Fighting for Feminism or 7 things that made me think and cry

The internet has been awash with amazing articles about feminism and gender recently. I wanted to make a little round-up of the best articles and blog posts I have read recently.

1. How to Spot a Misogynist

Actually, spotting a misogynist often doesn’t need directions. They are the ones with no respect for women and no value for equality. But sometimes, they pretend to be on our side, or try and make us feel like we are making a big fuss over nothing. This brilliant article is really How to Spot a Misogynist by the 5 classic lies they tell. And what is brilliant is that it gives you the comebacks you need to invalidate that misogynistic viewpoint we always hear the minute we say we are feminists. It’s great to try and explain to potential misogynists how a. they have misunderstood feminism and b. it is not their right to define how we are oppressed: it’s ours.

To read that article (and you should), it is here: http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/how-to-spot-a-misogynist-20120430-1xueh.html

2. Stop saying I have a boyfriend to deflect unwanted attention

Many of us are guilty of this, aren’t we? I have used most of these: ‘I have a boyfriend’, ‘I’m a lesbian’ (which actually turned out to be true) and so on. Why do we either have to completely renounce men or refer to some other man for anyone to believe that we are not interested. This article made me decide that any time I get asked out, I should just be clear and honest and say I am not interested. 

Male privilege is “I have a boyfriend” being the only thing that can actually stop someone from hitting on you because they respect another male-bodied person more than they respect your rejection/lack of interest.

Read this article here: http://www.xojane.com/relationships/stop-saying-i-have-a-boyfriend

3. Everyone has a closet – including straight people – and coming out of it is always hard!

This video made me cry this morning. It is a Tedx talk by a woman who answers a question posed to her by a four year old girl about ‘whether she is a boy or a girl’. Not only is this a kick-ass way of explaining gender performance to a child, she also talks about how any kind of coming out is hard and what it does to your brain if you hug your identity grenade to your chest in the closet.

It will change your life.

http://www.upworthy.com/a-4-year-old-girl-asked-a-lesbian-if-shes-a-boy-she-responded-the-awesomest-way-possible

4. Doc Brown on Page 3

As if I couldn’t love Doc Brown enough. Now he explains why he need feminism for his daughters and why he opposes Page 3. I saw this guy at Latitude a couple of years ago and the guy is an incredible artist. This will make your heart smile.

http://www.upworthy.com/hear-a-comedian-explain-why-we-shouldnt-see-a-photo-of-a-topless-girl-next-to-the-news

5. On rejecting the Dowry system

I really didn’t know how alive and kicking the dowry system still is in India until I was living there. So many of my friends told me horror stories about bride burnings and blackmail – and how strong you have to be to stand up to your parents, your groom and their family to walk away from a marriage or engagement – that I couldn’t believe it. Gender violence is endemic in India – with crazy disproportionate male: female ratios due to female infanticide. It is important that there are messages of support for all the women that face these difficult situations and hopefully give them strength to get out of these situations.

http://genderbytes.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/5-important-advices-for-women-being-blackmailed-for-dowry/

6. And Lisa Kudrow being awesome. 

I haven’t seen this TV programme but Lisa Kudrow’s speech puts the whole political system in place in a few words. There hasn’t been anything this good since CJ Cregg.

‘Are you saying that Governor Reston is sexist?” the interviewer questions.’

Yes. I am. And it’s not just Governor Reston speaking in code about gender. It’s everyone, yourself included. The only reason we’re doing this interview in my house is because you requested it. This was your idea. And yet here you are, thanking me for inviting me into my “lovely home.” That’s what you say to the neighbor lady who baked you chocolate chip cookies. This pitcher of iced tea isn’t even mine. It’s what your producers set here. Why? Same reason you called me a “real live Cinderella story.” It reminds people that I’m a woman without using the word.

Watch that here because it’s awesome: http://jezebel.com/scandal-lisa-kudrow-goes-ham-in-an-epic-speech-on-sexi-1460876002

7. Finally – Hunger Games with Cats. Because you should leave on a high.

http://www.themarysue.com/hunger-games-cats/

We need an inquiry into food banks: My column in today’s Guardian.

Jack Monroe

Food banks are not new, nor news. Commenters on all sides are quick to point out that they first sprang up under the last Labour government, but the need for them has increased dramatically since the introduction of the bedroom tax in April, and harsh sanctions for benefit claimants. The latest figures from the Trussell Trust show that demand for food banks is still increasing. In George Osborne’s ‘war on welfare’, the only casualties are those at the very bottom. But this is not a war. It is an assault against the unarmed, a massacre of hope and dignity.
Edwina Currie recently commented that she had “no sympathy” for food bank users, that they were just “rational” opportunists. I attempted to point out that food bank users had to be referred by a health visitor or social services or other agency for help, but she refused to hear it.

