12/14/2013

"It's Their Fault For Taking The Job"

No.


Comment sections are enraging, as anyone with eyes will know. In the comment section on Miss Representation's video on how the media failed women in 2013, there was a comment which voiced a (white male)'s opinion on how the women were equally to blame as the media was, because they kept taking these jobs/roles. I think that you can have that opinion, but only if it is consistent, and therefore, if you can answer yes to the following questions:
  • Do you blame men for continuing to apply to jobs where women are disregarded (due to gender, not capability)?
  • Do you blame white people for continuing to apply for jobs where BME people are known to be constantly disregarded due to race?
  • Do you blame thin people for continuing to buy clothes that they fit into, when the clothes being sold fit no other body types?

The bigger problem isn't the people taking the job, the bigger problem is that they are the only ones being considered the job - if an employee was to call their boss out on such a practice, unless they had the power to call for a mass boycott/strike/anything of the sort, they would be immediately replaced - by someone who looked exactly like them.

Another very real problem is the dangerous view that if these women didn't line up for the job, there wouldn't be a standard, when this standard is completely manufactured. Very few women (if any) look like the photoshopped dismembered images that are spewed out. If the women who come (somewhat) close to looking like that weren't available, they would get the next closest thing and proceed to remix and edit it in order to make it look exactly like what the standard is now, because that is the problem, the standard.

This also disregards the thousands of women who came to look like that solely to get the job, because they knew that it would be the only way - first they are bullied into changing their appearances for a system that gives them little or no other choice, and then they are blamed for succeeding. Is there any way for them to win?

While I don't think that the people who play into these standards are entirely blameless, I do place the majority of the blame on the employers who continue to only recruit a specific minority, under the excuse that they are selling what everyone wants to see - which is code for what a privileged western white male fragment of the population wants to see. I place another part of the blame on people who continue to consume these images without thought and reflection.

12/04/2013

"Slutty" Costumes

Perceived Issue: "Costumes for women are so slutty"



The Real Issue:
  • The fact that clothing is referred to as slutty - the term slut is linked to the amount of sexual partners a person has (had). A person's clothing is in no way a reflection of their sex life.
  • When the same costume is marketed differently at men and women, the women's usually being more revealing 

  • When there is no "non sexy" options for women or no "sexy" ones for men
The Ideal To Push For: To have sexy/non sexy costume options for both men and women, and for people to stop judging others based on which one they choose :D

Rabbit costume/Sexy Rabbit costume
Sexy Rabbit costume/Rabbit costume


And for the record, these would be slutty rabbits (and I mean it in the best of ways ;D)

12/02/2013

My Hair

I've recently started sporting my natural hair, as I fully shaved my head a year ago, vowing to never relax my hair again. This has been an adventure so far.

The response I have got from family, friends, and acquaintances has been mostly positive, except for the oddball who thinks it's perfectly fine to pet me without asking.

The change in my hairstyle might not seem like a worthy topic to write an article about, but it is, and here is why.

Growing up I always struggled with my natural hair, relaxing it/straightening it/hot ironing it/doing whatever it took to get rid of the kinks. This behavior was reinforced by my own parents, who would always be quick to remind me when it was time to tend to the growth.

Whenever I walked by an Afro-hair salon (whichever country I was in), I'd get shouts from inside "Come get your hair done!" "You gonna do anything with that hair?" "You need to relax it!" - usually making me feel inadequate, or at least slightly uncomfortable.

The few times I decided to wear it short (my big chop last year was not my first one) I'd hear the same comment - "Short hair looks so good on black girls". I still hear that comment, and it's usually from non blacks. No wait, it's always from non blacks. What people don't realize is that every single time I hear this, I feel like I am being reduced to a stock image of a black girl. I am not being seen as a version of myself with short hair, I am being seen as a black girl with short hair, and guess what - it doesn't feel nice.

As you'll have guessed, this article isn't about Afro hair, it's about being a black girl. It's about the fact that being a black girl who leaves her hair alone comes with a full plate of stereotypes to deal with, with a side serving of misogyny.

