A feminists guide to feminism

opinion

I was watching University Challenge the other night. I occasionally watch it because 1) I genuinely find it fascinating how clever the contestants are and 2) Once in a blue moon I might know one of the answers and that makes me feel pretty good. The subject of famous feminists came up for one of the teams and non of them seemed to have a clue about any of it apart from the question about Germaine Greer. I don’t expect everyone to have extensive knowledge of feminism but I do think this pointed out that maybe it’s not a subject a lot of people (even academics) seem to have much knowledge of. Feminism is a really important movement in history, without it the world would be completely different right now. Sometimes it seems like we’ve even taken a step back.

David Cameron doesn’t seem to have a clue what the word feminism even means. Last year he was asked by Red magazine if he himself was a feminist. Cameron replied “I don’t know what I’d call myself … it’s up to others to attach labels. But I believe men and women should be treated equally.” Right. Even Wikipedia seems to have a better understanding of what feminism means. The opening line reads-

Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.[1][2] This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.”

It’s not ideal to quote Wikipedia but I’m just trying to point out it should have been a pretty straight forward answer. He later back tracked and told Channel 4 news what he should have actually said was “…if that means equal rights for women, then yes. If that is what you mean by feminist, then yes, I am a feminist.” What else would it mean? Did he think we meant something else?

“David Cameron, do you believe women are better than men?”

“David Cameron, have you ever burnt a bra before?”

Oh and by the way the Oxford Dictionary simply states feminism is – “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”

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David Cameron

It’s obvious Cameron was worried what the public would think of him. Because most people believe that feminism means something else entirely. Everyone seems to have their own weird definition of the word feminism, all you have to do is read the truely bizarre comments that come underneath every article ever written about feminism on the internet. The definition should not be up for debate, and if our own prime minister is having trouble calling himself a feminist I think that’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

Nobody wants to be defined as a feminist, it’s not cool and it’s been made into a negative term instead of a positive term. Can I just address this interesting comment I’ve found on here http://www.varsity.co.uk/comment/6836

“Feminism is ridiculous. Feminism is not about ‘equality’ anymore than Beatles fanaticism is about peace. Feminism is the belief that women are and have been throughout history, systematically oppressed by men. Men do not largely subscribe to this belief because, in case you haven’t noticed or just don’t care, men endure more violence than women. Just because you want to make the world happy doesn’t mean any old lie will do for the greater good.”

Okay…. but don’t men endure more violence than women because they are violent towards each other most of the time? If you’re talking about war, women weren’t allowed to fight in the same positions as men and still aren’t. I read an article in Glamour written by Dawn O’Porter recently, and she used this statistic-

” Violence against women is responsible for more deaths and disability in women aged 15-44 globally than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined”

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Dawn O’Porter

The same statistic is also quoted in http://www.unicef.org/emerg/files/women_insecure_world.pdf

I actually cannot believe how much we are still battling with this. We are a 1st world country and barely any of us even know what the word feminism means let alone think it’s important anymore. There is always something more important than feminism right?

Why do we still think it’s okay to advertise fashion like this?

Fashion, opinion

Fashion is well known for its tendency to be controversial. Being controversial is great, its interesting and people love to be shocked, within reason. People love to think of art as having no boundaries and being completely free, but (sometimes) are these just excuses used to express things that in any other circumstance we just wouldn’t think was okay?

Sisley likes to "push the envelope" with their ads.

Sisley fashion campaign. ‘No time to run’….. sexy or creepy?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/copyranter/violence-against-women-in-fashion-continues-unabated?utm_source=buffer&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=buffered080&utm_medium=facebook

I read a post on Buzzfeed this week listing a huge number of fashion campaigns that were heavily themed around violence towards women, including rape themes. Violence occurs in so much of the media, films and games for example. This is a different kind of violence though, these people are advertising clothes… to women mostly. I fail to see how this is just artistic expression especially when this idea has been done to the death and I’m afraid isn’t shocking or original. The only thing that’s shocking is that these fashion companies think this is a perfectly okay concept to go with in the 21st century. Why would you use something as serious and sick as rape to advertise something that is meant to be desirable and luxurious? This is where I have a real problem with the fashion industry.

