The catch 22 of feminism

MILKSHAKE-DUBAI-catch22-hairyarmpitsblogCatch 22 Bar. Source: mesvacancesadubai.com

There was an argument I read a while back that shook my core beliefs. Or at the very least, made me question them:

The simple statement, ‘I want equality for women’ does not necessarily help the cause. It is behind the next phase. The next phase being – women are equal, women are empowered, now what? How can we improve? How can we develop as a sex? Yes, we have issues, what can be done about it, etc.

This almost post-feminist rhetoric is powerful.

Phenomenal-Woman-maya-angelou-hairyarmpitsblog-Maya. Source: visi.co.za

I like the statement Maya Angelou made – I am not a feminist, I am a woman, and that is a wonderful thing to be. (If you can find the reference to this, please let me know, I saw it a few years ago.)

Is there a difference? Yes, and it is very slight. There is a slight implication of victimhood. Perhaps the position of victim of this culture, this inequality, this life, is only an outside perception, and not meant by the statement ‘I am a feminist’ at all.

But somehow, it is unavoidably tied with the idea of injustice. And this may be so. The inequality is real… But if you want something to move forward, focusing on the problem and not the solution will not get you anywhere. (This may also not be the case. Prove me wrong if you like!)

are-you-a-feminist-or-feminist-ally-me.me-hairyarmpitsblogKorean. Source: me.me

The point I am getting at is, perhaps there is a new and exciting and more empowering way of stating who we are and what we want.

I am proud of what my feminist sisters have done and fought for. What we’re still doing and being today. Isn’t it time we honoured all that work with a new wave? Of women who are women who already believe they are equal? Surely this strength and belief would bring about equality and a demand for our rights to be met, in the most effective way possible?

After all of this thought, I had to ask, do I still see myself as a feminist?

The answer is yes. While I cannot say that I do believe that staying in feminism forever is the right path for women, I could not deny the belief I have for equality. I could not deny my sisters who say ‘what other choice do we have but to be feminists?’

And so I stand by and with them.

pinky-swear-womennow.in-hairyarmpitsblogI’m a feminist. Pinky swear. Source: womennow.in

But I will say, there’s something for being proud of being a woman (feminist or not). A soul focus on the strength of women, over the inequality being faced could be a game-changer.

And so, while I honour our past, I am set on the future, baby. And it’s lookin’ bright.

bright-future-bitcoinist.com-hairyarmpitsblogBright future. Source: bitcoinist.com

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We need to talk…

emma-watson-hiding-maya-angelou-cute-hairyarmpitsblog“Are you a feminist?” Source: thecut.com

Recently I went to my French class (I am living in Paris, and still do not speak fluent French, I thought it was time to change that this year) and in it there are mostly women, and a few men from all over the globe.

When we reached the subject of feminism I was astounded and pleasantly delighted to find that, as the teacher asked ‘who here is a feminist?’ all of the class’s female occupants put their hands up.

This was something I had never seen before. I, naturally, shared this blog with them, and just as we were all leaving said I had never been around a group of so many women who believed in the same values of equality for women as me.

girls-talking-iceland-girltalk-hairyarmpitsblogGirls talking. Source: girltalkhq.com

After class, what one of the women said struck me as important: ‘I never really talk about it with other women.’

And neither do I.

How crazy is that? The only way that we can spread the idea of equality is surely through talking about it.

So that question, ‘are you a feminist?’ can open up worlds of support and inspiration, that would otherwise be closed off from us. Some of my closest friends are highly intelligent and inspiring women, and yet I have never asked them this simple question.

I have mostly spoken only to men about the subject, but hardly ever to women…

Well, I think it’s about time we start, don’t you?!

 

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Who were you born to be?

lady gaga born this way tatto tattoodo.com

Women’s problem in society is one that we are all facing. It’s just a very specific way of feeling it –  that disconnect. That disconnection from who we really are.

It’s the ‘pretty hurts’ part of society and culture.

