advice, domestic violence, feminism, feminist, GBV, gender, misogyny, personal, postfeminism, rape, sexism, strenght, Uncategorized, violence, Violence Against Women, women

#WhenIWas

Laura Bates’ phenomenal and eye-opening Everyday Sexism Project first hit the web in 2012 as a new kind of digital-based consciousness raising project, where women were actively encouraged to discuss and analyze their own experiences with sexism and misogyny.

 

Starting the website, Bates’ original hope was to acquire at least 100 stories but quickly became an international forum for women’s rights, their experiences of oppression and violence and the institutions and practices which hindered them.. Bates’ project, at its inception, was a basic website which quickly developed multiple language forums, 140 character replies on Twitter, and culminated in a paperback in 2014. Bates’ project has even been actively utilized by governments, politicians and policy-makers to improve the conditions of sexism and misogyny prevalent still in our society.

Everyday-sexism

Today, Bates is proving her project remains as relevant as ever with the trending hashtag #WhenIWas.

This new take on the Everyday Sexism Project actively requires women to look back on their own his(her)story, review their experiences, and question the lessons learned during their formative years and beyond. Like the Consciousness Raising sessions of our feminism forebearers, Bates’ new campaign motivates women to openly and unabashedly declare their wounds, their humiliations, their anger at the patriarchal imperatives encroached upon them; and the women are taking this up with reckless abandonment.

What’s more, many of the tweets currently dominating this hashtag honestly and courageously admit to experiences of emotional and sexual abuse, rape, and gender-based violence. At a time when the threat of rape and domestic abuse is of critical importance – specifically owing to the worryingly small rate of reporting to police and shortage of support services – this hashtag couldn’t be more timely or relevant.

For many of the women utilizing the #WhenIWas trend, this experiences are months, years, perhaps decades old – or, perhaps they are merely weeks, days, or hours old -, regardless, they are the truths which women have struggled with for years. They are the small humiliations of a neighbour staring at your legs which left you fearful – the threat of the figure following you down the road one night – the memory of hands touching you without consent – the loud voice declaring your sexual proclivity to the street – the feeling of complete and utter loneliness and inequity.

So, I implore all of you today and in the near future -if you don’t feel the desire to submit your own #WhenIWas confession – like, reblog, retweet and applaud the survivors and show them that loneliness and inequity are slowly (but, I hope, surely) becoming things of the past that we can one day include in the #WhenIWas trend.

 

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advice, feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, postfeminism, sexism, Uncategorized, women

Kim Kardashian-West’s Self(ie)-Love

It’s safe to say at this stage that Kim Kardashian-West is another of those controversial celebrity figures. She’s made it a habit of hers to “break the internet” in various ways – but mostly due to a stunning lack of garments and a fantastic figure (at least by culturally acclaimed standards of femininity). For many people she falls on the extreme end of most hated or pointless celebrity icon; she’s everything from a bad mother to a horrible role model and many would claim her celebrity status comes only from her infamous sex tape. But that tapes over a decade old and still the Kardashian Clan is a powerhouse family of multimillionaires, entrepreneurs and celebrity figures with Kim at its center.

So what is it about this celebrity figure that has her so reviled?

During her first pregnancy, magazine headlines accused her of letting herself go, completely losing her enviable figure, and failing to dress appropriately. Subsequently, she has been accused of being a “negligible” mother owing to her proclivity for stripping down and posing for the cameras.

Certainly, her nude magazine cover produced controversy – even with the majority of us googling to get a peak before detailing our disgust. More recently, a partially nude selfie (honestly, she covered some of the goods with strategically positioned black censor lines) posted on Twitter has vied to “break the internet” once more and mostly through a series of posts which begs the question: Why are we so bothered with a woman stripping down and consensually posting an image?

Certainly, the woman herself took to the keyboard to produce a post on the issue, calling for an end to slut- and body-shaming and asking that she no longer be judged for the sex tape which went viral over 13 years ago and calling: a perfect opportunity to add that, when it went viral, Kim Kardashian owned herself still, never wavering from the fact that, yes, she had taken part in a sex tape which was now in the hands of the world at large but she would not be made less because of it:

“I lived through the embarrassment and fear, and decided to say who cares, do better, move on. I shouldn’t have to constantly be on the defense, listing off my accomplishments just to prove that I am more than something that happened 13 years ago.

Let’s move on, already. I have.

The statute of limitations, so to speak, are up on this one and yes, it’s time to move on from judging women who practice self-love and self-acceptance. Ariel Levy’s raunch culture is indeed upon us and, well, so long as its consensual why does it produce such controversy? Honestly, I saw fewer reactions and less outrage when private images of celebrities were hacked and subsequently went viral in early 2015.

From a feminist perspective: Kim Kardashian’s actions present a form of self-acceptance and self-love for the female body so often denied to women in our culture. Between the media’s portrayal of women’s bodies as belonging to anyone but themselves; Kim Kardashian clearly owns herself. Her pride in and acceptance of her body, her desire and sexuality is stupefying to so many of us because it’s difficult to relate. It’s difficult to experience the female body as being so definitely our own and not belonging to the next generation which we might bore or the family we currently nurture and support or to the corporate media which continues to produce the female form as objectified, always obtainable and easily obtained.

