My Thoughts on Feminism: Part 3

I love noticing when my opinions change.

I see it as a reminder of the kind of person I am and want to continue to be; open-minded.

I am susceptible to change just like everyone else and I’m glad that I am. It proves why knowledge is power and why I strive to learn more and more about Feminism every day.

I can admit when I am wrong and can take on other people’s opinions, even if it hurts a little to acknowledge it.

I’ve decided to revoke my opinion about changing the name of Feminism to something like ‘Equalism’. Something as simple as a comic strip made me change my mind. A simple drawing and speech bubbles made me realise that changing the name to make it ‘more inclusive for men’ is just a form of back stabbing and a firm kick in the proverbial cunt.

If men are threatened by a word then that’s their issue. Why should we change the name to something else just because they don’t understand what it represents?

History means ‘his-story’ but we don’t go round demanding the word to be changed to ‘hisandherstory’ we know we are included in this word and that we are part of ‘his-story’. Just because it’s a male word doesn’t mean we should suddenly be up in arms and offended by it. It goes without saying, we are part of history, we are not forgotten.

So Feminism should be seen in the same way, no? Women are the ones facing the inequality, we are the ones who need to be pushed up to men’s level, we are the ones who need it most… but that doesn’t mean that men are excluded.

If they can’t understand that Feminism just means equality, then that’s their ignorance. If a man knows what it means and is still threatened by it then… well, it’s word… let them be threatened – it just helps to prove that there is inequality if they can’t stand and support a female word.

And in some ways it’s just a bit insulting towards the men who do get it and support feminism, it’s like saying – ‘You don’t understand what this word means, silly boy, that’s why we are simplifying it for you! Yay!’

So yes, I’m assured of my stance on this one. I’m sticking with and standing by Feminism.

Here is the comic that helped come round to this view; it’s by Rebecca Cohen –

tumblr_n5dy34FoBL1shrov7o1_500

If people really think that focusing on the people who are facing the inequality is reverse sexism then I say to them -‘bunkum! Hogwash! Codswallop!’ – make of that what you will.

I also had an interesting discussion about the phrase ‘like a girl’ when I posted this photo on Facebook.

10471199_703796852989266_5970547924275396178_n

One of my friends pointed out that calling someone a gender they are not is what’s offensive.

‘I think it’s more the offence of calling someone a gender they’re clearly not. I’d be offended to be called a boy, but that’s because I’m a girl, not because society has taught me that being a boy is of lesser value.’

Now I agree with that to a certain extent when I was in my teens I had short hair and was called a boy, oh and a lesbian, because of it. I found being called a boy offensive because, well, I wasn’t a boy.

But of course being a boy isn’t of lesser value, but in our society being a girl is.

When they say ‘you are such a girl’ or ‘you throw like a girl’ or ‘you run like a girl’ what they are really saying is ‘you are weak. You are unintelligent. You can’t run fast. You can’t throw.’ There are connotations and implications that are attached to this phrase, it’s not solely calling someone a gender they aren’t, they are degrading them to a lesser being.

It’s often thrown back in our faces when we behave in a stereotypical girly manner or when we can’t do something like change a tire or fix the plumbing – it’s because we are female that we can’t do these things.

Of course! It’s not because I haven’t been trained to do it… no, no it can’t be that!

We are also called butch or tomboy (names I can’t stand) when we stray from the stereotype as well, we are made fun of for not being girly and then put down for it when we are – we can’t win!

‘Trying to be more like a man?’

‘No I’m just doing stuff I like and wearing clothes that are comfy.’

‘Hilarious, what a joke, you’re still a woman, tomboy. Try as much as you like to be one of us; you’re still a girl at the end of the day.’

‘Thanks?’

Boys suffer for it too.

Whereas, for a man, to be stereotypical is celebrated. Being an alpha male is THE goal – being able to drink copious amounts of liquor and lift weights is the dream! But, if you can’t do those things or if you are of a ‘softer disposition’ then you are told to ‘man-up!’ and if you can’t ‘man-up’ then…. well… you are demoted! You are emasculated and become something utterly repulsive and embarrassing.

A eunuch?!

Heavens no… a woman!

