Category Archives: Feminism

Teach your boys…

The news today was full of some terrible stories.  The young girl in Bristol for one, but also the horrible story of the men in India who have no remorse for the rape and death of a young girl who dared to go outside in an evening.  I won’t post the link here.  It’s found easily enough via the BBC news website, but suffice to say it upset me.  It was specifically the conversation about women not being the same as men.  That women are second class citizens.  That them and many children, are not the same worth as men. That women are nothing.

It reminded me of why feminism is needed.  That whilst there is this awful situation in India where it is still so ingrained in culture, there is still some of this ingrained in the culture here in the UK, USA and Australia.  That there are people who still believe that women are second class.  As long as this exists, there will never be equality.

Feminism isn’t just about empowering women.  It is also about empowering men.  Releasing them from the shackles of what is expected from them, culturally.  Giving them their freedom too.

We can’t just teach our girls about what THEY can do and by that I’m not talking about how they avoid being attacked, treated badly or being raped by staying inside.

We must use our most strongest weapon to chip away at the barbaric culture that treats human beings differently depending on their sexual organs or sexual orientation.  The strongest weapon we have to smash pre-conceived ideals that have become norms because nobody wanted to rock the boat.  Our sons.  Our boys.

We must teach our boys that:

  • Boys can cry
  • Boys can do ballet, teach and nurse
  • Girls can be digger drivers, doctors, train drivers.
  • Anything a girl can physically do and chooses to do, can be done.
  • Boys can be kind.
  • Being kind is not girly.  It is humany.
  • Love is far more powerful than sex and lasts a whole lot longer.
  • Women can change their mind because it’s their body involved and it’s their right to choose what to do with it every second of every day.
  • Sport is for everyone.  The game tactics sometimes change depending on who is playing.  Enjoy the difference if you see it.  Enjoy the game regardless if you don’t.
  • Girls can be strong.
  • Boys can care.
  • Men can stay at home to look after the children if it works for the family.
  • Women can work a 40 hour week if it works for the family.
  • Men can like other men.  Being gay isn’t catching and it doesn’t make you less heterosexual because you think being is gay is fine.
  • Being gay is not an insult.
  • Girls can wear whatever they want.
  • So can boys.
  • Clothes don’t tell you anything about the girl. No clothing is an invitation. They are a fashion statement.
  • Strength isn’t everything. Don’t find out the hard way.
  • Boys can dance.
  • Boys can read.
  • Boys are exactly, EXACTLY the same as girls, they just sometimes make different choices.

What would you add to my list?

My secret weapon

My secret weapon

 

Girls Can’t Play Football

We all hear it.  Whether it’s a conversation in the workplace or an interview on the street by a reporter. I’ve lost count of the many men (and a few women) who proclaim that the woman’s game isn’t as exciting or watchable or even a proper football match.pink football

For the record, I’m not a big football fan. I dabbled in it in my late 20’s whilst courting my husband but it’s very low on my priority list so I rarely watch it these days. Men or women.  However, this blog post isn’t really about football. It’s about how the patriarchy decided that it wasn’t right that women had the upper hand and found a way to put them back “in their place”.

The first women’s tournament of football was held in 1885   and slowly became more popular.  In 1917 a women’s team was put together from a factory called Dick, Kerr & Co, a manufacturer based in Preston that had become an ammunition factory.  Initially discouraged they were finally “allowed” to play and play they did. They began by playing against the male apprentices and often beating them they started to be managed by one of the office workers.  They did Charity fixtures around the country raising money for injured serviceman and they started strong, beating Arundel Coulthard Factory 4-0 in front of a crowd of 10,000 on Christmas Day 1917.

In 1920 they played 4 fixtures as an England side against France winning 2 games, drawing 1 and losing 1.  This French tour created such publicity that when they played a fixture in Liverpool in the same year on Boxing day, they drew a crowd of 53,000 spectactors.  Reportedly a further 10-15,000 people were turned away! This was the highest number of attendees to a football match at the time.

These numbers were unprecedented and were often far higher than any of the men’s games being played around the same time and often on the same day.

So what do you do when women start showing skilful, exciting and watchable football?

Well, you ban them.

Sadly, just a year after the Liverpool game, the FA decided that the game was too “show biz” and  “…the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.”  This was all backed up by so called “expert advice“.  So it banned women’s football from all FA affiliated sites.  Which as good as banned it entirely due to the obscure grounds they now had to play in which drew much smaller crowds and couldn’t generate the money required or the publicity. The Dick Kerr Ladies did stick it out for 48 years, however.

