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

Dear Megan Trainor

My nieces have long advised me that their favourite feminist chats include a taking down of music. They know too well and are actually pretty disgusted at level of sexism in lyrical content. But this time they were a bit peeved as I went to town on their current fav; Megan Trainor.

On the surface, Megs could be great. She isn’t the stereotypical figure (As she explained vividly in her first hit) despite there being questionable lines in in all about that bass; I mean, your mother advising you that “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night” is something that should give you nightmares rather than a boost of self esteem, there was an attempt to claim it as the year’s feminist anthem.

After the first hit, many wanted to put her on a feminist pedestal, however Megan Trainor has since been outspoken about not defining herself as a feminist (always helpful). The reality it, the bar is so low on positive messages that Megan Trainor’s tracks inaccurately appears to be a feminist message. But not so much with the latest. Her current single Dear Future Husband, pedals all the stereotypes you can think of in a heterosexual relationship.

Rather than describe it, let’s just do what my nieces and I did yesterday evening:

Yup this is from the video, and it's not being sarcastic.

Yup this is from the video, and it’s not being sarcastic.

Dear future husband,

Here’s a few things

you’ll need to know if you wanna be

My one and only all my life

Take me on a date
I deserve it, babeWhilst understanding that said date is not in any way a confirmation of sexual activity and respecting my right to say no. I should also advise that as a woman who can earn money, I would be comfortable to split the bill. The request is of your company not your wallet. 

And don’t forget the flowers every anniversaryI too will not forget the exchanging of gifts for mutual satisfaction, however the respect that one has for another in a relationship is the real gift within marriage, which is never compensated for by the purchase of commodities. 
Cause if you’ll treat me right
I’ll be the perfect wife
by perfect I do of course, mean, human, as it is irrational to consider someone will be any form of ideal or perfect. Society’s view of perfection for women is often purposefully unobtainable and therefore not something I aspire to

Buying groceries - I am sure this is a chore we can both share, perhaps we can take alternate weeks?
Buy-buying what you need – As this is something you specifically require, and as an adult, I am sure, you are able to complete this task yourself and it is not in fact a duty bound agreement of our marriage or the grounds on which our relationship is formed. 

You got that 9 to 5
But, baby, so do I
So don’t be thinking I’ll be home and baking apple pies
I never learned to cook
You will understand that those women who have learned to cook or enjoy it are equally independent
But I can write a hook
Sing along with me
Sing-sing along with me (hey)

You gotta know how to treat me like a lady -“lady” is such a loaded, gendered term, rather just treat me in the way that is most appropriate for my personality and how I have explained I would want to be treated; with respect, dignity, consideration and care. 
Even when I’m acting crazyI know, many believe women are “crazy”, the reality of course is that we are prone to the same thoughts and insecurities as any human (including men) there will be times that you too will act “crazy”.
Tell me everything’s alright

Dear future husband,
Here’s a few things you’ll
need to know if you wanna be
My one and only all my life
Dear future husband,
If you wanna get that special lovin’
Tell me I’m beautiful each and every night
- and yet understand that my self esteem is not derived from your acceptance of me.

After every fight
Just apologize
provided you are indeed wrong, this is not simply to appease me.
And maybe then I’ll let you try and rock my body rightagain this is based on mutual consent, of course.
Even if I was wrong
You know I’m never wrong
there are times where I will be wrong and as a fair human being, who is not a stereotype of a wife, I am able to accept that.
Why disagree?
Why, why disagree?

