Posts Tagged ‘equality’

  1. Utilising Our Vaginas To Change the World

    June 3, 2013 by Laura

    Painting from Georgia O'Keefe's 'Flower of Life' series. Image from wikipaintings.org

    Painting from Georgia O’Keefe’s ‘Flower of Life’ series. Image from wikipaintings.org

    We have a responsibility. We have a responsibility to every vagina in Uganda that’s had her clitoris lobbed off in the name of tradition. For every vagina in China that gets left on a roadside to die as a baby because she isn’t a boy. To every vagina in India that gets raped with an iron rod for riding the bus after dusk, to every hijab-wearing vagina in Saudi Arabia that is forbidden to drive a car, and every vagina in the world that has ever experienced being told no because she isn’t male.

    The way we change the world for every vagina out there starts with our jobs. We need more women in power.

    The battle isn’t won. There are still more men than women in the top spots of almost every profession. The further up the career ladder we look, the fewer ladies are playing the game. This often- not always, but sometimes, which is often enough- means two things: one, we see it’s near impossible to do, so don’t try. Two, when we do try it’s at the cost of other women because one female boss is rare enough. More than that is mythical. Well- at least outside of the major cities anyway.

    Both choices come from mentalities engineered by the rich old white men who recognise the radical potential we have to upset their comfortable status quo of owning the ways we make money, and who know that should we shrug off the shackles of their surprisingly methodical career oppression and demand a presence in their boardrooms we’d make stuff really difficult for them.

    I know a bunch of women who see what it takes to be considered leaders in their field, to secure the chief position- long hours normally at the sacrifice of a life, in-house politics, gender stereotypes to dispel daily- and so decide to opt-out, choosing instead to build an existence that doesn’t begin and end with the office. That includes me.

    For the women who do play the game, we’re fed a myth that “success” is finite, like a cheesecake, and so we can’t afford to truly help one another lest we lessen our piece of the pie. This ridiculousness is perpetuated by the rich old white men who hold the key to the bank, who treat the workplace like The Hunger Games- at my first internship I was pitched against another young writer, told on the first day of work that there was only the one opening at the company and so may the best woman win. Teamwork was not encouraged.

    But, what the rich old white men don’t tell you is that if I light my candle from yours then the whole world is brighter. If everyone has their piece of “success” it doesn’t then mean that there is less “success” for everyone else.

    We’re making progress, but at the same time also continue to work in environments where a pregnant woman is asked not to give the client pitch, since their dedication to the account might be questioned. A workplace where Sally, not Simon, is asked to make the tea. Once, as the only female in an all-male company, I was pulled off my duties to help with the décor of the new office; obviously as a woman I’m genetically pre-disposed towards giving a shit what colour the walls are.

    In order to combat this everyday sexism, we need to stick together to alter the value system set for us by dudes who don’t know what it means to live now. Because here’s another thing: the men of our generation don’t want to play by the rules their grandfathers set either.

    As a culture, our principles are changing. “Success” in life isn’t the most money, biggest house, and fanciest holidays. For my generation success is less time at work, more time learning and travelling and just being. It’s turning a passion into a lifestyle that supports itself, not saving it for two days of every seven. The metrics we use to quantify “success” aren’t what they once were. I really believe that.

    As long as it’s these rich old white dudes running the companies at the very top levels and signing the paychecks, we’re all- male and female- going to be held to their standards. We operate in a form of modern-day slavery where we’re bound to our jobs because we need the house that is mortgaged by the bank our boss’s boss sits on the board of. It’s insane.

    Our choices- don’t bother to strive for the top jobs, or do so at the cost of other women- are derived to keep things as they always have been: the choice few in control of the rest of us who work for them. That’s made much easier when essentially 50% of the world’s population don’t have a voice. But. If women are as accountable as men in genuinely influential positions, and 100% of the population demands change, we all get heard.

    We need to support each other at work in the same way we support each other at cocktail hour, because we’re stronger as a team than we are divided. Together we can stand shoulder to shoulder with the men of our generation, the men who want to overthrow the outdated value set of their predecessors so that they can stay at home with their kids if they want, or not have to run the company to be respected in it, and their partners, of either gender, can go out to work in jobs they love and are truly valued in.

    We as women will then be free to work in positions of power and influence alongside men, equal in number, making not only the lives of us and our partners more fulfilling, but also making a real difference to the role women play across the globe. This isn’t only about us.