As a result of this the game did suffer a huge setback.  They did continue to play matches though despite a tour of Canada being stopped by the FA (The Canadians agreed with them that they shouldn’t play) and the women eventually headed South.  They were then told they could only play men’s team, so they did.  Playing 6 good men’s teams they won 2, lost 2 and drew 2. They drew large crowds as well, more than had attended the men’s tour in a previous year. Pretty impressive stuff.

The FA lifted the ban in 1969 but the damage had been done. The women’s game struggled right up until 1993 when the FA took over administration and funding again.

It was a huge setback for the women’s game and to this day we still do not have a professional side.

When I first stumbled upon this information I was truly dumfounded and I’d like to thank all of the websites linked above for providing me with the information for this blog post and for enlightening me to these events of the 1900’s.

I’ve now taken to telling everyone I see, replaying the story of how once upon a time….

Women Ruled Football.

Rating your friends on their Appearance

We all do it, don’t we?  We rate our friends on their appearance.  Obviously that’s the most important thing about them surely.  Their ability to look good!  After we’ve rated them, we do a video reading out their names and telling them whether we think they’re “hot” or “not”.

No.  No, we don’t.  Well, I don’t.  However, you’ll be moritified to hear that THIS my friends, is pretty normal practice when you’re 13 years old.  Oh yes.

2of5star  This morning I had the misfortune to read some random 13 year olds Facebook status in my timeline because she is friends with my 13 year old niece and she had been tagged in the video.  In it the 2 girls on camera say “This is our ‘hot or not’ video”.  then they launch into all of their friends names, both boys and girls.  I should point out that nobody is marked badly, they are either “quite pretty”, “So pretty”, “pretty”, “fit”, “quite fit” or “hot”.  The girls have taken some care in compiling their list and I appreciate it could be a WHOLE lot worse.  We are probably only about 20 videos away from someone somewhere just getting to the nitty gritty and being deadly honest!

It’s the fact these girls have jumped on the bandwagon (or so I’ve been told….this is not an uncommon practice. Along with my nephew who often does a “like for a rating” on his Facebook page – I should really like it, shouldn’t I? See what he does with “them apples”).  At what point did this all become so bloody normal.  That our view of ourselves and that of others is based on how good looking we are.  I’m not stupid, I appreciate that some people are visually more appealling than others, I can see that, but to outwardly project that in such a blatant way makes me incredibly sad.

It’s the whole practice of it that I have the biggest problem with. The fact it’s ok to do this. The fact that there is a focus on your outward appearance, especially for women.  We are only as good as our parts. Boobs, legs, hair, face.  We are not whole. We all dealt with our fair share of bullying (well I did) and a nasty comment here, and a rude comment there, in the playground, in the classroom, it’s sad, it’s upsetting but the moment goes very quickly.  A permanent record on the internet on how people viewed you though, tagging a whole class, maybe more, that’s not right. Let’s all focus on what we look like. That’s a bit scary.

Where does it go from here then?  These girls are playing “their part” in a ghastly viscous circle that seems endemic in this day and age.  I was reading this article on the weekend and it sent shivers down my spine.  A 17 year old girl started a feminist society at her at her “all girls” school and things went from name calling by the boys in her peer circle and generally putting down the society, to some quite serious verbal attacks.  The words are truly horrendous and I don’t want to write them here, but if you have the stomach, read the article.

It always reminds me of someone on twitter who said “the comments on articles about feminism is the reason we need Feminsm” and the same can be said for those girls in the article.  The teacher wanted them to back down, yet the very reason for starting it all was to try and change the way boys and mens perceived them and how they viewed themselves.  The very fact the boys were so intimidated by them trying to unshackle themselves from the leering posts they had been put on, tells you an awful lot about how far we have yet to go.

In Australia there has been some publicity about the female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, being subjected to some pretty awful Misogyny.  It seems for previous Prime Ministers, they can be kicked about for their policies or their lack of guts but if you’re a woman, the focus is on what you look like.  A party conference held by the opposition party a few weeks ago had on their menu “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail – Small Breasts, Huge Thighs & A Big Red Box”.  She’s a red head by the way.  They saw this as perfectly acceptable code of conduct.

We owe it to our daughters and our daughter’s daughters to turn this on it’s head.  THIS is our suffragette movement.  Anybody that suggests FOR A MINUTE that we live in an equal society clearly has their head buried in the sand.  Until we drive forward, raise awereness, create the discourse for questioning this behaviour, women will forever be locked into a pathway where it is acceptable to apply merit to the way we look and behave. Be a good girl and look good and you’ll go far. That’s bullshit.  If you don’t fight back you’ll go as far as the mysogny tether around your neck will let you.