You gotta know how to treat me like a lady - as above.
Even when I’m acting crazy
Tell me everything’s alright

Dear future husband,
Here’s a few things
You’ll need to know if you wanna be
My one and only all my life (hey, baby)
Dear future husband,
Make time for me
Don’t leave me lonely
And know we’ll never see your family more than mine
well at least we are talking equals…

I’ll be sleeping on the left side of the bed (hey)
Open doors for me and you might get some kisses
good manners are a quality in any gender.
Don’t have a dirty mind
Just be a classy guy
Buy me a ring
– how lovely of you if you would like to buy me gifts, I can of course purchase goods with my own income.
Buy-buy me a ring, (babe)

You gotta know how to treat me like a lady
Even when I’m acting crazy
Tell me everything’s alright

Dear future husband,
Here’s a few things
You’ll need to know if you wanna be
My one and only all my life
Dear future husband,
If you wanna get that special loving
Tell m
e I’m beautiful each and every nightSigh sigh sigh

Well, what a giant feminist mess. Quite frankly, Megan seems confused. The song seems to take me on a patriarchial full circle. Megan is an independent women who has her own income, but would like you to buy her things, who you will need to say sorry to constantly and yet will meet your every whim and need. That’s before we even get to the video.

The lyrics are nothing more than a lazy reinforcement of every stereotype of women; obliging and domestic, “high maintenance”,  needy, emotionally unstable with a warped sprinkling of some form of assertiveness, that requires unreasonable demands and purchases.

Megan Trainor falls into the same trap most popular culture does when it attempts “empowerment”, mistaking it for  purchase power. Megan Trainor could be a role model, but the reality is, the music industry is about as interested in a positive message for women, as I am in Theresa May’s choice of shoe for the Budget announcement.

Try again Megan, as ever happy to be a consultant lyricist. Until then thumbs down for you.

All shapes, all sizes, all colours

Feminism is a journey, cliched, yes, but accurate.

The feminist understanding I had when I was my niece’s age is definitely different from where I am now. For a start, I am unapologetic about it. I can see and hear my nieces having more nuanced conversations about feminism and society in general, as they get older and as they develop on that journey (which for the record, I don’t think there is an end to, those who consider themselves feminists who know all, probably need to check themselves). Admittedly, my nieces are significantly more mature than I was, my feminist conversations at age 15 were essentially about finding a deeper meaning in Destiny’s Child lyrics…I mean “bug-a-boo”…that is definitely something that required thinking.

Unfortunately, as you have those nuanced conversations, you have more difficult debates and you find fractures within the feminist movement. Usually, I welcome this, but there are times where quite frankly there is no space for discussion; that instance is when we talk about making feminism inclusive. There is no debate here; culture, heritage, race have a crucial part to play in the feminist movement. These aspects, make our feminism better, because they make feminism more representative of what the world actually looks like. But the reality is, often unless you are from a different colour, heritage or race that is not Caucasian, feminism can look pale and stale (that’s only one word away from what we accuse our politics of being).

I have experiences as a woman, but my experiences are shaped by being a Muslim and Asian woman. I have encountered sexism that is also mixed with Islamophobia and racism. That’s an experience that is different to the average woman involved in Feminism in Scotland. There are experiences that women from different cultures and races bring to feminism which advances it, makes it a stronger fighting force. It helps the movement fight patriarchy in all its forms and in all corners of society. But it’s not always welcome, in fact I’ve heard it be called a “distraction”.

That’s what left wing men called (sometimes still call) the feminist movement, a distraction from class war. The very same feminists recall being angry at that then…

I’ve had the misfortune of being involved in these conversations and dropping my jaw at the notion that incluson could be an after thought. I even had the misfortune for working for a “feminist” organisation where people thought like this. When i would suggest ways to be diverse, to be political and overt about that intersectionality, i was branded a problem and told i was “fighting the organisation”, if anything I was fighting to make it better. I would hear comments about working class women and there was a disrespect for the inclusion of trans women. I was even asked “is it not tough to be Muslim and attempt to be feminist?”…that’s a sentence that isn’t about to be forgotten any time soon.

