No One Needs Their Male Opinions

11 Jun

In general I try to only consume content created by women and other minority genders (herein WaMG) in all the media I consciously consume because men already control too much in my life. Lets take school as an example since I spend most of my time there. The most obvious one is my headteacher is a man as well as the majority of the SLT (Senior Leadership Team for those of you not stuck in secondary school) but then it becomes a little less obvious. Men write and approve the curricula taught in our schools, the for examination boards for England (AQA, Edexcel, WJEC and OCR) all have male CEOs, men are more likely than women to be in senior leadership positions and this is all leads to a laughable male-centric bias in not only the curriculum but the way schools are run in general for example slut shaming uniform policies.

It isn’t just that male created content is more prevalent and celebrated (78% of all UK front page bylines are male), men are deciding what content is prevalent and celebrated. Men are the music executives, the film producers, the TV commissioners, the newspaper editors which get to tell us the opinions and the points of view we consume. They decide what music we listen to on the radio, what we read in magazines, what we see on the TV and almost all the rest of the mainstream media. Their decisions severely effect our world view, whether we realise it or not, for example in the recent UCSB shooting, the coverage of the event has framed the murderer as having ambiguous motives despite an extensive internet trail of the man’s blatant violent misogyny. The media have been doing everything possible to hide the fact that these murders where a result of male entitlement in our culture. Men feel so much entitlement to women’s bodies and affection that it is some how a reasonable response to take a life. This is misogyny and a hate crime but from reading the large majority of the mainstream media’s coverage you wouldn’t know that.  That is just one example of the incredible influence men have over our lives, its almost like some international conspiracy… OH NO THATS PATRIARCHY  (ahahaaa I’m so funny). In short, there are too many men telling us their opinions.

So how do we fix this problem? I know one well discussed possibility is just to get rid of them all but on a more practical level, having a Men Cleanse is a good way of renormalizing the disproportionately male opinions we consume on a day to day basis. I have been doing a very basic version of the Men Cleanse for about a year now but it’s time to completely eliminate them from my life, at least for a week. The aim of this cleanse is to take the everyday media we consume and take it our of the male paradigm. This means not consuming any content created by men and if possible something men have had little direct control over. Until I started doing this I had no idea how much I consumed was actually male dominated and how hard it actually is to do this so I have made a little guide for you!

The Men Cleanse

Books:

  • So the most obvious place to start with books is the author. Try not to read books written by men, google the author if you have to and if you are in doubt then just don’t read it yet, save it for another day.
  • To take this one step further, only read books which have been edited by women and are published by publishing houses with female CEOs

Magazines:

  • In general women’s magazines and fashion magazines are drenched in misogyny so just no. However if you are reading a knitting magazine or something similar, only read magazines edited by women and articles written by women.

Films:

  • There are three categories I normally evaluate films with. The screenwriter, the director and the main characters. I would say a film would need two out of three of these to be a woman to pass the test and a majority female cast gives bonus points!

Music:

  • Try to only listen to female singers or bands with female singers. In certain genres this can be really hard (rock, metal etc) because there is a huge lack of female representation at all levels of the corporate music industry. Hopefully this will also mean you get to discover some cool new bands too!
  • For extra points try to only listen to songs written by women and/or produced by women. This can be extra tricky as it differs from song to song even on the same album but if you have time it would be a great thing to do.

TV shows:

  • Again there are different categories to judge TV by. Producers, writers and characters all can be taken into consideration but these can differ from episode to episode. I try to only watch shows with the main character being a woman or over half the main characters being women but you may want to choose your differently.

Social Media:

  • Now this may be tricky and can cause friction. Ideally you would unfollow/mute/unfriend all the men on your social media but this may not be possible, especially if the men in your life are not as feminist or understanding as they could be.
  • On twitter you can mute a user which means you don’t get push notifications from them and their content does not show up on your TL and you can without them knowing an you can still follow each other.
  • Almost the same thing is available on Facebook. You can unfollow a person on Facebook without them knowing and with you still being Facebook friends.

