Tag Archives: #equality2

FEMINISM IN POP CULTURE – A YOUNG FEMINIST’S VIEW

Bristol Woman is delighted to publish the second part of the ‘Young Feminist’ series from young blogger, Mollie Semple. Probably, our youngest guest blog contributor to date. In this blog, Mollie tells us her hopes and fears in terms of the evolution and expansion of today’s Third Wave feminism. Definitely worth a read!

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It used to be, in recent years, that there was only a very subtle undertone of feminism in any kind of pop culture most likely due to the fact the ‘Angry Feminist’ was the only stereotype thought of to refer to. And an angry woman just does not sell to the masses.

After the popularity of the full on 90s feminist movement Riot Grrrl, the whereabouts of feminists in the limelight, to me as a young person, appear to have dwindled away.

Only a few years ago I found it hard to find celebrities, songs and films right in the middle of popular culture to resonate with my growing feminist beliefs but now it’s increasingly hard to find an area that isn’t slathered in a new Third Wave feminist tint.

Obviously this feminism has always been around, but there wasn’t the same platform there is now to shout out to the world about one’s beliefs on equality. There wasn’t the same number of actresses questioning the press why it was only them who were asked about their family life or their skincare routine instead of their impressive careers. There was no Emma Watson to appeal to UN delegates on the importance of equality for women. Feminism was a dirty word, but I can see more and more of us embrace it as a powerful one. It is within this explosion onto the Hollywood scene, the music scene, the celebrity scene that one can see, mixed in with the added bonus of the Internet, the power of the media to share a message with the people.

This sudden surge of Third Wave feminism in the Western world, which has been building up, right from the first surge of Riot Grrrl, is completely exhilarating. Twitter is littered with it, Facebook is swimming in it and the celebrities are more and more becoming advocates for it. The Angry Feminist, for most, is now just a ‘Taming of the Shrew’ type exaggeration because a huge number of people are now fitting comfortably into a new “acceptable” egalitarian category. We are of course still angry, because you can’t see the gaps in equality and not become deeply impassioned in a desire for change, but it is now an accepted feature to be commended and not frowned upon.

Staggeringly, huge numbers of female celebrities are no longer afraid to open their mouth and express an important opinion in case of a drop in popularity. There has finally been created a safe space for feminism within pop culture where women and men can properly express their thoughts on it. The obvious inequality in this culture is no longer happily ignored, Third Wave feminism has broken through and started to dominate. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end.

However, I do just have one issue with this mostly brilliant popular movement. I worry that in between Emma Watson’s work for the UN, or frequent call outs on the Hollywood pay gap meant to ripple into the world wide pay gap, or the highlighting of the blatant racism in the film industry, there isn’t just a small element of inactivity with this newfound prestige. I wonder if there is too much focus on Western inequality and a lack of intrigue for the disastrous inequality on the other side of the world. Malala Yousafzai has been voicing her feminist views for her culture all over the world, but I wonder if she reaches the level of pop culture that, say, Ryan Gosling does. Western inequality is not unimportant or negligible in any way, but we mustn’t again fall into the trap of forgetting that the rest of the world exists. I also worry that this popularity might be detrimental to feminism in the way that it could exhaust its meaning without a sufficient achievement.

I am so excited by the fact that celebrities are using their platform to spread the word of feminism, but are they truly aiding us or telling us to actively do something?

Perhaps my criticisms are unfair here, perhaps I should just let feminism with its new fame find its steps and see where it goes. I just don’t want its power to become trivial, and for the feminist stereotype to be cyclical and in a few years time we fall into the unattractive label of the “Angry Feminist” once more. I just don’t want this fantastic opportunity to be squandered and lost in this fast moving pace of the pop culture world.

BIO
Mollie is a 17 year old student in the midst of her A Levels. She’s a passionate blogger at The Fully Intended, and all she really wants to do in life is write. She has been raised by her parents to want nothing more for the world than equality, and so intends to spend a lot of her time making sure her generation gets a little bit closer to just that.

BEING A YOUNG FEMINIST

In this two-part guest blog series from probably Bristol Woman’s youngest guest blogger so far, we are delighted to welcome 17-year old young feminist and avid blogger, Mollie Semple. In this first post, Mollie discusses her own experience of what it feels like to be a young feminist.

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I am, and have always been, an impassioned, opinionated, young feminist. I have no qualms with this, this is very much an integral part of who I am, and yet, for a while, it used to be a very alienating experience. It used to feel as if every one of your peers just wouldn’t open their ears and listen to what you had to say, to what the world was saying, and to what women were saying at the time.

Instead, they’d laugh at you. If you were opinionated enough you’d get a reputation, for which I certainly did. Boys would deliberately rile you up because for them it was amusing, but all you wanted to do was to help them to understand what made you so upset. New terminology was making its rounds as the boys and girls discovered a sexuality they were unable to explore yet. “Gash” was a favourite amongst the lads to refer to their female counterparts as a putrid description of an area they were still to be lucky enough to come close to.

