Tag Archives: feminism

As I turn 18

2 Jan

I feel like I am totally alone in this fear but like so many things I am afraid to talk about, many others probably share it.

As I turn 18, my mind is full of worry, hopes, dreams and fears for the future. Most are what you would expect, scared of becoming more independent from my family, worrying about school and so on but there is another fear in the back of my mind. This niggling voice saying “now you’re fair game, there’s nothing to protect you”.

You have probably seen in the media many a disgusting countdown to some child celebrity turning “legal” at 16 or 18, old enough that the old men leering over them are accepted readily by both the law and society.

You may have seen the kerfuffle around the “women who eat on tubes” facebook group a while back, a group where non-consensual pictures of women innocently sustaining life are mocked and shamed.

How are these related? you might say. Well these are both voyeuristic, misogynistic situations where women and girls are viewed as sexual objects without their consent and sometimes even knowledge. They violate a woman’s privacy, they encourage violence against women by disregarding the fact she is a human being with rights and feelings.

These are both situations where I, as a child, would have some degree of legal protection, or at least the illusion, but would not as a woman.

One day I was waiting at a bus stop in Hampstead Heath, leg hair flying in the wind and enjoying the last bit of summer warmth. A balding man of about 35-45 years old struck up a conversation with me about the weather, “thats nice” I thought “you never get strangers talking to each other in London”. Oh how innocent you were Lilipop.

Conversation quickly turned to my leg hair and got very very creepy. I felt desperately awkward as his eye contact shifted from my eyes to my boobs and he questioned me on my reason for growing leg hair (because no woman can do anything without it being to sexually please a man) and if I was hairy “all over”. He offered to buy me a drink from the Starbucks opposite and I said no. That no was totally disregarded of course and this man kept asking.

“I’m 15” I said quickly, then turned and ran away.

He didn’t follow but some have. This situation has played out in 100 different places, with different people and different outcomes. What if it happened again? Where is my “top trump”, my “get out of jail free” card? What can I say or do that will get rid of these weird men because saying no doesn’t work.

As a child, I do not legally have the capacity or say yes or no. It is Paedophilia, it is Statutory Rape. Headlines in the Daily Mail and 5 years in jail. Men can respect this but not me.

As a woman, I can legally say yes or no but it doesn’t make a difference. I said no but I smiled at him when he said hello so really I mean yes, right? He wants a yes so he will get it by any means necessary. Now I am no longer a child I don’t even feel like I have the right to say no at all. I feel unresonable for being a person.

As I turn 18, I am scared for a future where attack feels imminent.

There is nowhere to hide anymore.

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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.

Real feminist anthems

16 Nov

As you have probably seen, as it has sort of exploded over the feminist internet, Lily Allen has made a new song. “Hard Out Here” is meant to be a feminist song but we are not too sure about that at all. You can watch it here (trigger warning for racism) At the moment this is being hailed as a “feminist anthem” and so I think its very important to have a look at what is wrong with it. A lot of what is wrong with it is very obvious just from watching for the first time, especially as it claims to be a “feminist” song, but in case you didn’t catch it all, here is our summary:

First of all is the blatant objectification and hyper-hyper sexualisation of specifically Women of Colour. This is absolutely impossible to overlook and is there for absolutely not reason! Please Lily, will you tell me how slow-mo’s of a Black woman twerking is adding to your of gender equality. Some people have tried to argue that it’s like ironic or parodying blurred lines? That is quite hard to argue whilst the woman herself has plainly stated that she was not trying to satirise the use of WoC as props. Also, as she never actually commented on the racism in the song and a real parody would have been all the WoC fully clothed, it really is not a plausible argument. There are several very slut shamy lyrics, for example “I don’t need to shake my arse for you ’cause I got a brain” *cut to WoCs shaking their arses* hmmm what you trying to say Lily? Is it that you are a racist? After watching the whole video and reading the lyrics there is a feeling that she is blaming Women of Colour in some way for the discrimination she faces, she is trying to push all the misogyny off of herself and place it on the Black women in her video.