I found this discussion apt because Always has started a campaign tackling this very issue. It’s time to see that being a woman isn’t a bad thing, not just for men, but for women too.

In part, I believe my friend is right, if a man said that he was offended by being called a girl just because he’s not a girl then I would believe him. But I can’t ignore the fact that there are other meanings and insults that underline this phrase when it is said as well.

If it’s said and intended as an insult then that just proves it, doesn’t it? If it didn’t mean anything else then why use it as an insult to begin with? Why would you attack someone’s gender otherwise?

It’s exactly the same the other way round, when a woman says ‘you are such a man’ you know there are other inferences being thrown at you, there are hidden meanings.

To a manly-man though he would probably only hear it as a compliment.

It all reverts to stereotypical insults, and I am very much fed up with it – so let’s just stop using gender related insults altogether and let’s try to be more conscious and celebratory of our differences.

I end on the awesome Always advert –

 

 

Visible Oppression

IMG_6215

I am oppressed,

without chains.

 

I am oppressed,

without a cage.

 

I am oppressed,

without a curfew.

 

My tyrant is a Notion

A threat which has

Words

It whispers my

Downfall

And rages

Unseen

Behind eyes

It hides

Within bodies

It possesses

 

It has a view of the world

I do not live in

As an equal

I am

NOT

Admitted

 

It controls a world

I do not want to live in

As a woman

I am

NOT

omitted

 

Forced to face such a world

This is my torture

As a prisoner

I am

 

Inhibited

 

My cheeks are pressed against the glass

My eyes

Rub

Against the clear surface

 

I see it

Cloying before my eyes

The truth

Such nectar

Such poisonous nectar

 

The Notion,

sees’ it too.

Though feigns ignorance.

 

It’s what’s holding me against the window

Looking at me through the glass

It’s what’s done up my button hole

Trimming my secret garden with it’s

Scythe

Violating my justice,

Coming in my nectar.

 

I am militant

In suffrage

smeared

jeered

feared

 

The Notion

The conductor

The puppeteer

Plays on with the defilement

It’s theatre

A distraction

My rage disguised

 

But my eyes remain open

Merged with the glass

I watch

The Notion

The pornography

The deception

Do It’s work

It’s wrong

Such fuel

Such rage

It builds

And it will build.

The glass won’t withstand the volume of eyes

Dried

And forced

Upon it

So we wait

And watch

And fuel

And rage

 

under the visible oppression.

My Thoughts on Feminism: Part 2

Since writing my last blog post on this particular subject I have noticed a great change in me. A certain, confidence if you will. My views and frustrations were all a muddle in my head before; they didn’t really make much sense up there.

But now it’s all different.

They are out. They can be seen. They can be understood.

I now understand my views and can see them clearly in front of me.

I now have something I lacked before; a conviction and a sense of self belief. I can now trust my opinions and verbalise my views without hesitation. I am now entering a new self-assured phase in my life.

I am a feminist and proud of it.

Yesterday, that being the 8th of May, was an interesting day for me.

#Grabbed was trending on Twitter. The Everyday Sexism Project created this hash tag in order to ‘reveal the normalisation of sexual assault’ through other women’s stories, the out pouring of tweets was phenomenal. I read and refreshed and read again as more and more tweets were shared; it was depressing. It advertised how much still needed to be done for us women. No one has the right to touch anyone without permission and some of the stories were truly shocking.

In this day and age… it shouldn’t be happening, it just shouldn’t.

I want to be proactive, I want to do something to change our society and help us girls.

But how?

My first move was to look up Feminist organisations I could join.

I came across The London Feminist Network; a women only organisation.

I was instantly turned off, simply because it was women only. Now there is a link on their site which explains why they have made it women only and for reasons which I do understand.

We are the experts on our own lives and on what it is to be a woman, in all of our various identities, in a society where we do not have equal political representation, where we are disadvantaged and discriminated against simply because we are women. All too many of us know what it is to experience male violence, including rape, domestic violence, sexual abuse, pornography, prostitution, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and so-called ‘honour’ crimes.

As women we need to be at the forefront of the movement for women’s rights and therefore we need safe, collective spaces where we can organise, share our experiences, learn from each other and support one another.’

