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Rebel or a Slave?

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Suffrage. Weird word isn’t it? Sounds like something that is either very painful, very boring, or both. I know right, how can something be both painful and boring? Well listening to certain lecturers at university kind of gave me that feeling sometimes.

If you don’t know what suffrage means, it’s probably because it isn’t seen as much of an issue anymore, or it just isn’t referred to as such nowadays. Basically it means having the right to vote in a political election. It may seem boring to some of you, but I for one will never take my right to vote for granted again.

After watching the recent movie ‘Suffragette’ I felt driven to write something about it. To express my thoughts and emotions towards both the movie and the very act of suffrage in relation to feminism.

Identifying as a feminist, I felt compelled to watch this movie, but in all honesty, I believe that everyone in the world should see it. Granted, it was only a representation of one race of people in one part of the world so maybe it’s ignorant of me to suggest that everyone watch it, but the message is pretty important.

I had heard of the group of women dubbed the ‘suffragettes’ but I don’t think I ever fully comprehended the battles and hardships that they endured to allow women to have the simple pleasures that we enjoy today. Again, I am speaking from a predominantly white and I suppose privileged position in terms of these pleasures, so bear with me.

As a woman, I could really relate to a lot of the themes in this movie, but as a feminist, I was shocked and horrified at how complicit and narrow-minded everyone seemed to be. The central character, Maud Watts, finds herself thrust into the world of these ‘shameful’ and ‘demanding’ women, and as she experiences what life is like as a suffragette, it spurs her on to fight back.

In the process, Maud loses her family, her reputation, her job, everything she has. She is scorned, ostracised, declared mentally unstable and is ripped away from her son. All for the sake of trying to earn women the right to vote. Being a feminist in today’s society is pretty difficult, and some will say that it isn’t necessary, that everything is fine. But in comparison, the hardships the suffragettes faced are far worse. But the problem is that it is still relative to feminism today.

Often when people discover I am a feminist, they don’t really know what to say. Some just shift uncomfortably, some laugh nervously, and some just ignore it. And many have engaged me in a war of semantics about the term ‘feminism.’ If that’s not proof that feminism is still under fire then I don’t know what is.I have personally never had to leave my home or been so harshly thrown from society for what I believe in, but it has tarnished relationships and turned conversations from enjoyable to awkward. All because people refuse to educate themselves.

Watching ‘Suffragette’ was an education to me. There is still so much to learn, in every aspect of life. I couldn’t help but feel a whole-hearted gratitude to those women who were abused and even sacrificed their lives so that I could decide which flag I wanted my country to fly (I’m from New Zealand where it seems that arguing about flags is more important than anything else).

And although the film never explicitly discusses feminism, this is how women are able to live how we do these days. Women from ages past have been tortured, ridiculed and shunned so that we may attend university. So that we may have jobs that we actually want to do. So that we may have the right to our own income and to choose how we spend it.

This is why it angers me when people wave off feminism as an unnecessary political pain in the ass. So many people seem to agree with the fundamentals of feminism in terms of gender equality, however because of its name, refuse to associate themselves with it. And to me, this is an absolute slap in the face to women like Maud who gave up everything to fight for women to be free.

You told me no one listens to girls like me. Well I can’t have that anymore. All my life, I’ve been respectful, done what men told me. I know better now. I’m worth no more, no less than you. Mrs. Pankhurst said, “If it’s right for men to fight for their freedom, then it’s right for women to fight for theirs.

And still, after all the sacrifice, the protests, the battles, women are still not equal. Disagree with me? Again, educate yourself.

1 in 4 women are sexually abused and/or raped in their lifetime.

Globally, nearly 40% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.

Even in Australia, a seemingly more liberated and equal country, women earn 18.2% less than men. So for every dollar men earn, women earn only .82 cents for the same work.

These numbers are ridiculous. So tell me again why we don’t need feminism?

Or would you feel more comfortable with gender equality? Would you feel less threatened if we changed the name? Then maybe changed a few of the ‘rules’? Then maybe we could just tweak a few things here and there until it isn’t even about gender anymore. Then maybe it wouldn’t exist.

