Thursday, 31 July 2014

What feminists are secretly dreaming of...

“Young women – our friend or foe?” I recall Carie Bradshaw asking herself this question in one of the episodes of “Sex and the City”.

Recently, I've been thinking about generation gap between women. It seems like for whatever reason many older women feel threatened by younger women. "Threatened" might be too strong of a word here, but the idea of husbands abandoning their wives for younger women is present in almost every country on the planet. 

I have often witnessed women looking with nostalgia at younger girls… as if those bad hairstyles from their 20s were really something to be missed.  I see the longing for youth in my private life, but I also see the often exaggerated version of it in our stories, TV series and movies. Take fairytale about Snow White for example, or movie “Catwoman”. In so many stories there is an evil women, that is so terrified of losing her beauty and youth that she is ready to harm other, younger women. What we don’t see though is the probability that when Snow White grows to be 40 or 50 she will turn into the same evil women her step mother was.

Are these evil characters to be blamed for their evilness? Of course, we should never kill anyone or harm in any other way. I was thinking should we really blame women for their fear of aging and desperation that many of them feel about inevitable end of their youthful charms?

If you are a woman and you grew up on the same planet as me, you probably feel it on more or less conscious level that the most important thing that a girl can be is “beautiful”. You felt it at school, you felt it during family meetings, on holidays, while reading a magazine, while shopping, while meeting up with your girl friends. You felt that the pretty girls always attract attention first and for that reason, at some point of your life wished you were more beautiful. 

Now, unless you look like a goddess, you can probably agree with some of the above. Looks are not everything, but we all know that in current scenario we can be as successful as we want to be, but our weight, wrinkles or wardrobe will not escape the watchful gazes of our friends, colleagues and family. Positive attention gives illusion of power and for that reason when we feel invisible, we feel somehow powerless. This happens to our moms and grandmas, if we don’t take any action, it will happen to us. Getting old doesn't have to feel bad.

It’s sad that we live in the world that is hammering the image of “perfect beauty” into our heads wherever we go. The images of perfectly skinny, blemishless, young women follow us like a shadow. We all know it, we all feel it. You see, even in the era of Photoshop you can be lucky enough to be born with a body type of a model. It’s rare, but it happens. Plus we have make up, we can cover the occasional pimple and still feel fine, but even make up has its limitations. With all creams, pills, diets, operations and cosmetic procedures, there is no way we can escape our old age, erase all wrinkles, stop our body from going through natural process of aging.

Aging woman is hardly ever a symbol of wisdom, or symbol of anything for that matter, older women are not shown to us on TV or in magazines, they are invisible. Can you recall when was the last time you have seen 60 something women on the news as guest or show host? Women, just like men, have more and more to say as they gain experience with age, yet we don’t hear from them very often. Instead, pretty much all women over 20 are depicted as desperate to turn back the clock and be 20 again. (It’s actually ridiculous that I started this article with quote from fictional 30 year old women who already thought girls in their 20s might be her foe! As if 30 was already old!)

It’s incredibly sad how our culture treats older women, as if they were invisible or not good enough for our eyes. The same with obese women or short women – they are all treated like they are not good enough to be shown in our media. 

For example, it is utterly hypocritical how we look at pregnant women with joy and respect, but as soon as they give birth it’s like they don’t have any excuse for that big post pregnancy belly. All moms are supposed to quickly hit the gym to go back to their pre-baby body asap. Images of post pregnancy celebrities are again feeding us guilt about our body after birth. Internet is full of articles about "how to get your body back", as if women lost something. You gave birth and put on some weight, don’t be lazy or too happy, work that body girl!!! Sweat till you injure your recently torn vagina! One would think that at least mothers that we supposedly respect so much would have some time off from the body guilt game, but noooo…. Happy women who are ok with their body means no good business.

I have two brothers; one is 6 years younger than me. During her last pregnancy, my mom has put on a lot of weight and has been trying to get rid of it since I remember. Her dieting sent me a clear message – something is wrong with my mom’s body. Magazines and TV quickly provided me with the answer. My mom, with her body type, post pregnancy fat and stretch marks is not considered beautiful.

