of the women that are friends are connected because they have dated a male character or are not really friends as they are all backstabbing each other…over a male character, or are going shopping to buy a dress to impress….a male character. There was a pattern, and we talked about why this existed. They decided it was because media mimicked what was going on in society. But then I asked, what if media is what causes this happening in society? They went quiet, and I think this may have been too much for one evening! They then felt bad for watching these shows but I explained that it’s ok for them to watch it, provided they know to question it and they know that it does not need to reflect society for them.

We talked about the Bechdel Test (which links to a lot of what I write about below). The test analyses films for the capacity they have for women characters. The film passes the test if they a) have at least 2 named women b) these women talk to each other c) they do not only talk to each other about a man. You will be saddened at how many fail.

But it got me thinking about the shows I watch and the women in them, and how I balance the cognitive dissonance about watching them and being feminist. I’m focusing on three comedies, because comedy tends to be the genre that is the biggest criminal of sexism:

The Big Bang Theory: Well, lets be honest, it’s funny and I like science, so we are winning there. But let’s take a look at the main women in the show. First Penny, the blonde, beautiful woman next door, who is struggling to become an actress so is waitressing to get by. She becomes the object of one of the main male characters affections and causes others to make particularly sexist remarks or, just not be able to talk at all, her appearance seems to render one speechless. Often Penny is the butt of the joke, as she is beautiful but stupid (a woman can’t be both, you see), it becomes exhausting how the “funny” is her not getting a scientific joke. One particularly difficult episode saw her learning about physics to maintain her boyfriend’s attention, another sees him use Penny as an object to parade around to old filthy men academic to ensure he gets tenure. A second character is Amy (who I love) she is a neuroscientist (not just on the show) and is introduced to a particularly emotionally incompetent who is similar to her,  so both start a relationship of convenience. However this doesn’t last long, as Amy becomes attached and wants a proper boyfriend like other girls and becomes emotionally invested (silly, woman) the male character, Sheldon, remains unchanged (at least it’s realistic…). Lastly, and worst, Amy maintains a status quo in the show, you can’t be beautiful and clever, she is often depicted as frumpy, unattractive and undesirable….you know, cause she’s smart and that’s enough. The third character is Bernadette, she too is a scientist and gets together with another male character. She defies the idea that we can’t be beautiful and intelligent. But strangely she is given a comically high voice and very  traditionally “girly” disposition, perhaps this is just in case, we at some point forget that she is a mere woman? I have never been quite sure why she needed that addition. In the beginning of her relationship she was more known for her scientific endeavors and the intellectual exchange, there was even a time where she earned more than Howard (her partner) which was presented a “emasculation” however after marriage, she has become more of an extra piece in the show, and stories are mainly about her as a wife…. So, whilst I love a bit of funny, when I think about it with feminist goggles, it could have aimed higher (incidentally, it doesn’t depict a great picture of academically intelligent men, either…but we all know that too, is actually about patriarchy….)

The Mindy Project:mindy

Given that I have been (not just by my nieces) compared to this woman, I thought I should give it a try. So I watched through and some of it admittedly, is closer to who I am than just her ethnicity (not sure I am happy about that but lets leave the psychology for my friends). She is a partner in a medical firm and a main character who is female, who is not white and is not ridiculously thin or “mainstream” attractive (she is attractive FYI). This is all excellent and she even talks about feminism in her weekly escapades, preventing young girls from feeling forced to have sex, not bending to norms by losing weight or taking down stripper polls with hilarious results (at this point I may start to see the similarities a little more). Where the show lets itself down is that it is essentially about how messed up her love life is and that she sits at home watching “You got mail” crying into a tub of Ben and Jerry’s and mourning about the fact that she hasn’t found a man to make a family with. Almost, TV box, you almost had me. I get how that is funny, but why is it the only thing that is funny? Why is it the only funny woe of a woman?

Often the episodes is around a new man in her life and whether she will manage to make this work, given how flustered she seems to be by the opposite sex and how desperate she is (obviously, I mean, she is in her thirties and should probably feel bad for not fertilizing her ovaries yet). But hey, we’ve got a non conventional looking woman character, TV can’t bring all our Christmases at once.

