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feminism, feminist theory, gender, media, television, women

Masculinity in Crisis and the Monstrous Feminine in “Rick and Morty”

Animations not just for kids anymore, as wacky, sci-fi, Back to the Future reimagining Rick and Morty no doubt reveals. The shows been heralded for it’s twisted humour, clever plots and surprising pathos, but is it really as “transgressive” as it seems?

[Spoilers ahoy!]

 

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While certainly unusual and definitely curious, Rick and Morty are not entirely transgressive; certainly and definitely not in their more gendered characterizations of Beth and Jerry.

The first two seasons build on the common trope of troubled couples and toxic relations which are emblematic of sitcom marriages. It’s a problematic representation of (cartoon) marriage, where the primary caregivers – the wives and mothers – are not only expected to expend their emotional labour extremely frequently and often without clear value or return, but will overlook problematic treatment, internalize frustration at ludicrous situations, and still, somehow, maintain the relationship largely alone. Think of Marge and Homer, or Peter and Louis Griffin; sitcom, cartoon marriages where troublesome issues are (often far too easily!) solved (and notably, never in divorce or permanent separation) Rick and Morty attempted something different and potentially transgressive through the characters of Beth and Jerry.

Beth and Jerry have quite a lot in common with their aforementioned animated archetypes. Like Marge and Homer, they are high school sweethearts who marry for the sake of an unborn child; like Peter and Louis, they are married young and without their parents’ support; and all 3 couples have what can easily be described of as toxic and often unfulfilling heteronormative relationships. The difference with Rick and Morty is that this toxicity isn’t simply a withheld secret either; many characters openly assess and challenge Beth and Jerry’s relationship and marriage. As far back as Season One, even their own daughter challenges their reasons for being/remaining together:

Summer:
Yeah, thank you guys so much. It's a real treat to be raised by parents that force 
themselves to be together instead of being happy. ("Rixty Minutes")

.

This much becomes very clear when Beth and Jerry, attending an other-wordly marriage counselling resort, discover how they subconsciously view one another. The physical manifestations which emerge in this moment are anything but transgressive, rather, they reaffirm normative gendered tropes excessively coded via televised/film media: the monstrous feminine figure and masculinity in crisis.

Resignifying Beth’s character as, literally, an Alien monster (who drapes masculine figures over her like pelts) interlocks with contemporary understandings of women – specifically, of vocal and challenging women – as abject, monstrous and horrifying. Furthermore, her monster-self is destructive and devious – plotting the creation of an army and physically attacking the other couples and therapists. Not only is the monstrous feminine represented as horrifying to behold, she is threatening in her behaviour towards this (albeit alien) establishment. She actively destructs the key unit in the family structure – the married couples present at the resort – and the very hierarchy which support them – the resort itself – thereby assuming the danger behind the monstrous woman and the need for her to be controlled and maintained.

Jerry’s re-characterisation is alike to Beth’s only in it’s own abjectness. Worm-like, passive and easily shaken, Jerry exemplifies the conception of “masculinity in crisis” as a pathetic, easily subjected and emotional figure. He is easily swayed by the demands of the Beth-Monster and is later easily dominated and controlled by Jerry-in-human-form once confronted.

What becomes evident from these interactions between Monster and Crisis in this instance is the threat which dominating women pose over hierarchical systems, and that effeminized, traditionally demasculinised men – like Jerry-in-human-and-worm-form – are threatened by this very take over. Once again, I feel that I have to point to Beth-Monsters wearing of Jerry-the-Worm/Crisis like a dead (and unfortunate!) accessory. From this point, we are struck with the narrative need to reaffirm traditional masculine processes and representations in order to save the marriage unit and its supportive hierarchies. The very image of macho-masculinity which heroically comes to human-Beth and -Jerry’s aid is very much the atypical representation of heteromasculinity. Although, perhaps as significantly, it is a notably imagined representation – it is Beth’s subconsciousness which ultimately produces this imagining.

I think there is definite value in challenging the use of the word progressive or transgressive in relation to Rick and Morty; despite it’s interesting narratives and occasionally unusual narratives, the Season Three finale definitely did not live up to those monikers. For me, it was a cathartic relief to finally see a cartoon marriage break up. To witness Beth relinquish that tenuous grasp on a problematic and unfulfilling relationship – and to express this herself, throughout the third season, with both grief and joy, sorrow and celebration.

Beth and Jerry’s season long separation established Beth not only as a struggling mother or unfulfilled wife, but also as a person in herself who had experienced lost time and regret as a result of her relationship and marriage – one who could change that at her own will, and who had the autonomy and agency to do so. Beth – unlike other cartoon sitcom mother-wives – differentiates herself from the animated pack in doing so.

My relief was short lived, though, when the season ended with Beth and Jerry’s underwhelming and atypical reunion.

Transgressive? Phffff…

 

 

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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.

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.

abortion, feminism, feminist, gender, Ireland, misogyny, pro-choice, pro-life, Uncategorized, women

Let’s be Real, No-one Celebrates Abortion

On May 25th 2018, Ireland made history.

Less than two weeks ago, a majority voted to repeal the 8th Amendment from the Irish constitution, legalisng abortion in Ireland up to 12 weeks and beyond in exceptional circumstances.

Capture

Fig. 1: Irish Times exit poll prediction

I won’t lie, I rejoiced, I celebrated privately and via my social media accounts. I applauded Ireland’s decision to respect women’s autonomy and agency and wept with joy.

The Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Alphonsus Cullinan would have been disgusted with me. Fr Cullinan apparently didn’t pick up on the public distaste with the clergy’s involvement in the campaign; certainly, I spoke to countless Yes voters who specifically flinched at Church involvement and campaigning for the No Vote, many of whom cited Tuam and the Magdalene Laundries as enough cause for silence in these matters. I even spoke with several undecided and No voters who blanched at Church involvement.

But that isn’t the issue here; the issue, once again, is the habitual act of construing the act of celebration in the wake of the Yes vote:

“I was horrified to see the jumping and roaring and cheering in Dublin Castle last Saturday. How can you cheer about abortion?”

Cullinan, as so many before him, purposefully redefined the events in Dublin Castle as a celebration of abortion.

Let’s be real here though, no-one celebrates abortion. No-one toasts a cheers to that difficult decision or memorializes the occasion with photographs. Abortion is not an easy made resolution; I am sure (though I thankful have never been in the position) that is is anxiously agonized over. I know this because no-one I have spoken to would ever wish to be in that situation.

