Banknotes, Boycotts and Backlash

Oh, Sheldon. I finally understand what you were feeling when you uttered my favourite line in The Big Bang Theory. “There isn’t enough chamomile tea in the world to quell the rage in my heart.” I feel the same way, but with Mini Milks.

It seems like every time the feminist movement takes a small step forward (in this case, Jane Austen replacing Charles Darwin on the £10 note), it takes two steps back. I won’t go into my personal feelings about Austen replacing Darwin in this blog as I feel another post would be necessary. That’s not the problem, it’s the tirades of abuse the leader of this campaign has received on Twitter over the past few days along with the reaction of some people I’ve been made aware of.

Since the success of her petition, Caroline Criado-Perez has been the target of frankly horrifying abuse. No woman should ever be the target of rape threats and yet the users responsible for her abuse still have accounts on the site. Criado-Perez reported the abuse she was getting to the manager of journalism and media on Twitter. His response? To protect his account. Clearly to Mark S. Luckie, a problem ignored is a problem solved. For those interested, there has been a petition started to draw those in charge of Twitter to action here.

Upon learning of this earlier this morning, my feed lit up with journalists being horrified and sympathetic to Criado-Perez’s plight. These women are often the subject of abuse (from inside the feminist movement also) and are tired of having their opinions on twitter silenced.

Not being one to back out of a confrontation myself, I’ve been told I’m “too ugly to rape” among other things, for daring to comment that criticising a Wimbledon champion on her looks is not appropriate. This cannot be tolerated.

These journalists, namely Caitlin Moran, Helen Lewis and Suzanne Moore, have proposed an idea. That women who do not want to stand for this abuse and being silenced on social media silence their accounts for one day, to show what the social media site would be like if instead of standing up, women just left. It’s not the greatest idea ever, but what else is there to do if the site itself isn’t acting?

I’ve said it before, the most detrimental thing about feminism today is the constant in-fighting between the women (and men) involved. When this idea was proposed, it was met with the usual suspects who automatically decry anything Moran or her journalist allies say saying it’s a terrible idea. Fine, but do you have anything better to suggest?

Instead of providing something positive, it always appears to be much easier to just shit all over someone else’s idea. Would Moran’s cause have more merit if she was just out on the streets of Crouch End bawling at random strangers to fuck the patriarchy? At least these more high-profile feminists are trying to do something, instead of sitting at home criticising others’ attempts.

And so it rumbles on, my frustration reaching a fever pitch that not even Mini Milks can calm down. Sheldon, I really do feel your pain, though perhaps another one wouldn’t hurt.

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Bieber Visits Anne Frank Museum, Educators Have a Meltdown

Many young people only recognise one of the people pictured – which one? Source: radiolive.co.nz

I must confess, I have never visited the Anne Frank museum, mainly as I have never visited Amsterdam. There is an eerie fascination with what happened to those oppressed by German occupation, especially in regards to Jewish families such as the Franks.

I have seen photos from inside the secret annexe, there’s even a virtual tour you can take online, showing you how small the annexe was. Her shared bedroom was tiny, and decorated with pictures to brighten it up a little (the same way Beliebers have pictures of Justin blu-tacked to their walls?), they shared a wash room which only had a sink. She spent her days with her family, stuck in one small room. If I was cooped up for that long with my family, some of us would not have survived long enough to be caught by Nazis. It must have been terrifying.

If I had the chance to visit the museum, Anne Frank’s choice of music had she been a teenager today would be the furthest thing from my mind. Can you even begin to imagine how terrifying it must have been, the slightest noise potentially sentencing yourself and your entire family to certain death in concentration camps?

Yesterday, “news” surfaced that Justin Bieber had visited the museum in Amsterdam. This would not usually have made it into national newspapers – it would have just been a young man wanting to discover history. What made the story, though, was his staggering sense of self-importance. Instead of writing about his experience opening his eyes to her plight in the 1940’s – he wrote: “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” Wow.

This, however, was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to uneducated teenagers and tweenies. “Beliebers” everywhere provided a staggering indictment of their respective education systems. Let me provide you with a few examples:

Want more? Greg Hyatt on tumblr retweeted a few more.

Recently, the history curriculum in England and Wales has come up for discussion. I had no idea that they were potentially discussing putting Anne Frank and her diary back into the teaching of World War 2. Or are these kids too obsessed by the coiffed little boy to pay attention to the teaching of fundamental historical knowledge?