New Girl:

Never has a show cause me inner turmoil the way this has. Everything in me wants to not like it, yet, there I am laughing and being compelled, WHY?!?! On paper Jess is everything you don’t want a protagonist to be in 2013. Big eyed, wearing ribbons, in need of care, a flustered teacher, who sings songs to her pupils about friendship and doesn’t know how to parallel park. But don’t worry, she lives with 3 dysfunctional men who are man enough to park her car for her. But maybe what keeps it going, is that the 3 dudes are so far away from maturity that if she was to ask them to park her car, they would all suddenly realise their licences had expired. Perhaps by default then, she becomes the competent one and I have therefore made my piece with the situation…?! There are episodes which garner some merit; those where she is unapologetic for her femininity and she sums up why I secretly like her:

“I brake for birds. I rock a lot of polka dots. I have touched glitter in the last 24 hours. I spend my entire day talking to children. And I find it fundamentally strange that you’re not a dessert person. That’s just weird, and it freaks me out. And I’m sorry I don’t talk like Murphy Brown And I hate your pantsuit. I wish it had ribbons on it or something to make it just slightly cuter. And that doesn’t mean I’m not smart and tough and strong.” Quite. I have a polka dot pink skirt, in case you were wondering.

But like all things, it molds to the TV gods and gets all up in my feminist grill, particularly with her need to be the “mother” to the dysfunctional men, or when talking about fertility issues, all the women characters suddenly start to worry they will be incomplete if they cannot reproduce. Don’t get me wrong, babies are awesome, they just don’t need to be the only thing you do. TV, you’ve got some learning to do.

But LOOK! it’s not too bad. If you step out of the comedy genre (because comedy, let’s face it, has rarely had a feminist face) and move into drama, you find a lot more to love and feel ok about. Shows like The Good Wife, The Newsroom and Revenge, do a better job of depicting strong, multi-layered, unapologetic, realistic woman characters.

The best example of this is the one and only, CJ Cregg from the West Wing. Let me introduce you to who I would like to be when I grow up. CJ is (at the beginning) the Press Secretary for the Whitehouse, the spin machine. She is charismatic, intelligent, strong and principled. Yet she is emotional, affectionate, personable and caring. THAT’S RIGHT MULTI-LAYERED. Her character has romantic attachments and goes shopping for Vera Wang dresses whilst talking about the realities of being a woman in public life, the differences she experiences being the only woman around a table of men army officials and the injustices women suffer across the world. One of my most favorite features was that she was allowed to be funny.Take a look on TV the comic isn’t usually a woman. Aaron Sorkin got a lot of things right with that show, but CJ Cregg was, for me, the top of the list.

There is a particular episode called “The Woman of Qumar” which, if you have never watched the West Wing, you should watch and you will understand why this is a character worthy of the praise. Pure class.

TV is not feminism’s friend, for all the patriarchy pulling reasons you’ll know. But there are characters that come along every so often to make it bearable. If you’re looking for a prime time show without sexism, sell your TV, radio and subscriptions because, pal, you’re better off making your own show with sock puppets.

Alternatively, there’s no point in feeling guilty for the patriarchy of generations which you did not create (unless you choose to partake or stay silent). You can change it by question why it’s there and joining in with campaigns and change making projects which are attempting to change main stream media so we can change society and vice versa (a great example of this is Miss Representation)

For now, I’ve made myself feel better so I am going to laugh at something Schmidt says in New Girl UNASHAMEDLY.

Peace out.

Warped Feminism: The No.1 Hit Single

So unless you live under a rock, you will have seen, heard of, or read something on Lily Allen’s latest single.

Rather than start a conversation with my niece (and by conversation I mean I rant and ask her if she’s got anything to add after a 20 minute monologue) I simply put the music video on and asked what she thought. Here it is:

“I think I get what she’s trying to say, but she kind of ruins it with the video, it’s not really feminism is it? She’s just doing what men do, how is that right? And I don’t want to be called a bitch. Why did she make that the chorus, that ruins the whole thing. I don’t think she even gets what she’s doing”

And my work here is done. 16 years old and more feminist intelligence than Lily Allen and her entire music industry team. Well, I’m not sure that says much, but my point is my niece is awesome.

See, Lily told us that her latest musical journey was all about empowerment. Cheers Lily, but I’ll be the judge of that. So let’s start.

