Feminist: A person who believes in social, political and economical equality of the sexes

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Men's rights activism / white oppression


Haven't made a post in a while but was thinking about this topic yesterday and decided to go into it in a bit more detail. I've mentioned 'Men's Rights Activism' before but I did a little research and wanted to explain why it doesn't exist. These ideas also tie in with race and 'white oppression'.

What is the Men's Rights Movement?
According to Wikipedia, the Men's Rights Movement (MRM) targets male oppression and discrimination. Men's Rights Activists (MRA) see males as an oppressed group threatened by the "feminised" modern society.

What do men see as oppression?
A few examples include rape culture and the overgeneralisation that all men are rapists or men get falsely accused of rape* by angry or vengeful partners or some that believe rape doesn't exist. MRA also say that sexual assault and domestic violence happens to men too but the issue isn't as widely discussed and addressed. Another big concern of MRAs is that the court system supposedly favours women in divorce and child custody cases.
*False accusations of rape is thought to be less than 2%, like other crimes.

Why can't men be oppressed?
In society there is a power hierarchy, at the top of which is heterosexual white males. This is most likely due to the religious roots of England which were then passed onto other countries including North America. These qualities were seen as superior to others thus forming sex discrimination and well as race, class and sexuality discrimination. As this group has always been favoured, it seems that any sign of "discrimination" against them is picked up on and attacked.
"Why isn't there a white history month" "What about men's rights?"
Every event in history was white history, everything children are taught in schools is white history, everything we know and see was from white history because Great Britain thought it ran the world. A group in power cannot be oppressed because they still possess the power, women could form an uprising against men but it won't change the system. White people could claim discrimination based on race but at the end of the day, white people are still in charge. 
Just because you are facing a sex or race etc related problem doesn't mean you are being oppressed. Sexism and racism have caused long term, incredibly damaging effects worldwide that need to be addressed now.

Why is MRA damaging?
The idea of men's rights and male entitlement is what causes a lot of the sex inequality in the first place. The Santa Barbara shooting I spoke about before was a product of male entitlement and men thinking they are superior and deserve everything handed to them on a platter. The fact that me saying all this might trigger the response "but not all men" reinforces this egocentrism. Being privileged doesn't mean you don't have problems, but understanding that there are bigger, more critical problems is vital. Feminism helps men too.

Oppression means prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority. Women are not in authority, therefore we do not possess the power to oppress.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The "friendzone" and Santa Barbara shooting


I'm sure a lot of you have heard about the recent tragic shooting from a kid named Elliot Rodger who allegedly was fed up with women rejecting his advances and so decided to get revenge by killing them. He vowed he was going to "slaughter every blonde slut [he] see[s]". I am aware that he had highly functioning asperger's syndrome and was being seen by many therapists but how he managed to get hold of a gun and go on a rampage is completely ridiculous! 

What I really wanted to talk about today was the people defending his actions. It's a very difficult situation as his mental state was unstable but firstly, when is murder ever ok? Absolutely never. And secondly, when did men decide that they were entitled to a woman just because they deem themselves "nice" and a "gentleman". The whole "friendzone" thing has been sort of a long running joke and it is really stupid. Yes it isn't very nice when someone you like doesn't like you back but then again why should a girl be bullied into being with you just because you like her? That would make it a pity date wouldn't it? So weird.

I fail to believe that this is a serious comment, surely no man could really be that deluded. But there is a general theme with comments like this that suggests women should be made to feel guilty when expressing their opinions. That if a woman says something that a man doesn't like, she is wrong. She needs to be punished. Luckily, women have fought back with the currently trending hashtag #YesAllWomen, talking about harassment, gender roles and really making issues known. "Men's rights activists" still exist for some reason and it's tragedies like this that make you think, women are being MURDERED because they said no. This is sexism and misogyny at it's peak and something really needs to be done.

I send my most sincere apologies and condolences to the family and friends of the victims.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The feminist's paradox

Hi internet

I think one of the main stigmas around feminism comes from the "traditional" feminist angle that, in order to be a feminist, women shouldn't shave, wear makeup, dress "provocatively", be housewives etc. I definitely believe that women don't dress for men (most of the time anyway) and therefore shaving and wearing makeup and stuff doesn't mean you are adhering to society's ideas of a "perfect woman", but that you are doing what the hell you like because it makes you feel good. This has been named the feminist paradox. 

