abuse, feminism, feminist, gender, media, misogyny, race, racism, strenght, Uncategorized

Give Us Le-ss Misogyny and Racism

The significant uptake and influence of fandoms over their respective show/movie/media can have amazing effects. Just look at Brooklyn 99 loyal fanbases efforts to see their favourite crime-fighting sitcom renewed, or, more recently, the #SaveShadowhunters hashtag which takes pride in (the need for more) LGBT+ representation. Just as fandoms can be wonderful and inclusive spaces, so too can they be vitriolic and destructive, as the recent case of Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Marie Tran.

Tran was apparently driven off the picture sharing network Instagram earlier this month owing to the needless and vile influx of abuse and harassment; her decision to virtually pack it in has led to many of her co-workers and fans lamentation, but that has not stopped Give Us Legends from claiming responsibility and claiming pride in what they have accomplished.

GiveUsLegendsHateGroup

It’s disconcerting and downright scary that someone would find the abuse of another person as “bloody glorious,” it more worrying that they call for further acts in the name of “forced diversity”

Digital violence is real; abuse does not happen in a vacuum, it has affects and influences the people involved. It is a common misconception to think it is easy to sign out and leave the comments behind; the reality is that this abuse has racial and misogynistic overtures which not only belittle Tran (and others, let’s not forget Leslie Jones’ abuse) but support and boaster such hegemonic structures.

What the user defines as “forced diversity” is a mechanism currently being heralded by far right political groups to reaffirm white male hegemony. These groups maintain that diversity politics and affirmative actions processes are in themselves somehow “racist.” These are groups which fail to account for an already unfair playing field; one which sees white as default, acceptable and welcomed while People of Colour are at worst the anti-thesis of their white counterpart, at best different. Reni Eddo-Lodge details this well in the recent book Why I’m not Longer Talking (To White People) About Race. To quote Eddo-Lodge at length, because she has both lived this reality and details it so succintly:

“Positive discrimination initiatives are often vehemently opposed. Descriptions of the work addressing the over-representation of whiteness inevitably reduce it to tokenism, nothing more than an insult to the good hard-working people who get their high-ranking jobs on merit alone. Whenever I do the panel-event circuit, meritocracy and quotas tend to be an issue that rests heavily on audiences’ minds. The main questions asked are: is it fair? Do quotas mean that women and people of colour are receiving special treatment, getting leg-ups others can’t access? Surely we should be judging candidates on merit alone? The underlying assumption to all opposition to positive discrimination is that it just isn’t fair play.
The insistence is on merit, insinuating that any current majority white leadership in any industry has got there through hard work and no outside help, as if whiteness isn’t its own leg-up, as if it doesn’t imply a familiarity that warms an interviewer to a candidate. When each of the sectors I mentioned earlier have such dire racial representation, you’d have to be fooling yourself if you really think that the homogeneous glut of middle-aged white men currently clogging the upper echelons of most professions got there purely through talent alone. We don’t live in a meritocracy, and to pretend that simple hard work will elevate all to success is an exercise in wilful ignorance. Opposing positive discrimination based on apprehensions about getting the best person for the job
means inadvertently revealing what you think talent looks like, and the kind of person in which you think talent resides. Because, if the current system worked correctly, and if hiring practices were successfully recruiting and promoting the right people for the right jobs in all circumstances, I seriously doubt that so many leadership positions would be occupied by white middle-aged men. Those who insist on fairness fail to recognise that the current state of play is far from fair.”

– Eddo-Lodge pg. 78-79*

Groups such as We Are Legends, which build a community based on anti-diversity, while they may maintain other ideals (in this case, magically re-glorifying the Star Wars through heterosexual, masculine and significantly, white representation), are primarily interested in maintaining patriarchal structures which only benefits them (often, heterosexual, masculine and significantly, white).

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These groups are afraid of the (often still decidedly token) female and PoC characters who are finally emerging on screen. Reactions to Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as protagonists on the Star Wars reboot depicts this enough; it would be no surprise to find them next targeting L3-37 for her representation of a humanitarian/(robotarian?) freedom fighter if she had a social media presence. (Here’s hoping her voice actor is left alone, given that she is the main delight for most the movie, and, you know, a human being?)