    There’s so much more to living than a job title, but we need to help each other fill those titles in order to change what they mean. And when we do that I reckon we’ll change the world.

    AWOT1.png

    This post is an excerpt from Laura’s ebook I’m Fat (and Still Get Laid). Laura blogs about vagina, a surprising foray into spiritualism, and being brave every Monday and Thursday at Superlatively Rude. Also food: there’s a lot of fat bitch talk. All necessary stalking materials are found here. You can follow her on Twitter here.


  2. Suffragette Shitty

    February 21, 2013 by The Kraken

    Left, Nadine Dorries. Image from Rex. Right, a poster about the hunger strikes of suffragettes in prison, from http://brontehoroine.wordpress.com. Spliced together by AWOT.

    Left, Nadine Dorries. Image from Rex. Right, a poster about the hunger strikes of suffragettes in prison, from http://brontehoroine.wordpress.com. Spliced together by AWOT.

    Tell you what, you’ve just gotta love Nadine Dorries. She’s the gift that keeps on giving because just when I think she has run out of surprises she leaps out at me from any given nook with even more reason to take to this blog. Yesterday, though, she was particularly generous because she used a blog post to wail about how her being investigated by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority over alleged expenses irregularities is the same as the plight of the Suffragettes. OK. And breathe…

    What in the fuck is going on with Dorries? Has she been shooting up bong water? Well, she must have been because these suffragette-based comments are so despairing that they make me want to steal a horse and fucking well gallop over her myself. See, Dorries believes that the investigation into her expenses is a smear campaign because she appeared on I’m a Celebrity…Feed Me Koala Nads! And, get this, because she is a woman and a single mother.

    In fact, she bleated: “Because a woman died under the hooves of a horse in the quest of female emancipation and because IPSA impact upon every single parent who is or wants to be an MP and because I refuse to allow a money hungry quango to compromise my right to work, be a mother and a pet owner, I am not allowing IPSA to get away with this.”

    No, Dorries. Just no. Whatever the fuck else you do, comparing your skirmish with that of the Suffragette movement is like comparing a stubbed toe with the trials of a double leg amputee. Seriously, until the IPSA starts dragging you down the street by your ankles, tearing at your underskirts, locking you in a rat-infested cell and force feeding you by shoving a fat rubber tube down your throat you are about as far from the Suffragette movement as John McCririck on a stag night.

    Worse, Dorries is playing the gender card, like a true squirming MP. But if she’s being fingered by the IPSA it’s because there’s possible financial fuck-uppery, not because her body houses a uterus. And if she is being harassed after appearing on I’m a Sleb… it’s because she pissed off to the jungle for a month rather than doing what she is paid to do in her constituency, not because she’s familiar with the business end of a tampon.

    See, the unfair treatment she claims she is receiving is exactly what I’d expect her to receive, not as a woman but as an MP who abandoned her constituents and as a professional who may have cadged tax-payers’ money for personal expenses. And if she was a he I have no doubt that he’d get the same amount of suspicion and derision chucked at him too. If Dorries thinks she can run off with Ant n Dec to scoff bulging grubs on company time but then bark about equal rights when she gets called-out she can, quite frankly, go screw herself.

    When Dorries squawks about her rights as a woman she’s actually taking a mahoosive dump on every other woman in the country. Instantly she makes women who shout about genuine inequality look like shrieking harpees who will holler misogyny at any given opportunity. Yeah, yeah, I know the Commons and Lords are hotbeds of sexism but Dorries turning that to her advantage just because her own behaviour is biting her on the arse is offensive, not just to the women’s movement generally but to those women who fight sexism every bloody day.

    So until Dorries can prove that her gender lies at the heart of this kerfuffle, my mind will translate every word she says as utter bollocks. This isn’t about not listening to a woman who is genuinely struggling with misogyny. It’s about not listening to a woman who uses the struggles of others to cover her own arse. If Dorries thinks the Suffragettes fought for her to do that then the jungle is exactly where she belongs.


     The Kraken is a ‘furious and ranty ex-freelance journalist’. She has a wonderfully rage-filled blog, with the excellent title, ‘The Kraken Wakes’ and you can find her on Twitter right here


  3. Feminism: A Subject I Approach With Trepidation

    January 16, 2013 by Jenni

    Copyright Paula Wright 2012 - image from dispatchesfromtheclaphamomnibus.blogspot.co.uk

    Copyright Paula Wright 2012 – image from dispatchesfromtheclaphamomnibus.blogspot.co.uk

    I am a feminist. Or at least I think I am, and therein lies the problem. I’m fairly new to the whole feminism thing, or at least new to calling the things I already thought anyway ‘feminist things’, and I’m still feeling my way through the whole thing. Here’s the thing though… it seems that there’s apparently a right way and a wrong way to be a feminist – to believe in the simple notion of equality for everyone because it appears there’s a lot of dissention amongst the ranks.