What a shame! After I realized that my perception of beauty is created by images that surround me I noticed how much of it is clearly wrong! The beauty culture that we see today is designed to keep majority of women, me and my mom included, desperate to change their body. Do I have to explain how extremely profitable is keeping women in constant need of magic diet pills, slimming creams and anti –aging creams?

For our own sake, we, women need to redefine beauty. My mom’s body is beautiful. She sacrificed her flat belly, perky breasts and tight vagina for me, for my existence. Isn't it amazing? I am responsible for at least 1/3 of these stretch marks! Looking at her from perspective of gratefulness is amazing. Her body produced my body.

This sentence should have the power to close all generation gap. Older women should be proud, not anxious, looking at younger women – relaxing in the idea that we literally came out of their bodies. And this pride should not be directed only to mothers. Women before me made my amazing life possible. I have tones of opportunities and it’s only thanks to them. They are pioneers who came before us, and they have awful lot to be proud of. My mother gave me my body, but there are countless women that I’m thankful for, because they have fought for me, for my rights that I enjoy so much today.

I’m an atheist and I attach my creation to the fact that my parents fucked, not to divine intervention of any god. There is surely something divine about it, but I prefer to thank my parents for my life, not god. I wish my mom could take full half of the credit for my creation and rejoice in the fact, that my young body is extension of her own body. 

I wish we could slowly create a culture where women take immense pride in growing older. I mean, it’s not easy to get old, just imagine all the stupid things you did when you were in college, or imagine how many people die in car accidents or from heart disease, it’s not as easy to grow old as we think it is… But I digress, where was I….

It isn’t true that feminists dream of dominating men. I am a feminist and one of my biggest feminist fantasies is women celebrating femininity. I want to see more women being supportive of each other. One of the feminist goals is creating society were women are friends, allies; not envious, vicious enemies, fighting for men or those few CEO positions. See, it’s not only about being equal with men, but also about being equal with each other, women to women. Without thinking which one of us is more capable to attract a male based on our beauty or age. “Sisterhood”, this word is so beautiful and yet sounds so… uncomfortable compared to “brotherhood”.

Perhaps dreams of sisterhood are not so uncommon if you look at the appeal of shows about female friendships, like “Sex and The City” or my favorite one, “The Golden Girls”. I have a feeling that we all secretly dream of heaving group of female friends where we could feel fully accepted. We all dream of some kind of women’s club where we could celebrate femininity more often than once, twice a year while choosing prom dress or wedding dress.

The only reason of writing this post was to express my mixed feelings about the way we currently perceive aging women and how women interact with each other. Beauty standards and pressure to be beautiful is disrupting completion of secret feminist “Sisterhood Project" and I dream of the time when we put those standards behind us, giving space to more inclusive and realistic idea of beauty.

Written by Innana
and inspired by "The Beauty Myth" by Naomi Wolf

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Unwanted Kisses, Obligatory Handshakes, Pre-War Decorum and Feminism

Recently I had a pleasure of reading a very insightful and interesting interview (more like informal chit – chat - in Polish) with famous Polish rapper – Adam “Łona” Zielinski. In addition, Adam is a friend of the family and I know from the fact that he is freakishly intelligent so I eagerly indulged in the lecture while drinking my morning coffee.
The interview was mostly about everything and nothing, little bit about politics, little bit about social situation in Poland, little bit about himself. It was the brain-stimulant I need before getting ready to conquer the world – easy to read, yet very sharp and thought-provoking.
And then it happened. One fragment DID provoke me to think about the issue further.
Of course, recently if we start talking about doctors in Poland (and issues of women’s patient rights violations), automatically there has to emerge subject of feminism. And here it what was said (I did a quite awesome translation, I must say):
Interviewer: Would you participate in the Slut Walk?
Adam: No. However, I grieve when I see women who are falling into patriarchal system of thinking themselves.
Interviewer: I grieve when female politician talks about parities and then she’s offended when a man addresses her the same way as any other friend.
Adam: Okay. I myself do not agree with equal treatment, I would prefer to be gentlemen towards ladies. But it doesn’t mean that woman shouldn’t have equal rights. My female colleagues are the amazing lawyers. They are substantially better than their male colleagues, yet they earn less. I can forgive feminists the pathos, form, rabidity. On one hand I defend equal rights, on the other – the image of pre-war gentleman and ladies. I would love to see woman who is both feminist and lady, and for the world to appreciate and promote it. May the word “lady” prevails in use. No harm will come to feminists if they allow to preserve it. It’s a nice word.
Basically, this fragment mimics the entire interview – it’s witty and comprehensive. And yet something is missing here. Depth.
Let me explain.