Personally though, it wasn’t what I wanted and if I hadn’t read up why they decided to be women only I would have been really pissed off.

Feminism is for everyone, it is not a ‘women-only’ cause, thinking it as women only is rather hypocritical and only serves to undermine the whole movement. These groups coupled with these preconceptions are probably why men think it’s just for women and why they don’t take an interest in it, because they are being shown ‘it’s not for them’.

But without men on board this movement is never going to work.

Last night I started reading Emmeline Pankhurst’s book ‘My Own Story’, an easy and compelling read so far, but what I found most interesting was this extract –

I think we cannot be too grateful to the group of men and women who, like Dr. Pankhurst, in those early days lent the weight of their honoured names to the suffrage movement in the trials of its struggling youth. These men did not wait until the movement became popular, nor did they hesitate until it was plain that women were roused to the point of revolt. They worked all their lives with those who were organising, educating, and preparing for the revolt which was one day to come. Unquestionably those pioneer men suffered in popularity for their feminist views. Some of them suffered financially, some politically. Yet they never wavered.

This really moved me.

When I studied the suffragette’s briefly in school they never mentioned the men that were committed to the cause from the very beginning. It’s as if they wanted to eradicate the idea that men were ever a part of the movement’s success, but they were and it stands to reason that we shouldn’t exclude them now.

If they remain out of the loop how will we ever be able to convert and educate them? They need to be part of discussions and part of the solutions.

Hate to reiterate this again but I do feel like the name ‘Feminism’ excludes them subconsciously and I think it’s time we came up with a new name for it. As soon as they hear the word Feminism they instantly think ‘that’s not for me, I don’t need to listen, that’s for women… only’.

I really do believe that a new name will help; a new campaign to show men that they are as much a part of this as we women are. Doing so will enable us to start again, we can shake off the prejudices and wipe away all the preconceptions people have against feminism. (Hopefully.)

I’m just thinking of that Aviva advert now, the one they started airing when they changed their name from Norwich Union. A different name, though a simple tactic, can make a big influence.

So thoughts? Femanism? Equalism? … hum I shall return to this.

An excellent documentary was aired last night on BBC 2 called ‘Blurred Lines: The New battle of the Sexes’ by Kirsty Wark.

Now I thought the Documentary was fascinating, it really opened people’s eyes to what’s happening to feminism in the world of media.

But the name of the programme pissed me off. It’s just ingraining the idea that men and women are against each other, that it’s a battle and that only one can win. We are not trying to win over men, we are not trying to dominate them, we are trying to be WITH them.

This ‘it’s them or us thing’ is what is sending out conflicting messages.

How does that not just fuel the idea that ‘all feminists are man haters’?

I read a tweet the other day that said ‘I’m not a feminist, I love men’.

My response, simply; WTF?!

This prejudiced view of feminism is warping men and women alike and these phrases ‘battle of the sexes’ is just exacerbating it all.

So asides from the fact that the name annoyed me, everything else was dandy, it was insightful, shocking and gripping. I definitely think it should be used to educate kids in schools.

What was also interesting, that came out of the documentary, was that the reason men are lashing out is because they feel like they are losing their sense of identity as men. This lack of understanding of their new role in this society, to me, must come from the sense of exclusion feminism has accidentally created. They feel like they can’t say anything and they can’t get involved, so they are left floundering on the sidelines wondering ‘What makes me a man? What is my role now in this new world?’ we need to work together to come up with this conclusion. We need to work out what we are.

The old view of; women at home and men at work, is gone.

We both can now work and we both can share the load at home.

So what are our roles now?

To be honest I’m not quite sure, but I think our roles should come down to us as individuals.

We should measure ourselves by our goals, successes and talents. With so much variety with regards to work, jobs and lifestyles it is now impossible to put us all into one specific box.

What makes a man a man and a woman a woman needs to be scrutinized and discussed, what are our new roles as these sexes?

Like I said before, we are not A Sexual beings, we have differences that make us stand out, but what are they? The only way we can feel confident in our sexual identity is if we allow us time to be with our own sexes, alone.

(Which is why I don’t completely disagree with the women only policy at The London Feminism Network, it’s just feminism as a whole that shouldn’t be seen as women only.)

