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A Fresh Perspective and The Battle of the Sexes

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Recently, I’ve been getting into self-help books like a bag of crisps. For someone who used to avoid them (if not laugh at them), you might be wondering what made me change my tune? As I am always very honest and confiding, I will admit that I was at a point (during a predicament) where I needed guidance beyond what my friends, family and own reasoning or instincts could give. Open mindedness and a willingness to try was simply the only option left.

One book I am reading stressed on the importance of “giving up frustration and anger in lieu of a new possibility” – basically making positive any negative situation. It encouraged the mindset of making your own life good, not waiting for an external source to do it for you. It also suggested that you can speak to the universe – that your choices and mindset shape what comes to you. Those who read too literally into this would see this as ridiculous, but those who are willing to understand can really take away a lot from this perspective.

The message of this particular book, although not one on feminism, reminded me of my struggles within the Women’s Rights Movement and gave me an idea on how to overcome this. One issue I really find hard to deal with is how many people see feminists as bitter, or a bunch of complainers. It’s easy to bring out the claws in defense, but what good does it do but confirm the accusations? And even if we are in the right, this is a person’s honest opinion of feminism. Perhaps we have to acknowledge this? So how do we deal with the continuing struggles of gender equality being of non-importance to many, while considering these statements against feminism, and still go forward towards our collective goals? (We give them a Pepsi of course. But if that fails…)

We change tactics, and we challenge our mindsets. We look at negative situations as opportunity to grow. 

Let’s take a look at the Women’s March on Washington for example. The love and community that came from that day inspired more than the reason for the march. Embracing the best from a negative situation inspires. Focusing on the negative – i.e. the reason women were marching to begin with – sucks. We have to think of ways to make positive every situation within the Women’s Rights Movement, even when we feel our anger is justified. And yes, it begins with acknowledging how far we have come and how many people have contributed to this ever-improving situation for global gender equality, even if we haven’t achieved a 50-50 world yet.

If this seems like a slap in the face of all those who sacrificed so much for the cause (or those who already do acknowledge how far we have come), I assure you, I originally thought this too. It took a while to get my head around this, but we have to understand that this doesn’t mean we ignore the wrongs that have happened, but we rather look at things with a NEW perspective. If we want a more positive approach and welcome more people into the fold of feminism – perhaps we have to further understand why exactly people don’t support this cause, digging beyond the surface level of people’s opinions.

After all, I think the root of our problems has little to do with superficial stereotyping of feminists, and more to do with a cultural habit that has existed for centuries, if not millennia. And this is where I get to the real guts of this blog entry.

Our whole culture – not just in the case of feminism – encourages a battle of the sexes. Since it’s birth, feminism has been mislabeled as a cause for man-hating, and every modern feminist feels like a broken record trying to communicate the true definition of the word (if not having it man-splained back at us). But let’s continue to zoom out: most men and women are in a constant power struggle to outdo one another and try to prove their superiority. In work, in education, in sports and reality TV, magazines and casual sexism in conversation, even down to the expectations parents place on their children. It’s hard to find one example where men and women, boys and girls aren’t compared or pitted against one another, or even simply separated based on biological differences. Despite the social and political advances of women in the last century, this war wages on, and I believe this is the fundamental reason for why feminism is seen in a negative light. People only see it as segregation of the sexes. This is why so many people opt to be called humanists or egalitarians, or denounce feminism when the values they speak are, in fact, feminist. This mindset runs rampant in our community, and until we recognize the nuances of it’s existence,  we unwittingly participate in the war. So this message is for feminists, self-proclaimed non-feminists alike:

If we all truly want gender equality in our lifetime, we have to recognise that the battle of the sexes – and how we stereotype men and women – are fundamental in our viewpoint of feminism. We need to redirect our understanding to be based around social justice (the principal of equality in all definitions, for all people), not solely focusing on the semantics of the name.