A classmate asked me if I was going to allow myself to "act a little bit diva" because of my hair - I wasn't even shocked. In the mainstream media, Afro hair on a woman has been used as a prop on sssassy strawng innepennent bleck women - the women being props themselves. Afros basically became parodies of themselves, and still are. If a black person is lucky enough to be granted a role (even the token ones) in a TV show, they'll rarely be sporting natural hair, unless they themselves bring the race conversation to the table. 

Examples - 

In Sons of Anarchy, DA Tyne Patterson (played by CCH Pounder) sports a blonde straight hair wig, which she removes in private while uttering the words "Time to go hood sister", referring to the fact that she is about to play the dirty side of the law. She reveals a more unruly "natural" hairstyle/type. Her hair is being used as a device for her to reveal her "darker" and more "fighter" side. Couldn't she have just kept the wig, or simply not worn one at all? The whole scene was unnecessary, even the line "time to go hood" is offensive.


Oh and remember that one "ethnic" Spice Girl? Scary Spice, so scary with her crazy hair and animal print clothing, terrifying indeed.


The only time Beyoncé ever sported a full blown coarse Afro was to be Foxy Cleopatra in Austin Powers - I guess her own natural hair wasn't "sassy" enough for the character.


I find it sad that these are the only times I can remember seeing hair similar to mine onscreen (outside of Blacksploitation cinema or anything about slavery). The lack of examples available speaks for itself. When Afro hair is used, it isn't being used as just a hair type on a person, it's being used as a prop, which doesn't seem to happen with any other race. They aren't writing strong black female characters with Afros, they're writing black female stereotypes.

For these reasons, until last year, I strongly disliked my hair. Actually, that's a lie, I used to HATE my own hair. I never saw it anywhere outside of myself, so I assumed it wasn't worthy and I would proceed to annihilate it. Today, I love my hair. The more I expose myself to content where my hair is valued and celebrated, and sometimes even (get ready for this) is the NORM, the more I love it, and myself. There is sisterhood in kinky hair, because it is an oppressed hair type. This makes me even more confident, and for the first time in my life, I feel like a beautiful person without relying on extensions.

In conclusion: Don't touch my hair. And if you're gonna do it, don't.

Afro hair baby Naomi not giving a fuck about haters :D


Related Posts


11/22/2013

A Response to my Distress

[Content Note: sexual assault]

This is the response I got from someone who I thought was my friend after I told him about being sexually assaulted in a nightclub. The only context I will provide for the following Facebook conversation is that "John" is a 20 year old guy I went to school with who is currently studying in the UK. Up until we had that conversation, I considered him a good friend. That's in the past now, I refuse to continue a friendship with such a sexist person. The views he holds are dangerous, and he makes up his own definitions for terms.

(The writing is plagued with mistakes, I was typing fast at the time, but I'd rather leave the conversation exactly as it is, except for changing his name)

NAOMI
upset
i was crying for a while too
i got sexually asaulted in the nightclub and then alienated it was ridiculous

JOHN
How did you get sexually assaulted

NAOMI
some asshole thought it would be hilarious to motorboat me (tongue included) on the dancefloor
and when i yelled at him for it, everyone thought i was crazy, not him
some guys told me i should go home
i wrote all about it in the link i sent you

JOHN
sexually assaulted is when you get raped
that is not sexual assault, but still it is way out of order
and if i was a girl it would have annoyed me alot

NAOMI
no, sexual assaault by penetration is rape
groping is sexual assault

JOHN
nah man
wrong term
trust me

NAOMI
trust me too, i did criminology for a year 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_assault

Sexual assault - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
en.wikipedia.org
Sexual assault is any involuntary sexual act in which a person is 

threatened, coerced, or forced to engage against their will, or any 

sexual touching of a person who has not consented. This includes rape 

(such as forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration), groping, forced 

kissing, child sexual abuse,...