Prime example is what has happened to the Boy Scouts; girls are now allowed to join the organisation.

It should never have been allowed. The ‘feminists’ waved their flag and committed a great injustice in my opinion; they robbed those boys of an escape, of a safe space where they could just celebrate the fact that they were boys.

You don’t see boys joining the girl guides do you? No, they aren’t allowed. So much for equality.

I believe the problem started within the Girl Guides organisation, all the red tape and regulations ruined what they could do with the girls. It became boring; they couldn’t do anything without a lot of paperwork (I should know because I had to volunteer there for my Duke of Edinburgh award.)

So they went elsewhere, they infiltrated the Scouts because they had more to offer and were doing more exciting and varied activities. This was unfair and very short sighted of them those boys should have been allowed to have something for their own. It’s not their fault that the Guides lost their spark.

If they wanted their boys and girls to mix they should have created a whole new organisation; that would have been the right thing to do. But no that would have been too much work, they needed a quick fix.

There is nothing wrong with boys and girls having their own separate clubs, just as long as they are allowed to do the exact same activities. That’s where these parents, who insisted on their girls joining the scouts, went wrong. They should have fought to change what was happening within the Guides not take the easy route and take over another.

I think that is how we should view all groups. There should be one for girls, one for boys and a mixed one for those children/ adults who like integrating with both genders.

We shouldn’t ostracise those who want to be with their own gender, we just need to make sure that it’s equal and that there are mixed alternatives.

No wonder men are lashing out. They are just reacting to these kinds of incidents, they are now on the defensive, and they are frightened. Things are being taken away from them, they are being excluded and yet, at the same time, are being told to ‘man up’.

The examples of hatred towards women in the Documentary were horrendous and the most worrying problem, for me, is that no clear discernible solution was suggested in the programme.

My proposal, of giving feminism a new name, is perhaps a naive and inconsequential one, but it may help give our movement a new leash of life; one that has men and women at the forefront from the beginning just like the Suffragette’s.

 

(Also if someone could let me know of a  feminist group, preferably in London, that I could join that would be awesome!)

Here are some links –

http://londonfeministnetwork.org.uk/home/why-women-only

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2014/18/blurred-lines

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Own-Story-Emmeline-Pankhurst/dp/1482610086

 

My Thoughts On Feminism: Part 1

Firstly, I feel some context is needed here. I don’t know why, but this wave of feminism has come upon me very suddenly and to most of my friends this has been a recent and random transformation of self.

 

During University when I was studying feminism I hated it.

To me it was a movement that was being dominated by man haters and artists who liked to write about cunts just to cause controversy and seem original. It all seemed so fake and hypocritical to me back then. I naively thought we had equality because I hadn’t ever really experienced anything on a personal level to say otherwise.

 

But, it’s as if I have woken up. I now see the cause in a whole new light and feel overwhelmingly helpless. I can’t pin point where this new-found respect for feminism dawned on me but I can say for certain that the ‘Everyday Sexism Project’ played a huge part in shaking me up. It made me aware of all the flaws in our society and how much work there is still left to do for the world of women on the whole.

 

Its depressing really, this movement has lost steam because people think the problem has been fixed, that its finished and we’ve won.

 

Wrong, oh so wrong.

 

The fight for equal pay is still on and girls in other countries are still being treated like sex objects and second citizens. It’s not done, so though people in the West may be fed up of hearing about it, we can’t stop and we shouldn’t. It is still relevant and something worth fighting for.

 

So my reason for putting my own pennies worth in — my friends have recently noticed my sudden shift and have made a few comments about it. ‘Why are you suddenly into this stuff? What’s the point?’ Since waking up I have never felt more helpless or lost and the only thing that I can really do is talk about it and get others talking about it. They are probably bored and annoyed with it now but I don’t care. I’m doing something and to me that’s all that matters, I’m not on this earth to please everyone and say things they want to hear, they don’t have to read what I write or comment on it, I don’t mind if they ignore me but putting me down for speaking up about this is not ok in my book.

 

So, what I really want to focus on in is article is what I think Feminism is now. What it represents. What people mistake it for. And to pick out the ‘hypocrisies’ that I have been abused with and want to straighten out.