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Kelly Marie Tran’s Instagram account is still there, but it’s empty of posts, leaving her abusers no opportunity to abuse. Her account picture still stares out, her bio still reads “afraid but doing it anyway”. It exists now at once as both her own attempt at self-care and, perhaps, her space of protest.

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*I quote Eddi-Lodge at length and copyright that work to her; I feel that, in the discussion of “positive discrimination” and affirmative action policies, her work details both a truth and a reality of what PoC live and work daily.

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abuse, advice, feminism, feminist, GBV, gender, misogyny, rape, strenght, Uncategorized

Being Victim and Being Brave

Yesterday, I opened Roxane Gay’s new edited collection, Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture, a selection of stories of abuse, harassment, trauma and surviving. I knew, given my history with rape and it’s structures, it would be no easy read.

The first three stories (introduction included) were visceral, troubling and unnerving. The fourth cut me to the quick:

“Sometimes people tell me that something bad happened to me, but I am brave and strong. I don’t want to be told that I am brave or strong. I am not right just because he was wrong. I don’t want to be made noble.
I want someone willing to watch me thrash and crumple because that, too, is the truth, and it needs a witness. “He broke me,” I say to a friend. “You’re not broken,” she whispers back. I turn my palms up, wishing I could show her the pieces.”

– “& the Truth is, I Have No Story,” Claire Schwartz

I cannot speak for how hard these words hit me: they collaborated with a truth inside me, a bothersome narrative which I find others reaffirming for me once they hear I was raped/assaulted.

It is the same mantra which they will tell countless others:

“You’re a survivor/Brave/Strong/Better/[Input inspirational comment here]”

And I do understand the impulse and the kindness which drives them to tell me and others these words. I also rail against them, because they erase the messy truth of the event, the negate the reality of rape and that to become a survivor in any way, one is first a victim.

That’s a denigrated word nowadays: victim. It’s frowned upon to see a someone, post-rape, as a victim:

“You’re a survivor”

But to be a survivor at all, one first needs to be a victim. Sometimes, after rape/harassment/assault, you need to be broken. You get to be torn apart and take the time necessary to re-piece parts of yourself together, however haphazardly. I needed time – a lot of it – to repair and recollect. I look back on that time, full of self-pity, loathing and anger, and know I was not the image of a survivor; I also know that I needed that time to find recovery and locate self-care in myself.

I recall one day at feminist event, one of my peers told us her story, told us her rape, I sympathized, felt an instinctual bond, a desire to protect. Another attendee interrupted her:

“Can I let you know, you are not a victim, you are a survivor”

I remember thinking: What is wrong with being a victim. Why is it so negated? So hated a term? Why do others feel the need to remove that identity from us?

Is it their own fear? Their own unwillingness to see the unjust realities of the world? An uneasiness over how easily rape can happen? Or is does it fall back on the old moniker: ‘everything happens for a reason’ so of course, you survived this and became better?

I cannot tell, I do not know the reason behind these platitudes; I do know their is nothing wrong with being a victim.

One cannot become a survivor without having first been a victim, and there is nothing wrong with that truth.

feminism, feminist, GBV, gender, Ireland, misogyny, personal, politics, pro-choice, race, racism, rape, sexism, strenght, violence, Violence Against Women, women

Post-March Hope

There will be less political antagonism in this post than a sense of positivity and hope (I hope…).

The post-Women’s March euphoria is upon us, and I haven’t truly come down from that high. In the face of overwhelming intolerance and hate, and the knowledge of four (possibly though hopefully not more than four) years of threats and risky policy cuts, the Women’s March proved that when they go low, we go high.

Despite the sense of anger and fear which wrought it’s insemination following the Trump victory, the women and allies in Ireland took to the streets with a sense of courage, determination and hope in what they could achieve via resistance and solidarity.

For this gathering the political overtures of what could and is occurring across the pond largely mirrored the concerns facing the Irish constituency: a Trump government threatens to ban and limit abortion access to the same circumstances which Irish women suffer and which ignites the Repeal the Eight movement; Trump and co’s misogynistic and racist practices mimic much of the vitriol which grows in this post-Brexit atmosphere; Trump has been accused by no less than a dozen women of sexual assault and harassment, in 2015 approximately 16,375 incidents of domestic violence were disclosed (Women’s Aid, Ireland) how many more victims still suffer in silence is a testament to the fear which men like Donald Trump instill.