Let’s just do a little analysis of the lyrics first:

I suppose I should tell you what this bitch is thinkingNo, last time i checked, I wasn’t keen on calling my gender something derogetory. Reclaiming bitch is not on my feminist agenda. 
You’ll find me in the studio and not in the kitchenWomen who are in the kitchen are not less than you, feminism is about real choice, Lily, if you like I can recommend some reading for you? 
I won’t be bragging ’bout my cars or talking ’bout my chains
Don’t need to shake my ass for you ’cause I’ve got a brain – So we’re now hating on other women? Way to push the cause, pal.

If I told you ’bout my sex life, you’d call me a slutYou’re fine here, I’m on board, well done. 
When boys be talking about their bitches, no one’s making a fuss
There’s a glass ceiling to break, uh-huh, there’s money to make
And now it’s time to speed it up ’cause I can’t move at this paceRubbish Rhyming, nothing to do with feminism, it’s just pants.

[Bridge]
Sometimes it’s hard to find the words to say
I’ll go ahead and say them anyway
Forget your balls and grow a pair of tits

[Chorus]
It’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard out here for a bitchWe’re WOMEN, Lily, WOMEN.

It’s hard, for a bitch (for a bitch)

For a bitch, it’s hard
It’s hard out here for a bitch
It’s hard, for a bitch (for a bitch)
For a bitch, it’s hard
It’s hard out here

You’re not a size six, and you’re not good looking
Well, you better be rich, or be real good at cooking – Because patriarchy sucks, yep got it.
You should probably lose some weight
‘Cause we can’t see your bones
You should probably fix your face or you’ll end up on your own

Don’t you want to have somebody who objectifies you?
Have you thought about your butt? Who’s gonna tear it in two? reference mocking Robin Thicke, loving your work, Lily.
We’ve never had it so good, uh-huh, we’re out of the woods - All fine, you’re on a winner, keep going pal. 
And if you can’t detect the sarcasm, you’ve misunderstood

So, looking at the lyrics, she got a fair bit wrong, but I’m willing to say that the bar for feminism in the music industry is so low, that I would maybe still applaud this. I’ll give it a 6/10

BUT HOLD THE PHONE. There’s a video, and here I lose faith in faith itself.

Lily decides to bring what she defines as “satire” to the stage. But the reality is, Lily brings confusion and objectification with a side of racism. In one very foul swoop she manages to drown any empowerment she was attempting to create.

The video begins with Lily being advised on surgery to get herself back in shape and a male manager, tell her to “cut more there” and that it’s “disgusting that women leave themselves like this”. This is the only scene that could remotely be related to satire. Because after this, the video resembles every music video on the telly. The difference being that Lily takes on the place of 50 cent, Snoop Dogg or Robin Thicke; Fully clothed whilst semi naked women writhe around and she gets to spank them. Satire? No. Confused objectification? Yes.

If Lily is trying to turn popular culture on it’s head, why not have men around her, or better yet, how about nobody gets demeaned and the video producers just try a little harder, I don’t know, maybe a mini film about inequality. Yeah, alright, maybe not.

But here’s the icing on the cake of this utter wreckage of empowerment; all the women around her are black. As if urban culture hasn’t done that enough, Lily takes black women and turns them into bits of sexualised bodies and props. Because hey, if we’ve learnt anything, it’s that what Lily is talking about, all that glass ceiling shizz, that’s for white women, black women, they’re still awesome at “shaking their arses without having brains”. Lily may have been impersonating the objectifying rappers and performers of today to show how ridiculous they are, but when has a point ever been made, by becoming all that you are trying to rid the world of? – Read more about Lily’s feminist racism in this excellent article.

There are many who are congratulating Lily’s bravery and edgy ways, but in truth, Lily has done with feminism what, ironically Rupert Murdoch does to women’s breasts. Use it as a means of selling. Here’s the reality check, whilst I would love to embrace a new feminism through the medium of popular culture, don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s arrived. Feminism is a trendy bandwagon here that is all. Lily has jumped aboard and taken this route to create a comeback hit, in the same way Miley uses riding a wrecking ball naked. Some PR heroes have said “let’s use this feminism thing to be “different”, women will love you and you’ll be back in the charts.” That’s why I wouldn’t hold my breath for Lily to suddenly educate herself on what feminism actually is and be the kind of empowering we were all quietly hoping for. At least not whilst sexism still sells. This here, is “almost but no cigar” feminism, the bits that appeal, the bits that sell, and the bits that offend, but only as far as to get YouTube hits, not offend and change thinking.

