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Feminism and Tea…. (Also other things)

Selling Feminism

We live in a time when everyone is urged to forge a persona fitting of societies political correctness. We are consistently surrounding ourselves with the idea of being progressive. With this craze, it isn’t surprising that “activists” have become an easy target market for the capitalist agenda.

From television programmes switching up scripts to encorporate more “progressive” themes, to magazines showcasing “POC” and the LGBTQ+ community.
It isn’t a surprise that feminism would soon be dragged into the penny-snatching hype. Demi Lovato decided to patent feminism, “I considered myself a feminist before it was cool. Now everyone is claiming it”.  Taylor Swift formed a “Girl squad” consisting of gorgeous, over the top, mostly white, superstars to attack another women over a man, and between appropriating culture and selling her friends out for a music career Beyonce has declared herself to be the face of black feminism.

But it doesn’t stop there. Emma Watson proved the perfect UN prop by carving her brand of feminism with the slogan “Men own everything else, we might as well give them feminism too”. Jennifer Lawrence packed on a few extra billions by calling out the gender wage gap in the…acting industry. Jaden Smith is breaking gender boundaries by, you know, stealing jobs from women in the modeling industry. Caitlyn Jenner is celebrating womenhood by making tons of money off the media and finally Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are showing their support for women whilst simultaneously showing there support for bombing to death innocent Afghan women.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that any of these people are not feminists or that they are actively extending ideas that are harmful to gender. Sure, many of these people are feminists. However, being a feminist doesn’t give you the right to attempt to claim feminism as your own, pretend to be an expert and then proceed to profit on it. In fact, these people are pushing more and more people away from feminism because they’ve depicted it as something that is exclusively set out for elitists. An elitist movement, with elitist objectives.

It would seem many of these people are missing the point of feminism. However, they all have something in common: the drive to make money. By selling, quite literally, a brand of feminism that is inconsistent with the goals of feminism.

Many young people have united around the idea of creating an equal society and this is a positive step forward. However, it’s sad that this drive is being wasted on these illusions of help. Listening to a song by a “feminist” artist or watching a movie with “feminist themes” isn’t helping anybody, isn’t making any change, isn’t being progressive at all. While millions of people battle issues regarding gender all across the globe, new age feminists are indulging in a fantasy of heroism.

 
It isn’t surprising though, considering capitalism can never and has never helped the position of women. A society that profits off the suffering of women is never going to magically transform into a society that benefits women regardless of how much we want it to. Feminism can never work in a society that puts a price tag on it. Feminism is not welcome in a capitalist setting because the core of feminism rejects the comodification of suffering for the sake of suffering.
If we are to move forward, radical change needs to happen in what surrounds our understanding of activism and what shapes our ability to retain an idea of reality within our world of activism.

Simply put we need, now more than ever, to reclaim Feminism.

Dress Code (Poem)

Boys
Shoes
black.
Socks
grey.
Pants
grey.
Shirt
white.
Ears
No piercings.
Hair
above the collar.
Mouth
Speak.
Mind
Creative
Intelligent
Manners
Diligence
Hard work.

Girls-
Shoes
black
laces tied
shined.
Socks
white
pulled up
cuffed at the ankle.
legs
shaven/waxed.
Skirt
grey
too short…too long
three fingers above the knee.
Shirt
white
Ironed
tucked in
buttoned… all the way.
Bra
white
invisible.
Finger Nails
no nail polish
no buffing
short
clean.
Fingers
no rings.
Chest
covered.
Neck
no necklace.
Hair
tied back
no dye
no braids
no extensions
neat.
hair accessories…blue… minimal.
Eyes
no eyeliner
no mascara
no eye shadow.
Ears
no earrings.
Nose
no nosering
Skin
No make up.
Mouth
smile.
Mind
creative
Whore
intelligent
Whore
curious
Loose
Tired
Slut
Tired
Slut
Tired
Slut
Slut
Slut

Busting the hymen myth!