Newspapers:

  • Its pretty easy to make sure the writer of any article you read is by a woman. There can be issues if there is a news item you want to read about but you can’t find any coverage by a woman, I would google it and you probably will find something by a woman but I think exceptions can definitely be made here.

Online articles and blogs:

  • It can be hard to find out who is editor/sub editor of what you are reading online so with online articles I just make sure the writer is a woman. I cannot tell you what a huge difference this makes to your perception of the world, there is so much ignorance and privilege cut out of your life, its great!
  • I keep to blogs run by women and group blogs edited by women with women writers.

 

Double Chins Are Fierce

5 Feb

I have already talked about body acceptance a lot on my blog but now I want to talk about microaggressions against fat people which I have never done before.

As a fat girl it has taken years of hard work and energy to love myself and accept my body, my double chin is no exception. I got my double chin a while after I had been working on my body positivity and at first I found it really embarrassing. I tried to hide it in photos and videos by taking photos from a weird angle or if I was talking to people or even whilst I was playing my viola or bassoon (which gave me really bad back ache), it made me so ashamed. This was happening while I was feeling better about my arms or legs being too wide or the stretch marks on my tummy, so at first I didn’t really notice what a bad effect my double chin shame was having on me because, after all there has never been a point in my life I can remember where I have not been embarrassed of or hated a part of my body so it was not new or surprising. It was not helped by the fact that before, when I had been fat but not had a double chin, people where always saying that I had to stop gaining weight or I would get a double chin in this horrified voice that made it sound like the worst thing ever.

After I started to notice that this hatred of my chin and subsequent hiding of it was taking up like 100% more time than it should have (ie 0% of my time) I started to work of chin-love as well as the rest of my body. A big part of this was taking AMAZING selfies with double chin proudly on display and really appreciating how fab I look (not gonna lie), another was finding pictures of other beautiful girls with double chins. I found this one on Tumblr by Rachele. It is my absolute favourite chin positive picture and inspired me so much!

tumblr_muhih6mJhz1qzr6v7o1_500

So now I was starting to like my chin or at least no obsess over it so much, I started thinking about why I specifically hated my chin so much? What was it about my chin and not lets say my cheeks? Well lets look at how double chins are presented, not just in the media but in everyday interactions between people.

What came to mind immediately for me was a common selfie pose where people give themselves/exaggerate double chins by pushing their chins into their necks and make a funny face. Its meant to be funny but to me it sends the message “look at me with my double chin, ew don’t I look weird”. To me it sends the message that double chins are disgusting or weird and we laugh when people do this pose with fake double chins because why would anyone want a double chin in real life? It tells me that a part of my body that I love should be ridiculed and it is undesirable.

I am guilty of doing this in the past and I’m sure many people reading this are also but let us once again look to the root of the problem and be unsurprised when it is the media. The same story as always which to be honest I am tired of repeating. There are no double chins in mainstream media that are not criticised or laughed at. I am too sick of this to elaborate but I’m sure you know it already.

I am going to keep on loving my double chin and celebrating beautiful double chins everywhere but its hard when they are constantly laughed at by my closest friends.

2014: The Year of the Selfie

1 Jan

This is Lilipop.

I am not going to do a review of 2013 for my New Years post, like everyone else seems to be doing, for many reasons – the first of which being I can’t actually remember what I did this year - so instead I am going to talk about a challenge I am going to take part in for the whole of this next year, 2014.

2013 was the year of many things but it was the year I discovered the selfie. Before August I didn’t have Instagram, let alone Sapchat, so the only selfies I took where the odd webcam picture with Jelly or a pic if I couldn’t decide what to wear so needed second opinions (yes, the struggle is real). In August I had the amazing opportunity to go to America for #SPARKCamp13, a 3 day camp for girls in SPARK Movement. Among the many things I got from my gorgeous SPARK sisters, the most relevant thing to this post is – after extensive manipulation they managed to bully me into getting Instagram. After a few days I caved and got Snapchat as well.