I remember on at least 3 separate occasions, being taught the story of Anne Frank. I think myself incredibly lucky that my parents encouraged me to read her diary when I came home from school and said we were learning about her.

Now, however, even the BBC’s childrens’ news (Newsbeat) had to explain who Anne Frank was – to avoid another outbreak on twitter of “Who even was she?”

Her story is a fundamental part of forming empathy for the literally millions of victims of the German Nazi regime at this time. It’s truly, deeply worrying that so many young people are ignorant of her story.

For the sake of your own mental health, when you see young people being this ignorant on your timeline – do not go digging for more examples. It’s incredibly disheartening.

Louise Mensch’s Rose-Tinted Glasses on Thatcher’s “Feminism”

I’ll stop adding pictures of Tories to my posts when I stop writing about them, ok? Source: thetimes.co.uk

It would appear that certain breeds of Tory women stick together. Had Margaret Thatcher been a member of the Labour party (let’s face it, had she been around in today’s political climate she could have been), would Louise Mensch be so staunchly defending her as a feminist icon?

Sure, as I have said in my previous post, her election as the first female prime minister was impressive and a positive step towards equality for women politically in this country. However, something must have gone wrong along the way as the UK has a mere 22.5% of representatives in the House of Commons are female. Have we regressed in equality since Margaret Thatcher’s time as prime minister?

Today on twitter, Louise Mensch popped her head up from over the Atlantic to have an argument with Owen Jones (neither covered themselves in glory, petty points scoring over a dead woman is pretty poor show), then proceeded to inform her thousands of followers her screeching voice will be appearing on the 10PM ITV news to talk about Margaret Thatcher in terms of her feminism.

 

Her ignorance is staggering, it truly is. During her 11 years as Prime Minister, she had one woman in her cabinet. One. Every other member of her cabinet was male – hardly a feminist thing to do. Men and women should be on a level playing ground politically, and there doesn’t seem to be anything level about only having one woman in Thatcher’s cabinet.

Thatcher was openly critical of feminism also. She believed that women’s liberation had run its course, “The battle for women’s rights has largely been won. The days when they were demanded and discussed in strident tones should be gone forever. I hate those strident tones we hear from some Women’s Libbers”. She rejected the idea that she was in a position of great privilege, having the money to be able to pay for childcare when she went back out to work.

How any woman can possibly claim Margaret Thatcher believed in equality for her gender when she so openly opposed any opportunity to increase the gender balance in government and in the workplace. A man would be able to make the choice whether to have a family or to work – a woman in Thatcher’s mind was expected to put a stop to her career to reproduce.

Her life and politics can be proved to show equality in one way – she was just as heartless to the working class as any man could be. She actively used her power against working women, and that’s just against like…the rules of feminism (Mean Girls quotes are relevant at any time, it would appear).

Also, I want Louise Mensch to leave this country alone. I actively avoid the Sun, but don’t believe someone who lives in America should be writing about the intricacies of politics in a country she no longer wanted to live in. She needs to but her nose out, and spend more time with her family (the reason she left her job as an MP in the UK). Surely her parenting can’t be done on twitter, so I want her to go away. Perhaps a little break might give her brain cells a rest – she might see she’s not the stalwart of feminism she so clearly sees herself as.

A little self-awareness is all I ask for, surely that’s not too much.

How To Be A Woman – A Sort-Of Review

As I wrote about in my post on Kindles,The Scarlet Letter and Of Human Bondage, the first actual piece of “light” reading I have done on my kindle has been “How to be a Woman” by the lady pictured above, Caitlin Moran. Moran is a British journalist who writes for the Times (though I must admit I haven’t read many of her articles due to the paywall on their site), but like many journalists reaches a greater audience through twitter. I have been following Moran for as long as I have been using the site, and her procrastinating tweets and links proving “fashionable” does not always mean “stylish” do brighten up my day. So, when she brought out her book about linking aspects of her own life to stages in becoming a “strident feminist”(please note my use of inverted commas here is to quote Moran, not to look down on the idea of feminism. If you don’t believe me, look at the rest of my posts), I was curious.

As an aside, kindle books are far cheaper and easier to source than hunting around for cheap second hand copies of books.

Alas, I shall begin my review, along with a few personal things in my life which tie into what I have read. This may wind up being almost as long as Moran’s book itself, mostly because it’s quite short and I agree with a lot of what she’s written about (especially later in her book when she writes about celebrity culture and meeting a woman who makes my eyes bleed – Katie Price).