First: The choice of Slut Walk as example of feminist activity.

Ban Ki Moon
It always baffles me why everybody keeps mentioning only the most controversial activities of some factions of feminism? There is such a wide spectrum of types of feminism: liberal, radical, Marxist and socialist, cultural, black, eco-feminism and probably millions of others examples, as probably each woman is a feminist in different way. But we all have this radical and provocative notion that women are actually human beings and deserve equal rights. Different groups can have different vision and agendas regarding what is specifically meant by “equality” and most importantly all of the groups have different vision of how to bring equality into the society. So please, tell me, where this persistence of giving label “feminist” only to the most radical and controversial groups came from? And why there is this persistence in ignoring all this high profile people, who are obviously feminists? Just because they are not showing their tits and yelling, they are not worthy to be called “feminist”?

I would love to see an article (or video or song or anything) where somebody sparks a  conversation about feminism starting from: “what do you think about Angelina Jolie’s speech during Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict?” or “What do you think about Anna Dryjańska’s feminist activity?” or if you don’t want to go into heavy stuff: “Laci Green really have a point (didn’t have a point) in her video about…”; or to have male representation “have you seen any video of Jackson Katz? What do you think about male feminists?”.
And yet there is this persistent, consistent, insistent and absolutely annoying mania for sticking to feminist stereotypes of aggressive behaviour, “rabidity”, questionable personal hygiene and expression of other forms of behaviour widely described as “masculine”.

Second: Preservation of ladylike behaviour

I understand where Adam is getting here. After WW2 Poland lost many representatives of aristocracy and intelligence, scientists, poets, writers and therefore we lost our models for higher standards of behaviour. With emergence of communism the promotion of hard work and simplicity, the state of that pre-war decorum deteriorated even further until it was totally forgotten. I also weep for those times, especially when I’m going to the theatre and I see people in jeans and sneakers, or people wearing sports clothes in the church.
There is nothing wrong in longing for seeing people behaving more… gracefully and tactfully. But it is wrong to pinpoint specifically the disconnection between “ladylike behaviour” and feminism. The truth is, we are so far from that times. Men in general couldn’t be more apart from the image of gentlemen – instead there is plague of rude, sex driven, sexists. In such situation, expecting women to protect the word “lady” and generally “ladylikeness” is showing the worrying insistence in preserving the perception of how women should behave, but at the same time absolutely ignoring the fact that men rarely have to adhere to any properly stated form of behaviour. Especially the one that requires them to respect other people, women in particular.
Again, I understand Adam’s love for those standards. However, I don’t see it happening in the nearest future. Not because it’s against “feminist agenda”, but because it is simply not feasible, as in the modern world women cannot be graceful, moderate and passive (as pre-war ladies were) and at the same time fight with everyday sexism and being silenced, objectified, belittled and not taken seriously. You cannot expect women to preserve and promote ladylike behaviour without strongly promoting gentlemanlike behaviour and equal rights.
In short: mutual respect for each other as human beings and our rights.
However recently, with this obsession for promoting men’s rights to sex, their promiscuity, rough masculine power and ruthlessness, there is little gentlemen left. And if those few golden boys want to improve general standard of behaviour, the job need to be done starting from their fellow men and then they can start complaining that there is deficit of ladies. Otherwise it just sexist and discriminatory.

