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

Archive for the month “March, 2015”

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.

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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.

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