Would that make it easier to deal with?

So women, next time you’re out and about by yourself, or you’re going shopping, or you’re wearing shorts because it’s hot, or you’re complaining about going to school, or to a lecture, be grateful that you can actually do all of these things.

Be thankful that those women before you and those women now, those so-called ‘feminizes’, those suffragettes, those rebels, be thankful that they did what they did, and continue to do, for you. Stand up and fight to keep those freedoms.

Because I know that I would rather be a rebel than a slave.

 

 

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D.Bot – Your One Stop Douchebag Shop

 

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My actual conversation with dbot.us

Hey ladies. We’ve all been there. We’re just hangin’ out scrolling through our newsfeed, wondering how that girl got her make-up so perfect, and ooh there’s a sale at lululemon! Apologies if this sounds stereotypical, I know that’s not all there is to us, it’s just that we can’t be super awesome and saving the world every second of the day now can we?

Anyway, we’re there wondering if our savings account would notice if we just took a teensy tiny chunk out of it because those shoes are on point! Then wham! Who is this guy? Why is he talking to me? I swear I changed my privacy settings.

Hey cutie.

*Clicks on his profile*. Oh he’s totally legit. *Rolls eyes*. Three friends, and he’s from…where?

Exit the conversation. Grab a Tim-Tam. Wait, I don’t even like Tim-Tams.

Aren’t you gonna say hi?

Jeez, who is this creep? Some of us would just exit the conversation again and block the heck out of this weirdo.

But some of us feel the horrible pressure of it all. Maybe he’s actually a really nice person? Maybe he just wants to chat?

Hi.’

You’re so beautiful.

Oh that’s kinda sweet.

Thanks.

Thanks? That’s all you can say? How about a nudie pic? 😉

Okay…. Now we do the exit and block thing whilst feeling sufficiently creeped out and gross.

Then we start thinking about how we wish there was ONE guy who didn’t act like a sex-crazy psychopath. Well, let me tell you something ladies, he’s definitely not out there on the big wide interweb. I promise.

This kind of scenario happens to us pretty much every single day, whether it’s a strange guy messaging us online or some random guys honking and cat-calling us as we walk down the street.
I’ve lamented this dozens of times and I’m still told to take it as a compliment. Oh yes, because I’m sooo happy that you yelled at me and waved your arms around like a psycho…Oh, please marry me because I loved that dick pic you sent me!

Eww.

So to showcase what this is really like, designers Joanna Chin and Bryan Collinsworth have come up with this little technological masterpiece called d.bot. Or as I think of it, douche bot. Or dick bot. Or whatever other slanderous ‘d’ word there is.

It’s basically like a version of MSN messenger, or, because some of you are not old enough to remember that, Facebook messenger. It’s not real of course. It’s just a chatbot. A robot that you can talk to. Except he’s a douchebag.

Sound familiar? Yeah that’s because it’s based on the kinds of stupid things guys think they can get away with saying to women online. It’s actually eerily similar to those creeps that we have all had to deal with in our lives at some point.

So the first time I tried it out maybe it wasn’t working because all it said was ‘Aren’t you going to say hi?’ like a million times even after I said hi. Or maybe it was working and it’s just proving a point about how internet males are relentless, don’t listen and are supremely annoying.

Anyway to get a better understanding of the kinds of things it says, I found some pictures for you.
dbot-whats-your-drink-of-choice

random

The most interesting thing about d.bot however, is that all of the content and random weird things it says are actually real things that have been said by guys online. It’s all user-generated content. You can actually put in a conversation or messages that have been sent to you and it uses this collection of messages to create responses.

And you thought it was just a creepy robot.

It’s worse. It’s a lot worse. Because it’s real people.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, people are awful. Some days I just wish I was a cat. Cats fight, but they don’t blow each other up. They don’t constantly turn up on your doorstep and try to hump your leg. Okay so not many people do this either, but this online harassment is pretty darn similar now that I think about it.