Since then selfies have become a part of everyday life. From taking a selfie with my baby sis for the landmark event of buying her first bra to sneaky Snapchats to my American SPARK sisters in my geography lessons, selfies are a part of the way I communicate and commemorate. The media, and even some feminist media (*ahem* JEZABEL *ahem*), calls girls narcissistic and says selfies are a “cry for help” but to me there is nothing more radical than celebrating with a cheeky selfies. To me a selfie says oh yeah gurrrrrrrl its my time to shine! Selfies promote self-acceptance and love, whats not to love?

In 2014 I will be participating in the #365FeministSelfie challenge, to help me continue the ongoing struggle of loving myself in this world of misogynistic advertising, be comfortable with what I perceive as flaws and to celebrate being me! I think it will also be a completely fantastic way of documenting my year. I have created this tumblr blog for the challenge www.365daysoflilipop.tumblr.com so follow if you are a selfie positive gem or just love my face (lets face it, who doesn’t). Jelly will probably be featuring a lot! If you are also participating then I would LOVE to have a chat or see your blog/insta/however you are documenting and if not then I encourage you to increase your selfie production in 2014, the year of the selfie.

Capitol Cuties

24 Dec

This is Lilipop and recently I have been helping run ONE OF MY FAVE EVER campaigns with SPARK called Capitol Cuties. It is kind of parody of the Covergirl Capitol Collection because it is so unbelievable ironic and has zero self-awareness. You can read about it here! . There have been A LOT of criticism of the problem because there seems to have been a bit of a misunderstanding of our campaign. We are makin fun of the company Lionsgate, not the people who are wearing the Capitol Collection! Lionsgate is a massive company taking advantage of people they are aggressively advertising towards. It is the corporation making and pushing these products, twisting and suppressing the true message of The Hunger Games to make a profit. It makes me sick.

The new Catching Fire film has been the cataclysm for a lot of activism around classism/capitalism because it is all pretty much bullshit but the film really put it into the forefront of public discussion. The Harry Potter Alliance has started two campaigns, We Are The Districts and Odds In Our Favor. These are kind of the opposite to our campaign, they are framing the ordinary citizens of America as people from the Districts and the super-rich of America as the Capitol to highlight wealth inequality in America. They made this video to explain their campaign: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BmVJaBuoEYA

In the spirit of Capitol Cuties, we decided we would re-blog their video on Tumblr but with our own “Capitol Critique” if you will of their video. I have got to say it is probably the best thing ever in the world. You can read it here.

I wrote the first draft of the critique, based on this speech by David “spoilt fucking Eton tory” Cameron about Welfare reform (not sure if a trigger warning is appropriate here but watching this video really upset me and I was crying for like and hour so here is a warning anyway: this video is really upsetting and contains unrestrained ignorance in power) here if you want to watch. I was very very proud of the draft I wrote so here it is!

 

So a few of you have already seen this video and I think we can all agree that these whiners just need to get a move on and stop complaining. I mean, if they hate being poor and this “inequality” thing then why don’t they just get rich? You just have to want it hard enough and work at it. My father didn’t get all his money just by sitting around complaining, as a Gamemaker he has to work sometimes up to 35 hours a week! You don’t get to the top without some hard work. These shirkers should just shut up and get on with it. You see all those sweet little guys working in the districts on TV, they never complain because they know that they are working for a higher cause, to bring prosperity and innovation to the great nation of Panem! Not to mention the cute kids that are on The Hunger Games (my fave show lol). Speaking of The Hunger Games, how can you say that the Capitol is so bad and shit when President Snow generously gives all these prizes and fame to the Victors, I mean come on, that is really nice of him. The Games are a necessary part of what brings us together as a country, they are an annual reminder to us all of the horrific things that would have been happening now if The Revolution had been successful. We saved the districts from the Rebels, support them through thick and thin and this is how they repay us? Truly they should be ashamed.