Rather, the women and men who stood in Dublin Castle celebrated women’s rights; like me, they rejoiced in the safety and care which Repeal demanded for all women in Ireland. They reveled with the proof that women’s agency and autonomy mattered to a two-thirds majority; that the 8th Amendment which rendered women’s bodies as vessels, as containers, as nothing more than baby makers, was no longer a representation of Ireland or its people.

What Cullinan deemed a celebration of abortion demeaned every woman who has ever had to make that decision, and take those difficult steps – often outside of Ireland, perhaps to back street, clandestine clinics, or in the privacy of their own homes with a pill and no supervision or even witness to their act. What Cullinan did, once again, was to attempt to shame the brave and the fearful women who have made that difficult choice.

feminism, feminist, misogyny, rape, sexism, violence, Violence Against Women, women

Challenging Rape Culture with Comedy: Tracey Ullman “Mugged.”

Tracey Ullman’s “Mugged” is a brief comedy sketch which brilliantly challenges the norms of rape culture: more specifically the rape myths which position the victims as blame-worthy and responsible.

feminism, feminist, gender, literature, politics, women, writer

An Interesting Turn of Events: Ohio Bookstore Celebrates Women’s Month

All puns intended here, an Ohio Bookshop has chosen to celebrate International Women’s Month by effectively silencing all their male authors — and doesn’t that make a nice change? — by displaying them spine inwards.

Loganberry Books, a feminist-oriented bookstore, and their small staff worked through around 8,000 books in order to protest the historical suppression of women’s voices and to ensure their voices are now heard in this playful and potentially controversial exhibition.

The act means that only female authors are left on view, their voices, narratives and histories made visible against their newly anonymous male colleagues. And it does make an interesting turn of events, especially as women’s literature and history has for so many centuries been oppressed and censored in myriad ways.

Varied attempts only the last two to three decades have been made to render women’s words more salient: it’s a great thing to see that continue in new and interesting formats.

In conclusion, I suppose, Happy International Women’s Month!

https://heatst.com/culture-wars/ohio-bookstore-flips-male-authored-books-displaying-them-backwards/

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.

 

feminism, feminist, politics, race, racism, writer

Twitter Truths (2/?)

Raising awareness is all well and good — but how about initiating the solutions instead and actually providing the necessary aid? This is global capitalism marketing an ongoing crisis while the powers that be fail in every respect to ensure even the most basic human rights in a first world country!

 

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Curiosity sparks further outraged questioning: how much money is being wasted towards a fake representation of what is currently happening? Seeing as it is currently happening, why not an honest documentary of the people’s real life experiences instead of another whitewashed (Cher will lead the cast; Flint, MI is a majority black state, so yes, whitewashed!) spiel? And the profits? Will they be dedicated to some actual aid?

advice, feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, sexism, Uncategorized, writer

Academia’s “Large and Small Indignities”

I’ve been exceedingly lucky so far in my doctoral progress: between the backing of a highly supportive and enthusiastic supervisor and surrounding colleagues – of both a qualified and student status – and the fact that I still warrant the opportunity for future funding (fingers and toes crossed!), however all is not well and good in the academic arena for the early stagers and newbies…

What has become apparent during my first year of my doctoral profress, and in the meeting and greeting of other students, are the frankly frequent injustices and grievances – from the petty and small scale to the larger and outright disgraceful actions – which early stagers and students suffer, and often without any official structures of support or aid from these issues.

Well, in mentioning that earlier supportive supervisor: she updated on this earlier today:

https://largeandsmallindignities.tumblr.com/

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Opportunities for support are few and far between for students in these early stage positions. Sometimes it’s only one another we can rely on, but all forms of activism are essential in these matters.

As such, here’s my (small) grievance:

 I attended a very high profile conference in Leicester, England in 2016. I won’t provide details, suffice to say, I was not a confirmed speaker but an audience participant looking to expand my horizons as a first year doctoral student. I met with many wonderful and enthusiastic early stage researchers and a great many later stage doctors and professors who offered nothing but enthusiasm, email addresses, advice and aid.

This is notable in comparison to the one older gentleman and professor who felt it impertinent to advice me twice:

“You look so much better without your glasses. You shouldn’t wear them.”

Ta, love.

feminism, feminist, gay, gender, misogyny, personal, politics, race, racism, rape, sexism, Uncategorized, violence, Violence Against Women, women

Trump: Them Vs Us

The privileged today are those who are truly not thrown by the election results in the US – those who are unperturbed. They are the ones who know their livelihoods and hopes are in “safe” hands. They are the powered individuals whose conformity to majority rules renders them safe in a new Trump-ian world. I am not one of those people, but let’s get one thing straight:

I was not hoping for a feminist vote.

I did not believe Hillary Clinton fully represented a feminist vote, nor did I want her to win simply because she was a woman in some narrow-minded feminist fashion.

I did believe she was the better of two mediocre options; I did believe people wanted unity and fairness for all. I know better now.

Today, a majority of Americans voted for hate and intolerance – that is what made up Donald Trump’s campaign. He took a divide and conquer rhetoric. Even now in his victory speech he declared “This is about us.” Us. In true Trump-ian fashion,  it is “us” versus “them.”

Them are the women Trump so often vilified or objectified – women are nothing to him if they cannot be cast as villains or beauties. Them are the immigrants and refugees whose needs are less significant that those of Caucasian, US heritage. Them are the gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer, and intersexed whose huge wins and political successes over the last several years are suddenly cast in doubt. Them is the poor and working classes who struggle with two jobs and two kids and too little money to support their families.

Them is everyone who Trump is not simply because Trump represents and campaigns only for those who are liked – or aspire to be like – him.

I hope he proves me wrong here. I hope he engages with the minority communities. I hope he stands for people who aren’t like him and changes his approach to the others of our world. Wouldn’t that be the biggest plot twist of all?

If not, God help “them” now.

 

feminism, feminist, gender, homosexual, Ireland, misogyny, politics, race, sexism, Uncategorized, violence, Violence Against Women, women, writer

The Woes of Feminism and the Movies

Many of us have been unfortunate enough to witness the vitriol and small-mindedness which accompanied the build-up and release of the gender-reversed reboot of Ghostbusters earlier this year. With it, of course, came the chorus of mostly male laments against feminism: “How dare four women take the place of four men, who do they think they are? When we say reboots, all we want is updates CGI, not feminist propaganda!”

