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

Women’s March – Edinburgh

I have been asked by lots of very nice people if they can have the transcript of what I said at the women’s march at the weekend in Edinburgh…thing is, I hadn’t written anything down (I let the anger do most of the work, as usual). (Un)Fortunately for you, someone recorded it. So here it is:Media preview

Good morning nasty women!

Can I start off by asking you to give a huge round of applause to Leah and Calum, two 16 year olds who organised and made this march happen.

I know it may seem like a bleak time, but just think of that, look at that and feel hopeful for the future.

Let me tell you a little about myself, I am a BME, Muslim, feminist woman, who is the proud daughter of two immigrants. So I guess we all know, there is nothing here Donald Trump would like. I am very OK with that.

But there is nothing, not one thing in Donald Trump’s campaign for President that didn’t belittle or insult by identity and every part of my existence.

He believes there should be a register of Muslims.

He has said he wants a complete shut down of Muslims even entering the country.

He has referred to Black Lives Matters campaigners as violent thugs, clearly having little self reflection of his own.

He says that immigrants can simply be referred to as illegals.

And equally worse to all of this, what he has said about women is an absolute disgrace. This is a man who has mocked and glorified sexual assault. This is a man who doesn’t want us to have any rights over our bodies and if we try, we deserve to be punished. This is a man who only wants to rate women from 0-10 based on appearance. well let me tell you Donald, you’re a stone cold Zero.

The reality is that Trump thinks this is all fine, because “hey, when you’re star they let you away with anything”. Let me tell you Mr Trump, you don’t get away with it, it’s called sexual assault.

On my way here, there were many who said, or in fact Piers Morgan on Twitter again, saying “Why are your marching? It’s in America, what has it go to do with you?”

Well, that’s not how it works. We do not live in isolation. Bigotry anywhere, can lead to bigotry everywhere and it is our duty to stand up against it. We are not immune from bigotry in the slightest, we have it right here on our doorstep, we saw racism used as a campaigning tool during Brexit. Just yesterday the UK Government passed law that would mean a woman would have to evidence she has been raped in order to get child benefit. We have bigotry on our doorstep.

We may be standing against Donald Trump but what we are saying is we will not stand for bigotry here either.

There is just one thing I will leave you with. Whilst it is amazing and inspiring to see so many men, women and wonderful children here. taking a stand once is not enough. There will be more to come. We have to be strong we have to be united and we have to campaign more than simply this rally here today.

What I ask of you is that you keep campaigning. Politics is yours to own. Politics does not exist without your voice in it. You have to take claim of it, it has to be yours and it has to be feminist.

All I ask is that you join a local campaigning group, join an environmental group, join an anti racism group and for the love of God join a feminist organisation. Because it has taken too long and I need women’s social justice to finally be realised.

So stay involved, stay inspired and stand strong. 





It’s too soon for you

I write it’s what I do, it’s how I feel better – some will see this as self indulgent, others will agree with it and probably will, or have, done the same. I don’t really care.

But the reason I am compelled to write is because Twitter, as you would expect, has become 140 characters of “I told you so”. That has as much nuance in it as, well, the new President. It’s too soon for you. if your first response is “I saw this coming, we should have done x” Just, go away. Do what the rest of us are doing and be angry, be upset, look for hope. Revel in your echo chamber for a few minutes and pretend it didn’t happen whilst you consider what positive role you could have to make it better. My first tweet was about misogyny and white men endorsing it. That’s where I was at, followed by this is absolutely a race and poverty issue (along with some evidence). All of those things are related by the way. That’s it, that’s as far as I have thought right now.

There is no single answer to Trump (no matter how hard you try) and if you think there is you are woefully naive about both the institutionalized political culture, the intersections of prejudice within our society and the psychology that goes with it. Trumps presidency rests on a number of things that I cannot put into a tweet, if I try my head might explode with rage. In fact, I did try and it cause me to cry even more than I was.

Anti-establishment and poverty:

Yes. This is neo-liberalism coming back to bite us all on the arse. You are right, bravo (insert comment about how it should have been Bernie). BUT here’s the deal, if this was only based on disfranchised poorer communities voting for the “anti-establishment candidate” then we would see poorer communities, regardless of race, come out and vote Trump. We did not see that. There is absolutely a link between poverty, lack of opportunity and voting for whatever represents a change from the status quo – because well, why the hell not? All political systems across the world have let down poor communities time and time again. This is the result.


As above, BECAUSE IT’S ALL RELATED, if we breakdown the election results by race there is no combination in which African American communities vote Trump. Not looking between education, state, age or gender – they voted Clinton. White men and women (particularly men) propped up and got Trump to the Oval Office. This is a serious issue that cannot under any circumstances be brushed under the carpet while you cry “neo-liberalism bad”. You cannot untangle one from the other. The man who said he would get tough on minorities and bring back America from political correctness and non-Americans won. This is about race. Big time.

