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

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

The Sisterhood

This year, the conversations with my niece have become conversations with my nieces. I have nieces that span the ages of 4 to 20, and I thought why deprive the younger ones of my infinite wisdom (much to my eldest niece’s relief).

My niece, who we discussed last week, needed a babysitter for her party with her friends. This niece is 8, and everything an 8 year old should be; overly talkative, inquisitive, inhibited and finds the word ‘poo’ hilarious. She is also often seeped in more pink and Hello Kitty attire than I would prefer, but, those are her choices to make.

So, on this cold Saturday afternoon, I find myself with six 8 year old girls…What to do? What to do? Naturally, I got them into a circle on the floor and we played a game about women role models (If I was 8, I would hate me too), but then they got to watch movies and eat popcorn after, so back off.

During the afternoon, they talked about some of the other girls in school, apparently some of the other girls don’t like their little group, whilst talking, here’s what one of them said:

“Mum says it doesn’t matter because we are all friends, and she probably doesn’t like us because she’s just jealous”

First bit excellent, second bit not so much. But, at the tender age of 8, this little girl (and many like her) have decided that the fellow woman is jealous competition.

The idea of other women being competition made me think a lot this week. What are other women competition for? Male attention? Jobs? The last pair of size 6 shoes at a sale? Catching the last seat on the bus? If they really are prone to such jealousy and competition, I’m surprised we don’t all were headbands resembling the 118 dudes, constantly running to places before everyone else. HAHA! I made it to the end of the Asda aisle before you, sucka! Incidentally this has made me think of this from Mean Girls.

I’ve sat at dinner with actual friends whilst a monologue ran through my head “God she looks great, I could never wear something like that”. “Is she about to eat that burger? I just got fat looking at it” etc etc….that’s normal, I get that kind of competition, but it doesn’t stop me from having a relationship with these women.

One of my friends who works in the dirty corporate world, talks to me about this all the time. She recently went to a women’s networking event and was told “Only a few of the women in this room will make it to senior management, the women on your right is your biggest competition to get there, you have to make sure you are noticed from the herd.”

Wow. So let’s not talk about why only a few of them will be senior managers, lets instead focus on them climbing over each other to get to the top.

We are in world that encourages us to see fellow women as competition, rather than individuals who are dealing with the same crap we all are. This is one very BIG distraction from solidarity and a huge block in feminism’s path. 

We need a little sisterhood. Now, by no means am I suggesting we should all hold hands, do each other’s hair and be besties forever. Aside from that making me want to vomit, it isn’t the meaning of sisterhood. You don’t have to like every woman (God knows, there are plenty I don’t, mainly the Kardashians, there’s a sisterhood that doesn’t need to exist). It’s not about liking, it’s not even about agreeing, it’s about common ground and creating a movement. If we see other women as a problem, how will we create a world that can see them as a solution? See them as around the table for the important decisions, the CEO of that company or the elected parliamentarian for that constituency?

thu0026lAnd time and time again, I’ve had to witness this lack of sisterhood within the core of the feminist movement. How sad. We have a group of like-minded feminists there and another group of like minded feminists over there, and never the two shall meet. We have a whole society of patriarchy keep us from uniting and creating change.Why are we doing their work for them? I bet they are somewhere drinking champagne, smoking a cigar and laughing at the “little ladies, at it again”.

My psyche has decided that an image of patriarchy is some form of 1950’s gentleman’s club – which is probably about right.

Take the example of Suzanne Moore and her column which made a (yes, not very well thought through) comment about “Brazilian Transsexuals”. What she said wasn’t absolutely not ok, I believe the movement is for all self-defining women, but the attack wasn’t much better. The whole situation could have been somewhat remedied had it not been for Julie Burchill coming to Suzanne Moore’s defense. Though, this ‘defense’ felt more like bigotry and a way to increase her readership.

Twitter isn’t the place to go for solidarity at the best of times, but yesterday I saw this:

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She is mocking the use of ‘trigger warning’. A term many people put ahead of posting something which may include vivid descriptions or graphic illustrations of violence against women. The people that do this are simply ensuring that those who read will be able to make an informed choice rather than clicking on something and it having a PTSD related symptom for them. It might seem a little odd or like people are being wrapped in cotton wool, especially given PTSD can be triggered by anything. But, what I saw in this tweet, was this need to mock and belittle what some people, genuinely, do as a means to create a safe and accessible movement for all. Think about the fact that many women who become activists, are doing so after experiencing violence themselves. But, rather than accepting that some feminists do this, maybe talking to them about it in a less crappy way, or deciding to not agree and not do it herself, Julie Bindel decides to mock it. Thanks sister.

