Tag Archives: Feminism

What it Would Mean for America to Elect its First Female President

27 Mar

From the initial inception of society, the exclusion of women from institutional politics was an extension of their exclusion from the public space. Traditionally, women, even those who worked outside of the household, took care of the family, the domestic space and were in charge of “reproduction”, while men had the most important roles in society, especially those related to politics, religion and war. With time, however, this sexual division of labor became less marked, thanks to the mobilization of women themselves.

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Ever more present since her private meeting with President Obama on Monday, is the mounting speculation over whether Hillary Clinton will soon announce a presidential run. And of course there is discussion on whether a woman is equipped to run the country.

To begin, I would like to reiterate to my readers that Feminism is a practice, NOT a single person or outcome. Despite the views of some of my peers, feminists are not “women who want to become men.” Conversely, feminism is a scope, a lens if you will, for looking at the world, and aims for attaining even ground and destruction of any influencers that may exist which perpetuate unfair advantages favoring men over women. Feminism does NOT define women as victims. Feminism recognizes that men are biologically built for some duties better than women and vice versa. There is not contesting that. But what feminism yearns for is an equal consideration between women and men where gender should not be a bias. This applies to jobs and things as simple as purchasing a new car.

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For me, I think a female president would be able to finally mediate the tired, drawn-out arguments over birth control and abortion access. And while I don’t think anyone, man or woman should have the power to exercise an absolute decision over what a woman can and cannot do with her own body, a female president would be more empathetic than a man to rape culture and therefore better motivated to address and educate society’s acknowledgment to obvious and unobvious (normalized) forms of sexual violence.

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The good news is that most Americans find women indistinguishable from men on key leadership traits such as intelligence and capacity for innovation, with many saying they’re stronger than men in terms of being compassionate and organized leaders, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey on women and leadership,

So why, then, are women in short supply at the top of government and business in the United States? According to the public, at least, it’s not that they lack toughness, management chops or proper skill sets.

It’s also not all about work-life balance. Instead, topping the list of reasons, about four-in-ten Americans point to a double standard for women seeking to climb to the highest levels of either politics or business, where they have to do more than their male counterparts to prove themselves. Similar shares say the electorate and corporate America are just not ready to put more women in top leadership positions.

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As a result, the public is divided about whether, even in the face of the major advances women have made in the workplace, the imbalance in corporate America will change in the foreseeable future. About half (53%) believe men will continue to hold more top executive positions in business in the future; 44% say it is only a matter of time before as many women are in top executive positions as men. Americans are less doubtful when it comes to politics: 73% expect to see a female president in their lifetime.

If Hillary was to win the 2016 election, I think it would be a catalyst in kick starting a new movement where women would feel more confident and empowered to succeed and inspired to become more politically active. Women have come so far, it would be very liberating, at least for me, to elect a female president. It is one of the last frontiers we have yet to claim.

Quick Facts:

Women are far more likely than men to see gender discrimination in today’s societyAbout two-thirds (65%) of women say their gender faces at least some discrimination in society today, compared with 48% of men who believe women face some discrimination. A double-digit gender gap on perceptions of gender discrimination is evident across all generations as well as across partisan groups.

Women and men are seen as equally good business leaders, but gender stereotypes persist. Most Americans (54%) say men would do a better job running a professional sports team, while just 8% say women would be better at this. And a 46% plurality also give men the edge when it comes to running a large oil or gas company. But the public is two and a half times more likely to say a woman, rather than a man, would do a better job running a major hospital or a major retail chain.

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Please share your thoughts; I love reading the different perspectives of my readers.

Will a woman replace Jackson on the $20 bill?

24 Mar

It may seem difficult to imagine that there is anything wrong with a crisp, delicious stack of cash. But a new campaign that seeks to change the face of the 20-dollar bill points out the problem: our paper money contains no depictions of women.

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As National Public Radio reports a group has launched a campaign to try to raise awareness to potentially change the bill that currently depicts Andrew Jackson. The campaign, Women on 20s, is asking voters to help them select what woman should be immortalized on greenbacks, according to NPR.

To vote in the campaign and learn more about the effort behind the change, go to Women on 20s.

In the current round of voting, get ready to select three candidates out of this group:

  • Harriet Tubman‎
  • Rosa Parks‎
  • Alice Paul‎
  • Betty Friedan‎
  • Barbara Jordan‎
  • Clara Barton‎
  • Eleanor Roosevelt‎
  • Sojourner Truth‎
  • Shirley Chisholm‎
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton‎
  • Patsy Mink‎
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Rachel Carson‎
  • Frances Perkins‎
  • Margaret Sanger‎

Being Fierce in ’15 – Dispelling the False Association Between Feminism and Misandry

12 Feb

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We’re going back to basics. Have you ever heard the term misandrist? It’s like the antonym for misogynist and pertains to hatred for men instead of women.

