Posts Tagged ‘feminist’

Real Women Exist And Take Up Space, Even If You Don’t Like It

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Crew of the Lusty WenchLook, I know exactly where the “Real Women Have Curves!” thing comes from. I do. I look at the advertising around me and see no one who looks like me. I look at hate-filled rants about OMG FATTIES! and how any woman who isn’t built as a perfect size 4 is ALL WRONG AND BAD and feel nothing but despair. I get it all, in the face, just as much as every woman in the Western World does.

But if “real women have curves”, that makes far too many of my friends Not Real Women. That makes arabidmouse not a real woman because she’s naturally very slender and is a size 0. That makes my beautiful friend Raven with her boyish hips and her three kids not a real woman. That makes the majority of the women in this photoshoot not real women.

You know, fuck that noise

New Mantra: Real Women Have Bodies.

Those bodies are of different shapes and sizes and colours. Some of them you will find more attractive than others. That’s fine. I want to see advertising that reflects me, my friends, that beauty and attractiveness are subjective, and all of those other things. Real women have bodies. Hating on women who either easily fit into advertising’s definition of attractiveness or have to harm themselves to do so helps no one. Yes, some of the women in my life have eating disorders, and a lot of that is caused by very high pressure to be thin… and yet, they are still real women.

Real women have bodies. Big ones, small ones, curvy ones, flat ones, bodies. There is so much hate every day thrown at women’s bodies that I just can’t sit back and listen when someone spouts out that real women have curves.

Real women have bodies.

Belated FDQ: Where’s My Independent Media?

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Okay, I’ve been working on this platonic ideal of a post about the media for weeks now, and instead of becoming the definitive post on mainstream news reporting, it’s become nothing. So, now I’m thinking about horses and getting back on them.

My thoughts are basically this: Some time back I read an interesting criticism of feminist blogs from a womanist blog. She talked about how feminism don’t like mainstream media and mainstream news, but instead of working on changing them, feminists blogs tended to just react to them. I can’t say if this is true in every feminist blog (certainly groups like Girl Wonder; are working to change the media they criticise), but I certainly see it in a lot of them.

And so I got to thinking - what would a news source that I could get behind look like? How would it work?

I know that funding and staffing are serious issues. Like a lot of people, I have that image in my head of the intrepid report, living off coffee and a sense of responsibility, the maverick, going out and finding those stories that no one else will follow, getting the big lead, blowing everyone away with hir some scandal that brings down a government. These fictional reports live entirely for the thrill of the chase, since they rarely seem to make enough money to get more than a seedy apartment and a constant influx of coffee.

Reality doesn’t seem that far off, from what I can tell. According to this very good review of a book that talks about the problems with the British news, there are only four reports to cover Cardiff, South Wales, and the Welsh Assembly. I know Wales is small, but it’s not that small! A friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) works in the news room of hir local radio station. “Works”, of course, makes it sound like zie has coworkers, but no - zie works alone. To cover all the news, write the stories, make it out to any and all events, and still be bright-eyed and bushy tailed every morning on the air, starting at o-dark-hundred. How is someone supposed to get all the news, analyse it and give out strong news reports with that much on hir plate?

Is blogging the way of the future of the news? Certainly some of the bigger stories of the past year have started out being blogged and flogged by smaller blogs, until picked up by bigger blogs, and then suddenly they’re front page news. (The most obvious example of this I can think of is The Jena 6, but I know there’s been others.) Certainly a lot of things are brought to my attention through blogging, with passionate and insightful posts varying from the latest attempt (or success) to ban certain articles of clothing to long discussions on the state of privacy (or lack thereof) in the UK. I know when I blog about things on LJ, it brings things to other people’s attention who might have missed it otherwise.

I don’t think that’s the right answer, though. Most people don’t get paid for blogging (I know there are exceptions, but they are rare), which means they’re writing these passionate posts in their “spare” time. Most people who blog don’t have any investigative reporting training. Most people who blog do it in such a way that they can’t really be held accountable if they turn out to be incorrect about something.