    I’ve got lots of feminist friends, I follow a lot of feminists on Twitter and they follow me, but I don’t really get into discussions about it with them, I’ve never blogged about it before and to be honest I try to avoid the subject. Why? Because there can be a lot of backlash if you’re the wrong type of feminist, it seems. There are certain names that are associated with feminism that a lot of people seem to hate for various reasons. There’s a lot of angry people in the world of Twitter who don’t like them and make it abundantly clear- “X calls herself a feminist? Well she can’t be because of these reasons…” sort of thing. And that’s fine, everyone’s entitled to an opinion on the matter.

    The thing is though, it makes it really hard for us baby feminists to find our feet because we don’t want to make a mistake, or worse, be the subject of Twitter hate ourselves because we said we liked the wrong person. “Oh… X is the subject of a lot of angry tweets saying she can’t be a feminist. Does that mean I’m not one because I quite liked that thing she wrote and her views made me think differently about feminism in the first place? Better not mention it.”

    That’s not how it should be. People shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re “doing feminism wrong” or worried that if they agree with a certain someone then they can’t be a real proper feminist. Everyone who identifies as a feminist should be encouraged to speak out, to make joyful noises on the subject of equality and get angry at people who want to pretend that it can’t/won’t/shouldn’t happen, not get angry at each other for saying the wrong thing and then being a bit of a nob about it. Yes people say stupid things sometimes and yes sometimes they make it worse by saying more stupid things and being a prick about the whole thing but at the end of the day that’s an opinion. Not everyone has the same one as everyone else on certain subjects.

    But please, let’s stop vilifying each other because we disagree slightly. At the end of the day if you’re a person who thinks that all other people regardless of any factors should be equal and recognised as such in society, then you’re a feminist in some way or another. Let’s stop trying to make people feel passionately about every subject, let’s stop making it feel awkward to like certain feminist figureheads, let’s stop scaring away people from using ‘the F-word’ and force them into hiding because they don’t want to do it wrong. We need to encourage each other to speak out, to talk to everyone we know about feminism/equality and why it’s important and to stop making it matter what sort of feminist you are, when all that really matters is that you are one.

    NB: Even after I wrote this and was submitting it to AWOT, I was feeling incredibly nervous as to how it would be received. I can only hope it goes better than I expect it to. *cowers*

    Jenni (@circlethinker) is a science geek, a theatre aficionado (both on and off the stage), and a big fan of socks. She’s in her early twenties and recently finished up a Biomedical Science degree at Sheffield. Jenni has a lovely blog over here and you can find her on Twitter right here

     


  4. Five Myths about Feminists

    October 16, 2012 by Ashley

    Let me preface this by acknowledging that I am not an authority on the subject of feminism – but I am feminist, and these are my views on some of the big misconceptions that stand in the way of people’s understanding of feminism.

    Image from blogs.siuc.edu

    Is the F word a dirty word? When I asked my now boyfriend on our first date if he was a feminist, he said no, he was an ‘equalist’. But shouldn’t that be the same thing? Isn’t feminism, at its heart, about equality? I am still surprised when people, especially women, tell me that they don’t identify as feminists. So I’ve written down some thoughts on why that might be… Feel free to add your own in the comments, or feel free to disagree!

    1) Men and women are equal now – we don’t need feminists anymore

    Despite the fact that we have come along way since the fight for women’s suffrage, there is still a lot to do in order to realise full equality between men and women. For one thing, the pay gap in the UK has been around 25% since 2000 – that’s 12 years with no improvement. And at the moment, women make up just over 15% of board members.

    Looking at the disturbing idiocy of sites like unilad.com (this link goes to our posts related to unilad, not to the site itself), shows there is a lot to be done to get rid of misogyny and sexism. It is incredibly ignorant to assume that just because we have the vote and can drive in the western world, women and men are treated as equals. We still need feminism.

    If you have a spare 15 minutes, DO check out this amazing video of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivering the mother of all smackdowns to the leader of the opposition concerning his misogynistic and sexist hypocrisy.