Lately, discussions of feminism have been at an all-time high as celebrities such as Emma Watson are taking a public stand on the issue of inequality between sexes. Consequently, most backlash and negativity seems to attack feminism at it so-called weak spot, calling supporters “man-haters.” When did feminism become code for “person who hates men?” When did feminists become viewed as individuals who believe all men are predators? After all, feminist is just a word. A word to describe people who believe everyone should have equitable places in society regardless of their gender. Hey guys, that means we support you too!

Some feminists are misandrists, but it is not a criterion to join the movement. A portion does not equal a whole, even if that portion is very loud.

What matters is that feminism, distilled down to its most inner core, is about gender equality, with the goal of creating a society or utopia in which gender does not restrict an individual from an equitable shot at success and happiness.

Most feminists, including myself, politely disagree with the belief that women are better than men, and conversely try to convey that we’re all deserving and worthy – women, men, trans – and should be treated as such.

Man-hating is unfortunately a reactionary sentiment identified with feminism.

So…What Does Feminism Say Is Bad?

Feminism came about because of sexism – it’s historical presence as well as its existence today. Sexism is the problem, and a problem that is largely engaged in by men, and a lot of women internalize. Because men are largely the vehicles for sexism, they oftentimes wrongly associate feminism as an attack on men. But we’re not out for your blood in particular, our sights are on the patriarchy.

Men become participators in sexism because they have been taught to behave and think that way. Women internalize it for the same reason.

Aside from seeking equality, feminism asks both men and women to think about those normalized behaviors created by society, and calculate the impact. More than anything, the movement asks to hold people accountable who perpetuate sexism whether they realize their behavior is sexist or not.

It’s easy to get defensive about this. Whenever my boyfriend and I debate if feminism is relevant or even needs to exist today, he oftentimes brings up the belief that men can’t be accountable for sexist behavior they never thought/knew was wrong. To no avail I argue that this does not make it acceptable.

It all comes down to society and educating our peers how to treat each other with equity. That is what feminism seeks to achieve.

Saying all feminists hate men is a stigma, which closely relates to the notion that college is just one big beer fest. But you and I both know that college is more than that, isn’t it? Maybe I went to the wrong university…

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Panic at the prom – when young women are denied the agency to feel beautiful

18 May

There’s really no way to ease into this; I have a vendetta against this organized home school prom committee. If you haven’t seen the blog post and complementing news article that went viral earlier this week, let me quickly fill you in.

Click here to read the post!

Imagine this: you’re getting ready for your high school prom; you look gorgeous and feel even more beautiful inside. You found the perfect dress and can’t wait to have a great evening with your closest friends. You’ve barely begun to enjoy yourself, and you’re pulled aside only to be told you must leave. And no, you weren’t caught sneaking in airplane bottles or intermittently going outside to pass a joint.

This is what happened to a high school senior named Clare, who was thrown out of her prom because a group of horny middle aged male chaperons admitted they were getting aroused from watching her.

Yeah, you read that correctly, more than one of the fathers attending the prom publicly expressed their inappropriate lust for a seventeen year-old girl.

She wasn’t dancing in any provocative manner and more than adhered to the dress code of a fingertip length dress, yet she was made to leave because a few pedophiliac fathers couldn’t keep their lewd thoughts from showing through their pants.

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Excuse me, but how the hell do these “adults” earn the right to stay, nevertheless monitor the activities of teen girls who reportedly were acting raunchy and behaving like a Girl’s Next Door orgy?

I can just imagine the conversation these men had with their wives that night.

“So Hon, how was it?”

“Boring. Really standstill. With all the shit music these kids listen to you’d think they’d know how to have a fun time…but yeah I couldn’t wait to come home to you.”

Then he goes into the shower to beat one off to a remembered image of his daughter’s best friends. Way to go.

There’s something wrong here and I’m infuriated by the fact that women are always made to feel as if they violated someone in such a way that they were “asking for it.”

Why are men allowed to blame blasphemous thoughts and behavior on innocent women?

This is not so much different than rape, and I’d be highly questionable of my husband if I knew he was lusting after someone close to three times his junior. American Beauty anyone?

So she made you feel “uncomfortable?” Get a grip, you chose to look. And the solution was to remove Clare, when all the while she was not the problem at all.

On my daily work commute to and from New York City, I face inappropriate stares, wolf whistles and snarky comments to no avail. I don’t stand for it. Last week I yelled at a guy on the subway and threatened to stab him in the face (eh, a little much I admit) because he kept staring at me in a seductive manner, literally eye fucking me from six feet away.