As much as this little tech creation is entertaining and we can sit there and scoff and laugh in disbelief at some of the things that have been said, women are experiencing this in some form almost every day of their lives.

How many times do we have to say go away before you’ll actually go away?

How is it that when we say ‘F**k off!’ we’re the ones with the problem?

So please, don’t be the weirdo who sits in front of a computer screen and types rape jokes and threats because you think it’s funny. Because the reality is that women are raped. Women are threatened. And you’re just a puny little coward.

No, we don’t want to see your penis, thank you very much.

No, we won’t smile just because you tell us to.

We’re here and we’re saying we’ve had enough.

So shut down your laptop, turn out the lights, and go do what you do best.

Go f**k yourself.

Smiley face.

The end.

Try it for yourself! dbot.us

Blame It On Barbie?

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I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie woooorld.” We all know the song. We all know the doll after which it was written. The one with the shiny blonde hair, the bright blue eyes, and the sometimes unnerving permanent smile. If you’re a woman, then you undoubtedly owned one as a little girl. And you’ll most likely know the war that has been waged against her in the name of body image and the media.

But Barbie has a new campaign now. It’s called ‘Imagine The Possibilities’ and it follows a few young girls as they take their place as lecturer, doctor, veterinarian and soccer coach, much to the befuddled amusement of their adult patients, students and soccer players. It’s actually extremely cute and is one of those ads that just sort of makes you smile. It ends with a cut to a little girl in her bedroom playing with her Barbie dolls and re-enacting a lecture room scene. Then the text ‘When a girl plays with Barbie she imagines everything she can become’ appears on screen. Queue the smiles and lovely thoughts.

Watch the new Barbie campaign below:

And then enter me with my famous cynicism and satirical sword of justice. Or something like that.
As much as I can see the point of this ad and how lovely it is etc. etc. it also seems to me like a bunch of hooey. Yay for little girls having career choices, yay for them playing with Barbies and realising said career choices. But that’s really not the point.

The issue that Barbie has been trying valiantly to combat since the era of the big bad media and the subsequent body image debacle is that of the doll’s disproportionate figure. She has a relatively normal head, a massive chest, tiny waist, and the tiniest feet you could ever imagine. No wonder I was always losing her teeny tiny pink high heels. Studies have been done on how a human being would fare with such measurements and the results are literally hilarious. We would fall flat on our faces every time we tried to so much as sashay down the street.

But each doll is still mass produced and sold with this unrealistic body shape and has consequently been demonstrating to everyone that this is what is beautiful and attractive. And as far as this particular campaign goes, it’s nothing new.

Barbie has always had a myriad of careers, from teacher to doctor to dolphin trainer. So the fact that she is showing little girls that they can be whatever they want isn’t really a new thing. The problem that I see in relation to this is that the message that is being portrayed is that yes you can do whatever you want, as long as you look good doing it. Yes, of course there are arguments against this and I’ll get to that, so stop whinging and just give me a minute.

 

The makers of Barbie have often said that yes they know that there are issues with the doll’s body type, but they are also unwilling to do anything about it. They apparently will not bow to the pressure of society. So they’re trying to be all feminist and tell us something we already know by saying that girls can be whatever they want. But do they really need a Barbie to tell them this? A figure who is ridiculously beautiful and unattainable and promotes such an unhealthy body image? And just for the record, getting a beautiful male-gaze oriented figure to promote feminism is kind of a stupid move. Just saying.

So now, after all that hand-on-hip, finger-wagging criticism, here comes the real kicker. Barbie isn’t real. She is a doll. A toy. So why should we expect her to be even slightly representative of a real human? And, just out of curiosity, how many of you sat there with your dolls when you were young and compared yourself to them? How many of you thought that Barbie was telling you to be something you weren’t? I hate to admit it, being a big opponent of unrealistic body image, but I didn’t. I loved

Barbie. She was my friend. She wore awesome clothes and was a strong independent woman who quite often ended up in the back of a horse truck with my brother’s Action Man. Don’t tell me you never did that.
So what’s changed? Around the time I was growing up, I don’t really remember ever worrying about my body or my looks. I suppose these kind of thoughts don’t really kick in until puberty when you’re starting to think about the opposite sex (or even the same sex) in a different way. You start to compare yourself to others and see where you fit. But honestly, how many teenagers still play with Barbies? If you do, that’s great, but it’s probably more for a memento of childhood than to compare yourself with her.