    2) Feminists hate men

    This might be one of the biggest (and most disturbing?) misconceptions about feminists. Feminism at its most basic is about equality - not supremacy. Hating men would have absolutely no positive impact, as the only way we can achieve equality is through men and women working together. We need men to be on board with us if we are ever going to change things – so hating them will achieve absolutely nothing.

    Besides, I like men. They can be really fun and sometimes they make you eggy crumpets when you’re hungover. And my dad makes the best pavlova in the world.

    3) Feminists are militant fun sponges  

    “Feminists do not know how to have fun. Every conversation is an angry rant from an uptight woman who’s probably just in need of a good shag.” Yes – that is actually an argument someone used in front of me during a discussion about feminism. I almost had to laugh. In the same conversation he used the word ‘feminazi’ and ‘man hating’. Au contraire, mon frere. Most of my female friends are feminists and they are some of the funniest, coolest, kinkiest people you will ever meet. And boy, do they get laid. I’m absolutely, passionately, and resolutely feminist in my views, but I don’t bring it up in every single conversation and I don’t shout down people who don’t agree with me.

    Yes, some feminists are militant, but that’s a good thing. We need some of us to be the passionate ones, that march and scream and shout about it. But it’s also ok if you’re not that way inclined. No one wants to spend seven days a week angry. I like talking about feminism because I like to understand why people don’t identify as such (for me it is the default position – I am usually amazed that people don’t realise that it’s essentially about equal rights for women AND men). But I have never once yelled at someone for not agreeing with me.

    4) You cannot be a feminist and a housewife

    This is another popular myth – even among people who identify as feminists. Feminism is about equality, and part of equality is having the right to choose what you want to do. I believe as a modern woman that you have just as much right to choose to be a stay at home mum as you do to be a rocket scientist. Being a housewife used to be the default – it used to be the very symbol of female oppression. Well, I don’t think it is anymore. You should be able to choose what you do. See the movie Mona Lisa Smile for more on this.

    It annoys me when people suggest that baking cupcakes or wearing aprons or going to sewing classes is a step backwards for women. It’s not. It’s not symptomatic of a mass regression into the days where women were expected to be at home all day – if anything I think reclaiming such hobbies is a positive thing. If no one is standing over you demanding that you darn socks and put dinner on the table by six, I say sew on. The current fashion for twee is harmless – it is not the first sign of the apocalypse, and it is not damaging to the feminist cause. You can absolutely enjoy knitting and baking while simultaneously campaigning for equality. To suggest cupcakes and feminism are mutually exclusive is to make women one dimensional. Equality should encompass the freedom to choose your hobbies.

    5) Feminists are all hairy-legged bra-burners

    Bra-burning has to be one of the most ridiculous myths. Bras are designed for support, not restriction. If you’re small-breasted, let your boobs fly free – but if you have rather larger breasts, bras are fairly essential for comfort. Besides, a quality bra is expensive – so bra-burning really isn’t a sustainable activity in this economy.

    And the phrase ‘hairy-legged feminists’ is one that just seems to roll off the tongue, like ‘chocolate chip cookie’. Shaving and waxing are 100% personal choices that generally do not have a much of a bearing on your views on equality. Some women don’t shave in order to make a point about beauty standards, others just prefer to be au naturale – but the thing to remember is that women that do shave/wax and women who wear make up etc are just as likely to be feminists than those who don’t. Shaving your legs, waxing your bikini line, and having a minor addiction to Lancome does not make you a bad feminist – it’s a personal choice. The bullshit argument that says women wear make up and shave to please men is nonsense. I do not get up in the morning and think, ‘I reckon the patriarchy will be pleased by my freshly waxed eyebrows today’. (Though if you are thinking that at 7am then you might want to have a word with yourself.) It’s none of your damn business if someone, feminist or not, decides to let nature keep them cosy or not. It’s about the freedom to do what you want and not prevent others from doing their own thing.

    ~

    So, what are your top myths about feminism?

    Ashley is the editor of teamawot.com. As well as working as a press officer, she runs a little food blog, called Peach Trees and Bumblebees. She’s also on Twitter. Oh, and her boyfriend now identifies as a feminist. Score.



