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.

 

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feminism, feminist, gender, Uncategorized, women

International WORKING Women’s Day and Why that Extra Word is so Important

A want to take a brief moment to wish everyone a Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s important, today of all days, to give voices and lend ears to marginalized and invisible classes of women – be they lower on the economic scale, Latino, Black, biracial, transgendered, lesbian, bisexual or in any other position of struggle.

After all, International Women’s Day began it’s brief existence as International Working Women’s Day. Notice the important distinction there?

This celebration of women began as a celebration, specifically, of the working classes who are so frequently denied a vocal position and who are marginalized and excluded from participating in the bourgeois socio-political hierarchy of capitalist patriarchal culture (wow, that was a mouthful…).

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March 8, historically, has been a date of strike and protest for working women: in 1985 women working in a NYC textile factory protested for better pay and working conditions and their basic human rights as workers – better pay was, as is usually for women strikers a core element of this protest – in 1908 women in a similar industry went on strike in honor of their foresister’s – once again fighting for the same rights.

 

It was in 1910 that Clara Zetkin proclaimed March 8th the day for working women to celebrate their histories and continue to struggle for improved working conditions, pay and basic human rights.

 

The fact is, these women are so marginalized they have been marginalized – once again! – from their own movement.

So today, I celebrate working women everywhere.

 

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For more information

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advice, feminism, feminist, literature, misogyny, race, racism, sexism, strenght, violence, women, writer

“We Should All be Feminists” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I just love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, her work is beautiful, and her argument here for TedTalks is way too important to be ignored.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a renowned Nigerian novelist was born in Nigeria in 1977. She grew up in the university town of Nsukka, Enugu State where she attended primary and secondary schools, and briefly studied Medicine and Pharmacy. She then moved to the United States to attend college, graduating summa cum laude from Eastern Connecticut State University with a major in Communication and a minor in Political Science. She holds a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins and a Masters degree in African Studies from Yale University. She was a 2005-2006 Hodder Fellow at Princeton, where she taught introductory fiction. Chimamanda is the author of Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the 2007 Orange Prize For Fiction; and Purple Hibiscus, which won the 2005 Best First Book Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the 2004 Debut Fiction Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. In 2009, her collection of short stories, The Thing around Your Neck was published. She was named one of the twenty most important fiction writers today under 40 years old by The New Yorker and was recently the guest speaker at the 2012 annual commonwealth lecture. She featured in the April 2012 edition of Time Magazine, celebrated as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. She currently divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.

Intro and Outro music by Kadialy Kouyate performed at TEDxEuston 2011. You can view the full performance here: http://youtu.be/KUfD5WGL3hw.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

feminism, feminist, misogyny, sexism, women

Should Mindy Kaling’s Elle Cover be Controversial?

Renowned comedic actress Mindy Kaling graced the cover of Elle magazine this February. She’s well known for her role on The Office as actress, writer, and  director, as protagonist of her own show The Mindy Project, and for her position as a curvaceous, coloured woman in an incredibly public role.

And yet, check out Mindy’s cover:

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While Mindy was certainly and openly delighted about her Elle cover, there is a serious difference between her image and the three other Women in TV themed covers. The three other women – Zooey Deschanel, Amy Poehler, Allison Williams – were featured at three-quarter shots and in colour; Mindy is featured close-up and in black and white, washing out what makes her completely different and unique from the three other actresses.

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Mindy may be happy with her cover – and, yes, she should be, she is an incredibly beautiful, talented women and the cover certainly depicts this – yet, the racist, sexist implications behind the shot need to be brought into question. The cover should be perceived as controversial and women – women of colour, curvaceous women who do not adhere to the stick thin standard magazine culture adores, women everywhere who desire a more accurate, honest view of different bodies – should demand better from their society. 