Unsurprisingly, the malevolence didn’t end there, but included the use of intimidation and threats against the spook-filled films selection of female stars, most notably and again unsurprisingly Leslie Jones, the specter-ass-kicking squads resident black sass queen. While Jones’ stand against the intimidation tactics unfortunately involved a loss for the Twittersphere (she recently announced a much needed break from the site following the abuse) the equation which continues to divide feminism and movie media has become once more evident via Twitter trend #FeministAMovie

The hashtag reached trending proportions in early August, catching my own attention on 11 August… of the hilarious possibilities which were available. How excited I was to scroll through potential hilarious gender-reversals, queer puns, and non-heteronormative re-titles.

What I got instead proved the false consciousness which continues to surround the feminist movement. Several of which used Ghostbusters as the bone of contention:

It was only following my disappointment that I discovered the hashtag was, in fact, a response to the all-female cast announced for Oceans 8; the new installment combining the star skills of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, and Awkwafina. The outraged reaction against the positioning of women in public spaces resulted in a reiteration of misogynistic themes,  homophobic and transphobic commentary, and the general array of stereotypical sexist insults which amount to the manosphere’s armory.

Certainly, the stereotype of the “Feminazi,” the “manhater”, the angry, hairy, cajoling cartoon feminist consistently drawn into bad cartoons was redrawn again and again:

2016-08-20 (41)2016-08-20 (30)2016-08-20 (25)2016-08-20 (21)2016-08-20 (28)2016-08-20 (11)

 

These texts reanimate negative stereotypes commonly linked with the feminist figure in popular culture, many concentrating on the negative ways feminist discourse (supposedly) affects women’s most crucial aspect: appearance. A failure to adhere to traditional and overtly-normalised femininity and the beauty standards related to this unnatural state of being is consistently related one’s success or failure in being a woman.

Related to these highly idealised beauty standards and ideals of proper womanhood is the contemporary horror related to female menstruation. Horror movies, blockbuster comedies and the following tweets alike depict this natural and widely experienced event as the abject moment:

2016-08-20 (22)

Many others simply and in-eloquently depicted feminism and feminists as something to be despised and abused, where feminists are literally unknowable (and unloveable) and as at once undeserving of men and unable to keep them.

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Thankfully, and once again in keeping with the Ghostbuster’s narratives, feminists rallied against their would-be oppressors with a selection of their own #FeministAMovie tweets which created new sexual spaces, challenged heteronormativity, repossessed female and coloured space from male and white privileges and generally educated individuals that the humourless, hairy-feminazi figure could at least, occassionally, be funny for the sake of politics:

 

In short, movie media continues to challenge feminist gains, but there is an undeniable movement occurring wherein women are being permitted space to narrate new experiences on screen. Comedies such as Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters and the up-coming Moms are repositioning women’s traditional position on screen, while action genres are redrawing squad goals in Oceans 8, and sci-fi/comics genre is FINALLY due to welcome Wonderwoman to the big screen in the first female-lead movie, and while these narratives are being challenged by the greater masses, we’ll continue to met the challenge.

 

 

S.

 

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.

Harriet_Tubman_by_Squyer,_NPG,_c1885.jpg

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.

 

charity, Ireland, personal, Uncategorized

“Will Swim/Cycle/Run for Money” – Fund Raising for Charity

 

So this coming June my very dedicated and generous Brother-in-law Michael Garry will be taking part in Challenge Galway, his first ever full Triathlon – that’s a full 226KM distance split between swim, cycle and run! – and to celebrate the momentous event he is raising donations for charity!

The donations raised will be split between two deserving and amazing foundations here in Ireland – Temple Street Chidlren’s Hospital and St Brigid’s Hospice for Kildare and West Wicklow. In his own words, Mick is dedicating this to the memory of his late father, Michael Garry Senior and his young cousin Eamonn who tragically died in 2008 due to complications relating to Cerebral Palsy. Mick has a special relationship with both institutions, which cared for his father and cousin respectively and wants to ensure they can both continue their wonderful works.

If anyone is interested in donating, please do so through the following link, and, of course, I’ll be happy to provide an update come June when the event is over:

http://www.mycharity.ie/events/mick_garry/

Many thanks!

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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.

 

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, 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.

advice, feminism, feminist, Ireland, misogyny, rape, sexism, SlutWalk, Uncategorized, violence, Violence Against Women, women

My University’s Experience With Revenge Porn

I’m more than a little proud of my educational resume – I know, it’s privileged of me to say so, I acknowledge that I have been lucky enough in my race/ethnicity/class that I have been able to achieve as I have, though I have worked hard as a motivated student and aspiring lecturer/researcher. So I’m proud of my college history: undergrad in NUI Maynooth – Ireland’s oldest college with its beautiful heritage and village location – and University College Dublin – boasting in its alumni one of my favourite authors, James Joyce and one of Ireland’s most extensive and innovative gender/sexualities/feminist research clusters – for my MA and PhD.

That pride has been severely bruised this week.

The student’s UCD’s School of Agricultural Science have been linked with a “revenge porn” group-chat page on Facebook. For those who are confused: revenge porn is a relatively recent term describing the process of posting and sharing intimate partner photographs on the web for others to rate and “enjoy.” It’s known as “revenge” porn owing to the wide selection of individuals who post such images following a break up, in an act of punishment and self-vindication (you know, the whole, “she was a whore anyways – sure look what she sent me!!”). That’s the basics of revenge porn, anyways, once you take out the emotional trauma, misogynistic mistreatment and sterilizing objectification involved for the victim. Oh, and let’s not forget: the rape and lad cultures which normalize and trivialize these acts of non-physical violence.

Getting back to my own bruised ego: I was, initially, unsure. Certainly, a university with such a vibrant gender and sexualities rhetoric and collection of researchers couldn’t host such small minded, egotistical (let’s be honest) “lads.” The two schools are, afterall, only divided by a footpath, more or less. Moreover, the Student’s Union has only this year reinvigorated their sexual harassment and affirmative consent efforts, hosting their first SlutWalk last November and holding bake-sales advocating “consent is sexy.” Surely, this establishment of educated individuals wouldn’t contribute to such dehumanizing actions; surely, they know better.

