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

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

Men are objects too!

You should read the title in the tone of “look, look we have it tough, why is nobody talking about us?”

My nieces assembled (not like avengers, that would be awesome) in a huddle in front of me over TV and lunch. I have arrived at the conclusion that actively telling them to talk to me about feminism yields no results, but saying your aunt is going to provide free food and films means they are round every weekend. Little do they know, that my years of commercial TV viewing predicts that a story of patriarchy can only be one advert away.

Indeed it was.

It was the Diet Coke advert. Yes, THAT diet coke advert, the timeless sexy man advert. SWOON etc. I started talking about it and my nephew interrupted, “Eh hold on! That’s sexism of men” Obviously we then talked about what that word actually meant and why my response was a very firm, glaring “no”.

But they wanted more of an explanation. My niece said anyone being seen as only an object without any personality or thinking (she’s a smart cookie) is wrong. Yes. Absolutely  this is discrimination and wrong. But it is not objectification or sexism in the same way women face. Not one bit.

You see it’s all about context. let’s break down that Diet Coke advert. She throws a can his way, knowing it will explode, haha, cheeky little prank. What happens next, sexy man seductively takes off his T-shirt, the girls drop their jaws and are mesmerised as he raises his eyebrow and takes a cool refreshing sip. The questions you need to ask when you want to figure out if this is objectification is simple:

Who is in control and who is powerless?

Does the person you are referring to come with a face or just sexual parts of a body?

Now, the Diet Coke ad, isn’t much of an issue, it’s not like he decides to strut over grab one of the girls and then tie a leash round them (that people, has actually been in an advert). But to answer the questions, he is in control and he has a face, he is not seen as just pieces of a body. Sidenote the song being played is Etta James (she is brilliant) however, the choice of song suggests, again that he’s in control: “All I want to do is wash your clothes, I don’t want to keep you indoors. There is nothing for you to do But keep me making love to you” *rocks back and forth and asks for Etta forgiveness*

Time and time again, I have been asked told (by men who often consider themselves on feminism’s side) that objectification happens to all genders and it is a product of capitalism. Yes, in this case it’s most defiantly being used to sell, however no, it is not that same. This is something that is in desperate need of being understood. The use of  a man is not used as pieces of a body for sexual pleasure in the same way women are used. Not just in commonality of the use of women in adverts, but the way in which women are illustrated is as submissive and as parts. That is not the same as men.

What I will say for men in this case is this; you are told to be a certain type of man – yorkie eating, beer drinking, gym going, lumberjack of a man. That is unfair and not reflective of the diverse identities that men have in the world. But I am about to say something that might shock you! That patriarchy’s fault too. Jump aboard the feminist bandwagon and you too could be liberated.

This has been even more prominent to me over the past few weeks as a new *read as pretend* political party emerges “Justice for men and boys (and the women who love them) – no seriously this is a thing, even the bits in brackets. The irony that the name of the party has women in bracket,s as a secondary thought, seems to have missed their PR peeps. Excellent stuff. Many thanks, I hear patriarchy already has that job, but who knows maybe he’s looking for a deputy.

Now masquerade this however you want, but he hates women. In an article the party leader described his work as “fighting feminism” and has written books which include the “Glass Ceiling Delusion” and “Feminism; The Ugly Truth”. The only thing ugly here, is someone who is so seeped in privilege and entitlement that the mere question of women’s justice and equality has him creating a fictitious political movement. Afraid I’ll stick to real social injustices.

Often when men’s rights activists explain what social injustices they face they come up with the following:

“Men suffer from domestic abuse too” – That’s right and that is not ok. However there is no denying that over 80% of women are the abused gendered analysis; a look into deeper social inequality will tell you why.

I’ll take the following as one:

“Men have the highest suicide rate and least likely to come forward for support”

“Men are expected to be successful and powerful and are belittled by society when they are not”

“There are more women in caring and teaching professions”

THIS IS ALL PATRIARCHY. This is patriarchy and the discrimination and social exclusion of women backfiring on men. If we fought for social justice and the end of patriarchy, both men and women (and those who identify as a different gender or no gender at all) would be free from the stereotypes and false beliefs patriarchy creates, which do an injustice to us all.

Here’s the thing men’s rights activists or those who like to tell me that men face sexism too: When feminist women talk about these issues they are talking about their experiences and their rights. You don’t get to contradict them and play some fictitious game of top trumps. When women stand for their rights, they are not standing to rid you of yours.