 

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Even in an age of medical discovery, the hymen myth lingers like peanut butter to jam, in every aspect of our lives. From classrooms, to TV and even in general conversation there is no escaping it.

Many people believe the hymen to be a thin piece of skin hidden finger deep inside the vagina. The myth further alludes that this skin covers the vaginal entrance and tears, or breaks when penetrated during sexual intercourse. In many cultures and religions, the hymen is seen to symbolise virginity. Someone who has an intact hymen is seen as pure whilst someone whose hymen cannot be felt or found would be viewed as impure.

However, a quick look at the female anatomy would tell you that this archaic perception of the hymen is almost as ridiculous as believing the world to be flat and should probably have been left back in the age of the dinosaurs.

So, what is the hymen?

The hymen is a membrane which partially covers the vagina. It is circular or oval in shape hugging the vaginal walls. However, contrary to popular belief, the hymen contains a hole in its center. The size of this hole varies depending on the size of the vagina and the type of menstruation flow. This membrane is intact but alowly deteriotes into adolsense.

hymen-types

Does it cover the entrance of the vagina?

No. The hymen does not completely cover off the entrance of the vagina. A hole is required in order for period blood, etc. to pass out of.

Does the hymen break during intercourse?

The hymen does not break during sexual activity, as that would be extremely painful and would require medical attention if damaged badly.

Instead of breaking, the Hymen stretches to accommodate the penis. Although stretched the hymen does not “break”.

Terms such as “tearing”, “breaking”, “popping” are a part of a misogynistic social construct as it implies that by having sex with a female, a male can take or claim something from her. It sounds really violent and is thrown around to ensure that females stay away from claiming their right to control their sex lives consentingly.

If the hymen doesn’t break, what causes first time sex pains?

Pain is not to be normalised. Some people experience a lot of pain and sometimes bleeding during sex and others do not experience any pain and bleeding. Its important to remember that both of these experiences are natural and normal.
Pain or discomfort may be caused by a number of different aspects. For example, the rush of hormones, tighter vagina or larger penis, clenching of vaginal muscles because of nervousness, etc.

Accessive pain or bleeding, however is not normal and may be an indication of rushed or forced penetration, lack of lubrication or simply carelessness

Whats wrong with correlating the existence of a hymen with virgins?

For one, virginity does not require a hymen. Many people are born without hymans or do not have hymens as they can easily be stretched by participating in activities such as dancing, horse riding and gymnastics or by the insertion of an object such as a tampon.

Therefore a persons hymen may not be easily located even though they have not engaged in sexual activity.

 

Another thing to remember is that a person should never be dehumanised or seen as impure because they are not a virgin as sexual relations are personal choices. Nobody is ever obliged to disclose sexual history to any person other than a medical professional or when under oath in a court of law.

Does this mean that ‘virginity testing’ is pointless?

“Virginity testing” is an age old practice that does not belong in modern medical practice. At most a “virginity test” can prove that a person’s hymen is traceable.

Often, in sexist and uneven legal systems, virginity testing is wrongfully used against women in court or to withhold certain privileges from an individual and therefore does more harm than good.

But that’s for another blog post…

Hijab, Niqab, Burka, Veil and all the other dirty words..

Fault in our community? White feminism?
Who knows, but what ever it is,  it’s clear to see that society continues to be obsessed with the female body. It doesn’t really matter that the coin has been flipped.

There is little place for the Muslim women in any community.

Within the restraints of predominantly Muslim countries women are forced into religious dress codes and this form of oppression has become the face of women abuse and even misogyny. Although forcing a women into clothing is deplorable,  many fail to realise that forcing her out of clothing is just as bad.

When a muslim women enters a western society, she is forced out of the burka and many main stream feminists seem to forget that once again this. is. Misogynistic.