Third: Wanting equal treatment equals being treated like a “one of the guys”.

Let me quote the fragment again: Interviewer: I grieve when female politician talks about parities and then she’s offended when a man addresses her the same way as any other [male] friend.
Actually, this fragment is so ridiculously inappropriate and shallow that I had no idea where to start.
Okay, I think I know.
There is huuuuge difference between equal treatment and equal rights (what actually Adam pointed out). Personally, I never understood the logic behind arguments claiming that feminists by equal rights they secretly want to be men.
For example: “I fight for equal rights” and answer “so why don’t you go work in quarry” or “I don’t know why you feminists don’t want to shave your legs” or like here “you are feminist so why don’t you carry heavy bags”. I really don’t know how some people can go from equal rights to unshaven legs. Or carrying heavy things. I don’t carry heavy bags not because I am hypocritical feminist, but because they are heavy and my boyfriend is stronger. I believe the logic: “he/she who is stronger does more things that require strength” has its merits.  
But all of this has nothing to do with the subject. Like Adam pointed out, feminists are advocating for equal right, for example to education, to progression in career, equal pay, to sexual freedom, to choose who to marry, when to have kids, with whom to have kids. And finally the right to participate in public life and be greater in numbers in governmental representation.
I don’t see the transition from talking about political participation of women to the nonverbal statement of “I actually want to be a guy”. Why is it so difficult to understand that we feminist first and foremost want to have equal rights, but at the same time still remain the women (whatever the hell that means)?
There is also one other problem with this statement: assuming that by wanting equal rights we simply want to be treated as guys.
Well, for example I don’t. I want to be treated as human being, not a representative of a gender.
Let me elaborate further on this. Imagine Frank. Frank is your good friend. Now think about Frank’s interaction with other men. How he interacts with his best friend, classmates, random friends from school, his teachers, his father, grandfather or distant male relative. Does he treat them the same way? Everybody, the same way?
Probably not. Frank adjusts his behaviour in male-to-male interaction according to the status, personality, age, etc. of other man. And that’s a natural thing. Because there is no prescribed ways of social interaction in man-man relationships, even friendships, the same as there is no prescribed ways of woman-woman interaction.
There is, however, an acceptable way of social interactions between man and woman and it implies that woman should agree to the way that man chooses to interact with her. Does he want to kiss her hand? Well, she better accepts it gracefully. He doesn’t want to kiss her hand instead he prefers to shake it, but she wanted the kiss? She shouldn’t have expect that, because he wants to treat everybody equally. He shakes hands with men but doesn’t with women and she wants to shake hands. Is she crazy?! She’s woman. Etcetera etcetera etcetera…
Now let’s back to the interviewer’s statement.
Why the notion of “equal treatment” implies being treated like “one of the guys”? That’s not equal. That’s enforcing dichotomy of interaction and rejection of greater spectrum of human interactions. And that’s sexism at its best. By imposing stereotypical “guys” ways of interaction as an equal treatment, we totally ignore somebody’s right to have their comfort zones, both men and women, and how they want to interact with each other and others.
Generally, there is no space for accepting that we actually want to be treated as human beings and therefore have the RIGHT to choose how we will interact with others in our everyday lives. Why this female politician cannot choose how she will be treated by her colleagues? Just because she fights for equal rights, does it mean she abandoned her right to be respected and being treated the way she wants to be treated?
Sure, some feminists want to be treated like men. But some don’t. And yet they also want to be treated equally. How? It can be achieved by respecting our boundaries, by respecting our willingness or lack of willingness to participate in certain practices and most importantly by allowing us to express our opinion on this issue. Without judgements, labelling, ridiculing, belittling.
I know that this statement implies some level of schizophrenia and bipolarity. But it’s actually very easy to achieve by following 3 A’s rule: Act, Ask, Accept or Ask, Accept, Act. (I leave it to your discretion).
So for example, Frank wants to kiss Mary’s hand, but she doesn’t want that. Frank asks what kind of method of greeting she prefers, she answers that she prefers to kiss on a cheek (or headshake or wave from the distance). Franks accepts that.
And conversely, if Frank wants to shake hands, but Mary would preferred to be kissed, she should say so. But she should also ask and accept Frank if he doesn’t practice hand-kissing in any case.
Again it's not only about handshake or kiss. That’s just a simple example for mutual respect and acceptance of equal right to choose how the person wants to be treated. But it can be applied to every human interaction.
Sometime ago there was this whole issue about a model who didn’t want to kiss Tour the France winner. There were comments like “I feel bad for the guy”, “that girl is a jerk” or “she is full of herself”. But most were just missing the point: that simply she didn’t want to give him a kiss, even though that’s the type of social situation, where it seems the kiss is “appropriate”.