I became a feminist because I wanted to prove my value as a woman. The more I invested in the movement, the more I realised that this cause was bigger than my own. Our ideas on feminism are palpable and resonate with others. We need to make them positive and inclusive, if we want positivism and inclusiveness to come back to us. It goes back to that idea of putting out to the universe what we want returned. Basically, we have to acknowledge that most people want equality, and feminism is called feminism because it’s a cause directly associated with women, but that doesn’t mean it’s exclusively for women, or beneficial only to women. Changing the name of feminism simply takes away the special significance of women’s suffrage in the movement.

Call me idealistic, but I think if we actually learned to understand the reasons why people see our values differently, and learn to not take it personally when someone disagrees, we may become closer to Planet 50/50 faster than we think.

“Now you know better, so you do better” – Maya Angelou

This entry skipped and hopped around a bit, much like my thoughts tend to do when excited about an idea. But do you agree? Do you disagree? I want to know your thoughts! Share in the comment section below.

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The Women’s March on Washington

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Woke up to the most exciting news about the marches across America and the world. The Women’s March on Washington (specifically the one in DC) is so big, they couldn’t formally march to the White House. The march in LA expected 80k people, but got 750,000. This is so historic. Make sure you understand why these marches are happening before choosing to sneer at it, or stay neutral. When women first started marching 100+ year ago, it lead to (white woman’s) first rights to become CITIZENS so never underestimate the power of an organised peaceful protest.
Images from marches across America. Via: NYTimes.com

I’ve taken a break from my hiatus, otherwise I would have missed the most exciting day for women and minorities in the current state of affairs! Who would have guessed how BIG this was and how far spread it was?  What a day to be alive!

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Women’s Marches across the globe: including Antarctica!

As I began this blog in August last year, I was aware of the unrest and underlying anger of feminists, humanists and civil rights activists and so forth across the world. I had no idea what was to come, but I felt a huge urge to do and SAY something myself. I knew it was time to get on board. Having received so much flack for my views, it’s empowering to know I wasn’t alone in this, and that so many people feel what I feel. It seems the election of Trump was just the ignition needed to blow up the ticking time bomb. I am so incredibly proud to have witnessed humanity rise up – across the world – to say “NO” to the system, the flaunting of ignorance and indecent human behaviour, and people who don’t believe in equality for all.

The fact that the Women’s March on Washington (which is effectively a march for equality, climate change, anti-greed and so on, not just for women) has dominated the news scene and dwarfed the crowd turn out for the Inauguration is so exciting. It says something. Everyone from career activists to celebrities to first time activists and introverts have joined up – oh, how I’d love to have been in the States this day! The Official Women’s March on Washington in DC was SO BIG it couldn’t march to the White House for safety and coordination reasons. The LA crowd was expected to be 80,000 but got an estimated 175,000! There were marches in London, Sydney, Vienna and about 20 other countries, and even in 4 cities in little old New Zealand! All organised in less than 2 months! This sort of outcome is not to be sneezed at. If you haven’t taken thought to why this is happening, I suggest you get informed — after all, I believe this will become a notable piece in the history books, and you’ll want to be able to proudly tell your grandchildren how you played a part.

“Once or twice in every generation a line is crossed so egregiously that where you stood on the issue will forever define you.” – Kara Vallow

Hilarious and clever signs from various marches. Please contact me for crediting!

For those who understand why these marches are happening, I need not explain. For those who don’t understand why these marches are happening, let me explain.

In a nutshell, the last four thousand years have seen women persecuted, cast as secondary human beings, not been seen as capable or intelligent as men, and often having to struggle in abusive conditions and lifestyles across many different cultures and laws. We don’t know a lot about Women’s History because it’s simply never discussed or taught in our schools. Black Civil Rights has been covered a little better – simply because the condition for Black people was so much worse. But for many minority groups, their stories have not been told.