Because when we try and be the ‘women’ (or the cardboard cutout) of what we think we ought to be, over what we actually want, we lose contact with ourselves. And that’s when we lose power.

barbie box woman
Barbie’s friend. Source: pinterest.com

As Kyle Cease says: we lose what life is all about when we lose connection with ourselves. When we trade in who we are and our connection to ourselves for an outside ‘reality’ or aim… this can happen with anything for anyone.

But for women, it is more likely to be trying to be ‘pretty’… trying to be attractive, trying to attract a mate – because that’s what society says gives you your worth – not who you are, or what you’ve done, or your achievements.

It’s only us that can say that who we are is what gives us something. That it is everything.

selfie for approval
Selfie. pinterest.com

The point is, that in all this trying to get approval from… someone, from the outside, we lose the inside. And how do we start that journey, of finding out who we are and what we want?

I honestly don’t know.

I believe in just acknowledging the fact that this pressure exists, and even more than that, on some level or another, that we (well, a lot of us!) want to adhere to it, in order to have things perfectly natural and desirable to us, like having a mate or acceptance, or love…

Weirdos having fun. Source: pinterest.com
Weirdos having fun. Source: pinterest.com

Thing is, when we connect to ourselves, to what we want, to the unique and outpouring everlasting and overflowing expression that is us… when we feel full of our souls, those things come naturally. I mean, who doesn’t want to be around someone like that?

Someone simply trying to ‘be pretty’ ends up being 2D. That’s not because they’re now a boring person. It’s because they’re hiding, from themselves and others, who they really are.

And if you fit into that box, if pretty really is you, then go you!

lady gaga giff be strong

I’m just saying, that for the rest of us. For the ‘ugly’ girls by default, the weird ones, who don’t fit into a norm that was never made for us, but for men selling things to women so other men could watch us, and we would hope to get their approval.

I’m just saying. There is more than that.

There is, so much more to us. To our future daughters. To our future sons.

And when you see it – notice it. And applaud it.

beyonce quote
Yoncé.

Because in each person that stands up to be

who they are or stands up against ‘the box’ that we’re meant to fit into, another future girl can find it in her own self- in her own soul – to really question who she wants to be, not in the world – but in her world – her own world.

And to every weirdo out there, fully connected to themselves, I say thank you. You give us the courage to stand up and be who we really are. Because, if she can do it, so can I.

Thanks so much for your support of the site so far, your contributions remind me that writing this really might be making a difference. And that’s the whole point! Thanks so much for your gifts ❤

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She for He – #hecancry

#mencancryMan crying. Source – guardian.ng

I just had a huge epiphany: That we, as feminists, may have been missing a trick.

I think one of the largest problems with feminism today (as in, its efficacy), is that the word often, without meaning to, creates estrangement. Men can feel isolated and like it isn’t something for them to be involved with…

I happen to believe that the missing piece is connection. Women and men need to see each other as individual people, that is the only way these barriers can be broken.

I was recently talking to a friend, who told me that I was more than the colour of my skin or the gender of the body I am in. That was a huge compliment, as I believe all great people can be defined by who they are, and not where they were born, their parents, their upbringing etc. At a certain point, a person surpasses their physical boundaries: Maya Angelou. Martin Luther King. Lana Wachowski. John Lennon. Prince.

Maya Angelou. Source – quote ambition

“A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”

Men go through crippling difficulties with not being able to express emotion in a world that is too busy to hear. Many men die because of this lack of support, and connection.

sad man.jpgMan in pain. Source – blocksoflife

I am not saying women don’t have it hard. There are many problems for women to deal with in this modern age, too. Many that it may be hard for men to understand. In the same way women may never fully understand the difficulties they face. If you’re feeling a resistance to helping men, I get it. We feel unheard, often unseen. Surely the first step, again, is connection.

We are not so different. We are all human. And just because we have not experienced their problems, and vice versa, it does not mean we can’t help each other out. We need unity more than ever now.

emma-watson-cares-and-so-should-you__1500x670_q85_crop_subsampling-2Emma Watson. Source – globalcitizen

“Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too.”

As Emma Watson said so eloquently in her speech, men have problems, too. Helping men to express their feelings and to connect, in my mind, can only help women… and men.

So here’s my proposal… to post the hashtags #hecancry #warriorscry #sheforhe along with a supportive message to all men.

