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Archive for the month “December, 2011”

Feminist Fridays

My niece is wonderful. She is your typical carefree/careless young adult and often looks like an extra from The OC (although being asian, she’d at least bring a level of diversity to the show) but she’s wonderful.

Last week she was chatting to me about our usual array of mundane things, but, somehow in the middle of discussing the (hilarious) Yo Valley advert, she asked me about the politics in Palestine. Now, this is new and caught me by surprise – I asked why she wanted to chat about it and here is how the conversation went:

Me: Why are you asking about this?

My niece: Well, I think it’s important that I know more about politics

Me: No, seriously, Why?

My niece: Well, I was talking to this boy and he’s really political, but I felt really stupid. I want to know more so I can talk to him more often.

Me: right….

My niece: and I thought I would come to you since you’re always talking about political things and know lots (now this is inaccurate, I merely read and regurgitate The Guardian like any good left leaning activist….)

My face was this warped mesh of anger, concern and optimism. Which, by the way, I can only imagine was not attractive – angry, sharp eyebrows, weary eyes and a smile…bizzarley the Joker from Batman has popped into my head…

Anyway, I was angry because anyone could, so easily, make this bright young woman feel inferior, I was optimistic since at least she talked to me about it and wanted to develop, and I was concerned because what made her do it was a boy.

Here, there was a young woman wanting to become more political to keep up with a boy or worse yet, impress him. I, of course, talked to her about this and she denied that this was the case and I should take that at face value. I do not. Because I’m her aunt and it is a divine right that I get to think the worst and dislike any boy within 50 yards. Fact. But it made me think about the next generation of women, the next generation of leaders and how we make them political and particularly how we make them feminists.

Political understanding/feminism isn’t something to consider thinking about in order to keep up with someone or because it sounds intelligent. It’s a belief system; a way of seeing the world and making your decisions about it. But how do we get that across to young women? I’m still trying to work that out and have been for a number of years. I know there are many people, in a certain national movement close to my heart, who do exactly that every day, but I’m not sure we are that close to figuring it out.

I know we need to make politics/feminism more personal, we need to make the, in the case, 20 year old apolitical woman, who enjoys spending time with her friends and going facebook, maybe going to a lecture (and for the love of God, maybe listening to her aunt and joining a student society or two….) understand that word ‘feminism’ is relevant to them today and what they are currently experiencing. Rather than telling them what they should be experiencing and how they should feel about it. But beyond that, I’m still searching.

Back to my niece and this conversation. We have decided (when I say this I actually mean I told her) that we are meeting/chatting every Friday to talk about what’s going on in the news that week and what that means for her. Naturally, I have every intention of making this all about feminism (you see, I have some time on my hands at the moment and no idea what to do with it, so this is now my project). I also hope I’ll learn from her and maybe figure out some answers to the questions above.

I’ll keep you posted on how this develops, you know, in case you’re bored.


Women of 2011

When I read the pathetic article by the BBC on the Women of 2011, I was overcome with utter rage – who on earth thought this was a good idea? Who did the research? Or, more accurately, who was on the eggnog?

Then I found the #realwomenoftheyear trend on twitter and saw that women, mainly young women, from around the world were tweeting the likes of Lady Gaga or Tulisa as their inspirstion. I understand and accept that people’s  inspiration is a very personal concept, but I find it a sorry state of affairs when you scroll down the screen and see not one name nor even a reference to any political, cultural or scientific women leaders.

Then to make myself feel better I thought I would google ‘Women of 2011’ as I thought, well painfully hoped, that there would be a blog, an article, a comment, maybe even just a sentence that would talk of the powerful endeavours of women in 2011. Instead the top searches were:

“Hottest Women of 2011”

“Women of 2011 – Maxim”

“Women of 2011 – FHM”

At this point, I am on the edge and begin to wonder, maybe this is, in fact, the fault of the BBC and every other mainstream media outlet. If women were in the media (whether press, television or a magazine)  for their successes rather than who they married, what clothing they have (or do not have) on,  or what diet they’ve been on. Then perhaps that twitter trend would look different, perhaps that google search would look different and perhaps the BBC ridiculous list would look different. It’s time for our media to be braver and fairer. Untill then, screw it, I’m writing my own list of women who should have been on it. Enjoy

Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma democracy and peace campaigner)

Hilary Clinton (US Secretary of State)

3 winners of the Nobel Peace Prize  Ellen Johnson Sirleaf  Leymah Gbowee Tawakkol Karman

Shami Chakrabarti (Director of Liberty UK)

Shaima Justaina (Saudi Arabia Women’s Campaigner)

Christine Lagarde – (first woman to be head of the IMF – love it or hate it)

I have had brilliant suggestions and thought more about all the women I admire so here are a few others – not that this as been my only topic of discussion all day long…(feel free to mail me more and I will add it to a growing list of inspiration)

Yvette Cooper (Shadow Home Secretary)

Harriet Harman (Shadow Deputy Prime Minister)

Caitlin Moran (Authour of How to be a Woman)

Angela Merkel (Chancellor, Germany)

Franny Armstrong (Producer of ‘Age of Stupid’ and founder of 10:10)

Also even though she’s fictional CJ Cregg should be on every inspirational women list. Boom.

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