Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Beyoncé queen of the world.

Beyoncé may have just done the whole world a big favour. After years of men and women pushing against a stereotype for feminism being hateful and pointless a pop queen made it look very, very cool. Last year I wrote about how Miley Cyrus' performance at the VMAs was sad and uncomfortable to watch, this year I'm writing about how Beyoncé made a huge statement that affects people everywhere.

I'm not a big fan of her music so I've never really paid attention to Beyoncé's pop fame but her recent publicity act is one that has certainly caught my attention. "We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings the way that boys are. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls ‘You can have ambition, but not too much.’ You should aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man,” said the voice-over, accompanied by words from the talk on a large screen.  “Feminist. The person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” Enter Beyoncé with enormous white lights behind her reading 'FEMINIST'. She didn't even need to sing after that. That one intro would have been enough of a statement on its own. I think the entirety of the female population now understands that Beyoncé is a super fairy princess with magic super powers. Actually, we now all realise that we are the same Beyoncé just came to this realisation a lot sooner and will proceed to teach us our magical ways. 

I've seen many tweets pointing out that had Beyoncé not been a wealthy, beautiful, powerful, famous, talented pop star she wouldn't have been noticed. She would have been another sad, young woman shouting feminism to the wind where no one hears her. This is entirely true, she had the public lined up to receive her message. We were all ready and waiting. The thing is she also happens to be a wealthy, beautiful, famous, talented pop star who used her power to push an incredibly important message. And she did it with so much sass I think the world, the Western world at least, stopped and stared for a while to appreciate the beauty of what she was doing. Never before has feminism reached such a high status. It is now mainstream. It was reaching that status, but with a little help from pop culture Beyoncé pulled it up from the crowd and held it up for everyone to see. 

How many young people searched the word feminism after her performance and experiences their first feminist moment? How many people swallowed their words when they realised such an influential figure could use feminism to define the belief in equality? 

In a way it is sad that such effort had to go in to produce enough belief in feminism. But it's happened now and I truly believe that such a powerful statement made by such a powerful woman will go along way. Feminism has always been cool. Belief in equality for all is cool. I think Beyoncé just disproved anyone's doubts that it hadn't been cool in the first place. Thank you, Beyoncé. And for the first and last time in my life thank you pop culture and marketing, you finally got something right. 

Monday, 18 August 2014

That little bit of madness.

I am a nervous person. Not when meeting new people, certainly not when giving my opinion and not even when taking important exams. But I have a peculiar history of nervousness that can occasionally creep up on me when I least need it to. I used to be clinically ill with anxiety to the point where I could barely leave the house for an often irrational reason. That period, thankfully, is over but it does mean that I will forever be a little bit stranger than normal.

I suppose that when travelling far away from home one is bound to feel a little disconcerted, and so I am likely to feel fragile for a time. However, like a large amount of the population who have suffered from clinical panic attacks I often teeter on the edge of "I am a rational person who will deal with this uneasiness"which could potentially fall into "I am actually going to die here right now on this spot this is so unbearable I can't breathe I can't think help me." Which, understandably, can be rather unpleasant. I recently felt unstable in America, but I am now home and alive so one can only assume I survived various ordeals unscathed.

I have now spent years avoiding that awful feeling of being utterly out of control through various strategies and experience. This means that when it does creep up on me I can quickly push it away and stay calm in any scary situation I might find myself. I essentially walk around with a bomb in my head though handily the bomb disposal unit is right next door. I find myself a little bit weird because most of the things the average joe would find terrifying I think nothing of and in the situations most would shrug off I want to immediately find my mummy.

What I have learnt from all of my nervousness is that it's absolutely alright to be a little bit mad. Even quite a bit mad. Because not only are you actually in the majority, but it teaches you a great deal.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

A love affair with classics.

To those who have been ever so slightly smothered unkindly by academia, I ask you to take note.

Please do not ask me to fill my shelves with Chaucer or T.S Eliot or Elizabeth Gaskell, for I have not the space. Please refrain from spoon feeding me Animal Farm nor 1984 because I really do not have the stomach. I request kindly for my words to be reserved for some light hearted article and not for a 1500 word essay or two on the poetic techniques of Siegfried Sassoon. In case you were wondering no I will not be eating up Wordsworth, nor grilling some Yeats for the odour does not depart from my room for weeks.

I'd like to remind you that whilst you endeavour desperately to load your minds with majestic vocabulary and complex concepts your hearts have been left empty and they beat wildly for fulfilment.

Instead of strapping each book to a chair and torturing the words out I would suggest a much more romantic method of ingesting the sweet syrup of literature.