 

The views imbedded in society affect men and women alike, just because men aren’t mentioned in an article about some sort of sexism a woman is experiencing doesn’t mean they are excluded. An article can’t include everything and just because it may have missed out something doesn’t mean it should instantly become invalid. Feminism is broad and affects everyone so it’s going to be difficult to fit everything in. I can’t stand people who think they have won an argument with such a come back because I just think ‘that is part of it yes, well done, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t too’ Grrr it infuriates me.

 

I am impossibly fed up with the argument that people throw into debates — ‘but what about men? What about their oppression?’ They think that saying this unravels the argument and makes feminism invalid. Wrong! This is all part of feminism, they deserve help too, well done for raising it and adding to the point that feminism IS STILL RELEVANT because it’s the sexist views in society that affect both genders.

Men are part of feminism. The point is that everyone is part of feminism. It is about equal rights for all. But please forgive us if we accidentally forget to mention men in articles like this. Yes of course men are affected too and we aren’t saying they aren’t but in the grand scheme of things, when you look at what is happening in the rest of the world, they aren’t suffering as much as women are. So of course, naturally, we will end up focusing on women more.

 

The more work we do for women the more advantages will fall on the men too, because it all goes hand in hand.

 

Just because we don’t say it, doesn’t mean we think this — ‘Oh ok, so wait, you think it’s ok for men to be raped but women aren’t?’ Which is what someone literally said when I was having this similar discussion. Did I say that? NO I FUCKING DIDN’T. No one should be ‘allowed to be raped’ how does me saying women need equal rights instantly mean I think men should be raped? Comments like that really really really piss me off (as you can tell). If we change the mindset that society has about women then of course it will change for men too. We both deserve to be equal, and we both deserve not to be raped (thank you arsehole who said that).

 

So to continue, a man and a woman can choose whatever they want to be. They can choose whatever career and lifestyle they want without the fear of being penalized. If a woman wants to be career driven and work in an office she should not be made fun of, nor should she be made fun of for wanting to be a stay-at-home-mum or a model or a firefighter or stripper. Her choice her rules.

Now replace all the her’s and woman’s with his and men’s. It should make sense either way, if a man wants to be a stay-at-home-father, nurse, footballer or in the office he should not be made fun of either. His choice his rules.

 

Now that’s not to say that we go round pretending that men and women aren’t different. We aren’t A-sexual beings and we shouldn’t ignore the biological differences between us. We should celebrate them! Of course there are physical and mental differences. E.g. how else would a transgendered man know that he is a woman trapped in a mans body? I wholly accept that with my gender comes a huge bag of hormones and emotions and men have a ton of testosterone that makes them rather aggressive. Is that a bad thing? Am I suddenly a disgrace to the female race? No. We can have a lot of things similar, we are all capable of doing whatever we want and if some girls are girly and some men are manly how is that a bad thing? There is a spectrum, and we should celebrate the variety. Not put each other down and say, you aren’t a feminist because you want to have babies and don’t want to be in an office and likewise you can’t turn round to a man and say you aren’t a feminist because you want to go to the gym and don’t want to be a dressmaker. Feminist’s come in all forms, it’s inclusive, it’s everyone.

 

And of course there will always be attraction between us. I know I perv on men quite a lot, I can’t help looking and appreciating the male form. I don’t see anything wrong with looking, a man can look at me if he wants. What we can’t do is instantly think we can touch. I wouldn’t grab a stranger’s arse and I’d hope for the same courtesy in return. Just because I am showing off some flesh doesn’t mean I want sex. Come on. I am not asking for it by wearing a short skirt. I even hate women who I don’t know touching me. My body has rights and no one should think themselves allowed to touch without asking or without an invitation. Its just a matter of personal space.

 

Now this area is a bit hazy; the advertising industry uses sex to sell. Of course it does. Its part of our lives and we shouldn’t act as if sex is disgusting because we are all at it. Don’t deny it. What I can’t stand is the unnecessary use of sex. Car adverts shouldn’t need a half naked model to sell a car. A naked woman doesn’t make a car work better or look cool. I don’t get a half naked model when I buy a car, do I? It’s just so excessive and tacky. How does a half naked man make yogurt taste good? To be honest if I see a sexy man the last thing I am going to be thinking about is that yogurt.