I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls all over the world.

Kim K’s post, perfectly timed on International Women’s Day, celebrates her own self-acceptance and empowerment through self-expression even if it is in the form of a nude selfie.

The backlash against Kim K’s is not just the response of jealousy men and women or of concerned parents, it’s the call to arms of the patriarchal hierarchy reminding us that women aren’t supposed to feel such ownership or entitlement to ourselves. That we shouldn’t feel so deeply a sense of pride in our female forms so as to unashamedly share it with the world.

 I feel so lucky to have grown up surrounded by strong, driven, independent women. The life lessons I’ve learned from my sisters, my mother, my grandmother, I will pass along to my daughter. I want her to be proud of who she is. I want her to be comfortable in her body. I don’t want her to grow up in a world where she is made to feel less-than for embracing everything it means to be a woman.

Her words, ultimately, are powerful and empowering for women, they may qualify her as a perfectly feminist role model for all women.

 

advice, feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, postfeminism, sexism, SlutWalk

Postfeminist Protest: Amber Rose’s SlutWalk and Stylish Activism

For those of you who’ve been living under a rock (or simply aren’t aware of what’s going on within the women’s movement…) Amber Rose’s SlutWalk – a long awaited march on the practices of body/woman shaming and rape culture – took place this week, on October 3rd in LA.

A brief history (once again, for those of you under your rock…): SlutWalk first took place in Toronto in 2011 after Police Constable Michael Sanguinetti  advised women:

avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized (Mendes 2015)

While he did later apologise for the istatement, Sanguinetti’s “advice” came as the straw which broke the camel’s back for two Toronto-based women – Heather Jarvis and Sonya Barnett – who decided it was time to fight back against the systematically inherent messages of slut shaming and victim blaming which implicates responsibility on the victim of rape culture and rallied the very first SlutWalk later that year.Thousands of women flocked the streets in everything from pantyhose and bras to dress suits and sensible heels. Some embedded the namesake in through their attire in dressing as the cultural stereotypical “slut,” others highlighted the fact that what a woman wears will not protect her from its threat and that women’s sexual nature or sexy clothing is not responsible for rape; simply put, rapists are responsible for rape.

gloucesterslutwalkslutwalkjune2011London

Of course, the SlutWalk movement has hit some bumps. Certain feminist circles felt the movement played to the patriarchal eye by dressing up (or down) for the male gaze while notably, many Women of Colour feel excluded from it’s message – particularly due to the historically based inability for said women to reclaim the word “slut” and to place their bodies of display in such a manner. In an open letter to the SlutWalk movment, the Black Women’s Blueprint stated:

We are perplexed by the use of the term “slut” and by any implication that this word, much like the word “Ho” or the “N” word should be re-appropriated. The way in which we are perceived and what happens to us before, during and after sexual assault crosses the boundaries of our mode of dress.  Much of this is tied to our particular history.  In the United States, where slavery constructed Black female sexualities, Jim Crow kidnappings, rape and lynchings, gender misrepresentations, and more recently, where the Black female immigrant struggle combine, “slut” has different associations for Black women.  We do not recognize ourselves nor do we see our lived experiences reflected within SlutWalk and especially not in its brand and its label.

The movement, certainly, raises questions about the nature of postfeminist activism. The Postfeminism movement largely encourages women to adopt individualistic and consumerist ideals in order to achieve and perform their liberation and autonomy, a fact which many cultural critics and academics loudly critique and bemoan. Of particular concern for these critics is the lack of communal activism and protest within the postfeminist era – but does SlutWalk not prove this moot? In no way can I state SlutWalk to be a perfect embodiment of feminist activism – as stated, it has it’s issues – and while the tenets of consumerism and the proliferation of “raunch culture” (Levy) prevalent in Postfeminist discourse are problematic, I cannot wholly accept this argument that postfeminist fails to promote or encourage activism. Notably, despite the serious issues which the SlutWalks attempt to embody, one cannot deny the celebratory manner in which these women come together in support of one another and in support of the victims.

amberroseslutwalk2nyslutwalk2011

Yes, there are issues relating to the SlutWalk movement which prove it’s problematic nature, specifically – I believe – related to it’s grounding in postfeminist culture.

This, however, did not stop Amber Rose from orchestrating, attending and delivering the grounding speech at her own SlutWalk event this weekend. The ex-stripper, model, actress, fashion designer and artist became of note in recent years particularly due to negative, hurtful and slutshaming comments supplied by her exes (specifically relating to her previous career giving striptease). Rose stood against these criticisms with her sisters brandishing a sign “Strippers have feelings too”

Amber-Rose-Slutwalk-LA-October-2015-BellaNaija0003amber-rose-crying-825x510

In an emotional speech, Rose stated that she had been slut-shamed from the tender age of fourteen and spoke out against the double standards which narrowly define women as either prude or slut while heterosexual men can perform and vocalize their sexuality relatively freely.

If the highlight of the SlutWalk is on the issues of rape culture and not the attire of the (potential) rape victim – as the argument against rape itself states – then perhaps the movement need not be portrayed so negatively after all?