gender

I’m tired of fighting.

I’m a 20-year-old woman in her final semester of university, and in my spare time I write and edit for this website that I started almost a year ago. I haven’t posted much recently for two reasons: firstly, I’ve been working on a dissertation among a few other deadlines at university, and secondly, I’m exhausted.

My friends all like to wind me up for being a feminist. They like to tell me about stupid things people have said who claim to be feminist but aren’t (if you hate men, you’re not a feminist, so if you would kindly stop dragging the rest of us down, I’d be grateful). I have colleagues too, everyone enjoys telling me about stupid things ‘feminists’ have done, or how they enjoy taking them down online. Obviously, for them, it’s very funny, but for me, it’s wearing. I always clarify what feminism is and why I believe in it, but it doesn’t stop it. 

“Power to the Girls”

When I see girls, particularly younger girls and teens wearing t-shirts that say anything feminist, I smile. I’m so glad that the work of previous generations won’t end, and I’m hopeful that the future will be better. But I’m also not an idiot. I know full well that some minds won’t be changed. I know that Trump isn’t going to come out tomorrow and say ‘Gee those feminists are on to something’, nor are the Daily Mail going to cover female politicians saying ‘aren’t these women smart and powerful’ instead of talking about their legs (don’t get me started).

I know we aren’t equal. We don’t think equal. And I can’t help but agree with Emma Watson in thinking that we won’t be equal. I don’t see equality in my lifetime. I’d love to, but if it took a woman getting crushed by a horse to get us the bloody vote, I dare not ask what it would take to get where we want to be. 

I’m a feminist. I don’t really care about my personal equal pay because I’m paid the same as my male colleagues, but I care about the statistics suggesting black women lose out on almost 40% of white men’s wages1234. It’s not about me, but I still care about it. I raise an issue with men’s pressure to be manly and unemotional as it leads to dangerous numbers of suicides and mental health issues. I struggle with the international treatment of women such as FGM, truancy because of periods, rape, child marriage, and so on. It’s not something I will experience in this country, so should I just turn a blind eye? No, because I’m not an arsehole. This is deathly important and we’re all just making out like it’s not our problem.

The skirt in question…

I face issues in this country that anger me on a daily basis. It was the hottest weekend of the year so far recently so naturally, I wore a skirt, but with trainers and a long sleeve top. That didn’t matter though, legs were visible, so three different men in cars slowed to shout things or whistle. You can bet that made me feel horrible. I wanted to put my jeans back on and suffer in the heat because I felt so uncomfortable that 3 different cars of men felt perfectly comfortable to make comments on my appearance and sexualise me. It’s absolutely disgusting. It is not a compliment to make someone feel unsafe. I don’t need to excuse myself, that is not a compliment.  

I’m really sick of being called girly for liking pink, watching a lot of Julia Roberts films, and shopping excessively. These things make me happy (plus I walk double my normal steps a day when I shop so at least I’m exercising), but it’s stupid because I’m a girl and girls are stupid. I’m just so fed up. I could honestly just curse for hours and throw things because I’m so damn sick of all of it.

Why should I get stressed out because I care about something that is inherently right? It is moral, and just. It is not that we are asking a lot, we are asking for life as it should be. I should not be less than a man, nor treated less than, because I am not less than a man. I am equal. I am equal to a man. 

The necklace I now wear on a daily basis

I’m so tired of doing this. Sometimes I don’t want to do it anymore. Sometimes I think, like right now, that I don’t want to be a feminist anymore because it’s so much hard work and no one cares in the slightest what I think. I feel as though I’m wasting my time, and annoying my friends. It’s ridiculous. I shouldn’t have to fight in the first place, let alone be questioned for doing the right thing. I know I’ll post this and someone will either question a point I have made, or people will continue to joke about being a woman or a feminist and how I am lesser.

As someone who struggles to keep her head up a great deal of the time, I don’t really need the extra negative emotion that comes with pushing the way I do. I’m constantly down, or humiliated, or angered, or panicked, or uncomfortable and I could cry just thinking about how bad I am made to feel. I just want it to stop.