It's unfortunate that over many years it's become so normal for a woman to want to look "flawless" with makeup even though nobody has ever looked like that. I know that rouged cheeks and lips were fashionable because they made you look healthy but who decided to start glueing hairs onto their eyelids and cover their skin in beige goo? Very odd. But, now makeup is so advanced, it's become more of an art. No, not an art of "deception" as some people call it, come on, we're not "lying" to you just because we have darker eyelashes than usual. There are countless blogs and Youtube channels and budding businesses dedicated to the art of makeup, and I find putting makeup on enjoyable.

With shaving, it's completely down to personal preference. I shave because it makes me feel cleaner, like having freshly moisturised skin, but I would never stand for someone telling me that I had to shave, or a partner insisting I shaved before touching me. I think boy's leg hair is way more gross than a girls', and don't get me started on their chest hair! But that's just me, and just like I wouldn't force them to remove it, I wouldn't tolerate being forced to remove mine. A lot of women don't see a problem with body hair and that's completely fine too! Women bearing hairy underarms and legs is so refreshing and the hate they get for it, online especially, is disgusting. 

The singer Lily Allen's comeback song "Hard out here" is a lash out at the misogyny in showbiz and it's got a great message except it slams some things that I don't like. Like the line "you'll find me in the studio and not in the kitchen" somehow comes across negative to housewives and stay at home mums, especially when in context of the music video. Being a stay at home mum is one of the most difficult professions out there and is grossly underestimated. 

All in all, I think any woman can and should be a feminist even if you love having sex, like dressing in "revealing" clothes or wearing makeup or any of these things. Do what makes you happy.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Feminism in Disney


I was rewatching one of my favourite disney animated films today and was thinking about the messages they send. The film was Frozen - of course, it's all anyone talks about - and I was in love with the sisterly love message it sent. (This will contain spoilers, if you're bothered). Every other Disney princess film is wrapped up by a prince or similar male figure saving the day and it was refreshing to see family love instead of romantic love be the thing that saved Anna.

My other favourite Disney films are my favourites because they are sort of unconventional and give healthy messages about equality. Pocahontas, the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Mulan. Obviously they're not perfect, but they come pretty close. I think the messages that these give to young children, especially young girls, is that you don't need a man to save you, you can be your own hero and not to judge someone by their appearance. 

There's been a little bit of critique against Frozen because neither of their main characters are that likeable, more so Elsa than Anna. Elsa appears, cold (ha), emotionally unavailable and unstable. Anna is naive and too trusting. This is probably the parents' fault for locking Elsa away however so I think we can let that slide. The songs are so damn catchy anyway.

To the real point of this post, I think it's incredibly important that Disney films portray relationships more accurately and show women as less passive in order to promote equality and fair representation in the younger generation. They are so influential and can do a lot of positive things when made well. I hope that the next Disney film can be about another independant woman, of colour would be great, homosexual would be even better! This might be a little bit too hopeful though. It seems like Disney is progressing, albeit slowly, but I have a good feeling about the future. 

I don't think we should stop watching the older films but some of them were really... politically incorrect. I was watching Pocahontas with my little sister and she referred to the Native Americans as "the redskins" which shocked me actually. I had no idea where it had come from. Then I realised it was from Peter Pan, when they visit the Native American camp with the chief and chief's daughter Tigerlily. So these things have more of an impact than you think.

Monday, 19 May 2014

The menstruation taboo


I recently saw a post on the everydayfeminism.com forum questioning tax on sanitary products. I don't fully understand tax so I'm not sure how it works but apparently tax on tampons and pads is 5% whereas some products that are apparently considered "essential" like men's razors are not taxed at all.

First of all what? Not essential? Unless it's suddenly become ok for women to have blood stained clothes and bleed all over the bus seats I don't see how sanitary products are not essential. Personally, I think they should be free or in the UK, provided by the NHS like condoms. They are essential to having a healthy reproductive system and being generally hygienic. Here is a petition you can sign to try to reduce tax on sanitary items to 0%.

What also puzzles me is the insane taboo around menstruation, women rarely talk about it openly, we're always trying to hide our products in pretty cases and god forbid a man see us take one out of our bags. There's all this stigma around the word "period". Periods make us "crazy" and "irrational". Being on your period is "dirty" and it makes you "untouchable". Even seeing a tampon laying around is "awkward" or "gross". Without periods, there would be no babies, without babies, the human population would disappear so yeah, they're pretty important. 99.9% of women menstruate which is practically half of the population so I don't see how it could be any more normal. 