My female peers and I had suddenly become pockets of sexual favours to most of the boys, but we were yet to feel the need to speak so cruelly of them. And to a lot of us, the words started to slide over our heads as we’d numb ourselves to the terms that damaged our worth as human beings just because it was said so frequently. I tried to tell everyone this, but they just said I was silly. I couldn’t understand why even the girls didn’t feel the need to protect themselves as females from a society which sought to undermine them. Why didn’t this make them angry? Why would they not fight back with me? For a while it felt like I would have to do this alone.

And then, as if all of a sudden, I wasn’t the only one who felt so intrinsically linked to this word ‘feminism’. It started to make others feel passionately too. Now I could have heated, one-sided discussions about how desperately the world needed feminism and how great it was to be a young feminist. Now, instead of feeling as if I was shouting at an empty room, others were beginning to shout with me and we were going to teach the world about our newfound club. We were feminists, and we were going to let everybody know about it.

Today, in my first year of 6th form, as a feminist I feel pretty empowered. I have both boys and girls who will defend my arguments vehemently because they understand how important a need there is to educate and to fight for this cause of equality. There is certainly a more positive connotation to the word ‘feminism’ and I think that a part of this is because as we grow older we sadly become more and more aware of the inequalities within our very own society. I think that now a lot of us are looking back on the language we used to use and cringing at how awfully sexist it was. But it wasn’t our fault, we had retrieved those words from the adult world and thrown them around without fully understanding the meaning behind it. Now we can see the meaning, and it is starting to repulse us.

Of course, there are still a few left in our year who are still refusing to accept feminism as a valid or necessary concept in our apparently perfect, middle class society. When I try to approach them in a different way and argue that if not for yourself then fight for the others, they still tend to resist. Fight for the women who are murdered in Honour Killings, for the girls who are not allowed to go to school, but, apparently, that’s different. This does not concern us according to them, and it is only barely worthy of feminism. But don’t worry …. I am working on this.

I think that overall being a young feminist is a positive, exciting thing for me now. I certainly feel deeply entrenched within a worthy cause I won’t ever want to stop fighting for, and what encourages me is that more and more of my peers are beginning to understand and feel that. We are young and passionate, and so I think by nature it’s a pretty powerful thing for us to work towards a freer, more equal world.

Mollie’s bio:

Mollie is a 17 year old student in the midst of her A Levels. She’s a passionate blogger at The Fully Intended, and all she really wants to do in life is write. She has been raised by her parents to want nothing more for the world than equality, and so intends to spend a lot of her time making sure her generation gets a little bit closer to just that.

Top Gear: Time for a Woman

Search for “woman driver” on Google images and pictures of female Formula One drivers is NOT what you get. Instead you get women arranging their hair and make up in car mirrors, parking badly, or getting into some ridiculous car accidents.

Images headed by “Caution! Women Drivers”, “Women Driving a Car: Always Ends Badly”, and even “Women Drivers: There’s a reason why it’s illegal in Saudi Arabia”. Compare these images to the fact that women make safer more mindful drivers.

Mainstream media is not helping promote the reality. I’m going to jump on the bandwagon here and talk about Top Gear as an example. Everybody else is! Continue reading Top Gear: Time for a Woman

The Femicide Census

sian norrisWords by Sian Norris

Regular Blogger for Bristol Woman

In the first three days of 2012, eight women were killed as a result of male violence. Their names were Susan McGoldrick, Tanya Turnbull, Alison Turnbull, Kirsty Treolar, Claire O’Connor, Betty Yates, Kathleen Milward and Marie McGrory. The youngest was 20 years old, the oldest was 87.

We know their names because that week, feminist activist and Chief Executive of NIA, Karen Ingala-Smith, wrote them down.  Shocked at how many women were killed by men in such a short space of time, Karen decided to keep counting. By the end of 2014 she had counted 417 women. Last year, a woman was killed by a man every 2.46 days.

Continue reading The Femicide Census

Racism, Sexism and Music Videos

by Pauline Musoke @ThePauzi

We are currently living in an intense environment of popular culture dominated by music videos, which are focused on traditional images of gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity. Music videos may have changed over the course of modern history, but have certainly grown to be bigger, bolder, some would say sexier and more controversial. The reason for finding music videos problematic may be because of the unrealistic images of the human body and the messages that are being portrayed and sold by major music industries.

Music is one of the major things that connects the people of Bristol, both within and beyond the city. It allows people to feel a rainbow of emotions and express themselves in countless ways. Music can take us on a trip down memory lane, it can give us a sense of total freedom during the private moments when we dance around in our underwear and for some, music is their lifeline. However, much of the popular music produced today is accompanied with videos that present distorted images of sexuality and objectify women’s bodies. This is particularly the case of Black women’s bodies which are often exotified, have their behinds’ fetishized and are continuously limited of their autonomy because of their race, ethnicity, class and gender. Continue reading Racism, Sexism and Music Videos

My balancing act between children and ambition

By Zoe Dobson

When I agreed to write this article, I never thought how difficult it would be.  How to get across that I’m a hard-working, single mum who hopefully has the work/life balance right for my children? It’s difficult.