So as you can see, maybe not the best “feminist anthem”. I am a bit confused about why people are making such a fuss about the fact that a person made a feminist song and hailing it as an anthem. Its not like there are literally hundreds of songs about feminism and gender in/equality out there already, and not all by little known feminist punk rock bands in a village in rural Canada. Like, seriously, it’s possible (wow i know) to find people who make songs that don’t make you choose between sexism and racism, or slutshaming, or homophobia, or any one of these equally disgusting things. Look, we even made a list for you to make things easier! (although these are just a few of many, and I have only chosen one song from each band/singer/etc.)

Beyonce (although she doesn’t identify as feminist, many of her songs are about how great women are) update: DO YOU KNOW HOW HAPPY I AM TO BE ABLE TO CHANGE THIS TO – BEYONCE IDENTIFIES AS FEMINIST WITH THE ADVENT OF HER INCREDIBLE NEW ALBUM Y’ALL BETTER FREAK OUT IT’S PRETTY AMAZING

Marina and the Diamonds 

Nina Simone (who is incredible, incredible)

Salt n Pepa (what more do you want than a feminist 90’s rap band)

M.I.A.

Little Mix (who don’t identify as feminist bc they ‘don’t hate men’ but are still cool)

Janelle Monae

Missy Elliot

Lizzo

X-Ray Spex (because Poly Styrene is a babe)

Queen Latifah

as well as many riot grrrl tunes that sound great but are played by really ickily transphobic/in other ways problematic bands and so we try not to listen to them

have fun! enjoy! rock out! remember that feminism isn’t just for able bodied conventionally attractive rich white women! xx

WE JUST CARE SOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH

13 Oct

This is Lilipop and today I wanted to talk a bit about tokenising of women and women based campaigns because I think it a thing that happens a lot without us even realising it. I thought it would be particularly relevant because this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there has been a lot of prominent tokenising recently, not just of breast cancer, and I think we need to recognise it. Breast cancer and Malala Yousafzai are two perfect examples of how our patriarchal, capitalist society tokenises, particularly, women and women’s campaigns. Both get incredible amounts of media coverage and public sympathy, the news and internet has been full of breast cancer awareness campaigns like “Save the Tata’s” and people talking about just how amaaaaaaazing and inspirational Malala Yousafzai is but what are we actually doing about either of these?

Although breast cancer is of course a very serious disease and I send all of my best wishes to anyone suffering with it, how is “raising awareness” of an extremely well known and publicised disease actually helping people who suffer breast cancer? And may I just say, “Save the Tata’s”?? I THINK WE SHOULD BE MORE WORRIED ABOUT THE PEOPLE NOT THE BOOBS and what kind of word is tata anyway. This reminds me a lot of when Angelina Jolie very bravely got a double mastectomy because of her very high risk of breast cancer, which is a thing many women have to go through and it was great to see a celebrity talking about it publicly however then the vulture misogynist descended. People were mourning the lose of her boobs and saying how they think she is selfish for “taking her boobs away from them” – I’m sorry what? I was under the impression that women are actually people and we should be worried about saving them rather than the lumps of fat on their chests? Also for fucks sake, those are Angelina’s boobs to do whatever the fuck she wants with them, it is none of your fucking business what she does with them, they are not yours to admire so shut up. We make such a song and a dance about raising awareness for breast cancer but wearing pink for a day or not wearing a bra for a day does not actually do anything for people with breast cancer. We tokenise breast cancer as this women’s disease and all the campaigns and ads and (capitalist, profitmaking) charity to make ourselves feel better like “look at what we are doing for all these poor poor women folk who need our help, aren’t we great” but actually the survival rate for breast cancer is actually 90% which is exceptionally high but the next most common cancer in women, lung cancer, is almost completely ignored. Lung cancer has a 16% survival rate which means that an estimated 95 people a day die from lung cancer a day compared to the 32 from breast cancer. It is awful that anyone is dying from these disease but tokenising them with pointless campaigns and universal media coverage to make ourselves feel better that we are doing something to help them, is not actually helping anyone.