Just to quickly sum up: I admire Adam and his work and I really value his opinion. The interview generally was well spoken and the questions led to really engaging conversation. But as comes to feminism, equal rights, equal treatment and forming opinion on this matter, both speakers should just check their facts first. And it wouldn’t hurt anybody to just accept that the world is changing and women’s behaviour will also change, but it would be lovely if we were free to decide about this ourselves. 

Written by Vespertilio

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Naughty Girls, Religious Bigots and Multiple Orgasms

Since I officially declared to be a feminist, I think that world decided to prove to me that there is still loads to be done in terms of gender equality, fighting against everyday sexism and misogyny. Even though we were progressing as a civilization and there is much to be proud of, but I have an impression that suddenly whole bunch of medieval bigots just woke up and decided that the modern world is waaaay to comfortable to live in and as we are struggling to bring peace in some countries (with moderate success), but until we succeed everybody everywhere should be miserable.
Just to give some examples, there is the recent “victory” of Hobby Lobby allowing companies to not cover some reproductive services for women. Then, we have a whole bunch of controversies around abortion and sexual health in Poland. Apparently, Spain also wants to restrict abortion laws. Ireland is systematically ignoring the facts about prevalence of women going to UK for abortion and prefers to turnblind eye on many subjects instead of engaging in conversation with women.
But you know what, I am myself Catholic and I respect other religious beliefs. I understand that for some premarital sex is a sin. I can understand that abortion and contraception might be morally unacceptable and therefore they are opposing to it.
And I would be fine with it, if all of those people decided to lead the War on Sex, at least they would be consistent in what they are doing. But somehow, none of them have a problem with sex per se. There is no problem when men are having sex. Women enjoying sex are the problem. And suddenly from sanctimonious prudes we have a women restricting/hating/not accepting bunch of people. It’s not a War on Sex and striving for decency. It’s the War on Women and control of their reproduction.
As somehow it was some kind of the ultimate goal to control female reproduction and the one who controls it, controls the world. For some, the idea of women making informed decisions about their own sexual life and reproduction is unthinkable. Almost a blasphemy.

I try to have balanced opinion and I try not to go on rambling about how men are doing wrong to women, because I know that sexism is hurting everybody, regardless of sex, gender or race, but I just cannot fight the impression that being women sucks on so many different levels.
I’m reading and reading and reading all of the crap that people say in public and I just cannot believe the world we are living in. Claiming that women during the war cannot be raped, because they are easy and they want to please soldiers. And even admitting that he himself had a “pleasure” to use such “service to the brave” (article in Polish). Or comparing abortion to Katyn victims (article in Polish).
And there is this prevalent, consistent and insistent claim that if women had unprotected sex SHE has to bear the consequences. Heck, if she had sex at all, she is to blame. Even if she didn’t actually want it. Even if she wasn’t conscious. Somehow, there is no men in the equation. As if all of those speakers did not considered men as active participants in sex. As if it was all about the women, our promiscuity (also wife having sex with her husband), our uncleanliness and our sinfulness. Because apparently only we are committing sin by having sex.
And there is more such absurds and I just cannot figure out that where all of this hate towards women came from. Why there is such a controversy that we can have sexual needs and want to have control over our bodies? Forget equal rights for employment and pay, that seems unattainable at the moment, but I really think that wanting everybody else to stay away from my uterus and pusy is not much to ask for.