People say we don’t care but I really think the tough approach is best or these lazy protesters won’t ever learn. My father introduced me to Minister Flamsteed at the club and he told me about all his hard work, he started importing coal from District 12 when he was just SIXTEEN. If you want to get ahead, that’s what you have to do–build a good work ethic and start young. Really it isn’t even that much of a tough approach, look at all the charity and fair trade work that goes on nowadays. Even my mascara is ethically sourced for Godess’ sake. We have given the Districts it too good for too long and now they are getting complacent; we have papered over the cracks, subsiding the farms for too long now. The compassionate thing to do is to take a hard line approach to ensure that the people of the Districts all know the satisfaction of a full days work, then they will understand that complaining is just selfish. They should be thinking of the greater good and what they can do for Panem, not what Panem can do for them.

Hunger Games: COULD DEFFO BE BETTER

16 Dec

Hey guys, it’s Jelly here, and I wanted to talk about Catching Fire and the Hunger Games franchise.

To start with; Lilipop and I are pretty hard-core excited about The Hunger Games. Lilipop even took me out on a “date” (it wasn’t a date! we’re not going out! I’m poor and lilipop is the bestest! (why thank you)) and we discussed Catching Fire intently over Vietnamese. However, one of the problems with being a feminist (I’m lying, being a feminist is great all the time, i swear) is that it’s quite difficult to enjoy a lot of media. Being aware of social issues has made practically everything icky – and it should be icky – and so, even when you get something that seems pretty good at first glance, like the Hunger Games, you are honour-bound to pick it apart and talk about how it could be better.

So, to start with: what’s great about the Hunger Games?

Well, the entire a pretty blatant anti-capitalist missive. The bad guys are called the Capitol (hardly a huge step away from capitalism), and the story is about how life sucks if you’re not super rich. Collins tells us that the next logical progression for humans who exploit the lower classes is to have humans who battle the kids of lower classes together in a brutal humiliating game, for the pleasure of people who don’t even view these children as human. The Panem that we see in the books is America – America ruled by money and power, that is, where if you are poor there is no way to get to the top. Oh, except by killing people who used to be your friends, children like yourself, oppressed and subjugated and having to live a life they don’t particularly want or everyone they love will be destroyed. Kinda like that.

And Katniss, well, she shakes things up.

Katniss is the second thing that’s good about the Hunger Games. There are ‘strong female characters’ in the books and the movies, and Katniss is stereotypically strong – physically strong – in contrast to what feminists usually mean when they ask for ‘strong female characters’ and mean, simply, realistic women. In the first movie, she supports her family by being a physical badass in that she can shoot things. She doesn’t enjoy talking about her emotions, clothes are not her thing, being more occupied with feeding her family, and she proves herself to be brave, strong, practical, and most of all, ruthless. These are, surprisingly enough, rather rare qualities in a girl in modern media. Katniss has no time for kindness, or softness, or largely, empathy, and not being “soft” makes her sometimes irritating, but very unusual and worthy of our respect. In fact, she is rather like a man on modern media in this respect – her romantic relationships are definitely not her priority and in her main relationship she is the one who is being needed, not needing. Pretty great stuff.

What’s not great about the Hunger Games? Well, the above reasons are all good. Combined with a great plot, interesting characters and general kick-assery, its success is self explanatory. However, what I’m here today to talk about (at angry nitpicking feminists dot com!) is the stuff that really could have been done better in the books and the movies.

First! Very important! In the books, Katniss is described as olive-skinned – and here is a very compelling case for her being a woman of colour. For the auditions for her character, they only let white-skinned actresses in. This is not great. This is bad. This is called whitewashing, and it’s a form of racism, as it systematically removes traces of PoC from modern media. However much you thought Jennifer Lawrence was perfect for the role, this proves she actually really wasn’t the best choice. Whitewashing is really harmful and should stop. Also read this disgusting backlash from racist and apparently illiterate HG readers! Racism in HG is actually a big problem and this blog tries to tell everyone just how.