This is a way of showing that feminists can support men. I believe that men and women supporting each other is crucial if we are to work together in the future.

Men play a large role in helping us to reach equality, and being kind is always a good thing. I believe it is time to show that while we need men’s help (#heforshe), men can be just as benefited and lifted up as we can. It’s also time for #sheforhe #strongmencry #warriorscry #hecancry

As always, thanks in advance for any gifts ❤

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Why we needed #metoo

Why we needed metoo Taylor Blake FlickrTree woman. Source – flickr

Recently a friend said to me that she didn’t think so many of those using the metoo hashtag needed to kick up too much of a fuss. Most of them were probably only verbally sexualised on the street, was her theory. Maybe it was just people making a fuss about nothing, right?

The thing is, if you’ve never experienced sexual violence of any kind, you are the lucky ones. That’s not to say this is a bad thing. We want more and more ‘lucky’ young women, and the #metoo movement isn’t just about making people lucky- it’s about making being safe the norm, for everybody.

As someone who has been attacked, I couldn’t find the words to say, ‘no, it IS needed.’ Because still the shame runs deep through my veins. So I decided to write this post instead.

If someone slaps a woman’s ass on the street, it’s no big deal, right? I mean, it’s not rape. It’s not murder. My issue with this attitude is this – one disrespectful act can lead to another.

I know not everything in life needs to be taken seriously, but when one of our sisters or brothers speaks out against injustice, especially when it is so hard to break this silence , we need to accept their reality as truth. And to listen.

#Metoo was a huge deal for those that were brave enough to speak out. And denying the fact that it ever happened is simply denying a larger problem, and that needs to be addressed.

beth budestheim painting

Connected woman. Source: bethbudeshiem.com

We cannot keep raping our mother. Sexual violence is the worst kind of violence because it is a misuse of sacred feminine energy, it is a misuse of love. And it is a deep hurt, sadness and longing, for real love.

The reason we need this truth, is for unity, for all those who are grieving their pain, together. And for an awareness, that voices will be raised, and this is acceptable, no more. No more. No more.

Oprah. Source – the Tube

In response to… James Damore’s Echo Chamber

echo chamber damore echo bilnEcho. Source: bilan

Welcome to my echo. It’s funny, because this guy without meaning to, created his own sound in a cave, which is now reverberating about the internet.

Basically, this dude working for Google as a software engineer was asked to give some feedback on their diversity programs. Without any response he tried sharing his ideas with other employees. His memo then leaked and went viral.

When I first heard about this, I got a brief account of the story – ‘guy says that there are less women in tech because they are biologically less suited to it’.

Without more understanding, there’s a shock factor. I can feel my metaphorical cat hunching up it’s back and getting defensive. ‘Women too stupid to do tech!’ … But I don’t like to jump on a bandwagon without a bit of further information.

giraffe catCats love giraffes. Source: reddit

By coincidence I came across him speaking in an empathy circle in an NVC video. I was still cagey, but interested in how he might not be a total dickhead! It took me a while, and I eventually managed to find the original document. Having read it, I could see the clear intention of the author – to increase inclusion and diversity.

It is not so dissimilar from the advice given in this TED talk by Linda Salane, talking about how women are different from men in certain ways, (for cultural or biological reasons) and knowing this can be used to our advantage. She encourages women to improve their bartering skills for pay and to care less what people think about them so they do what they want/take promotions despite any negative judgements that may be made.

Damore doesn’t make any suggestions for women to change themselves, he does, however, suggest ways tech companies could improve upon their inclusion of women and general diversity in the workplace.

He made many points about this and how political views/biases may be affecting the company. These included the idea that google’s diversity programs singling out one type of person from another is possibly adding to the problem. A catch 22. Damore implies that by including everyone’s opinions, by not labelling people as minorities, we begin a new path of egalitarianism.

Balance-scalesScales. Source: super metal recyclers

This is a similar point to a woman I find truly inspiring, Caroline McHugh – who said that she is a feminist, but she is mostly a ‘womanist’, i.e. proudly a woman. This does not mean feminism is not needed. It just acknowledges the unfortunate catch 22 feminism brings to the table. In an odd way it backs up the idea that it is needed.