Usually, when people have such negative feelings towards the entire group, it’s either out of fear or envy. Fear... yeah it can be, but we are going again into rambling about domination etc. and like I said, sexism, misogyny and backwards views on sexual violence hurt men as much as women. So we are left with envy. And what can all of the bigots and misogynist might envy us, women?
And then the wild idea appeared. All those people (some men) envy us MULTIPLE ORGASMS!!!
It all makes sense (maybe not really, but on some level…)! Just think about it for a second.

Let’s imagine a situation where we don’t live in current world, but there is real sexual freedom and women can have as much sex with as much men as they want and vice versa (and there was never shame assigned to this and not slutshaming etc.). Soon we would find out that there is different frequency in having sex, because men when they ejaculate, well, it’s game over for them at least for some time. They need break to regenerate. But not women. If we are turned on, we can go on for hours (days, months, years, ages). And we can enjoy orgasm, after orgasm, after orgasm…
For sure there would be some women not wanting to have sex at all (it's their right), other would find one partner and enjoy sex only with him/her (just like it is with some now), but other would dominate the field of sex! They would change men like socks, having couple of them during one night – because if one is done, then there's always another who can carry on.
Suddenly, the notion that women envy men the penis is outrageous. Why envy something that is so weak and so limited in the sexual performance? Vagina! That’s the organ that everybody should want. It’s strong, not as easily accessible and can provide countless amount of pleasure!

Probably there would be no guys left aside without sex, because once a woman would be done with men she wanted to have sex, she would probably take any guy that according to her “could do” (if she was still “on the roll”).

But generally, women would be able to criticize men for being inadequate in bed and masculinity could be measured with how many orgasms did a woman have during the intercourse with a man. It would be women’s satisfaction that is the most important and I can bet that some of women would be really cruel to men who did not fulfil their duty to satisfy them (I would not applaud that, but that how it could be).
Aaaand let’s back to reality. This situation could never be allowed for one simple reason: some men can’t bear criticism. Over the centuries men always portrayed themselves as stronger, better providers and therefore entitled to have sex with their woman or with as many women as they want. 
“Man the Conqueror” both of nations and women is the symbol of masculinity. It was always men's right to have sex and enjoy sex. Can you imagine now that such masculine warrior is being put in place by the harem of women who laugh in his face, because he finished before they even started to have fun. Nope, not going to happen.
So there was only one way to deal with this problem: repress women's sexuality. And we have religions to thank for that. Most of the “heathen” women had a special place in the mythology and usually had more rights in the society. Nordic women, Celtic women, some privileged Greek women, etc. However, with the rise in monotheistic beliefs, men hold control over what’s allowed and what’s not. Curious enough, anything that has to do with female sexual needs is somehow not allowed.
But times have changed. Women not only started to appear on the street, but we also work, we study, we have successful careers, some of us have really happy lives and some of us have really adventurous sex life. However, the years of conditioning that our sexual rights and needs are not equal to those of men, constantly push us into feeling guilt and shame after enjoying sex. We are foolish enough to believe that we will ever be equal in sexual relations. And current trend to control female reproduction is the ultimate proof.
Pregnancy and STDs are the ultimate control over our sexuality, both from nature point of view as well as political point of view. Many of us (b0th men and women) do not have random sex in fear of unwanted pregnancy and STDs (because those of you who do not know, women are more screwed in terms of sexually transmitted diseases – we are more prone to get them and most often are more severe to our health). And pregnancy is ultimately female thing (no man will ever get pregnant). But there is solution! Making contraception available to all women! However, it would mean that society places control in women’s hands – and therefore we will have control over our sex lives.