 

So I’m just going to say that it’s the media. It’s that old chestnut. It’s the music videos we see that are full of gyrating scantily-clothed ‘perfect’ women, regardless of whether it’s a female or male artist. It’s how we’re being marketed to – ‘this is the new trend, follow it or you’re not a ‘cool’ person’. But if I’m honest, I’m not sure Barbie really has anything to do with this. As adults, we understand the negative aspects of having some kind of unrealistically proportioned woman as a role model, but as kids I really don’t think we care. Barbie could have three legs and we’d probably still love her and think she was great.

So let’s maybe just cut Barbie a little slack. Yes, she’s got issues, like anyone. But maybe it’s not her fault that our children are growing up with much more insecurity and fear of rejection. Maybe it’s time we take a look at ourselves and what messages ‘real’ people are sending. Because a doll is just a doll. I think the real world is far more influential and a heck of a lot scarier than that pink-lipped toothy smile.

Skin Deep – Cover Girls and Conundrums

Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk
Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

Whenever I see a picture of a half naked woman on the cover of a magazine, I’m definitely the first one to roll my eyes and make a derisive noise. ‘So typical’ I’m thinking. Why do women feel they have to flaunt themselves wearing almost nothing to get attention? And you can’t escape it. If you pick up a men’s magazine, well duh, of course there’s a woman on it. But when you pick up a women’s magazine, there’s one there too. We are everywhere. Well not us, but highly edited perfect representations of us. But is it demeaning? What if we feel so great about our bodies that we want to share it with the world? What’s so bad about that?

And this is my conundrum.

Yeah it’s pretty tough being a feminist for obvious reasons, but all nasty jokes and provocations aside, the hardest thing about being a feminist is understanding that people, in this case women, have a right to do whatever the heck they want. (Unless they’re doing something horrendous like killing people. Cos that’s not cool).

So why is that so hard to understand, that’s what feminism is about right? Yes, but it’s quite open to interpretation. The problem we have is that women have every right to do what they want, it’s actually how they are perceived because of that that’s the problem. I mean a woman can take nude pictures of herself if she likes, it’s just that if she chooses to distribute them to anyone, that’s when things can get complicated.

But what about when it’s a celebrity we all know and love? I know almost every woman on the front of these magazines is a female celebrity, but how do we perceive them when they’re wearing the flimsiest bikini or even topless? Do we aspire to be them? Do we envy them? Or do we suddenly oppose them because now they’re ‘cheap’?

I’m just asking because Australia’s sweetheart, Delta Goodrem has been announced as Maxim magazine’s hottest woman and is currently gracing their front cover wearing nothing but a gold necklace. Whatever you think of Delta Goodrem, she seems like a wonderful person who has been through, and achieved, so much. So is she not worth more than a ‘hottest woman’ accolade by, for all intents and purposes, a ‘lad’s mag’?

Having not personally read the article myself (bad journalism I know, but it’s not for lack of trying), there’s not a lot that I can say about the content of the article. Maybe they went into depth about her achievements and her beautiful soul or whatever, but to be honest, that’s not the most important aspect of this. Do you think everyone who sees that cover will immediately pick it up and read the article about her? I highly doubt it. So far on sites such as Facebook, the comments on the image alone run along the lines of ‘F***k she’s so hot’ and ‘Delta babe come and live with me, I love you,’ etc. etc. Creepy.

There was a also a lone comment about how she shouldn’t need to get the hottest woman award to feel successful and that posing topless was beneath her, but of course this person got slammed by all of the other lovely trolls. Not saying they were necessarily correct, just demonstrating the currently held dominant views on it.

But let’s flip the coin. Delta Goodrem is beautiful, yes. And she seems like a beautiful person. So shouldn’t we trust her to know what she’s doing?