I’m doing the right thing. So either join me or leave me alone because I can’t leave this fight. I made a commitment, I started a platform to help, and I can’t quit. It’s so exhausting and even if I don’t want to do it anymore, I have to. If you have no support to offer, I’d kindly ask you to leave off, and save everyone the unnecessary negative emotion; there’s enough going around as it is. 

The Guardian: ‘Gender wage gap costs minority women more than $1m in some states
2 National Women’s Law Centre: ‘The Lifetime Wage Gap by State for Black Women
Bustle: ‘8 Startling Statistics That Show How The Pay Gap Affects Women Of Color Differently
4 American Association of University Women: ‘The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap

Words and images by Briony Brake

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Stop Picking on Feminists

I will fight you. Of course I won’t fight you. I only yell at people over feminism if they’ve just felt entitled enough to grope me on a night out. Aside from that you’re pretty safe. I don’t fight with people over feminism firstly because I know there’s no point. I don’t believe in changing people to suit your needs, I believe in finding and loving the people who do share your thinking and beliefs. Some people won’t have their minds changed. Instead of yelling at them, try having an intellectual conversation; try understanding why they think the way they do. The second reason I don’t argue about feminism (at least not seriously) is because I know about the pedestal.

Image from Buzzfeed

In a great book called Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay talks very early on about celebrities, authors and women of note who claim to be a feminist, just moments before they are attacked for doing things wrong, or at least not right, and get pushed off again. I won’t lie, I know people who say they are or aren’t feminists because of things that simply aren’t true, but there is absolutely no-one with the right to say ‘no, you’re not a feminist like I am, so I’m not interested’.

So this pedestal affects us too. I’m not famous, but I still tell people I am a feminist (in case founding a feminist blog wasn’t clear enough). A lot of people I know have met that ‘coming out’ with complete, unshielded disgust in the past. Most of the time that happens, it’s because people have a funny, old-fashioned ‘feminists are hard-core dykes and man-haters’ vibe, which is obviously just complete shit. I mean, grow up.

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Image from Tumblr/goldenpoc

When I tell people I’m a feminist, I am ready and happy to discuss why I identify as such, or what it means to me. When I say I am a feminist, I’m not exclusively saying I believe in women’s rights. When I say I’m a feminist, I’m not saying I fight for everyone’s rights because I don’t, because I’m a white woman and have no right to butt in and start claiming I know what it’s like to be something else. I’m pretty sure I’ve got this right, but feel free to stop me. When I say I am a feminist, I mean that I don’t like people being discriminated against simply and purely because of the gender they identify as.

The fact that the leading cause of death for men my age is suicide has become something I’m deeply interested in, and want to change. The reason it exists is because we live in a society that perpetuates the idea – the myth – that men should not be emotional, should not talk. In reality, men should talk or cry if they want, it should have nothing to do with their gender. This goes right along with women’s positions at work, and in power, and their disadvantages, because throughout history (think suffragettes, then think a few thousand years before that) women were painted as insufficiently educated to make decisions, be in control, and even sometimes just too darn frail to lift a box (or run for president with pneumonia, am I right?).

Image from Bustle

Image from Bustle

I get a lot of friends making jokes because they like to tease, and to be honest I’m used to it, and it’s fine. Generally, if someone tells me they think women belong in the kitchen, I know they are not in earnest.

I know not to shout and yell because people want that. They want the crazy, irrational woman shouting about how hard her life is, how hard she has it. Yet stop being a dick for a minute, and consider that I’m not fighting for me. Sure I don’t want to get paid less because I’m a woman, but I’d like to think I could protect myself. There’s always a bit of an ‘it’s not happening to me so it’s not real’ thing going around with issues like feminism. This is actually where feminism is most important.

Feminism is about making sure people don’t lose out because of their gender, and as much as in the US and UK it can be quite balanced in men’s and women’s issues – abroad, there’s a few extremes for each case.

Image from Davina Diaries

Image from Davina Diaries

You may have just seen that Polish government tried to ban abortions. What the hell Poland? Just force women back in the early 20th century and make them have their babies and do the housework. Sure, sounds cool. You might not know however of a study highlighting how many Egyptian women had experienced sexual assault and harassment (a ridiculous 99.3%)*. Oh, or what about the 10 year old divorcee from Yemen**. You probably didn’t think you were lucky your parents didn’t marry you off aged ten, but circumstances being what they are, you are. There was also the other young girl from Yemen who died on her wedding night to a man five times her age, when intercourse caused uterine rupture***. Not to mention the fact that the number of Palestinian women dying as part of so-called ‘honour killings’, often by family members, is not going down, oh no, it’s going up. It doubled between 2013 and 2014****.