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Currie…

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The Artist

She took a felt tip pen and –
Upon herself drew,
everything that she made herself.
She drew the dark depths of conflict
The pools and wells of thought that stirred within themselves and
cankered: demons fighting with themselves
And with Angels that stood grave and obscene. Their purity always at once corrupted
By the inauthenticity of their souls.
‘I want to be what I have not been.’
She drew that which she wanted to be. The ink Bled.
And that which saw her, to construct her, that the ink might once,
Flood through that skin that was
Hers,
To Inhabit in there something that was
Her own
Creation,
Osmosis of the Self which crept through,
As she drew –
in every colour
on every surface.
Around puckered skins – that she may own them too
And return themselves to her ownership.
And right then,
Before she left,
She bound herself,
In ribbons
To meet the world again.

 

This is an entry for the FEMFLASH 2013 writing competition from Mookychick Online. Enter now.

Why I support the Lose the Lads Mags campaign.

The campaign, led by feminist organisations, Object and UK Feminista, was launched this week causing outrage and controversy in the media, and some men wondering what business is it of these ‘feminists’, who lurk on twitter ready to disparage any who disagree, that I buy a magazine featuring naked women? What harm does it do anybody really? Surely, what I do in my private sphere is none of their business. And I feel guilty for being one of those to deny militantly the right of these men to fondle themselves over naked women. And what of the women who choose to earn their living this way – of whose choice to it to be photographed breast first?

And then I remember two things: the first, that the point of the campaign, in its legal context, isn’t primarily to put restrictions on the consumption of these magazines by their readers but to protect the rights of the employees, and other shop customers, who work in all the shops that sell these magazines from the blatant sexist representation of women. Under the equality act. Because everyone has the right to work in an environment free from sexism, harassment or any form of discrimination of these, as well as many other, bases.

And secondly, because myself, along with many other women, as demonstrated by projects such as The Everyday Sexism Project, have experienced the fallout from the consumption of these magazines throughout our lives. The crux of the argument by the #losetheladsmags campaign is outlined on their website as:

 ‘Lads’ mags promote sexist attitudes and behaviours. They normalise the idea that it’s acceptable to treat women like sex objects. Lads’ mags promote sexist attitudes and behaviours.’

And the promotion of these ‘attitudes and behaviours’ is certainly evident  in the prevalence  of ‘lads’ mag’ culture in many sections of our society. I was unlucky enough to have experienced a workplace in which myself and other women had to experience the wider implications of the ‘lad mag’ culture every time we turned up to work. The workplace isn’t a sphere which we can avoid if we don’t agree with the sexist cultures which prevail because it is an economic necessity. I have the right to work in an environment free from sexism.

So I should say, firstly, that I used to work in a private health club which is – as you can imagine – a very ‘lad’ cultured environment. The cafe/bar area, frequented by families, was well stocked with newspapers and magazines – including FHM and the Sun. But this tolerance of ‘lads’ mags’ is the least important aspect to the misogyny I experienced working there. It was the tolerance for the attitude and cultures promoted by these magazines: the acceptance of the culture which regarded female colleagues as an object of sex.

When I started, this group was fairly small, but began to pervade the work environment until it was inescapable. From the men that worked behind reception as you entered, to those behind the bar and in the gym – and not escapable if they weren’t working because, all friends together, they would sit in little clusters in the bar ogling you and other women as they went past – the walk that stretch between the entrance and the pool where I worked was like a catwalk on which myself and others would be judged. This stretched of walkway would be treated with the same attitude of objectification as those in the magazines these men consumed: the women reduced to sexual spectacle.

If you were the one being commented on, you would experience the stifled guffaws and laughter at some joke you made at your expense – something they both wanted you to see and hid just enough that you couldn’t call you on it. If you were fortunate to be sitting in the proximity of these men, you would overhear the comments they made which would range from commenting on how ‘fit’ a fellow member of staff or club member was and how much they would like to ‘bang’ them upwards to much more insulting and degrading comments.

One of the worst comments I heard was made about a 13-year old girl, who was obliviously playing tennis, at which she competed at national level, by a 40-year-old man. The comment went something like this: with supposed admiration – ‘she’s incredible…and her tennis isn’t bad either’ – which would have been less harmless than some crude comments and vitriol I had heard around the place, except it was being made about a 13 year old child. The culture of sexualisation and objectification of women reached such an extreme, that no comment could pass the lips of some of the men at my work without a comment on their attractiveness – not even a 13-year-old national tennis player.

And, it is not to say that these magazines have the same effect over and over on every man that reads them – I have had very respectful male partners who have occasionally flipped through the pages – but that the ‘lads’ mag’ culture transferred the same attitudes of objectification, alienation and from the pages onto women in the work place and at large.

My experience has shown this to be the case, and working in this environment began to impact on me – particularly those days when particular men in the club would deign to speak to me, which coincided with the days I was wearing make-up and had straightened my hair. And things such as The Everyday Sexism Project demonstrate that this experience isn’t limited just to me in a misogynistic gym environment but is something many women experience on an everyday basis.