In my 21 years of residence on this planet, I’ve come to the realisation that I have a pretty good grasp of what it takes to be a fully fledged member of my gender. I may not feel like an adult, given my lack of financial independence, yet I feel like a woman and not a girl. I’m not sure I was aware of my mind maturing alongside my body and yet here I am. I am woman, hear me roar!

“How to be a Woman” is part memoir, part manifesto. Moran ties anecdotes from her life growing up in a very poor household, with steps towards declaring “I am a strident feminist!” to herself, in front of a mirror. I think Moran initially started out with this book attempting to further dismantle the (ludicrous) idea that all feminists are militant, man-hating, bra-burning feminazis (though if that’s the way you want to rail against patriarchal bullshit, you go ahead). She shows that women just want to be on the same playing field as the rest of “The Guys”. We see eye to eye on this point – “Seeing the whole world as ‘The Guys’ is important. The idea that we’re all, at the end of the day, just a bunch of well-meaning schlumps, trying to get along, is the basic alpha and omega of my world view. I’m neither ‘pro-women’ nor ‘antimen’. I’m just ‘Thumbs up for the six billion’.” And here here. If you see others as either better or worse off than you, nothing will change. You need to see everyone as being on the same playing field to work out how to achieve total equality (which in the end is what we all want, right?).

In talks of puberty, Moran talks about her first experience of menstruation. I think any woman reading would laugh and wince in equal measure at the graphic imagery. Men on the other hand may find the brutal description very off putting (but hey, at least you’ll get to find out what we thought on first experience of a type of bleeding no plaster will fix!). I remember thinking along the same line as Caz, Moran’s sister, when I reached this horrific milestone: I want my entire reproductive system taken out, and replaced with spare lungs, for when I start smoking. I want that option. This is pointless.” I never took up smoking to the extent where I needed spare lungs (they taste absolutely disgusting), but my reproductive system serves no purpose. I’m not having kids, so give my eggs to someone who wants them.

Although Moran’s book is about feminsm, it’s far from a serious work on feminist theory. It’s actually funny! Especially in her discussion of the confusion which is involved in the simple task of shopping for clothes. But now it seems you find “the dress”—but “the dress” must have “the belt,” and a complimentary but not overly matching bag must be found, which works with not only the correct hosiery but also something to “throw over,” if you become chilly. It’s like fucking Dragon’s Quest—an endless list of things you’ve got to run around and try to find, possibly in a cave, or under a sage. The thing you “throw over” can’t be an anorak, or a picnic rug salvaged from under the stairs, by the way, but a deconstructed cardigan, a hacking-style jacket, a £200 pashmina, or a “shrug,” which unfamiliar item seems, to my untrained eyes, to be a shrunken cardigan made by a fool. It all looks bloody knackering. It’s going to cut into my bread-and-butter-pudding-making time severely. I don’t make bread and butter pudding, but she’s right. You can’t just go out and buy one thing for a night out – a whole new outfit is expected to be bought. I love shopping, but it’s so much more complicated than it needs to be.

It’s very clear thoughout the entirity of “How to be a Woman” that Moran just wants everyone to be content with who they are. No matter if that’s a woman who wants to be a housewife or one who wants to be a CEO. It doesn’t matter if a man wants to go to the football or go out in a pair of stilettos – if that’s what you want to do, then do it! She has very strong views of her own about a woman’s pubic hair, proclaiming that every woman should grow herself a great big muff. I don’t agree with her in this respect. I don’t like being hairy…anywhere. I’m happy removing my hair, it makes my skin feel nice. And as long as I’m happy with that, I’m sure it wouldn’t cause Caitlin Moran to lose any sleep.

Moran encourages the reader to make up their own mind about issues. If you want to have kids, that’s great! There’s a chapter entitled “Why You Should Have Children”. If you don’t want to have children, there’s a chapter about “Why You Shouldn’t Have Children” too. So long as you’re happy with your choice, go with it! Be who you want to be.

I thoroughly enjoyed “How to be a Woman”, I found the book to be honest, funny (to the point I was laughing out loud on the bus) and included a new viewpoint about “new feminism”. I can happily recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy a bit of lighter reading. If her opening prologue: The Worst Birthday Ever doesn’t sell you on reading more, I’m afraid I just can’t help you.