One fact of life in modern day America is that most of the people is power are old, rich, white men. This is true in the Catching Fire as well; President Snow, Plutarch Heavensbee, Cesar Flickerman. What I don’t like is that the new revolution is also controlled by white guys – who keep Katniss in the dark, use her as a symbol instead of considering her as a person in her own right with her own ideas and -try not to faint here- might even be able to contribute to the resistance herself. This is not great. This shows a revolution, through violence or through education, as controlled by many of the same people and processes (especially in the case of Heavensbee, the previous Gamesmaker who apparently was ruthless enough to fool even the president) as before. This isn’t true revolution, after all, the master’s tools will never dismantle the masters house. Alternatively, this could be a subtle and scathing commentary upon the rise of brocialism, (anti -capitalist movements which exclude everyone who isn’t a white, able-bodied cis man, bro) but this is seriously unlikely and instead just looks like someone managed to miss out one of the major points of HG; that a revolution should be for everyone.

Another point! Katniss, in the books, is extremely independent of her romantic interests. She even says something to the effect of ‘I could do just fine without either of them,’ referring to Gale and Peeta. Her relationship with Peeta, a physically attractive, physically stronger and richer man, is controlled by her. She save Peeta - fends for him – is the dominant one in their relationship. He falls in love with her far before she falls in love with him. This, is some small way, subvert the norm for heterosexual movie relationships (although Lilipop says that I’m being far too lenient here). IN the books, although this relationship is neither particularly typical or healthy, care has been taken to keep her separate from the men in her life. All this is different in the movies. The kick-ass message that poor, angry, women of colour can change the world has been toned down in favour of a slightly ridiculous and ridiculously prominent love triangle. Katniss needs to choose between one man and another (how will she live without these manly arms protecting and sanitizing her anger???) panning back to a shot of Gale listing ruggedly after Katniss while she heartlessly abandons him to honeymoon wither blond baker in the Capitol. Katniss, “””””independent””””” Katniss, needs Peeta to stay with her after she has a nightmare. There is nothing wrong with human comfort – it’s just not consistent with her character. Basically, Katniss becomes defined by her relationships with men (NOT AGAIN) and loses a lot of her strength. Uh huh.

OVERALL! HG is great – loads of stuff in it is great – but it could be better, in the books and especially in the movies. The representation of Katniss is not as great as it could be. I’m only truly angry because this has so much potential – as modern media to incite and enthuse kids with the feeling that they can do something – but it falls a teensy bit flat. Still 100% recommend seeing it in the cinema though.

Hey this is Lilipop, a massive thanks to Jelly for writing this on behalf of both of us. There are about 700 more issues I would like to raise but we don’t want to bore you to death! I usually don’t bother getting this angry over various media but we both loved this film so hard, after reading the books together when we were about 11, that we thought it was worth doing some critical thinking on. GO SEE THE FILM!

If I were PM for the day

4 Dec

This is Lilipop. Today the BBC Women’s Hour twitter asked for 13-18 year olds to say what they would do if they were PM for the day. Sadly I could only submit 1000 characters so I thought I would post my complete email here! This is an incomplete list and of course there are 10000000000000000000 other things I would do but here are the basics.

 

If we are talking realistically there is absolutely nothing significant I could do in a day as PM apart from restock the stationary cupboard or something because bureaucracy and the PM does not have absolute power however, here is a list of the absolute emergency things I would change is I had unfettered power in the UK.

 

  • Address the horrific amount of people forced to rely on foodbanks and charities to feed themselves and their children.

 

  •  Implement a citizens wage

 

  • Politician with private interests would not be allowed to vote on things that affected those interest for example a politician who owned a medical company would not be able to vote on certain NHS bills.

 

  • Address the soaring numbers of homeless people, specifically children, as a stable home is the base line of helping people help themselves

 

  • Increase the minimum wage by at least two pounds an hour but possibly more.

 

  • Tackle the SHAMEFUL amount of corporate tax dodging

 

  • Do proper research into education and teaching and then come up with a curriculum that is accessible to all children and most importantly approved and implemented by professionals and not on a hunch or what worked for me at school.