We all deserve to work in an environment free from sexism – whether it is free from sexist comments or free from having to sell and look at magazines of bare-breasted women which many find offensive and degrading. We have the right to exist in a sphere of work which is free from the ‘Lad’s mag’ culture – whether it is directly by exposure to magazines or indirectly by the wider ‘lad culture’ and the cultures of masculinity which prioritise these magazines. And that is why I support the #losetheladsmags’ campaign.

Find more info here: http://www.losetheladsmags.org.uk/

A hairy scapegoat and cyber misogyny….

This is fantastic! #misogyny #FBrape

The Strumpet Post

Take a stroll around Facebook and you will be sure to find a plethora of pages overflowing with exploitative, misogynistic and pornographic images of women and girls. In fact, so ubiquitous are these representations, that  it all becomes a kind of mind and soul numbing experience of ad porno-nauseum. Try ‘Slut Paradise’, ‘My Whore Wife’, ‘Sex Slut teens’,’Suck my Pink Pussy’, ‘White Sluts for Big Black Dick’, ‘Cum Swallowing’, or ‘Fuck My Pussy Hard’ for starters. Depressingly, these pages often have ‘likers’ numbering in the tens of thousands. And so it came as quite a shock, when our little page The International Lady Garden Society, (with a following of around 250 at that time), was relentlessly being reported and the Facebook censors were punishing us with ever increasingly long sits on the naughty no-facebook-for-you chair. For what kind of images you ask? For images like this one…..

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and this one……

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How to make yummy soup AND bread in UNDER 30 minutes!! (Gluten free too!!!)

I haven’t posted for a while, so I thought I would post a little recipe which I am currently tucking into. (Just don’t ask about the state of the kitchen!!!) I made it in between shifts in painting the ceiling of my room!! 

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My terrible photography!

The Soup! To make for one person (as I am all on my lonesome!)

Easy-Peasy:

1. Cut up two sweet potatoes and half an onion into small pieces.

2. Crush 2-3 cloves of garlic beneath a knife blade. (But leaving whole!)

3. Chuck them on a baking tray. Drizzle over olive oil, sprinkle over paprika and nutmeg.

4. Cook it in the oven for 20-25 minutes. (If you are cleverer than me, you would have preheated it – about 180-200!)

5. In the meantime, boil the kettle and make half a pint of stock. And turn to the easy-peasy bread recipe (below) which you will make whilst you wait!

6. After 20-25 minutes, check if the sweet potatoes are cooked. If so, remove from oven. 

7. Put it all in a blender with a little stock and whizz up. Keep feeding it stock until you reach your favoured consistency. (Mine is a proper thick winter soup!!)

8. Eat with the bread you should have made between steps 5 and 6!

Bread!

Favourite recipe because it SO EASY!!!

1. Put a little flour (gluten-free mix if needed) in a bowl.Maybe half a cup to start? You can always add more later.

2. Pour in a little natural yogurt and keep adding until it forms a stiff-ish dough and starts to lose its stickiness. 

3. If you need to, add a little flour and/or yogurt to increase quantity and/or improve consistency.

4. Grate some cheese (as much as YOU want in your bread. I myself favour a more cheesy dough. Or if you hate cheese, add cardamon seeds for an Indian twist!) 

5. Roll into a ball and squash flat (about 1.5 cm in depth)

5. Grill on each side for 4-5 minutes until golden/ dark brown. Remove from grill! You may have to make them in a couple of batches.

6. Eat with soup!

Easy as pie. Though I suggest eating the soup over two meals, as I eat a lot and I am VERY full right now and not quite finished!!

Happy Eating!!

xxxx

13 Famous Writers & Their Favourite Drinks

Well, clearly I need to drink more to write more….

Obligatory first post!!

When I was about 7, my year 2 teacher told my mother that I was ‘away with the fairies’. Her assessment of me was pretty accurate, and encompassed my experience of the world at that time and for a long time afterwards. Raised on a diet of everything from fairy stories, myths and legends to the Famous Five and Judy Blume – I devoured any book I could get my hands on: including some which were, maybe, not so suitable for a child or just plain rubbish. I am pretty sure that my escape into books have had a great deal of credit for the formation of my character.

I also think that fiction more than any other education I received encouraged me to think critically about the world – my childhood reading was the most important education I ever received because it taught me to think. So maybe it is no surprise that I studied English at university. A subject which, despite being unrelated to my future career aspirations (natural resource policy!), I will never regret taking because it taught me to take the world with a critical gaze – and I guess especially issues such as feminism and sexuality (as well as environment and development – but that is a whole other blog than this one!).

So that is why the focus of this blog is that of art and literature – because everything and anything which represents our world provides us with a platform from which to critique it.

Literature and Art is a lens from which we can experience other peoples understanding of the world. And that is integral in fighting the inequalities, as well as the very human questions, that affect us every day. Art has a great power to resist and I guess that is why I guess I called this blog ‘Fighting in Fairytales’.