Yes, people of colour voting republican did increased in a small percentage, but that small percentage is compared to 2012 and still if we only counted the votes of people of colour NOT ONE state would return a republican result. It would be a fully blue map. 


Clinton not winning is not down to only misogyny (not completely). The way Clinton was treated throughout the campaign absolutely is misogyny, the fact that men felt more able to vote for Obama than Clinton (including within minorities) is about misogyny. But I am interest not in who lost, but who won. Misogyny is one of the pillars on which Trump won because despite being accused of sexual assault, despite glorifying sexual assault, despite talking about women as numbers to rank, despite saying women are disgusting for being overweight, despite saying women should be punished for having abortions – he won. Swathes of people read that, heard that and thought “Nah, let’s vote for him anyway”. That is a result of a misogynistic culture and if you don’t see that, then you’re part of the problem.

Addition: according to pollsters the gender gap (men v women voting republican/democrat) had a 24 point gap- this is the largest gender gap in exit pole history. So yeah, misogyny.

Right now I care more about people than theory:

If we disassociate people from the theory we attempt to derive from the last 24 hours we will have spectacularly failed and quite frankly, I would be pretty ashamed of us. So before you send that tweet to tell people that you were right all along, I want you to think about the following;

The Indian Muslim woman who was born and bought up in New York, who is reflecting on her new President saying this: “I want a total and complete shutdown of Muslims”.

The disabled child watching their President mock a disabled reporter.

The Mexican man whose President accused him of being a rapist.

The woman who has experienced sexual assault and was thinking of reporting it, but now has a President who has a court case coming up after being accused of sexually assaulting a young girl and thinks its OK to grab her by the pussy.

The Syrian child refugee who finally found a safe place to call home but has a president who has stated he will get rid of him and compared him to a bowl of poisoned skittles.

The man who has  been made redundant, is living in poverty and sees his enemy as an immigrant because the system told him to. For whom, nothing, nothing at all will improve.

All of these people inform your theory – poverty, racism, misogyny and bigotry allowed this to happen. None of them are helped because you “told them so”.

Rather than find a way to make yourself (or myself given the length of this) feel important, how about looking at the impact right here at home and let me give you the first example that I have found and I am just a bit gobsmacked at. Ruth Davidson’s statement on Trump’s win:

“Those of us who believe open, western values are the best way to provide economic security for people now have to redouble our efforts to show they deliver for people.”

It might have happened over the pond, but don’t forget we are in the middle of Brexit, in the middle of axing the human rights acts and listing foreign workers – this is a global green light for a whole lot more.

I’m broken and I’m raw and yes, it is because I am a BME Muslim woman who is the daughter of an immigrant. But if that’s how I feel, imagine if I was all those things and watching this unfold in my town or city in America.


The Beyonce Pound

You will have heard of the Pink Pound

You will have heard of the Grey Pound (which according to ridiculous contestants on the Apprentice, means you’re over 45 and easily scared. My life just got a whole lot shorter)

Well. I would like to introduce you to the Beyonce (or feminist) Pound. The commercialisation and commodification of feminist principles in order to create company profit.

I find this difficult. The feminist movement existed when it wasn’t profitable. It existed when woman were spat at, shouted down and mocked for simply using the term feminist. But it has over the past recent years become (somewhat ironically) sexy. It’s cool to be a bit feminist (not too feminist, like not actually challenging stuff, just feminist enough to be palatable).

Just enough is the memo that I assume Meryl Streep got, when she was asked about whether she was a feminist and replied “I am a humanist”. Because when you spend two years filming as the leader of the suffrage movement, enacting women being beaten by the police for simply asking to be treated as citizens, the line should clearly be drawn at the term feminist. (she was so shaken by the idea of being a feminist, that she confused the term with believing in God). Someone (I vote Carey Mulligan) should have a word.

So why is it a thing for me now?

I struggled when Beyonce stood in front of a packed audience with the word Feminist in lights behind her….Whilst singing along to songs glorifying abuse on her Mrs. Carter tour. The contradiction offends me, but then who is not contradictory? Who is not a little bit of a hypocrite? (Don’t shrug as if you aren’t in that category, I saw you, bouncing along to Blurred Lines, forgetting its offensiveness cause hey, it’s catchy…)

But after Bey has come a whole lot more.

The last three years Elle magazine has had an annual Feminist issue. Talking about either the word feminism, the pay gap or this year, the women missing from leadership roles. All excellent stuff.