In the face of these facts and fears, the women and allies of Ireland gathered peacefully and hopefully, chanting slogans and bearing placards both hilarious and quieting. We cheered the sponsors and speakers of the event with gusto, we welcomed the challenge gravely and bravely, we sang as one that those sisters and allies in the USA and worldwide who needed our support could certainly rely and lean on us in the future.

Nasty women, bad hombres and the next generation of children who deserve better stood united in protesting the intolerance and hate which a Trump administration stands for. The accumulation of nearly 3 million protesters worldwide attested to the fact that so many liberal snowflakes would, indeed, make a significant avalanche.

 

advice, feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, race, racism, sexism, strenght, Uncategorized, women

Beauty and the Bill? Harriet Tubman, The New $20 Bill, and Contemporary Beauty Standards

Racism and sexism is alive and well and rearing it’s unquenchable head once again!

Only yesterday, the US Treasury announced – in what will be a milestone for women and people of colour – that abolitionist WoC Harriet Tubman would grace the new $20 bill.

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While the new bills won’t be available until around 2030 (or so the reports say), racists and sexists have taken to Twitter and other social media to lament the decision to represent blacks and women.

The biggest complaint I’ve seen so far is, strikingly, that Tubman doesn’t conform to modern (and often unattainable) standards of beauty. Many of the posts publicly found on Twitter question why Tubman’s “ugly ass” (that’s an actual quotation there, by the way”) should be on the bill;another claims, in what is evidently a racist trope, that Tubman belongs on food-stamps rather than currency. Shockingly, – in what can only be seen as a  manifestation of the insidious nature behind sexism and racism – it seems even many people of colour are falling into this sexist rhetoric; as though having, say, Tyra Banks on the notes would have been more applicable and timely.

The more important question here, it seems, is why Tubman’s history  is being relegated straight back to her physical appearance? Current ideology continuously positions women – of all races, ethnicity, and backgrounds – as relevant only according to the standards of beauty, physical appearance and attire they present; anything else which they may achieve during their lifetime is either an added bonus to this imperative or is, sadly, inconsequential.

So what does this treatment of Tubman reveal: that women continue to be regarded, despite their historical influence and present status, as relevant only as symbols of beauty in our culture. Tubman herself is quoted to have said:

I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.

It’s time to free women from this rhetoric, too.

 

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.

 

advice, feminism, feminist, gender, Ireland, misogyny, personal, sexism, strenght, Uncategorized, women

Happy Equal Pay Day, I Suppose?

A little over a month ago, we were all celebrating “Happy International Women’s Day” or some variation of that sentiment. Today, though, I doubt you’ll hear anyone exclaiming “Happy Equal Pay Day.”

Pretty obvious why, yeah?

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Just to make the point abundantly clear: equal pay still does not exist between the sexes.

Despite three decades (or thereabouts) since the Second Wave filtered down and despite two decades of the statement “Feminism is Dead” and no longer relevant, women – I reiterate – are still not receiving equal pay to men.

Indeed, many third world countries, women and children are utilized as cheap labour accumulating pitiful wages alongside their male counterparts. Those so-called first world countries, many Western capitalist states, employ this slave/sweat shop labour abroad while denying women within their borders equal opportunity or wage. The National Organisation for Women estimates that even today women continue to earn only 79C to ever man’s dollar: and maybe us feminists are knitpicking over 21C difference when so many women suffer unbearable hours, horrendous conditions and loose change as a paycheck – but maybe it’s time to consider women everywhere as equally valuable as their male counterparts – as deserving of the same respect, wage, and opportunities.

This conversation, at this late stage in feminism’s history, in this so-called enlightened era for humanity, feels like flogging a corpse. There is nothing new that I can add to this conversation, there is no shocking revelation behind the facts that we know, that we’ve known for years now: and yet we still await that ultimate change in our society. The fact that a day has been laid aside for this sentiment – for it is, only a sentiment, and not an actuality – is nothing short of a smack in the face for women everywhere: for women of colour balancing two jobs and two children at minimum wage, for the college waitress living off of tips, for the sweatshop labourer slouched over in her cage. For women everywhere.