But without delving too much into the history that brought us here, it is important to know that laws for equality that came around only over the last century didn’t happen because white men in power suddenly felt guilty and decided to be nice, they happened because the minorities in every culture stood up and protested. I didn’t get my education and freedom to work as a woman without the activism of the Suffragettes pre-1920. I’m super grateful to these women who had the strength to stand up and risk persecution, job loss, jail time, ridicule and even torture so that my future as a woman wouldn’t have to be a choice between becoming a spinster in a limited career path or the property of a husband. Likewise, those who activated for Black Civil Rights in the 60s and Gay Rights in the 80s-onwards have all risked EVERYTHING in order for the particular minorities to have less social stigma today. Our future children will thank those today who stood up against a corrupt US Government for equality, climate change and reproductive rights for women, among the other rights that are being trampled on by the Trump administration and the extremists of corrupted nations and religions across the world.

Some might think this is a waste of time! But even if today was completely ignored by Trump, the whole world has taken notice. People are getting inspired and jumping on board. People are questioning what they value. Mindsets are being changed. The fight has only just begun.

The Women’s March, or the March against Trump, isn’t a march against Democracy. It isn’t even a march against the fundamentally flawed Electoral system that helped seal Trump’s victory. The Russian scandal, his lying and breaking of the constitution on day 1 hasn’t really been mentioned. This March is focused on protesting the values of the Trump Government, which is working to eradicate all that is fair in America. The rights of and opportunities for all citizens, including immigrants and the LBGQT community. The Arts. Science. The fight for the Climate. And bringing in Greed, Religious Fundamentalism, Discrimination and Sexism. Normalizing casual misogyny, racism, homophobia and xenophobia. Working backwards to make America Hate Again. If anyone is comfortable with this sort of value system, they really need to check their heart. This isn’t about standard republican policy, this is about basic human dignity and decency.

If you see only one presentation from the March, I urge you to watch Ashley Judd’s hugely powerful and emotional rally speech here. Also, the NY Times has a rundown of the events that have/are taking place. Stay informed, and get on the right side of history. To those who are following, or taking part, I am SO PROUD of you. Let’s stick together and fight for what is right. If you took part, I want to know! Share your thoughts down below.

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Words from my hero ❤

“Women’s Rights are Human Rights” – HRC

www.womensmarch.com/

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Let's Talk

Men’s Feelings Are Being Hurt

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Following my last post about the toxicity of social media arguments, I’d like to extend the discussion to a series of particular online debates I found myself in:

 

When Caitlyn Jenner was nominated as Woman of the Year by Glamour Magazine, I didn’t initially care. This was because Glamour Magazine doesn’t hold much esteem on a global stage, but, because of the headlines this was making (likely media sensationalism for publicuty), I started to take part in discussion. Although I don’t consider her a role-model personally, Jenner has made a global impact on the recognition of transgendered people; and even though she was born a man, I was fine with the awarding.

 

But a lot of people weren’t. Some reasons for this were that Jenner hadn’t yet outed herself as a woman for an entire year, and another was that she had come from a notorious reality TV family and this was simply a publicity stunt (a bit extreme to think she’d have a sex change for a bit of publicity, really). The most common argument was that she hadn’t actively done anything more for transgendered people other than claim she is transgendered. All of these seem like valid arguments, until I noticed a lot of the online backlash was coming from the fingertips of furious, non-transgendered men. One man I read about, James Smith, whose deceased wife had won the same award for her heroism in 9/11 actually returned the award on her behalf in protest.

 

One may view this anger-on-behalf-of-women as men finally coming on board to support equality of the sexes, but this to me looked more like thinly veiled trans-bashing and misdirected anger at a system that is progressively moving away from singularly favouring white heterosexual men. Let’s admit it: The contempt against Jenner was not for women!  James Smith behaved more like a man using feminism as an excuse for his anger rather than a man supporting feminism.