But when I turn the page and you tell me to buy expensive, uncomfortable clothing, don’t use any realistically sized (or many of colour) women and have a section on the right amount of exercise to lose that last inch- it’s less excellent.

But it’s not just magazines who are usually problematic. How about Microsoft? look at microsoft, getting that girls don’t do science (with girls scripted to mention only the men scientists that have inspired them…) NOW GO BUY OUR STUFF. And this – look at all that diversity, look it focuses on a girl child called Fatima. I wonder if Fatima, who is pictured in a generic Global South context, really thinks, “I hope I have Windows 10, I know my community and the majority of women/girls in it are still attempting to recover from having their prospects stolen from them, but yes please to Windows 10”.

Or the one that gets me most peeved at the moment is Virgin Media. You know that huge firm, run by a man, who recently took over the only nationalised UK wide rail…

With Alicia Keys singing in the background, Emmeline Pankhurst, women footballers, Billie Holiday – BUY VIRGIN MEDIA AND YOU TOO CAN BE EMPOWERED. Sigh.

They won’t use the word feminist, Virgin Media or others won’t ban abusive websites, they won’t reflect on the gender segregation in their workplace, they won’t publish their pay gap (without legislated intervention), they won’t suddenly stop using women in shorts and bikinis to sell their products at or asking their air stewards to wear see through shirts (no, seriously.). They weren’t using this two years ago, they are using it now, because it is in season.

But here in lies my predicament. Maybe them using it is at least something positive? It breaks up (even temporarily whilst in style) the monotony of 1 minute slots between TV shows, which usually use sexism to sell. Where their 1 minute slot was air hostesses in red tight skirts or broadband sold by how quickly you could download a music video of someone referring to a woman as a bitch, now at least, it has some form of feminist under tones. Better than nothing, right…maybe. But at this stage, this far in to the generations of discrimination of women, is “better than nothing” enough?

If nothing else, having done the research behind this article and finding the virgin media advert online. I have now decided it is worth it. For that one misogynist, men’s rights activist who wrote in the comments that he has cancelled his virgin subscription after being offended at the “obvious feminazi propaganda”. If you piss off an MRA, maybe I don’t hate you.

Grumpy feminist out. *MIC DROP*


Dear PETA, Piss Off.

I get it PETA, you want to be controversial. You think controversy sells, it makes people stop and read or look. It is basic marketing. In fact I would almost go as far as to say it is amateur. Using controversy or sex to sell your product is something you learn in Marketing 101. It is the advertising equivalent of Jeremy Clarkson; Over-rated, offensive and boring.

In fact it is so overdone and down right boring, that most companies are moving away from it, something about it being 2015 maybe…

I’m a feminist (you just shuddered, didn’t you?) and I think your advertising is misogynist bullsh*t. You have repeatedly, despite it being called out, used sexism, objectification and degradation of women to make your points. I believe in the welfare of animals, I don’t wear fur, I eat a mainly veg based diet. BUT YOU MAKE ME WANT TO EAT MEAT TO SPITE YOU. Why is it that to stand up for animals, you need to stand against women?

This isn’t new for you, but perhaps we need to take a walk down memory lane to give you a re-education.

Remember that time you did this:


Here’s why it isn’t ok:

  1. You are using domestic abuse and torture of women to make a point about animal cruelty. They aren’t the same.
  2. You use domestic abuse as the metaphor whilst also sexualising the woman in the image. What is it you think is sexy, abuse?
  3. When you use this image, what are you trying to get across? That we think too much about abuse of women? That we should prioritise cruelty to elephants?

Or how about the time you did this:


Because apparently, the years and years of campaigning by women across the world to not be seen as pieces of meat, to not be seen as bits of sexualised body has utterly bypassed you. Apparently we are all animals. But women, are animals who are airbrushed. Women are animals who just happen to be sitting pushing out their breasts on a chest. Women are animals who are pin ups with plastic surgery. We are all animals, who look like that. If we are all the same, why didn’t you think to use a woman who looks a little more realistic? I’ll tell you why. It’s not because we are all animals, it’s because women are sexual objects to you, and that sells your message.

Or how about this:



Fur is unkind, use of it involves the killing of innocent animals. But that’s not what you’re saying is it?

You’re saying fur is unattractive, as is women’s body hair. Any woman who doesn’t have a pristine, hair free, pre-pubescent crotch should feel ashamed. Get her some Veet.

In fact you’re saying “don’t ruin your look” in other words, you could be so pretty, if you just waxed that hair off and replaced it with a stretch of red dots where your skin has been pulled and torn.

Why not put a picture of a skinned animal? controversial and unattractive. But no, you went for another anti-women advert…I’m beginning to think you have a problem.

And this one: Just piss off. Just. Piss. Off.