Alas, I was wrong. The college confirmed via email today that they are investigating the allegations and encourage victims and anyone with information to come forward, urging:

While we can deal with the breaches that we uncover or are brought to our attention, I appeal to our community not to show any tolerance for abusive behaviour on social media.  I ask that each one of you recognise your responsibility in this regard.

 

The university’s pledge to investigate the page and potential members is a valiant one – no one should get away with mistreating women in such a manner – but already, the college has failed in one vital aspect.

The subject line of said email, reads:

Inappropriate use of social media

What should be the subject of this email? The use of social media? Or the people behind it and the people who suffer as a result?

The focus of this email should not have been misuse of Facebook but the inappropriate and cruel treatment of fellow students and peers.

Unfortunately, UCD has fallen into the techno-pessimistic trap: blaming the vehicle instead of the driver. We’ve all heard of the potential dangers of social media – for young people, cyberbullying and online predators are posed as a serious threat. But the threat is never depicted as a person at a keyboard, as what it really is. It is depicted as a digital profile page with no corporeal form behind the words and images on screen.

This logic is now applied to the dissemination of “revenge porn” also. It is the websites and domains which support posting and discussing images which are dangerous: this is easier than holding a person or group accountable.

This manner of blaming social media and/or the internet for harassment or bullying explicitly crops the person behind the post or page from the image and therein validates their actions. They are not accountable anymore: social media is.

So I say to the presidents, deans, lecturers, revenge-porn posters, chat groups, victims, students and peers at UCD and anyone else reading this: place the blame on the person responsible. Hold them fully accountable for their actions, these are college educated men who should be punished for such zealous mistreatment and cruelty. Recognize that the women they have victimized deserve some form of justice.

After all, if my ego is bruised, how must they feel?

 

 

 

 

 

attack, feminism, feminist, GBV, gender, misogyny, race, racism, rape, sexism, Uncategorized, violence, Violence Against Women, women

A New Year’s To Remember in Cologne, Germany

It’s more than a little shocking – moreover it’s absolutely appalling and disgusting – that in our ever shrinking world (where we can contact the other side of the world via word, photograph or video within seconds) that the news of MASS SCALE SEXUAL ASSAULTS ON WOMEN only begins to gain attention after a week of silence.

The New Year went off with more than bang when mobs of men in city Cologne, Hamburg, and Stuttgart in Germany turned violent and angry. Reports reveal that fireworks were thrown into crowds and the police claimed to have felt notably intimidated by the angry crowds. The final results were worse, with over 100 women assaulted  by the mob: many reported being groped and verbally insulted, some where even raped by men in the crowd.

Little has been done in the way of appeasing or supporting these women’s fight for justice – news is only now breaking of the mass scale of the assaults and the horrid nature of what seems an almost systemic attack on women in these cities. Cologne’s Mayor Henriette Reker has disappointed the public, with her response seemingly admonishing the women for being out in the first place – she has advised women to travel in group and keep an arms length between themselves and men, she has even promised to publish a set of guidelines, her “code of conduct”,  advising and preparing women, how kind of her. Furthermore, the Cologne Police Chief has been removed from his post following weak responses, both during and after the events (no one has yet been arrested despite the public and mass nature of the assaults) and after allegations that the scale and nature of the event was being covered up within the police force.

The nature of these attacks rest on the crux of a very volatile social issue currently shaking Europe: that of Syrian refugees and the immigrant crisis. Germany, crucially, has been both applauded and criticised for welcoming scores of Syrian migrants into the country and it is these people who are largely being held accountable for these attacks.

The facts and as we know them are as follows and are updated with some common sense knowledge:

  1. Mobs of men (over 1000 in Cologne) are reported to have sexually assaulted a number of women on New Years Eve 2016.
  2. These men are reported to have been of Arab and African descent – just to be clear, this is what is being stated in many newspapers at the moment, if the crowd is as large as stated (over 1000 men) not all could be so clearly identified, some may have been white, Asian, Mexican, or even – shockingly – German.
  3. No arrests have yet been made.
  4. No political, ethnic, social or racial group has taken responsibility for the attacks.
  5. Several reports are stating that Syrian men were boasting of their new reputations in Germany to police – this, obviously, does not necessarily mean these men were actually Syrian.

Finally and most crucially:

What is going to come across most as this event gains more media attention is the racial crux. What the media and subsequently the people will discuss and condemn will be the Syrian men who commited this act. This is not a racial issue; this is an act of gender based violence. This is an act of misogyny in its most volatile form. This is the physical form of sexism at its most extreme.

The problem with what happened in Cologne was little to do with race and everything to do with gender; the perpetrators of this crime were men. In over 95 per cent of cases regarding rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment and intimidation, the perpetrators are men.

Rebecca Solnit, in her illuminating essay “The Longest War” states:

We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this Earth, though it’s almost never treated as a civil rights or human right’s issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern. Violence doesn’t have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender.  (http://www.commondreams.org/views/2013/01/24/longest-war-one-against-women)

 

That gender is, unfortunately, male. Solnit apologetically continues by stating that of course not all men are violent (thank God); but violence is often perpetrated by men.

That is why what needs to be focused on following these large scale events is not the Syrian or migrant elements of the attacks – of course, should any Syrian men be found responsible and guilty of these crimes they should rightly be punished – but should concentrate on the fact that of the 1000 people committing these attacks there is one definite determining factor which binds them: they are all men.

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We all know what New Years Eve is about. We all know why we join with our loved ones and celebrate – boisterously, sanguinely, or quietly. We do it to ring in a not only a New Year, but a new opportunity, another 12 months. We do so with optimism and hope and sometimes alcohol.

We have insurmountable expectations for the year to come; but for the women of Cologne this was not the expectation. None of those women expected or deserved this to happen.

 

 

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.

cosbycover

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.

 

 

 

 

 

advice, domestic violence, feminism, feminist, GBV, misogyny, sexism, shooting, Uncategorized, violence

Why #HerNameWasReeva is Important

Today marks a day of justice for Reeva Steenkamp. Murdered by her now infamous partner and former Olympian Oscar Pistorius in 2013, she and her family can finally attempt to find some sort of peace.