-“The high-fashion world in general loves to think of itself as contrarian, élite, and boldly at odds with the tastes and mores of the wider public. It likes to think that it, in fact, leads those tastes. But much of the imagery the fashion industry uses to communicate its messages at best echoes and at worst reinforces some of the wider culture’s most negative ideas about women and girls. As we all know thanks to Joan Didion, “it is possible for people to be the unconscious instruments of values they would strenuously reject on a conscious level.” Fashion, in all its contradictions, is great evidence of that.”- Jenna Sauers

 http://jezebel.com/5916650/fashions-ongoing-violence-against-women/

Why is fashion reinforcing such negative ideas of women, when it is advertising to women? I understand there is a certain sexiness about violence and everyone has their thing they like, but this is commercial advertising. And really, what women finds rape sexy? Seems like it’s just another way the media can obsess over its weird fantasies about women. All these campaigns do is promote violence against women, making it less of an issue in many peoples eyes.

What exactly are these ad campaigns meant to be saying – ‘Look at this image, this women has been beaten up/raped but at least she looks good in our new A/W collection’?

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This hair salon advertisement claims to be ‘a work of art’ and the people who made it said that it brings the domestic violence issue to light. A fashion campaign promoting its clothing/hair salon to make lots and lots of money for itself doesn’t seem like the best way to help victims of domestic abuse. It seems like a cheap shock tactic aiming to make as much money as possible.

I love fashion, and have done for most of my life but there are so many issues regarding the industry. This stuff isn’t healthy for anyone.

Thanks for reading.

x

WARNING: This post contains feminist views

Fashion, opinion

Quite a few months ago I did a post on androgyny and feminism, as I was doing a project involving those subjects at university. I’d like to come back to feminism in this post.

It seems like every other day I read something online, without actively seeking it, that reinforces the idea that there are still many issues concerning the equality of men and women today. There are still so many absurd things written online about feminism and women constantly, it feels like we are taking one giant step backwards in time. As I’m writing this I’m thinking, how many people will be really irritated by what I’m saying? When I say that, I am talking about men and women, because it is not just some  men who have problems with feminism, it’s  some women as well. Feminism is not some hateful war against men, it’s not about shaming men so that women can feel superior, it’s a war against inequality.

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It makes me so angry when I read comments like this “At first feminism was about becoming equal, now it is about being superior.” No, what feminism is about never changed, the definition of feminism is always going to be the same. Sure, there are always people within organisations and beliefs, that take things to the extreme, but that doesn’t mean the fundamental definition of the word feminism has changed. Just like religion, you get extremist’s, but that doesn’t define the religion does it? The question I ask is, what has happened in the world of feminism that makes people think it’s about being superior? What have women ever asked for that men don’t already have or have more of?

Some people will say I’m just angry and need something to complain about. Women don’t want to be feminists, it’s a dirty word to most people. So I have the vote now, I should shut up and be happy with what I’m given, this is the kind of attitude I am met with all the time. Let me give you some examples as to why I think we are still not equal.

Robin Thicke. That really great song with the really great music video of all the topless women. Yes women can be topless if they want, but don’t you see that women are constantly sexualised by the media all the time? This being in a completely different and more pornographic way than men are? That video and song itself I am not particularly outraged by, it’s all of these videos and ideals of women. How many music videos have topless or scantily clad women in them? How many music videos have the same but with men instead? Some? You try telling me that it’s equal, that there are just as many music videos with men as the sexual objects, show me the evidence! In the media, women are constantly perceived as sex objects. It’s all about how women look, and they are constantly criticised for not looking the way we want them to, or behaving the way we want them to.

For example, look at all the talent show contests on TV. Ok, now look at the judges. X factor’s judges last year consisted of  Gary Barlow, Louie Walsh, Tulisa and Nicole. They rarely put a women on the judges panel who isn’t extremely attractive and under 40, with the exception of Sharon Osborne. Britain’s got Talent has David Walliams, Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden? They always have to have their female ‘eye candy’ but the men can be as old and as plain looking as ever. What about the BBC ousting Arlene Phillips in favour of younger judge Alesha Dixon… and yet Bruce Forsyth will be allowed to present that show till he’s dead!

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” The celebrity machine lays so much pressure on their young starlets to be every mans ‘ideal women’ ” 

http://www.live-magazine.co.uk/2013/06/was-it-sexism-that-brought-tulisa-down/

One of the comments on that article has a very good point. Charlie Sheen is a notorious drug user and gets his own TV show. Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston take drugs and they are vilified by the media as their careers come crashing down very publicly.

Why are women vilified by society constantly? The media constantly puts women on pedestals, and if they don’t abide to the rules they will be publicly humiliated. You may feel like you have equal rights to men but the reality is in some cases you don’t.  Of course women want to feel sexy and attractive, it is empowering, but it’s not empowering if your trying to live up to an ideal that others want you to. That program ‘ Snog Marry avoid’ has a majority of female guests on there that are trying to do just that- live up to societies ideal. Feminism is not a hard concept, people just like to complicate it because it scares them.

Thanks for reading!

x