Take up more space as a woman. Take up more time. Take your time. You are taught to hide, censor, move about without messing up decorum for a man’s comfort. Whether it’s said or not, you’re taught balance. Forget that. Displease. Disappoint. Destroy. Be loud, be righteous, be messy. Do not see yourself like glass. Like you could get dirty and clean. You are flesh. You are not constant. You change. Society teaches women to maintain balance and that robs us of our volatility. Our mercurial hearts. Calm and chaos. Love only when needed; preserve otherwise.

Mehreen Kasana, from A Woman of War (via fantasyparade, padaviya). Source: pbnpineapples.

See also:

 

Habiba Sarabi: ‘To be in Afghan politics as a woman is a risky task’

politics - old woman votes in Afghan election (democracy)

Picture from twitter: pajhwok

As the only woman on a credible ticket in Afghanistan’s presidential elections next month, Habiba Sarabi is courting the ire of the world’s most dangerous extremists. But she has become so used to death threats that she is almost blasé about her personal safety.

“Of course, to be in politics as a woman is a risky task,” she says, calmly. “But we have to take the risk, otherwise we cannot achieve our goal. We cannot expect that everything can be soft or everything can be clear on our way.”

The threats have become part of her existence since she was minister for women in Hamid Karzai’s government, and later as the country’s first female provincial governor. Standing as the second vice-president for Mr Karzai’s favoured candidate, Zalmai Rassoul, is hardly running for the top job. But her presence on one of the leading presidential campaigns is a source of anger to the Taliban, who have pledged to do everything in their power to disrupt the elections on 5 April. It is not just being a woman in politics that makes Dr Sarabi a target but the fact that she is Hazara – an ethnic group that has historically been downtrodden in Afghan society.

On The Independent.

Feminism is the new misogyny: On ‘Belle Knox feminism’ and the new backlash

This just in from the backlash: everything is feminism’s fault and we are the real woman-haters.

You knew that, didn’t you? That it was not men, but women — and not just women, but feminists — who were responsible for things like violence against women and sexual repression. It’s a pretty good trick, actually, because guess who gets off scot-free? Men. Also, oppressive systems of power. With women busy attacking other women for their own oppression, who has time to fight the real enemy?

As illogical as it sounds on paper, this phenomenon actually makes a lot of sense.

The most obvious explanation for feminist-hating among women (or even among feminists) is that we live in a culture that teaches us to hate women — that it’s acceptable to hate women, that it’s sexy to hate women, and that it’s funny to hate women. We see this normalized hatred of women manifested in a number of ways:

1) Cosmetic surgery

Here we have a “trend” that involves women hating their bodies so much that they quite literally cut the offending body parts off of their bodies and replace them with other, more “attractive,” more “perfect” parts.

Rest on Feminist Current.

Sex, rape and role models – how women in comedy perform

Yes, women are funny. No, we cannot have this conversation any more. The below is posted for the content of the shows and not that.

On theconversation:

The topic of “women in comedy” is endlessly controversial – as Adrienne Truscott seems to know. © MICF

Two performance artists in this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) – the UK’s Bryony Kimmings and American Adrienne Truscott – have a certain flavour of humour: it’s the knowing, self-deprecating humour of the culturally dispossessed, of survivors and victims. And yes, they’re both women.

Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! is Adrienne Truscott’s stand-up show about rape. In it, Truscott counters the stated prerogative of male comedians to tell rape jokes with a confronting routine in which she relentlessly does the same.

Her wit spares neither them, nor hip-hop artists rapping about date rape, nor Republican politicians expounding on “legitimate rape”, nor men in the audience.

Truscott also gets to explain why animal analogies are inadequate through progeny-eating gerbils. It is a bracing, uncomfortable, rewarding show. Is it funny, though? That depends on how you look at it. [Rest.]

I’ve posted these before, but I get a kick out of them every time. On feministtimes:

“You’re such a nice girl, why aren’t you married?”

Conceptual Photographer Suzanne Heintz explains her “Life Once Removed” project, after it went viral online.

What would drive you to pack a family of mannequins into your station wagon, and take them on a road trip? Enough pressure to conform will send anyone packing. Conform to what? Well, it was getting late. Seriously late for a woman my age not to have a ring on her finger. People said, “You’re such a nice girl, why aren’t you married?” No one actually used that out of date word, but, what they were driving at was that I was a “Spinster,” and I got tired of hearing about it. [Rest.]

See also:

Innocence is not doing. Not running off to New York. Not drinking whiskey till 4 AM. Not fucking that boy or girl because they make your heart scream electric, then waking up unpunished the next day. Not hacking a system rigged against you. Innocence is a relic of a time when women had the same legal status as children. Innocence is beneficial to your owner. It benefits you not at all.