So we have some societies like Poland, Ireland, some states in USA, some Asian and African countries, where that situation is unthinkable. Because it would destroy the entire notion of masculinity and men’s privilege if it was allowed for women to have control over their sexuality! What happens next? Women have right to refuse sex?! Nooooo! Maybe women have multiple orgasms, but men have the right to release sperm!
I am being overly caustic about this issue on purpose. 

I actually do not believe that men in general are envious about multiple orgasms. And in no case it would be a better scenario, if women could treat men instrumentally and solely as “pleasure givers”. But that’s exactly the thing that women are experiencing. All of those claims about victims of rape, blaming women for their pregnancy, condemning women for wanting to use contraception, preventing women from using contraception, preventing women from having an informed decision about their bodies and lives. It’s all happening. And in the name of what?
Maybe it’s not about the multiple orgasms, maybe it’s not about envy or fear at all. Nevertheless, there is something terribly wrong with societies that allow for restriction of reproductive rights to one section of the society, while the other is being consistently perceived as blameless.
Sex is pleasurable activity and it should be enjoyed by both men and women without the blame and shame. Pregnancy is the result of action of both men and women, so either we should make greater effort to support women and teach men to be more responsible for their actions or allow both of them to make their own decisions about their future – if the man can walk away from his responsibilities towards child he conceived, then the woman should also be allowed to say “Well, I didn’t want that and I don’t want that” and have control over her future. I think that’s fair.

Also, we have to learn that sexual violence IS A CRIME. It’s unacceptable to blame a victim for a crime. Rape is amazingly tricky and somehow magically shifts the status of accused from perpetrator to victim. Both male and female victims of sexual violence should be taken care of, protected, we should show them compassion and support. Conversely, we are living in this weird dimension where ridiculing victims is accepted and even applaud.
I’m not new to discussions on feminist subjects, so I know that many of men reading this text will feel offended in a way, because they would never hurt a woman, would never think of blaming her for being attacked or would never think of making decision for their woman. 
If you are such a man, all I want to say is that you are awesome! 
But recently, all of your greatness is being obscured by bunch of misogynistic morons who think that their masculinity equals the dominance over women. Also your woman.
So it has to stop. I need you and your friends and your partners to speak against sexism, gender inequality and discrimination.
And most importantly, we all have to fight for the right to control our own bodies.

Written by Vespertilio

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


Time to piss off some Ne-Yo fans! Time to prove, that feminist won’t stop moaning until they have it all! ;)

Since we started this month discussing popular movies, why not take a closer look at one popular video? Last time I checked it had over 65 million views and far more likes than dislikes. I’m talking about “Miss Independent” video and song. I guess some of you like it.

Before I come to bitter part, let me write something sweet first. Thanks Mr. Ne-Yo for trying your best to depict working women as desirable date and claiming that you love independent women, because they don’t want shit from you. That is progress from “gold digger” videos and yes, it feels much better to listen to a song about independent women, than “all the bitches love me” stuff. I honestly thank you for showing that man doesn't have to be scared by confident women.

However, the song and video are far from feminist dream, so sorry, I won’t be taking it as my “girl power” anthem.

First of all, how many offices have you seen filled with women who look like super models? I bet loving such a beautiful, independent women isn’t that hard after all. Women shown in the video conform to beauty standards that hardly any women meet, independent women are not exception here. If your secretary was as beautiful as a model, she would most probably become one and then play in Ne-Yo’s video about working women. I’m not saying being a model is not a job. Being a model is making money of beauty and that’s something majority of women don’t do at work. Naomi Wolf, in her book “The Beauty Myth”, calls modeling a “display profession” and describes it's correlation with feminist movement like this:

“Until women’s emancipation, professional beauties were usually anonymous, low in status, unrespectable. The stronger that women grow, the more prestige, fame, and money is accorded to display professions: they are held higher and higher above the heads of rising women, for them to emulate.”

Women face enough scrutiny in the work place for their looks and they don’t need any more reinforcement of the idea that they have to be beautiful enough, young enough or stylish enough to be worth of success.