There is yearning space in pop music culture for a feminist fight back and perhaps Lily was attempting it here, but she took too many steers wrong and ended up in a bit of a ditch; but Lily, you could still do it, I’m happy to become your PR team, give me a call.

It’s hard out here, for a feminist.  

Top 10 most ridiculous sexy makeovers for Halloween

This comes courtesy of an extended Feminist Friday, after the last blog I have been having numerous rage filled conversations with women about why and when Halloween became sexy rather than scary.

An excellent feminist, Jenni Lloyd put together a top 10 list of the most ridiculous things to make sexy, with a running commentary. Find another? Post it below.

no10

In at NUMBER 10 we have sexy Mrs. Potato Head, That’s right, what was once a children’s toy or the dullest vegetable is now sexy enough for you to strut in this Halloween. Garlic Mayo dip anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

no9

Coming in at NUMBER 9 we have…a duck, dinosaur, hedgehog?!

This made the list because it’s so dumb I don’t even know what it is. The sexiness of the costume is so much more important that what the costume actually is that no one even knows anymore = FAIL

 

 

 

 

 

 

no7

At NUMBER 8 we have SEXY PIZZA, Firstly, who dresses up as a pizza let alone, a sexy fecking pizza?!

An most importantly, she forgot the mushroom, I most definitely will be having words with the chef (who in this case, is absolutely a man)

 

 

 

 

 

 

no8Up four places to NUMBER 7 and with a side of egg, it’s SEXY BACON.

That’s right. Haven’t you always woken up on a sunday and thought, you know what’s missing from this brunch, some sexy bacon, my normal bacon is just so frumpy looking, she never makes the effort…my eggs barely titillate me these days.

Does the above make you uncomfortable?! GOOD BECAUSE I AM SEXUALISING BREAKFAST.

 

 

 

 

no6NUMBER 6, a none mover, we have SEXY CORN. There seems to be an obsession with food stuff being sexy, or maybe the obsession is to make women look as ridiculous as possible, I’m really not sure anymore. We maybe at the half way point of the chart, but I am already in the fetal position.

 

 

 

 

 

 

no5At NUMBER 5, it’s SEXY CHUCKY. You know from the horror movie of a possessed doll. Now on the surface, that’s already a costume fit for halloween, being scary….right?! But let’s change that, so it no longer makes sense.

What’s even worse – it costs £29.99!!!! what?!

 

 

 

 

 

no4Number 4…SEXY BEAVER. YEAH.

Subtlety has never been a strong suit for this industry. Despite the many awesome double entendres that can be made with this costume, as a Canadian, it horrifies me.

Our hardworking, noble, national animal has been ruined…RUINED! Halloween; is nothing sacred anymore? This makes the list for making me question everything that I hold dear about my homeland.

 

 

 

 

no4NUMBER 3 is SEXY ERNIE, BERT AND COOKIE MONSTER.

Aside from the fact that the only bit of the costumes that make it look at all like the characters are the bits on their heads, they have just murdered a bit of my childhood. DEAD AND GONE. all that are left are tears, mourning for a better time.

 

 

no2 We’re almost there, at NUMBER 2 is SEXY MENTAL PATIENT (yes, that is how it was advertised and for a period was available on the Asda website)

So not only are we sexualising anything to make women into objects, we’re stereotyping and being highly offensive to those with any mental health condition. Absolute disgrace.

 

 

 

 

no1And in at NUMBER 1, its’ believe it, or not, SEXY OSAMA BIN LADAN.

It’s a sexy costume based on a terrorist responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent people. But apparently this it totally ok.

Don’t forget it comes with the nose and beard combo.

That’s it folks, that’s the top 10 i managed to find.

 

 

 

 

I would like to point out, that maybe you are going to a vegetable or breakfast related fancy dress party, although that in itself, is a bit weird, by all means go as corn or bacon, but the point here is, why does it have to be sexy corn or sexy bacon. I always thought the point of fancy dress was the laughing part, not the gratification of men.

However, if the sexy dress appeals to you than GO FOR IT, but let’s not let it be the only choice on the shelf. :(

Please note; copyright of these images is the sole propriety of the original creators.
The images of dinosaur, corn, Sesame Street characters, pizza and patient are the property of yandy.com and can be found here.

Sexy or Slutty? Halloween Decisions

It’s that time of year again. When we make a poor attempt at being fun (and/or frightening), where stores sell the exact same thing at higher prices by adding “Spooky” or “scary”; Spooky Sardines….Scary Satsumas?! Who knows, It’s usually a pretty tedious link.

