Growing old while female by @WomanasSubject

Cross-posted from: Woman as Subject
Originally published: 16.10.15

Aside from being a little bit wiser and having to admit that I have an informed opinion about washing machines, I don’t really feel much different to the 25 year old version of myself that I once was. I often think I have a bizarre mental condition where I look in the mirror and fail to see the fact that I have clearly grown older (age-o-rexia?) My mind erases the wrinkles and grey hairs, kindly photoshopping out the ageing process and helping me to pretend that the inevitable isn’t happening.  I’ll never forget my 75 year old Grandma looking me in the eye and telling me: “I don’t feel a day over 25 my dear. I often look in the mirror and wonder who on earth that old lady staring back at me can be” – a sentiment I am slowly beginning to understand.

Despite my inability to see it, I am clearly ageing however. The big 40 is looming and I can see the unwanted and mysterious figure of my future menopause waving at me from the horizon. In these times of extended adolescence, you can kid yourself that you’re still young at 30, but by the time you start to approach the next big birthday you really have to admit that you are definitely a grown up now. The fact that I am also responsible for two whole other people and seen as some kind of authority figure only adds to this ridiculous notion. Yes, I am definitely getting older.


Read more Growing old while female by @WomanasSubject

Poldark, Prostitution and Protein World

Cross-posted from: Not the news in brief
Originally published: 16.05.15

In recent weeks several public conversations and debates have taken place on subjects that primarily affect women and girls: objectification, body-shaming, the sex trade…the usual suspects. A new way of minimising the harm of these practices for women seems to have emerged, in the form of claiming they are all gender-neutral, or at least ignoring the aspect of gender, and therefore erasing the equality issue. It’s been done before of course, notably in regard to domestic violence (brilliantly dismissed as an argument by Karen Ingala Smith here), but as a way of silencing feminist debate it seems to be growing in popularity: #NotallMen is being joined by #Don’tForgetTheMen! Men who want us to recognise that they are not *all* bad also want us to believe that they share *equally* in the oppression.

First there was the Student Sex Work Project by Swansea University. This study, based on a self-selecting online questionnaire, found that there was parity between male and female students doing ‘sex work’ and that this should have implications for the services provided to offer support to these students. There was a lot wrong with this survey, primarily to do with the methods used and the stated aims – unsurprisingly it concluded that ‘stigma’ was one of the most significant downsides of the work (as opposed to, say, threat of violence), and, more surprisingly, that ‘sexual enjoyment’ was one of the motivations to go into the trade. This is much less surprising when you note that significantly more male than female students had responded to the survey with a positive response to the question of whether or not they were involved in ‘sex work’ and that the definition of ‘sex work’ included porn acting. A lack of scepticism over this blatantly unrealistic result further discredited the project findings and, bar a couple of newspaper reports, it sank without trace.
Read more Poldark, Prostitution and Protein World

Beauty by @ExiledStardust

Cross-posted from: Exiled Stardust
Originally published: 17.03.15

Objectification is depressing.  Here, have a cat pic.

Huffington Post Writer Almost Gets It, but Then Fails:

In this essay at the Huffington Post, Lori Day takes on the subject of how men don’t have to be beautiful the way women do and she nearly, nearly nails it:

“Women of all ages, races, body types, and occupations can now show society that they are equally deserving of being objectified — not just the young, thin, white hotties who typically get that special honor. Today, if you’re female, you’re never too old, too large, or too anything to be photographed or painted while naked or scantily clad, and duly lauded for your physical attributes. Hooray!”

Bonus points for the sarcasm.  The article starts out so promising, with just a minor flub here:

“It is legitimate to want to broaden our extremely narrow definitions of female beauty beyond extremely thin, extremely young, extremely white, and extremely western ideals.”

No, it’s not legitimate, because as this very article points out, all expanding the definition of beauty does is expand the range of women to be objectified and sexualized.  Maybe that’s a short-term gain for those  non-conventionally beautiful who want social approval and husbands, but it does nothing to advance the interests of women as a class.
Read more Beauty by @ExiledStardust

Objectification by @ExiledStardust

(Cross-posted from Exiled Stardust)

distressed2

Women are still effectively being punished for being female, and in so many ways. One of the most significant and far-reaching issues is the objectification of female bodies. It’s a feature of most, if not all, cultures. In the best case scenario objectification riddles us with shame, in the worst instances it brutalises us. I truly believe that no woman is free of it, we have all, at some point, felt obligated to contort our minds and bodies into society’s vision of Girl and Woman. And all the while we have to carry on with the work that’s been designated to us by a world that defines femininity in the most rigid of ways.