I never expected my life to turn out this way – to be a single, working mum wasn’t the future I saw when I fell pregnant with my first daughter at 25.  Yes I knew I’d work, I’ve always been ambitious, always wanted to ‘have a career’, but being on my own with children plus a busy career wasn’t part of my plan.  But for the last two years, that’s how it’s been and I’d like to think we’re doing pretty well.

I love my children more than words can express.  They are the most wonderful, amazing, beautiful, entertaining, interesting people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They astound and amuse (and sometimes aggravate) me daily. Yet you could question if I’ve been there enough for them?  I believe I have, but others may disagree. Continue reading My balancing act between children and ambition

Where are the women? Founding Bristol Women’s Literature Festival

Words by Sian Norris,

Regular Blogger for Bristol Woman

 

 

Four years ago, in 2011, the Bristol Feminist Network and Bristol Fawcett Society collaborated on an event that demanded ‘Where are the Women’. The event was the culmination of research undertaken throughout the previous five years on the representation of women in the media. http://www.rowitm.org/findings.html

Our research had revealed that women’s representation fell into two camps. Either we were highly sexualised, young and smiling with red lips, white teeth and big hair on the covers of magazines, celebrated for our ability to conform to a male-defined idea of beauty. Or we were…not there.

This invisibility of women was noticeable across the media, and backed up by 2010 research conducted by UK Feminista. Music festival line-ups, male dominated. Film directors and writers – male dominated. Plays in theatres written by men, art exhibitions celebrating men, cultural events dominated by men, news pages dominated by men with the exception of a topless woman smiling on page 3. And, of course, literature festival line-ups, literature review magazines and literary prizes – all dominated by men. Women were rarely to be seen. When we did appear, it would be on a panel about women or feminism. Panels with grand titles such as ‘The future of the world’ were a strictly women-free zone.

Continue reading Where are the women? Founding Bristol Women’s Literature Festival

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg: A Review

Business Sense journalist, Isabelle Macintyre, provides a critique on the book that’s taken the business world by storm.

130308101143-sheryl-sandberg-lean-in-book-cover-240xaSheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook, all-round over-achiever – is the latest person to address the subject of women in power.

It’s an issue that still manages to provoke controversy. And while Lean In has received considerable praise from leading figures in politics and business, the acclaim has been countered by some censure.

Most glaring, at least from an SME perspective, is the concern that Sandberg is in too much of a bubble to have anything relatable to offer. Certainly, when considering her personal wealth of $500 million, and the fact that Fortunes magazine recently ranked her as more influential than Michelle Obama, such a position is hard to challenge. But for a busy SME owner, is there anything of value to be gained here?

Lean In is an enjoyable and interesting light read, and its author is likeable and engaging. I can certainly see why it has quickly become a bestseller. Sandberg’s chief talent (among many others) is her magnificent ability to inspire and motivate those she encounters, and given her professional success, one couldn’t ask for a better coach. Continue reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg: A Review

Leaving the numb

by Angelena Lewis

DSC_0887-1-129A woman experiencing abuse lives her life in a state of fear and confusion, unable to predict when the next attack will occur and unable to clearly define who is responsible or why it is happening. She may also become distant from friends and family, and increasingly dependent on her abuser even though his behaviour is offensive. After a while she begins to believe his insults, his version of events, blames herself for the abuse or may even deny it is happening altogether.

Contrary to belief, abused women are not weak or submissive but tremendously strong and resourceful. In fact there have been well -documented parallels between the impact of torture and imprisonment on hostages and victims of domestic violence.  Continue reading Leaving the numb

The Shame Game

Words by Honor Tuttiett

After hearing that today’s theme on Women’s Hour, Radio 4 was going to be about menstruation and the shame that still surrounds it in many cultures, I thought about how interestingly taboo the natural occurrence still is. They focused on last week’s Australia Open where the British tennis player Heather Watson played less than her best and put this down to ‘girl things’. This gave rise to a media storm. How sad it is that one of the most regular experiences for a female is so taboo to be spoken about that it starts an actual frenzy.

A Tampax Advert - Appealing to our sense of shame?
A Tampax Advert – Appealing to our sense of shame?

It got me thinking about how I see menstruation myself. I have always prided myself on being a forthcoming woman, speaking honestly about bodily functions if the conversation were to arise. But then my mind forced me to reflect on a niggling memory. Scrolling through my Facebook feed one evening I stumbled across a picture of a drunken, skirt wearing, female acquaintance in an amorous embrace with a man. They were leaning back on a table and any picture observer could see her tampon string clearly protruding from the skirt.

I was shocked, as were the other onlookers by the story the comments told. But I want to focus on why was I shocked. Was it because she was on her period, shamefully having a great time? But I do that myself. Was it because she didn’t remember that this day was one not to show up your skirt to the camera? But I am sure I could be in that position too. Then I realised, it was because I had been affected by period shaming and was now inflicting that on others. The conversation on Woman’s hour flowed well (excuse the pun!) they went from shaming in adverts to sport and then how schools treat this subject.

Finding that most of these industries still address the subject as they did in 50’s. I remember my own experience of being sectioned off from the boys, because obviously this would never enter their lives, and being told to protect myself from leaking- the ultimate shame! Continue reading The Shame Game