Women shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable or unsafe because men think they can publicly display thoughts that should be kept inside the content (if there is any) of their minds. And don’t sit there saying all men aren’t the same. I’ve had numerous one night stands with cops and correctional officers who like rough foreplay which was on the barrier of being domestic abuse. Protect and serve my ass!

Next week, I’m contemplating standing on a street corner entry way to the subway. I’m going to smoke a Marlboro menthol, even though I don’t smoke, and  square up with every man that passes by. I’ll rotate between throwing a head nod, saying something obscene (“Yo, you look like your packing a nice set tools) and rubbing my crotch like  Miley.

How you like me now?

If only there were more men like this…

 

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Beyoncé Redefines Perfection, Sex, and Flawlessness

17 Jan

Beyoncé has been constantly working toward perfection her entire life. She reminds the listener of this frequently over the course of her newest album, BEYONCÉ, with audio clips from her youth, when she competed in pageants and talent shows. She uses this device best as the prelude to “Flawless,” a reworked and expanded version of a song she released earlier this year as “Bow Down/I Been On.” In just four minutes, “Flawless” shifts from a Hit-Boy produced banger celebrating her competitive drive, to an excerpt from a TED Talk by Nigerian feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about how society places limits on the ambitions of women, to a final sequence in which Bey both mocks the idea of effortless beauty and exhorts her female fans to love the way they look.

“I woke up like this, I woke up like this,” she sings with a wink just before delivering the line, “We flawless, ladies tell ‘em!” with zero irony whatsoever. There are a lot of ideas packed into this relatively brief song, and they don’t all add up, but the conflicts in “Flawless” inform everything else on the album.

BEYONCÉ is the work of an artist who is doing her best to make sense of her role as a feminist pop icon, and working out a way to have a positive influence on culture without apologizing for or disowning anything she’s ever done. She’s putting the idea of flawlessness in scare quotes, and attempting to demystify herself so fans can recalibrate their expectations for themselves and envision a form of perfection that’s within their reach.

She’s asking women to be beautiful on their terms, and for themselves. She’s framing ambition and the will to succeed as a greater virtue than simply seeking the attention of men. She’s declaring that women should not be ashamed of loving sex, and asserting that they should be as open about their desires as men. These ideas have always been big part of Beyoncé’s music, but “Flawless” revises and clarifies those thoughts. BEYONCÉ at large is a manifesto in the form of a stylish, creatively adventurous, and resolutely adult R&B record.

String Theory-Can a Feminist Wear a Thong?

17 Dec

As a feminist, I support the establishing and  defending of equal political, economic, and social rights for women. However, we are not all lesbians, or discontent with conspicuous clothing or deviant behavior. I have said on previous occasions that I appreciate women who can put themselves on display, yet remain proud and in-control. Angela Carter would agree with me here.  On that note, I wanted to bring up the iconic, yet controversial thong.

I love thongs because they compliment my body, make me feel beautiful in a way which embraces my womanhood, and allows me to view myself in an intimate type of way, which for me, is empowering.

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Natasha Bragg, author of “Behind, Beneath, and Between: Tracing the Thong” (http://dismagazine.com/discussion/22772/behind-beneath-and-between-tracing-the-thong/) brings up a conversing opinion stating that

The thong has come to represent more than primitivizing a culture’s misunderstood dress. It is brought up in the conversation of objectification, too. A thong bathing suit, like the ones Coco Austin, star of E!’s Ice Loves Coco, famously wears in her “Thong Thursdays” Twitter updates, has become representative of air-headed hyper-sexualization and material concerns.

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The million dollar question of whether a feminist can wear a thong is, according to Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, “symbolic of young people’s relationship to feminism.”

I believe Bragg presents a good argument. But why can’t I support the women empowerment movement while being sexy? Do these negate each other?

The word “feminism” has undergone a transformation as interesting as the history of the undergarment. Its relationship to dress is undeniable, but the blurred lines between gender studies and fashion design sometimes make themselves clearer by drawing attention to the differing priorities on either side. Sex is fashion and fashion sex; gender is sex and sex gender. Still, fashion can try to ignore gender, and gender can discriminate against fashion. It’s okay for a feminist to wear a thong, but is it okay for a thong to be representative of feminism? Perhaps more importantly: Can a thong be representative of anti-feminism?

Fashionably, the thong changes its mood every few years and represents something new. The thong is rebellious: It sticks out, hides again, becomes functional, emerges as decoration, and stretches itself thin.

And so I am taking a pantie pledge to continue wearing thongs as I establish myself alongside, if not above the patriarchy.

10 Music Videos That Pushed Feminism Forward in 2013

9 Dec

It seems that appetite for music videos that buck trends and give overtly empowering messages to women is bigger than ever, and there have been plenty of artists this year who have been doing just that with imagination, strength and humor. Here are 10 music videos that re-framed and re-claimed women’s sexuality and generally gave us good feelings about the place of women in entertainment in 2013.

1. Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu – Q.U.E.E.N.

“Is it peculiar that she twerk in the mirror?” asks the divine Janelle Monae in her tour de force of a video for Q.U.E.E.N., featuring the one and only Erykah Badu. Q.U.E.E.N. is Monae’s anthem not only for women who want to feel like empowered queens, but for absolutely everybody who feels marginalized or ostracized by society. Without directly parodying current music videos, she still manages to make them all seem ridiculous with her tuxedos and 60’s-referencing aesthetic hearkening back to a classier time. “Categorize me,” she dares you at the end of the video in a furious straight-to-camera rap, “I defy every label.”

2. FKA Twigs – Papi Pacify

As Emilie Friedlander wrote wonderfully for The Fader earlier this year, FKA Twigs has been one of the most intriguing artists of 2013 for her subtle yet complex plays on expectations of female beauty (see also: The Water Me video) and sexuality. Here, she creates a video that’s as uncomfortable as it is compelling, as a man’s hands encase her throat and repeatedly thrust into her mouth, all while she keeps her gaze fixed steadily on the audience. She’s overwhelmed physically by his presence, and yet he’s the one out of the frame.

3. Lizzo – Batches and Cookies 

Minneapolis newcomer Lizzo drew a lot of comparisons to Missy Elliott with the release of her video for Batches and Cookies earlier this year, taking the “weird rap” crown with a flagrantly fun clip full of food-based innuendo. She even butters up a man’s torso. Really.

4. The Knife – A Tooth For An Eye 

In this video a young girl enters a male-dominated realm – the gym. Here a group of men of all ages emerge from the locker room as if for a kick about, and in an unexpected turn of events, she leads them in a dance. Her performance is quietly, calmly powerful, and watching the men move themselves in unconventional and delicate ways is captivating.

5. Tirzah – I’m Not Dancing 

Micachu and Tirzah stole 2013 with this video. Together they wrote one of the definitive tunes of the year, with a hook that aggressively deflects the male gaze – or basically any gaze trying to place an explanation on someone else’s self-expression – and a video that shuns most pop video conventions to create something that is plain simple and plain fun. The oversized Ultimate Fighter t-shirt alone says so much about why I love this casual yet powerful video.

6.  Tink – Kilo 

“I’m a self-made bitch, don’t need no fucking hero,” Tink spits ferociously in this stripped-back video for one of her ‘Boss Up’ mixtape stand-outs, Kilo. Whether she’s sitting on a desk in a striped suit and sifting through the dollar bills in her hands, or she’s with her crew rapping to camera in a vest and jeans, Tink is unafraid to thoroughly embrace her femininity – with that high-pitched, nasal flow – while at the same time using the exact same status symbols and posturing as male rappers in her visuals.

7.  Planningtorock – Misogyny Drop Dead 

If the title doesn’t say it all, the funky bassline of the track and the floating mouths of the video make it perfectly clear: performance artist Planningtorock thinks that 2013 is about time the patriarchy basically just got lost. Just as so many women are reduced to disconnected body parts in their music videos, Jam Rostron here floats abstractly as disembodied hands and pouting mouths. But here the emphasis, crucially, is on what those mouths are saying.

8. Solange Knowles – Lovers In The Parking Lot 

Alternative, soft-focus R&B superstar Solange Knowles may or may not be making a comment on the beauty myth as she struts down the cosmetics and wigs aisle of a store in her video for slow jam Lovers In The Parking Lot, but one thing’s for sure: as she dances playfully and unpredictably in front of a wall full of steering wheels, you know she’s the one in control.

9. Brooke Candy – Everybody Does

The message of Everybody Does, according to Brooke Candy, is “fuck standards”. She said that in an interview with Swide magazine earlier this year, in which she also defiantly referred to herself as a feminist with the explanation, “I feel like women, I say it in my songs, are still sexually enslaved in our minds. Still now, I get called a slut…There should be no double standards and I feel like men and woman are equal and should be treated as that.” However you respond to the confrontational sexuality of Candy’s video, then, it’s clear that the intention behind it is to harness and deploy the power of the female body rather than to demean it. Either way, I’d be pretty terrified to disagree with her.

10. Nicki Minaj talking about Kendrick’s ‘Control’ verse 

Alright, this isn’t a music video, but seriously, skip ahead to three minutes, 50 seconds and just listen to Nicki Minaj’s take on why Kendrick Lamar didn’t mention her in his controversial verse where he called out every rapper from Drake to ASAP Rocky. In her words: “Maybe he’s one of those respectful gentlemen that probably felt like, ‘I don’t want to say a female’s name’…[But] I’m the queen of New York, I’m the king of New York. Let me tell you why. Platinum albums; albums. Plural. Number one in five motherfuckin’ countries.” Enough said.