Something similar can be said about Malala Yousafzai’s campaign for education for girls in Pakistan. Malala is an amazing girl and the work that she and hundreds of other girls around the region is invaluable. The work Malala has done is freaking amazing but the way we in the west are treating her and marketing her to a western audience is sickening. We are making her into this symbol, celebrity almost. As a she is a Girl of Colour, our society is used to hyper-objectifying her. We listen to her speeches, read about what she is doing, our politians and media outlets hold her up as a hero but, again, what are we actually doing to help? Nothing. In fact we are doing something much much worse than nothing, we are sending drones, bombs and violence over there that not only actively stops girls going to school because it is dangerous but it kills them as well. We are holding Malala and her work up on a pedestal, patting our selves on the back for saving the poor little girl from her terrible terrible life. We ignore all of the other girls that are just as radical and brilliant as Malala who are also campaigning for education, as well as a myriad of other things like child marriage, childbirth mortality rate, crippling poverty and corruption. We already have our trophy girl, Malala, to CARE SOOOOOOOO FUCKING MUCH about and make us feel fab about ourselves so why should we give a shit about the other stuff? I can just see the Malala merchandise now.

I would like to stress that I think Malala is amazing and breast cancer is definitely a worthy cause to support but I just hate the way that they are tokenised and held up by our media and politicians to make us feel good about ourselves. The way that our society markets both of these makes me feel sick and especially the way people are capitalise on causes such as these. The point I’m trying to get across is that these things should not be taken in isolation, and that to fully help people with breast cancer, or people who are suffering from the war in Pakistan, we must not ignore the wider issues and take these ‘trendy’ people as tokens for the much wider struggle. People are getting shit even when it’s not fashionable, shock horror!

A good link: cancer is not sexy

THE POWER OF LOOOVVVEEEE

23 Sep

Heavily inspired by this post.

Love is our only treasure. Women are told to find ‘the one’, and are groomed to be an easier choice for a heterosexual man. For us being in love means total, perfect, happiness. If you listen to popular culture (and sadly, people often do) for men, it often means a depleted wallet and nagging phone calls when you are having fun. Heterosexual love in our society, like anything else with a gendered aspect, is completely skewed so that women are passive, submissive, dependent on a man. Love, in its truest form, in the Greek ballads and I-would-die-for-you-in-a-heartbeat form, seems to have the power to change governments and to start revolutions and to be radical and exciting and incredibly powerful. But to be in love, to be a woman in love (especially with a man), changes that force into something with a tinge of contempt. A woman in love with a man means you give up power – and a man in love with a woman gains it. I know that most heterosexual relationships are not like this, but the very idea that they might be needs to be changed so that love as a – I hate to say it, as it is the title of most 80’s songs, and therefore imbues the very text of my article with a sort of desperate cheesiness – power becomes recognized.

To be in love, says the dictionary, is to ‘have a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude towards a person’. My sister describes it as simply ‘an intensity’. We all know it is strong. But a woman in love has no power at all. Observe: a girl must wait for her lover. A man must search. A woman in love is giggly, silly, faintly ridiculous and pitiable. A teenage girl in love is fickle and will soon move on to the next ‘perfect man’. (She must, when she realizes that men are not all that everyone built them up to be). A woman in love must fight hard to keep her man that way too. She must not pursue him, for that would be ‘trying too hard’ but instead, perhaps, pursue one of the thousands of internet ads. A woman must change herself, squeeze herself into what someone else thinks they should be, to laugh and toss her hair and to pretend that she doesn’t care too much, to have perfect sex (and hair and smile and a perfect forever after) in order to be what everyone thinks a woman in love should be. And finally? A woman in love must put up with shit with her lover (because that comes with being in love, of course, a woman must always compromise) and roll her eyes and say he is lovable because what else can she do?

I am in no way shaming heterosexual relationships, you must understand. God, I know a million (billion?) heterosexual relationships are what they should be, rather than what someone else thinks they should be. I am merely analyzing the way even something as supposedly innocent as love is laden with expectations that the ‘fairer sex’ must live up to.

And a man in love has expectations but they are not the same, of course not. He saves her, he chases her, he brings her flowers when he does something wrong, he complains about her nagging to his friends, his life remains the same and hers does not. And yet a man in love is an amazing thing compared to a woman in love; positively mundane compared to things a man would do for his woman, the ways a man could love his woman.