In 2003, Delta Goodrem was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer. She experienced seriously awful symptoms and went through hell and back to try to beat it. So now that’s she’s better, given what her body has been through, she has every right to show off her beauty to everyone. To show that she has come back and is more beautiful than ever.

So then what’s the problem?

The problem is actually not the fact that women are choosing to express their sexuality/beauty in ways such as posing topless for a magazine. As I said, it’s how they’re being perceived. Often an image is just an image and we don’t think deeper than the aesthetic value of that image. We don’t really think about or even care about who that person is or what she’s been through, we just see that she’s attractive.

But it’s hard to really draw the line on how to change these perceptions. This is because the aim of these images is to provoke some sort of response, be it admiration, desire, etc. And the women in these images are aware of, and often appreciate, these responses. I know that if I ever managed to be on the cover of a magazine, I’d be pretty stoked and want the world to see it. But then I think about all the teenage boys who would look at it and use it for more unsavoury things and that makes me feel a little icky about it. Double standards? Maybe just a little.

So what now? Well unfortunately now there’s nothing. It’s a never-ending cycle. Women want to feel attractive but by the right people, and that’s just stupid. We should only really be concerned about whether or not we like us. People are always going to see an image and react accordingly to how their culture dictates. For example, most of us recoil at seeing an image of a dead person or similarly graphic things. It’s partially instinct, but partially because we are also taught that these things are negative and sensitive and should not be seen.

Similarly, in Western culture we’re taught that women should be beautiful, should be admired, should be coveted. So of course when we see these images, those responses are at the forefront of our minds.

But it goes way deeper than just the image you see. So maybe next time when you see an image that provokes an immediate reaction, stop and think further. What does your culture tell you to see? How are you supposed to react? How do you really feel about it?

And just think twice, because beauty is sometimes only skin deep.

 

 

Lady Goals – Feminism In Iran

Photo Credit: Jose Coelho
Photo Credit: Jose Coelho

Lady Goals – Feminism in Iran

So you’re all ready to go. You’ve got your suitcase packed and zipped up – just. Your iPod is full of brand new tunes and you’re mentally preparing yourself for a long flight; you’re a little nervous and a lot excited. Suddenly you remember that yeah you’re gonna need your passport. Where did you leave it again? You quickly search through all of your things, the pressure mounting as time ticks by. You dash out of your bedroom to see your boyfriend/husband/significant other standing in the living room – great maybe they can help. You’re about to ask when they hold up your passport. Infinitely relieved, you run over and reach for it. Except they yank it away.

‘You’re not going. I forbid you to go.’

Wait, what? Who the hell do they think they are? Of course you’re going, you’ve been saving for months, they can’t stop you. You grab your passport back, throwing some choice curse words behind you as you leave to catch the taxi waiting outside. Well that’s the end of that relationship.

You arrive at the airport to meet your friends feeling free and excited. This is going to be awesome.

Except if you’re a woman in Iran.

Then, if your husband chooses at the last minute to forbid you from travelling out of the country, then no, you cannot just swear at him and go anyway. You have to obey him. And it’s not even just about the ridiculous ‘obey your husband’ concept of marriage, it’s literally the law. As in, you could go to prison if you don’t.

In Iran, by law, a husband is perfectly entitled to stop his wife from leaving the country if he so chooses. He can take her passport away and even make her stay at home for the rest of her life if he likes. And to a white middle class feminist, this is ridiculous and abominable (I know this is a serious article but every time I read that word I just think of the abominable snowman. Who is also scary and horrible I suppose). We can all lament this as unjust and wrong, but when it is embedded in both the culture and the law, it’s really difficult to debunk it and rebel as easily as maybe feminists in the West could.

This article stems from the recent outrage over Iranian female soccer star, Niloufar Ardalan, also known as ‘Lady Goal’, whose husband took away her passport so that she was unable to play for her country in the 2015 Asian Championships. Once word got out of this, social media exploded, with many people all over the world expressing their outrage at the fact that such a patriarchal law is still being upheld.