Read the rest of this blog post at Redefining My Reality here.

I was reading an article about how some women artists redesigned female comic book/video game characters to look less objectified and sexualized.  The art was great.  The text was so wishy-washy about feminism, so nearly apologetic, so bending over backwards to reassure pissy, entitled males that no, no one is trying to take away their sexxxy laydeez and that women like to be sexxxy laydeez sometimes because it empowerfulizes them and that this redesign in no way means to challenge that.  It was sad.

No woman should ever apologize for being a feminist.  If men can’t take it, let them go fuck themselves.

No man who is a halfway decent human being would be threatened by feminism, because halfway decent human beings know they’re living in a viciously unfair world and don’t object to efforts made to level the playing field.  Unfortunately, the conditioning process men go through to become men often renders them less than halfway decent human beings.  Nevertheless there are those who resist this conditioning and do get what feminism is about.  You won’t find them whining in the comments section of feminist blogs.

 

Exiled Stardust: I make art that doesn’t objectify women, and write about women artists. Sometimes I write about feminism. [@ExiledStardust]

Cat calling & Street Harassment- Your ego is far less important than the safety of an individual by @feministvibes

(Cross-posted from Is My Gender Showing?)

The last few days we’ve all seen so many people telling women what our response should be to cat calling (what I like to call street harassment.)

Some of it’s been good, some of it not so good and some of it right down damaging.
It’s apparently become a given that women only leave the house for comments, invitations and criticism from men. Because, you know- she clearly isn’t going out because she has somewhere to be.

Firstly, a stranger announcing to a whole street full of people that he would like to fuck you isn’t a compliment. Not only is it the plain and simple objectification of an individual (You’d like to take me home? Is that because of my personality? Oh, I forgot you don’t know me- it’s because you think I put make-up on this morning just for you) but they have no idea if you want these comments or you don’t, and unwanted sexual comments? That’s harassment.

People say

– ‘You’re misconstruing it, it’s a compliment’

A compliment is currently defined as ‘a polite expression of praise or admiration.’ not ‘Hollering at a woman in a public space about how nice her tits are’

-‘I’m a good guy, it’s respectful to reply when someone pays you a comment’

If you’re such a good guy then understand that your ego is far less important than the safety of an individual. No-one should make a woman feel like she has an obligation to respond to him, especially when it could easily be at the expense of her own safety.

-‘I have trouble meeting women’

Maybe that’s because you’re the kind of man who shouts shit at them in the street?

-‘I want her to know she’s pretty’

Maybe she already knows, maybe she doesn’t care what you think anyway.

-‘I’m a woman, I don’t want to appear rude’

I’m going to be hella childish here, but they started it by being rude the second they decided to objectify you in the street.

-‘What if he’s nice?’

You want a relationship with a guy that publicly shouts sexual comments at women he finds attractive? Maybe I’m being old fashioned, but that doesn’t sound like a good relationship to me.

“Hey Mum, meet my new boyfriend- I met him when I was walking down the street and he yelled ‘Hey baby, come here- I’ve got something for ya” Nice.
-‘I don’t want to look like a man hater, so I’m going to respond to cat calling and encourage people to do the same’

It’s bad enough risking your own safety, but do you really have to encourage young women to do the same thing? Don’t risk the safety of young women because you think someone might brand you a ‘man hater’

Again, your ego is far less important than the safety of an individual.

Recently I ignored a cat call from a group of men while sitting along at a bus stop- the guy responded by punching the bus stop wall about an inch away from my face. Strangely enough that didn’t make me feel pretty, it didn’t flatter me, it just pissed me off and scared me.
We’ve all seen news reports about girls and women who are attacked and worse because they ignored cat calls, because they responded to them or because they dared to say ‘I am a person, not something here for your amusement- don’t objectify me and don’t harass me”

With soft porn in our newspapers (because if a guy can’t see boobs when he’s catching up on the daily news then what is the point of even reading it?) and the way that the media represents women in general it isn’t difficult to see why so many men think that we just love to be reduced to nothing more than sexual objects, but honestly? That’s not what we want. At all.

Cat-calling isn’t a compliment, it’s about ownership and control, the simple fact is that at least once in her life a woman is going to be made to feel frightened, uncomfortable and vulnerable because of a guy who just can’t keep his thoughts to himself.