  5. Healthy Competition

    February 29, 2012 by jo_rourke

     

    Image from obsessionistas.co.uk

    I love a good bitch. Sometimes there’s nothing better than getting it all off your chest and having a good old rant. Whether it’s about something or someone, letting it all out can be therapeutic. I reckon Anne Robinson, with her daily blank cheque of bitchiness on the Weakest Link, must retire of an evening utterly zen after her efficient 45 minute insult session. The idiot who wouldn’t move down the carriage on the tube becomes Ann, Coffee Artist, from Bognor Regis. Nick, Student, from Gloucester, conveniently has the head of a traffic warden on his scruffy, skinny jeaned and Conversed body.

    Women are usually charged with being the instigators and encouragers of the art (science? Not sure) of bitching and bitchery. The intended uses of ‘bitch’ are 1) a female dog and 2) an insult. Nice, huh? But quite apt when you consider what the verb ‘to bitch’ means in practise. When it comes to what we consume in the news (I use the term loosely as I am referring to tabloids) the actual tone of the piece is bitchy, often a “Who ate all the pies?” thinly disguised as “Flaunting her curves.” Most of what is written for or about women runs on a not too subtle current of highlighting flaws and pointing out mistakes. Even in our own lives, away from the sidebar of the Mail, we find ourselves continuing this theme. It may be because by pointing out other’s faults we make ourselves feel better about our own. Classic defence mechanism, really; attention will be drawn to their big bum/bad taste and away from our own bigger bum/worse taste. Couldn’t be more Chandler if I said “Could it be any more of a defence mechanism?”

    Image from queensofvintage.com

    In some ways, though, it’s a sign that we are incredibly competitive. And, listening to Woman’s Hour this morning, I got thinking some more on competitiveness. Jane Garvey had the editors of Cosmopolitan UK and Vagenda on the show, debating what women look for in a magazine. Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett for Vagenda argued that Cosmo’s content of beauty buys, belly busters and blow jobs is not just disempowering and outdated, but patronising too. Cosmo’s Louise Court (admittedly with reader numbers on her side) countered that plenty of women in the UK are interested in Cosmo’s articles on firmers and fellatio – 1.6 million actually – and that, besides, Cosmo does tackle “feminist” issues; equal pay and speaking out about domestic violence being two of them. Disregarding the fact that being paid less than your subordinate with a penis and being subjected to physical violence go against basic human rights; Court does have a point when she touches on readership figures. Women do buy Cosmopolitan. And they keep buying it. Its content can’t be that far off the mark.

    Yes, women are interested in more than just sex, how to look good with their kit off and how to achieve the perfect blow…dry, but equally this would have been said about the magazine at its launch back in 1886. At that point it was a “family” magazine with a section “devoted exclusively to the interests of women, with articles on fashions, on household decoration, on cooking, and the care and management of children.” For some women this would have been condescending and belittling. For others, it would have been the best thing since…I’ve got nothing here – sliced bread wasn’t invented ‘til 1928. But let’s leave it as really awesome. Besides which, now, in the 21st century, there are entire magazines, blogs, websites and TV programmes devoted to these topics, so they are by no means irrelevant, unpopular or antiquated.

    Court and Cosslett are intelligent, successful women at the helm of two groundbreaking magazines; the fact that they can’t agree on what women are interested in is a good thing - it simply means we’re interested in a wide variety of issues. (Even typing that sentence annoys me – why shouldn’t we be?) Competition in our media is also a good thing; it means we get to enjoy varied, boundary-pushing journalism. We need to focus on this benefit – we don’t need to bitch about the content – they are written by women, about women and for women. They both satisfy the needs of the fairer (ahem) sex and we have many, like any human being. I like to look good. I like clothes. I like to bake. I like to read. I am interested in current events. I am interested in Ryans Gosling and Reynolds. I deserve equal pay. I am a feminist. None of these sentences should cancel each other out. As for our in-sex bitching, competing and showing each other up, I recently saw an interview with the country singer Reba McEntire who put it brilliantly when, having been asked if there was competition between her and other female country singers, said “Of course we’re all competitive in our business, but we all pull for each other too.”

    Jo is a writer slash blogger, who works in sustainability. I’m still not sure what that means. For a small person, she is very noisy. In fact it is my personal belief that she only learned the four languages that she speaks fluently so that she could talk more. She knows the entirety of Bridget Jones by heart (don’t we all!) and is a dab hand at quoting any and all chick flicks. In fact we spent nearly 2 hours doing this the first time we met.

    Jo will be launching a brand new website later this year, which I will tell you all about soon – but rest assured, it’s going to be awesome. You can find Jo on Twitter, or in her little corner of the HuffPo