Pressure on women to be beautiful makes them spend their precious time on unimportant tasks like researching what is trendy now, putting on makeup every day, making their hair look perfect, their nails look perfect, their butt look perfect– trying every morning to look elegant, professional, yet feminine. Even listening makes me sick. Biggest question is – for how many jobs out there, knowing what’s trendy is a crucial skill? Men simply take shower, shave, put on their suits and frankly, no one can really tell how many suits they have, because they all look so freaking similar.

Time is not the only thing working women have to waste. They also spent way too much money on beauty maintenance in order to be young for as long as possible and be visible in the work market for as long as possible. Designer clothes, anti aging creams and makeup are not cheap if any of you wondered ;) some say that professional women spend around a third of their salary to preserve their looks. Combined with the fact that average women still earns less than men for doing the same job, only increases the odds of women heaving less savings by the time they retire.

In this context, Ne-Yo’s video does a very good job for fashion and cosmetic industries, and big disservice to independent women. Keeping women’s self-esteem low (and it really cannot be very high if any women compares herself with models) is equivalent with keeping sales of often useless products high. 

Now my favorite part - lyrics. I’m always angry that the first compliment to give women is “you look good” or “you are beautiful”. It simply undermines any success you can achieve as a woman, because first and foremost you have to be beautiful. If you’re not considered pretty, but you are successful/happy, people say you are successful despite being ugly, as if it was a disability. Or they say... well you cannot have everything girl, but at least you’re happy with yourself.... Maybe you are not the most beautiful women on the planet, but hey, you are Secretary of State, not so bad! Ne-Yo’s song doesn't represent anything better, because the fist important thing is:

 “there's somethin about just somethin about the way she's move”.

What if she didn't move so sexily, would she still steal Ne-Yo’s heart?

There is something that puts me off even more than priorities, because those are really not such a big surprise. The secret to why “Miss Independent” is not so revolutionary is hidden in those verses:
“Cause she walk like a boss talk like a boss;
 Cause she move like a boss do what a boss”.

Yeah, she’s not really a boss; she just acts like a boss. Maybe that makes her so sexy? Paying her share of bill on a night out, heaving her own place, being self confident and not really putting him out of his comfort zone of being the true boss?

“She made for a boss only a boss;
Anything less she telling them to get lost”

There is no doubt in the video as to who is the boss in that office. Ne-Yo - the truly blessed man who works among the most beautiful office staff in history of this planet. Boss who has to be appeased since morning - “good morning Ne-Yo :) :) “, “good morning Ne- Yo”, because looking like a super model is not enough in that office to operate the copy machine, you also have to be pleasurable and likable without air of bossiness (licking fingers with sexy gazes at their boss or getting into his personal space are just some of the proposed ways they can achieve that). 

Honestly, evaluating looks he’s giving his employees are for me eligible for sexual harassment lawsuit. Unless of course, he’s official Head of Committee on Cleavage Supervision in his company.

In the world were money and sex appeal are often inextricable it shouldn't be such a big deal that men is confused about what’s so amazing about this girl. Is it her sexy moves, flirtatious eyes or “bills paid on time”? Even he “can't figure it out”.

Just putting it out to you girls that you should realize how deeply embedded beauty standards are in our society and even a song about independent, hard-working women has to feed us info about how we should look. I know, video without super models is not a popular video, so Ne – Yo probably “had no choice” deciding about actors – that’s exactly why I moan about beauty standards!

It is possible to be beautiful and smart, but thanks messages from popular media we began believing that if woman is not pursuing the ultimate goal of being beautiful, she’s lazy and she deserves (inevitable) punishment for not achieving this goal.

I hope you understand by now why those nasty feminists simply can’t be happy with anything or why it is, that “Miss Independent” didn't quite do the job of advertising strong, independent women in my opinion.

To summarize it quickly I would just like to say, that “half marathon” is only half of a marathon, even though it has word “marathon” in its name.

Written by Inanna