 

For so long, women have been looked down upon as the ’emotional’ gender, and this emotional nature is exactly the reason why women weren’t considered good leaders or decision makers. It was completely illogical of course, but who made the rules? Now that this concept is obsolete (or is it), it seems that everyone is using emotion (ie anger) to drive their own voice, rather than regarding the oppressed people in question. The disgust over Jenner’s award was more contempt for transgendered people than in support of women. (You don’t need to read between the lines of this quote by Smith: “Was there no woman in America, or the rest of the world, more deserving than this man?”).

 

Ultimately, Caitlyn Jenner’s awarding didn’t bother me because she identifies with being female. I am not here to question this. But in what became a social media experiment, when I made a similar statement on Facebook saying Bono of U2 didn’t deserve the recognition of Woman of the Year by Glamour Magazine, some men turned on me instead. This is basically what I wrote:

 

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Weighing in on the Historic US Election

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So how do you judge what a man is worth
By what he builds or buys?
You can never see with your eyes on earth
Look through heavens eyes

Through Heaven’s Eyes – Prince of Egypt

I think every man, woman and their dog has commented on this election, but considering the nature of my blog, it’s about time I’m spoken out. Hillary Clinton’s name has become synonymous with the term ‘Feminist’ – but not in the way you’re probably thinking. We know, or at least some of us know, that the messages behind both Hillary and Feminism are positive and progressive; but through negative press, propaganda and fear-mongering, people are reluctant to associate themselves with the name.

So how do you change mindsets when people aren’t open to change? Looking at this year’s Presidential campaign, the GOP targeted the darker side of people’s belief systems to promote their candidate, allowing them to think these dangerous and hateful mindsets are normal. It seems impossible to use reason with people who think this rhetoric is okay.

But then there comes a point when you have to say something. If people are going to just verbally spew any opinion without fact-checking or kindness, when is the right time to stand up and say – hey, this isn’t okay? I can say confidently that anyone who supports Trump, for political or personal reasons, is ultimately turning a blind eye to the endorsement of lies, racism, sexism, idiocy, sexual harassment, general harassment, arrogance, elitism and corruption, and is guilty by association. That is, they are allowing such archaic prejudices to thrive by disregarding them as important. In terms of Clinton, I question the way people portray her simply because her words and principles don’t reflect the ‘crookedness’ that the GOP publicise. Do I think she is faultless? No. Find me one Politician that is. But for leadership, I believe you need to have good values. This means that the ideology that underpins your policies needs to come from a mindset of open mindedness and growth. In terms of this, frankly, Hillary’s policies are miles ahead of Trump’s, and reflect a more forgiving, compassionate, and human value system.

I could say that there are people indirectly excusing Trump’s behaviour by saying that, although they despise the man, they are voting for his policies. To a degree, this is reasonable. In the case of say, Bill Clinton, his infidelities didn’t stop him from being a successful President. Even Winston Churchill and FDR had failures in their personal lives that didn’t extend to their professional ones. But each as LEADERS had progressive and compassionate world views and inspired hope in all their people. In the words of JK Rowling, “if you want to know what a man is really like, take a look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals”. It doesn’t take the ‘liberal’ media to convince us that Trump has a questionable moral system. He clearly encourages a violent and racist rhetoric. The way Trump speaks about anyone who isn’t white, male, or doesn’t support him, shows that – in a world that is becoming increasingly more equality conscious – Trump is not a great spokesperson for all the people.

I consider myself a moderate in my own country – I see the benefits and flaws of principles from both major parties – but in terms of America, I am a strong Democrat. Largely because – throughout Obama’s two terms and through this current election – the Republican party have proven themselves to be untrustworthy, deceptive, hateful and holding back of a progressive first world country. (What kind of democracy lets an opposition block every move the party in power makes?). Because of the Republican party, America has held their citizens back from receiving first-world quality health care rights, have accepted and encouraged a gun-reliance mentality (unlike any other first world country), and are responsible for fundamentalist Christianity having too much control in political policy. Religion is a philosophical practice to encourage good. But the Bible was written thousands of years ago and isn’t practical in, or reflective of modern governing.