JOHN
if the court herd this, they would hear you out but it would be wasting 

they´re time. dont use sexual assualt for a minor thing

NAOMI
its calles sexual assault because it is sexual assault john
rape is the worst form of sexual assault, but it doesnt make the rest 

any less of sexual assault
being touched against my will is NOT a minor thing

JOHN
these things happen when girls go out. girls get approached by guys all the time. they just push them away, nd they do go away, if they carry on, as in attacking you, thats sexual assault.
people would interpret sexual assualt in the wrong way

NAOMI
no its not, just because its your perception doesnt make it so, i literally forwarded you the actual definition of sexual assault
your views are actually part of the reason why this behavior persits

JOHN
im sat next to my gf nd she agrees with me

NAOMI
because instead of challenging these sexist attitudes towards girls in 

night clubs
youre just saying"yeh, it happens"
well just because she agrees doesnt erase the definition of sexual 

assault

JOHN
girls grope guys diks this happens alot. old women touch up guys, they push them away nd carry on with ure night out

NAOMI
http://www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/pdfs/sexual_assault.pdf
and that attitude is no less disgusting, no one should be touching anyone without their consent

JOHN
One of my mates got grabbed in the balls by this old woman and he is quite a shy guy and he felt really awkward and out of place and she was telling him to come a fuck her and shit and she was trying to get with him and everything, being really pesistant and he was really uncomfortable, in the end he just was like no thanks and left
And he wouldn't say he was sexually assaulted

NAOMI
that IS sexual assault
if he didnt consennt
just because he doesnt refer to it as such doesnt mean it isnt
the reason this continues to happen is that people seem to think its okay
its not, like your mate said, he felt awkward and out of place
noone should make you feel like that in a nightclub
or anywhere

JOHN
Yeah but if you go around saying stuff like that is sexual assault all 

the time, everyone would be sexually assaulted many times by now, and 

half the people would be in jail

NAOMI
as they should be tbh - and thats exactly why people need sexual assault awareness
because im pretty sure if they knew their behavior IS sexual assault, theyd do it less

JOHN
Mate a night club, part of the reason is to go pull and people have all sorts of weird ways of trying to do that and if they do something to make you feel slightly uncomfortable at the start that is not sexual assault, that is just shiot that happens

NAOMI
although many people are fully aware, they just dont give a shit
the purpose of motorboating me was not to pull, it was just to fuckin motorboat me john
guys who grab peoples asses and then walk away are not trying to pull

JOHN
You can't go around prosecuting eveyone for things like that

NAOMI
im not prosecuting anyone

JOHN
well if you are saying its secual assault then you should be 

prosectuing them

NAOMI
im raising awareness to the fact that so many people have such a cavallier  attitude towards something that is hurtful and degrading
oh yeh def, id love to prosecute assholes who think its fine to force their touch unto others without consent
but i cant
the best i can do is let everyone know what happened, because another reason for this being widely unreported is the response people get the responses i got from the guys around me in the club
the response ive got from a mate telling me i should take another tone on the article
the response from you, claiming my experience is minorwhen ive told you it has really upset me
dont belittle me

JOHN
I ain't belittling you
You are just going well over the top over something that really isn't over the top, this is why so many people laugh even harder at these situations is because people go around making a massive huff about someone doing something like that, so many people get that all the time, clubs are like this and people know that before they go in, that is part of the club experience, now if you make such a big deal about that, then what kind of a deal are we going to make when a girl actually gets raped, or attempted by someone

NAOMI
it is a fucking big deal john, someone head was in between my boobs without my consent, someone i have never met before
someone imposed themselves on my body
and yes, rape deserves and even massive huge fucking enormous huff because it is one of the most digusting forms of torture that can be inflicted on anyone

JOHN
its out of order, but don´t take it to extreme. honestly, what ure saying is disgusting me. yeah its wrong to do that. do what any other girl does nd slap him round the face. anything more than that would be a sexual assualt. do not mix motor boating with actual body assault, as in attempted rape, that is sexual assault

NAOMI
john, read the definition of sexual assault
motorboating IS sexual assault, seeing as i didnt give consent
i never said it was rape nor did i say it was attempted rape
this is copy paste btw
Sexual assaults are acts
involving the “sexual touching of another
without their consent”.
Touching can be the slightest touch. This
includes touching with any part of the
body, anything else and through anything
(for examples see “Some Questions
Answered”).