Feminism isn’t just a bit of fun; it isn’t just white privileged women getting together with wine to talk about how oppressed they feel in their BMWs and London houses. It’s actually a necessity. You may not see the point. Like it or not, though, this is the only chance we have to help these deaths, child marriages, mutilation, and assault. I mean, does that not sound serious to you?

Back in the UK, men are actually killing themselves instead of living to see another day in which they have to pretend to be something they are not. Abroad, children as young as 10, who haven’t even been through puberty or started their periods yet, are being raped and married off, and it’s all just ok? I’m sorry I can’t agree.

Gender is a social construct, not a death sentence.

Graphic from Bigger Issues

So this has all gotten kind of far away from picking on me because I’m silly enough to voice my opinions out loud, but it needed to be said.

The next stage is why you should stop bullying people who actually care about you, and are trying to improve your life. Mostly, feminists get angry around the themes of pay, health, and education. Much like most people in the world tend to care about their pay, health and education. I mean, is it really such a crime to think I shouldn’t have to pay £4 not to bleed through my £7.99 jeans? (I’m talking about pads and tampons here in case that wasn’t clear…). We shouldn’t have to be setting up charities for homeless women to have access to sanitary products for something they can’t even help. How ridiculous is it? A homeless woman bleeds for a few days a month, and if she can’t afford pads or tampons then she has to bleed through pants and trousers that she may only have a few pairs of. Pretty poor show really.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable either to want to be paid the same as anyone, male or female, doing the same job as me. Men don’t get paid less because they have a penis, so why should women get paid less because they have a vagina. Sure this is less of an issue now in the UK but it still stands in some places (also ridiculous).

I also don’t think I should have to say any of this. It should just be fine that some people are born one way, and some another. Big whoop. I don’t want to be sat here defending myself for not wanting to be disadvantaged; for wanting basic human rights. I don’t want people to make jokes about how I should be in the kitchen, or how I must be a lesbian, or ugly, or lonely and deformed, or something else. It’s not even original humour for goodness sake.

I just want to be able to wake up and not hear about the stories that I’ve been telling you. I want to be able to wake up to news that, actually there is no news about Trump and Hilary because for once, Trump didn’t say something outrageously disgusting and degrading towards women, and that somehow people are finally moving past the fact that a woman (shock horror) is running for president. If someone that awful is allowed to run for president and get this close, with people thinking he is still a better option than a woman, there’s a problem.

Quote from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie/Image from For Harriet

Quote from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie/Image from For Harriet

Gender is an issue. Don’t lie, don’t brush it under the carpet with all the women trying to voice their opinions on Twitter like men can. Don’t brush aside domestic abuse for both men and women, genital mutilation, pay gaps, glass ceilings. Don’t just forget about it. It matters. It matters for everyone. Joking around and picking on men and women trying to focus it and fix it, is real mature. For real, stop picking on people you know nothing about.

So stop picking on me because I tell the truth about what I believe in, and bully me for fairer things (short arms and snort laugh included), or at least use original humour.

 

Words by Briony Brake

Statistics:

*  Egyptian Sexual Assault
** Yemen Child Divorcee
*** Yemen Child Died on Wedding Night
**** Honour Killings of Palestinian Women

 

Angry

I’m writing this piece because I’m angry. I’m so angry and tired and sad, and I don’t know what to do about it.

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I’m angry that my university decided to raise their fees, because a rule changed, so they could. Because they love to paint themselves as a liberal arts university, and boast the artists who come from the environment they create, but don’t love those artists enough to allow their next generation to flourish. Because the government want to perpetuate an elitist university output.

I’m angry that women in Poland had to protest so hard to maintain control over their own fucking bodies. That women in places like Ireland have to travel to other countries on their own, for a procedure. That in this day and this age, we still have to shout, not even ask, for control. Other people have more right and dominion over what they do not own, than we do.