Forget your university professor lecturing for long hours about Doctor Faustus, or Radio 4 suggesting Larkin should be read. Alternatively become best friends with Jane Austen for she was probably a right laugh and take all of the Bronte sisters out to tea. Have an intense love affair with William Shakespeare but marry Thomas Hardy later on. Go for a stroll with Mark Twain and let F. Scott Fitzgerald take you on a wild night out. Weep all day long for every character who suffers hardship and let your heart skip a beat for every one who you become infatuated with. Pull an all nighter with Mary Shelley and have lunch with Agatha Christie. Just, for Heaven's sake, become captivated by every book you ever read and follow your heart's every literary desire because we do not have long. Books, like everything in life, can't even follow us to the grave so fill your memory up with ones that make you laugh and love and cry.

Read because you can't think of anything better in the world and never, ever because you must.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Does swearing weaken your point?

I would say that I am a polite, well spoken 16 year old who is only foulmouthed in the right company, or in an appropriate situation. I even have a personal struggle with the 'c' word. It makes me cringe every time I read or hear it. It leaves me feeling uncomfortable if I ever have the urge to use it. Every other cuss word fails to make me even bat an eyelid but I would say that, on the whole, I'm a relatively mild swearer.

In the company of friends I have a tendency to cuss when I get angry or passionate in conversation. The more passionate I become the more frequently the swear words leave my mouth. If I were to speak like that in more formal company then I suppose people may be a little shocked. I can't be the most pleasant nor articulate speaker to listen to when all barriers are down. However, without overdoing it swearing can often have comic value. It can be witty before becoming too crude. So when swearing is used in a calculated and thought out manner I believe it has worth. It can be powerful, it can be ballsy, it can make people laugh. If I read something that uses cuss words often it can make the piece more relatable. More accessible. Instead of standing as a potentially pretentious article a swear word or two can make it seem more like a conversation around the dinner table late at night.

This does not diminish its effect, late night conversations can be equally as meaningful as a carefully crafted piece of writing. Granted if every other word in each sentence is fairly offensive then you'll probably come across as a little angry. Unattainable even. You inevitably get a bad name if you continuously spurt out provocative language. But swearing mildly and occasionally is no indication of a less than sunny disposition. Using swear words to fit in with a certain style of writing, a particular genre, causes no harm. If I was to say the word... 'fucking' perhaps but then followed it up with 'perfidiousness' surely I am not stripping away from my intellect. If I swear does that mean I degrade my opinion? Does that make me a bit too feisty?

Whatever it does I would hope that anyone reading any of my work and happened to stumble across a few swear words would either dismiss it or appreciate it was incorporated specifically into the style of writing I intended to use. If somebody mistook it for being a vain attempt at feistiness and then went on to somehow find that offensive then I say, well, get a fucking grip.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Sluts are old and boring.

It's become a common social norm that if a woman sleeps around she is consequently a slut, but if a man sleeps around he's a hero. I've been told that it's not sexist it's 'just the way it is' but here's why that is absolutely wrong.

Throughout history when every unmarried woman in every society was severely oppressed by a patriarchal society her dignity and status relied on her virtue as a maid. Were a woman to go to bed with a man out of wedlock her reputation would instantly be in tatters and should said man refuse to marry her it was highly unlikely any man ever would. Even if the woman had been raped it would still deem her unsuitable for any suitors that may come her way. However, the man's virginity was rarely ever questioned. I assume that many respectable gentlemen were honest about their sexual history and made marriage to their wives equal, but should they not be virgins before they married it would be unlikely for anyone to bat and eyelid. "Boys will be boys" I suppose they would have said. But a woman would be a slut, a whore, a harlot.

In our society there isn't so much destruction of a woman's dignity should she bed a man out of wedlock, no one even uses that word anymore, because we've gone through the sexual revolution. Right? Men and women in our Western society are able to sleep with whom they choose as long as both partners give consent and are of a legal age. Women are even allowed to admit they enjoy sex, contraceptives have liberated ladies everywhere. But there's a limit on the number of men a woman can sleep with, and the way in which she does it. A woman's number of sexual partners does not equate to a heroic feat but to disastrous consequences on her social status. There are plenty of names for women who aren't shy about who they take to bed, there are none for men who show equal promiscuity. Is the sexual revolution complete then? Or is a women's virtue still based on her sexual history whilst men can walk on by with as many partners as they want?

The new popularity for 'purity balls' in America are also quite staggeringly old fashioned. There is no alternative for a son to pledge his virginity to his mother until he marries, because his sex life is of no concern to anyone. It's the daughters who are monitored and disapproved of throughout their whole lives. They are not exposed to sexual freedom. Their sex lives are the property of their male superiors. Their father and then their husband. To me it seems like a very unfair deal.