It isn’t about whether the Muslim women is covered or not. Liberation should be about granting her the choice to make decisions regarding what she wants to wear. Liberation should be about treating her like you would treat any capable human being.

Misogyny and sexism in the muslim world is complex as it questions the status of women even in modern societies.

Objectification begins where a person assumes an authoritative position over another person, treating him or her as an owned commodity. It isn’t “liberating” to drag a women away from her culture,  religion and community.  Instead it is humiliating and belittling.

The idea that the muslim woman could be liberated by being unveiled is an ignorant and colonialist way of thinking and a misinterpretation of hijab & niqab and it’s significance in Islam.

In Capitalism: A Ghost Story, Arundhati Roy writes about the illogical western narrative of Muslim women.  She states:

“When, as happened recently in France, an attempt is made to coerce women out of the burka rather than creating a situation in which a woman can choose what she wishes to do, it’s not about liberating her but about unclothing her. It becomes an act of humiliation and cultural imperialism. Coercing a woman out of her burka is as bad as coercing her into one. It’s not about the burka. It’s about the coercion.”

Its quickly becoming apparent, however that this interpretation of the muslim woman as props or a metaphor does not end at the borders of European countries.

Years ago, the Iranian Pahlavi regime shocked the Muslim world when it attempted to use the law to force women out of traditional and religious clothing.

Today, more and more men are attempting a civilising mission at the expense of women’s bodies.
The idea is that, to take away the hijab would mean to eradicate the underlying gender issues in society.

In 2013 Boushra Almutawake, a Yemeni photographer, received a wave of anger from both the conservative and non-conservative Muslim communities. This came after an exhibition of Boushra’s in which she questioned gender roles and the absurdity of certain elements of niqab and hijab.

bushra
Boushra’s hijab series features herself and her daughter.

Since Boushra is a practicing hijab wearing Muslim women, we are forced to ask why many Muslim men believed that their opinions were worth more than her opinions on a topic that would only impact on her life.

The answers are not easily found but the roots lay deep in the culture of a mother-theresa like era, in which men of colour where treated like dogs and women like dolls.

The silent good muslim women has become a comfortable spot for both nagging westerners and controlling easterners to force the hijab wearer into.

In my opinion society should be less bothered with what muslim women are wearing and more involved in granting muslim women, like Boushra, a platform to express themselves and discuss issues effecting them instead of trying to clothe or unclothe women like two monsters playing with their food thinking they’re doing it a favor.

Pro-life feminist?

unnamed (1).gifOn one of those more dreary days, I stumbled across a girl who was oh so eager to tell me all about her feminist-ing adventures.  She told me how she liked “second waves”, how she supported women of colour “sometimes” and how she celebrated suffrage once each year. In the few breathes I managed to cooe anything more than an “aha”, I mentioned that I support Islamic Feminism to which she retorted “well I’m a Christian feminist”. Uhm.

Later she told me how she supported LGBTQA+ so long as they didn’t enter her family and that abortion, she believed; “kills female babies”,so shes pro-life.

Laughable innit.

My first and most obvious thought was that she’s a poser and that it’s people like this that give feminism a bad name.  But would that be fair? Sure many prominent feminists believe that abortion is a controversial topic and that people of all religions should be encouraged to be feminists on top of them being crazy and deluded. However,  I’m just not buying into the whole pro-life feminist thing.

Which got me thinking…
Do you have to be pro-choice to be a feminist?

Religion aside, abortion is the termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks.

Whilst Pro-Choice is the advocacy of the legal right of a woman to choose whether or not she will have an abortion.

Therefore being pro-choice does not necessarily mean pro-abortion. For example, a very religious person could be opposed to the termination of unwanted pregnancies and still be pro choice because they acknowledge that it isn’t there decision.

So maybe the problem is in the definitions of these words and how people interpret them. Often the words pro-life and pro-choice are seen as a binary of opposing views, when actually the lines are blurred and far more complex than that.