Pistorius was infamously charged with manslaughter, despite having fired four rounds into a locked bathroom door; he claimed to believe an intruder was in the room. Regardless, and as the judge rightly concluded, the intent could not have been different. Four rounds into a small, locked space.  Reeva Steenkamp had little chance.

After being released and confined in his home following only a year of his then five year sentence, Pistorius has finally been sentenced to murder by the South African Court of Appeal’s Judge Leach.

Judge Leach argued:

As a matter of common sense at the time the fatal shots were fired, the possibility of the death of the person behind the door was clearly an obvious result. And in firing not one but four shots, such a result became even more likely.

Judge Leach stated that the identity of the person behind the door was irrelevant to Pistorius’ guilt for the crime.

But the person behind the door was Reeva Steenkamp and on Twitter the hashtag #HerNameWasReeva is once again making the rounds. But what is trending is #OscarPistorius. Many times over the past two years I have heard people debate his guilt or innocence, argue the case, know his name without pause or thought. Many people do not even know his victims first name.

Today, we need to honour Reeva Steenkamp. Today, her name should be trending. Her story should be heard. Her memory honoured.

As is the case with all gender based violence, domestic violence, all abuse: the victim often goes forgotten. It is a pattern in our society to let the victim become silent.

By speaking her name we challenge that silence. We challenge the institutions and patterns which encourage and permit the continuation of gender based violence and abuse.

Today #ReevaIsHerName and tomorrow it will be another woman’s name.

Do not forget the victims.

 

 

 

Ireland, race, racism, Uncategorized, violence

Racism Rife in Ireland

A recent report from the ENAR (Eire Network Against Racism) has revealed the extent of racial prejudice in Irish culture.

Released this very morning, the disconcerting report is already receiving mass attention from various media outlets. The report, headed by Dr Lucy Michael, explores the issue of “Afrophobia” in Ireland through the use of data from racist incident reporting system iReport.ie. The launch page for the report explains the term “Afrophobia” as denoting forms of global racism aimed specifically at people of African decent and further claims:

 In Ireland, as this report demonstrates, racism against people of African descent is not a new phenomenon at all, but one which has failed to be recognised by the State and wider society, even as it has evolved from colonial times. Afrophobia has contributed to the racialisation of Irish identities, both in Ireland and overseas, resonated with anti-Traveller racism at home, and found fertile ground in specific phenomena and events, for example in what Junior Minister for New Communities Aodhán Ó Ríordáinhas called “our love affair with incarcerating people” (from the Industrial Schools and Magdalene Laundries to Direct Provision), or in the political expediency manifest in the 2004 Citizenship Referendum. (ENAR Ireland)

A summary of the findings indicate that an approximate 30 percent of complaints submitted to iReport were incidences of racial harassment and threat against people of African descent; the harassment was commonly reported as taking place in public, specifically in/on public transport systems. Similarly, many of the complaints raised the concern of being knowingly under constant surveillance in public spaces.

But the threat is not only public; over half of the reports received and studied described instances of online abuse and racial threat, mainly on social networking sites where many people where individually targeted and harassed.

Many of those who reported incidents of racist abuse and harassment further recorded a disillusionment with Gardai services:

There are low levels of trust in An Garda Siochana to address and understand the impact of racist incidents, and to apply the definition of racist incidents adopted in 2001.

People of African descent experience worse outcomes from Garda involvement even where the racist incident is perpetrated against them and, should they confront the perpetrator, are more likely to be considered suspected of instigating the incident. (Report Summary)

Currently, the ENAR is urging An Gardai Siochana and other public bodies to implement a more stringent anti-racist discourse among staff, in order to encourage the official reporting and handling of both verbal and physical forms of racial violence and that an eventual change in legislature is required to protect these groups. For my part, I argue that better educational practices need to be established throughout primary schools, with the conversation being brought into the home as well. The Irish people need to be educated on issues of racism, their psychological and undermining effect in our society. The ENAR further encourages the need for a renewed national action plan to combat racism, and the time for that is now.

Links:

http://enarireland.org/afrophobia-in-ireland-racism-against-people-of-african-descent/

http://enarireland.org/enar-irelands-submission-on-integration-multiculturalism-and-combating-racism/

 

attack, Bataclan, bomb, France, Hollande, hostage, PAris, shooting

Hostile and Tragic Attacks in Paris France (In Development)

A series of hostile attacks have taken place today in Paris France and are apparently still under occurring in the city; emergency services are being enforced. Several bomb explosions have been heard and a number of people have been (were?) taken hostage during a concert in the Bataclan and their have been reports of shootings at several establishments. President Hollande has declared a state of emergency; all borders are closed, army services are reported to be in the city, and people are being encouraged to stay indoors,

As the events are developing, there is no news as to why or who is behind these atrocities – though much speculation can be found online already, please beware of these conjectures as they can be extremely damaging to minority communities and groups who are (sometimes wrongly) blamed.

I urge all Parisian residents to stay indoors, stay safe and protect one another. You need each other more than even, right now.

Thoughts are with the families and friends of all those who have lost their lives in this tragic event and with all those currently in the city, no doubt worried and concerned.

Stay safe.

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?

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, misogyny, rape, sexism, women, writer

Novelist Louise O’Neill’s “Only Ever Yours” To Appear on Screen

Irish author Louise O’Neill’s novel to be adapted for film and TV

Very excited to hear that author Louise O’Neill is gaining the recognition she so rightly deserves.

Her chilling yet engaging debut “Only Ever Yours” details the tentative pressures placed on women in contemporary society but with the obligatory dysotopian twist… and will soon be adapted for film/TV.

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O’Neill’s text highlights countless feminist issues affecting all women, focusing specifically on young women and teenagers experience of sex, beauty and the need to be desired, wanted and approved by others.

Most frightening (and perhaps accurately) O’Neill’s narrative depicts the competition fostered among and between women from a young age, the lack of sisterhood and friendship this produces, and the overall devastation and isolation as a result.

Meanwhile, O’Neill’s newest novel, “Asking For It” continues to examine the pressures women experience, focusing on the proliferation of rape culture in rural Ireland. Though I have not yet read her newest addition to the shelves, I have little doubt it and any work she produces in the future will continue to endorse the feminist agenda and highlight the misogyny and sexism rampant throughout our society – in rural Ireland or some far-off future…

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advice

Friends Furever: “Be Together, Not the Same.”