Intersectionality (actively doing it, not just saying the buzz word) isn’t that difficult. In fact I made you a chart:

intersectionality made easy

This all came to a head for me this week, yet again. Remember that blue/black or gold/white dress? That Twitter explosion that made Sky News? (yup a tweet about a dress made sky news, the 2 women a week who die at the hands of a current or ex partner doesn’t, I felt sick too). Well it caused an online storm, and The Salvation Army in South Africa thought, why not use this as a platform to change what is trivial into something important? And good on them. It was this:

SA da

Kudos to Salvation Army in South Africa for making a point about domestic abuse. rightly so.

Many have commended it; Here and here

However some have pointed out that it’s not all applause; Jezebel points out that awareness raising of this kind often doesn’t make much difference and that aside from staring at a bruised women, are we achieving anything? Others have pointed out that in 2015 we know that domestic abuse is not just physical and we need to point that out emotional abuse more often.

Interestingly, these thoughts came to me after one specific one; South Africa has a population of 52.8 million people, 51% of that population are women and 79.2% of the entire population is Black African. This is a picture of a white women, to a predominantly black community, where it is the majority of black women who will be coming forward for support on domestic violence. By no means am I suggesting that the 8.9% of the white population and the women within that do not experience domestic abuse – absolutely not, all women in every corner of the world are part of the same statistic; 1 in 4 regardless of their race. What I am saying however, is that in a predominantly black African country, we use a Caucasian women on a poster to deliver a message. It’s a key example of why intersectionality matters. The articles above (including one from a feminist online mag) don’t pick it up. Why? maybe they haven’t noticed – when you are of an “intersection” (not the best way to put it, but in this case the only way) not noticing is not a luxury you have. It can be the first thing you realise, because you see something missing.

That in a nutshell, is why intersectionality matters.

It’s Always Worse Somewhere Else

Remember when you were younger and there were vegetables left on your plate? I always got the “think of the children in the world who don’t have anything.” On reflection, my mum probably should have added “because of crippling debt, colonialism and climate change caused by the west” but I can’t image that was the priority when she was trying to get a snotty nosed little version of me to eat her greens.

Here’s the point; since our childhood, we’ve been told to think of someone, somewhere, who has it worse. That’s a fair thing to do. We should be thinking about others, we should be helping those in need, regardless of whether their problem impacts our lives our not. But somehow, these very sentiments, that originally meant for us to think about making the world better and be thankful, have been turned into words to silence feminists. Well, let’s face it, most things are turned into methods to silence feminists. It’s an age old method; feminists in the UK fight for women on banknotes, ending objectification, lads mags, the pay gap and the response we get is:

“feminists should be fighting real issues, think of the women in the middle east, in Africa, being stoned, that’s a real issue. ”

Now, usually I would brush this off, understand that this is just another day on Twitter and crack on with smashing patriarchy. But the thing this time is, it was said as part of a conversation about why feminism matters. It was used as part of a journey of understanding feminism, and that’s a problem.

My niece had a conversation with fellow young women about feminism (because that’s what she does now… proud), and the conversation was about how feminism makes sense for women with “real problems”, it wasn’t a dig, it wasn’t an attempt to silence, it was an honest view of social justice for women. My niece was taken aback and tried to explain that women everyone suffer injustice at the hands of patriarchy but found it difficult, as she explained; “Aunty, it’s not like I get put in prison for driving a car”. True. You don’t, but that doesn’t mean you have social justice either.

You walk down the street and you will get harassed

You have a 1 in 4 chance of being a victim of sexual violence

You will be paid, on average £108 less per week than a man for the same job

You are less likely to get a job in science or technology

You are likely to encounter online gendered and violent bullying

Your consent in a relationship is likely to be considered secondary

All of this is worth fighting for, as is FGM, forced marriage, child marriage, rape, human rights violations everywhere. But when we create a false dichotomy of “really bad” or “not so bad” we are tolerating some injustice. The reality is, they lie on a spectrum, you accept some things, a little more, then maybe a little more? How long before we accept a “really bad”?