A large chunk of being a feminist is in fighting the obvious objectification, mainly of women, but across genders of people.  It’s about setting the belief that people should be treated equally as responsible and capable of taking care of their own bodies.

If there are laws which govern a women’s body, or the body of any person on the basis of their sex, that would inevitably go against feminism.

So I guess for me the idea of a pro-life feminist has been long buried.

Not so Free Speech

The concept of “Free Speech” can never and will never be able to exist within the constraints of a capitalist society.
As a result of an unequal power structure, certain opinions become normalised even if they do not match that of the majority.
Offensive and often critical thoughts and opinions are passed off as free speech because it’s only restraint is Hate Speech.
Hate Speech is in itself problematic, purely for the fact that it is a legal term with a legal purpose.
If the society is unequal the power structure will inevitably lean towards those with authority within that society and the law would therefore favor those in the higher social classes.
Free Speech is therefore a means of creating protection for the higher social classes to exploit the lower via the romanticism and glorification of discrimination.
This means that racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and misappropriating speech can be used by those with power to override and silence those in the lower social classes.
As a member of the media, I understand and sympathise with those whom bare the burn of restrictive media laws and legal systems in their countries.
I also understand that millions go without a voice in our “democratic” and “liberal” society, even with a number of laws protecting press freedom and that this very restriction is fueled by the Free Speech.
The question has to be asked: If we are to call ourselves free in terms of what we are allowed to say and which opinions are amplified, than why is it that Freedom of Speech only seems to apply to those bourgeoise media outlets and high ranking individuals in out communities?
We have been woven into the tendency to believe a concept simply explained as ” the bigger a person’s bank balance, the bigger their brain”, therefore granting them a free pass to a big voice.

After strolling across Carrot *Ahem* Gareth Cliff’s temper tantrum on twitter the other day,  I’ve come to realise the extent to which the Freedom of Speech pass has been stretched for certain individuals is beyond ridiculous. So we’ve heard the opinion of the upper-class white aunty, why is Cliff silent on the Free Speech denied to the beach goers or those opposing Penny Sparrows blatant idiocy?
Why did the concept of free speech only occur to Cliff when it was time to support the opinion of an elitist.
The same question could be posed with regard to those protecting Donald Trump and his “Freedom of Speech” and why few are willing to go out of their way to protect the right to free speech for Black Lives Matter activists.
Why are people so quick to call the joke that is Meninism “Freedom of Speech”, then turn around and label Feminism “Man hating”.

Although free speech is a lovely idea it runs havoc is our current political setting and although I am first to oppose the limitation of voicing opinions through laws such as those that we see in fascist Saudi Arabia, I will also be first in opposing those who throw the term “Free Speech” around to uphold their own dominance within this death penalty we call capitalism

The “Shame ” in Skinny Shaming

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From “Real women have curves” to Meghan Trainor’s pompous MyMommaToldMeSo reasoning, skinny- shaming other wise known as thin-shaming has been around for years with little to no concern being pumped into this little mess of a tart by mainstream feminism.
The daunting term now hangs over us like a pimple slap bang on the most noticeable part of your face the morning of your wedding .

So what is skinny-shaming really? Well, skinny shaming is ultimately body shaming. Just like fat shaming, skinny shaming is a means of guilting women (and men) into feeling insecure or unhappy about their bodies. The tricky part is when looking at the source of it all. While fat-shaming has existed for various reasons, skinny shaming was birthed and feeds off attempts to eradicate fat-shaming. When people think of body image issues they often picture someone being criticized for being overweight and so we’ve subconsciously created a society cushioned against any form of negative attitude towards heavier people. Although this is inherently good –willed and perfectly plausible, we have both neglected and abused the other end of the spectrum.