JOHN
i cant be bothered with this argument. its when they persist after you said no then yes it is sexual assault.

NAOMI
no, it isnt
why are you making up definitions
provide me with a definition that supports what you are saying please
because otherwise your claims are insubstantiated

JOHN
people who have been sexual assaulted would be offended, coz they knw 

what it is

NAOMI
youre still making up your own definition

JOHN
seriously leave it. otherwise ure guna make urself look like a mug

NAOMI
if you do show me an actual definition that represents what you are 

stating, i can start to take you seriously
no clue what a mug is anyway

JOHN
human common sense, using one brain. u shouldve slapped him tbh. cry me a river

NAOMI
http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/sv-definition

JOHN
its you. go ask someone for the definition. ask Wikipedia

NAOMI
i have, and it is exactly what i have told you it is
im not gonna use violence against that sort of behavior, its pointless really

JOHN
you attention seeking little girl. then why complain if ure not guna do 

shit about it
your problem not mine. stop talking to me about this

NAOMI
well, raising awareness is what im doing. i got the guy kicked out, didnt have to use violence
sure thing, congrats on being a misogynist

JOHN
done nd dusted. its not sexual assault otherwise he wouldve went jail. be quiet. you attention seeking little girl. please. you keep ure opinion nd i have mine.

NAOMI
thats stupid shit john, like saying someone who raped someone else isnt really a rapist if they arent in jail

JOHN
ure deluded...
dont include rape in this when u have no idea what its like.
just stop talking to me about this!

NAOMI
you're the one who brought rape to the table in the first place


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Last Night

[Content Note: sexual assault]

Last night, a guy motor-boated me in a club. In case you don't know what that is, "motor-boating" is when a person puts his/her face inside another person's breasts and shakes it from side to side, while imitating the sound a motorboat's engine would make. I reacted by backing off and telling him not to fucking touch me and that it is not okay to do that to someone. He kept trying to come near me to tell me something (apologize maybe?) but I was having none of it - I don't need an explanation for this disgusting behavior, and I just rejected his advances by whipping his hands away from my body and refusing to let him come near me.

The worst part was the reaction of the people around me.

I asked one of his friends to tell the motor-boater that it's not okay to do that, and the response was "he's just taking a piss" (for anyone not familiar with this expression, it means "he's only joking"). Everyone around me, about 10-15 guys looked at me in shock. At me, the receiver of this disgusting behavior, nobody looked at him.

While I was distancing myself from the motor-boater, I was approached by a guy, who said he had seen what happened, and asked me where my friends were, and when I told him I was on my own, he told me I should probably go home.

Why should I have to leave a club I have paid to get into because another person cannot control their behavior around other human beings? Why does it even matter whether I was on my own or not - the implication of that question is that it is somehow my fault for not having others to rely on, when the reality is that it would have happened if I had been with others. Unless the others were males that is, because somehow that deters predators from interacting with their prey, the presence of another cock who can claim ownership to the pussy in question, because instead of looking at me as a person, I am looked at as someone else's property, whether I am Miss or Mrs.

Of course none of what I tried to say really mattered, as I was silenced with "I'm just trying to help". Again, making me seem like the overreacting one when I am being confronted by a victim-blaming self important "savior" who thinks his views on the situation are more important than mine, the person who lived it. Cherry on top of the cake, his friends started filming or photographing me as I talked to him - when I asked him why, he said "Don't worry about them, they are just assuming we are going to fuck because we are talking" - ........................... There are too many things fucked up about that situation, but I'm not going to get into that right now.