In one last stand out lesson to take away from this book, it’s how to work out if you’re doing something down to “Patriarchal Bullshit”. Ask yourself, are “The Guys” doing this? For example, take your body hair. Do you think “The Guys” are worrying about removing every last follicle below the neck? If you see yourself in a better light with some fur, then you put the razor away. It’s not something women should be worrying about. Some guys shave, some grow enormous beards. If you want a beard on your face or your fanny, then grow one!

Theresa May – The Ex-Equalities Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in Equality for Women

Oh, Theresa May. How you were ever named the equalities minister is beyond me, given you don’t believe in there being equality between men and women. This is shocking for a woman so far ahead in UK politics to do something so anti-feminist. I felt I had to write to her.

Theresa May, the UK home secretary, has come out in support of Jeremy Hunt limiting the time period abortions would be available. In my post from just a few minutes ago, you can see the email I sent which is mentioned fairly often in this email.

Dear Ms. May,

As a fellow woman I find myself rather disconcerted that someone in a position of power such as yours does not appear to stand for women’s rights at all. When you colleague Mr Hunt came out to say he believes the time period in which a woman can have an abortion, you should have come out in defence of your gender. A man who does not have to make the decision about going through with a pregnancy should not be making decisions on behalf of women.
I have already emailed Mr Hunt’s office and the Department of Health this morning about this issue, but frankly, your position in support of him is more worrying than anything. Your personal religious views may make you unable to support abortion – this however does not mean that you should be restricting the rights of the rest of the women in this country. To say otherwise is just wrong, given we’re supposed to now live in a Britain which has thrived due to the separation of church and state.

I outlined in my email to Mr Hunt the time period of twelve weeks is impossibly short, given by the time the most regular woman in the world would be four weeks along by the time she missed her first period (that’s already a third of the window away).
What of the women who don’t have regular menstrual cycles, and assume the missed period is due to it just being another irregularity? If women like this missed the window, it would not be their own fault, there’s simply no way of telling.
Some women have regular menstrual periods throughout the entirety of their pregnancy (including one nursing student I know personally, who didn’t know she was pregnant until she went into labour in her own flat). What of those women?

To come out in support of Mr Hunt is anti-feminist. And I mean feminist in the purest sense in the world. You (despite being inexplicably named the equalities minister) clearly do not believe in equality between men and women. It’s honestly shocking to see someone in your position come out in support of something so restrictive towards your own gender.

I believe it’s my body, so the choices about what to do with it should belong to me. It’s obvious you don’t feel the same.

Yours,
Hannah Welsh.

Tumblr is a Very Odd Place

I’ve attempted to keep blogs in all places online, and this place is the only one where I’ve kept at it with actually writing words and posting them – that is what the traditional form of blogging is, after all. I tried blogger, and found that much too complicated for me, and the community element of the place seemed almost non-existent. I even tried writing on tumblr for a while, but the community on there genuinely boggles my mind.

My tumblr is basically a collection of cool images I found whilst searching random terms online, be it fashion, retro or even just searching for colours. It’s not for everyone. I don’t have many followers at all (given I’m celebrating having a sum total of 33 followers on here, which twitter aside is my most-followed online profile), and I don’t really interact with anyone unless it’s to reblog something cool they’ve posted.

Tumblr is, however, a fantastic place to collect gifs, which according to a piece in The Guardian supplement G2 today, are phenomenal. I’m so easily pleased by the repetitive little blighters. One such example is from my post last week, in which I posted a gif of Kemboi dancing after finishing his 3,000m steeplechase.

I keep a folder of animated gifs on my external hard drive, and each of them make me smile. They can be little daft things, clips from TV shows, football players getting hit in the face with TV cameras, or normal people doing ridiculous things. I just love them, ok? And after all of my ranty posts in the last few days, I felt like my blog needed a bit of light reprieve.

These gifs are a small selection of what comes up when I look at my favourites on tumblr. And if you enjoy the three things these have come from, then you deserve a gold star for having excellent taste.

Can This Public Obsession Just Go Away

I’m sick of hearing about the books themselves. I’m sick of hearing about the chubby, fan-girl author. I’m sick of people telling others about how much this book has changed their sex lives. I just want 50 Shades of Gray to go away.

In the first few weeks when this supposed “50 Shades Fever” was everywhere, I found it quite funny, talk of submission, BDSM (and of course the awful writing) were all over TV breakfast shows, twitter, even day to day conversations on the bus –where I spend a lot of my time– where people were sharing their experiences or horror that women could enjoy this sort of thing.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m quite happy for what goes on in my boyfriends’ bedroom is between us (unless I feel like I want to brag, then it goes on my forum). We can talk about things, though I must admit that wine helped both of us talk about things in a little more detail a couple of weeks ago. It’s not for me to talk about here, because it’s private.