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All types of body shaming are equal in that they are encouraged and enforced by the media. We know that fat-shaming takes its turn in most main-stream media outlets; in fashion magazines, T.V shows, movies, even the porn industry has picked up on shaming people who are bigger. However, it’s the sad, unfortunate and unforgivable truth that it is the common campaigns and awareness methods to oppose body shaming that make up most of the breeding ground for skinny-shaming. This means it’s built up with stereotypes and fictitious scenarios that maintain the idea that being thin or skinny naturally is impossible and that to be skinny means to be “fake” or “plastic”.

aiqErup
This is of course grotesquely unfair. As a skinny sister myself I’ve found that the consistent mockery and prejudice around thinner people seems completely unseen by those claiming to be “activists” against weight criticism. Think about it this way, it would be incredibly rude to approach a heavier girl and tell her to “lose some weight”, so than why is it okay to approach a thin person and immediately retort to “my gosh you’re thin. What are you eating? Bird-food? You need to get some meat on those bones”.
The idea though, is that illness is a real thing which can lead to all sorts of weight issues in both directions. Eating disorders are the most easily criticized in our communities because of a lack of true information. People often disregard mental illness as not being real enough to pass as serious. This is of course completely ignorant. Stereotypes are something often used when referring to a person with an eating disorder. The idea that “skinny women starve themselves” or “skinny women force themselves to throw up everything they eat” or that “skinny women constantly diet” is an unbelievably insensitive thing to say about someone who may be battling a mental illness. It’s even more ridiculously inconsiderate when referring to women who are actually battling chronic illnesses such as cancer and therefore suffer weight-loss.
So hopefully by now we are all holding hands around the bonfire, agreeing in unison that all types of body shaming are wrong and need to end and that shaming one type of body does not make another type seem any better.
Let’s consider what I like to refer to as positive-weight-being-awarenessy-thingy.

Weight can be divided into two groups, namely “healthy” and “unhealthy”. Healthy weight can be big or little. Some people are naturally skinny or naturally big. It has nothing to do with unhealthy eating habits and it sure as hell has nothing to do with lethargy. This “healthy zone” is determined, not by the person’s weight, but by their BMI or Body Mass Index.

Sometimes being too skinny can be harmful, like when battling an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Sometimes being overweight can be unhealthy like when battling obesity. These people however are not enemies of the ‘perfect weight’ concept. Being proud of your body regardless of anything is super necessary. However, romanticizing and sexualizing unhealthy weight is a total no-no.

Recently model Naomi Campbell came under fire when she criticized the modeling industry for using plus size model Tess Holiday as a symbol for body positivity. In her rant Campbell maintained the argument “to glorify this woman is to glorify disordered eating”, and yip, she was mostly correct.

Naomi-Campbell1
The basic concept is that if its seen as wrong to feature seriously petite women in magazines and on TV, than its just as dangerous to feature obese woman. Of course cutting models like Tess Holiday won’t solve the issue, but honestly it wouldn’t do much better to cut thin girls off too.

Every person should be satisfied with their bodies and how they look. All people deserve to be body-positive regardless of weight. yellow

What youre really saying when you say: “Im not a feminist. I believe in equal rights…”

I always think its so funny when people say they’re not a feminist because they believe in equal rights.

Whilst feminism is the enhancement of both genders in the hopes of reaching an optimal social status without any form of gender based discrimination at all whatsoever.

Equal rights just means… well the same rights.

Let’s take the gender wage gap for example. In South Africa women earn 28% less than men for the same job and under the same conditions. Meaning that south African women make 72 cents for every 1 rand that a man makes.

So if we were to apply equal rights here we would say that both women and men should be earning 72 cents because that would make it equal right?

If we applied feminism we would say that both men and women deserve to earn one rand because they both worked hard for that money.

Let’s look at another example: education.

According to Worldwide Stats, In Bangladesh the male/female ratio of education is 10/6. This means that for every ten boys sent to school only six girls go.

So if we had to look at this from the equal rights angle we would say that it could be simple to just kick 4 boys out of each classroom to make the number of male and female students equal.