Is My Gender Showing?: I’m an animal, people and tree hugging ecofeminist. Sporadic fiction writer and freelance journalist with a new blog, Is My Gender Showing? about all areas of feminism with a focus on objectification, gender roles and mental health. I also from time to time document my adventures with No More Page 3 Leeds and Yorkshire Feminista. I can be on Twitter found at @feministvibes

I’m Tired by @RowenaMonde

(Cross-posted with permission from Les Reveries de Rowena)

Douglas Coupland art at the Vancouver Art Gallery

 

“all the women in me. are tired.” – Nayyirah Waheed

When I read the above micropoem by Nayyirah Waheed, it resonated with me greatly. I couldn’t help but write down the things I was fed up with. What resulted was a litany of the things I wish would just go away.

 

UNTITLED

I’m tired of the fetishization of the black body,
Of feeling unsafe as a woman, a black woman.

I’m tired of being told, both directly and indirectly, that my feelings don’t matter,
That I’m too sensitive.

I’m tired of reading in the news that ANOTHER innocent black person has been killed by the police,
Has been painted as a thug, a dangerous criminal due to their pigmentation,
Not given the benefit of the doubt despite overwhelming evidence in their favour,
I’m tired that four decades after Dr. King and Malcolm X gave their lives this is still going on,

I’m tired of black face, and of people trying to justify using black face,
The monkey jokes are really getting old now, can’t racists be a bit more original?
I question how others see me. Can I trust anyone? Do I have to deal with another co-worker begging me to wear my afro out for Halloween? Am I a costume?

I’m tired of having to prove my humanity, having to prove I do have feelings,
Tired of feeling helpless about all the missing Nigerian girls, the African Ebola victims who hardly get a mention in the media these days.
Race is the elephant in the room, we don’t want to admit it.
Canada isn’t ready to discuss race,
Instead we have this kumbaya attitude to everything,
Promoting our multiculturalism policy,
Comparing ourselves positively to the States, at least we’re not them, we didn’t have slavery.
Their comments make me invisible, my issues and concerns don’t matter.
Surely I have nothing to complain about in our mosaic society?

And Lord knows I’m tired of the same nasty comments every Black History Month from the people who don’t understand why there is a need for it,
No, we’re not trying to make others feel guilty, we are trying to reclaim our history and our pride.
When ancient African civilizations were accredited to mythical lost European civilizations, rather than to their rightful African owners,
When history has been whitewashed to exclude all people of colour,
Surely a month isn’t too much to celebrate our history?
A month isn’t even long enough to catalogue the great contributions people of colour have made, but it’s a start.

Sorry to tell you but you can’t use the n-word just because your partner is black,
I don’t care if you mean it in an inoffensive way, don’t use it in my presence.
And slavery is never funny, it just isn’t,
The watermelon and fried chicken jokes are getting old; who doesn’t like fried chicken or watermelon anyway?

I’m scared that one day I’ll go missing and the police won’t care,
I’m disturbed by the fact a black life is valued so low.

If people only knew what we went through, perhaps they wouldn’t be too quick to shut us down,
If they were us they’d be tired too.
They would see the need to fight for change, to push for dialogue, something!
They would find it difficult to not become jaded,
They would feel disappointed and frustrated when those in positions of privilege ignore us,
They would experience the great effort we put into exhorting ourselves, our children
In world that tells us we are ugly, worthless and are criminals
A world in which a few black people standing together constitutes a mob,
A world in which the worst linguistic contortions are made to depict blacks in the most negative light.
I’m tired of being a prop, a photo op, a representative for the entire black race,
I’m aware that I am being used and it’s not a nice feeling,
What I’d ideally like to do is hide away in my books and ignore what’s going on ,but I have to fight this.

All I know is I’m not going to stop talking about racism, sexism and other -isms until they are over and done with.
I don’t want my younger female cousins to have to deal with as much negativity as I’ve had to,
I don’t want them to suppress their feelings and thoughts to make others comfortable. Haven’t we been made to feel uncomfortable enough?
Shrinking ourselves so as not to alarm people,
Being afraid to occupy space, just in case…

I’ve now resolved to not worry about the names people may call me.
If they wish to call me strident, so be it.
Neurotic, I’m fine with that too.
There is a time in someone’s life and in history when enough is enough.
Being authentic to oneself is more important than popularity.
Fighting the status quo is more important than pretending everything is okay

Aluta continua

 

I’m a woman moulded and shaped by three continents; my life has always been about border epistemology: navigating between cultures.  My hunger for knowledge is insatiable, my dreams are big, but alas, my energy is limited. I’m a dreamer, an exhorter and  a comforter. I believe strongly in kindness, love, authenticity and in listening to the voices of marginalized people. Please expect some impassioned posts from time to time!

I’m a strong advocate of the arts, especially literature and music.  A better world would be one with more art, more people writing and creating. Africa will always have my heart.