Have I got the wrong end of the stick? Are we not all trying to create a world which respects and values women, a world free of gendered violence and world with an equal economical, political and societal platform as men? That is what we’re all doing you say? How exciting. (Stella Duffy has written and excellent piece on this).

So, how about we talk to each other, argue, debate and disagree, but remind ourselves of who we are actually fighting and why.

And in the mean time, if an impressionable young girl talks to you about some girl she isn’t getting along with, try not to tell her it’s because she’s jealous. It simply reinforces women against women. If you’re going to encourage them not to be friends (and decided to try questionable parenting skills), say something non gender related, like she smells. Ta very much.

In solidarity, sisters (vom)

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Big Girls Don’t Cry…

…Except the ones that aren’t a size 10 or below. They should weep.

It’s a new year and a new niece! Today’s conversation feature a super hyper, e-number addicted, 8 year old. She, and her younger sister were staying over with me and getting changed for bed/watching a movie with the best aunt of all time, my younger niece was very excited because she got to wear the new onsie she got for Christmas (Public Announcement: Onsies are fine if you are under 16. Adults who wear them cannot be my friends. Nick Clegg was never going to be my friend, but this includes him too). I asked why my 8 year old niece why she wasn’t wearing her’s and the reply was “It makes me look fat”.

Stop the bus at pleasant and nice and let’s take a detour down feminist avenue. a-thank you.

An 8 year old girl just said the words “It makes me look fat”. I stopped and looked a little stunned. I sat her down and asked why she thought she looked fat. She said it was because her belly stuck out. I then asked why that was a bad thing and she said “that’s not what people say you should look like, you’re meant to have a flat belly”. I then talked to her about how lots of people look different and that’s a good thing. I then explained that what we see around us isn’t always the right thing, sometimes what we see the most, is a message we shouldn’t be getting at all. She smiled, shrugged and went to put on a Shrek. All is well, apparently.

But it’s not. That’s a message she got at 8 years old and it’s a message she will get every year, every day, every advertisement throughout her life. Until she’s 40, where it’s less about her belly fat and more about her wrinkly face.

Appearance is something I have, and still do, struggle with. I don’t look like the size zero front page of Glamor Magazine or any flawless women on screen, I’ve never considered myself beautiful and probably never will – that’s ok, I’ve been told my personality is awesome. I spent my early teens being awkward and turned this awkwardness into a sarcastic comedy in a hope that the rest will not be noticed (tiny violin for me). As I got older, and where I am now, I’ve learnt to work what my mamma gave me and get over it (most days). I realised that everything I saw was Photoshoped or plastic and, most importantly, I understood that society and a multi-billion dollar industry just wanted me to feel bad. And that just wasn’t going to happen. However, I just happened to talk to the right people and read the right things that allowed me to take back control of the self esteem attached to my physical appearance, and even then, it’s not easy. I often slip into thinking negatively about my appearance and trying out the latest fad. (Give me a break, even Mary Poppins was only PRACTICALLY perfect in every way). There’s no formula, no sure way for me to assume my niece, or any young girl, will have that same experience. In fact, most of them grow up with a negative attitude towards their own bodies. 

But, some days even the knowledge of patriarchy’s shitty behaviour, doesn’t stop you feeling rubbish. The days I speak of usually happen in January where every magazine is full off “New Year, New Body” crap and every advert is for weight loss.

They told us to eat Lindt chocolate till we exploded in December, and now they are spamming us with Acai berry miracle fat loss. Marketing backstabbers.

I counted, and in January, so far, I have received 62 emails about radical/miracle/as seen on TV weight loss products. But you can’t get away if you try…even if you have some kind of tiny person inside your computer with a fishing net acting as a virtual spam blocker.

Here are the covers of January’s magazines

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The 8 hour diet, healthy food that might make you fatter and ‘smart’ health tips for January

You want a detox for the New Year? Detox your mind of sexism, sexist behaviour and sexist messages. How? 3 healthy and balanced meals of chewing up patriarchy and spitting it back out (with a side of cake).

 

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