But for those who are vocally against Hillary by using ‘evidence’ dug up from right-wing conspiracy groups, I’ve had enough. Hillary Clinton’s name has been dragged through the dirt through this entire election, and a lot of the lack of support is not generally through a disagreement in policy (which is a fair reason not to support a candidate), but because they believe Hillary is as corrupt as Trump seems to suggest – without actually fact checking. (Look at it this way: the Republicans have been trying to dig up dirt on the Clinton’s for 30 years. The FBI, a neutral entity that was responsible for the impeachment of Nixon, is currently headed by a Republican. If they had found any shred of evidence that Hillary was guilty of such crimes, you can bet my bottom dollar she would be in jail. But she is not.)

I will admit that I am somewhat attracted to the concept of a first Female President. No – I’m not somewhat attracted, I am VERY attracted. As a woman, these sorts of achievements to woman kind are incredible and historic – it’s an amazing time to be a woman when witnessing these triumphs. So maybe to a degree I am somewhat biased towards Hillary.

To me, if Barack Obama is the Harry Potter of the US Political World, Abraham Lincoln the Dumbledore and so on, then Hillary Clinton is the Hermione Granger. Ostracized and disliked for her intellect, lacking in popularity, and even considered an ‘Undesirable’ by Voldemort’s government (ha!), but let’s be honest – more capable and compassionate and strong than many like to admit.

But regardless of whether you like Clinton or not, we can all agree that it’s a very negative, nasty and personal election. One that is very addicting to watch, but also leaves you with a bitter feeling. As a Feminist, I really wish that the first nominated female President of the United States got a fair fight and the campaign focused more on policy for the people than personal spats. But the election has become a metaphor for the fight for Women’s right’s, where woman has been victimised or painted as evil and corrupt, and man has wielded his dominance by use of abusive tactics rather than reason or compassion. She has to convince everyone of her intellect and ability. He just has to turn up and NOT say that he wants to bang his daughter, and he gets applauded for good oratory skills. Such double standards is why we have such a mistrust of women in politics, and why so many women don’t recognise their own liberation.

“We are not seeking ‘equality’ with men. We are inherently equal. We are seeking liberation from male social, political, economic and other forms of oppression. Until this difference is recognised and prioritised among all feminists and feminist allies, the seeking of anything will be at men’s discretion, and that is anti-feminist” – Unknown

This is such a historic moment in history for womankind, and yet it’s hardly been central to the election race at all. Partly, I believe, because Hillary wants to earn her right to the Presidency without the focus of her gender, but mainly because the significance of the role has been downplayed by a male culture that – although on the surface monopolizes on the modern liberation of races, gender and sexuality – secretly misses the power it used to wield on others. Call me cynical, but yes, this election has been very metaphorical, representing the struggle women have faced for thousands of years against a patriarchal culture.

Let’s not look back on this election in the history books and cringe. Let’s not miss our chance to make history. C’mon America! You can do this!

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Feminism is not a ‘Sisterhood’

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Remember when Feminism used to be associating with man-hating?

Yeah, me neither. 

For some reason, people had (and still have) this view that while it was accepted (rather, expected) for feminists to hate men – it was the ultimate act of true hate when a feminist didn’t support another woman. Like Feminism is some special Sisterhood, and that part of the membership requirements is that you stick up for every woman no matter what.

That sounds a little hypocritical, doesn’t it?

Take for example in 2013, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler made fun of Taylor Swift’s personal life in their Golden Globes presentation. It was a bit of lighthearted comedy, but Tay Tay took it quite personally, saying, “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”. (This is widely regarded as her quote, but is actually Madeleine Albright’s. I disagree with both of them). Keeping in mind that a) it’s Tina and Amy’s job to poke fun at celebrities, b) Swift was not the only one targeted, and c) Swift’s career is built up on the bringing down of other people, she seemed to be unnecessarily sensitive about the whole ordeal. It was something that could have been brushed over but instead became a bigger deal for the sake of keeping Swift’s image pure.