Another fine male approached me as I was on my way to get a security guard, and when I asked him if he knew the guy he said "No, I don't know what you are on about" and while I was telling him what happened, he started groping at his imaginary breasts in a very disturbing fashion - good to know how seriously I'm taken.

After I basically told him to fuck off and not talk to me (several times, he was a clingy one) another bystander approached me to offer me some more unsolicited advice. "If it was me, I'd probably go home". More of his pearls of wisdom included "You're in a nightclub, what do you expect", "Alcohol does this to people" and "You'll probably have a better time at home".

I said thank you, but no thank you. I don't need yet another person who seems to think that the solution is to remove me rather than the pig who thinks its okay to lick the breasts of a person he has never met before. "I'm not going anywhere, and I hope he doesn't do that to any other girls, because he's the issue, not me" is all I could reply to that guy before completely losing interest in his existence.

The whole situation felt alienating, I have never felt so alone in my life while surrounded by that many people. I had to take a moment in a bathroom stall to cry because it was that painful. I am crying now writing this, out of anger that someone did this to me, frustration at the people who thought they were helping me when they were really doing the exact opposite, and sadness because this happens and it is only the tip of the iceberg that is sexism in a nightclub.

I must say that the security guards reacted exceptionally. The guy was kicked out as soon as I pointed him out, and I was asked about having seen other guys that there had been complaints about. Their no bullshit approach is what gave me the strength to stay and try to enjoy my night, because their presence restored a sense of security that I had been previously completely stripped of.

I managed to find some familiar faces who did offer me the support that I really needed in that moment, and ended spending the rest of the night with them. However, outside the nightclub, yet another knight in shining armor came up to me to give me a hug and tell me how "that guy was a dick" and "don't think about it" and "don't think about it" and "don't think about it" and "don't think about it". All I could say was "Don't tell me what to do after a stranger put his tongue on my skin against my will, if you want to be helpful, shut the fuck up". He probably thought I was over-reacting. I don't give a fuck. I don't give two shits. I don't give three motherfucking damns about the victim blaming society that so many people seem to be okay floating around in.

That kind of touching is sexual assault. I was sexually assaulted last night in a nightclub, with 10-15 witnesses and none of them gave a fuck. What it boiled down to (in their eyes) was a prime opportunity to approach me for their own purposes, and not for the comforting they pretended to be offering.

Do not tell me to get over it, do not tell me not to think about it, do not ask me what I was wearing, do not try to rationalize the behavior of the asshole who touched me sexually without my consent. You sit there and you listen to me, end of. I don't need your advice, I need your support, and that support is best offered with your mouth shut. All I needed was a hug, and all I got was pity, blaming, and condescension.

So, to anyone who ever touches anyone else without their consent, and to anyone who thinks "it is what it is" about that situation, fuck you. Seriously, go fucking die, you won't be missed.


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11/18/2013

"The Masculinity of the Headmistress"

For my Sex, Race, and Gender in 20th century Germany module, I had to watch the 1931 film "Mädchen in Uniform".

The film is about an all girl boarding school, focusing on the parallels the system draws with fascism, and the homoerotic nature of the relationships inside the school (mainly that of student Manuela and the governess Fraulein von Bernburg".

One of our assignments regarding this film is to give an 8 minute powerpoint presentation on the way the headmistress represents masculinity in the film, as there are no males whatsoever. She gave us the example of reading the headmistress' use of a cane as phallic.



Besides the issue that I take with the fact of reading a cane as a phallic symbol - to me a cane has always meant the person using it had trouble walking - I have a problem with having to analyze the headmistress' behavior as masculine.

We are supposed to comment on the fact that she holds a sort of dictator figure, and runs the boarding school very tightly and autocratically. This implies that a woman could never be like that. Power (and the abuse of it) is not exclusively male, and equating all of her behaviors to that of a male - specially the negative ones - defeats the purpose of making such a groundbreaking all woman film. The book and play it was based on was written by a woman, and then the film was directed by a woman as well, so it wasn't just all woman on screen, it was all woman off-screen too.