 

Then there is my To Nationalise list, in no particular order, that will be paid for by increasing taxes on the rich and a crack down on tax evasion but also investment and high wages that will help the economy flourish as people have more disposable income and more stable jobs:

•transport •health and dental care •energy (production and distribution) •water •libraries •legal representation •care work/carers •education (all the way up to university) •internet access •telecommunications •pensions •postal service

All of these will be done only after proper research and planning by skilled experts and professionals so that all of these can benefit the public to the fullest extent. No matter what everyone deserves a warm home, enough to eat and all the education they need to make their own way in life. Children are starving in Britain today and it is quick frankly sickening all of this hateful, dehumanising propaganda the government puts out about “benefit scroungers” and similarly vile terms to turn us against the most needy in society whilst giving themselves and their mates tax breaks and total market control.

Fat Grrrls Rule… I just wish everyone knew

18 Nov

This is Lilipop and from some of my previous posts, you may have guessed that I am really into body positivity and fat acceptance movements. I really think fat girls are amazing and the body positivity part of feminism has helped me so much. I really love most of the fat acceptance activism and awareness raising things I have seen, it is so refreshing to see differently shaped women in a “normal” frame and not being labelled disgusting, shameful and generally the worst possible thing ever. It kind of makes me realise I am quite happy being fat and the only times I am unhappy about my body is when people say nasty things about me or fatness. My body does not detract anything from my quality of life, happiness, health or even ability to do sport if I want to (I don’t). There is nothing wrong with my body, fat, cellulite, stretch marks or double chin; in fact, my body is incredible, my fat keeps me warm, my cellulite reminds me I am real, my stretch marks are a beautiful pattern on my skin and my double chin is FIERCE!

I just wished other people knew this. Although I want to love myself, accept what and who I am, but I worry all the time. What do my family think? Do my friends still love me? (Jelly speaking: YES THEY DO) Do they see me the way I see myself or do they see me how society describes me, lazy, ugly, stupid, repulsive? I don’t know and I think about it a lot. I know that random people on the street feel this way, I have seen them staring with a kind of hatred in their eyes. I like to think that anyone who is my friend would never reject me or make fun of me because of my weigh and the way I look but is that realistic?

One thing that makes it worse is I cannot see myself or positive images of myself anywhere, it is hard to think of anyone who is a positive role model in mainstream media and is fat. Scientists, actors, musicians, writers, tv presenters and even politicians it is hard to think of many fat women who are displayed positively in the media, we are all but invisible. This is all ridiculous because there are an incredible amount of inspiring, inventive, funny, outgoing, intelligent fat women in the UK and EVERYWHERE! Yet there are nowhere to be found if I open a women’s magazine or turn on the TV.

It is so hard to imagine the future me. We are taught so aggressively that fat is an evil, undesirable thing that it is expected that any aspirational future self will be thinner. We don’t see anyone happy, successful and fat in the media; when I was little I thought that I would never be able to become a scientist or a writer because everyone would be so disgusted by my fat that they would hate me on the spot. I don’t want the future me to be thin, I want the future me to be happy and to keep loving herself.

Some days I feel so disgusted with myself, for being fat, for eating anything, for taking up so much space, for having such large clothes, even for my brilliant double chin and I am absolutely terrified that I will never feel better, I will never love myself again, I will spend the rest of my life agonising about every inch of cellulite, every spoon of yogurt or centimetre on the waistband of my jeans. I don’t want to think like that again ever. I can’t help but feeling if I had more fat women to look up to and aspire to be like, I wouldn’t be so scared. Firstly because I have assurance that I will be able to succeed despite my weight as others have but also so I know that other people see my body as I see it.

I know so many fat girls that have made my life infinitely more special, they are sparkling, strong people and they are beautiful. When I am older I want to be like Kaye and Beth and Kelly and Melissa and Gloria and Megan because Fat Grrrlz Rule, I just wish everyone else knew that!

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