It’s simple; it is not about comparisons, it is not about looking over somewhere else and thinking “well, at least that’s not happening to me”. If we do that, we are aiming for the lowest common denominator, not social justice for all, we are only hoping for women to be saved from the very worst. Every woman, in every corner of the world, deserves for us to strive for the very best.

Of course, I don’t expect my niece to have responded this way, she’s still figuring out her feminism (as am I everyday) and getting to the point of appreciating that feminism can fight on multiple levels, for multiple people took me a while. We don’t have to have experienced it all to know it is an injustice to fight and we don’t have to play top trumps with those injustices.

On a lighter, note today is GALENTINE’S DAY which only just got pointed out to me (thank Ellie!) so happy Galentine’s day. It could be worse, I could have waited till tomorrow and written you a feminist love note…untitled (3)

I jiggle therefore I am

Picture the scene;
Last night, two of my nieces pop over as they usually do, to catch up on homework (this lasts for about 15 mins, then they talk at me or text me emoticons from the other side of the sofa, I still don’t know what cat looking sideways means…).

The TV is on, and up comes an advert. There’s a woman but we don’t pay attention, we know how it goes, she has an unobtainable figure, she’s usually white, has been photoshopped and is being sexualised. BUT WAIT!untitled

  • There’s some cellulite
  • There’s a woman sweating
  • There’s a woman without make up (At this point my nieces put down their phones looked at me, and then paid attention to the advert, curious and confused)
  • There’s women of all sizes
  • There’s women of abilities and disability
  • There’s women of all ages
  • There’s women of different races
  • Some of them aren’t even in coordinated sports wear…

You can watch it here

As it finished, I had this sinking feeling; is this one of those adverts for “natural beauty”, telling you to be yourself whilst selling you products to do the very opposite. Yes Dove, I’m talking to you. But my cynicism was unnecessary, it’s an advert for Sports England to encourage women to take up exercise and keep healthy.

The bar for decent advertising which treats women with respect rather than disdain for their bodies is so low, that 1 min and 30 seconds delighted me so much, my nieces and I watched twice more, just to make sure we weren’t making it up.

One of my nieces was particularly delighted, as she struggles with her body in a similar way that I did (still do), she simply said; “that’s what I look like after PE and it got on the tv – maybe it’s not that bad!”. She was making it out to be nothing, but it wasn’t. It was definitely something to her. That makes it worthwhile already.

Beyond the simple fact that there are real women in the advert, what strikes me more, is that there is a sense of aggression and strength which is very rarely seen. Women playing football, boxing, putting in a gumshield before rugby or roller derby, all with a face of determination. Too often when we depict women even doing activities of strength or “men’s roles” we make them pretty, ask them to stand at an angle and smile. I’ve watch roller derby, there isn’t time for any of that sh*t.

Women are celebrating winning a game, women are at the gym, women are jumping into a lake – nothing is prescribed, not the appearance of them and not even the type of exercise that’s being promoted. Marketing done

There’s the obvious problem that these are women and not girls and the tagline is This Girl Can, there’s also the slight issues that the homepage says “This Girl Can is here to inspire women to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement
is a barrier that can be overcome.” Well, judgement is a barrier that exists because it benefits the sexist status quo, and really until we tackle the sexist status quo, overcoming judgement is not that simple. But, I love it too much, so you’re forgiven.

There has also been some criticism of it being focused on appearance rather than other issues that may prevent women from getting the time to do exercise. Sure there is a list of reasons why women are excluded from physical activity, but the reality is, if you went out on the street and asked women, I’ll put money on them saying it’s because of the discomfort they feel in their own bodies, which is absolutely the result of a patriarchal society hell bent on making women feel like crap about themselves and profiting from it.  In times when we have seen an increase of objectification, Sports England should be applauded. Claps all round.

Take a look at the website and meet the women. You’ll love them. I want them to be my friends and then we can all go to the gym together and have a competition on who can leave looking the worst.

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.


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:


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).


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.


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”


“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.


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


Let Toys Be Toys

End Online Misogyny 

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