I write about the bad things a lot; they play on my mind as horrible distractions and abject imaginings. Writing about them is cathartic for me, allowing me to let them go somewhat, to not be so emotionally invested and over-whelmed.

With all the strife, war, and poverty, it’s easy to fall into despair.

Sometimes, though, it’s important to step back and remember how wonderful and beautiful the world is.

I hope this, at least, makes you smile once today…

abuse, domestic violence, feminism, feminist, literature, misogyny, sexism, violence, women, writer

50 Shades of Gre-garious Domestic Violence

I’ve never read the book.

I’ll own up to that much. “Fifty Shades of Grey” was never going to float my boat; I prefer my porn more consensual…

But, when the badly written smut hit the fan, I was intrigued – decent representations of female sexuality are few and far between in popular fictions – so, as any good scholar would, I did my research and, well…

tumblr_inline_nj2kzgUGKU1ryh89t tumblr_inline_nj2lc7bfTH1ryh89t tumblr_inline_nj7j6rreZ81ryh89t tumblr_inline_nj7j67tc1h1ryh89t tumblr_nj0mmeabYA1rjsbhwo1_500 tumblr_nj04xroJ8g1rjsbhwo1_500 tumblr_nj04xroJ8g1rjsbhwo3_500 tumblr_nj04xroJ8g1rjsbhwo4_500-1 tumblr_nj04xroJ8g1rjsbhwo5_500-1 tumblr_nj04xroJ8g1rjsbhwo8_500-1

I think the examples really speak from themselves; taken straight from the book, they highlight the one-sided, abusive, domineering and controlling relationship fostered between protagonist Ana and the “charming” (please note the quotation marks) Christian…

I read these samples of dialogue back when the text first hit the bestselling lists and, sick to my stomach at this violent, abusive behaviour masquerading as sexual “play” and sado-macho activities, decided that I’d give this disgrace parading as literature a miss. 50 shades simply isn’t for me… and I don’t want to go on a rant against the women who enjoyed the text or the movie – let’s face it, Twilight was pretty popular, so of course 50 Shades would and will continue to dominate the bookshelves for some time to come.

If the release date – Valentine’s Day –  didn’t tip you off, the movie experience has been dubbed the romantic experience of the year. It has experienced one of the biggest box office openings so far this year, is expected to gross billions more and is only the first installment in an eventual trilogy – or, well, being more honest quadrilogy: Hollywood’s bound to make the last book a double feature…

This all links to a continuing and disheartening trend in the dominant and controlling partner as desirable in contemporary fiction and cinema: first Edward Cullen, now the new Edward Cullen in masquerading in fanfiction as a millionaire, FORBS 500 candidate and an even worse tendency to romanticise violence against women, reducing all issues of consent and feminist milestone in the last century to meaningless trifle which will only get in the way of all the “romance” (quotation marks, remember!).

If or if not certain women or men found the movie or literary experience worthwhile and got a few shivers in the process, that’s fine. Censorship has never been my thing; too Third Reich Nazism for me and my liberal values, the important thing for me with this text is the need for awareness. The public who consume Fifty Shades should endeavour not to reproduce its messages.

As with Twilight, we need to ensure women and men are aware of the issues this book presents, the abusive behaviour depicted through a suave and powerful character, the notable and problematic lack of consent in a slave-master relationship. The romanticisation of these texts is dangerous for women, through the consumption of these texts the public relearns the abusive lessons of the past, forgoing all feminist gains, and women become sexual commodities in need of controlling and deserving a good spanking… non-consensual, of course. Through these texts women and men relearn and regurgitate a frightening culture where they are the main commodity to be taken and had.

This is what we need to ensure comes out of the 50 Shades experience:

By all means, go to the cinema, enjoy the book, reread, rewatch, climax even! But understand that this book is a fictional representation of how romantic and intimate relationships should NOT work. This text is an example of a dangerous, abusive and terrifying relationship, it is proof of how a patriarchal structure still influences our minds and the contexts of how our relationships should work.

Moreover, if you respect your partner, it is a blueprint on how NOT to treat them.

feminism, gender, rape

Fox News: “Stop Victim Blaming”

victim blaming

Fox News has never been especially diplomatic or liberal in their reports… but these statements reach a new level of horror:

Fox News hosts Stacey Dash and Andrea Tantaros shared their thoughts on campus sexual assault last week — saying “good girls” avoid frat parties, and women who are raped are “bad girls” who “need to be kept away from liquor and boys.”

The myth of the victim as responsible for their own rape is a horrific one. Secondary victimisation for victims is an issue which threatens countless women and men who are raped/sexually assaulted. These issues need to be raised in the public consciousness and news casters need to be aware of how their words affect rape survivors.

Countless media and authorities figures continue to emphasise the victim as responsible party and as ‘asking for it.’ These rape myths need to be stymied. The damage has already been done for many but their are countless more who need our support and emphathy when they speak out about these horrors.

Join and spread the petition against these acts:

https://www.facebook.com/PlannedParenthoodAction?app_data=%7B%22organization_id%22%3A1330%2C%22referring_action_id%22%3A6231%2C%22fb_referrer_uid%22%3Anull%2C%22source%22%3Anull%7D&v=app_335652843138116

Educate yourself and others on the fallacy of “rape myths” and their affects.

Be better than those an Fox News.

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?

advice, philosophy, strenght

Save the Planet While Feeding Strays

Who says recycling doesn’t pay/is a scam/ doesn’t benefit anyone?

Well, no one can doubt it now, with Turkish organisation Pugedon’s new vending machines in Istanbul feeding stray dogs in exchange for recycling plastic bottles.

Huffpost states:

The Pugedon Smart Recycling Boxes operate at no charge to the city, and the recycled bottles cover the cost of the food.

The video, linked below, depicts the machine and its humanitarian ventures in heart-rendering scenes, and, with the escalation of economical stress in cities and the continued abandonment of animals in these highly populated areas, we can only hope to see more of them pop-up in further cities.

advice, feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, sexism, strenght, women

We Fixed This for You

plasticsurgery

A recent advertisement for a plastic surgery company was defaced fixed by an unknown number of thoughtful individuals, who considered the declaration:

Friends don’t let friends have muffin top.

The correction removed the inflammatory statement, instead offering the reminder that ‘YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL’ to passers-by.