And most recently this:


Because nothing says look after your health and well being like objectifying a nurse.

It makes sense really, it’s coming up to Halloween and the only costumes you’ll have available is sexy nurse, sexy teacher and sexy cat. The other version of this picture is “lighten your load”. Yup.

What is the point here? Go vegetarian and nurses will look like this? Go vegetarian and women who work in a hospital will be readily available to you? You are insulting women, yet again.

Your cause is worthy without this and yet you continue. In fact many of your ads have been banned and you proceed with more and more. Getting progressively more violent, or offensive. Is it the controversy you like? Is there truly no such thing as bad press? Or is it much more simple; do you have a women problem? Is it possible that you are misogynists making the most of a cause and hoping you can hide behind it? I think the answer is in the images above.

Stop it. If you have an ounce of respect for women. If you have an ounce of respect for the women who want to campaign with you to protect animals, STOP. NOW.

As If Shopping isn’t crap enough

I find shopping difficult. Seriously, the traipsing around shops looking at over priced, block colours of essentially nothing, is something I find exhausting. (Unless of course, we are in Hobbycraft or a children’s toy shop. Then, bring it.). It seems like women’s shopping is made purposefully difficult; you will be a different size in every shop, then you have to figure out do you want bootleg, straight, flare, skinny, ultra skinny…I don’t know if I am in a shop selling clothing or trying to sell me a coffee. I just want a pair of jeans and a cup of tea. Whilst writing this I realise, that I come across as a grumpy old women. shaking her fist at the evolution of life going on around her. I’m ok with that. 

Pretty sure I am the one on the right.

Pretty sure I am the one on the right.

But I had a shopping trip that was a little different. I went out shopping to investigate the subconscious phenomenon of the Pink Tax. It’s something I’ve been aware of but given I would like to wash and smell acceptable have quietly condoned by continuing to purchase products which discriminate me for identifying as a woman. I have a choice; don’t wash, don’t smell acceptable, potentially lose friends, or maybe highlight it and start using men’s products which do exactly the same thing but are cheaper. (I wouldn’t go as far as using Lynx though, apparently half naked angels with designer hair will fall from the sky, so it seems like that might be a health and safety hazard).

So what happened when I went shopping? Here it is:

Nivea Deodorant Sensitive (250ml) Men – £2                                                        Nivea Deodorant Sensitive (250ml) Women – £3.29

Sure Men Roll on (50ml) Men – £1                                                                           Sure Roll on (50ml) Women – £1.75

Disposable razors (10 pack) men – £4.25                                                         Disposable razors (10 pack) women – £4.69

Gillette Sensitive Shaving Gel Men (75ml) – £1.30                                                   Gillette Sensitive Shaving Gel Women (75ml) – £1.50  

Veet Hair removal cream (100ml) Men – £3.68                                                        Veet hair removal cream (100ml) women – £3.88  

There is of course another aspect to this that the work on Pink Tax over looks. We are compelled and manipulated into not only spending more, but purchasing a wider range of products. Take a look on a shopping website, or next time you are out. There will be aisles of purchasing for women, all convincing you that you need to do something about your cellulite, your hair growth, your tired looking skin, the bags under your eyes, the wrinkles, the acne, the oily skin tone, the grey hairs, the frizzy hair, the hairs between your brows. Advertisers telling you, you look awful, telling you purchasing these things will enhance your self esteem. The average women will buy significantly more products to do more things than a man and on top of that you will on average pay more for the few comparable items. When you put it into those terms, you have to wonder; how have they got away with it? (please know, I don’t think less of you for buying these things, I left the shop with a 3 for 2 offer on things that will apparently tighten my skin…)

There has been a beautiful attempt at discrediting this as a feminist conspiracy theory, though I am not sure a giant red price tag leaves much to conspire. Apparently there is a difference because us women, don’t understand that there will be “inactive ingredients” that have not been taken into account and those ingredients may be in different quantities resulting in different pricing (despite it being the same brand, same size and same purpose)…I mean, this argument is just a disrespect to faux science. I also finding it amusing that the different “active ingredients” are necessary in shaving gel, I skipped the biology class where we learnt how men and women have such different skin and the need for a layer of scented masking under their arms could be worth £1.29 extra.

So how much is it costing us to be women? We lose on average around £800 in being priced out by the pink tax. Add on that the estimated average earning loss of the pay gap is around £5000 per annum. Add on that the majority of zero hour contracts are worked by women, they are more likely to be in lower paid careers, more likely to work part time and more likely to bare the brunt of household costs and childcare cost and the costs of inequality begins to dawn on you. It is a cost to the individual woman, potentially to a household unit and most certainly a cost to the economy.

But that’s ok, because we’re all equal and feminism is outdated.

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.

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.

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