I don't think women have been sexually liberated because every day there are obstacles to climb over when dealing with their own private sex history. For me I still see the archaic view of women's sexuality being judged and jeopardising their entire worth. It isn't just a case of 'that's the way it goes' it's a society treating the same manner differently for two genders. Which is inequality. 'Slut' is a sad word, a hurtful word because it's used in a derogatory manner specifically towards women. Until there is a male equivalent or until 'slut' is not used in a degrading way the sexual liberation of women is not complete. A woman's sex life is private, but an archaic element of our society seems to think it's everyone's business to judge. Slut shaming is without a doubt a very sexist issue. It needs to stop.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Why #yesallwomen shouldn't be exclusive to women.

The trend #yesallwomen has received all manner of commendation and criticism. There was the usual 'oh look at all these man haters trying to gain power' which always pops up and never actually makes sense, or the 'men are discriminated against too' which is very true but statistically it's the female population that needs the attention in order to address all manner of discrimination. And then there was an interesting criticism, one that struck me as a little contradictory, which claimed that this was an all female twitter protest that didn't need the men to join in. 

It wasn't a comment filled with misandry, but it was one I found difficult to comprehend in this particular online feminist movement. Why couldn't men join in? There were plenty of guys using the hash tag and supporting feminism, which to me was a gratifying thing to see. However, some women complained of their support being a little condescending and crashing in on the whole 'girl power' style. Now, I am definitely supportive of the idea of the 'sisterhood' where women unite to look after each other, but the idea of 'girl power' makes me want to be sick. If #yesallwomen was supposed to be just for women because of this 'girl power' reason then I oppose it. 'Girl power' contradicts everything feminism in the new age stands for. It appears to be a sickly phrase designed to make those little ladies feel like they're gaining something out of fighting against the all powerful patriarchy. For me it separates women and men into two different categories that excludes all males from taking part in feminism. It's a special club for girls who can't equal to the 'boy power' that they campaign against. It just seems like a fairly backwards concept. 

Feminism isn't about a struggle against the entirety of the male population it's an egalitarian movement to fight for equal rights for all. Yes sexism is faced everyday by almost all women in a way that men don't commonly experience, but that's all the more reason to have support from men in this movement. If we exclude men from our protests against sexism then we alienate them and make all of them the issue, which is not the problem. In an all male environment if there is not one feminist then we are not getting anywhere. We are failing, we are teaching girls to deal with male issues in a way that does not exterminate the issue itself. The guys are let off because it's not their movement. They can't be feminists. They can't believe in equality for all. 

Feminism is the movement for everyone to fight for the equal treatment and rights of every human being. It is not a girls only club. Please remember that. 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Your body is not your own.

Should you possess female sex organs and consider yourself a 'woman' then let me warn you, your body will never be your own. Every morning when you dress yourself in whatever attire you desire please note that every judgement made of you that day will be made because of your appearance. Should you happen to be an intelligent, witty, talented, incredible person and attend an awards ceremony to receive commendation for your achievements, please wear something that will please the press and public opinion even if you feel uncomfortable. Remember, your body is not your own.

If you have a low metabolism and look rounder than the preferred forced stick insect style, please just lock yourself away in an attic somewhere even if you have something to be doing that's important. For example, if you're a doctor don't even bother because your excess in body weight might impede your job. That degree in medicine will NOT compensate for that muffin top. Oh and need I even remind you when you decide to act on your sole purpose as WOMAN and push a small human child out of your body that if the disgusting weight from carrying another person inside of you for 9 months is not lost within a week then you will simply be called out as having 'let yourself go'. Another friendly reminder, your body is not your own.

If you somehow become a celebrity (as a woman) don't forget to look like a strangely perfect human every time you leave the house because the press like to convince the population that you're not actually a person. The one time you do forget to cover your face with skin coloured liquid your picture will be taken and laughed at because it's always hilarious to mock how VILE people look without their painted masks on. Dear celebrities, your body is definitely not your own.

This is a very important thing to remember, if you have a vagina AND have strong opinions then it is scientific fact that your pubic hair will be excessive and the subject of public speculation. Mary Beard is a real life example of this, please take her situation as a valuable life lesson and don't discuss controversial opinions. Otherwise, the entire nation will know that you don't shave 'down below' which as we all know is a punishable sin written in the bible. I think she definitely learnt that her body is not her own.

To all women in the public eye, or in any profession or life style, your body is not your own.