Why the post?  simply, I want to thanks these individuals for their kind words and their correction on this poster. You are beautiful, regardless of how many Westernized beauty ideals are pushed on you through advertisement.

You. Are. Beautiful.

 

 

 

advice, feminism, feminist, race, racism, women

Barbie Can Go Suck It, There’s a New Doll in Town

Organisation “Natural Girls United!” completely blasts Barbie industries out of the water with their realistic African-American styled selection of dolls.

 

nathairdolls

The ethnically appropriate and incredibly beautiful dolls and their designs – from the natural Afro hairstyles to their clothing choices and facial appearance – acts as a catalyst in contemporary toy manufacturing, challenging the non-authentic, Western-appropriate aesthetics of Barbie’s close (black)friend, Christie.

Christie

Karen Byrd, founder and designed for the “Natural Girls United” organisation, stated that

I have wanted to take-on the project of customizing dolls hair, to have the look and feel of styles, and textures of ethnic women and girls, for a long time. As a young girl, I remember loving to play with my dolls… mainly with my Barbie’s.  I thought the dolls where beautiful, but always noticed that my African American dolls did not look like me. Their features did not look like mine, and their hair certainly did not look or feel like my hair!  This did affect my view of what beauty was.

Byrd’s desire to challenge Westernized assumptions of beauty through diversification and ethnic inclusion in the manufacturing and designing process is significant and, slowly but surely, encourage more and more young women to embrace and recognize their beauty.

Byrd’s stunning designs can be custom ordered as gifts or personal reminder’s of your own beauty on her website, linked below.

http://www.naturalgirlsunited.com/

 

abuse, advice, domestic violence, feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, rape, sexism, strenght, women

1 is 2 Many

Watch this minute one video in which President Obama, Vice President Biden, Daniel Craig, Benicio Del Toro, Dulé Hill, Seth Meyers and Steve Carell as they advocate an end to sexual assault.

The video, in a change from many mainstream reviews of assault and rape, places the responsibility of stopping rape on men – on the rapists and assaulters, not the victim:

 

‘If I saw it happening, I’d never blame her, I’d help her.’

and encourages people to be understanding and supportive of victims.

The video was published by the White House and includes a selection of prominent male figures, encouraging men to take responsibility for the rape epidemics all over the world.

 


 

 

In the video about, both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden discuss the Council on Women and Girls and their joint desire to end violence against women.

President Obama says that as a government, and as a nation, we have the capacity to stop sexual assault, support those who have survived it, and bring perpetrators to justice.

Biden, who has long been an advocate for women’s protection from rape and violence, in the video states:

Freedom from sexual assault is a basic human right, no man has the right to raise a hand to a women for any reason, any reason, other than self-defense.

Furthermore, Biden encourages that women no longer be blamed for their assault; he correlates the survivors of rape and assault with those who have been robbed or attacked, and emphasises that these men and women are never asked questions such as ‘what were you wearing’, ‘did you cause this’ etc.

President Obama’s depiction of sexual assault and rape is empathetic, racial, ethnically, and sexually diverse in its understanding, and emotionally sympathetic towards survirours and their families struggles. Moreover, Obama highlights the severe self-doubt and emotional baggage associated with the aftermath of rape and how this can affect much more than just the individual:

It has to matter to all of us, because when a young girl or a young boy starts to question their self-worth after being assaulted and maybe starts withdrawing, we’re all deprived of their full potential. When a young women drops out of school after being attacked, that’s not just a loss for her, that’s a loss for our country.

What is evident here, is that President Obama is implying that the men and women who commit assault or rape damage more than just one individual life, couple, or family, but – furthermore – damage the nation in which they belong, to his great “shame.”

Vice President Biden emphasises:

No man has a right to go beyond no.

advice, feminism, feminist, misogyny, rape, sexism, strenght

Kitesting Could Prevent Rape

Trigger warnings: Rape, sexual assault, rape schedule.

 

MIT graduate Stephan Boyer’s new online service, Kitestring, could prevent your rape.

That might seem shocking. Taking action to prevent your own rape, but it’s something women are expected to do almost every day in little ways – don’t walk down that laneway, don’t go out alone after dark, don’t drink too much – Kitestring, however, is an encouraging take on protecting yourself and taking safety into your own hands.

Boyer himself stated:

I founded Kitestring to keep my girlfriend safe

And maybe in this case, it’s less about the rape schedule and blaming women’s corporeality, than about feeling safe and creating a new safe environment. Especially if, say, you know you’ll be out alone or in a dangerous neighbourhood and you want to take that extra unit of safety into your own hands – without literally taking a weapon – you can just take your mobile.

The service works just as shown above – detail your outing/plans and Kitestring will check in with you at an agreed time. Should you fail to reply, the service will forward on an emergency message to a contact, as shown below.

The premise is simple, and with so many pointless – MyLighter and Seismometer (seriously!?) – and slightly frivilous – Snapchat and Confide – apps and websites available, it’s a welcomed change for women and men who do feel they need the increased security.

There’s always the heightened concern that women are taking the happenstance of their rapes into their own hands. The rape schedule dictates how women should avoid sexual assaults, and frequently, therein, create a vicious circle of self-blame and guilt to which women already dealing with the severe difficulty of rape should not be exposed.

On the other side of the story, however, are the anxious-prone individuals or perhaps those who’ve experienced an assault in the past. If Kitestring helps put this group at ease, allowing them to socialise, communicate, commute, or just exist a little easier then my fingers are crossed that it truly does make a difference.

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

“Don’t Risk Dudeness”: A New Low For Beauty Standards

Patriarchal beauty standards have consistently and relentlessly been attempting to convince women that hairy legs, pits, etc are repellent and character destroying. Veet’s new hair removal adverts take these ideas to the extreme by declaring women ‘manly’ if they fail to maintain their body hair with the criticism “Don’t Risk Dudeness.”

While many past advertisements have focused on how waxing and shaving can give comfort and help women feel attractive, this new campaign literally depicts women as transforming into men due to – as the above advert reveals – the slightest touch of leg stubble or prickliness. Oh, and apparently, we have to shave everyday or risk manliness.

The taxi advert, similarly, reveals a woman – despite having shaved her underarms the day before – is transforming into a wolfman due to her forgetfulness… Not only does she berate herself for this, but even the taxi driver shows obvious disgust and seems to pull away from his potential fare as a result.