(nb I am not saying that feminism is not needed! But, I can see the progression in moving towards what we would like to happen.)

The ideas and strategies suggested in this memo are inspiring to me. He even goes as far as referencing feminists in the memo, arguing we have made great leaps in freeing women of their gender roles.

He makes the argument for men also to be heard, and that giving people jobs simply because of their gender is not helping the problem. But jobs can be made more, ‘female-friendly’ so that women want to work in tech more organically.

 3045915-poster-p-1-how-do-i-get-long-winded-job-candidates-to-stop-talking-during-interviewsTalk. Source: kingston muslim association

If not judged so quickly as an ‘anti-diversity’ statement, these possible findings could be used to help more women in many different sectors. If correct, they could be the key to getting more women into management positions, or more men interested in more social /people-based jobs.

I can understand why some women do not want to hear what he has to say. Perhaps there is too much pain from past experience. The way they have been treated may seem so unfair and, yes, sexist, that they are not willing to hear his ideas. I get it. It is hard to not feel heard or understood.

At face judgement, what he appears to be saying is shocking. But that’s ironically because of the echo chamber of fake news implying he thinks women are not biologically up to becoming techies. -It is easy to say that he is a ‘white male’, so he can never understand. But, what if he’s willing to try to understand? And what if we were willing to hear his perspective, not just dehumanise him because of his skin colour or sex?

Then, maybe, just maybe, we could all hear each other, and we could work something out. And the world could get just a little more diverse.

#strongertogether #hairypitstogether

 

What do you think? Is this guy onto something? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, thank you for your gifts ❤

Women and exercise – ‘you don’t have to’


women exercise pride ev grieveLove the Skin. Source: stacie joy

So, this is a little thought about the strange situation women are in in terms of exercise, our relationship to the world and to ‘body shaming’.

It is so assumed that a woman would be exercising because she hates her body or to lose weight that the phrase ‘oh, you don’t have to,’ is often used in response to the statement ‘I’m going for a run now’.

This is sad. To put it on the other foot, for a man who wants to exercise for whatever reason, this phrase seems less likely to be used (please correct me if I’m wrong!), but I’d guess the phrase ‘but you don’t need to lose any weight!’ isn’t used so much.

Our culture seems to have so engrained in our psyche the idea that women should dislike their bodies and strive to change them, that exercise naturally must be an odd side effect in response to this pressure.

women exercise you don't have to love- awesome desktopLove. Source: awesome desktop

But what if there was another reason? (Can you imagine?!)

What if, on the other end of the scale, a woman is so full of love for herself that she enjoys feeling healthy? Maybe she just likes running. Maybe she’s gotten past all the bullcrap about how people think she should be, gotten past all the hate that she is meant to be feeling, and she just loves herself, as she is.

The woman who loves her body does not then need to exercise. She chooses to. Exercise has many benefits, especially improving your mood and mental health, which, a woman who loves herself might want to take advantage of. Or not.

women exercise - you don't have to - lying-naked-woman-alfons-niexWoman. Source: Fine Art America

I happen to be an artist. To me, everything is art, including my body. I don’t work out to eradicate it – I work out to create it! To allow it to be all that it can be!

I love my body as it is and I love seeing it evolve. Yes, I like seeing my body develop into a healthier body, but I don’t berate it or myself when I have an off day and eat a whole pizza and a burrito! My body gave me life, it finds health for me, it works, even when I’m sleeping! And I find all sorts of ways of enjoying it; exercise being one of them.

 awwww women exercise you don't have to body pride girlGirl. Source: Pinterest

So I say yes to body pride (which is always sexy), and I say yes to exercise pride. Let’s allow our girls to run and enjoy being girls, to enjoy being active if they want; to find strength in any way they want to.

Because the shame of not being able to move, just incase you are judged as fearful of your own body, is not something we need carry on to the next generation.

 

What do you think? Vibe from the other side – what is body shaming like for men? Have you ever had this kind of ‘exercise shaming’ before? The odd sister of body shaming?

Let me know in the comments! Thanks, love you!!

For more on Body Lovin’, click here.

Thanks in advance for any gifts ❤

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