Constantly trying to find the "man" in the woman, is the equivalent to asking a lesbian couple "Who is the man in this relationship" - Neither, that's the whole point of a lesbian relationship. A behavior is masculine because society has decided that it is, it isn't masculine of its own right, unless an actual penis is involved. This does not include things shaped like penises, like a cane.

And that is why my assignment is bullshit.

"OMG this assignment ist so not wunderbar"

Perhaps if the phrasing had been a bit different - Behaviors traditionally associated to males in 20th century Germany - I wouldn't be so reluctant, but it wasn't, and phrasing is key, especially when it comes to a gender studies module.

That aside, I really enjoyed the film. If you can sit through a long grainy 1931 film with awkward jumpcuts (courtesy of the Nazi regime's censorship), I highly recommend it.

11/12/2013

(More) Interesting Photography

More photo series with feminist relevance.

Impressions by Justin Bartels
Images of the imprints left on by constricting clothing worn for the purpose of appearing attractive to others.

Switcheroo by Hana Pesut
Couples photographed switching each other's outfits.

What a Piece of Work is Man photographed by Asaf Einy
Men with "lady" hair.

Sworn Virgins of Albania by Jill Peters
Females of the Balkans who have chosen to take on the social identity of a man for life.

Enjoy!

Related Posts 


11/09/2013

Female Genital Mutilation

[Content Warning: Images of Mutilated genitals]

It needs to be talked about more.

However, every time someone attempts to make a space to talk about this horrible practice, someone else brings up male circumcision*. First of all, this proves that a lot of people struggle with discussing problems which are exclusively female. There is a time for everything. If I decide to talk about FGM, that doesn't mean I'm not acknowledging the existence of male circumcision, it means at that moment, I'm talking about FGM. If I'm talking about McDonald's, don't talk to me about Burger King for the sake of having something to say, let me talk, and listen. We'll talk about Burger King another day**.

To those who really can't tolerate one being talked about without mentioning the other - I don't give a shit. Deal with. I'm not even going to bother writing a list of differences between one and the other, instead here are some images to do it for me.

(Female circumcision on the left, male circumcision on the right)





Some women - girls - are having their vaginas (what is left of them) sewn shut. They are expected to pee, menstruate, have sex and bare children through an opening smaller than a bottle cap. This practice is carried out to stop women from having pre-marital sex, as it is thought that their value as human beings decreases if they do. This procedure is meant to take away the pleasure that can be experienced through sexual intercourse in order to make it a purely reproductive action.


Here is an eye opening documentary on the practice of FGM. focused on it's practice in the UK - http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-cruel-cut/4od

If you don't have time, here are some of the points to take away from the 45min long documentary:

  • FGM is not only practiced in Africa, it is practiced in Asia, and as an imported practice in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Young Muslim men are not taught what FGM is, therefore not aware of the consequences of the practice on their female counterparts.
  • Political correctness in the UK causes some people to not "see" a problem with FGM.
  • Though there are laws against FGM in the UK, they are not enforced, and proper sanctions are not in place.


Here is a petition you can sign to stop FGM in the UK - http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/52740



*When I mention male circumcision in this article, I am referring to male circumcision carried out without a medical purpose.

** I am completely against male circumcision, but in this instance, FGM is a practice I think is more painful and consequential to the girls who undergo it, and it is what I have chosen to discuss today.

11/07/2013

Internet Comment Rage

Yes, I'm angry.

There's this shit on a random stand up comedy video.
So this is what the latest bots are promoting... geezus.

Then this reply to my comment about rape on a CNN article
Really?

And finally, this piece of work on a video on how to approach a girl who is sitting down (what the fuck.)
Translation:

alice Dupont: Dear sir, have you taken into account that the MAJORITY of girls are sick, sick! of getting flirted with on the street? Imagine, if every time you went out, a dozen of girls pestered you? It's this simple: Machismo based on the "male" who thinks a woman is an object with a user's manual, and all it takes is certain "techniques" to be able to jump her (which is the ultimate goal).