So, perhaps it is best that we continue to question these implications, that we criticise the racist, sexist, and demoralising realities behind the cover while upholding Mindy’s character and her wonderful talent.

feminist, poetry, women
“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.”
Aurelia Plath’s loving and powerful advice to her daughter, Sylvia Plath, renowned poet and novelist who – tragically – committed suicide in 1963. Her talent and raw emotion layers through her work, making the depression she suffered from an evident and powerful catharsis.
Aurelia’s message, no doubt, has a lasting affect on all who hear it now.
feminism, feminist, misogyny, philosophy, sexism, women

Women Need to [Insert Text Here], Should be [Insert Text Here], Shouldn’t be [Insert Text Here], Cannot [Insert Text Here]

To this day, self-identified feminists are still asked why they associate with what is commonly mistaken as an outdated movement: ‘why are you a feminist?’; ‘why do we need feminism?’; ‘why is feminism important?’

UN Women’s latest ad campaign provides a series of shocking and telling images answering these questions.

womecannot...unwomen

The campaign, devised by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, uses search engine Google’s autocomplete feature to reveal just how potent and present sexism and misogyny is in contemporary culture. The autocomplete feature mentioned is a platform which provides a list of the most popular and common queries pursued on the popular search engine; and these are the results which we are presented with by UN Women.

womenshouldnt...unwomen

The team behind the images are voiced their own outrage at the hostility and prejudice behind these blatantly sexist prejudices. Art director, Christopher Hunt commented on the process of working with UN Women and just how deeply these the existence of these searches affected him and his creative team:

“When we came across these searches, we were shocked by how negative they were and decided we had to do something with them”

Copy writer, Kareem Shuhaibar, also, expressed how shocked he was at the archaic and backward nature of these beliefs:

“The ads are shocking because they show just how far we still have to go to achieve gender equality. They are a wake up call, and we hope that the message will travel far.”

womenneedto...unwomen

With regard to Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai’s design it is rather genius in its simplicity: depicting women of different age, ethnicity and race being silenced by these unpopular – and yet still disturbingly popular – searches. The Google searches were cataloged on March 9, 2013 and recent searches provide similar – if not more disturbing – queries and opinions.

womenshould...unwomen

In an experiment of curiosity I begin typing “women deserve to be respected.”

As far as “women deserve to” I was greeted with several disquieting suggestions: to be abused; to die; to be loved; to be pursued. 1 out of four of those suggestions is acceptable; the others prove that, yes, feminism is a desperately required and needed movement in our current culture, especially if these posters are any indication of how majorities regard women.

Let’s try putting this in perspective: website Statistic Brain details that in 2012, Google was hit by approximately 5,134,000,000 searches a day; and these are examples of the most popular searches regarding women. But, hey, who needs feminism?

advice, feminism, feminist, philosophy, women

Powerful Woman Motto Mug

I was never one of those “favourite mug” people. So long as my tea/coffee was piping hot and sugary, I was a happy camper.

That’s all changed now; thanks to this beauty.

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Such a small thing really – with some glaring punctuation and grammar issues to boot – but with every morning cup of coffee, every night-time sup of tea, and the occasional hot chocolate treat, I remind myself to live by this philosophy; the take-no-prisoners, fierce, powerful lifestyle.

Maybe it’s a little chauvinistic, a bit over-the-top, and completely competitive in its message; but maybe it’s also a doctrine more of us should live by. Our society – especially – expects and praises the quiet, polite, conforming individual (it is an especially desired quality in women, unfortunately…) but by this stage in my own life, I would prefer to be disliked for being a little too outspoken, rather be a topic of tabletop gossip for not taking anyone’s crap, and delight in pissing off a person or too for defending myself in the face of any adversity. These things always provide great discussion topics during a night out with the people who like that side of you!

I spent too many years the quiet little lady trying to keep everyone else happy; this little gem reminds me to be better than that. To be myself in every manner possible, as loudly as possible (I’m afraid!).

Remind yourself, everyday, and you’ll make everyone else shudder at your feet too.

But if you feel that you, too, need to see the message in front of your face every day, find the mug on amazon and enjoy that hot beverage. You deserve it.