To be in love as a female with a man appears, on the surface to be pure. You have found happiness, what you were born here to do. Digging a little deeper produces a melee of contradictory and uncomfortable truths about the way a woman has to love, and seems to be very unradical. But, despite my cynicism (and my assumptions) love is powerful because what else can be better than wholly trusting someone with everything you have? Being in love means changing your identity to fit them in, to partly unravel yourself so another human soul can be beside yours. If nothing else, something has to be said for the most written about subject in history. 

I leave you with the following important messages: Make radical love! Destroy things! Kiss! (if you like that!) Make sure that all your relationships include a large amount of healthy communication and reciprocal compromises! Never feel forced into anything you want to do! Much love is anti-establishment, so please continue! I don’t know why you’re reading a 700-odd word essay about heterosexual love written by a probably-never-been-in-love not heterosexual 15 year old girl, but thanks anyway! I wrote this largely after midnight, so don’t judge!

thank

Nina

18 Sep

We like Nina Simone. So here’s a playlist of some of her best to fly you through bad and good days alike. Compiled by Lilipop.

nina

1) I wish I knew how it would feel

2) To be young, gifted and black

3) House of the rising sun

4) Little girl blues

5) For all we know

6) Sinnerman

7) Mississippi goddamn

8) Feeling good

9) Four women

10) My baby just cares for me

11) I put a spell on you

12) Sinnerman (the repetition is not a mistake).

Enjoy!

#Campaign4Consent

21 Aug

Hello! This is Lilipop and today I wanted to tell you all about an exciting new TYFA campaign called #Campaign4Consent. This campaign is all about having sexual consent taught in the UK National Curriculum. At the moment the curriculum in sorely lacking and what teens are actually receiving in schools is even worse.

I just got my sex ed last term and I could have learned more typing “Sex Education” into google. I was so disappointed. We had two twenty-minute sessions in our PSHE lessons. Before the first session I was quite hopeful because some sixth formers had been talking to the Headmaster about improving sex ed at school so I thought it would probably be quite up to date with all however that was not the case. My sex ed was wholly contraception based. If nothing else it did give some quite good comprehensive information about contraception and how to get it but in every other area it was lacking. In fact I don’t think it even went into detail how conception works. We didn’t discuss relationships, consent, oral sex, abuse, kinks, LGBT+ sex or relationships didn’t even get a word in and it was generally just not informative enough. I know that most teens these days normally get most of their sex education through the internet and way before the age of 15 when most of us get our sex ed at school and some others get “the talk” from their parents however information from the internet is not always right and can often be exaggerated or very biased and parents may be selective with the things they talk about or more often wont talk about sex with their children at all. Sex ed at school is meant to give comprehensive and accurate information to kids so that they don’t have to rely on ropy information from the internet.

There are so many issues with the sex ed curriculum I can’t think about them all at once but a simple and universally relevant one that is missed out is consent. Sex without consent is rape and any other sexual contact without consent is sexual assault. We are not taught this at school and I would be quite surprised if someone stumbled across lessons on consent randomly on the internet unless they were specifically looking for them which they can’t if they don’t know what consent is! This is a problem because, in some assault cases, people don’t know what they are doing is wrong or that what happened to them was wrong. It is not uncommon, particularly in younger people, for a rapist or assaulter to not know what they are doing is rape or assault and I have read stories of victims not knowing what happened to them was assault or rape for twenty years or more. Victims will be affected by this and not know why they feel so bad and often blame themselves for what happened even though it is their assaulters fault. If teens, who grow up to be adults, know more about consent, what is a crime and where to report assault it will help as victims can get help the help they need, report what happened to them and hopefully the assaulters will be arrested and taken to court. It also will educate potential rapists or assaulters that what they are doing is wrong and a crime.

As you can see consent is pretty important and I think it is important enough to be taught in schools. Almost everybody engages in some kind of sexual contact at some point in their lives and so this is relevant especially to young people as they discover and explore their sexualities. The TYFA (which you readers know I’m involved with) have launched #Campaign4Consent, asking the government to put consent in the UK National Curriculum. We have a website (it’s not quite finished yet) but there are details on how to get involved on there. We want help from everyone, regardless of age, gender or sexuality to get involved!

#Campaign4Consent www.campaign4consent.co.uk

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