Happy Equal Pay Day, indeed.

 

advice, feminism, feminist, GBV, gender, misogyny, rape, sexism, strenght, violence, Violence Against Women, women

Gaga Politics: Lady Gaga’s AntiRape Activism and”Til It Happens To You”

“The following contains graphic content that may be emotionally unsettling but reflects the reality of what is happening daily on college campuses

“Til It Happens To You” Lady Gaga

 

To say Lady Gaga is a controversial persona might be a moot point at this stage. Certainly, many revile her many ostentatious looks as “over the top” and her celebrity persona as “attention seeking” based merely on image; but then there are her many droves of fans, her so called “Monsters” who adore these exact traits.

For me, there is nothing so important in the Cult of Gaga as her politics. Unlike many pop stars and celebrity personas with mass followings, one cannot accuse Gaga or shying away from the societal and political issues which affect – not only her – but her fanbase and her peers.

Indeed, Gaga is a well known supporter of the LGBTIA+ Community: her hit anthem “Born This Way” and her own queer activism are proof of this. She actively defends herself as a “bisexual” women – a sexual identity highly contested on grounds of (I am paraphrasing from a selection of argument I have had) “selfishness” and “attention seeking”- drawing attention to the difficulties and controversies currently surrounding claims to sexual identities and preferences facing those who put the B in LGBTIA+.

More recently, however, Gaga has loaned her celebrity status and her vocals to an equally significant issue: Rape.

In the last year, Gaga has emerged at the head of a vanguard against rape in America. Her haunting and emotional tribute to survivors and victims of sexual abuse, “Till It Happens To You” closes the recent documentary on campus rape “The Hunting Ground” and has come to openly identify herself as a survivor of rape, describing her own traumatic and emotional experiences and advocating as a survivor for an end to the rape culture which plagues college campuses and countless men and women.

 

Most recently, on Sunday night, Gaga invited and stood with a dozen or so survivors of sexual abuse and rape having just performed “Til It Happens To You”. The survivors – men and women; white and black – and Gaga raised their clasped hands to thunderous applause,  both audience and performers in tears in this moment of solidarity against the rape epidemic.

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Gaga dedicated the performance, earlier that night via her Twitter, to Kesha Rose – who was recently denied an appeal to break her Sony contract with her alleged rapist Dr Luke

I’ll be thinking of u 2nite. This is not over we’ll stand by u until you are free to live a HAPPY life. Everyone deserves that.

Gaga went on to reveal her gratitude to these survivors and to celebrate their stories and their bravery via Instagram, in an image which, contrasting their grim faced sobriety during their performance, displays their joy and euphoria in their solidarity.

Thank you for standing next to me on stage. Thank you for all the things you said, for listening to my story and sharing yours. I will never forget it. 50 survivors, so brave, relentless determination.

The music video itself is a shocking narrative not only of the rape of different women and the aftermath of their attempted recoveries – but is itself an examination of gender and sexual identity. One of the narratives reveals a young woman binding her breasts – an act which implies her transsexual identity while her subsequent rape can be read as a “punishment” for her identity. The two other primary narratives of the music video, simultaneously, depict the horrors of acquaintance rape – where a seemingly friendly encounter becomes a violent act – and the drugging of two Asian women at a house party which follows with one of the women fighting off her attacker and then aiding her worse-off friend. 

These emotional and, for many of us, all too real narratives take up only two minutes of the 5 minute 25 second video.

What follows is a depiction of the aftermath, when the trauma truly shows. The survivors are depicted with their inner most thoughts tattooed on their very bodies – the instruments of their assaults – from “I am Worthless” to “sometimes I hate myself” and all the thoughts which come with survival and the one hope so many women have following sexual assaults:

“Believe Me”

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And while these three women among others are depicted walking away from their narratives of abuse with those who believe and support them, their is one woman left in the end. A silhouette of the next victim of the rape epidemic infecting college campuses.