However, from a feminist point of view we would say that more girl children should be sent to school in order to even out the opportunities.

Let’s look at this from the male perspective. In the USA female infant genital mutilation is illegal, however male infant genital mutilation is legal and occurs frequently in the form of circumcision. This is usually seen as a religious freedom.

So if we used the equal rights platform we would say that both male and female infant genital mutilation should be legal because in some religions its customary to mutilate female genitals.

However, from a feminist perspective we would agree that neither male nor female infant genital mutilation should be legal.

Understanding the Feminst-Hater

We all know them. The fedora wearing. The #IDontNeedFeminism trending. The “Feminism is ruining the world” chanting. Today we call them (or rather they call themselves) Meninists. Using this term makes it seem like a modern concept, however feminism haters have been around since the birth if feminism.

From “Feminazi” to “Man hater”, feminists have always been in the dark corner of the politics room. Regardless of how many people begin to accept feminism as a positive movement and step forward, there will always be a handful of people who are not having a piece of the pie.

Soooo I have compiled a list of the main reasons behind all this hatin’.

1) The person doesn’t like feminism because they think that it relates to blasphemy or goes against their cultural or religious belief system. This concept is problematic because feminism does not have a race or religion or culture. There are tons of feminist movements that work between the cracks of mainstream feminism. For example; Black feminism which focuses on issues faced by women of colour all around the world, Islamic feminism which lends its aims at empowering women through Quranic verses and hadith, etc.

2) The person feels threatened by feminism. This one is a bit trickier because most people don’t realise when they’re doing it. Often. You hear someone say something like “I don’t like feminism because it’s man-hating” or “I don’t like feminism because I swear I’m not oppressed”.

This usually just boils down to privilege. If a person is in a position of privilege within society they are more likely to oppose anybody who tries to change the way it functions.

Feminism by definition is the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. That means that any discourse which may paint feminism as something which has the potential to create inequality is a paranoid way of thinking as feminism has nothing to do with raising any gender above any other gender.

Feminism is also not just about you and your life and your situation. Feminism is a political movement shared by thousands of people across borders.

3) A person feels as if feminism is unnecessary. This lends from the idea of the “masses”. Illiterate yet highly educated elite people who belong to the “TV nation”. Its human nature to trust only what you see in front of you. So if I tell someone that women only own 1% of the earths land, they are likely to subconsciously or consciously counter this with “but my sister/mom/aunt owns a house”. If something is apparent in a persons everyday life they are likely to believe and accept that delusion over facts and figures. This is how it works; gender inequality does not impact on your immediate environment but it does impact on someone else’s, because you cannot see that persons situation, you assume that it isn’t real.

Another problematic issue with the idea of feminism being unnecessary is the assumption that things are perfectly good and fine or that things will naturally fix themselves.  The fact is that inequality still exists in every country in the world. Things will not just magically get better, it needs to be broken down and remoulded.

4) Finally, the person does not like feminism because they feel as if it is far too extreme or overwhelming. This is something I have never quite grasped the logic behind, however it is very common. We all know them, the “lipstick feminism takes it too far”ers and the “Those damn femanazi’s” typa people.

The issue with this way of thinking is that feminism is not some kind of organisation that you can get a membership card for. Its a movement with just one rule “equality”. The logic here is that if your beliefs constitute gender equality that means that it is feminism.

5) The “Fem” in “Feminism” gets unde their skin. It’s a centuries old fact about human nature. Words scare people. In fact, words scare people so much Anton LeVey named his philosophy “Satanism” just to scare off weak people.

The problem I have with people who are spooked by the “fem” is that whilst criticising this they accept things like the “man” in mankind. Nobody has ever doubted that women are a part of mankind regardless of it being called mankind. So why then do people doubt that men are involved in feminism?  That discrimination is in its self sexism.

So there you have it… A complete guide to understanding the mind of a feminist hater.

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