Nicolas Dolteau (the poster and star of the video): I'm not responsible if you are surrounded by assholes. Change neighborhoods, city, instead of complaining here. Understand me, Alice, I'm not making video for those annoying men you're meeting, and even then, if it can help them in gaining lightness and to understand when it's time to set sail, you'll be the first to take advantage of it.

He actually thinks* he's doing us a favor.
This is why I need feminism.

*he knows he isn't, he's just pretending he thinks so to come off as a nice guy for the sake of his own fucking egotistical selfish misogynistic self.

Malala's Testimony [Guest Post]

By: Rebecca Rommen, 14

A true heroine of our modern society is Malala Yousafzai. She lived under the Taliban, in a world with a completely different mentality as ours, where death was always a risk she took merely by showing up to school. Malala proved her intelligence from a young age, and was fortunate to have a father who supported her rights and helped her grasp the fundamental importance and value of education.

The Taliban started targeting her province more and more often and starting 2005, once they too had made that realization and inferred that knowledge is power, they began bombing and eliminating schools. To keep the public powerless, they had to limit their knowledge. Pakistani girls in the Swat District, where she lived, were then prohibited from attending school. Malala revolted and spoke on as many broadcasting networks and global radio-stations as she could, cunningly making her voice heard. Women deserve an education, and Malala wanted the world to know the difficulties of getting one she had in northwestern Pakistan. On October 9, 2012, while riding the school bus home, she got shot in the head and neck by Taliban gunmen.

After local treatment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where she was in a critical terminal condition, she was sent to Birmingham, England were she underwent intense rehabilitation. It was a failed assassination attempt on a 15-year old girl, whose only “crime” had been to desire for an education. It didn’t silence her though and she has been sharing her testimony ever since. Even though they shot her, she still manages to speak of them peacefully and does not feel any violence toward them.

Sexism toward women is a global issue we still struggle with. In regions like Malala’s it is severe and women have few rights and opportunities in life. Even in developed countries, salaries for women are lower than men’s in the exact same career field, and they have to deal with constant sexist situations and remarks by society.

Malala is just 16, but for speaking out for her rights, became a victim to grown, corrupted men. Malala is just two years older than me; we are both teenage girls who live in completely different worlds and have completely different histories. She defended all of us- and helped open education centers specifically for women in third world countries. Malala is a thousand times more courageous and is a true inspiration and activist. She is now in good shape, fully recovered and living in England.


Watch her full interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show- http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-october-8-2013/malala-yousafzai

11/04/2013

Feminism and Chivalry

I asked a friend "if you could ask a feminist anything in the world, what would it be?" He answered the following:


I often try and carry things for women (like always) and some get upset a bit and go "I can do it myself" and my logic is "yes but it is easier for me... I don't mean to offend you and I hope you would help me out when something is easier for you" Is that sexist?




No. It's just like when some older people get upset if you give up your seat on the bus. Your action doesn't have to do with seeing yourself as superior due to age/gender, it's to do with ease, like you say.

Usually (in my experience as well) people who do not want you to help are not mad at you, their reaction has to do with their own inadequacies, and needing to prove to themselves that they can do X - I used to be like that. It is their problem for rejecting your help (sometimes with animosity), not yours for offering.


Helping anyone with anything is about being nice, not about perceiving the other as weak. We hold doors open for people behind us not because they are weak, but because it is the nice thing to do.


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That being said, there are certain people who do aim to assert their dominance over a different gender/age group through comments such as "let the man do it", or "I got it sweetie" - those are sexist, but their tone is quite distinctive in their condescension  and it is hard to mistake one intention from another.

I've also been asked (and read about) feminism's incompatibility with chivalry. Chivalry has many definitions, the one I'll use here is "Courteous behavior, specially that of a man towards a woman". People seem to think that it is anti-feminist to accept chivalrous behavior.