Women in countries like Kenya and Uganda have to be removed from school for a week a month because they are not provided with the products they need to live an easy, normal life. This has a massively negative impact on their education. There are many charities that allow you to donate sanitary products to these girls in these countries to allow them to have uninterrupted education. Here are a few good ones:


These taboos also have a more detrimental affect on a lot of women worldwide.

If we had a choice to opt out of this monthly inconvenience we would (technically I have, the implant worked in my favour, but that's not the case with 4/5 women). Don't make periods any worse than they already are, basically. Also, never ever ask a woman if she is on her period because she is in a bad mood. We are allowed to be angry or upset sometimes and you are making it 100000X worse. Make periods common ground, talk to your girlfriends about them, help to remove the taboo.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Street Harassment


I think it's common knowledge that pretty much every woman of this generation has been cat-called at least once in their life. For those who aren't sure what cat-calling is, it's when a man or group of men, can be any age, make inappropriate, crude, sexual comments towards you on the street. This can also be manifested as beeping the horn and shouting "Oi!".

I have had countless encounters like this. A distinct memory I have was when I was 13, wearing shorts because it was summer, walking down the road. A man in a white van (the most common vehicle of harassers) wolf whistled as he was coming up behind me. I turned around, and as soon as he saw my face and probably noticed how young I was, he look mortified and sped off. So where do I begin. The fact that this man just assumed I was older and therefore that made it ok to wolf whistle? Or the fact he didn't notice my small, child like body and just went straight for sexualising the bare legs? I don't know.

Being harassed on the street can be a terrifying thing, imagine if a group of men who had shouted at you then started to follow you, you'd fear the worst. There's no way to know if they're just making a "harmless comment" or if they're going to act on it. A common reaction to cat-calling is that it's a "compliment" and you should be "grateful" for the "attention". No. Compliments are polite, relatively discreet and humbling. "You have a lovely smile" is a compliment. Not "cracking tits". Why do men do it? What are they trying to achieve? Are they expecting us to leap into their arms and say "take me, i'm yours"? Cos that aint gonna happen.

The thing I find extra weird is that I could be walking somewhere in jogging bottoms, a hoodie and no makeup on and still get harassed. Even though I look like a potato in pyjamas. The only conclusion I can come to, and I think this is for the younger men, is that it makes you look like a "lad" in front of your mates. It's funny to them. Or some men just like treating women like pieces of meat and reminding women that they should exist for men's pleasure. 

If you want ways to deal with cat-calling, a good old "fuck off" is quite effective sometimes. On www.everydaysexism.com people share their stories of street harassment and some of their retorts are hilarious. I remember reading that one women, in reply to a boy on a bike commenting on her breasts simply said "That doesn't make me want to have sex with you" and he cycled off in shame. You can read some more creative responses here

I like telling cat-calling stories to my male friends in hope that, in turn, it will prevent them from becoming street creeps and help them understand a bit more about sexism.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

"Dress for the body you have, not the body you want"

Hey internet

Now it's getting warmer, I've seen a few people on facebook and twitter voicing their "disgust" with "fat girls who think it's ok to wear shorts/crop tops in public". I don't consider myself fat by any means but I've never been completely secure with my body and don't like wearing shorts because they make me feel self conscious. It really bothers me that people think they have the right to shame someone on their clothing choices because they don't "have the body" for it.

The worst part is, it's mostly women making these comments (that I've seen) and it makes me sad, these curvier women do not live for your approval nor do they care if some stranger disapproves of their outfit choice. Voicing these harmful opinions just makes you look like an arsehole. You may have heard of a different take on the "bikini body" ideal that's something along the lines of "How to get a bikini body: put a bikini on your body" promoting self love and this is the same thing. If someone is confident enough to wear shorts or a revealing top then don't be so rude and judgemental. You don't have to be a certain size or shape to wear summery clothes. It's hot anyway, no one's going to wrap themselves in layers and boil to death just because you don't like it.

There's something to  be said for wearing clothes that fit you well and flatter you but at the end of the day, you dress for you and nobody else. Wear what makes you feel fabulous and happy and you can never go wrong.

As for the skinnier women, skinny-shaming is just as real as fat-shaming and I've seen people make cruel comments about women who look like "a sack of bones" in what they're wearing. Don't give a second thought to other people because if the most important thing they have to say is about what someone else is doing with their life, then they're not the type of person you want to know anyway.