I want a news media where I feel they are talking about something important - not making the news, but reporting the news. I want a media where half the stories are not recycled AP stories. I want a media that doesn’t focus so much attention on the antics of various celebrities, and then more attention on how awful it is that the media focuses on the antics of various celebrities. I want an independent media, that isn’t all run by one or two big umbrella companies across the various countries.

But I don’t know what that would look like.

What are your thoughts? What do you want out of the news media? What do you think a more vibrant and relevant-to-you news media would look like? What do you think the answers are? I’m curious as to your thoughts.

FDQ: Ask a Feminist*

Friday, March 7th, 2008

I joined up with a group of people who want to do a group project called “Ask a Feminist”.  The basic premise, as I understand it, is that various people will ask questions they’ve “always” wanted to ask a feminist, and the various feminists, all of whom come from different backgrounds and ideas, will answer them.

I’m really quite interested in this project, as one of my main frustrations with discussing feminism with people is that I’m suddenly expected to defend everything any feminist has ever said or done for the past 30 years, as though all feminists everywhere not only have a Hive Mind, but we walk in lockstep together and never have difference experiences or interpretations of the same event.  It also, of course, leads to people saying things like “Oh, I like lipstick, thus I <i>can’t</i> be a Feminist, because feminism doesn’t allow lipstick wearing.”

For myself, I have two things that say “this person is a feminist” to me.  The fundamental belief that women are people and men are neither monsters nor children; and self-identifying as a feminist.  It may be that I secretly think most of the people on my flist are Feminists, but if none of you have said “I am a feminist”, I’m not going to force the label on you.

After that, though, it becomes more in depth.  At the moment, my focus and energies are going into dealing with issues of poverty and issues of disability & accessibility.  I like to read about women in comics.  I want to read more about women in Fandom and in the media, and want to write more about issues of racism in the media.  I  am beginning to read more about Third World Feminism.  I like general media criticism, and things like “Killing us Softly”, a documentary on how advertising uses women.  I have many and varied thoughts on the issue of sex work, and try and read as much as possible about it, from people opposed, people in favour, women working in the industry, etc.  Womanism is something I want to understand more of, so I’m reading and reading and reading because a lot of it is based in the US and for all that we share a common border, I do not understand racial issues there.  I’m excited because my local feminist bookstore has many books dealing with racism and sexism around First Nations people.  Queer & Trans issues are being brought to my attention more often now, especially with Trans being closely related to the Disability Blogosphere, and I’m finding a lot of my assumptions on “safe” questioned.

I’m not sure if everyone and everything I read would identify as feminist, but each of those topics has branches that work within feminism, and there are many more.  Many of them take issues and don’t agree on them in the slightest, as there isn’t one overall solution that will magically make all our problems go away.  It’s complicated, and whereas I do think there are some very legitimate concerns about main-stream feminism, I think a great many problems are caused not by what the majority of feminists do or think, but by how the media portrays feminism.  (I have been doing a lot of critical thinking about the media this week.  It’s certainly not an issue unique to feminism, but I will save that discussion for Monday.)

The point of all this is that I’m very excited about the idea of working with people on this project, and I would like to encourage others to participate, through the asking of questions.

If you could ask a group of feminists anything, what would you ask?

My personal questions about feminism have a lot to do with the history, of course.  I want a better timeline on how Women’s Shelters came into being.  I want to have a better understanding of where this concept of “The Lavender Menace” came from, and how one combats the past.  I want to know where the feminists in my life stand on issues like accessibility, and Gay Marriage, and Queer Adoptions.  I’m always up for a spirited discussion on Women’s Only Spaces, both for and against them, both in public and in private.  I want to better understand the racial issues outside of my personal sphere, and get a better bead on what is happening.  I like asking feminists for book recommendations.

But, what are your thoughts?  What would you ask?

(*My random sense of humour now has the theme from “Ask a Ninja” running through my head.)