But this is not the first time this would have happened in Iran. Many everyday Iranian women experience this lack of control and autonomy every day, yet nobody really notices. So in a way, as much as this event sparked such indignation and awareness, would it have even had such an international reach if it were just a normal Iranian woman trying to escape her abusive husband?

I don’t think so.

What’s even more abhorrent about this is that the age of criminal responsibility in Iran is 9 years old for girls, and 15 years old for boys. So, if you are an Iranian woman, you can legally be held responsible for a crime at age 9, but cannot travel out of the country at age 40 unless your husband gives you permission.

I can’t even.

This makes no sense to me. In what world can women be treated so unfairly for so long? Yes, of course women still do it tough in the Western world, but compared to other cultures, we’re yards ahead. And in Iran, it seems to be an exercise in power, control and dominance to forbid women from exercising their rights as human beings. So if this is a human rights issue, why isn’t anything being done about it?

But in all honesty, what can we really do about it? As I said before, different cultures have different customs and laws and ways of living. What’s deemed right and wrong in one culture may be completely different in others. And whilst I do abhor these misogynistic laws and cultures, coming from a white background with the freedoms that I do have, I can’t really say how a country with cultures different from my own should be run.

It’s easy as a feminist to say that all women want these rights and all women deserve these rights, but culture is a much more complex issue. For example, I understand that, although the hijab and burka are seen to be symbolic of misogyny and patriarchal rulings, some women actually wish to wear these as a marking of their culture and their homeland. And who am I to say they should do otherwise?

Of course there are many Iranian women who are fighting for their rights, for their ability to have a choice. A campaign by the name of ‘My Stealthy Freedom’ has emerged in which Iranian women upload images of themselves without their hijabs on in defiance of the Iranian laws and authorities. They are aware of the potential penal consequences, but are rebelling anyway because things need to change.

So as much as there is worldwide outrage over such laws and cultural systems, maybe these women don’t need others who don’t understand to speak for them. Yes, the awareness is important and the support from others is paramount, but we need to encourage those campaigns that Iranian women themselves have started, and let them fight for their own freedoms.

Because they know what they want. And I believe they will get it.

Chivalry – Dead, Dying or Just Human?

Photo Credit: Skirt Collective
Photo Credit: Skirt Collective

Chivalry – Dead, Dying, Or Just Human?

You’re on a date. You’ve had a pretty good time and are casually wondering whether or not you should put out on the first date. Remnants of gloriously expensive food are scattered around the weird square plate and all that’s left to do now is get the bill.

Male date:

Well now I guess I have to fork out or it’ll seem like I’m cheap. It’s okay, it’s what I’m supposed to do, right? It’s like in the dating code or the man bible or whatever. *Gets up to pay bill*

Female date:

Oh he’s getting up to pay. How sweet. He’s such a gentleman. *Smiles sweetly*

Sound familiar? Whether you’ve been in this situation yourself or are sniggering at the cliché-ness of this scenario, you understand that this is what happens on dates more often than not. Chivalry at its finest.

But how about when both parties feel differently about this sequence of events?

A friend of mine recently went on a date with a guy, and everything was going just swell until he got up to pay for their meals. She later confessed to me that she felt that it was pretty assuming and controlling of him to just go and pay without consulting her.

‘What did he expect from me in return?’ she asked. Well I think we know the stereotypical answer to that question.

But what about the guy? Was he right and chivalrous to pay for her straight up? Or should he have asked her first?

I actually have no idea. And I bet he doesn’t either. And that’s why I’m writing this article, to throw everything out there and see where it all lands in this perplexing puzzle that is the intersection of good old-fashioned chivalry and modern day feminism.

Personally, I am sort of like a dog chasing its tail on this one. I like the idea of finally catching it, but I’m also aware that it is kind of stupid to keep doing it. Make sense? No? Yeah I don’t know where I was going with that either. But the gist of it is that it is quite perplexing to be both a woman and a feminist in this situation. Honestly, I don’t mind a man paying for me, despite my well-known feminist principles. But this preference comes with conditions – doesn’t everything? I don’t mind being paid for, provided that next time, should there be a next time, I want to be the one who pays for everything. Rebellious, huh?