I’m angry that women are still being determined by their appearance. That the Girlguiding association ran a survey and found that a third of girls between 7 and 10 had been made to think by people that their appearance was the most important thing about them. Because they’re made to feel that whatever goes on in their head just doesn’t matter.

I’m angry that clothes for young children are so gendered that we present women as princesses or socialites, and dress them solely in pink, whilst boys clothes are covered in slogans that encourage them to be troublemakers and messy.

I’m angry that Kim Kardashian was attacked, and because she’s a woman who makes money from her appearance, people reacted with scorn, and cynicism. Whatever you might think about Kim Kardashian as a pop culture figure, she is a human being, and to blame her is abhorrent.

I’m angry that Brock Turner was in jail for half of his six-month sentence, and that the media portrayed him as the victim, whose swimming career was ruined.

I’m angry that Theresa May wants to chuck out foreign doctors, but only once we’ve found English replacements. I’m angry that these people who have made homes and careers, and worked hard as doctors and nurses and in the NHS, to look after everyone without discrimination, are being made to feel unwanted by the Tory government.

I’m angry that Donald Trump can do whatever he likes and people will still vote for him. And I’m angry that because Hilary Clinton is a woman, he can continue to do whatever he likes, and will still seem like a better choice to people who have a problem with that.

I’m angry that police in America can shoot and kill black people, and get away with it.

I’m angry that I still get men mansplaining. I’m angry that when they ask a question, they ask the other men, not me.

I’m angry that I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know how we can keep fighting, and shouting, and making a mess, before it stops making a difference. How long can you keep protesting before it’s not a protest anymore? It’s important to talk about these things, but I’ve had enough of blog posts, they don’t make a difference. I want to shout and scream and rage, and make people understand that it’s not okay. But I don’t know how.

I don’t know what we can do. And that makes me the angriest of all.

 

 

Words by Sian Brett.
Images courtesy of Eva Crossan Jory, The Independent, The Daily Beast and The Guardian.

 

Why You Should Listen to Hinds

July 2016: a month of dancing, sun burning, friendship, disposable cameras, DIY punch, and gross toilets. Yep, it’s festival season and I decided to ditch England and travel to Spain for BBK and Benicàssim Festival. Although I could babble on about how wonderful it was to watch Kendrick Lemar, Grimes, Tame Impala, Mac Demarco, and so on, there was one band that really made an impact on me this summer, and their name is Hinds.

hinds

It’s not a secret that the music industry is a boiling mess when it comes to female liberation. I’m sure we can all agree that music is an expression; we love it, we dance to it, and most importantly we relate to it. Relating to music isn’t just about the overall topic of a song, it’s also who is presenting this topic. I think it’s safe to say that alternative music is dominated by the white male.

at.png

Hinds are an all-female ensemble from Madrid, Spain. Let’s just say they’re probably the most inspiring and authentic young female musicians I’ve ever seen. They want to be sharing their music with us, and naturally, Hinds smash the patriarchy by doing so. Not only are Hinds hella talented, they’re also hella smart. During my Hinds research, I found that they’re often questioned about being a female ensemble; “Why only girls? Is it because you didn’t have any other choice? Or was it the only choice?”

To which band member Carlotta Cosials replied, “It was because we wanted to and it was the choice we chose. We thought that it would be so different If the rest of the band would be boys, people would probably think that we’re just the faces.”

Hinds knew that including men in their ensemble would distort the way they are viewed as female composers. Although some of us don’t give a fuck about gender, and enjoy art for what it is, there are still many who will assume the worst because they are female. The same interviewer later questioned if they made music with a feminist motive, to which Hinds replied “We are females writing music so you can’t avoid that.” Which is pretty self-explanatory, but the interviewer acted as if Hinds were the only female musicians making their music automatically controversial, and more likely to be disliked because they have vaginas.

If you haven’t already fallen in love with Hinds, I’ll give you another reason to follow them on Spotify. Hinds refuse to be anything else other than themselves. Hinds are smart enough to reject the music industry’s misogynistic expectations, they’re not here to change the world, they’re here to be artists.