- On Turning 30 | VICE United States

Conservative “Marry Young” Dating Advice is Actually About Man-Hating

When Princeton alumna Susan Patton garnered national attention last week for her “straight talking advice” letter imploring the young women of her alma mater to spend their college years “finding the right man to marry,” many of us female Princeton students rolled our eyes.

While her original “Princeton Mom” letter published in The Daily Princetonian last year attracted some headlines, her updated Valentine’s Day advice in The Wall Street Journal went viral—it’s the year 2014 and her reactionary perspective is straight from the 1950s.

The letter is so ridiculous that people can be forgiven for assuming that the Wall Street Journal and Patton are just trolling us. But I believe she’s sincere; she’s gotten a book deal out of her dating advice, at least. I met Patton myself once at Princeton and she definitely had the air of a well-meaning but zany matriarch with no verbal filter. But at worst, she perpetuates the worst stereotypes of both women and men. While Susan Patton’s advice is horribly regressive for women, as a feminist Princeton student, I find it incredibly insulting to men.

Feminists are often accused of “man-hating,” but true misandry comes from the conservative view that men are fundamentally unchangeable losers and need to be manipulated into long-term partnerships. This fatalistic “boys will be boys” attitude projects a cynical view of men’s behavior, demonizes male sexuality, and manages to simultaneously objectify and dismiss men of all ages. [Rest.]

Breast cancer isn’t sexy. Nipnominate’s cleavage shots trivialise a devastating illness

[…]

But to me there’s something offensive about seeing pictures of healthy women in push-up bras posting cleavage shots to support breast cancer sufferers. Breast cancer is a devastating illness. It isn’t sexy. Attempting to “fight” it with amateur glamour shots is an exercise in narcissism, and trivialises a serious medical matter. The model Brandy Brewer was praised for lending her support to the campaign and introducing a considerable number of Twitter followers to the fundraising effort, but the lacy bra, lip gloss and open-mouthed expression on her selfie seems to say “Hello boys”, not “I’m here for the girls”.

Women who haven’t suffered from a debilitating illness, but claim that a sexy selfie is a good way to boost their body confidence, need to think hard about their motives. From where I’m standing it doesn’t look like a show of support, but an attempt to titillate. If I’d had a mastectomy, I wouldn’t feel comforted or supported if a group of attractive, healthy women tweeted pictures of their bouncing breasts to boost the profile of breast cancer care. I’d feel alienated and angry. We tacitly treat breasts as the ultimate feminine attribute, which makes it all the more traumatic and bewildering if you lose them. If we’re going to help breast cancer survivors, we need to challenge and criticise this way of thinking. Why are we celebrating breasts, when we should be celebrating women?

If we’re going to raise awareness of the issues surrounding breast cancer, we really don’t need to start by raising awareness of breasts. They’re everywhere. You can see them on TV in the afternoon, and in some of our national newspapers. The problem is that almost all the breasts on display are ornamental. They’re being offered up for someone else to look at. We still can’t make our minds up about whether or not it’s OK to breastfeed in public, but we’ve become used to constantly seeing breasts, or the suggestion of breasts, in a sexual context. The trouble with nipnominate is that it isn’t showing breasts and bodies in a revolutionary or new way. [Rest.]

Breast cancer isn’t sexy. Nipnominate’s cleavage shots trivialise a devastating illness

Woman Loses 100 Friends After Posting Beautiful Post-Surgery Photos On Facebook [NSFW]

On her 32nd birthday, Beth Whaanga was diagnosed with breast cancer; valiantly fighting back against the illness, she asked her friend, the photographer Nadia Masot, to take portraits of her nude body after a double mastectomy and hysterectomy as part of Under the Red Dress, a project designed to spread awareness about regular breast and pectoral examination. The beautiful series of images features Whaanga, a mother of four, gazing fixedly at the camera, acknowledging her scars, and proudly exposing her resilient body. [Rest.]

44 Stock Photos That Hope To Change The Way We Look At Women

Getty Images launched the “Lean In Collection” Monday in partnership withLeanIn.org which features more than 2,500 photos of female leadership in contemporary work and life.

The project began when Pam Grossman, director of visual trends at Getty Images, commissioned a study that would track the changes in the representation of girls and women in the media. The study turned into a presentation which Grossman later shared with Sheryl Sandberg and the Lean In team at Facebook Headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., last fall.

“This is such a big passion project for all of us, and cheesy as it sounds, by showing people powerful images of women we thought maybe we could actually change the world,” Grossman told BuzzFeed. [Link.]