My friend Jenna (she writes here on wordpress from time to time, check out her blog here) read the books as she was given them, and has shared her opinions with me through various media. From what we have talked about on Girl-Support, we appear to have similar tastes when it comes to everything, including our private lives (see, people talked about sex prior to this book coming out – fancy that!) and from her perspective, 50 Shades of Grey was about stalking and abuse more than dominance and submission.

“50 Shades of Grey is meant to be a book series that has revolutionized the sex lives of many couples. Instead, it an incredibly sexist piece of writing, about an abusive, rushed relationship where Christian Grey uses sex as a punishment, and a way to fix his problems instead of talking about them. On more than one occasion, he “distracted” her as she was trying to discuss something with him. I fact, while they were on their honeymoon, Anastasia Steele takes her bikini top off, and falls asleep on her stomach, but turns over without realising it. He shows his disapproval by starting an argument, and then proceeds to leaving her chest covered in lovebites so she can’t even wear a bikini anymore, let alone go topless.

Christian Grey decided as soon as he saw Anastasia Steele, that she was going to be his. And he made sure of it. By tracking her cell phone to find out where she worked so he could pay her a visit. And then so he could find her when she was slightly drunk in a club with her friends, and that was just the start of it. Soon enough, before they’d even gotten together, he’d brought the company she had accepted a job from, so he could keep an eye on her.

It is obvious that the author, E L James, has no understanding of how normal relationships can function with the addition of BDSM, and doesn’t seem to have an understanding of a healthy relationship at all. The two main characters in this series rush into getting married after a time period of roughly three months, after which there is an argument about Steele wanting to keep her name for work purposes only, so she can establish her own career. There’s also arguments about her continuing working.

She also has no understanding of how BDSM is at all. It’s obvious that she just opened up wikipedia, and searched for basic terms, and left it open along with her thesaurus. It’s clear that she thinks that people who are interested in that kind of thing aren’t normal, and that they were abused when they were younger, as Grey was abused by “the crack whore’s pimp”, the “crack whore” being his mother, and was adopted as a submissive by one of his adopted mother’s friends when he was a teenager. After he marries Steele, he pretty much give up everything to do with BDSM, as she has “cured” him of his problems.

And if she doesn’t “do as she’s told”, Grey threatens her with punishment. Several times throughout the series he mentions wanting to hurt her, and he says (and this is an exact quote from Fifty Shades Freed) “I want to punish you,” he whispers. “Really beat the shit out of you” he adds.” after Steele decides to go to a cocktail bar with her best friend instead of back to the Grey apartment, even though they are perfectly safe as he has her followed around by several members of a security team at all times.

In short, the Fifty Shades of Grey series is an unrealistic, and unhealthy portrayal of how a relationship should be, and anyone who thinks this book will help people discover their sexuality needs their head checking.”

Jenna, thank you for writing that for me.

It’s crazy that the millions of women who’ve read this appear, in the main part, to have completely ignored the stalker sections of the books (which given the small segment you can look at on Amazon were sneezed out in 3 days). I just wouldn’t feel comfortable with a man who tracked my phone so he knew where I was at any given moment. Additionally, the man uses sex as a means to get his own way. If you’re distracted by someone when you’re in the middle of raising a serious qualm with them (and in this sense, if the woman involved in this scenario didn’t feel safe, surely she couldn’t let this man abuse her for his own sexual gratification) about what you were doing, you’re involved in an abusive relationship.

Any normal relationship, if both of the participants so wished, can be a healthy one with the addition of a domination/submission element to their sex lives. The dominant does not have to be controlling to the point of stalking, and the submissive does not have to be a sexual doormat. The submissive always should have the power to say no if they do not enjoy or do not feel safe doing. Within a D/S relationship, abuse can still occur, it’s not just par for the course.

People who enjoy such a relationship need not have gone through some sort of psychological trauma when they were younger, which was summed up in a wonderfully written article in the Observer today by a sexual submissive. It’s not something that’s wrong within their heads. Not everyone is going to like a woman lying in bed as if she were a dead starfish, whilst their partner goes to town and puts in all the effort.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m happy with what I’ve got. I don’t want a controlling, abusive, partner. Not for all the money in the world.

Just go away, 50 Shades. Go away.