“I felt perfect in the world being a girl and suddenly in music you’re judged about everything you do, how you sing, how you pose, how you dress, how you write, everything.” Carlotta Cosials also brings up that there are a lot more women in popular music than alternative. If popular music is your cuppa-tea you know that only one type of woman is being represented, the idealistic woman. With alternative music being loud, dirty, and expressive, it’s encouraged to be loud, dirty, and expressive, but when you have a pussy, all of a sudden your behaviour is questioned.

Now before you go off to listen to Hinds on Spotify, I want you to do a small task for yourself. Go to your iTunes/Spotify artists section, and note down which bands/artists are female. Once you’ve done that you can share your results wherever, or just use them as a stimulation to listen to more female artists!

Here’s a cute photo of Team Poo Boy meeting Hinds at Benicàssim.

booooo

Peace, Love, and Cacti
Courtney McMahon

 

Not For Girls: Why Gendered Marketing Is Ridiculous

I was eating poached eggs and watching Sunday brunch. I know. What am I like. In the break there was a new advert for Maltesers. I took particular notice because it had Beattie Edmondson in, who was very good in the sitcom Josh. It was quite a good advert. Well done Maltesers.

But it got me thinking – why are there always women in the Maltesers advert? Fair enough, they quite often get female comedians, who tend to look relatively like real women. But why are Maltesers synonymous with a ‘naughty’ but ‘light’ treat? Hardly any calories, dainty little chocolate to pop in to your dainty little mouth so you don’t look too greedy! But still buy our product please! It’s aimed at you after all – we’ve gone to all this effort, so you better buy our product. Whereas chocolate that’s aimed more towards men – Snickers for example – is promoted like it’s an imperative, a must have, a necessity. ‘Get some nuts’ or ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’ push absolutely no guilt whatsoever on men for eating chocolate. For them, it’s encouraged as a staple, not a naughty little treat.

It might not seem important how chocolate advertises itself. It might not seem important that food is gendered, when there’s so many other problems going on in the world. It’s how advertising works, you might say, looking at specific groups of people as a target audience, and selling to them.

But it’s just tiring. I am tired of being made to feel a certain way because I am a woman. I am tired of feeling guilty for doing things that a man is encouraged to do, of my gender seemingly dictating what I should eat, what I should drink, what I should buy.

dcoke

Diet coke is not a drink for women. It is a carbonated cola drink. It is genderless. (Secret I got told by Briony – while coke zero and diet coke are both caffeine and sugar free, they are marketed and packaged differently because apparently men wouldn’t buy diet coke.)

Women can eat Yorkie bars. Women can do whatever they choose, thank you very fucking much.

Yoghurt is not a female food. It is not a male food. Food doesn’t have a gender so help me god. why would it even be a female food? Because it’s… runny? Pink when it’s strawberry flavoured? Has the whole world gone mad and I am the only one who has noticed?

While we’re on the topic of packaging and marketing dear friends, let’s discuss the fact that female razors are more expensive than male razors. Women are told by society that we should be hairless. That we should literally alter the way our bodies work to conform to a societal norm. Now, if you want to shave your legs, because you prefer the way it looks and feels, then very good, absolutely fine. But you shouldn’t have to pay more than a man for that privilege.

Men also make the decision whether to shave their faces. But for some reason we’re paying more for something which is, across society and culture, impressed upon us as not our own choice, but the way it should be. Plus, making them pink is a very bizarre choice. Do you know what a razor is? It is blades. Which will cut you. Every time I shave my legs I cut them, somewhere, at least once. It does not help me that the razor is pink.

ladyrazors

On the plus side, there is hope on the horizon. Bodyform’s new advert is rather wonderful. It shows women running, fighting, falling, getting back up again. They get cut, and scraped, and bruised, and all of this shows just how alive they are. Isn’t that wonderful? Bodyform make the point that blood should not stop our ability to do anything. When we’re on our periods we’re not skipping around in white jeans with perfect hair. We’re probably, like a lot of the times during the rest of the month, sweaty, trying, working, doing.

A woman’s ability is in no way impeded by her gender. We can eat Maltesers and drink beer and go nowhere near yoghurt because it is disgusting.

And none of it has to be sodding pink.

 

 

Words by Sian Brett
Images/Videos courtesy of Maltesers, Snickers, Diet Coke, Yorkie, Gillette, Bic & Bodyform