“Under the ideology of austerity women are facing what is termed by the Fawcett society

Under the ideology of austerity women are facing what is termed by the Fawcett society as ‘Triple Jeopardy’. That is: cuts to vital frontline services, job cuts in the public sector where two-thirds of jobs are held by women and benefit cuts. Under the current government maternity and paternity pay, which of course is largely taken by women, will be frozen from 2015 for five years which means a huge cut in real terms.1 The gender pay gap, already 19.6% among all workers or £5000 a year on average, increased this year for the first time in five years. Additionally 62% of legal aid recipients are women and forthcoming cuts mean that 361,200 women will lose access to legal aid. Violence against Women services which include centres for the victims of sexual and domestic abuse were cut 31% between 2010 and 2012.4 The effect of these cuts are particularly pronounced where race intersects with gender. A report by academics at the University of Warwick estimates that unemployment amongst Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women has risen in Coventry by 74.4% compared to 30.5% among white women between 2009 and 2013. To anybody who believes these “savings” to be a necessity I would point out that George Osbourne still manages to find enough money in the budget to grant a £3 billion annual tax break to the oil and gas industry.

Austerity is a Feminist Issue (belle-jar)

2013 is supposed to have been an amazing year for feminism. The increasing coverage of feminist concerns in mainstream media and the activism of campaigns like Everyday Sexism, No More Page 3 and the furore around getting Jane Austen onto £10 notes has been a welcome reminder both of how much support the feminist movement enjoys and of how much more work there is to do. Yet so many of the campaigns and controversies debated this year relating to feminism have been obsessed with image, representation and appearance. Transfixed by its own reflection, the media and many feminists within it seem to believe that Page 3 and Miley Cyrus’ twerking represent the most pressing obstacles to equality for women.

Although the objectification of women in visual culture is worth fighting against, what these images show is merely a mirror of women’s unequal position within our society. Women do not occupy many positions of power, women are under-represented in parliament, and women are paid less than men for the same jobs. Undervalued economically, side-lined politically and belittled socially it is little wonder that many men can’t see what harm there is in having a semi-naked near-teen in a national newspaper. Society’s not giving the message women are good for much else.

Part of the complacency that seems to characterise feminist apathy towards campaigning on political and economic issues seems to be grounded in one of the most pernicious myths of neoliberalism, namely that society is always progressing and improving. This fallacious belief that the gender pay gap will close itself, that women will gradually be more and more represented in positions of power and that, as we become more tolerant and open, domestic and sexual violence will fade away is incredibly dangerous. Austerity, and here I mean the ideology of permanent austerity that David Cameron pontificated about from his gold throne poses the greatest threat to feminism of our generation. With £41 billion of cuts to public services and welfare planned in spite of growing GDP, it is clear now more than ever that austerity and the permanent reduction of the state is a political belief and not the necessity Cameron originally claimed. [Rest.]

No wonder women MPs are leaving the Tory benches

Ed Miliband certainly won prime minister’s questions today by focusing on the Tories’ ‘women problem’. It is the political equivalent of kicking the Tories in the crotch – much worse for men than for women.

David Cameron tried his old trick of reeling off statistics to refute the accusation, but he couldn’t escape the reality that was before him. As Miliband pointed out ‘a picture tells 1,000 words.’ And this time it did: the government front bench was stuffed with serried rows of suits with not a single woman to be seen.

‘I guess they didn’t let women into the Bullingdon Club,’ said Miliband with glee. And he had his own statistic – ‘In his cabinet there are as many men who went to Eton and Westminster as there are women.’

Women were remarkably absent on all the Tory benches today. One in 10 Tory women MPs are standing down at the next election – and as there are only 48 of them that’s quite a lot. Many of the others are fed up, so fed up indeed that the Tory whips couldn’t even rustle up one of them to speak and it was left to Jessica Lee, elected for Erewash in 2010 and who is standing down for personal reasons, to put a question to Cameron on apprenticeships. [Rest.]

No wonder women MPs are leaving the Tory benches

A Mighty Girl Water Wheel

A Mighty Girl Water Wheel. (Facebook)

When Cynthia Koenig, a young social entrepreneur from New York, learned that millions of girls and women around the world spend hours each day collecting water from distant sources, she decided to create a new way to help people in poor communities transport water and it’s called the WaterWheel. Koenig’s WaterWheel allows people to roll water in a 50-liter container versus carrying it in 5 gallon (19 liter) jugs. Koenig estimates that the WaterWheel can save women 35 hours per week in water transport time, as well as prevent the physical strain that comes from balancing 40 pounds of water on top of their heads for hours each day. [Rest.]

Katniss and Anastasia: Mismatched Heroines in a Shared Hell

Oh, I did enjoy reading this. It is suitably scathing about 50 Shades (are we really still talking about that? May the gods save us.) and presents an interesting, feminist comparison of our two heroines. On thefeministwire:

Why does America’s confused cultural gaze keep landing on two such mismatched literary heroines as Katniss Everdeen and Anastasia Steele? One is the badass goddess of The Hunger Games, the other the failed submissive of Fifty Shades of Grey. What can they teach, these two pretend women elevated by so many of us to intergalactic superstardom? What are they for? The more they show up, the less random their implicit pairing feels. And if a purpose of fiction is to hone our skills for real life, for what exactly are Katniss and Anastasia’s fans practicing?