Go through the history books. When women got the vote, did men lose theirs? When the civil rights movement began, did white people have to start sitting at the back of the bus? NO.

There is space on the platform for us all, so rather than taking up more space than you’re entitled to, figure out the true cause of injustice and hand over the megaphone.

Peace out.


You Hip Hop and You Don’t Stop

It’s a Saturday afternoon, which meant two things, I had teenage nieces at my house for a little feminist discussion and I had to tidy up, because between Monday – Friday, I allow my surrounding to look like a tip. I like to think the mess reflects my lack of time due to changing the world, but actually, it’s a reflection that I rather watch Revenge than do ironing.

My nieces, 14 and 16, are over and they have decided to entertain themselves with whichever remotely cool (and free) channel they can find whist I make lunch. The channel they chose was Chart Show TV. This carries on until Chris Brown comes on. Naturally, I came through from the kitchen, and did something that probably looked like the unhinged women from the Simpsons who throws cats at people (replace cats with a sponge at the TV), and explained that for this reason, I would rather they did not support his music by watching the videos.

So then a few more minutes went by, I carried on, they carried on talking and then the music videos that were played made me alert again: Snoop Dogg, Pitbull, and something from 50 Cent that I can’t remember.

I was in the kitchen, so could only hear the words:

“Tear off this clip of clothes, i wanna see u in the nude

You can keep on your high heel shoes

So follow me down to yellow brick road

Where ni**as go to see naked hoes

Shake that shit b*tch

And be off in the club with a hard ass d*ck

Then drop like this b*tch

If you wanna make the money shawty work that shit

That ho’s fine but but but but this one’s a killa”

I could figure out the video that went along with the track and that’s where we find the topic of today’s discussion.

I don’t believe in censoring people from the reality of the world and my nieces are not children. So rather than marching into the living room and switching off the TV shouting “WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!”, I had a conversation with them. The most empowering part of feminism, for me, is the ability to critically analyse and question the world around you. Why do things exist? How do we make it better? What choices are there for me and why do I make certain decisions? Not pretending it doesn’t exist.

So we talked. They said it was “just listening to music” or “we don’t really pay attention, it’s just how the music is, we just sing along”. Not a surprising response, but one that can easily be used to explain, how subconscious sexism and misogyny works. We watched some videos and paused at particularly degrading parts. Often the lyrics wouldn’t be about a woman writhing against a stripper pole, but that would be the visual, we explored some of the words and although, at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon, most of the lyrical content was bleeped out, they knew what words were being used to describe women.

Then my niece asked “Why do they have to call them that, why can’t they just call them women or girls?” “Why are they calling them something you say to people you hate?” Indeed.

Sometimes, the penny dropping is hard work, because sometimes, you just want to listen to music, so I left it there for them, and asked that all they do when they see this, is understand that it is part of patriarchy, it is a false illusion which is dangerous for both women and men, and that this should not influence the way they see themselves or how they allow men to see them. They are strong women, not b*tches or ho’s.

I’ve listened to rap music since I was a teen, and yes sang along to sexist lyrics, without actually realising what the words meant. I love hip hop music, but usually it’s the beat rather than the lyrical content or the videos. I love a heavy bassline. But this wasn’t always what hip hop was, it started as a creative expression of black culture and the experiences of black people. In my opinion, hip hop became more sexist, as it tried to appeal to the masses. And we all know patriarchy owns the masses. (At this point it’s important not to penalise only hip hop, it’s all across music; rock, pop, alternative….I think folk music might be the only one out…).

I’m not about to start a campaign for the censorship of hip hop (we would have to close ourselves off to music, radio, TV, advertising, the list goes on…) and I think that steers too close to “let’s shut down the internet!” but I would like to see more respect for the art and for women. To the makers of the videos; who are you trying to appeal to? You’ve created a norm that nobody asked for. To the lyrical geniuses; what are you writing about? Fame, money and women? I’m pretty sure there’s more to be said and, quite frankly, it’s getting boring.

Hip hop, or the music industry as a whole, isn’t about to change any time soon, but what can change is what we buy into and what subconscious sexism we allow. Gaining a little perspective and questioning what you see before you, provides you with a barrier which makes it that little bit harder for subconscious sexism to get in and makes it that little bit easier for you to understand and fight patriarchy. So next time you’re listening to the radio or watching a video, just pause for a little self reflection.

PS: In the time the conversation with my nieces happened, I burnt 2 pizzas. it’s fine, we ate toast instead.

PPS: I’m now listening to Justin Timberlake *hangs heads in shame*

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