That being said, we must factor in the opinions of the male species, being that they are quite heavily involved in this too, speaking from a heterosexual perspective (it would actually be very interesting to later go into this on a homosexual level but that’s for another discussion). Having consulted a few guys (aka my boyfriend), I learnt that men just sort of expect to do it. It’s all they know. Again this is a generalised view, but it’s probably quite a real thing for a lot of men in the Western culture.

But why do they do it, or feel they have to do it? My boyfriend just sort of shrugged and said, “We just do.” Earth-shattering revelation right there. But seriously, it must be quite hard for males to come to grips with the new equality between men and women in terms of the whole dating scene. Not saying that they necessarily disagree with it, I just imagine many of them are staring bewilderedly about them, shuffling money around in their wallet the way that you do when you know you want something but really shouldn’t be buying it. The common scenario which I outlined earlier on makes sense to them. It’s solid ground. They pay to appear gentlemanly and because they feel it’s the right thing to do, and the woman is rapturously grateful and feels cosseted and loved. This would be extremely satisfying and reassuring for masculinity in general I would imagine, being that men maybe feel that if they cannot hunt for the food, they can at least pay for it.

But what about the rebels, the everyday guys and gals that believe that this whole man-paying thing is archaic and controlling? I can also see how they would feel. Because paying for something can be seen as a lovely gesture, but it can also be seen as asserting your wealth and power. Like my friend said earlier, what is expected in return? As for the men, maybe they don’t want to have to pay for everything. Maybe that’s seen as being cheap, but maybe it’s just human. Girls, what would you do if the guy expected you to pay for everything? You’d be highly pissed off, and maybe rightly so. But then it can all come down to expectation. As females, do we expect the man to pay? I would imagine a number of us do, even subconsciously, because that’s what we’ve been taught to expect. And guys pay because that’s what they’ve been taught to do. But I personally don’t think this is particularly fair.

Now whether you like it or not, feminism is involved in this particular conundrum because feminism promotes the equality of men and women. So according to feminism in this case, men should not have to pay if they don’t want to, and women should not expect this, or should at least expect to pay half. It seems harsh if I was thinking about it from a female perspective maybe not of my own, but then things are not always as black and white as this.

Interestingly, Urban Dictionary (yes I went there) defines chivalry as ‘something women complain is dead, even though it cannot logically exist in an equal society, which is something women wanted. It’s one or the other.’ Now as much as I’m a little offended by this, it is Urban Dictionary after all, it actually makes sense. But this is the problem. It’s actually a problem concerning feminism as a whole and the arguments against it. Many people have self-righteously lectured me on the fact that if you want to be equal, let’s see women and men in co-ed prisons, let’s see women do men’s labouring work, and so forth. That’s not for me to get into here, but it is relevant. And why I’m conflicted in my conclusion about chivalry. Should women not expect to be treated well? Or should we just treat others as we want to be treated? See, it gets all too complicated very quickly.

So let’s take a step back and be completely gender neutral. Take off your hair bows and bow ties because it’s about to get human. Let’s start with a superb quote from one of the strongest and most intelligent women I know, ‘It is more about common courtesy, thinking about the other person’s needs and behaving in a way that benefits them.’ So in effect, we should all just be decent human beings. If someone is struggling, or you get there first, hold the door open for them, regardless of their gender. I mean come on, are you really going to let it slam into their face? I know a lot of people whom I would enjoy seeing this happen to, but I am far too kind and magnanimous for that. And, without harping on about feminism, maybe a woman could buy a man a drink at a bar if she chose to? I suppose a lot of men would be surprised by that, but this is what it’s all about. There are far too many complete dickheads in this world so surprise people by being a decent person. Regardless of what body parts you have. Because in all honesty, your body parts don’t make you who you are. If they did, then there literally would be a lot of dickheads around….

