Tag Archives: sexism

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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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

Still not cool

19 Jul

Hey. If you are around my age, and vaguely know me, then this post is directed at you. In fact, if you are any age, and it doesn’t matter if I know you or not, then this post is directed at you. It’s about this thing, called slurs.

To start with: If you are white, straight, cis, able-bodied and male, (as much of the UK and indeed the world is) then you have the power. This is unarguable. Whether you like it or not, or society is set up to help you at the expense of practically everyone else. It is possible to be this without being an asshole (of course it is!) but with great power comes great responsibility, and if you do use your various privileges in anyway, then I will personally kick your ass and tell you why you are Wrong.

Unfortunately, being any of the things mentioned above comes with a lot of history. Yes, we are better than we were a hundred years ago on a lot of things; for example – now PoC (people of colour) are allowed to do radical things like sit on buses or vote! yay! – but instances like Trayvon Martin’s murder (a far from isolated incident, unfortunately) shows that racism is so fucking far from over.

Another important point: words have enormous power and can be and are used to oppress people. Whatever you say about them just being words, whatever bullshit you spout about ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’, languages contain words which have no other purpose than to discriminate and to oppress certain people. Words which literally are nothing more than insults. Insults which are very specific – aimed at you because of the colour of your skin or the people you are attracted to which somehow makes you inferior.

Now, taking into account all those things above, think about what you say.

The n-word is not okay. It’s so not okay I find it almost unexplainable that I have to point out its unacceptability. Ha fucking ha, okay, because the n-word was explicitly designed as a extremely derogatory term for black people by white people. This means (TO ALL THOSE FUCKING ‘HILARIOUS’ TUMBLR TEXT POSTS OUT THERE AND ALSO ALL THOSE ‘HILARIOUS’ WHITE TEENAGE BOYS) that however you use it, as a joke or a term of endearment (ugh ok) that when a white person says it, they are contributing to racism and oppression, and that is not okay. That is the end of that statement. Please never, ever, ever, say it again. Please tell other people to shut the fuck up if they ever say it by telling them that it’s racist.

Same goes for any other oppressive slur – against female people (usually by shaming them for their sexual choices) against LGBT* people (why is sexual choices and gender still an issue for people who make laws, ughhhh), against non white people (wow okay I don’t understand how any white person ever thought that racial slurs are suddenly okay because they are totally not) , against people with disabilities (and putting ‘clinically’ in front of the word ‘retarded’ does not suddenly make it okay to say), because saying contributes to the oppression of these people. The only exception is when a person who would usually be targeted by these words says it, because then it is reclaiming the word and it’s not an insult anymore, since you can’t really oppress yourself. (Edit: as my sister pointed out, internalized misogyny, racism, homophobia etc. does exist, but it is not the same thing. People can oppress and limit themselves, but this is merely a very effective extension of the overall system and reclaiming words means that to these people at least, the word changes its meaning. However, whether to reclaim words or not is personal and there are lots of different opinions and views so please try and have consideration and google it ok) Does this make sense? Let me say it again, in big bold letters so if you take one thing from this badly written angry post then it is the important part:

Using insults based on an aspect of a person that they can be oppressed for is not okay. Insults like this are called slurs. It is not your place to use them, ever, even if they are not as an insult, because using them is seriously offensive and oppressive for vulnerable people. If someone calls you out on this, do not protest it. You know it is wrong, so shut the fuck up and stop being an asshole.

Thank you for listening. People who are my age/in my social circle, if you read this, you probably know why I’ve been giving you weird looks and avoiding you. You’re an asshole, but this serious condition can be remedied. Next time, listen when I tell you that something you’re saying is not cool.

Now back to your regularly scheduled broadcasting, although this time with hopefully slightly less douchebaggery. If you’re having trouble suddenly losing much of your insulting vocabulary, check out this and this to add some more that target everyone! Yay! If you have any more, add in the comments!

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