 

BUT, those models shouldn’t be made into victims, if they felt comfortable getting naked and enjoy stripping off. What’s wrong with that? It’s their right to prance around in bikinis if they want to. If they were pressured into it and feel that the only way to get work is to strip off then that isn’t right, but how can we tell? How can we make sure that the choice was there?

 

Sex is empowering. The Miley Cyrus debate was a bit of a crossroad. Yes I admit I found her video disgusting and over the top, but loads of other female artists have done this. I judge a singer by their music not by how they look and if they are sexy. But this is what the music industry plays up to. So again it’s down to choice. Personally I think using your body and your looks to sell music is the wrong way to go, but if that’s what they wanted to do then fine. I just won’t watch. I just think people need to think about their reasons and how these acts are interpreted by others. Sinead O’Conner felt objectified by the music industry and if the industry only values you because they can pimp you out and sell your body surely that is sexism right there? It’s not about the music. But, like I said this part is a bit hazy, how can we tell what’s going on in the dressing room? But that’s what life is about.

 

Sometimes there isn’t a black and white answer, of course there will be some grey area’s. Especially in such a broad subject such as this, but that doesn’t mean you can brush this movement aside and say ‘this isn’t perfect or straightforward therefore it means nothing’. Is anything ever perfect?

 

Oh wait it can be with photoshop… Sorry I thought that a great way to drop it in here. I’m just going to come out and say it – I HATE PHOTOSHOP. I hate this warped image of beauty they are feeding to us and our kids. According to the beauty industry we women are worth nothing if we aren’t beautiful and thin. Now this really needs to stop. Yes, I like make up, I like dressing up and dolling myself up for nights out but I shouldn’t be expected to do it, I shouldn’t be judged for not wearing any lippy. And I am fed up of adverts only using skinny models. As a species we are all varying sizes, shapes and colours. CELEBRATE IT. Adverts have a great deal of influence and therefore have a huge responsibility whether they like it or not. I want them to promote a healthy image, use different sizes as long as they are happy and healthy. I don’t really want to see an obese or anorexic person, as both extremes are damaging, but I am happy to see whatever size in between. I know this is a hazy area too but personally I’d like to just see healthy people in adverts that haven’t been touched up and mutilated by photoshop. Men as well, of course. Attraction is different things to different people, I know my taste in men is very different to all of my friends, so why is there a uniform to beauty. Just, no.

 

Also what I can’t stand is how quickly people associate women who are like ‘men are beneath us, women are better than them’ to feminism. Women who say this are obviously not feminists and do not believe in equality. They should not be considered as feminists in any way shape or form and people who instantly jump to this stereotype — shame on you. You are devaluing the work real feminists are doing for both genders. MAN-HATERS ARE NOT FEMINISTS OK? WE CLEAR?

 

And you ‘feminists’ that put men down and shout at them for opening the door to you, stop it. I open doors for people. Surely if men and women both take on this courtesy that instantly makes it equal? It’s a polite gesture and as long as I am doing it for other people too surely means that it isn’t something a man can use to show dominance over a woman. Having manners should be universal and if we teach men and women to be chivalrous then what’s wrong with that? Don’t you hold doors open for other women? Don’t you give up your seat for a pregnant lady or a disabled person? Surely its just a nice and kind thing for both men and women to do? Men have been taught that this is how you should ‘treat’ a lady, so if we embrace it too surely it just becomes a ‘treat’ for everyone?

 

I feel like feminism had been overshadowed by stereotypes that the real meaning behind the movement has been forgotten and lost. I think it needs refreshed. Maybe a new name so people don’t instantly associate the movement with ‘just women’, we need to shake off the old stereotypes and the misunderstandings and start afresh and make people realize this is still relevant and worth talking about and acting upon.

 

And if there are any other holes I’ve miss or any other branches I haven’t covered that come under this giant broad tree that is feminism let me know. I’m sure I’ve got other pennies somewhere. I know I am opening myself up to criticism here but this is just my opinion, so take from it what you want, I know it won’t please everyone.

 

Here are some links if you want to get involved/ informed:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2014/apr/10/sexual-harassment-flirting-six-differences