Katniss and AnastasiaAt first sight, these heroines are about as similar as Eleanor Roosevelt and Kim Kardashian. Katniss (now in theaters) shows up trespassing, hunting, and plotting against the tyranny of the regime, an emblem of both female strength and the psychopathic brilliance that underlies The Hunger Games.  Anastasia, meanwhile (due onscreen the Valentine’s weekend after next), battles the foremost enemy of the privileged modern woman, her hair (“I must not sleep with it wet. I must not sleep with it wet”). Katniss (at least in the book) is racially ambiguous, Anastasia predictably Caucasian. Katniss has learned to wear an “indifferent mask” to conceal her various thought crimes. Anastasia smirks, rolls her eyes, flushes and cringes, often for no discernible reason except embarrassment at being in the wrong book. We can only wish she’d indulge in a few thought crimes of her own (she is, after all, afforded every opportunity).

Switch them, and both stories fall apart. [Read the rest.]

Photographer Takes On What It Means To “Be A Woman” In Striking And Unusual Ways [image]

These are beautiful images. Very striking.

In her new series titled Be A Woman, the photographer Hanna Seweryn delicately captures and gives meaning to the everyday activities of women in the home.

Images via My Modern Met/Hanna Seweryn

By placing her subjects behind a backlit screen, she highlights subtle and tender moments of personal care.

Her rendition of a subject whom we view as an everywoman figure sits in a chair, reading her book or playing with her cat. The screen adds to the voyeuristic nature of the images, granting us insight into personal and private sphere of a womans room. While photographs often aim to shed light on their subjects, these only display a shadowy form, sparking our curiosity and inviting us into a realm that is almost uncomfortably intimate.

Thanks to My Modern Met
Images via My Modern Met/Hanna Seweryn

Seen on bust (rest of photos on the link).

Ruining Realization (street harassment)

From ihollaback:

I was walking home from work at 10:30 pm when I passed a group of five guys in their late teens/early twenties. As I passed them one of them yelled “You are so beautiful, let me take you back with me and bend you over the bed, you bitch” and his friends laughed and patted him on the back in approval.

What angers me most of all about this is that, while I immediately felt degraded and shitty, it took me a moment to get angry. Instead of recognizing and responding to the fact that I was being disrespected, my mind had to go through a series of programmed responses: “that’s what guys do,” “you’re getting upset about nothing, it’s only talk” and, perhaps most disheartening of all, a quick mental review of what I was wearing.

And my comment:

That’s my response every time. Add also the instinctive crossing of my arms across my chest. By the time I could have challenged it (assuming that I would be able to summon the courage), I/ they are long gone.

Why Lads’ Mags Have No Place in Students’ Unions

I suggest you do not read Brendan O’Neill’s piece in the HuffPo on the same issue. It’s full of the usual bile and I wouldn’t want you to ruin your evening too.

This from Salma Haidrani (a sociology student) in the huffingtonpost is worth a read, though.

When the Sun was banned from being distributed in University of Sheffield Students’ Union in early February 2013, it appeared as if my university’s stance in ousting the UK’s most cherished sex relic from campus could contribute, however minor, to consigning it to the history books. And initially, it appeared to do just that. Less than a month later, students at University of Dundee voted to ban sales of Britain’s most widely read newspaper from campus. But my premature optimism has now turned to disappointment as lads’ mags, a further form of sexual objectification which has been lying dormant since before I arrived at university, has been permitted to sell in my Students’ Union Shop seemingly innocently alongside less offensive items such as food.

It is undeniable that female students are not sheltered from the objectification and commodification of their bodies, not just in society as a whole but even in higher education institutions, which on the surface appears to be a flourishing environment of gender equality. While my very own Students’ Union Shop continues to stock so-called ‘lads’ magazines’ albeit with ‘modesty covers’ revealing merely the title of the publication, female students and staff at universities across the country do not enjoy the identical ‘privilege’. They are overwhelmingly bombarded with images of women’s heaving cleavages and buttocks in the same manner traditionally reserved for bare breasted Page Three regulars, a needless accompaniment to an otherwise innocent trip to one of the many university stores dotted around campus.

While I respect that posing for such ‘magazines’ is a matter of personal freedom and rational individual choice made by women and that they are not forced into this, it is undeniable that these magazines which sexualise women produce harmful effects for female students and society as a whole. However minor, these magazines are arguably undeniably complicit in reducing and harming the aspirations of female students. By not being able to view images of women in powerful positions traditionally occupied by men, but merely bombarded with images of women donning a bikini, pouting provocatively at the camera and as if being ‘had’ is the only thought in their minds, we are unable to be what we can’t see. [Rest.]