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The ultimate message of Gaga’s song is the simplest expression most rape survivors have: “believe me.” And with so many victims of abuse accused of being willing participants, of being too drunk, too naive, too provocative, this statement simplistically describes how many victims feels they will be treated following such traumatic experiences.

feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, rape, strenght, Uncategorized, violence, Violence Against Women, women

50 Voices Verses 1: Cosby Finally Charged

After more than 50 women testifying and many waving their rights to anonymity, Bill Cosby has FINALLY been charged with the sexual assault of a women almost a decade ago. 

In the last year the comedian has had numerous chargers of solicitation, drugging and subsequent assault and rape leveled against him, and though more than 50 women have come forward to testify against him, Cosby still maintains his innocence and had even began a defamation lawsuit against several of the women testifying against him.

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The women involved, and those following this case with baited breath, are undoubtedly between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The rock being Cosby: a wealthy and famous man with a vast network of support and aid to back him and the money required to ensure a smooth ride. The hard place: the American law system and an ill-placed Statute of Limitations which renders most of these women’s experiences and suffering invalid.

In between the rock and the hard place is the environment these women inhabit: patriarchal society, where women’s experiences, their histories and their voices are misrepresented and distorted to suit the status quo. There is the age old mantra: she was asking for it. There is the stereotype: she’s a gold digger. There is the ever-present fall back: women are liars/crazy/jealous and everything in between which frees men from the accusation.

Here is the simple truth of this case: over fifty women have presented themselves as victims of Bill Cosby’s privilege, his disregard for human life and choice, his perception of the female body as an object for his consumption and pleasure. In a word, his entitlement to women.

More than fifty women have cried “wolf”, only to watch that wolf be welcomed back among the flock of sheep with open arms. These women’s experiences – like so many others – have been deemed invalid against the claim of one man and disregarded in the eyes of the law.

Andrea Constand claims Cosby assaulted her in 2004. Nearly a decade later, with thanks to Constsand and this unfortunate sisterhood of women, this wolf will finally be charged for his crimes against women.

These voices will be heard.

 

 

 

 

 

feminism, feminist, gender, race, racism, strenght, women

Viola Davis Makes History and (Hopefully) Changes History with her Acceptance Speech

The beautiful Viola Davis just made history, as the first black woman ever to win an Emmy for Outstanding Leading Actress in a series. Her role in How To Get Away With Murder as Professor Annalaise Keating has been praised countless times since the series’ debut in 2014 and her role is appraised alongside those of Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope on Scandal, Deception‘s Meagan Good and Taraji P Henson as Cookie in the massive series Empire and, of course, the notably diverse cast of Orange is the New Black.

Certainly, the growing visibility of coloured women on our screen is wonderful, with such shows dominating television ratings and challenging racist ideologies worldwide; but – and this there is no denying – the continued and ingrained racism which television and movie production companies and hierarchies continue to flout evidently hinder the existence of roles available for women of colour. And this is exactly what Davis emphasises.

As she takes the stage, resplendent and emotional in equal measures, Davis emphasises the lack of opportunities available for women in the entertaiment industry:

Let me tell you something, the only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else, is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. (Davis)

In that moment, Davis captures the heart of her audience, both before her and watching on screen, and Davis continues to take her opportunity to challenge hegemonic beauty myths which establish white women as desirable and beautiful, by quoting Harriet Taubman’s still relevant words:

In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line. (Taubman)

Davis continues to praising those that have withstood these racist ideals and created spaces for women of colour on screen and finally applauds those actresses who stand with her challenging these ingrained racist ideologies and proving women of colour worth their salt both on screen and off.

feminism, feminist, race, racism, strenght

José vs Joe: Who Gets A Job?

 

Same man, same resume, same job; different name.

The fact that we continue to discriminate in terms of ethnicity and race is evident in this short video, with José failing to receive any job replies until he changed his name for the benefit of his could-be/would-be employers.

José, clearly, was a capable candidate for certain applications (having received several invitations to interviews after the fact) yet was not deemed so until he took it upon himself to remove the ‘s’ and the acute accent from his name.

These prejudices continue to damage our contemporary society and divide us as human beings who could and – more significantly – should treat one another with the respect and admiration.

This video needs to go viral, we need to see just how deep the roots of prejudice and discrimination go and can they be excavated at long last?