The F-Word

Photo credit: Alexandra Jones
Photo credit: Alexandra Jones

The F-Word

The F-word. It’s word that a lot of people find offensive. A word that, if said in front of certain people will no doubt earn you a disapproving glare or a verbal reprimand. A word that a lot of young people use, including myself. Heck, I use it almost every day, even though it is considered aggressive by most.

I’m talking about feminism.

Notice the similarities between the word that you thought I was talking about and the word that I’m actually talking about? One is technically a rude aggressive curse word, and the other is an equal rights movement. That tells you something right there.

A lot of people, including myself sometimes, really intensely dislike the word feminism. So much so that they begin to argue endlessly about semantics and names, completely detracting from the point of what it is actually about. I agree that feminism perhaps isn’t the best term in today’s contemporary society, but to call it anything else would be an insult to all of those people (note I say people, not just women) who fought, and are still fighting, for gender equality.

So what’s with the F-word? Why are people so negative towards it? Many would argue that it promotes the sole idea of women and how they want to take over the world. Those same people would also probably argue that nothing is wrong in terms of gender equality and that women are overreacting and being their crazy hormonal selves. Proving exactly how important feminism still is.

A lot of people who do find the word feminism offensive often conjure up images of crazy bra-burning women who seem to openly hate men and genuinely want to rule the human race. Firstly, have you ever actually seen a woman burn her bra?? I know a lot of us would probably love to, but damn, those things cost way too much.  Secondly, of course there are going to be extremists. There are those who take things quite far in any culture or belief system. Even in everyday life.

To make it more interesting/relevant to some of you, imagine a typical Saturday night in which you and your friends go out and have a teensy smidgen of alcohol. Okay, who am I kidding, a LOT of alcohol. Some of you handle it better than others. Some of you drink and have fun and dance and relax. And then some of you go bats**t crazy. You’ll be chilling and chatting and then next thing you know, your crazy drunk friend falls out of a tree and breaks their arm. How did they get in the tree? Who knows, but you still want to help them out. You know that they can be a bit crazy, but you still love them, right? And just because they react differently to others, doesn’t mean that everyone should stop drinking forever.

Weird analogy I know, but it makes sense. There will always be people doing crazy things that will change the perception of others. But I’m here to let you know that there are plenty of decent feminists out there who genuinely want to help both men and women. We really don’t hate men and we promise we won’t try to castrate you. And by the way, a lot of men are feminists. Many don’t like to admit it because of said misconceptions, but I think it’s awesome.

But I guess that still doesn’t change the word.

If you asked the right questions and dug a little deeper, I think you’d find that most people actually are feminists. They just don’t like to call themselves that. Or, as they say, they don’t want to be labelled. Which is fair enough. But supporting a movement without identifying as a supporter is a little confusing. And probably not all that helpful. It’s like saying that yes, you love water, you drink water all the time. But you don’t want to call it water. You want to call it H2O. Well as much as you try to call it something different, the message and meaning remains the same. Which is why people really need to stop arguing over semantics.

Feminism is feminism. To call it something such as humanism or equalism (I don’t actually think this is a word but you get it) actually detracts from the fact that women do still get paid less for the same work. That women do still suffer abuse at the hands of men. That women are still constantly expected to comply with the gender norms of a patriarchal society. Men are involved in this too because they do also experience abuse and the pressures of gender norms, however it remains quite largely an issue in which women predominantly need to be considered.

For those who do consider feminism threatening or offensive, I ask you to consider your female friends and family. They are able to choose their careers, their opinions and their freedoms because of feminism. Would you like your future daughter to be unable to follow her dreams because her husband was old-fashioned and insisted she stay at home to cook and clean? I do understand that many women do enjoy doing these things, but it’s about having the choice. I don’t always like looking at it this way, but it seems to be the most effective method of getting people to understand. Because women are not just your daughters, sisters, mothers, etc. They are people. And all they’re asking for is your help to make a society that’s better for everyone.

And I think that’s probably more important than getting riled up over a word – a word that a lot people don’t even have the chance to understand.

So let’s get out those label printers and show we are not afraid of a teensy tiny little F-word.

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