Someone online (I don’t know who it was, for all I know it could have been the Queen, I’m sure she also spends most of her time posting snarky messages on the Internet like the rest of us) once said it was “unfeminist” of me for not supporting T Swizzle.

Sigh. I really do not like Taylor Swift. I don’t need to explain why, that’s my own business. However, for some reason, because I believe in equality of the sexes, I have to take her side? This was not in the job description.

Fighting for equality of the sexes does not mean you have to support every woman in every battle. You don’t even have to like every woman. Equality means treating everyone based on their character and the context at hand, not their sex, not their star power, and if a woman is playing the victim card, we should be able to call her out on this. Otherwise it promotes this female supremacy ideology, and women never learn from their errors.

Besides, I really don’t think Taylor Swift needs my approval. She’s in a very privileged position, but is also undoubtedly very popular and successful in her own right. She has worked hard, but remember she profits from the taking-down of other people. Taylor plays her cards very much like any ambitious man would, and you know what, I wouldn’t call her anti-feminist for that either. Just simply being a jerk. I think she’ll be fine without my support!

 

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The Global Goals

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I feel like history is made up with women who have had to prove themselves by facing the most ridiculous persecution. So it’s not surprising that in a historic move, Hillary Clinton is the first ever woman running for President against what is inarguably the most patronising, sexist, ignorant and frustratingly narrow-minded candidate to run for President. Ever. We women may have to consistently throw up our hands in indignation, but in fairness, idiocy seems to be a battle everyone is facing these days.

Interestingly enough, the American Elections come around the same time of the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. These goals were recently established by international leaders in September 2015 (in hand with Unicef) as a world-wide initiative to abolish and fight inequality, poverty and climate change. The way I see it, it’s a way for multiple movements and organisations, such as Unicef, HeForShe and Comic Relief and Global Partner for Education etc, along with regular people with convictions like you and me, to come together to fight these 3 major world problems.

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WHICH RESOUNDS WITH YOU?

 

 

GlobalGoal5 I pledge to support Gender Equality, Goal 5 of the Global Goals.

 

I was introduced to the Global Goals when I saw the #WhatIReallyReallyWant challenge, which used the Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’ music video as an anthem. It’s went viral on social media. What I love about this approach is that it’s stirring, moving, impacting – and yet it’s fun and engaging without being preachy or serious. It’s difficult to argue with and it makes you want to get up and join the cause:

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Now’s the Time.

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I am a feminist. Feminism to me, is the promotion of Gender Equality, where women and men are accepted as equals politically, economically, socially and intellectually.

The struggle for Gender Equality is not entirely new in Western society. It has been an on going movement for just over 100 years, and waves of feminism have been coming to and fro over the last 50. There have been three waves – briefly covered by this article at Progressive Women’s Leadership – and the wave we are currently going through is facing a whole lot of backlash and obstruction in a surprisingly similar fashion to its predecessors (I’ll speak about this more next week).

But gender equality doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it take one person. It takes a whole generation, and it takes time. With that comes acceptance, normalcy, and eventually it all gets taken for granted.

I have recognised and openly admitted that I am a feminist for a few years now. So why now? As I have already established in this blog, as a lot of people probably do, I’ve simply been surfing through my life by making excuses. “I don’t know how to help” or, “I don’t have the time” or, “What change can I do?”. I knew this wasn’t right, and yet everyday I was growing more and more fed up with the negativity and ignorance surrounding feminism and women’s rights in my own culture, let alone in others.

One of the biggest arguments against feminism in white culture that I have heard, often backed up with media-led fear mongering, is that ‘others have it worse’. The sentiment, while generalised, is true in the sense of how far ‘white’ culture has evolved and progressed, but I can give two reasons why this is a terrible argument: Continue reading

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