Each of the advertisements seem to imply that women must shave daily or “risk dudeness.” The failure to apply to these standards result in the women being openly judged and criticized by the public at large.

Even worse is the implication that women risk or even concede their femininity if their bodies are even slightly hairy; equating women’s sense of femininity with a beauty standard seems to be the norm in our contemporary culture but this new campaign, especially, takes the norm to a new low.

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

Can We Have a #FairFutureNow Already?

Who doesn’t enjoy one of President Obama’s enigmatic tweets? I, certainly, do; and especially when they involve the promise of equal pay for both men and women.

Obama’s most recent (from the 8th of April) tweet backed an equal pay program on his own site Organizing for Action and calls for people to support the cause by boasting the #FairFutureNow hashtag.

Women, on average in America, earn 77 cent for every man’s dollar despite doing the same work. This discrimination has been highlighted consistently and yet no change has actually been implemented to better the situation of women.

The US Bureau of Labour Statistics (found here http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpswom2012.pdf) recorded that:

In 2012, women who were full-time wage and salary  workers had median usual weekly earnings of $691. On
average in 2012, women made about 81 percent of the  median earnings of male full-time wage and salary workers  ($854)

The report also detail the wage gaps which exist between differing race and ethnic groups in the US, highlighting that Asian women ($770 per week) and men earned more than Black (599 per week), Hispanic and Latino ($521 per week), and White ($710 per week) counterparts in 2012; while White men ($879 per week) earned 83 per cent as much as Asian ($1,055 per week).

The statistics are telling, and President Obama’s support for equal pay and an end to the wage gap is inspiring in such a prominent world figure, but the questions remains; why can’t that future be now? Why, as the images suggest, must we wait for our children for the wage gap to close and equality become an actuality.

Surely, it can’t be that hard to imagine that future now. #FairPresentNowMaybe?

 

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.

domestic violence, feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, rape, strenght, violence, women

Violence Against Women: An EU Wide Survey

The first EU wide survey, by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights, has revealed some startling statistics regarding violence against women.

The research revealed that approximately eight per cent of Irish women experienced sexual violence since the age of 15; while the European average was 11 per cent. In terms of the Irish-based statistics, almost half (48 per cent) of Irish women experience sexual violence from a non-partner and, moreover, decided not to approach the authorities or any kind of support service afterwards. Two-thirds of these women emphasized that they did not go to authorities/support services because they felt prepared to handle the experience themselves or because the prepetrator was a friend/family member. 

Director of Rape Crisis Network Ireland Fiona Neary said:

This survey confirms that sexual violence against women and girls is pervasive and pandemic across Europe.

Yet, since 2009 funding for rape crisis frontline services has been cut by 16.5 per cent with further cuts planned for 2014. Neary continued: 

These cuts were to a sector that was already chronically under resourced and have been so unevenly distributed that in fact the centre with the lowest funding was cut by over 30%.

The visualisations below speak volumes:

atAGlance-VAW-1--Physical--sexual-and-psychological-violence-EU27-EU27-EN-740.entitled

 

Emotional response to the most serious incident of physical and/or sexual violence by a partner since the age of 15:

crossCountry-VAW-AllSubset-01--All-DVS_B01-EU27-EU27-EN-740.entitled

Experiencing any form of stalking from the age of 15:

euBars-VAW-AllSubset-01--All-DVS_D01-EN-740.entitled

 

In general, how common do think that violence against women is in your country:

crossCountry-VAW-AllSubset-01--All-DVS_H01-EU27-EU27-EN-740.entitled

Find the complete research here: http://fra.europa.eu/DVS/DVT/vaw.php

 

 

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

The Best of the Oscars (According to Me)

Everyone’s talking about the Oscars. The epic photobombs; the celebrity selfies; the best dressed. And, of course, the beautiful Lupita Nyong’o, who took home the coveted Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Everyone’s talking about her eloquence, her dress (seriously, though, that dress!), and her speech. And obviously, this is the Oscars and the hypes still all in the air, so the Academy’s best and brightest are still catching us out on the speech acceptance videos (hopefully soon there’ll be a full update) but for the moment, here’s some of the highlights for Lupita’s acceptance speech:

Lupita later dedicated the win to her parents, but inspiringly stated:

When I look down at this golden statue, me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.

Lupita, furthermore, recognised the pain and suffering which led Solomon Northup to narrate both his and Patsey’s despondent story.

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And then, there are the lesser told stories. Blogs and news pages are full of Lupita’s graceful figure and eloquent quotes; let’s not forget Cate Blanchett’s own win and stark reminder.

Blanchett now boasts the best actress award for her work as the lead in Blue Jasmine, and cut a stunning in a Georgio Armani gown. What really stole the show for me, however, was her speech, in which she recognised the incredible talent of her fellow nominees, stating:

As random and as subjective as this award is, it means a great deal in a year, yet again, of extraordinary performances by women […]  [There are those] who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences.’ she said. ‘They are not. Audiences want to see them, and in fact, they earn money. […] The world is round people.

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And then, after the awards and celebrations, their was Lupita’s entrance on Ellen:

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abuse, feminism, feminist, misogyny, rape, women

“We Have All Been Touched By Evil”

Trigger warning: rape, abuse, distress.

An Irish man has been handed down two consecutive life sentences for the rape and abuse of two young girls (age 6 and 9) in county Athlone, Ireland.

But this is not about him, or the political system. This isn’t even about justice being served.  This is about two young children, on the cusp of adolescence, who probably still enjoyed the sunshine, the sound of chains clanging on their bikes, and the laughter of their friends.

Their own supportive and grieving families came forward to the media with the following statements:

We have all been touched by this evil.

The youngest victim’s father has since stated that the families must now “live everyday” with this nightmare,  and that his daughter has since experienced severe anxiety, has difficulty sleeping, and sees “creepy men” everywhere.

Her mother emphasised:

Words cannot express my hurt, anger and pain. I feel I am living a nightmare I can’t wake up from

Justice Paul Carney, upon handing down the charge, stated that he found it “too upsetting to rehash the details,” such were the harrowing statements involved in the court case. But, once again, this is not about the court case, or the judge, or the details involved. The is about two little girls.

Those girls will never again experience the same innocence and trust in the world or in humankind. And how dare some selfish, inhumane excuse for a man take that away from them.  How dare anyone assume that kind of power over another human being.