The Halloween season isn’t complete with a school halloween party. I remember mine, Mother dressed me as a pumpkin, and made me an orange dress that she stuffed with pillows and then stuck leaves to my head…School was a tough time.

It won’t be difficult to see the link between this and Feminist Fridays…My niece came into the room this week and asked “How can you dress up as combat Barbie?” SHUDDER.

I reply with, “How do you think you would dress up as combat Barbie?” She replied with “Like some kind of army outfit, loads of make up and heels?” Yes, that’s exactly how you would dress in combat, that’s right up there in being as practical as Lara Crofts unrealistically large boobs and Wonder Woman’s corset.

SIGH. I asked why she wanted to go as Combat Barbie, and she said she couldn’t think of anything else that works, it’s all cats and witches…Indeed, even Sex in the City got it:

“1.45m Miranda: There are only two choices for women; witch or sexy kitten. Carrie: You just said a mouthful there sister” (admittedly, you have to ignore a fair bit in this movie to find feminist points)

So I asked my niece for other suggestions about what she might like to go as, or get her to think about how she would like to create a combat Barbie. Don’t get me wrong, if she looked happy about “loads of make up and heels” I would have told her to go for it, it’s the fact that she explained it as if, it was what was expected of her, in a tone of “obviously cause I’m a girl who’s dressing up,so that’s got to be there”.

I’ve always viewed fancy dress a different way. An opportunity to turn things on their head, I’m assaulted with messages of “make up and heels” on a daily basis, when you read “fancy dress”, social protocol changes and I can go out looking like I please, and to be fair, that usually resembles something pretty frightening anyway.

Then, my niece and I made the mistake of googling fancy dress. Much like googling symptoms of a health condition, the internet provided us with things we never asked for or wanted to know.

The most striking was when we looked for women characters and found GI Jane. On the left is GI Jane character in the film, on the right the costume interpretation:

gijane

I, and I am sure neither you, are particularly surprised by this. Google costumes for women. Seriously go do it, I’ll give you a minute….

Done? What did you find? Disney princess…made sexy, Women heroes…made sexy, animals…made sexy.

Google even gives you a handy quick to use category guide: Homemade, sexy, cute, witch, pirate.

Google men’s costumes and you get categories such as women, cool, 2012 and Zombie. To be fair, sexy also comes up, as a fireman and a man dressed as some kind of vending machine…whatever floats your boat.

I’m not being prudish, this isn’t a call to shut down costume stores. It’s about choice and yet again, the narrow pick we have to choose from. Almost all campaigning in feminism is about pulling away expectations, providing more social, economic and political power and CHOICES for women. Equal pay is about giving women the economic power for them to make choices, pushing for the vote was about women having their choices considered in how their country should be governed, encouraging women into STEM subjects is about them having real choice about their future career prospects, being pro-choice is about women having real choice about what they do with their reproductive systems.

It’s not a big thing to, in 2013, ask for choice in bloody Halloween costumes. You want to look sexy great, but if you don’t want to, why is it the only choice you have? Why can’t you easily buy the whole GI Jane outfit (either kind), if I wanted to do that today, I would have to buy the men’s size, with the man on the front, in the men’s section…reaffirming at every turn, that it’s not aimed at me, it’s not about me and it’s not what society expects of me.

Well, suck it costume makers, I’m getting the pumpkin costume back out again.

This just in: whilst writing this piece I came across the Ana Rexia costume. (been around since 2011, apparently) Yes, it’s a costume that allows you mock a severe mental health condition as well as society’s ongoing obsession with making women feel inferior and self conscious about how they look. You see it’s not enough that we ridicule your physical appearance, we would also like to ridicule the mental and emotional well being of women too. Just when I think the state of society can’t shock me, here I am with my head in my hands.

Back to the conversation, After this google searching, my niece, rolled her eyes and said to me “Ugh! Why can’t you just say; Combat Barbie, sounds great, here’s a lipstick to go with it, now I hate that idea.”

Yes, welcome to the burden of knowledge, also welcome to having an uncool feminist aunt. SCARY BEANS.

You know what’s really scary folks: STRUCTURAL INEQUALITY AND PATRIARCHY. Yeah, that’s right.

Happy Halloween for next week.

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 98 other followers