Similar to what I mentioned in response to my friend's question about his behavior potentially coming off as sexist, there is nothing wrong with courteous behavior, as long as it is based on niceness as opposed to the perception of the other as being less. It's okay to pay for someone's drink, and it's okay to accept someone else paying - the key is balance.

In my personal experience, I don't mind accepting a date buying me dinner - I'll pay for lunch next time, or for movie tickets. I don't mind someone giving me a lift - I don't have a car. Accepting gifts/help from a romantic interest is not a sign of weakness, hypocrisy, or anything of the sort - it's a sign of mutual respect and wanting to keep spending time together.

The problem is when this behavior becomes transactional - people paying for others purely regarding their own sexual interests and what they can get out of the situation. That is not chivalrous behavior - that is just self-interest. Pick up artists are a prime example of people who play the chivalry card when in reality their only goal is to hump and dump. They are also the kind of people who assert that all women want to be flirted with by strangers anywhere, anytime.

(I am not putting down one night stands and those who engage in them, I just want to set a clear difference between pursuing one off sex, and pursuing a relationship.)

People seem to have a lot to say about women who get all their drinks for free, and how unfair and manipulative that is. How about the men who buy those drinks? Why do they not get the same level of scrutiny? We know exactly what it is they are after, so why place all the responsibility of manipulation on the woman?

Men are not being forced to spend their money on anyone, they choose to. I, on the other hand, can say how many times I've been forced to accept a drink, only in the interest of making the person go away. That was not chivalry, that was an attempt at bullying me into giving attention I was not interested in giving, and when I did accept the drink but rejected any further advances, I was called a bitch - proof that the intention of the buyer was never just to be nice, it was to get in my pants.

In short, feminism didn't kill chivalry, feminism called out behavior which was trying to pass as chivalry, but in reality was (and is) sexist at best and misogynistic at worst.

11/02/2013

From A Different Perspective (continued)

This is a follow up to some questions asked to Ain, a young Muslim Malaysian student who wears a veil.

N: What is the significance of the veil in terms of faith?

A: I actually really liked that you asked this. I used to ask it myself and there are various reasons. The first is mainly because Allah swt has asked us. There's more to it. I think one of the reasons is for the protection of women. There is recognition in our religion that humans are not made perfect and this was more true hundreds of years ago.
So, to cover one's hair is not only an illustration of our faith but I personally believe (and have read somewhere) that it was for our own protection. It's like a prevention method I think.
Then there's the other belief that a woman's hair is her crowning jewel, so we cover ourselves and show it to our husband/families only.
N: What is it protecting you from?
A: Men I guess. Like i said, back then it wasnt exactly safe to walk as we please. Of course nowadays it is safe, but it's still law/better to do so for one's own belief. And by back then, I mean hundreds of years ago. It wasnt just the hair but also the showing of ones skin.
N: Would you say that the protective element of Allah is what reinforces your belief in wearing the veil?
A: Yes initially. it really did give strengthen my decision to wear it. I'll be truthful, and this might not apply to everyone else. I used to wonder why I had to wear it if my belief was strong. But understanding the reason helped reinforce the decision. To understand that there is a message. And like i mentioned before, now that I do wear it, the reasoning isnt necessary aymore I guess.
N: Do you believe that there are some women who are forced to wear the veil?
A: Yes I do. I think its sad because I believe, and I've told my own father, that the choice should stem from one's self. Then it would be more meaningful that way.
N: Do you think there are any ways of making it more about the person's own decision to wear the veil?
A: Education. Changing society's views and perceptions, changing the norms, and maybe be less repressive? In Malaysia, the choice is one's own more than the Middle East. And really, I think what is the root of these views is pretty much the regime, leaders, and internal policies that shape what people believe. I also think what some people/families try to do is scare others as opposed to inspire the feeling of wanting.



Thanks again Ain!

Related Post: From a different perspective